Beast sits in the waiting room of Mercy West Hospital in White Plains NY, listening to news about some bizarre climate events outside Teetering Rocks, Idaho. The town has enlisted the help of Dr. Strange, who is interviewed. Hank is not impressed.
That moment, Bobby Drake leaves Scott Summers’ hospital room and tells Hank it is his turn. When asked how Scott is, he is told, “the same.”
Hank informs the sleeping Scott he looks dreadful, then apologizes. The doctors keep telling them he is lucky to be alive. The surgeon seemed legitimately astonished. No one should have survived that cave-in, he said. To which Bobby said: “you don’t know Scott Summers.” The awkward silence that followed was… lengthy.
What the hell are they still doing here? Hank wonders. This awful time where Scott’s name makes strangers cringe. He just so desperately wanted to believe they could make this work. Lead by example. Drag this sad people and their future back into the light. Such an optimistic notion… the arrogance! In the space of twelve hours, they’ve been handily defeated by the Blob. And the Toad! The Brotherhood of Evil Benchwarmers! And they left the best of them broken. Comatose.
He is beginning to wonder how he ever concocted so asinine a plan. Was he truly so naïve? Did he simply refuse to accept the truth? That this horrible place is beyond repair. That his supposedly brilliant but increasingly unimpressive mind hasn’t any clue how to get them home. He didn’t want to believe it, but Scott was right all along. They don’t belong here. And he is telling him right now, if he could wave a magic wand…
Hank’s eyes turn big as he realizes something. Without finishing his sentence, he runs outside.
Outside Teetering Rocks, Idaho, Dr. Strange casts a spell to seal the rift unsuccessfully. That moment, Hank pops up, asking for his help. Strange replies he’d be happy to but he is in the middle of something.
Hank bursts out he always considered magic a dirty cheat. Oh, blessed Vishanti! Strange mutters. Hocus pocus… band aids slapped on top of complicated problems, Hank continues, that impatient people have given up trying to solve. Effective maybe in the short term but also lazy and irresponsible. No offense. Of course not, Strange replies blandly. The point is, Hank insists, he doesn’t like magic, trusts it less. But science has failed him. Or perhaps he simply is not as smart as he once believed. Either way, he doesn’t know how to get the X-Men home.
So they are talking about time travel? Strange asks. Hank concurs. This crazy broken world is killing his friends. Figuratively, literally and everything in between! Dramatically, Hank exclaims he gives up. So show him where to sign and let’s cheat!
Much as he would like to reward that passionate, if wildly disrespectful, soliloquy with his quickest time travel spell— no way, not happening, is Strange’s surprising reaction. Now, if Hank will excuse him, he’s still busy.
Pickles, in the meantime, has been quietly exploring the rift and gets dragged down by something.
The two heroes hear a rumbling noise. Dr. Strange explains that is the veil separating this and the 12th dimension being torn wide open. He has cast four sealing spells but something is wrong with his magic. He tells Hank he has wandered into a supernatural tire fire. He’s tried to put it out and now it’s time to fight. The 12th dimension is a shadow realm. Its inhabitants are invisible to the human eye. He throws a mask with an Egyptian ankh symbol on it to Hank and orders Hank to put it on. It’s the third eye of Horus. It should allow Hank to see the world as Strange does. He warns Hank that common side effects of peeking beneath this veil include abject eye-bulging horror, screaming horror movie insanity and the loss of-- Hank is caught in visions of tentacled monsters. He screams and falls down the rift and passes out.
He awakes in the ruin of a building and asks what happened. Floating in the air, Dr. Strange explains that Hank passed out and he spent several hours defending them from the 12th dimension shadow goblins with the magical equivalent of a pointed stick. He’s welcome.
He passed out? Hank asks. Strange explains he did so to save his mind from madness. One can learn to process the impalatable but that takes years of practice. He apologizes for involving him. It’s ok, Hank replies. Being horrifically overwhelmed seems to be the new normal, he deadpans.
Strange tells him about his past. He too was a man of science once, a gifted surgeon until he damaged his hands in an accident. Science couldn’t give him his hands back, so he went in search of something that could. He went looking for a cheat, as Beast put it. But what he found was something else entirely. Magic is not simple. Not in the slightest. The science of sorcery and there is a sort of science to it is a uniquely complicated field of study with intricate if bendable rules and often devastating consequences. He is Sorcerer Supreme of this realm. He makes the impossible look easy every day of the week. But these hands still tremble when they try to hold a scalpel. There are no cheats, he states as he opens his third eye. Not even for him. The formless Dark attacks him.
Beast grabs the Mask of Horus and tries again. A third eye appears on his forehead and he screams, but this time he manages to attack the creature with the dagger Strange dropped.
Strange thanks and praises him. No terror this time? Oh, there was terror, Hank replies. Plenty of it. But when he felt himself slipping, he recalled Strange told him there is a science to it. So he just forced himself to see it that way. Instead of nightmares, it’s all math and science. Just a series of odd little equations, he remarks as he looks at the creature.
Odd in what way? Strange presses. Hank studies the creature closer. The theorems all make sense up to a certain point. He understands the basic moves, but then it all falls apart. Like this bit here seems to be nonsense. What sort of nonsense? Strange asks. Hank doesn’t know. He’s never seen a magical theorem before. It just looks… broken. Strange asks him to show him. Hank does and Strange agrees. It’s worse than he thought. Breaking down, all of it.
He casts a spell, drawing the creatures all into him. Beast asks why he didn’t do that before. That was a hocus pocus band aid, is the reply. It won’t hold for long. And comes at great personal cost. But it will have to do for now. He clearly has bigger fish to fry. He frees Pickles and hands him over to Hank.
Later, he apologizes for being unable to send Hank back to his time period. If it’s any consolation, from what he’s seen today that old antiquated brain of Hank’s is still quite brilliant. If mastery over time and space is a thing he needs, then get to work. Figure it out for himself.
Hank wants to return the Mask of Horus but Strange tells him to keep it. You never know when a third eye might come in handy...