NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for "Civil War II" #8
The first time that "Civil War" came to the Marvel Universe, it did so anchored in timely, relevant social issues on the mind of most Americans: Tony Stark favoring national security over personal privacy, and Captain America standing up to defend civil liberties above all else. It was a clash that rent the entirety of the Marvel Universe in two, with heroes picking a side on the Superhero Registration, and plenty of villains being recruited to help bolster the ranks. In the end, Cap's morality meant he had no choice but to surrender to the will of the people... and the fallout stretched to the present day.
While the clash underpinning Marvel's current "Civil War II" hasn't received as much critical praise as its predecessor, there have still been plenty of shocking moments in the event so far. Betrayals exposed, heroes killed by their former friends, and moral lines crossed in the name of safeguarding the future for (or from) Earth's citizens. And with the final issue now released, detailing the climactic battle between Captain Marvel and Iron Man, we finally have our winner.
SPOILERS ahead, obviously.
Captain Marvel Wins The War
Marvel had actually teased the outcome ahead of time, with Captain Marvel a.k.a. Carol Danvers sticking to her guns, and placing her entire morality and ethical grounds on the visions of the future offered by the Inhuman Ulysses. While most heroes (and a ton of readers) were quick to point out that arresting people before they actually committed a crime seemed like a slippery slope, Carol remained steadfast. Even when those suspects shown to be terrorists in premonitions turned out to appear completely innocent, Carol wouldn't budge - and with every step, Tony Stark dug his heels in a bit farther.
Initially motivated by the death of his best friend, James "Rhodey" Rhodes in one of these anticipated battles, Tony came to embrace the science of the future visions, noting they were just a glimpse of the possible future. But when one vision showed Spider-Man Miles Morales standing over the dead body of Captain America, the line in the sand was drawn. And in Issue #7, Cap and Spidey arrived at the scene of the (future?) crime - with Captain Marvel and Iron Man close behind. Tony refused to let Spider out of his protection, and Carol saw it as yet another reason to fight Tony with everything she had, in the name of the future (and more than a little sick of his ego).
The cover image of Issue #8's finale teased the fall of Iron Man, and in the issue itself, that exact outcome came to pass. With one devastating blow to Tony's hulking armor after another, the suit eventually gave way, shattering into pieces and sending Tony, unconscious, to the ground below.
From that point on... things really only got weirder. Ulysses found himself pulling the heroes present into another shared vision - or visions - of possible futures in store for the Marvel Universe. One at the hands of the X-Men's Sentinels, another as a result of another Ultron, and finally a Thor-themed take on Ragnarok. Before the group could make sense of the alternate futures, Ulysses communed with a cosmic being, inviting him to leave behind the humans he had so clearly evolved beyond.
Meanwhile, Tony Stark remains in some serious trouble, thanks to his own experimentation. Placed inside a device of his own making, Tony remains in stasis, with Hank McCoy a.k.a. Beast discerning that the number of experiments Tony had slowly been conducting on himself has so drastically altered his body, even the brilliant doctor is unable to examine him without fear of unknown risks. In other words: Carol won the fight, but has put Tony into a far more uncertain state than death - and who knows for how long.
Add in Beast's own musings that Tony was truly afraid of the door Carol was opening than her own abilities to govern it - afraid of "who comes after her" - and you've got as bittersweet an ending as the original "Civil War," this time with Tony on the losing side.
What The Future Holds
Unfortunately for all involved, the victory is really just the start of the real changes coming to Marvel's Universe. As fans will remember, the "Civil War II" story actually began with James Rhodes being offered a role in the President of the United States' cabinet, paving the way for Rhodey to one day become President himself (as a link between the everyday Americans and the otherworldly heroes they must now contend with daily). But with Rhodey gone, that reliable choice for America's future has faded, too - but it's a job that still needs to be filled.
As disillusioned as Carol may seem after the war ended the way it did (she's not budging on her positions, though), and without her primary weapon in policing the future, the day after tomorrow continues its march closer. Which is what brings her to stand before the President (cloaked in shadows) prepared to cash in her success for an unknown reward. Standing at the very tip of America's military and executive, with no Marvel hero left to stand in her way, Carol Danvers has some choices to make... "about the future."
Will Beast's words resonate, and lead Carol to finally see the totalitarian regimes potentially coming over the horizon now that she's added the notion of 'certainty of the future' to America's intelligence community? Or will it be the various end of the world scenarios glimpsed by Ulysses that she now looks to prevent, by any means necessary? Only time will tell.
The war may be over, but a whole new battle is about to begin for every hero in its wake.
Civil War II #8 is available now.