‘Do we have a clear shot?’ a strange voice calls out as Secret Service officers on motorcycles escort a procession of cars down a quiet street. ‘The Wakandan ambassador is escorting Dr Udaku in his overstuff motorcade and is en route to the Pentagon as we speak’ comes a reply. Civilians leap back from the street as cars pass them. ‘Then the word is given’ the first voice calls out. ‘Proceed’. ‘Proceeding with caution’ comes the reply. ‘Obviously’ the first voice declares. The target is in sight, when the second voice reports that the Secret Service has seen them. ‘Good. I want them to see us’ the first voice announces as the hideous MODOK comes into view. ‘I want them to see every second’ he adds. ‘Holy--!’ one of the Secret Service officers gasps as the procession of cars crashes into each other, and he is knocked from his motorcycle.
MODOK hovers in the air, and several creatures with robotic appendages float around him. ‘Let them see what happens when a scientist of AIM betrays his brothers! Let them see what happens when someone tries to sell our secrets. Let the world see that MODOK will not allow it!’ MODOK calls out to Dr Udaku, beckoning him to come out and spend his last minutes as a man. A large dinosaur-head on a floating projectile looms over the Secret Service officer, while inside one of the cars, Dr Udaku shouts ‘It’s MODOK! I told you. No one escapes the conclave of AIM. No one escapes!’ The door is ripped open, and MODOK moves down towards him, telling Udaku to spend his last breath with some sort of honor. ‘NO? Fine with me!’ MODOK decides after getting no response. ‘Burn!’ MODOK calls out and prepares to fire an arrow weapon from the side of his armor.
‘What? Why am I misfiring? How could I possibly -?’ MODOK mutters, when suddenly, the answer comes from up above, as the mighty Scarlet Witch a.k.a. Wanda Maximoff appears, casting a hex-spell. ‘Surrender’ the powerful mutant warns MODOK.
‘Or I’ll make you’ Wanda adds, as she releases the hex-spell, causing all of MODOK’s lackeys to malfunction and fall to the street. MODOK sprouts some spider-like legs and gasps ‘What is this? Who are y - wait! I know you! You’re the Scarlet Witch. The disgraced Avenger!’ ‘My goodness, I’ve heard rumors that - the rumor was that you’d lost your mind and turned on the Avengers’ MODOK declares as his legs extend upwards, reaching the same level as the Scarlet Witch, who stands ready on top of one of the cars. ‘Oh no. You’re going to talk a lot, aren’t you?’ Wanda sighs as she easily deflects some weapons fire from MODOK. ‘Rumor has it you’re the reason that mutants are no longer a concern’ MODOK adds.
‘Please, I’m begging you, if I wanted to hear a crazy monologue, I’d move back in with my father’ Wanda tells MODOK, who orders his lackeys to attack. The creature-robots move towards Wanda and surround her, as MODOK declares that Magneto’s baby girl needs to learn to stay in her place. Wanda casts her mutant hex power at the creatures, while MODOK tells her that she should have stayed hidden under whichever rock she came out from. ‘I wonder, dear, if there’s some sort of reward for your head. It would seem you did more to hurt the world than anything any of us so-called -’ MODOK begins, before the Scarlet Witch suddenly finds herself in danger, as the creature-robots begin to overwhelm her. MODOK smiles and orders his lackeys to end this quickly. ‘We don’t want to have every broken hero lining up to -’ he calls out, when suddenly, a fist knocks him over, as Ms Marvel a.k.a. Carol Danvers and Jessica Drew, the original Spider-Woman , burst down and attack MODOK.
‘Broken? Who’s broken?’ Carol asks. ‘I’m a little broken’ Jessica mutters. MODOK lands against a nearby car, ‘Boom! I won’t lie to you ladies, I kinda needed this’ Spider-Woman remarks as she releases her venom-blast at two of the creature-robots. ‘Oh, I know. I don’t know if it’s the uggo AIM scientist beekeeper outfits or the uber smelly bioengineered creepy bots, but I just want to smash the crap out of all of this’ Carol agrees as she flies straight through one of the AIM trucks, shattering it, and causing several AIM soldiers to rush from it. ‘I’m sure there’s a whole back story here, but good Lord, do I not even -’ Spider-Woman begins, unaware that one of the AIM soldiers has snuck up behind her and aims a weapon at her back.
