Avengers (4th series) #1

Issue Date: 
July 2010
Story Title: 
Next Avengers - part 1

Brian Michael Bendis (writer), John Romita Jr. (penciler), Klaus Janson (inker), Dean White (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson and Dean White (cover), Lauren Stankovitch (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Sometime in the future, Immortus is brought to his knees by five youngsters. He threatens them but to no avail, as they kill him without mercy. In the present, Steve Rogers assembles his new Avengers. Everyone there is pleased to be included apart from Wonder Man who warns Steve that the Avengers getting together again is a bad idea and one which he will violently oppose. Tony Stark admits that he and Steve don’t see eye to eye much these days, but Steve introduces Maria Hill and says that she, not him, will be running the Avengers from now on. Tony is fine with that. As they chat, Kang the Conqueror appears to speak to them but Thor doesn’t waste any time in going on the offensive. When Kang regains his footing, he pulls out a small egg-shaped device which Iron Man instantly recognizes. He warns everyone to back off and asks Kang how he got it. He hasn’t even built it yet. Kang tells him he will, and he knows how dangerous it is. Tony informs the others that it’s a doomsday weapon, designed, but not yet built. They should tread carefully. Kang explains that his purpose for being there is that in the future, Ultron took over but was then defeated by their children. They are ruthless and in danger of destroying the universe if they’re not careful. He wants the Avengers to go to the future and stop them before they do. If they succeed he promises to end his blood feud with them. He disappears, leaving the Avengers to discuss what they should do. They decide they have little option but to acquiesce and Wolverine says he knows someone who may be able to help them get there. In the future, Kang returns and greets Maestro, a future incarnation of Bruce Banner. He tells him that the Avengers are on their way.

Full Summary: 

The future
“Do you know who I am?” screams Immortus. “Do you know what you’ve done??” He is on his knees in the pouring rain as five young people stand over him. He says he is Immortus, master of time. He was there at their births. He was there at ever single moment of their miserable lives. For what they’ve done to him today, he will be there to watch them die! Each and every one of them. He will watch them die!! A lightning bolt crashes down on him as he speaks. Azari says the guy liked to talk. Young James Rogers replies that he wasn’t even listening.

Steve Rogers is the top cop in the world. Addressing his fellow Avengers, he informs them their president asked him what the world needs right now and he told him that it needs what it has always needed - heroes. It doesn’t need S.H.I.E.L.D. agents or H.A.M.M.E.R. agents. It needs heroes, maybe now more than ever. But, he asks, what does that mean in this new world? One big team of heroes or a handful of teams? That was the question. What ingredients would inspire this country and indeed, the world. He thinks he knows, and for this, he has picked them.

The gathered crowd are all for it apart from Simon Williams who asks if he is completely out of his mind. Steve tells him he is Wonder Man, one of the greatest Avengers of all time. Holding a large chunk of masonry above his head which he’s plucked from a building, Simon tells him it’s a terrible idea. He explains that it’s one of those things that you can’t see when you’re in the middle of it, but once you step back, it couldn’t be more clear. From his point of view, the super hero civil war, the mutant decimation, the Skrull invasion and Norman Osborn all have one thing in common. They are all the Avengers’ fault. As several other Avengers try to repair the damage he’s caused to the building, Steve asks how he can say that. Simon asks how Steve can not! Steve explains that the Avengers put a stop to all those threats. The civil war… fine. That’s a different story, but all the others were stopped by the Avengers.

Simon puts down the stone and tells him that he knew when Steve pardoned him from jail there had to be a catch. He knows Steve can’t see it yet, but he hopes to God he figures it out before it’s too late. He must free himself from this. “Don’t be part of the problem.” Steve replies that he hopes Simon changes his mind, and if he does, he hopes he comes and finds him. Simon tells him he hopes he changes his mind, too, because if he doesn’t, he will change it for him.

Avengers Tower, New York City, later:
Steve addresses his new team of Avengers: Thor, Hawkeye, Wolverine, Captain America, Spider-Woman and Iron Man. He informs them that they will be the face of a new era and he will tell them why he picked them He did so for their nobility and strength, their cunning and bravery, their power and responsibility and their ruthlessness and selflessness. He picked them for their savvy and their clear view of the future. Tony Stark asks if he can speak to him for a second. As Jarvis serves refreshments, Tony tells Steve that he doesn’t have to be on his little team. Steve knows he doesn’t have to, but he thought he would want to. Tony reminds him that they don’t agree on just about anything anymore. Steve says that’s not entirely true, but Tony says they don’t even agree about that.

