Avengers Mansion, where the first post-Onslaught roster of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes has recently settled into as home. Founding member, the Asgardian God Thor, drops down from the sky after returning from Minnesota. He greets the Avengers’ butler, Edwin Jarvis, good morning, and Jarvis proclaims that it is a delight to have the mansion so full of life again. Jarvis asks the God of Thunder if he has had any luck in finding his fellow Asgardians yet. Thor regrets that he hasn’t, but he has managed to find certain artifacts of Asgard, such as the Cask of Ancient Winters, which he found in Minnesota. Jarvis proclaims how beautiful it is, but that he thinks it looks slightly tarnished and offers to polish it and put it into one of the display cases in the upstairs hall.
Thor agrees to this, but cautions Jarvis against opening it for if he did then the world would be blanketed in a new Ice Age. Jarvis drops the mail at hearing this and Thor picks it up, and reading one of the addresses on an envelope he sees that it is addressed to the South American nation of Costa Verde. He asks if something there concerns the Avengers, but Jarvis replies that it is a personal matter. Thor apologizes, not intending to pry, before asking Jarvis if he has stockpiled any ambrosial chicken piccata. Jarvis watches Thor go down the hallway towards the kitchen and calls that he will be there in a moment.
In the Avengers high-tech training room, Captain America is engaging in an exercise with Carol Danvers, the former Ms. Marvel, now known as Warbird. As blasts go off all around the symbol of a nation he calls to Warbird to be careful as the blast cannons are anticipating her, and trying to force her lower to the floor. He adds that if one doesn’t move above them, then one will get within the range of the securi-snares – which is what Warbird has got caught in. Carol jokes to Cap that he can do all he just did and still keep an eye on her, but what she is really doing is getting caught in the securi-snares so they can draw her downwards – so she can do “this”. And Carol unleashes a blast of energy, destroying the robots.
Carol sees that there is one robot still standing and fires more energy blasts at it, but to no avail as it still stands. Cap asks her if she needs a hand and Carol tells him that he is an officer and a gentleman, but all she needed was time to regroup, and she unleashes another blast of energy on the robot, this time, causing it to be destroyed. Carol tells Steve Rogers that she thinks this concludes the exercise, and Cap agrees, adding that it was the fastest “capture the flag” routine he has seen since Quicksilver was an Avenger. Carol thanks Cap but tells him that she couldn’t have done it without him, and that he is as good with the new triangular shield as he was with the old one.
Modest as ever, Cap says that he could be better, before mentioning that he thinks her new codename suits her aerial maneuvering and that it was some of the finest he had seen since the Battle of Britain. Carol smiles and says ‘You’re only saying that because it’s true!’ Before her mood changes swifter than her flight skills when Cap asks her why she didn’t switch to her Binary form. Warbird walks quickly away from him and changing the subject she suggests they raid Jarvis’ pantry for some cookies and lemonade, as they deserve them. She tells Cap to wait there and she will be back soon. Looking concerned, Steve wonders what that was all about, for al he did was mention her Binary powers, which she could have made short work of anything in the “playroom” if she used them. However he disregards it, because he knows Carol is a pro and wouldn't let any personal problem affect her performance…
Meanwhile, in one of the Mansions many sub-basements, brilliant scientist, Tony Stark, a.k.a. founding Avenger, the Invincible Iron Man, is monitoring the injured Avenger, the Vision. Recording what is going on, Tony mentions that the Vision’s synthezoid body never ceases to amaze him, for while it is entirely artificial, it is uncannily human, for any other machine that suffered that kind of damage would have been totaled. The Vision’s body seems to replace itself with each individual micro that was lots in the damage, and while the reconstruction is going slow, Tony is confident it will succeed.
Suddenly, the Vision’s holographic form appears next to Iron Man and the Vision’s body lying in a tank. Vision tells Iron Man that he agrees that the damage is great, but that it is nothing his machines cannot repair. Tony was a little surprised at seeing the Vision appear next to him, telling him that it is a little unsettling. Vision states that he will be less abrupt in the future, and asks how the Scarlet Witch is faring. Somewhat surprised by the Vision’s concern for his ex-wife, Tony replies that she asks for regular reports on his progress, but for some reason she never wants to come into the lab. Tony tells Vision that he knows a little bit about women, and giving Vision some advice, he believes they will patch whatever problem there is to patch up soon.