The Scarlet Witch casts a spell, and the soldier’s weapon breaks as he tries to fire it. ‘You dare -’ MODOK begins as he tries to get up. Spider-Woman fires another venom-blast at him, and puts a foot on his face, telling him to shut it, as he slips into unconsciousness. ‘Killer save, Scarlet Witch. You still got it’ Spider-Woman calls out as she and Carol turn to Wanda, who is standing on the sidewalk nearby. ‘Wanda. It’s me, Carol. Carol Danvers. You remember Spider-Woman…’ Ms Marvel calls out. ‘Uh, hey’ Jessica mutters, waving at the Scarlet Witch. Wanda looks at the women and remarks that she thought she could handle this on her own. ‘What are you talking about? Job well done’ Jessica tells her. Wanda supposes that she is a little rusty, and not ready yet. She turns away from Ms Marvel - who was once her best friend - and walks away.
‘Hey, where are you going?’ Carol calls out. Wanda tells Carol that it was good to see her, and that she looks good, healthy. ‘Where are you going?’ Carol calls out again. ‘I’ll see you around’ Wanda replies. Carol calls after her, telling her to hold on, and rushes over to her, putting an arm around Wanda’s shoulders, and tells her that she is coming back to the Mansion with them. ‘Oh, no’ Wanda replies. ‘Of course. Come on’ Carol tells her, but Wanda explains that she is not ready for that yet. ‘Ready for what? Your friends?’ Carol asks, telling Wanda that everyone has been worried about her, and suggests she come back and say hello and get her hugs and let everyone know she is okay. Wanda replies that she is better off flying solo for a while. ‘That’s fine. Just come say hi’ Carol tells her. ‘I really don’t think -’ Wanda begins, until Carol asks ‘You do get the whole “I’m not taking no for an answer” part, right?’ ‘Carol…’ Wanda replies.
Soon, ‘Ugh, this is a terrible, terrible, terrible idea’ Wanda exclaims as she approaches the Avengers Mansion front door. ‘Everyone’s been worried about you. Everyone will be very happy to see you’ Carol assures her as she and Spider-Woman stand nearby. ‘But…’ Wanda begins. ‘Hey…Once an Avenger, Always an Avenger’ Carol reminds Wanda, telling her to just come and say hello. ‘Seriously, you should see how they -’ Spider-Woman begins, when suddenly, the Vision materializes through the front door.
‘Vision’ Wanda utters. ‘What are you doing here, Wanda?’ the Vision calls out as he stands coldly on the front stoop. ‘I thought it would be nice if -’ Carol calls out, but the Vision interrupts: ‘I’m talking to my wife. Why did you come here?’ he asks.
Wanda narrows her eyes, and the Vision just stares back at her. Suddenly, the doors open, and Wolverine, Thor, the Beast and Iron Man are standing there. The Vision informs Wanda that he has empathy for her struggles, and empathy for the many manipulations that she may have endured, but what he does not have compassion or understanding for is the idea that when she was at her lowest, she chose, out of the millions of choices and variables in front of her, to overpower him and use his body as a weapon against his friends and home. ‘That I cannot forgive’ the Vision states. ‘You’re right’ Wanda replies. Wolverine frowns, Thor looks surprised. Ms Marvel looks concerned, while the Vision just continues to stare at the Scarlet Witch. She half-smiles back at him, before pulling her cloak around herself and telling him that she is sorry.
‘This is not your home anymore. You don’t belong here’ the Vision tells Wanda. ‘Vision, come on…’ Iron Man calls out, but the Vision ignores him and tells Wanda ‘If that’s what you came here to discover, now you know’. Wanda looks upset and replies that she already knew, before turning away, and covering her face with her hands. ‘Wow! Could you be any more of a -?’ Ms Marvel begins, but the Vision tells her that this is none of her concern. Carol picks Wanda up and flies away with her, while Iron Man tells the Vision that he was a little rough on Wanda. ‘His call’ Wolverine points out. ‘I know’ Iron Man replies. ‘I get it. I just - I always liked them together’ he adds, while the Vision walks away, tears in his eyes.
Utopia, off the coast of San Francisco, home to one faction of mutantkind. The young mutant called Hope Summers climbs to the edge of the island in the dead of night. ‘Let’s not try to hit any buildings this time’ Hope tells herself. ‘This has to stop, Hope’ a voice calls out from behind. Hope turns to see Scott “Cyclops” Summers standing behind her. ‘Whatever the hell this is, it has to stop’ he repeats. ‘Fine. Okay. You can have your stupid jetpack back’ Hope mutters, to which Cyclops tells her that she knows that is not what he is talking about. ‘Though, yes, I would like my jetpack back’ Scott adds, before pointing out that Hope has been sneaking out every night for almost a week now. ‘Did you really think I wouldn’t notice?’ he asks. Hope doesn’t answer as Scott explains that at first he let it slide, hoping she would come to her senses. ‘I wasn’t doing anything wrong’ Hope points out. Scott asks her why she is sneaking around in the middle of the night.
