'Vengeance is mine!' the last survivor of Xandar known as Super-Nova boasts as he streaks through space towards the planet Earth on the blackest of revenge missions. He soars away from the fragments of the starship that carried him to this solar system, the starship he then exploded in a burst of blinding radiance – with the Avengers who sought him out still aboard! He moves closer to Earth, simply to reduce it to ashes, incinerate it in the belief that the space-pirate known as Nebula who had decimated his homeworld had sought refuge here as a member of the Avengers. Through trickery, Nebula had indeed entered the Avengers ranks, but only for a period of days. She is not on Earth, though no amount of persuasion could convince Super-Nova of this. He arrives over a dense city, to begin the rampage he believes will drive Nebula from the shadows – a rampage that will leave this world a cinder, the rampage of Super-Nova!
With his arrival comes the white light of his ship's massive flare-up, originating just over the rim of the moon. Of such unprecedented intensity, the explosion is viewed by observatories around the globe as a new astronomical phenomenon. It is reported by newsmen anxious to focus on something other than the new president and his final cabinet choices, and is analyzed by anxious military commanders, careful of a Cold War escalation in the era of glasnost, and is gaped at by countless rubberneckers in dozens of cities.
In Manhattan, at Four Freedoms Plaza, headquarters of the Fantastic Four, the newest tenant in the skyscraper attempts to ignore the phenomenon and continue his unpacking. His name is Wendell Vaughn, and as he goes about his unpacking, he thinks to himself that rent may be sky-high here, but that you can't beat the location, as it is a good place to open Vaughn Security Consultants. Wendell thinks to himself that it is great to be back home on Earth after such a long time, and that it seems like a century ago since he was the head of security at Project Pegasus. The handsome young man tells himself that reminiscing is not going to get his office supplies unpacked. 'Ugh, there must be a hundred boxes here' he laments. Suddenly, Wendell notices that his Quantum-Bands are starting to glow, and then they become visible. He knows that means there must be some type of energy surge occurring somewhere on Earth and wonders if it has anything to do with his prime directive, but as he looks out his window, he is unable to tell from here.
Wendell jokes that he better alert “the boss” and goes into another of his offices, where he opens a closet, to reveal a strange glowing mass called Eon. Wendell reports that he is going out to investigate something and that he will be back soon. He pulls his shirt open, revealing his costume underneath, and declares that it is time for Wendell Elvis Vaughn to transform into the man called Quasar! And with that, the cosmic-powered hero flies out into the city. Quasar lets the Quantum-Bands guide him toward the source of the energy signature, and realizes that he is being directed diagonally out of Manhattan in a westerly direction – inland.
At that moment, in Chicago, 'Hey, that guy must be at least thirty-feet tall – and he's flying!' a bus driver calls out, looking out his window at Super-Nova who descends over the city. 'Yeah and it looks like he's heading towards the Sears Trade Tower!' a nearby civilian points out. Super-Nova lands before the extremely tall building and declares that this great metropolis will serve his purpose perfectly, and decides that it is fitting his assault begins at such a monumental man-made structure. He then raises his arms and fires energy towards the Sears Trade Tower. The energy strikes the building, and words form in the air above Super-Nova, warning Nebula to surrender or perish. 'Let these words go forth among your people! I will lay waste this planet unless she is brought before me!' Super-Nova announces.
Suddenly: 'Hold it right there! Identify yourself and make no further hostile gestures!' Quasar exclaims as he hovers before Super-Nova. Super-Nova introduces himself as the only survivor of Xandar and asks Quasar if he knows the woman called Nebula. 'Nebula? Why, no' Quasar replies. 'A pity' Super-Nova remarks as he opens fire at Quasar who flies just in time, dodging the attack. But Quasar knows that he only barely avoided that blast, and that, obviously, Super-Nova could destroy the city, so subduing him must be the first course. Quasar unleashes his Quantum-Bands towards Super-Nova, using the energy he draws from the other-dimensional “Quantum Zone”, to manifest large shackles that he thinks will hold Super-Nova. But the alien being smirks, then releases his own energy within the quantum-shackles. This puts a strain on Quasar who knows that Super-Nova is trying to break the sub-particle restraints. 'Do you grow tired, human?' Super-Nova calls out as Quasar continues to hold his own against him, but Quasar admits to himself that the strain is unbearable.
