This week's Civil War II #0 sets the stage for the two opposing viewpoints at play in the crossover, and introduces Ulysses, the Inhuman whose precognitive powers spark the superhero conflict. Essentially, it boils down to two conflicting ideas: punishment after a crime, or punishment before a crime has happened (yet).
Newsarama talked to Marvel's Senior VP of Publishing/Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, who has shepherded virtually allof the company's major events for the past 15 years, including Civil War II. Brevoort wasn’t forthcoming with spoilers for future issues – he’s very protective of his own knowledge of the future – but he did offer insight into Civil War #0, and clues as to what lies ahead.
Newsarama: Tom, we’re now into the opening salvo of Civil War II. We’ve seen that Tony Stark and Carol Danvers are going to be the leaders of the two sides, but in Civil War II #0, it looks like She-Hulk is really the opposing viewpoint to Captain Marvel. How does Tony get roped into this?
Tom Brevoort: All of that will be seen in Civil War II #1 in a few short weeks. The purpose of Civil War II #0 was to set the table – to show where everybody is, and what their mindset is and how they exist going into the story proper, which starts with Civil War II #1. It’s not like there’s going to be a baton handoff where She-Hulk stops expressing an opinion and Tony Stark starts expressing an opinion. There’s gonna be a wide variety of opinions expressed about every facet of the situation our heroes find themselves in, and the questions they’re all going to grapple with. I can’t tell you much more than that because I don’t want to ruin Civil War II #1.
Nrama: Civil War II #0 also has big leaps for James Rhodes, who has a personal connection to both Carol and Tony. He and She-Hulk are two characters rumored to meet some untimely fate over the course of this crossover. Will Rhodey live to serve as Secretary of Defense as Tony once did, or is this the birth of a martyr?
Brevoort: You’re basically asking me “What characters die in this?” [laughs] I don’t think think I’m gonna answer that one either!
Nrama: You can’t blame a guy for trying!
Brevoort: Not at all [laughs]. Obviously, Rhodey is set up to have an important and prominent role in Civil War II. It’s all kind of laid out there in the #0 issue, but I’m not gonna reveal how that all shakes out ahead of time. That would defeat the purpose of making the comics.
Nrama: I’m guessing you also have no comment on She-Hulk’s fate, our speculation on it, and whether that ties in to the big catastrophe in Civil War II #3?
Brevoort: There’s plenty of speculation. People have connected dots – some of which aren’t even dots, they’re just dust on the screen. I’m sure there are people out there in the world who have figured things out correctly. With so many people guessing, I’m sure someone has landed on the right answer even if they get there through the wrong methodology. I’m not gonna confirm or deny anything. I’m gonna say this is a story we’re telling, and we want you to experience the story in the pages of Civil War II.
Not to knock any of the speculation, cause it’s all fun, and part of what our readers get out of being Marvel fans, but I’m not gonna give you the cheat sheet for the test.
Nrama: Fair enough. Getting back to what’s actually on the page in Civil War II #0, the Jester, an old Daredevil foe, dies off screen after She-Hulk fails to get him acquitted of a crime it seems he may not have committed or even attempted. Is this a purposeful callback to the original Civil War, where a different version of the Jester is killed by the Punisher? Is this a sign that the villains of the Marvel Universe will wind up joining the fray or taking advantage of the heroes being preoccupied with each other?
Brevoort: Let me answer the second part first. The villains of the Marvel Universe will definitely be involved in Civil War II, but I don’t think it’s a situation where the heroes are so occupied having a philosophical discussion that nobody’s actually doing anything, and the villains can rob banks or blow up government buildings or whatever nasty chicanery they get up to. Anybody that thinks of it that way, it’s natural. We promote these stories as the heroes being divided against each other, so clearly, they’d have nothing else to do with their time than punch each other instead of villains. They’re still gonna be doing their jobs, as you’ll see. But the issues that are involved with all this impact on the villains just as much as on the heroes, so they’ll definitely be involved.
As far as the use of the Jester being an homage to the original Civil War, you’d have to ask Brian Bendis to get an absolute answer on that. My guess – and if he says different, believe his version, because he knows the workings of his own mind better than I do – is that no, it didn’t specifically come out of Civil War. But looking around at what villains She-Hulk could be defending in a New York court of law, his mind went to the Jester because of the long years he spent writing Daredevil. I don’t think it was a specific callback, but like I said, maybe it was and I don’t realize it.
Nrama: We also saw the Terregenesis of Ulysses in Civil War II #0 – and that last scene sure raised some questions about the nature of his powers. Judging by August’s solicits, there’s a lot more to him than meets the eye. Do his powers go beyond simply predicting the future? Is there a chance he’s actually the catalyst of this whole conflict in a more literal sense?
Brevoort: There’s definitely more to his powers, certainly than you saw in Civil War II #0. And this will actually be a running concern as we get into Civil War II, exactly what Ulysses does and how he does it, and how this ability that he has operates, and grows, and even changes over the course of the story. Beyond that I don’t want to say too much that’s definitive, as we’re only a few weeks away from Civil War II #1. You’ll know before you even know it.
Nrama: Since Ulysses can see the future, why can't he see how much hassle his power will bring to the Marvel Universe? And the death which Bendis has promised is to come?
Brevoort: Again, you’ll kind of have to wait and see. These are great speculative questions, but my answer will be in the actual pages of Civil War II. These are great questions for readers to be asking. Feel confident that these are all questions we’ve asked as well, and that will be answered in the course of the story.
Nrama: As you said, we’re just a few weeks away from the next installment in the crossover, Civil War II #1. What can readers expect from that issue?
Brevoort: It’s a big issue. It’s about 40 pages of actual comic book stuff, not counting recap pages or next issue pages and so forth. It opens with a bang, with a bit of almost cosmic brouhaha before settling down into some great personal drama. It’s very much Brian and David Marquez doing what they do and working the kind of synergistic magic that people have seen in Invincible Iron Man, and before that on Ultimate Spider-Man. It’s got an army of Marvel characters in it, so your favorite is probably in there somewhere. I think fans will be pleased with the breadth of that. I hope it’s not exactly what you expect, but that it will be a satisfying read. And then the second issue will be along just a few weeks after that. We’ll quickly ramp up and accelerate throughout the first half, so we’ll get to the civility and the warringness very quickly.
Nrama: I’m sure you’ve had a long time to think about this, given how long Civil War II has been in the works, but which side do you come down on? Protect the future, or change the future?
Brevoort: I would hold off on answering that question at least until Civil War II #1 comes out, because at this point, no one’s even asked that question in the story. Nobody’s laid out any terms of this. We haven’t seen anything about how the situation functions aside from speculation at this point. I’ll be happy to answer that more in depth when some of these things have been put on the table. But for me, it’s premature, partly because I know what’s coming up.
Nrama: So what you’re saying is, you do know the future, and you’re choosing to protect it?
Brevoort: [laughs] I have great knowledge of the future! I’m protecting it and changing it depending on what day it is, and what story ideas arise. That’s how these things go. I’m playing both sides – I win no matter what happens!