Avengers West Coast #62

Issue Date: 
September 1990
Story Title: 
The Witching Hour

Roy & Dann Thomas (Writers), Paul Ryan (Penciler), Danny Bulanadi (Inker), Bill Oakley (Letterer), Bob Sharen (Colorist), Howard Mackie (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

The Avengers West Coast are still up against Immortus, who reveals that he has been manipulating the Scarlet Witch for years. The Avengers and Quicksilver try to attack Immortus, when Immortus’ protector, a giant being called Tempus, appears, and capturing Wonder Man, ages him rapidly. Back on Earth, Agatha Harkness wonders how she can help her allies, so her astral form transports to Limbo through Immortus’ shadow which she had captured and left on Earth. Arriving in Limbo, Agatha watches the Avengers battle Tempus, and wonders how she can help them again, while Quicksilver tries to reason with his unmoving sister, before battling Tempus himself, only for Tempus to unleash a time-storm, where each of the Avengers West Coast see terrible events from their pasts, and are rendered unconscious as they relive those painful memories. Immortus watches over what transpires, while Agatha telepathically communicates with Wanda, urging her to give up the power Immortus gave her. Agatha shows Wanda images of the Vision and her children as they were before they were all destroyed, and Wanda’s expression changes for the first time since she went catatonic, only to return to the expressionless state, Agatha assumes it is because deep inside, Wanda knows that her family are all dead. Agatha next tries to get to Wanda by reminding her of her friends and those who love her - Quicksilver, Hawkeye and Wonder Man - when Immortus realizes that Agatha is here, he begins to attack her, but not without Agatha once more urging Wanda to reject the powers. Wanda does so, and unmeasurable power flows from her body and destroys Immortus’ castle - but the Avengers memories then become possible alternate realities, where they see the events as they could have been - such as the Wasp, who was killed by the alien her father transported to Earth, and USAgent, whose family was not killed before his eyes. The Avengers all wake from their dreams though, and Wanda appears to be herself, and attempts to draw the powers back into herself so she can prevent the cosmic collapse of the Multiverse. However, the three beings known as the Time Keepers appear and warn her not to. Agatha is relieved that the Time Keepers would appear, while Immortus claims to his superiors that if they would just give him some more time, he would have completed his plan. The Time Keepers remind Immortus of his duties and a discussion begins between everyone present as to what is going to happen now. Eventually, all of the power that the Scarlet Witch expelled is transferred into Immortus, leaving him as motionless as he made the Scarlet Witch. The Time Keepers reveal to the Avengers that this was their plan all along, but Wanda nevertheless expresses how sorry she feels for Immortus. With the Multiverse saved, the Time Keepers take their leave, and the heroes all return to Avengers West Compound, where Agatha and Wanda are reunited, and not only the Earth, but the entire Multiverse, is safe…for now.

Full Summary: 

The dimension called Limbo: ‘You dirty son of a -’ begins Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, until he is interrupted by Simon “Wonder Man” Williams, who remarks ‘You’re making way too nice with him, Hawk!’ Iron Man agrees, while John Walker a.k.a. the USAgent declares that the time for talk is over, and is about to leap into action when Janet van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp tells him to wait, ‘We don’t dare attack him now!’ she exclaims, to which her ex-husband but current lover Hank Pym agrees, pointing out that no matter how much they despise their foe for putting them all through the wringer with his Legion of the Unliving, Immortus still has the upper hand - at least as long as he has got the Scarlet Witch in his power.

Standing up on some steps with a motionless Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. Scarlet Witch at his side, and Wanda’s brother, Pietro a.k.a. Quicksilver, lying wounded on the steps before them, is the unstoppable Immortus, who calls the Avengers West Coast all fools for prattling on about power while having no conception of its actual meaning. ‘And power is hiding behind some poor girl you’ve hypnotized, right?’ USAgent asks, but Iron Man suspects that what Immortus has done is far worse than hypnosis. ‘If you’ve hurt her…’ begins Wonder Man, who cares deeply for the Scarlet Witch.

