There’s a war brewing between the superheroes, a division between Iron Man and the Avengers and Captain Marvel and the Ultimates, marked by the deaths of War Machine and She-Hulk. An Inhuman named Ulysses has emerged with the ability to predict the future. Should his powers be used to protect the future or change the future? Battle lines are being drawn, meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Civil War II #2.
The first thing that becomes apparent in opening my copy of Civil War II #2 is the roll call page, listing the characters involved in this event. I’ve already talked about these new Earth-616 Ultimates here, and it seems like the Avengers are diversity-fueled and youth-injected, with a membership that includes Sam Wilson as Captain America, Jane Foster as Thor, Miles Morales as Spider-Man, as well as Nova and Ms. Marvel, plus an Iron Man and a Vision who may or may not be the ones I know and love. Of course in a world where Steve Rogers has always been a Hydra agent, why should I trust any of them, right?
The thing that surprised me however is the listing of characters under the title of The Inhumans. It may be a matter of semantics, but when one is talking about Inhumans, one is talking about anyone of that Kree-descended race affected by the terrigen mists, but when one is talking The Inhumans, it’s the Royal Family of Attilan that is meant. However here in the new dynamic, the Human Torch and the Beast have joined what seems to have become a team, rather than a family. Also Attilan, the most well known of the Inhuman cities (several others were revealed in Infinity), now New Attilan, currently rests on the Hudson River Estuary.
Iron Man vs. the Inhumans
The story begins with Iron Man back playing villain in stealth mode as he breaks in to New Attilan and stands over the sleeping Ulysses like a creeper. What the hell? Tony Stark wasn’t always a nice guy, but I remember back in the day I could still root for him. For the last decade and a half however, he is simply despicable, so much so when indications pointed toward his possibly becoming Kang, all I could do is slap my head and say, “of course.” Shouldn’t we like Tony just a little bit more now that Cap is Hydra?
Idiot or intruder, Iron Man proceeds to engage the Inhumans in combat. Not because I’m subconsciously rooting for the Inhumans, but I did expect them to fare better against Stark, but it is Brian Michael Bendis writing, and uncharacteristic behavior is his trademark, especially in crossover events. I was disappointed that we didn’t find out exactly how Iron Man’s decoy armor baffled Karnak’s abilities – that should have been a slam-dunk for the Inhumans. Shouldn’t Crystal have better insight on fighting Iron Man from her time as an Avenger? And speaking of Avengers, since when doesn’t the Beast fight Tony Stark? They have fought at least half a dozen times, according to my fuzzy memory, and hell, Hank has won once or twice!
As suggested by coming attractions, Iron Man has effectively declared war on the Inhumans by kidnapping Ulysses. So the Inhumans bring the fight to Stark, specifically Stark Tower, an idea so dumb that if the reader doesn’t get that, Maria Hill is there to dumb it down for us. Iron Man is not going to hold his hostage in the one place the world knows that he lives. Nevertheless that’s where the Inhumans go, and try to stop Karnak from tearing the building down. Didn’t Karnak used to be monk-like? Where did this anger come from? Did it come with his ugly new thug hoodie? Sorry, not a fan. Jack Kirby designs should not be messed with.
The Ultimates, along with Maria Hill and about a hundred S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, arrive on the scene to stop them. A hundred S.H.I.E.L.D. agents? Yeah, count them. I am a fan of David Marquez’ art, but I had to wonder if Bendis’ script called for the Scarlet Witch bending reality like when the Kree attacked in Disassembled. Surely so many agents aren’t needed alongside a superhero team that includes Captain Marvel, Thor, Spectrum, and the Vision, right? And definitely not an Inhumans team, lacking Black Bolt, that just got bested by an empty Iron Man armor and an extra-bright flashlight… Watch as I raise my fist to the sky, emulate Kirk in Wrath of Khan, and scream, “Bendisss!”
Imagine if you will, a man kidnaps a teenage boy. The man ties him up and starts attaching wires and such to him. The man hits him, and threatens to hit him again. If you read about this exchange in the news, you’d be enraged. The man is the bad guy, right? No, that man is Iron Man, and Ulysses is his victim. I can’t be the only one out here disturbed by this. The behavior could be Stark’s passion over this predictive power of Ulysses, or it could be Stark having a mental breakdown over the death of his best friend. No matter which, I do not like this turn of character nor this sequence of events.
An army of heroes – the Ultimates, the Avengers, the Inhumans, and Hawkeye (because it’s not a Bendis story without Hawkeye to make fun of) – show up to stop the torture of a child by someone I used to think of as a hero. In the end, Stark gets what he wants – Ulysses has a vision, one that serves as our cliffhanger. The Hulk, notably gigantic, pantless, and probably or probably not Amadeus Cho, kills them all. Yep, you got it, the Hulk kills them all. As we close, Captain Marvel pays a visit to Bruce Banner in his lab…
My Ulysses Theory
During the disturbing hostage sequence, Stark throws out some ideas as to what he believes may be influencing Ulysses’ visions – his genetics and heritage, his emotions, his biases, his personality. I think that despite his evil actions, Stark might have a point. Iron Man was hitting Ulysses, pissing him off, causing eventually a vision. And what is that vision? The Hulk killing them all – killing those who keep bothering and harassing him. And that vision is stronger than ever, thrusting itself into everyone’s minds, so that they can feel the rage of the vision.
What if the visions were not simply precognition, what if they were just the tip of the psychic iceberg? Could the visions specifically be a projection of Ulysses’ anger at the heroes? What better way to get back at them than to kill them all? What if this power isn’t just precognition, but also some sort of mind control or wish fulfillment? I guess we wait and see, folks.