Who is Ulysses? That is the question I have been wondering since I read my first Civil War II comic. I know what he can do and what he has done, but there has been no back story to tell us how this important character came to be so important. Now we’re starting to learn his story with Civil War II: Ulysses Tower of Wisdom Part I.
Ulysses is the Inhuman who can see the future. He is the man responsible for the confrontation that led to the Hulk’s death, and he is the one who has set in motion many of the events of the second civil war. What we don’t know is how this Inhuman came to be who he is.
Ulysses is on a journey with Iso, Flint, and Medusa to see Karnak. I particularly liked how the story starts with a journey. Ulysses is famous for his long journey in The Odyssey and it’s nice to see the connection to that in the opening pages of this book. But the journey doesn’t take long.
Medusa explains that the trek to Karnak, the Magister of the Tower of Wisdom, is a form of penance for their flaws. Karnak is the most interesting character in the book. He is the one who can see all the flaws in everything. How will Karnak embrace the one who can see what will happen?
Karnak only has respect for Medusa because she is the Queen. He does not feel anything for Iso or Flint. Needless to say his contempt for them results in confrontations but it only reinforces what Karnak believes, that they are weak. Finally he addresses Ulysses and it is Medusa who gives us the backstory.
He was found running through the woods screaming in terror, showing no real outward powers. The Inhumans learned about his precognition, and that he not only sees the future but experiences it completely. Medusa’s hope is that if Ulysses can gain a greater mastery of his powers it could be a benefit to the whole world. Karnak is the voice of doubt when he wonders if Ulysses will end up bringing ruin to the world because he has mastered his power. But he doesn’t make policy so he agrees to teach Ulysses the wisdom of the tower. Ulysses is left to follow an indifferent Karnak into the tower where the door slams and Medusa wonders if this was a good idea.
Not much happens in this comic. It has five characters and there is little action. This is just one brick in the wall of Civil War II. It just so happens this brick is the very center of the bottom of the wall. Without it we wouldn’t understand how things came to be.
I have always enjoyed the works of Phillip K. Dick, especially Minority Report. How would anyone respond to knowing the future? The central question is, wouldn’t we almost guarantee the future if we knew what was to come? Or wouldn’t we make a worse future by trying to avoid what has been forecasted? The other problem that so many miss is, what is predicted by one person, in this case Ulysses, is his interpretation. Interpretations differ depending on a person’s experience. My wife really liked Bridget Jones’ Diary, I did not.
For a story that really sets up so much in other books, I really enjoyed this comic. I could make so many connections to other themes and literature that I was left wondering what I would do if I was in this situation. Medusa is bent on Ulysses mastering this power so that he could help the world. We saw what Ulysses’ power meant for Captain Marvel and Iron Man when they went to arrest the Hulk. No one has asked though if this power is a good thing.
Karnak is the closest to questioning but as he said, he must obey his queen and he doesn’t make policy. I find it interesting that the character who is so good at pointing out flaws doesn’t proceed to show the dangers of a power that Ulysses has. It makes me want to continue to read the series and find out what Karnak does.
Any Civil War fan will want to read Civil War II: Ulysses Tower of Wisdom Part I.