Vision informs Tony that there is nothing to “patch up” as his marriage ended when he was destroyed and rebuilt, and despite regaining emotion since that time, he is still a different person than the man Wanda married, which means they no longer have a relationship. Iron Man thinks to himself that if Vision keeps telling himself that he may believe it – or worse, if he keeps acting like it then it may come true.
Walking down Fifth Avenue, two best friends have some time to catch up. Earth’s Mightiest Marksman, Clint Barton a.k.a. the handsome archer Hawkeye tells his best friend Wanda Maximoff that he is starting to regret offering to come along and play pack mule, for he is loaded with new things Wanda has bought. Wanda Maximoff, the extremely powerful mutant known as the Scarlet Witch, daughter of Magneto, tells her best friend that the Wasp advised her to spend money whenever she is depressed, yet she thinks it doesn’t work for her as well as it does for Jan, because she isn't much happier.
Clint jokes that if Jan ever closes her Bloomingdales account he hears they were planning to retire her account number before telling Wanda that whenever he gets antsy he picks fights, though he quickly adds that he doesn’t think it would work for her. Getting serious, Clint asks Wanda if the Vision being messed up has anything to do with her mood. Wanda admits that it is partially the Vision, but also Wonder Man, as they all thought he died, but then in Morgan’s world she hexed him back to life, then he – or she – sacrificed himself again, but Wanda doesn’t feel like he is really gone. Confused, Wanda tells Clint that she doesn’t feel Simon has finished with her yet.
Clint tells Wanda that it is a good thing if she can bring Simon back to life, but is cut off before he can go any further, for their Avengers membership cards beep. Wanda tells Clint that he has hands full so she will get hers. Answering it, she tells Captain America that Clint is with her, Cap tells Wanda that he needs them both back at the Mansion as there is an emergency. Wanda replies that they will be there in five minutes. Clint tells Wanda that it looks like she will get to try his way of blowing off steam after all! Wanda looks into her best friends eyes as she rhetorically asks Clint if he loves this, for she saw it in his eyes the moment the call came in. The danger, the battles, the constant challenges, its what he lives for. Clint smiles and reminds Wanda that they are Avengers, and asks her what could be cooler than that?
Minutes later, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Thor, Warbird and the holographic projection of the Vision have assembled in one of the meeting rooms. They are sitting around a table, where on a monitor is their new team liaison, Duane Freeman, who thanks the Avengers for responding so quickly, as they have a troublesome situation. Clint tells Duane to skip the prologue and ‘jump to the good part’.
Duane complies and explains that the situation began with a sunken alien spacecraft found by S.H.I.E.L.D. investigators on the sea floor just off Northern Maine and that it is thought to be part of Thanos’s space fleet and to have been shot down and crashed years ago. Duane explains that a Project: Pegasus recovery team was sent to investigate. The team traveled on a commercial airliner for security reasons, but the plane crashed, for reasons that are yet to be determined. Duane adds that the flight is still afloat and most of the passengers alive, but they suspect foul play.
Duane informs the Avengers that he wants them to go help rescue the passengers, and to be ready in case whatever caused the plan to crash is still out there, adding that he wants this to be kept quiet of course. Hawkeye butts in and asks Duane if he wants the Avengers to go help cover-up a government mistake, but Cap cuts Clint off and states that every precious moment counts, telling Freeman that they are on their way.
As the other Avengers all follow Cap as he leads the way out of the room, Steve Rogers tells Vision to handle monitor duty and communications while he is confined to the mansion and asks the android if it will be a problem for him. The android Avenger replies that it will not be a problem as he does not need a body for such a task and confesses to wishing he was going with his teammates. Hawkeye and Iron Man both watch the Scarlet Witch as she grimaces when Cap tells Vision that he knows he will be joining them soon, before ushering the Avengers out.
Shortly, rescue workers surround the floating aircraft as they do what they can to help the passengers, while reporters hover in helicopters over the crash site. One reporter lets his listeners know that another explosion has rocked the airplane and that it may only be moments that the vessel has remaining on the surface of the water. In the sea, floating in a life raft one rescue worker calls over his walky-talky that there are too many passengers trapped inside, and because of the structural damage they cannot get to them without risking the plane sinking further. A fellow rescue worker tells his chief to look - as the Avengers Quinjet has just arrived!
Inside the Quinjet, Captain America tells Iron Man that because he is best suited for under water work that he can go find the wrecked spaceship, while Warbird and Thor try to get to the trapped passengers, while Wanda uses her powers to keep the plane afloat longer. Wanda replies that she will do her best, and when Cap tells Hawkeye that he can assist in getting the passengers to shore, the purple-clad Avenger puts up a big protest.
