[WARNING: Contains SPOILERS for Civil War II #7.]
Seven issues into Civil War II, the battle to "protect" the future of the Marvel Universe has caused an immense amount of physical and psychological damage. As the drawn-out superhero scuffle nears its end, the stress of warring with friends and allies – in addition to morning a couple of them – has sapped the fight out of the galaxy's greatest heroes. After losing heart, many of the MU's boldest and bravest broke ranks and left the civil war. However, one final struggle remains, between the wills of Captain Marvel and Tony Stark.
The predicative powers of new Inhumans family member Ulysses seems to have only increased in strength, as well as in scope as of late. Captain Marvel’s plan to utilize the former collegiate sage may have split the Marvel community down the middle, but her personal war with Tony Stark might have a far more devastating cost – one with lasting ramifications on the Marvel landscape. Could their battle bring about one of its most infamous post-apocalyptic storylines, that of "Old Man Logan," to life?
High Noon at the MU Saloon
The gloom and doom of Ulysses’ prophesies has already brought about a bitter end for two of Marvel’s superheroes. His visions seem to create almost as much chaos and death as they predict thus far, and his latest one, which permeates Civil War II and several of its tie-ins, places a broken Captain America in the arms of Spider-Man Miles Morales. The one-time Ultimate Universe hero is crushed by his possible future crime, but decides to force the hand of destiny by challenging the Inhuman’s prediction to come true and heading straight for Washington D.C.
Apparently, Captain America feels the same way. Moments after S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill calls off the local law enforcement (at Carol Danvers’ request), Steve Rogers appears in front of the U.S. Capitol's ominous gray dome. Here, David Marquez takes a moment to frame parallel the Old Man Logan story with a beautiful, modernist-Western moment – as the two superhero gunslingers stare each other down on the steps of the national seat of power. Fortunately, Cap and Spidey are highly rational, in spite of the emotionally-charged times, and actually talk to one another instead of battling it out. It turns out they're both equally confused by the turn of events which brought them to this climactic showdown.
A Bleak Vision of the Marvel Universe?
As the sixth chapter came to a close, Ulysses was ensnared within his own predicative powers. Civil War II #7 returns to the same moment on the terrace of New Attilan, where the Inhuman stands transfixed, unresponsive to even Queen Medusa’s commands. Instead, he finds himself in the barren wastelands of a future New Jersey. Before he can reorient himself, he comes under attack by the Hulk – well, actually a child of the now-deceased and villainous Bruce Banner from the “Old Man Logan” story, which is beautifully-rendered by artist Andrea Sorrentino in a guest spot, the man responsible for Old Man Logan's last two volumes (and Marcelo Malolo).
Fortunately for Ulysses, Logan dispatches the redneck Hulkling before he can make a light snack out of the oracle (although it’s hasn’t been established whether any harm would come to him within a prediction). The Inhuman tries to figure out where, when, and why his vision is taking place. All too soon, the world around him starts to fade away, and he frantically asks Logan for the reasons behind their predicament: why did the Inhumans leave, and what caused this mess of a world? Wolverine tells the vanishing Inhuman that Tony Stark caused everything to go wrong by pushing “her” too far.
Returning to the present, Ulysses pleads with Medusa to call a halt to Tony and Carol's war and save the world from a terrible fate – assuming, of course, that his vision won't come to pass by their attempts to stop the two heroes.
A War of Two Wills
As Cap and Miles short-lived standoff ends with question marks all around, a new player enters the game. Captain Marvel swoops onto the scene from the S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-carrier. Once more, Carol Danvers asks Spider-Man to surrender peacefully, offering her hand to Miles but finding a force field blocking them, courtesy of a fed-up Iron Man. Without any backup, without their dedicated squads of heartsick yet ideologically-charged superheroes, the war of principles devolves into a battle of egos between Carol and Tony.
The pissed-off pair trade super-charged punches as Cap and Spidey can only watch, awestruck. Initially, the enraged heroes are evenly matched, but as her anger grows, Captain Marvel’s cosmic powers increase. Soaking up Iron Man’s energy blasts supercharges her, and she blasts through the air, landing a punch heard round the Marvel Universe (and right through Iron Man’s armor) – one eerily reminiscent of Thanos’ devastating hook that landed Colonel James “War Machine” Rhodes in the morgue.
As the issue closes, fans are still left without a clear picture of what happened to Tony Stark, but it doesn’t look good for the Golden Avenger. After all, the cover of Civil War II’s final issue features Iron Man’s severed and battered helmet lying in the mud.
Will Old Man Logan Come True?
Throughout Civil War II, much of the heft has understandably rested on Carol Danvers and Tony Stark’s super-powered shoulders. As their squads waged war, the primary cause of all this strife, the Inhuman prescient Ulysses, remained inert. Some of his reticence can be chalked up to youth and the relative novelty of his powers. At the same time, his importance to both sides makes his stoic role in the conflict frustrating. After seven issues of watching the precog stand dumbstruck, finally in the penultimate arc, Ulysses does something. Even if merely a call to action for the Royal Family, his attempt to reshape the futures he 'predicts' validates some of his cataclysmic role in Civil War II. But will it be enough?
Admittedly, writer Brian Michael Bendis and his team are asking readers to make a pretty big logical leap from from a grim future for a few superheroes to the wastelands of "Old Man Logan." Bendis does foreshadow distant events by subtly increasing the scope and scale of Ulysses’ predictions along the way (where each vision leapt further into the future), as well as with an Old Man Logan variant cover.
Still, the transition between a ruined Washington DC and “Old Man Logan” seems like a bit of a stretch – although not an entirely unwelcome one. At this point, any possibility of Tony Stark and Carol Danvers causing the neo-classic Wolverine tale to come true remains as questionable as Ulysses' other predictions. While his accuracy is dubious, his visions may actually help to manufacture tragedies while attempting to prevent them.
When the final chapter of Civil War II lands in December, it will be interesting to see how and if the Old Man Logan storyline ties in, and whether it, as well as Tony Stark’s death are unavoidable truths, MacGuffins, or red herrings.
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Civil War II #7 is currently available in print and online. Civil War II #8 arrives on December 28.