‘Hurt her? Are you mad?’ asks Immortus, who reveals that Wanda is indispensable to his role as absolute master of seven millennia - and has been since the say she was born! Immortus decides that there can be no harm in the Avengers West Coast knowing now, and explains that the Scarlet Witch is a nexus - one of those rare beings or objects that belong equally to all possible timelines and all potential realities. Immortus adds that he realized long ago that the Scarlet Witch’s hex power would enable him to protect and control the centuries under his dominion.

Immortus explains that all he had to do was gradually increase Wanda’s power, while he worked to secretly restructure her personality. Wonder Man helps Quicksilver to his feet, and the speedster asks Immortus if he was behind the Vision reverting back to an android and being incapable of loving her. ‘And their twins - you deprived them of their very existence!’ Wonder Man exclaims. Immortus reminds the Avengers that those “children” were merely manifestations of Wanda’s probability-altering hex power with a bit of magic thrown in for good measure. Immortus turns to Quicksilver and says ‘You should not look upon me as some cruel beast’ before explaining that when he acts through Wanda to safeguard the coming future, the Scarlet Witch will be serving all of the Multiverse.

‘And you asked if I was crazy?’ Wonder Man mutters, before Quicksilver calls Immortus a monster, and despite his injury speeds up the steps, ‘You have turned her into some living power source!’ he exclaims, about to swear revenge, when he slams into a force field that Immortus creates. Immortus remarks that this should restore Quicksilver’s sense of proportion, before assuring him that in service to his glorious cause, the Scarlet Witch will live forever.

‘But first you changed her - then you took away her free will!’ exclaims Pietro as he slams his fists against the force field. Arms folded across his chest, Immortus remarks ‘An overstated commodity - even to the meagre extent it actually exists’. Suddenly, Wonder Man exclaims that they have been hanging back for fear of endangering Wanda and suggests to Immortus that he shouldn’t have revealed just how important Wanda is to him. Simon begins punching the force field, exclaiming that he is not going to stop until the force field gives, or his heart does. Quicksilver continues to smash it too and calls over to the Avengers, asking them for help.

The handsome USAgent turns to his teammates before leading the way, although asking them if he has to ask “Mother may I” first. Hawkeye replies that they have a more dramatic way of saying it…’AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!’ the Avengers all shout as they run towards Immortus and the Scarlet Witch. But Immortus calls them ‘Muscle-bound dullards’ and tells them that they cannot touch he or the Scarlet Witch, although admits that the fury of the Avengers combined assault may somehow negate the trance which he has placed Wanda in.

‘What say we put that theory to a test?’ Wonder Man asks, before adding that his super-powered fist may even find a weak spot in the force field. But as Simon is about to swing his first forward when a large white crystal-like hand comes down and grabs Wonder Man, picking him up in the air. ‘What kind of hand is that?’ USAgent exclaims, while Hank Pym points out that it lifted Simon up as if he were a rag doll. Weakening, Simon calls out to the Avengers, asking them what is happening to him. The Wasp expresses her concern, and Hank exclaims the Wonder Man is aging by the second, he now appears as a very feeble old man hanging limply above them. Iron Man asks who or what is the thing that is holding him, and the Avengers watch and listen intently as the large being introduces itself as Tempus, the guardian of Castle Limbo - and warrior-slave to the time-defying Immortus.

Meanwhile, back on a very much time-governed Earth, the old sorceress, Agatha Harkness continues to talk with Immortus’ shadow which she trapped on Earth and tells him that she knows what he is planning and that he is a fiend. The Inhuman Lockjaw keeps watch over the Immortus copy and Agatha’s cat Ebony meows as Agatha wonders why she is wasting time shouting at a transparent doppelganger like this one. ‘I am sure I have no idea, Agatha Harkness’ the Immortus doppelganger replies, before telling her that as she knows the true Immortus has taken her costumed colleagues to his own dimension, while her mystic spell has kept him here and forced him to reveal Immortus’ plans, even though he is simply a magical after-image.

