While moviegoers get ready for February's Black Panther movie, Marvel's publishing division is already gearing up for a summer blockbuster 10 years in the making, May's Avengers: Infinity War.
But did you know there is a prequel to Infinity War you haven't seen ... for reals?
As a reminder, Marvel Comics occasionally publishes comic book stories set in official Marvel Cinematic Universe cannon. This week they released Avengers: Infinity War Prelude #1, the first of two issues that connects Captain America: Civil War with Infinity War, again an official MCU continuity.
So hang on to your Infinity Gauntlets, because we're headed for MCU SPOILER territory.
Written by Marvel Studios staffer Will Corona Pilgrim and illustrated by artist Tigh Walker and colorist Chris O'Halloran, Avengers: Infinity War Prelude #1 draws heavily from Civil War, as we see Captain America and Iron Man's fateful showdown in Siberia over the fate of Bucky Barnes, who was revealed to have killed Tony Stark's parents as a brainwashed Hydra agent.
After narrowly defeating the enraged Stark - albeit at the cost of Bucky's cybernetic arm and Cap's indestructible shield - Cap makes his way to the underwater prison known as the Raft, where he rescues his team of rebel Avengers. With the exception of the Falcon, the group scatters - Ant-Man and an "officially retired" Hawkeye go home to their families, while the Scarlet Witch reunites with an increasingly more human-looking Vision.
Weeks later, Cap and Bucky accept the Black Panther's offer of sanctuary in Wakanda, where T'Challa and his sister Shuri place Bucky in cryo-sleep with the hopes of cleansing him of his Hydra programming. Months later, Shuri says she has made a breakthrough with an algorithm that will flush Bucky's mind of his Hydra trigger phrases without wiping his associated memories.
Meanwhile, Cap, Falcon, and a blonde Black Widow go undercover in Syria to stop a group of terrorists from shipping a Chitauri-fueled warhead. When asked by Natasha if he should call Tony in for back-up, Steve says Stark has enough on his plate - with their intel leading them to Lebanon next, Steve says to continue their mission. "After all..." he says, "Every little bit helps."
Back at Avengers Compound, Stark wrestles with a similar dilemma - about whether or not he should call Steve. Tinkering with the designs of an Iron Man suit, Tony says he's preparing for "the end of all things"... and that he needs to figure out how to do it alone.
Avengers: Infinity War Prelude #2 is scheduled to come out February 28, with the Avengers: Infinity War movie hitting theaters May 4.