Meanwhile, Spidey chats to Clint Barton and notes that he’s back to being Hawkeye again. Just like that? Clint tells him that they’re back to being Avengers for real so he’s back to being Hawkeye for real. Tony tells Steve that when he looks at him, all he sees are the mistakes, though he’s not saying that it’s going to be that way forever. Spider-Woman and Wolverine also chat. He asks if she’s okay. Jessica admits that she’s not sure she belongs there. Logan asks if Captain America himself asked the Amazing Spider-Woman to be an Avenger. “Yes,” she replies. “Well then,” says Logan. Jessica says she doesn’t think she’s earned it, but Wolverine tells her he’s been down this road himself. What she has to do is earn it.

Tony tells Steve that he can do something else. Steve assures him that they’ll be fine. He isn’t running the team. “You’re not?” asks Tony, surprised. Steve reminds him that he has an entire country to worry about. Elsewhere, Thor speaks to Captain America, formerly known as Bucky and he freely admits that he isn’t entirely sure who he is. Tony asks Steve who is going to run the team. He replies that it’ll be the best person for the job. Tony asks if it’s him. Steve laughs but says no. It’s her. He points to the door which Maria Hill steps through, reporting for duty. Tony tells Steve that he’s very okay with that!

Steve asks the others to answer to Maria as they would to him. This says to the world that they have this covered. Something for every possible scenario. He then gives Tony a friendly punch on his armoured chest and tells him with a grin that as far as they are concerned, they should just try not to kill each other. Maria asks if this is everybody. Steve says no. Jessica asks who’s missing. Steve says he thought he’d show. “He, who?” asks Clint.

Spider-Man’s spider-sense then begins to tingle and he gives them a heads up. Outside, Kang the Conqueror hovers there, a weapon primed and aimed at the team. He warns them to listen carefully. He has travelled through the great reaches to bring them a warning. Thor doesn’t give him time to speak as he rushes him and uses Mjolnir to blast him in the chest. Kang is sent flying and Spidey lets out a “Whoa!!” Clint says that’s what it’s like to be on the Avengers with Thor.

Kang crash-lands on a nearby rooftop and smashes through the chimney. Thor and the Avengers follow. Thor tells Kang that he has chosen a poor course of action this day. Iron Man agrees. He reckons Kang should go back to the future and look up online just how badly he timed this bit of business. Kang holds out his hand and is seen to be clutching a small egg-shaped device. He replies that he knows exactly what time it is. Iron Man immediately recognizes what it is and he commands everyone to back down. Spider-Woman asks what he wants. For them to cook him an egg? Spidey quips that it could be silly putty. Silly putty from the future. Iron Man points out that this isn’t a joke. He asks Kang where he got it. Kang holds it out before him and replies that there is not a weapon in all of time that he cannot get his hands on and Tony knows that. It’s part of his charm. Tony replies that he hasn’t even built it yet. “But you will,” replies Kang. Tony says he won’t, but Kang points out that he did.

Thor asks Tony what it is. Tony replies that it doesn’t matter. He has the upper hand. Kang growls that he will tell them what it is or he will. Tony then admits that it’s a doomsday device. Thor asks if he invented a device who’s only purpose is doom. Spidey asks if life wasn’t challenging enough for him. Jessica asks how the twitchy threatening guy has it. Tony explains that it’s a dark matter accelerator. If he want to, it will turn all of them inside out. The entire city. Thor asks why he would invent that. Tony says he didn’t. he thought of it and wrote it down. He hasn’t built it. He promised himself he never would. “And yet?” replies Spider-Man. Tony tells them he has the upper hand. Steve Rogers asks what he wants. Cap asks who it is. Steve informs him that he’s a thief and a murderer from before his time as Captain America. He’s from the future; a time traveller. “A time warrior,” Kang replies. “A time terrorist,” says Steve.

Kang tells him that this is an example of Steve’s limited perception of the universe. Steve adds that they’ve had to deal with him on numerous occasions. He again asks what he wants. Kang replies that he’s there because he has words from the future that he needs them to hear. “Did I ever find true love?” asks Spidey. Kang ignore him and informs them that this is about their children. Reality is coming to an end and it’s mostly their fault. Now he has their attention, he explains that this is the world their children live in. he pulls out some kind of machine that produces a holographic display which shows a futuristic world sitting beside one that lies in ruins.

Kang explains that it’s a world completely ruined and reinvented by Ultron. They remember him, don’t they? He is an artificial intelligence, stronger and more enduring than he or the Avengers. And, as they secretly knew, he would one day come back and finally destroy them and their world. Their children grew up in the ruins of the world they were completely unable to protect. But, their children, it seems, without them to guide them, destroyed Ultron and took over his empire. They have done so with a ruthlessness what Alexander the Great would wince at. They are young, powerful and on a collision course to destroy the universe because they are wielding power they do not know how to control. He tells the Avengers that they need to go to the future and stop hem before they do. They need to go and right this wrong.