'Check this out!' a reporter in a news helicopter remarks as it flies overhead. 'C'mon, dip down a bit – we've got the story of the year and I need pictures!' the reporter tells the pilot, who asks 'You saving film fer our funeral, too?' At the same time, Quasar reaches his maximum – he hasn't got the strength to draw more power through the bands. He laments that he has failed his first mission since coming back, as Super-Nova breaks free from the quantum-restraints, and releases a surge of energy that knocks Quasar backwards. Thankfully, he has an energy nimbus around him that prevents him from being blown apart – but looking up he sees that the chopper has been hit by the blast, so he flies over and grabs it before it crashes, lowering it onto the nearest roof. 'I think that guy from New York grabbed us! What's his name...Thor – with the cape and the blond hair?' the reporter asks. 'Y'sure he's one of the good guys?' the pilot asks as Quasar sets them down safely.
Super-Nova notes that his message to Nebula was destroyed while he fought Quasar, and warns the young hero that for the inconvenience, his end will be harsh. He raises a hand and fires an energy beam at Quasar, who strengthens his quantum shield as much as he can – the impact is staggering, and knocks Quasar back as the young hero who tries to stay aloft.
Meanwhile, several thousand miles away, the scene is far more placid in the southern California headquarters of the West Coast branch of the Avengers, where Dr Henry Pym, Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye, Greer Grant Nelson a.k.a. Tigra and Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man are playing a game of cards. 'It's raise or call, leader man!' Pym calls out to Hawkeye, who asks Hank if he is sure he wants to stay in. 'I hate taking a man's hard-earned bread' Hawkeye jokes. 'He's bluffing again' Tigra grins. 'Bluffing? Listen, Tigra, you may have the instincts of a jungle cat, but I'm Mr Nine-Lives when it comes to poker. Back when I was in the carny -' Clint begins, before the video monitor sounds. Clint tells his teammates not to mess with the cards as he goes over to the monitor and sees Juan, one of the West Coast Avengers' support staff on the monitor. Juan informs Hawkeye that a huge humanoid of possible extraterrestrial origin has been sighted in Chicago. Clint thanks Juan and asks him to patch him through to the East Coast team. Clint considers the fact that the East Coast team might already be dealing with this, as Chicago is halfway between the two teams.
Peggy Carter, Communications Officer for the East Coast branch of the Avengers appears on the monitor and she asks Hawkeye what she can do for him. Hawkeye asks Peggy if the Avengers have gone off to Chicago to check out the possible alien presence, but Peggy informs him that the Avengers are investigating something in space and are overdue reporting in. She asks Hawkeye if he needs anything else, but pulling his mask down over his eyes, Hawkeye thanks Peggy and tells her to keep the faith. Hawkeye returns to his teammates, and after explanations have been made, Hawkeye tells his teammates that the poker game is on hold and that they have to go to Chicago. Wonder Man stands up and suggests that that sounds like the cue for their spine-chilling rallying cry of theirs: 'Avengers Assemble!' the team shouts in unison.
Meanwhile, in the vacuum of space, where all sound is a stranger, the silent explosion of Super-Nova's ship continues, as the friction-less zero gravity environment allows the event to proceed almost eternally. Could any living being caught in the epi-center of the blast survive for more than a fraction of a millisecond even if they were members of Earth's foremost super-powered team? Almost certainly not. But these are Avengers, Avengers who have cheated the reaper so often it seems routine. 'We're alive!' one of them calls out inside an invisible force bubble that surrounds the team as the explosion radiates around them. Amidst the hurtling fragments of the shredded ship, Reed Richards a.k.a. Mr Fantastic tells his wife Susan Storm-Richards the Invisible Woman that she performed the most spectacular last-second save ever, putting them in the force field just as Super-Nova exploded the vessel. 'Was the only thing that could have saved us, darling, I know' Susan remarks.
Thor looks at the Invisible Woman and tells her that it is obvious she is under great physical strain, and asks her if she can lower her force field so that he can exit and assist. Susan tells Thor to climb in the direction he is heading, if he can fight the inertia. Reed notes that he is pinned to the bubble due to the acceleration, while Thor is strong enough to move forward in the bubble. Susan announces that she is creating a cylinder on top of the sphere which Thor can climb into, and thinks to herself that so often in the Fantastic Four her powers were underrated, yet here, in the Avengers, she is the only one whose abilities could have saved them. Sue knows that if she hadn't put an extra “coating” of force to survive the buffeting, she would have passed out – and what would have happened then. Thor reaches the far end of the bubble, and finds the aperture. He climbs into the extra part of the bubble, and decides that it is strange to be held by a wall of solid force produced in the mind of a mortal female, and notes that it hath the seeming of Asgardian sorcery itself.