Back in the helicopters, reporters report that the Avengers have arrived, and that with the arrival of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes the sullen mood has suddenly turned to one of hope. On the shore, another reporter mentions that rescue workers themselves try to get a glimpse of the Avengers, for the six heroes are a breathtaking sight as they swing into action.
Iron Man, Thor and Warbird all set off for their tasks, while the Scarlet Witch stands on the edge of the now-floating Quinjet and directs her probability altering powers at the plane. Hawkeye follows Captain America out and asks if what he meant was “assist the rescue workers,” adding that he can reach the trapped passengers less destructively than both Carol and Thor. Cap sternly tells Clint that he has made his decision. Clint proclaims that he heard him, but that it was the wrong decision, adding that this isn't about grandstanding, but getting the job done. He tells Cap that he knows he is mad about the bank fiasco and how Justice and Firestar became reserve Avengers – Cap cuts Clint off, raising his voice he tells the archer that this is not the time or place to discuss it. Clint snarls back that he will do what he is told but that this is not over. Suddenly, the squabbling men’s attention is diverted by the shocked Wanda, who suggests they look to the sky –
- Where Hyperion, Power Princess, Dr. Spectrum, the Whizzer, Arcanna, the Shape, Haywire and Skylark – collectively known as the Squadron Supreme, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – but not this Earth’s – are hovering above the Avengers. They are the champions of a parallel reality and have come into contact with the Avengers and Defenders of this world over the years. Recently, they saved their own world from a cosmic threat, but they were cast out of their own world and into ours. They have been stranded here ever since, searching for a way home.
Dr. Spectrum, holding the others in the air with a spectrum platform calls to the Squadron’s handsome leader, Hyperion, mocking that it’s strange seeing six Avengers in a trap – and that they are the trap. Hyperion tells his teammate to quit it with the smart remarks, as this is serious business. Hyperion turns his conversation to the Avengers, telling them that they thought they could get away with it – whoever they are! He asks them if they thought they had really fooled everyone, but supposes they didn’t count on the Squadron Supreme showing up. Hyperion admits that he and his teammates were never close to the Avengers, but that they won their respect, and that they deserve better than to be replaced by the phonies he sees below him. The juvenile Shape adds that he sticks his tongue out at the “bad mans”.
Confused, Captain America calls up to the other-Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and informs them that they are here to help rescue the aircraft and suggests that if they are concerned about something then the join the Avengers and help and that they can talk afterwards. Voice quiet enough so that only Rogers and Wanda can hear, Clint says ‘Five’ll get you ten they’re being mind controlled again – by the Serpent Crown, the Overmind, my aunt Pearl – anybody!’
The crowd on the shore beings to stir, with people wondering what is going on, they begin to speculate, with ideas ranging from the Skrulls to the Thunderbolts, while other people are more concerned with the trapped passengers still.
In the air, Hyperion tells Captain America that he can spell it out for him, and informs him that the Avengers died, killed during the Onslaught disaster, adding that Arcanna’s mystic senses reveal them to be nothing but impostors defrauding the world. He tells them that whatever they are after, the Squadron Supreme will stop them. Captain America calls back that he will not dignify that remark with a response and orders Hyperion to clear out unless they are trying to delay the rescue mission.
The always impatient Whizzer shouts angrily down to Cap that that is the last straw, telling him he is trying to steal the reputation of a hero whose boots the supposed impostor is not even fit to lick, and that now he is implying that the Squadron are the crooks? He orders the Squadron to attack! Hyperion makes the first move, flying headfirst into Thor, while telling Whizzer he made a good call and that now he will show the phony Asgardian what real power feels like. Thor is knocked back momentarily before he steadies himself and tells Hyperion that he just showed him nothing he has not felt before, adding that he has bested him in past days and will do so again! With that, Hyperion is smacked across the head with Thor’s hammer, and knocked back.
The engineered warrior-woman, Zarda, who holds the codename Power Princess takes to the air to face Iron Man, telling him that his repulsor rays will not get through her flying shield, adding that if he was the real Iron Man then he would have already known that. Iron Man replies that he has read Quasar’s reports on her but that there is nothing like first-hand experience, and tells her that he has plenty of other tricks. Arcanna Jones, a.k.a. the second Moonglow flies down to be level with the Scarlet Witch and decides that a simple spell should be enough to take care of her, but Wanda tells her fellow sorceress that it is not that easy and fights back with her own magic. Wanda also feels like she can somehow communicate with Arcanna’s magic, and wonders why.
