It's been ten years, but the parents are fighting again.
Around the time we were watching Iron Man/Tony Stark and Captain America/Steve Rogers going head-to-head on the big screen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 3 centerpiece Captain America: Civil War, Marvel Comics was rolling out Civil War II — another massive Marvel Universe crossover event hinging on a division between members of the Avengers (led by Iron Man) and Alpha Flight commander Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers.
The following article was designed as a short introduction to the plot and context of Civil War II, as well as a recommended reading order. There are minor spoilers for the first issue, but all the big reveals are kept under wraps for you.
What's Civil War II Then?
The original Civil War — published 2006–2007 and written by Mark Millar — was a significant, if not universally well-received, event in the Marvel Comics Universe. It saw the titanic figures of Captain America and Iron Man pitted against each other in political and ideological division, leading to all out war within the ranks of the Marvel superheroes.
Civil War II isn't a direct sequel to the original event, more of a spiritual successor, so it doesn't matter all that much whether or not you've read the original. Aside from a joke Tony makes to Steve about not engaging in moral debates with him, there isn't any narrative overlap here.
While Civil War dealt with the repercussions of implementing the Superhero Registration Act, the ideological debate of Civil War II hinges on the nitty gritty morals of prediction, and whether or not it's a safe tool to wield to protect the future.
The trigger for Civil War II is the introduction of a new Inhuman, Ulysses, whose powers emerged after exposure to the Terrigan Cloud unleashed by Black Bolt in 2013's "Infinity" crossover event.
Ulysses is a powerful precognitive, and he's picked up by the Inhumans and their Queen, Medusa/Medusalith. Through them and training with Magister Karnak, Ulysses learns how to control his powers, and that's where the trouble begins.
When Ulysses has a vision of the Celestial Destructor destroying Earth, the Inhumans warn the Avengers and the world's heroes band together to put a stop to the threat, averting the apocalypse (again).
The trouble begins when Medusa reveals how the Inhumans knew of the threat to Earth, through Ulysses's vision. Though Captain Marvel sees his power as a good thing — even going so far as to offer him work with the Ultimates — Tony Stark isn't so sure.
Yep, this time round it's Iron Man vs. Captain Marvel, and it's over an even more complicated issue than before.
Who Takes Which Side In Civil War II?
So while Carol and the Ultimates want to use Ulysses's visions as a means of stopping major disasters before they happen, Tony is worried about how this could lead to an abuse of power. Specifically, the troubling morality of punishing someone for their actions before they have actually committed them (think Philip K. Dick's Minority Report and you've pretty much got the idea).
But Tony also raises a concern regarding the nature of Ulysses's precognitions — if they can be averted (as shown by the defeat of the Celestial Destructor at the beginning of the issue) then this means that the future he sees is only a "possible future," not one set in stone.
Not only does this lend credence to the idea that someone may not, for example, commit a crime that had been predicated in a possible future, but it also means that the visions by their very nature can't be infallible. After the mess that resulted the last time we went around the Civil War playing field, you can be damn sure that Tony's going to be careful about putting his faith in matters like these.
At first it didn't look so bleak, it seemed like the tensions might cool between Iron Man and Captain Marvel. But then a major character death and another major character injury happened, and the power keg exploded, tearing the superheroes down ideological lines.
Civil War II Reading Order
In terms of the individual series there's no real need to read in any particular order, but here's some recommended starting-off points.
If you wish, you can read only the core issues, which are Civil War II #0–7; that's enough to get the main parts of the story. Alternatively, you can read the core issues as well as the tie-in issues and series of the characters you like or (if you don't want to do things by halves), you can read all seven of the core issues as well as all of the tie-ins across the various series.
Below is a rundown of all the currently available issues in recommended reading order. First up — getting to grips with the central conflict of Civil War II and new character Ulysses:
Civil War II #0
Civil War II: Ulysses Infinite #1
Free Comic Book Day: Civil War II
Civil War #1
Civil War #2
For the most important parts of The Road To Civil War — the cross-series run-up to the events of Civil War — you should check out the following issues of the individual Marvel series:
Invincible Iron Man #6–10
International Iron Man #3–4
All-New Wolverine #8–9
Ms. Marvel #7–8
The Ultimates #7–8
Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #1
Civil War II: Choosing Sides #1
And here are the rest of the individual series tie-in issues currently available:
Civil War II: Gods of War #1
- New Avengers #12
Captain Marvel #6
Civil War: X-Men #1
- Deadpool #14
Captain America: Sam Wilson #10
- Totally Awesome Hulk #7
All of the above issues are available to purchase now, and the rest will be rolled out over the course of the year. And you can check out the full rundown across all the Marvel series — along with all upcoming issues — via this little link here.
Civil War II #3 releases July 6, 2016.