Agatha tells Ebony to be still, before exclaiming that she must reach the Avengers, as Wanda has always been like a daughter to her. Turning to Lockjaw, Agatha knows that even his powers of teleportation cannot take her to Limbo. Agatha realizes that the only passage to Limbo - if there is one at all - must be through the captive doppelganger which partakes of Immortus’ very essence. Agatha thinks that leaving Ebony here within her pentagram as an anchor her plan might just work, at any case, she must try. Agatha begins her chant: ‘Again I call thee, triple Goddess, you who are my mother, rock and helm - let my ethereal self go roaming - through this shade to Immortus’ realm!’ With that, Agatha’s spirit leaves her body and flies into the Immortus shadow. A puzzled Lockjaw just looks at the madness before him.

‘Well! That was fast! I’ve arrived here as swift as thought itself!’ Agatha exclaims to herself as her astral image appears flying above the Avengers in Immortus’ dimension. Hank tells the other Avengers to charge Tempus, who is still holding on to Wonder Man, while Agatha wonders, now that she is here unseen and unheard, how she can assist her friends against Tempus, as from the looks of things, they could certainly use a bit of help. ‘Who died and left you in charge, Pym?’ USAgent snaps. Firing one of his weapons, Hank replies that all that counts now is Wanda. Hawkeye motions to the large club that Tempus is swinging around and tells Hank to watch out.

Suddenly, Tempus speaks again, ‘Here, you inmates of a three-dimensional prison! Take back this super-annuated carrion!’ he exclaims tossing the weak Wonder Man amongst them. USAgent catches Simon, but Simon lands hard, and Agent falls to the ground. ‘Thanks, Agent’ a weak Wonder Man exclaims. ‘Don’t mention it…’ Agent replies, before he passes out as does Wonder Man. Iron Man checks them and assures his teammates that they will be okay, to which Hawkeye remarks ‘just when you think you know what makes a guy tick’, referring to USAgent, but Iron Man cuts him off, reminding him that being an Avenger has brought out the best in people before now.

Agatha regrets that she cannot project her magic in her current state of being and aid them against Tempus, thinking to herself that she has never felt so completely and thoroughly helpless. ‘HELPLESS!’ Pietro thinks to himself, thinking that if Pym’s weapon, Hawkeye’s blast arrows and even Iron Man’s repulsor rays cannot defeat Tempus, what can a mere speedster do against him? Pietro turns to his sister, calling to her he asks if she can hear him from behind the shield. He reminds her that they have been through so much together, and that for her to become nothing but a human storage battery for Immortus to draw on - no matter how noble or vital he claims his purpose is - ‘In the name of Heaven itself - no good was ever born - out of something so clearly evil!’

Suddenly, Quicksilver grabs a chunk of rock and using his super speed he runs up the side of a wall and races along the arm of Tempus, before smashing Immortus’ protector in the face. Iron Man congratulates Quicksilver and continues to blast Tempus with his rays, pointing out that clearly the chunk of castle that Quicksilver grabbed has done more good against Tempus than anything they have been throwing at him. Hawkeye agrees and wonders if he could make an arrow out of one.

Tempus calls Earth’s Mightiest Heroes witless “timelings” that are born to live and die between the beatings of his heart. He exclaims that some of them might escape the ravages of aging which he could thrust upon them, but none will escape his time storm! With that, the giant Tempus unleashes the sands of time in a gust of mighty wind which swirl around as he swings his club. Tempus explains that the time storm is no mere wind, for all that it hurls them about in the midst of one of Earth’s hurricanes. ‘Look within your own hearts - and face the foe which, above all others, you cannot hope to defeat - your own most fearful, most deeply buried memories!’

‘Relive, Quicksilver, those tortured days when you and your sister were hunted like wild animals because European peasants were terrified of your mutant powers!’

‘Relive, Hawkeye, the youthful disillusionment when you learned that your mentor, the Swordsman, was a common thief!’

Wonder Man:
‘Relive, Wonder Man, the instant of your “death” as a result of those same ionic rays which gave you your powers!’

Henry Pym:
‘Relive, Henry Pym, the heart-rending anguish you felt when you looked down at the corpse of your beautiful bride, murdered behind an Iron Curtain!’

Iron Man:
‘Relive, Iron Man, the searing pain you felt when exploding shrapnel lodged within the breast of Anthony Stark!’

‘Relive, Wasp, the indescribable horror you felt when your scientist father was slain by an alien creature he teleported to Earth!’