The cocky Haywire calls to Warbird as she flies towards Dr. Spectrum and asks her if he isn't good enough for her. Carol tells Harold Danforth that as long as he is depending on Dr. Spectrum’s platform to stay afloat, that he is the guy to go after, and she does, attacking him with her bio-blasts. Spectrum shields himself from Carol’s blasts, informing her that his powers can support Haywire and protect himself at the same time. As the Shape comes up behind Hawkeye, Captain America kicks him out of the way and still annoyed with the archer he bluntly tells him to look out behind.
In mocking tone, Clint tells Cap that that would mean he has to think for himself, and tells him that he should know how limited he is, after all, he can only do one thing at a time – and right now he is busy firing arrows at Whizzer who literally runs across the water. The Whizzer calls over to Hawkeye and tells him that while he talks like the real Hawkeye, he should know he can’t stop him, for he cannot even hit him. The Shape prepares to hit Captain America while Clint tells the Whizzer that he doesn’t need to hit him, when he can just fire ahead of him, and shoots a bola-arrow at the speedster, but without listening to Wanda’s suggestion that he doesn’t. Too late, and the Whizzer keeps running, dragging Hawkeye with him, and flinging him against another boat, where he falls into the water, unconscious.
Power Princess fends off more of Iron Man’s assault, and eventually knocks him into the water too. As he goes down in the ocean, Tony wonders what the lasts words Zarda said was, but he realizes though that she is very good, though he isn't out of the fight yet, as his eye-shields slid into place the moment he hit the water, which means he can still function. Tony’s attention is drawn elsewhere when he spies the spacecraft that the Project Pegasus team was after in the first place, and the men hovering in and out of it are looting it! Tony wonders if the whole debacle – the plane crash, the squadron – could be a delaying action to let someone else get at the spacecraft first. Tony would like to get one of the looters to find out what is going on – but not when an Avenger is in trouble, and seeing Hawkeye slowly sinking, the armored Avenger swims up and grabs him.
As Iron Man flies out of the water with Hawkeye, he sees Hyperion and Power Princess attacking Thor. Zarda tells her lover to batter Thor unconscious before he can break free, while Hyperion replies that he doesn’t like this, but knows it is the only way they can expose the impostors for who they really are. Cap plunges his shield into the Shape’s putty-like body, while Wanda and Arcanna continue to battle it out with their magicks and Warbird finally shoots Haywire off the platform. Cap calls to Carol and tells her to stop messing around with Haywire, as she is the only one with enough power to help Thor. He orders her to switch to her Binary form and break Thor free.
Carol flies towards Thor, calling back to Captain America that she is ‘on it’, but seeing she has not switched to her Binary form, Cap tells Carol that she cannot go up against Hyperion the way she is, and his patience running short, Cap shouts at Carol again. But its too late, as Hyperion smashes Carol Danvers, sending her plummeting to the water. Concerned for her other best friend, Wanda thinks something must be up with Carol, for the mutant-witch knows Carol would have switched to her Binary form if she could – which means she must not be able to anymore. Wanda wonders why Carol never told anyone, before Arcanna gets her attention back by snapping at Wanda, telling her to look at her while they are fighting.
Arcanna Jones, her world’s Sorceress Supreme, tells Wanda that she doesn’t know how she could be diffusing her spells, but that she will look at her while they are fighting. Still fighting the Shape, Cap proclaims that while they are out of practice as a team, this is ridiculous. He pulls at the Shape, then uses him as a slingshot, firing him up at Arcanna, Shape apologizing as he knocks the blonde witch off her footing. Cap calls to Wanda and asks her if she can do anything to even the odds up for Thor, and raising her arms to the sky, Wanda unleashes her probability altering powers again, revealing that she has another plan. Concentrating hard, the long-time Avenger lets forth into herself a flood of energy from a place beyond space, and letting the power flow out, Wonder Man comes into play!
The ionic-energy filled Avenger smashes his way through the Squadron Supreme lovers, freeing Thor from their mighty grip, and in his usual jesting manner, proclaims that Thor maybe pompous from time-to-time, he is still a friend of his. The Asgardian is a little miffed at seeing Simon Williams again, while back on the floating Quinjet, Clint jokes that this is just starting to get fun, adding that he knew Simon didn’t die on Morgan LeFay’s world, and that if Wanda brought him back from the dead once, why not again?
