It’s been a decade since Tony Stark and Steve Rogers came to blows over the struggle between freedom and security in the original Civil War comic series, but Marvel’s sequel, due out this May, takes place in a very different time and place for Marvel’s heroes. Here’s what you need to know.
Yesterday afternoon, Marvel held a press conference featuring Civil War II series writer Brian Michael Bendis, Editor Tom Brevoort, and Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso to peel back the curtain on the incoming event series, which sees the heroes of the Marvel universe split into two opposing sides, one lead by Tony Stark’s Iron Man, the other lead by Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel. But how does it all come about? Well...
Almost literally. Civil War II kicks off in a special Free Comic Book Day release that tells its “own story” rather than acting as a preview copy of a later issue, according to Brevoort, and it sets up a huge invasion that opens the series. This event requires the heroes of Marvel’s universe—whether that’s Tony and his All-New, All-Different Avengers, or Captain Marvel and her Alpha Flight team—to band together and save the world. Bendis wouldn’t identify the cosmic villain that kicks off the event, but described it as the sort of climactic event that shapes the rest of Civil War going forward.
One thing that will stand out from this opening invasion—or one person, rather—is a new Inhuman character, who has the power to predict future events with an uncanny accuracy. Named Ulysses, the young man seemingly only recently awakened his Inhuman powers before the events of Civil War II. “He was on a pretty traditional route on America, and something happened that completely derailed his life—and that’s becoming an Inhuman. ...This is someone who had a specific view of the superhero community, and then is thrust right in the middle of it in a very controversial and dividing way,” Bendis added.
And we know just how dividing that is alread; Ulysses’ precognitive powers splits the gathered heroes on just how they should be used. Carol Danvers believes they should be exploited so heroes can stop crimes and life-threatening events before they even happen, but Tony Stark—who’s grown a lot since his unpopular stance about superhero regulation in the original Civil War—believes that no one has the right to prosecute innocent people for a criminal act they’ll supposedly commit in the future. “We were talking about things that were going on in the world today that are similarly dividing to our culture, which is very different from where we were 10 years ago with the original Civil War,” Bendis continued.
Marvel recently revealed two pieces of artwork, covers for the Civil War II: Choosing Sides miniseries, that seemingly revealed at least some of the heroes that fall onto either Team Tony or Team Carol.
Suffice to say, some fans were particularly confused about certain character’s alignments—like Steve Rogers and She-Hulk being on a side that promoted pre-punishment—but Brevoort was quick to note that the artwork “[wasn’t] intended to be definitive”, but instead “intended to encapsulate the whole of the Marvel Universe,” before noting that characters will change sides back and forth over the course of the series, just as characters did in the original Civil War.
Later on, Bendis joked that at a writer’s retreat for the event, many writers wanted their respective characters to be the Peter Parker of Civil War II. Spider-Man famously started out in that series by being on Iron Man’s pro-registration side, unmasking himself in the process, before switching to Captain America’s team.
The original Civil War was an all-encapsulating event for Marvel. Only a handful of series were uninvolved in the main story, to the point that when the main series’ issues were delayed to accommodate artist Steve McNiven’s schedule, it sent a catastrophic ripple through the rest of the companies output, delaying swathes of series as well to avoid spoilers.
That should hopefully not bethe case with Civil War II. Although the series will have a plethora of tie-in issues from current ongoing series as well as its own spinoff miniseries to accompany the main comic, not every title on Marvel’s slate will be involved. “This is an opt-in event,” Axel Alonso told press. “There are books like Black Panther—that story will continue unabated. However, another new launch, Power Man and Iron Fist, will be tying-in. They’ve looked at the story and they’ve found an angle.” Other titles mentioned as not currently having any Civil War II stories planned included Howard the Duck and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, but suffice to say, Civil War II doesn’t sound as overwhelming as its predecessor so far.
With Captain America: Civil War little more than a month out from hitting theaters, it’s easy to look at Civil War II and be a little cynical at its timing—and we’ve joked in the past about how the event’s premise sounds more than a little like the debate that sat at the heart of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi action movie, Minority Report. But Marvel were keen to stress that while at first the event might sound more than a little familiar, it’s going to grow into its own thing, as a product of being made in a world that’s changed radically since the original Civil War came out.
“We [are] talking about things that were going on in the world today that are similarly dividing to our culture, which is very different from where we were 10 years ago with the original Civil War Bendis said about the sequel’s themes. Tom Brevoort compared it to Batman v Superman and Captain America: Civil War having similar themes (heroes fighting each other), but being very different takes on those themes. “There’s a surface similarity at the outset, and as the story continues, you’ll see it’s very, very different.”
Whether that holds true remains to be seen, but it won’t be much longer before we get to find out for ourselves. Civil War II begins on Free Comic Book Day, May 7th, with the Civil War II #0 prequel issue coming by the end of May, and Civil War II #1 available on June 1st.