Gilgamesh the Forgotten One declares that it is only fitting he shares the God of Thunder's travails in the blackness beyond, but he can't muster the strength to move forward, and Susan tells him that it is not necessary, as Thor is just about entirely inside the cylinder, which she will then cut off from the main bubble. Thor fills his lungs to the fullest measure, as he needs a large amount of air to survive in space. Thor gives Susan a signal, and she closes the sphere, dropping the force field around Thor, enabling the Asgardian to move about in space. Thor clings to the force bubble and decides that its velocity must be slowed. He hurls his hammer away into space, the sacred enchantment bestowed upon it by his father, Odin, dictates that it will return to him – and moments later, it does return to Thor's hand, the fore of which slows the bubble down. Thor knows that he must repeat this over and over to continue to slow the force bubble down again, shifting his balance upon each retrieval to guide the force bubble towards Earth below them. Gilgamesh watches Thor and decides that there is far more than brawn to that magnificent warrior, and declares that the Eternals would have been proud to claim him as one of their own. 'We mere mortals have our uses, too, Gilgamesh' Susan snaps.
At that moment, in the skies above Chicago: 'Unless that's someone from the Beards front line I've never seen – I'd say we've found our target!' one of the West Coast Avengers exclaims as their fly towards Super-Nova in their Quinjet. Hawkeye is piloting the Quinjet and tells his teammates that he thinks their files have info on a guy wearing a costume like that, only he was normal-sized man and appeared as s super-hero, briefly, a few years back. 'His name was, uhh – Nova – I guess' Hawkeye adds. 'They don't seem to be treating him like a super hero, look!' Wonder Man points to where a police barricade has surrounded Super-Nova. 'Unless that's how they do things here in the windy city' Wonder Man adds, before telling Hawkeye to zoom in. 'I'm the strongest member of this combo and I want first crack at taking him out!' Wonder Man boasts. 'You got it, Wondy' Hawkeye replies, before warning Simon not to get cocky, as Super-Nova is big, and bullets don't seem to bother him. 'Good luck' Hawkeye calls out
Wonder man engages his belt rockets and flies towards Super-Nova, as the Quinjet darts past him, Super-Nova declares that it is puerile attempt to distract him with the sudden swooping of this primitive vessel, and laughs, boasting that he will reach out and crush it – but suddenly, he sees Wonder Man flying towards him: 'Save the squashing for later, big boy. Right now – just hold that pose! I want to remember you just the way you are!' Wonder Man exclaims, before he slams his fist into Super-Nova's face, causing the behemoth to stumble backwards. But Super-Nova gathers himself and grabs Wonder Man. Hawkeye sees this, and swings the Quinjet back in. 'You could have at least fallen on a few buildings to make it look good!' Wonder Man complains. 'Enough games, human! Where is the woman Nebula?' Super-Nova asks. 'Now that would be telling, right, High-Pockets?' Wonder Man replies, causing Super-Nova to get frustrated and throw Wonder Man to the ground, where he lands with such force that breaks the street below
'Did you see that?' Pym calls out in the Quinjet, which Hawkeye maneuvers between the skyscrapers. 'Even back when I was Giant-Man I could never have done that!' Hank exclaims, and Hawkeye agrees.
Luckily, the situation seems temporarily a bit better for the East Coast team, as they re-enter the Earth's atmosphere, as Thor directs Susan's force bubble downwards. Reed declares that this is magnificent teamwork, and points out that if Thor hadn't taken action when he did, they might very well have overshot the Earth. Reed then asks Susan how she is holding up, as she maintains the force bubble, Susan reports that she is feeling a little woozy because the oxygen is getting thin inside the bubble, and as they have dropped into the atmosphere, the heat of re-entry is starting. 'Can you -' Reed begins, but Susan tells him that is not the problem, as her force bubble isn't a physical object, so it can't catch fire, but the air itself is igniting because of the speed at which the sphere is hitting it, and that is her problem, the air pressure, because the quicker they descend, the more pressure there is on the bubble, and it is getting quite intense.
Susan knows that if she drops the sphere, they will burn up instantly, so tells herself that she must find the strength. Suddenly, Firelord, who has been inside the bubble with the Avengers, speaks, after regaining consciousness, and tells the Invisible Woman that she will not struggle alone. Reed asks Firelord what he can do, pointing out that when they rescued him from Super-Nova's ship, he was so weak, out of it. Firelord moves to the front of the bubble and explains that much as Super-Nova, he, too, if a child of the planet Xandar, and his non-human physiology allows him quick recovery. He instructs the Invisible woman to do what she did for Thor, project an auxiliary of the main sphere so that he may enter. Susan complies, and once Firelord is safely into the second part of the sphere, he tells the Invisible Woman to drop the secondary shield, as he is capable of surviving the outside conditions.
