The cover to Civil War II #1 by David Marquez.

If you are reading Marvel comics now, then you know that they are still right in the middle of a giant crossover called Civil War II. To put it simply, it’s a conflict between two sides, one led by Iron Man (Tony Stark), the other led by Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers), all about how to use an Inhuman “seer” named Ulysses who has visions of future calamities.

Now, Tony has come down on the “Protect the Future” side, saying that these visions aren’t 100% accurate because Ulysses uses current information to merely “profile” what the most logical outcome in the future will be, which means that his visions are influenced by the reliability or unreliability of the information he receives and could also be influenced by what he thinks. Carol, on the other hand, says that even if these visions are merely profiles of the future, they are enough to save lives. They don’t have to be reactive, but rather proactive, stopping threats before they start and thereby preventing people from getting hurt or dying.

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Now, this might not have been a huge deal (they might have simply had an argument over it) had the second mission to stop one of Ulysses’s visions not resulted in Thanos killing James “War Machine” Rhodes, Tony’s best friend and Carol’s boyfriend. So now both of them are invested in seeing their side win, with Tony blaming Carol for Rhodey’s death and Carol wanting to save as many people as possible in order to make Rhodey’s death mean something.

Which is all to say that Civil War II might have worked out better had it not lasted so long. It doesn’t really seem to fit the “giant crossover” mold, but rather as a quieter storyline that crosses over between Tony’s and Carol’s books. And, when you look at the way the main book as been received (and how Carol has been portrayed in it), you can see why io9 is calling it a “hot mess.”

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Which isn’t to say that it’s all bad. The tie-ins, in particular, have ranged from good to great. But the most recent issue of Invincible Iron Man, #14, which it seems it also the last issue before it’s relaunched, shows exactly why this didn’t need to be a big giant crossover: because it expertly shows Tony and Carol having a disagreement without making either one of them a bad guy. It’s a complicated issue which this book knows and the conversation they have doesn’t resolve anything, but it also shows that you can have a Hero vs. Hero fight without resorting to everyone picking a side and having a giant battle.

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This issue starts off with Tony needing to go to an AA meeting, but he can’t go to his regular one, because that’s also Carol’s regular AA meeting.

However, the actual meat of the issue doesn’t kick in until Tony goes to a meeting...only to find that Carol is also there, too.

Tony leaves and Carol goes to stop him, just to talk. And they do talk. They don’t fight, they actually have a heart-to-heart conversation.

And then, at the point where you think they might actually fight each other, Tony stops. And they sit down and talk some more.

It becomes quite clear that both of them still remember when they were friends and still want to be friends, but that feeling that each of them is in the right, that each of them can’t back down is stopping them.

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And the conversation ends with both of them pleading with the other to stop, but both of them saying no.

This is what we needed in the big crossover book, not in the tie-in: more character depth, more character development. Something that makes both Tony and Carol deeply sympathetic, but also makes you realize how they would both see their side as right.

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Man, Bendis sure could use some writing lessons from the writer of Invincible Iron Man. Who is it again? Somebody named...Brian Michael Bendis. Oh. Well.