‘Because I knew you’d act exactly like you’re acting. All I do is fly around .There are times I just need to…to clear my head’ Hope explains. ‘That’s not all you do’ Scott adds, pointing out that two muggers were beaten half to death in the Tenderloin last night, and the night before that, a child molester in Corona Heights had his legs broken. ‘Tell me you don’t know anything about that. Or that’s not a police scanner strapped to your belt’ Scott adds, motioning to the scanner. ‘Protecting a world that hates and fears us. Isn’t that our job?’ Hope asks. ‘Not when it means needlessly putting yourself in danger’ Scott tells her. ‘And here I thought this place was called Utopia. Funny name for a prison’ Hope shoots back.
Cyclops tells Hope that she is now being childish, and declares that she has never been a prisoner here. ‘You know that. But you also know how dangerous it is for you to be out there on your own. You’re too big a target’ Scott points out. Cyclops tells Hope that she is important to everyone here, most especially to him, but Hope declares that she can take care of herself, and that she is not the delicate little flower everyone seems to think she is. ‘No. You’re not. You’re the mutant messiah’ Scott reminds her. ‘You’re the one who brought us back from the brink of extinction. You’re the one mutant in all the world we can’t afford to lose’ he adds. ‘But why?’ Hope asks. ‘Hope…’ Scott begins, only for Hope to exclaim ‘No, for once, tell me the why and the how! How am I different from any other mutant out here? All I’ve done my whole life is run from people who were trying to kill me. And then I turn around and everyone tells me how amazing I am’ she exclaims.
‘Why? What makes me so special?’ she asks. ‘Everything’ Scott tells her. ‘That’s not an answer. I want the truth. Just tell me. Please’ she begs. ‘Tell me about the Phoenix’. Scott looks worried, and asks ‘How did you hear about the -’, but Hope tells him that she knows more than he thinks she does. ‘I know it’s some big-time cosmic firebird. And I know it’s coming for me. Just like it came for your wife, Jean. I know everybody gets crazy scared whenever it’s even mentioned. Most especially you’ Hope adds. ‘So…would you like to tell me what happens when it gets here?’ Hope asks. Cyclops turns away, frowning. ‘That’s what I thought’ Hope mutters, folding her arms. ‘Hope, wait…’ Cyclops calls out, but Hope tells him that if he won’t tell her, she will find her own answers.
Suddenly, an announcement comes over the police radar on Hope’s belt: ‘All units, 10-30 in progress at the Isotope Bank and Trust, 326 Fell Street…’ the announcer calls out.
‘Don’t even think about it’ Scott tells Hope, who tells Cyclops to not even think about trying to stop her. Scott puts a hand on Hope’s shoulder, ‘Just listen, please…’ he tells her, but Hope turns around, and her eyes glowing red, replies ‘No. You listen’, and she releases a powerful beam of energy from her eyes, knocking Cyclops backwards. He lands hard on the ground, and Hope takes off using the jetpack. Scott looks up as Hope disappears from view, and mutters ‘Well…that probably could’ve gone better’.
As Hope flies towards the city courtesy of the jetpack, she mentally writes in her journal: ‘Tonight I shot Cyclops with his own eye blasts. Felt good. He just doesn’t get it. I spent 15 years of my life on the run. Does Scott now expect me to just sit in a corner and wait for him to tell me what to do? I’m tired of waiting. Tired of being left in the dark’. She approaches the city, and flies down amongst the buildings. ‘Everybody always tells me I’m special. I’m this. I’m that. Sometimes I have no idea who or what the hell I am. All I know is…I have to figure that part out for myself’ she decides, as she releases the jet pack, and drops on to the roof of the bank. ‘Whoops. Musta slipped’ Hope mutters as the jet pack crashes into another building.
Down on the street below, a police officer radios the thieves, informing them that the bank is surrounded and that they are ready to hear their demands. ‘Just do not hurt the hostages!’ he pleads. Hope climbs into an air duct and tells herself that she was raised in the future by the bravest man she has ever known, Cable, the ultimate soldier. ‘He taught me everything I know. Which is always just enough to get me into trouble’ she decides. ‘Whoa. As a mutant, I sure hate to judge someone based solely on appearance…but something tells me you’re one of the bad guys’ Hope calls out as she reaches the end of the air duct, and pushes the grate away, where inside the connecting room, the Serpent Society member Bushmaster is waiting. The villain curls upwards over Hope, his snake-body taking up much of the room, and the two sharp “fangs” on his wrists ready for action.