Firelord realizes that it is only a matter of time before Susan Richards must relinquish her force field from sheer exhaustion, and uses his abilities to divert the atmospheric flames around the outside of the bubble so that its occupants will not be incinerated when the bubble drops. Suddenly, Susan tells Reed that she can't hold out, as the air is too thin, the pressure too great. Reed tells her that she has done more than anyone could have hoped, and that they will all take a hand in the rescue now. Reed stretches his body and grabs the Invisible Woman, while telling everyone who can't fly to grab onto him, his stretched body acts as parachute, which he hopes will significantly break their fall. The bubble bursts, and Thor flies towards Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America, declaring that the true heart of the Avengers shall suffer no injury while he prevents to live it. 'You get my vote, partner!' Cap replies as Thor grabs him.
Firelord flies towards Gilgamesh, and tells him to fear not, as he risked his life to save him on Super-Nova's ship, he shall do the same now, but Gilgamesh tells Firelord that there is no need, as he can fly. Reed informs the Avengers that he has observed the land masses as they have fallen, and suggests that if they angle their descent properly, they should make it to dry land near the LA headquarters of the West Coast Avengers.
At that moment, in Chicago, Hawkeye lands the Quinjet, and a police officer nearby thinks that this is like something out of “Star Wars”. As the Avengers emerge from the Qiuinjet, Pym sees Wonder Man climbing out of the hole in the ground, and although he looks groggy, with his indestructible body, he should be all right. 'Good. Then we can concentrate on talking to the brass and seeing what's what. Flash those Avengers Priority Cards, boys and girls' Hawkeye tells his teammates, as a man in a military uniform approaches them and introduces himself as General Akord. He reports that the giant landed here moments ago and began ranting and tearing up the city. He adds that before their teammate showed up, another costumed character engaged him in battle, but he was kayoed. Hawkeye as Akord what the other dude looked like, and where he is, but before the General can respond, Tigra informs Hawkeye that they just heard on the radio that the East Coasters have landed at the West Coast headquarters and commandeered a Quinjet, and are now headed this way.
'Just great' Hawkeye mutters, annoyed that Cap and the others will be here to grab all the glory, and the West Coast team will come off looking like blasted also-rans. Leaping onto the roof of a car, Hawkeye tells Tigra and Pym to cover him, as he plans to send a flare arrow up and get the giant's attention. 'And then what, fearless leader?' Tigra respond. 'Never question your commander, baby! Do you think I'd be attempting this if I didn't know exactly what I was doing?' Clint replies, while Super-Nova tears up the railway track on a bridge, boasting that he wants Nebula brought to him now. 'My threats are not idle! Must I -' Super-Nova begins, before the arrow explodes near his face. He holds up the railway tracks which he has bent to spell out “Bring me Nebula” and looks down at Hawkeye, who introduces himself as the leader of the Avengers. 'I know Hawkeye's prone to impulsive acts. I know he's worried about having the spotlight stolen. I know -' Hank begins, to which Tigra interrupts him, 'Point taken, Hank. Let's just get to him before he's killed!' Tigra meows.
'Here goes' Hawkeye thinks to himself as Super-Nova reaches down and picks him up, asking him how he can be the Avengers' commander, when he already have encountered them on his space ship. 'Oh, that. Okay, ahem – let me clear that up' Hawkeye responds as Super-Nova holds him in his hand. Super-Nova warns Hawkeye that his patience is exhausted, so he should not blather, and asks where the woman called Nebula is, as it was she who destroyed his world, Xandar, then fled to hide here among the Avengers. 'So that's a summary of what's eating this guy!' Hawkeye thinks to himself, knowing that he has to play for time. 'Ixnay on the finger-flexing, pal! I can't tell you much if I'm in two pieces!' Hawkeye points out, before rubbing the back of his neck and informing Super-Nova that there are two teams of Avengers, an uptight East Coast team and a free-wheeling West Coast bunch of buddies. He suggests that before they can actually locate Ms Nebula, they need to figure out which team she would have likely hitched up with.
Hawkeye tells Super-Nova that the ball is back in his court, and asks him to explain what type of lady Nebula was so that his memory can be refreshed. Super-Nova doesn't respond, so Hawkeye asks him if the question was too tough, or whether he doesn't want to betray the lady's confidence. 'Is the air too thin up here?' Hawkeye asks. 'Yoo-hoo, McFly, anybody home?' Hawkeye calls out, but still gets no response. Hawkeye looks concerned, as he sees Super-Nova's eyes narrowing, and feels his grip tightening. Clint thinks that maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea if Cap did show up about now, and realizes that since he hasn't the faintest idea where Nebula is, he may have just bought the farm!