Civil War II #2 Review


Civil War II moves on with an issue that succeeds, but only by avoiding the absurd premise of the crossover.

Civil War II #2 (of 7)
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by David Marquez
Colors by Justin Ponsor
Published by Marvel Comics

This review will contain spoilers. We’ll say they’re Inhuman predictions, but they’re pretty accurate.

The set-up is that a new Inhuman, Ulysses, can see the future. Captain Marvel, at the end of her rope preventing the world from killing itself, decides to use these predictions to prevent cataclysm. It works well the first time, but in the second mission, War Machine is killed and She-Hulk ends up in a coma. (The coma part was in the synopsis page in this issue but wasn’t actually stated in the last book.) Iron Man is enraged that Carol Danvers used iffy data and lost. Though I enjoyed the first issue of Brian Michael Bendis’s Civil War II, last week’s tie-in issues showed how deeply flawed the premise was. Every tie-in seemed to prove that other authors can’t make much use out of Ulysses without (in Spider-Man) saying that his visions don’t always come true or (in Gods Of War) saying there are some things Ulysses can’t see.

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In this issue, Iron Man kidnaps Ulysses to try to prove his predictions aren’t trustworthy. This sparks an international incident between Tony Stark and the Inhumans. When Captain Marvel and members of several Avengers teams arrive to play peacekeeper, Ulysses has a vision of the Hulk standing over the bodies of Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, and Iron Man. His powers have by now evolved to the point where everyone around him can experience this as a group trip, and at the close of the issue, Captain Marvel heads to confront Bruce Banner.

For Bendis dialogue and action, this issue is a strong one. As the writer of both of Iron Man’s current titles, he really dazzles with Tony Stark’s exasperated interrogation of the man he holds partially responsible for the death of his best friend. The fight between Iron Man and most of the Inhuman Royal Family is fun (even if he does beat Karnak by saying he just doesn’t have any flaws, which has never worked, ever, and is proven untrue in almost every issue of an Iron Man comic, and yes, that includes Bendis’s own). This early in the game, it’s refreshing to see the heroes generally working together to prevent the cliched battle lines and hero-hero pugilism.

But this issue succeeds by dancing around the silly premise of the whole event. Tony Stark already made the argument that if Ulysses sees a future disaster, and the heroes prevent that disaster, the future is automatically invalid. He doesn’t need to keep trying to prove his point by testing to see if the Inhuman has a bias that skews his predictions. He can point out that Ulysses didn’t foresee the murder of War Machine and drop his mic.

The issue also plays with the theme of prediction in a more real-world way. Medusa catches Iron Man in Ulysses’s room by guessing that would be his move, and Captain Marvel intercepts the Inhumans on Tony’s lawn by knowing them well enough to extrapolate the plan. Bendis seems to be saying that we already make predictions to guide our actions, and having everyone guess right in this issue makes it seem silly that they would need a precognitive in the first place.

And Bendis tries to explain that Ulysses is different because he actually experiences the future, but he’s clearly not time-traveling, and several people who experience his vision of the Hulk are dead in that vision, so how..? This is not different from any of the other precognitives Marvel has had, no matter how many times we are told it’s so. As readers of my Civil War Journal recap column will see, even the tie-ins can’t find a way to consistently describe Ulysses’s powers that would make him original or interesting.

Next: Read Bam Smack Pow's review of Civil War II #1

The Bottom Line: Civil War II #2 had decent action and snappy dialogue, but the precognitive premise is too flimsy to hold a summer blockbuster event together. The main series could still be a lot of fun, but the crossover seems dead before it’s even really started.