If you’re keen to know what’s in store for the gamma-irradiated characters in the Marvel U, Civil War II: The Fallen #1 is a great place to start out.
In journalism there’s an adage that one story can lead to many others. In film, it’s shown in Superman Returns, when Perry White had all of his reporters focus on the return of the Man of Steel from their own respective angles – sports, politics, financial, and so on. It’s a mentality which Marvel has excelled at in recent years, and this Civil War II crossover is a prime example of that. Because even though Bruce Banner may be dead, that doesn’t mean his story is over to those around him.
Banner‘s funeral is a sombre occasion and attended by few. As an angry crowd gathers outside the cemetery, cheering his death and ready to become violent, Rick Jones questions why so few heroes are paying their respects to the former Avenger. Those affected by his passing the most are Jones, Betty Ross and the Warbound, and after the funeral they vow to discuss the future with the remaining Hulks – She-Hulk, Skaar, Red Hulk and Amadeus Cho.
Later, the reading of Banner’s last will and testament is presented. His words are shocking proof of how little even those closest to him actually knew him. His generosity is heartfelt, bequeathing his friends and loved ones with personal items reflecting Banner’s personality as well as the personalities of those who receive them. His final gift is the most telling of all though, and with it comes a lesson in wisdom which he learned the hard way. But will those receiving it understand what Banner was trying to say?
Like The Accused, The Fallen #1 isn’t an essential Civil War II tie-in. However, that doesn’t diminish it in any way and this story feels like genuine closure to Banner’s tale. It’s about the connections we make in life and how we’re remembered. There’s no action in this, just a reminder of what made Bruce Banner such a special character, even more so than the Hulk. It’s pointed out several times that Banner shouldered a burden which others couldn’t have handled, originating in self-sacrifice and which he always maintained with courage and dignity.
The writing on The Fallen #1 is never heavy-handed, and despite the tragic subject matter it never feels dark or brooding. It even manages to create a few small laughs along the way, offering some much-welcome comic relief. Likewise, the art manages to capture the characters’ moods perfectly, which is what’s needed in this story. It’s a low-key, high quality production which may seem pointless to some but it still manages to be a touching tribute.
Not that anybody really believes that Banner and the Hulk will stay dead for long, of course.
But until they return, this sets up some promising storylines and it’ll be interesting to see how they play out.