[*This article contains MAJOR spoilers for Marvel's Civil War II #3*]
Marvel Comics miniseries Civil War II has already had its fair share of heart-wrenchingly shocking moments in its previous two volumes. Its third instalment, which is released in the US on Wednesday (13 July), looks to be no exception.
First hinted at earlier this week by the publisher and teased yet again by New York Daily News on Twitter this morning, it has now been confirmed that a major Avenger does get killed off in the issue... and that Avenger is in fact Bruce Banner, aka Hulk. Even more shockingly, however, he is actually murdered by a fellow team member within the story.
Interestingly, writer Brian Michael Bendis structures the issue around the trial of Bruce's initially unknown killer, alternating between testimonies given by lead characters, Tony Stark and Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel). Through their flashbacks, the story ultimately leads back to the massive showdown at Banner's laboratory where the two protagonists confront 'the Big Guy' about Ulysses' vision in which Banner, as Hulk, takes down several Avengers.
Shortly after, Beast reveals that he has managed to hack into Banner's computer files and has discovered that the doctor has been experimenting on himself with gamma radiation, causing Danvers and Stark to question why. Riled by the accusations, Banner becomes agitated, claims that he's conducting research to keep Hulk at bay but as expected, starts getting a little green. It's at this point that readers learn it was an arrow of Clint Barton's (Hawkeye) that killed his former ally.
When the other characters realise what's just happened, Barton immediately gives himself up, explaining that he killed the other Avenger, with a special anti-Hulk arrow that Banner provided in anticipation of a situation like this. A theory confirmed by a video from Banner explaining that he asked Hawkeye to put an end to him should he become a threat to anyone. However, the issue ends before the verdict on Barton's actions is announced.
"Fans may be outraged, and there are probably Hawkeye writers who I'm very good friends with who will also be offended," said Bendis on the controversial decision. "But the point is that everything that happens in this issue is in character when you discover the hows and whys and wheres. We'll let people argue about it.
"Only two things are for certain − it will take a long, long time for our heroes to come to terms with his loss, and the circumstance surrounding his death will leave a huge scar on the superhero community," editor-in-chief Axel Alonso previously told the Daily News. Those who can get over it, however, will be able to continue reading the story later this month when Civil War II #4 arrives in retailers on 27 July.
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