The winged Skylark, formerly “Lady Lark”, makes a downward flight towards Wanda, telling her that the Scarlet Witch she met could never do anything like that, but bets that she can take her out with a sonic song. Wanda replies that she doesn’t know what she did either, and tells Linda Lewis that she is welcome to try and take her out. Clint tells Wanda to let her know if she needs help, but Wanda thanks him for the offer and tells him it won’t be necessary, and she uses her probability powers to make Skylarks wings to malfunction. Clint warns the Scarlet Witch about Skylarks trajectory, but too late, as Linda plunges into Wanda, the two women falling into the water.
Clint mumbles that he is not the only Avenger who makes stupid mistakes and informs Cap that Wanda needs help out of the water. Clint of course would aid his best friend, but he is busy with the Whizzer, who tells Clint that he has no chance of hitting him when he can vibrate himself intangible at super speed. What Stanley didn’t see was that the arrow that just passed through his body had a boomerang attached, - which suddenly turns back and hits the Whizzer on the head, causing him to fall into the water.
Beneath the waves, the Scarlet Witch removes her cape and ties it around Skylark before swimming back up to the surface where Cap pulls her out, Wanda informing him that she saw Haywire going to rescue Skylark. Hawkeye grins and reminds the Whizzer that he is the only one who learnt from his mistakes, as Captain America once bet the Whizzer using the same trick some years ago. Steve, Wanda and Clint turn their attention to the air, where Thor is challenging Hyperion to settle this once and for all, by single combat. Hyperion snaps back at Thor, telling him he knows that all he ever wanted was to be the hero, no matter who gets hurt, adding that the Squadron has already succeeded in what they came to accomplish. Everyone’s attention is turned to Dr. Spectrum who has used his powers to raise the sinking airplane from the water.
Hyperion boasts that Thor would have happily let everyone on the plane die as long as he and the other Avengers got their moment of stolen glory in front of the TV cameras. Thor shouts back, calling Hyperion a liar, reminding the Squadron Supreme leader that it was he who began this battle to keep them from rescuing the stranded passengers. He is about to carry on, but Captain America tells him to let it go, stating that the plane is safe, which is what they came to accomplish. He declares that he doesn’t know why the Squadron is so insistent on lying about the Avengers, but that he is content that people will believe in the Avengers.
When the Avengers return home, they assemble in a meeting room and watch later news reports, where the news reader proclaimed it was a startling sight to see the Avengers called phonies by the Squadron Supreme, who made allegations that Earth’s Mightiest Heroes may indeed by impostors. Adding that the appearance of Wonder Man, who died shortly before the Onslaught debacle, heightened the questions surrounding the current Avengers.
Hawkeye proclaims that Wonder Man possible being alive is good news, but that it is being turned bad and taken as evidence that they are all fakes. He then asks where Simon is, and Iron Man reveals that he vanished when the battle was over, suggesting to Hawkeye that if he was not so insistent on chasing the Squadron he would have noticed. Duane Freeman admits that he too wants to know what is going on with Wonder Man, but that the government has to take the allegations made by the Squadron seriously, especially after the Thunderbolts turned out to be villains and the news of a Skrull invasion. Hawkeye protests that the Avengers were the one who revealed the Thunderbolts to be villains and that Captain America is taking care of the Skrulls.
Freeman tells Clint that it doesn’t matter, and what does matter is that the public is scared and demanding action. Cap declares that he is all for action and asks Duane what he suggests they do. Duane tells the Avengers that they themselves are going to have to find out what is going on – to find out why the Squadron is lying and clear themselves. He adds that they are going to have to do it quickly, for he can only stall Washington to buy them more time for so long. He proclaims that by the end of the forty-eight hours the Avengers have to clear themselves, if things have not changed, then Avengers clearance is going to be suspended, and the Avengers themselves will be placed under arrest. ‘Again? But that trick never works’ jokes Hawkeye until Captain America tells him to shut up.
Elsewhere, a young woman walks into a darkened room and tells the large man standing inside that the weaponry from the spacecraft has reached the Boston warehouse and that it is being shipped as machine parts. She adds that she has forwarded the latest news summaries to his attention and congratulates him for wining again. Standing in the shadows, Imus Champion tells Talima that he hasn’t won and the Operation: Smokescreen has merely given him an advantage, a triumph in a minor skirmish, but that the Avengers are resourceful and he is confident that they will overcome this minor difficulty set against them.
Hands behind his back he declares he cannot rest yet as he has sacrificed a plane and exposed his hand with the Squadron Supreme – which gives the Avengers a lead to follow. He states that rather than waiting for the Avengers to follow the lead back to him he must rise to the challenge – and crush the Avengers before they know what hits them!