The latest civil war in the Marvel Universe is here, and it delivers immediate and tragic consequences.
The sequel to the comic book series that inspired the billion-dollar blockbuster Captain America: Civil War lands in comic shops today. Fans should brace themselves for multiple Spoilery hashtags and message-board meltdowns across the InterWebs, although if you read Marvel’s Free Comic Book Day Civil War issue, you have a good idea of what we’re about to discuss.
Blastr had the opportunity to review the first issue, by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Marquez, which divides the Marvel Universe again along ideological and moral fault lines.
Obviously, massive, gargantuan, humongous spoilers are coming in this story, so if you want to bookmark this page and read this after you visit your LCS today, we won't take it personally.
What We Learned:
Much as the first series did back in 2006, tragedy turns a debate into a division.
The first Marvel Civil War was ignited by the death of dozens of Connecticut schoolchildren after a botched mission by the New Warriors. It led to the government adopting the Superhuman Registration Act, which Tony Stark supported and Steve Rogers opposed.
This time, the loss hits even closer to home.
(One Final Warning: Spoilers ahoy!!)
James "Rhodey" Rhodes, aka War Machine, is killed in action during a disastrous battle with Thanos. Poor Rhodey. As if getting crippled in the theatrical Civil War weren't bad enough, now they’ve taken him out altogether in the comics.
He’s not the only casualty, however. It appears She-Hulk dies, as well. I say "appears" because it's not entirely clear that she does die as a result of injuries from the same fight. That skirmish is important because the only reason Captain Marvel's Ultimates took on the Mad Titan was because of Ulysses. He's a newly discovered Inhuman who has the ability to see future events. Ulysses' visions raise the morally murky question at the core of Civil War II: Does the ability to see the future give you the right to try and change it, before it happens?
It’s a fascinating dilemma to use as the foundation of a story that puts superpowered beings at odds. And Bendis is the ideal writer for the story. His gift for dialogue is on full display in the double-sized first issue; especially in the quick and casual way a celebratory evening at Stark Tower quickly turns into a philosophical debate amongst the capes.
Ulysses had foreseen an attack on Earth by a Celestial invader. The Avengers were tipped off by the Inhumans and were able to repel the attack. The discussion begins once the Avengers ask how the Inhumans knew the attack was going to happen.
Who Is Right?
Anyone who’s been following the pre-release promotional hype for Marvel’s latest event series already knows Iron Man is leading Team Don’t Mess With The Future. Given that Tony Stark is a Futurist, many fans wondered how Bendis would justify Stark being against using someone with Ulysses’ powers to try and prevent bad things from happening.
This is a character who, throughout much of his history, has shown to be the kind of proactive and practical-minded hero who would actually be on the side of using Ulysses and his predictive powers to stop potential threat. (Need examples? Read Avengers #216. Or New Avengers: Illuminati). Stark’s Futurism and practical-minded perspective were the driving forces behind his decision to back the Superhuman Registration Act that triggered the first Civil War.
The death of his best friend is the catalyst for Stark, the exact moment when he draws a line in the sand against Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel. But it’s not just vengeance that motivates Stark’s decision this time. He’s calculating the odds. We don’t know the probability ratio involved, he asks. How do we know, Stark wonders, if what this Inhuman kid is seeing is really The Future? What if it’s just an alternate future?
Stark isn’t looking at this from the moral high ground. In fact, the only reference to the first Civil War in this first issue is when Stark deflects a question from Captain America by saying point blank, “I’m not going to have a morality debate with you, Steve. Those never end well for us.”
For Captain Marvel, her stance is simple. She’s a soldier who wants to save as many lives as possible. In her view, if people are kept alive because they use these visions to take proactive measures, then using Ulysses’ powers is the right thing to do. Even at the end of the first issue, with the man she loves and her best friend both dead, Danvers stands by her decision to jump into action before the threat arises.
Which means this war has just begun.
What Comes Next?
We know from the pre-release promo materials how the heroes are divided. After reading the first issue, some of those choices are obvious; others, not so much.
Much like with the first Civil War, it would be surprising if several heroes didn’t switch sides at some point once emotion wears off and they can really wrap their head around what this is all about. The deaths of Rhodey and She-Hulk could make some allegiances tough to support. And if I were a betting man, I’d lay down a sizable wager on Peter Parker ultimately switching sides and joining Iron Man.
Which side are you on? Go to the comments and let us know if you’re #TeamTony or #TeamCarol, and why.
Civil War II #1 is in comic book stores today. Check out the opening sequence in the gallery below!