In another room, which houses the vault, bank employees are tied up by the other members of the Serpent Society - Asp, Anaconda, Cottonmouth and Puff Adder, who is currently spitting venom around the outside of the vault door. Asp hears a loud WHUMP and turns her head to the other room. ‘What the hell was that?’ the sultry villainess asks. ‘What?’ Anaconda calls out as she extends one of her arms to hold the head of a bank employee down while she ties her up. ‘I heard something like a whump’ Asp reports. Anaconda suggests that the cops might be trying to sneak in the back, and that Bushmaster can handle them. Turning to Cottonmouth, who is holding a sack to collect the loot, she asks him how the door is coming. Cottonmouth reports that Puff Adder has got it, and just needs a couple more minutes.
Asp turns and walks to the other room, calling out to Bushmaster, asking him if everything is all right back there, only for Asp to be sent flying back into the room. ‘What the hell -’ Anaconda mutters as she looks up. ‘Hands in the air! Or snake arms! Or whatever the hell you got!’ Hope shouts as she enters the room. Anaconda, Puff Adder and Cottonmouth turn to Hope, and Anaconda exclaims ‘Boy, the super heroes just get young and younger these days, don’t they? What are you, the new kid from Power Pack or something?’, while Cottonmouth tells her to run home and leave while she still has a good story to tell her friends. ‘How’d you get past Bushmaster, anyway?’ one of them asks. Holding up a bloodied knife, Hope replies ‘You mean your friend with the tail and the big spiky arms? Did you know those arms are cybernetic? I didn’t. Until I cut them off’.
Anaconda lunges forward and extends her arms, wrapping them around Hope as she declares ‘You’re a feisty little thing. I hate feisty little things’. ‘HHRRGH’ Hope mutters in reply as Anaconda tightens her grip, telling her that the Serpent Society doesn’t usually stoop to killing teens, but that she pretty much asked for it. Hope leans forward and smacks her head into Anaconda’s. Anaconda isn’t bothered, she simply declares ‘The head butt. I’ve never understood the head butt. Hitting someone with your own head. Doesn’t’ that just hurt you as much as it does me?’ she asks. Hope smacks Anaconda again and again, eventually drawing blood, until finally, Anaconda falls to the floor. ‘Next!’ Hope calls out. Puff Adder steps towards her.
‘Puff Adder. I can see why they call you that. Tell me something, Puff…you wouldn’t happen to be a mutant, would you?’ Hope asks him. ‘Yeah. What’s it to ya?’ Puff Adder replies, only for Hope to inform him that her power only works on mutants. ‘Your powers? What powers?’ Puff Adder enquires. Suddenly, Hope’s form grows larger than Puff Adder, in the same shape as his. ‘That’s the same power I got!’ Puff Adder declares. ‘Maybe you’ll figure it out after you wake up’ Hope replies as she punches him hard in the face.
Suddenly, an optic blast cuts the door open, and Cyclops and Emma Frost, the White Queen, enter. ‘Hope!’ Scott calls out. ‘Hope!’ he shouts again as he finds Hope pummelling Cottonmouth in the face. ‘Hope, that’s enough’ Scott tells her as he grabs her by the wrist, pulling her away. ‘Yeah…I suppose you’re right’ Hope mutters, as Emma looks around the room and sees the members of the Serpent Society lying in pools of their own blood. Emma announces that ambulances are already on their way, and Hope, looking at her blood-stained hands, reports that Cottonmouth just tried to bit her head off. ‘Back to Utopia, Hope. Now!’ Scott orders, adding that he will deal with the authorities and then deal with her.
‘I know why you’re scared’ Hope declares. ‘What?’ Scott asks. ‘You think the Phoenix is going to kill me or drive me crazy. Or maybe both. Just like it did Jean. But I’m not your dead wife, Scott. That’s not my story’ Hope exclaims, before announcing that the Phoenix is coming, she knows that, and is not afraid. ‘I want it to come. I’m ready’ Hope boasts, before turning and walking away. Emma tells Scott that this is too much pressure, and reminds him Hope is just a kid. ‘No. she is most definitely not a kid. In the end, she’ll save us all. I know that’ Scott declares. ‘Or perhaps kill us all’ Emma suggests. ‘Either way…that makes her something special’ Scott replies.
Back on Utopia, Hope washes her hands on the shore, the blood is gone, and she looks up to the sky - up - into space. Where, deep within the galaxy, unseen by those on Earth, a massive cosmic energy soars the stars - the Phoenix Force!