[Warning: This story spoils the climactic reveal of Civil War II No. 5. Do not read any further if you don't want to know what happens at the end of the issue.]
Five issues in, and Marvel Entertainment's Civil War II has hit on the event that unlocks the series' metaphor about profiling and predictive policing, with the assembled heroes and readers alike witnessing a possible future where, for the second time in the series, one hero has been murdered by another … kind of.
What makes the latest event different from Hawkeye murdering Bruce Banner earlier in the series is threefold: Firstly, it hasn't actually happened; it's a possible future revealed in a collective vision. Secondly, the audience knows that the scene shown isn't quite as clear-cut as it appears to the characters in the story; although Spider-Man appears to have killed Captain America, readers know that the Captain America in question is actually a Hydra agent, making Spider-Man's killing potentially more understandable.
The third, unspoken but obvious, complication is that the Spider-Man in question is Miles Morales, meaning that the close of the issue - where Miles is arrested as a result of the vision - shows a young black man arrested by a white authority figure for a crime he has not actually committed.
To this point, Civil War II has implied the racial profiling aspect of its core concept, which sees Captain Marvel head up a movement to preemptively prevent crimes based upon the visions of an Inhuman with the power to see the future. Arguments between characters on Captain Marvel's side and the opposing view, led by Iron Man, have touched on issues raised by real-life so-called predictive policing without fully embracing the topic. Given the climax of this latest issue, that might be about to change.
Where the story will go in its remaining three issues is unclear. Certainly, both Captain America and Spider-Man survive the series, with solicited issues taking place after Civil War II apparently featuring both in prominent roles. The Miles Morales Spider-Man also will appear in the new Champions comic book, which has been promoted with the tagline "Change the World." Could that attitude come from dealing with an unjust system as a result of this latest development? As the best superhero stories put it, to be continued…
Civil War II No. 5 is available in comic book stores and digitally now.