In the second issue of Marvel’s Civil War II, Iron Man makes some characteristically rational choices and Ulysses predicts that another iconic Avenger will become a deadly threat.
If you knew something bad was going to happen, how far would you go to stop it before it began? Would you convict — or even kill — someone who has not yet committed a crime, in order to prevent future tragedy? This question is the catalyst of the conflict in Marvel Comics’ massive new crossover event, Civil War II.
In a thematic follow-up to Marvel’s first Civil War — recently adapted as Captain America: Civil War, albeit with a lot less Superhero Registration Act and a lot more Bucky Barnes — Iron Man once again leads a faction of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in a battle of morals against a fellow Avenger. This time, it’s a different Captain he’s facing — not Captain America, either the Steve Rogers or Sam Wilson edition, but Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers. In an eight-issue arc by Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez, Marvel explores the issue of determinism vs. free will when the opportunity to predict future threats arises.
Previously, in ‘Civil War II’…
In case you missed our last recap of the spiritual sequel to Marvel’s most earthshaking event, lines in the sand have been drawn between Iron Man and Captain Marvel due to the discovery of a brand-new Inhuman, Ulysses, who has uncontrollable visions of future disasters. The Avengers unknowingly benefit from his gifts and successfully defeat a celestial demon. When they discover the truth about their tip-off from the Inhuman royal family, Carol Danvers wants to use Ulysses in her bid to proactively prevent problems before they happen. However, Tony Stark feels that this is an irresponsible and dangerous route for the heroes to take, theorizing that not every circumstance Ulysses predicts will be as morally black and white as the battle they just fought.
When Ulysses wakes several weeks later with a vision of Thanos causing destruction and devastation, the Inhumans, led by Medusa, take him to Carol to warn her of what’s coming. Captain Marvel leads a team out to ambush Thanos before his potential attack, and although they’re successful in bringing him in, it’s not without casualties. Jennifer Walters, the She-Hulk, is left near-dead in a coma, and Colonel James Rhodes, War Machine — Tony’s best friend and Carol’s boyfriend — is killed in action.
When Tony finds out about Rhodey’s death, he flies over to confront Carol, and although they’re both grieving, Carol claims she’d stand by her actions in a do-over. Tony leaves, announcing that he’s going to make sure no one is able to “play God” in this way again. Carol is heartbroken but bolstered in her own stance by Jennifer, who regains consciousness to reassure her, “It’s our future, not his… fight for it,” before seeming to flatline.
This isn’t a thing unless you make it a thing.
Civil War II #2 opens on Tony making some of the well-thought-out and rational decisions we all admire him so much about for. Reminiscing in grief about Rhodey, he sneaks into the Inhumans’ palace in order to kidnap Ulysses. He’s apprehended by Medusa — rather graphically, might I add, as there’s a close-up panel showing exactly how many orifices she can slither her hair into — who begs him to reconsider his actions and talk things over when he’s calmer, but he refuses, attacking her.
This rouses the other Inhumans, and they fight with Iron Man until the suit explodes. Hank McCoy, who lives with them now, shrug, explains that it was an empty decoy suit operated by remote control. While the Inhumans were distracted by this classic Tony trick, the real Tony had already escaped, Ulysses in tow. It’s unclear from the get-go what Tony actually wants with Ulysses, but one thing is for certain: the Inhumans consider this breach a declaration of war.
Carol discusses the turn of events and with Maria Hill and correctly predicts — via a past text message from Ulysses or just plain common sense, it’s unclear — that the Inhumans will go to Stark Tower, despite knowing Tony isn’t there, to stop one of their own from wreaking vengeance. A large S.H.I.E.L.D. squad, along with Team Carol — including T’Challa, Thor, Sam, and Vision, at this point — intervene, begging Medusa to allow the Avengers to handle “this Tony situation” internally, promising to recover Ulysses and bring him home. It seems that Carol was aware in advance of Tony’s kidnapping plan as well, and warned the Inhumans, and although they’re furious that they were attacked for helping Carol, Medusa agrees to give her a chance to fix it.
Meanwhile, what exactly does Tony want with Ulysses? To tie him up and torture him in the name of science, apparently. He hooks the boy up to some brain electrodes in order to study how his premonitions work, and although Ulysses is not able to control when or where he has his visions, Tony experiments with fear and pain as stimuli to see what causes them. He’s also apparently doing an exhaustive background check on the kid, with a hint toward the concept of bias and emotional state playing a part in the outcome of his visions. Before this can be explored further, Friday notifies Tony that they’ve got company, and Mjölnir demolishing the wall in Tony’s secret bunker signals the arrival of Team Carol.
Tony attempts to present his actions as reasonable and Carol’s as deadly to his assembled friends and colleagues, but today, they’re not buying what he’s selling. Carol says he’s having a nervous breakdown, a statement with which Tony fully agrees, but this potential reconciliation is interrupted by another of Ulysses’ visions — and this time, it doesn’t stay inside his own head but is projected into the minds of everyone present. They all see – more than just see, they live, feel, inhabit — a future in which the Hulk is rampaging, piles of dead Avengers at his feet, a dead Tony and Carol in each hand. Everyone’s left re-thinking their perspective, astounded by what they’ve experienced.
Cut to Bruce Banner, quietly working away in his lab in Utah. He’s treated to a visit by Captain Marvel — something that he calls a pleasant surprise. However, the look on Carol’s face is anything but pleasant… to be continued.
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 unfolds over the next six months. No new issues of either Invincible Iron Man, Tony’s current solo title by Bendis and Marquez, or Captain Marvel, by Agent Carter showrunners Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas and drawn by Kris Anka, have been released since the double-sized Civil War II #1 launched on June 1, though both will release new issues — which we’ll recap too — before the next update of Civil War II.
This is the one everyone will be talking about! One of the biggest heroes in the Marvel Universe will fall! Who it is and how and why will divide fans for years to come. Will the heroes of the Marvel Universe survive the unthinkable happening? The fallout to this issue is enormous!
Is Carol there to kill Bruce — at this point, a total innocent — before the future we glimpsed unfolds? Is he the “biggest hero” set to fall? What could possibly inspire the Hulk to turn on so many long-term allies? Could it be the possible death of his cousin, Jennifer? Could the huge fallout be the death of another unsuspecting character, causing an ally of Tony’s or of Carol’s to switch sides? Most importantly: is Ulysses merely seeing the future — as Tony puts it, from a pure state — or is he making it happen? What came first, the chicken or the egg? If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Do these events occur because Ulysses sees them — does he bring them to fruition due to his emotional state? Is this what Tony was exploring? Or is Ulysses merely looking at an unchangeable future that would be in the cards even without his visions?
Civil War II #3 will be released on Wednesday, July 13.