“Our children?” asks Tony, confused. Kang congratulates them. They must be so proud. Clint tells him that presuming he’s telling the truth and that none of them have any problem corrupting the space/time continuum or whatever smarter people call it, why can’t he just go and stop Ultron before his big takeover. Kang replies that it’s because they can’t. Neither of them have the capacity to do so. Wolverine asks how he knows this. Kang explains that he has tried and failed. Twenty times and with allies of all kinds with weapons from all times. Only their children were able to.

Spider-Woman asks whose kids they are talking about exactly. Asks what difference that could possibly make to him. He’s told them enough. Coming to them like this sickens him, but, his lifeline will end because of this and he cannot have that. So, for the first time, their needs are one. He doesn’t want to die at the hands of their bastard offspring and they do not want their children to grow up murderers worse than any they’ve ever opposed.

He adds that he would offer them safe voyage and the technology to do what they must do, but they will not take it from him. They will need to discover in their own time that this is neither a trap nor a lie. They will go forth and stop this madness once and for all. If they do so, he promises them that he will never again attempt to cause them suffering or pain. He will end his blood feud with the Avengers and even devote himself to their well-being. But, they should know this. He will not let his destiny fall into the hands of their children. The next time they meet he will activate the device as he will have nothing left to lose. As Kang prepares to leave, Iron Man informs him that he doesn’t have a time machine. He doesn’t know how to see into the future. Kang replies that he will when his team is complete. With that, he disappears into the space/time/continuum in a flash of light.

The Avengers are left wondering what to do. Spidey asks if he really hasn’t got a time machine. Stark admits that if he did he would go back and stop Asgard from falling. Or Cap from getting shot. Or save his friends, Wanda and Janet. He’d go and see his father and ask him what to do. Then, he’d be no better than Kang himself. Clint knows that they shouldn’t disrupt the future or even really know their futures. Kang shouldn’t have told them they end up having kids. Maybe, thinks Tony. “Maybe?” asks Spidey. Tony remarks that people have been programmed to think of time as a linear construct but it’s probably not. There’s more evidence to support the idea that time and space are actual organisms. They are physical thins and that’s probably why people like Kang can travel through them.

Spider-Woman asks what that even means. Tony replies that it means it’s all happening now. The past is happening now, as is the future. It’s all happening now. Steve Rogers has no idea what he’s talking about and Jessica asks how much of it can they possibly be expected to be responsible for. Captain America says exactly. Why are they even worrying about this? If it’s true, then the future is not now. They have enough to worry about. This is tomorrow’s problem.

Thor disagrees. He believes the world will end and their children need them. They can’t ignore it, even if there is only one chance. Steve asks what they would need to build one. Tony replies that he’d need Victor Von Doom. Bus, seeing as how he can’t be trusted, he needs Reed Richards but he’s already called him and he isn’t home. He needs advanced knowledge of not only time travel, but interdimensional travel that would not damage the construct of this reality or any other. Steve asks Maria Hill to give him a list of who they’ve got. Wolverine, though, says he knows exactly who they need.

the future:
Kang arrives home. Maestro is there waiting for him. He asks Kang how it went. Kang informs him that they’re going to come here. “You better hope so,” replies Maestro, threateningly. Kang turns and assures him that he knows the stakes. Maestro says good. The Avengers are going to learn that Hulk is smartest there is.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Black Widow, Luke Cage, Captain America (Bucky), Dr. Strange, Hawkeye I, Iron Fist, Iron Man, Justice, Mockingbird, Ms. Marvel, Hank Pym, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Thor, Tigra, Vision, War Machine, Wolverine (all Avengers)

Hawkeye II, Hulkling, Patriot, Speed, Stature, Wiccan (Young Avengers)
Jessica and Danielle Cage

Wonder Man
Steve Rogers

Construction workers
Maria Hill

Kang the Conqueror

future images:
Azari (son of the Black Panther and Storm), Francis Barton (son of Clint Barton), Henry Pym Jr. (son of Giant Man and the Wasp), James Rogers (son of Steve Rogers and the Black Widow), Torrun (Daughter of Thor and Sif)

in the future:
Maestro and his assistant

Story Notes: 

This series began following the conclusion of four Avengers titles - New Avengers, The Mighty Avengers, Dark Avengers and Avengers: The Initiative. It was closely followed by Secret Avengers (1st series), Avengers Academy and New Avengers (2nd series).

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