In issue #5 of Marvel’s Civil War II, the long-awaited battle between Team Iron Man and Team Captain Marvel comes to a halt when all parties experience a chilling vision about Captain America.
How far would you go to stop a disaster before it began? Would you ignore a basic rule of trust in our society — innocent until proven guilty — in order to prevent future tragedy? And what constitutes as proof? These questions are at the heart of Marvel Comics’ huge summer crossover event, Civil War II.
A spiritual sequel to the original Civil War crossover event recently adapted as Captain America: Civil War, Marvel’s Civil War II sees two leading Avengers face off on moral grounds. Starring Tony Stark as Iron Man and Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel, Civil War II explores the issue of determinism vs. free will when the opportunity to predict future threats arises. Written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by David Marquez, the Marvel Universe may never recover from the fallout of these events.
Previously, in ‘Civil War II’…
A freshly hatched Inhuman called Ulysses has brought the Marvel heroes to the brink of war. His unique power? Visions of future catastrophes — which, at first, all seem to be completely accurate. Carol Danvers thinks that Ulysses is the answer to her prayers and wants to use him in her mission to achieve preventative protection for the planet. However, Tony Stark believes that not only is it morally wrong for people to be apprehended for crimes they didn’t yet commit, it’s also not likely that these powers are scientifically sound or truly objective, and warns Carol against it.
As Captain Marvel continues to work with Ulysses, backed by S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans, the body count starts mounting. Iron Man’s best friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes is killed on an ambush against Thanos, and Bruce Banner is also a casualty. After a vision shows that the Hulk will attack, a team is sent to investigate Banner’s movements. This confrontation culminated in Hawkeye shooting Banner dead — apparently at Banner’s own secret request, should he ever Hulk out again. The ensuing court case, in which Clint Barton was deemed not guilty, served to create more tension between the divided heroes.
Meanwhile, after scanning Ulysses’ brain, Tony has scientific proof that his powers are NOT pure, objective visions — they’re algorithmic guesses based on all the data and energy put out into the universe, and influenced by fears, stereotypes, and other factors — in short, an extreme form of profiling. Even when given this information, Carol refuses to stop her quest. When faced with their first big failure – a woman ”seen” by Ulysses as a Hydra spy who actually appears to be innocent – Carol and her team hold the woman in custody anyway, determined to find evidence of any wrongdoing, at any cost.
This ruthless disregard for basic human rights leads Tony to bring a force of allies to apprehend Carol, they both attempt to arrest one another, and on the roof of the Triskelion a huge battle begins.
You’re trying to control that which can’t be controlled…
Picking up where the previous issue of Civil War II left off, a huge fight between of former allies ensues – much to the entertainment of some spoilt kids on a helicopter tour of New York City. In her shouted conversation with Tony over the course of the battle, Carol remains what I can only label as unrealistically oblivious: she claims that this issue is about Tony’s ego, overlooking the fact that she’s the clear candidate when it comes to believing one’s own hype right now. I’m not a fan of Tony at the best of times – his cocky overconfidence and inability to learn from his mistakes does not do him any favors – but in my eyes, his ego is nowhere close to being the reason for the current conflict. It isn’t even in the equation.
It’s time to say it: I have no idea what Marvel thinks they’re playing at with this storyline. This isn’t a balanced argument, like the original Civil War. The “sides” here are that of a scientist with nothing to gain researching an unknown power and coming up with some disturbing finds, therefore advising that we proceed with caution, and a military leader dangerously disregarding evidence and detaining civilians in order to prove that her quest is righteous. At this point, Captain Marvel’s behavior looks more like an attempt to validate her choices and not have to admit defeat than anything to do with doing the right thing or saving lives. This tone seems pretty blatant and I don’t think it’s unintentional.
I don’t understand why Marvel have chosen to tarnish Carol Danvers in this way and I dread to think about what’s going to have to happen to her in order for her to be redeemed – what punishment or tragedy will bring her down to earth. I do not understand why they’ve put their most powerful woman in this position, especially when the character – little known to the world outside of comic books — is set to become the MCU’s flagship female superhero.
Maybe I’m missing something, maybe I’m misguided and 50% of readers are on her side, but to me, there’s no rationalizing her perspective at all, and certainly no reasonable condemnation of Tony’s – all he’s done is say “hey, your missions are getting our friends killed, and also, here’s proof that this future-seeing isn’t actually objective, so let’s just stick to the current legal system, okay? Oh, you’re gonna ignore that and flout the Geneva Convention? Okay, you might need to be arrested.”
Anyway, big fight, punch punch, zap zap, X-Men, Inhumans, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers — dozens of various former allies bicker about their respective “sides” as they beat each other up. One significant player who’s NOT present — Ulysses himself. The Inhumans fly away from New Attilan to come to Carol’s aid because they’re weirdly obsessed with her now, but Ulysses – looking less college hipster and more, well, Inhuman than ever – is left behind to meditate or something.
One of the most notable things about Ulysses since his introduction is his lack of autonomy — he just does what he’s told to do, goes where he’s told to go, says what he’s told to say and as yet has not expressed any personality, or any opinions about what he can do and whether he thinks it’s real or good. And I’m starting to wonder if he does actually know — here, as the others leave, he asks what the humans are fighting over, and Medusa doesn’t tell him. Is he in the dark about the conflict his visions have caused? If he knew about Tony’s scientific conclusions, would he agree that his own power should not be trusted or listened to? I kind of think maybe he would, and that the other Inhumans are trying to keep this from him.
The world watches as the battle rages – various heroes not present catch up via news broadcasts: Matt Murdock, the prosecutor at Clint Barton’s trial, Mary Jane Watson watching from Tony’s lab, Hawkeye himself wandering off into the wilderness as one of the pundits theorizes “could it be that we have seen the end of the age of heroes?” I mean, probably not, I don’t think Marvel is attempting to put themselves out of business, but honestly, I can’t see much likability for a lot of these characters from here on out.
Ulysses, weeping on New Attilan – starts to project ribbons of energy, a new look for him, which he’s able to aim and wrap around the Triskelion. Just as Carol is about to take Tony out — and just as Tony tries to warn her of his tech getting some weird readings — these beams incase everyone, projecting them into Ulysses’s strongest and most shared vision yet. In a war-torn world, they witness Miles Morales — or at least someone in a SpideyMiles suit — bloody-fisted and victoriously displaying the impaled body of Steve Rogers. The real Miles, also witnessing this, falls to his knees in grief, claiming it an impossibility, and Carol, such a kind and compassionate woman, tries to immediately arrest him.
Will Carol seriously be allowed to arrest Miles, just like that? Is this potential murder anything to do with Steve’s Hydra secrets? Also, I’m starting to get a few suspicions about Ulysses’ power and what it may actually be — given these events, I’m wondering if it’s actually a just defense mechanism — sometimes “true” — or that the algorithm works — and sometimes untrue, but projected when he’s distressed… I’m thinking something along the lines of what Scarlet Witch can do, but at the moment, less intentional… hmmm.
If you want to see how Civil War II is affecting a particular character, you can check out the complete list of tie-in titles and follow along — but we’re recapping the action of the main series as it concludes over the next few months. In issue #6 of Civil War II, the winner takes it all. Marvel teases:
Sides have been drawn, battles have been fought, but it all comes down to this. Captain Marvel versus Iron Man over the future of the Marvel Universe, one of the biggest battles in Marvel history!
Civil War II #6 will be released on Wednesday, October 26.