James Rhodes – Rhodey to his friends, War Machine to the general public – is dead. She-Hulk is gone too, both meeting their demise at the hands of Thanos. But who’s really to blame? Civil War II #2 might have some of the answers.
Tony Stark seems to think the blame lies at the hands of Ulysses, a young Inhuman whose precognitive ability set the heroes on a collision course with the mad Titan. Of course, there’s lots of blame to go around; Maybe it should fall on Carol Danvers who led the team of heroes in the first place, and chose to listen to Ulysses. Maybe some of it should fall on Stark himself, for not giving Rhodey the upgraded armour he repeatedly asked for. Or maybe it should fall on Thanos, the villain who caused all this trouble?
But for Tony, a man suffering from grief and guilt, the solution is clear and he invades Attilan, the home of the Inhumans, to kidnap Ulysses. His plan succeeds, but it also means that he’s broken the law and declared war on the Inhumans… and they plan to retaliate. Subjecting Ulysses to brain scans and, as he puts it, “a little torture” might enable him to work out how the young man’s powers work but it’s a race against time as the combined might of the Ultimates, the Avengers, SHIELD and the Inhumans come gunning for him.
Since Stark is having a nervous breakdown, it’s hard to know what his long-term plan is. The debate about if or when heroes should act in relation to these visions of the future is a grey area, and one explored better in the first issue. What matters for now is that in the middle of a superpowered stand-off, Ulysses has another vision and it’s a doozy: A giant Hulk, clutching the dead bodies of Carol Danvers and Iron Man in his two enormous hands.
Civil War II has come in for a little flak since it started, with some arguing that it’s just a cash-in on the latest Captain America film’s popularity and could be a weak sequel to one of the biggest stories in Marvel Comics history. Whilst it’s hard to argue against those points, this is still an intriguing story with potential. However, is it worthy of being a Civil War event? Right now, no.
Despite having so many characters in it which make it a huge crossover, it’s still hard to tell exactly what the battle lines are. Even with the split roll-call pages showing who’s on what side, at this stage Stark seems like he’s on his own. Yes, the idea of how to respond to visions of the future is a good one, but the first Civil War had defined ideologies at its core and people could relate to it. This doesn’t.
However, once you’ve gotten past that, the issue itself ticks along at a decent pace and is entertaining enough. Tony Stark’s sly, arrogant charm is on display once again, and it’s hard to not feel sympathy for Ulysses. While still setting the stage for some real blow-out fights in the future, there’s enough action to hold the reader’s attention and plenty of plotting going on. Gut instinct says that there’s a whole lot more to this story than meets the eye, and it’s a steady build-up.
So where is this story leading? What will Stark discover now that he’s mapped the young Inhuman’s brain? Will he have created a devastating weapon in his arsenal, or will he uncover that there’s more to this ability than there seems?
It’ll be worth reading more just to find out.