SPOILER WARNING: This article discusses major plot details and developments in the 2016 Free Comic Book Day "Civil War II" #1 prelude, in stores now.
Maybe some day we'll see a war without casualties, but it won't be in "Civil War II," as this summer's sequel to the 2006-2007 Marvel crossover began with a bang in the Free Comic Book Day prequel issue, sidelining a pair of long-serving Avengers.
Timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the original Mark Millar/Steve McNiven miniseries, as well as Marvel Studios' "Captain America: Civil War," the story -- by Brian Michael Bendis, Jim Cheung, John Dell, and Justin Ponsor -- follows a familiar formula: Marvel's world is sent into upheaval when a standard bit of superheroics goes awry, with the devastation dividing the heroes into warring camps. As in the previous comic, heavy losses are sustained, raising tensions and stakes for the oft-invulnerable characters.
The first two to fall are among the most beloved figures within the Avengers universe -- War Machine and She-Hulk. During an altercation with Thanos, who was attempting to steal back his precious Cosmic Cube from Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S., a squad of superheroes led by Captain Marvel is laid low by the Mad Titan as teamwork fails. Rhodey takes the worst of the damage, sustaining what looks to be a killing blow from Thanos, but She-Hulk doesn't fare much better, as she takes a critical hit from a wayward War Machine missile.
The real rub is that the strike force only found Thanos due to the precognitive powers of the Inhuman Ulysses, who spurs the investigation and sets the team down its deadly path. Now, in the aftermath, will the Marvel heroes embrace Ulysses' abilities, and try and take preventative measures against future devastation, or does the Inhuman and his influence warrant greater scrutiny? And if the heroes aren't able to pull through, how will mourning leaders like Captain Marvel and Iron Man react?
The fates of War Machine, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel and other key Marvel characters will begin to reveal themselves later this month, when "Civil War II" #0, by Bendis and Olivier Coipel, hits the stands. It's followed in June by "Civil War II" #1, by Bendis and David Marquez.