‘Relive, USAgent, the moment when you beheld your beloved mother and father cut down by the bullets of hired assassins!’

Agatha Harkness continues to hover unnoticed above her associates, and sees the secret torments that are thrust into the heads of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, though she suspects that they cannot see each others, and what Immortus has shown them has reduced them all to quivering helplessness. Agatha thinks that she can do nothing - or can she? Floating over to the unmoving Scarlet Witch, Agatha thinks that she might have given too much weight to her inability to recite spells or to touch things physically, so perhaps she can utilize her mystical rapport with one who has long looked up to her as a second mother - Wanda.

Agatha thinks that if Immortus, who continues to watch the Avengers’ plight, where not preoccupied, he would have surely have sensed her presence by now, but since he has not, Agatha is able to float behind Wanda, and calls to her, ‘Wanda! You can hear my thoughts now - I know you can!’ Agatha tells Wanda that she must rid herself somehow of the excess power Immortus has bred unnaturally into her, without the ability to alter the probabilities of cosmic timelines, Wanda will therefore be useless to him. ‘Give up that power, Wanda Maximoff! Give it up!’ Agatha urges, before deciding that it is no use, as Wanda has not moved the slightest. Agatha wonders if perhaps Wanda does not hear her deep within her mind after all - ‘And if she does not - then all is most surely lost!’

Agatha has another idea though, and projects illusions of the Vision and Wanda’s “children” as they once were, before her and urges Wanda to fight back for her husband’s sake and even more for the sake of her children. Agatha recalls that Wanda seeing the Vision as he once was has had a profound effect on her once before, and hopes that it still will. The aged sorceress is relieved when Wanda’s expression changes for the first time since she was rescued from the clutches of Magneto, her face now shows some faint hint of feeling, of strain, of deep-seated fear perhaps.

But it is only for a moment, as Wanda’s face once more becomes expressionless. Agatha realizes that in the depths of her being, Wanda must know that her former android lover is “dead” to her and that the twins never really existed therefore she rejects what her heart knows to be a lie, meaning Agatha cannot reach her that way.

Standing over the Avengers, Tempus asks Immortus what he wants done with the interlopers. Immortus replies that he has been thinking about that and that he is reluctant to act out the role of “villain” in which the Avengers melodramatically picture him. However, Immortus thinks that on the other hand, his mission is all that truly matters to him, so tells Tempus that he may as well kill them all.
Agatha once more tries to reach Wanda by telling her that if she does not act immediately, then seven Avengers will die. ‘Husbands - even children - are not the only ones you love - the only reasons to break the psychic chains that hold you! There is also your brother! There are also your friends! Remember Wanda - remember - and awaken!’ Agatha exclaims.

Suddenly, Immortus spins around, ‘Someone is here!’ he gasps, exclaiming that he can feel their presence in his brain. Agatha is aware that Immortus knows she is here and realizes that she must hurry. She addresses Wanda as her daughter and reminds her that she has lived for husband and offspring, so tells her that the time has now come for her to live for those who love her and whom she loves in turn. Immortus realizes it is Agatha who haunts his dimension and tells her that she will not defeat him in his own dimension, he then unleashes some power against her.

Agatha is struck by Immortus’ mental force and washes over her in waves of pain. ’I will handle this ghostly hag, Tempus, continue with the execution!’ Immortus orders. Tempus is about to do as his master commands, and holds his mallet high above the fallen Avengers. Agatha’s astral form is being torn apart by Immortus’ bombardment, but nevertheless continues to contact Wanda, urging her to reject those extra powers she never wanted for the sake of those who love her. ‘Reject them also for the sake of those you love!’ Suddenly, Immortus turns to Wanda - ‘The Scarlet Witch! She is awake!’ he exclaims horrified, while Agatha once more urges Wanda to reject the powers.

‘YES!’ screams the Scarlet Witch, ‘I DO REJECT THEM!’ she cries, unleashing her unwanted powers, which begin to flow around Immortus’ castle, knocking everyone aside, and preventing the Avengers from being slain. ‘I’LL HAVE THEM NO MORE!’ Wanda cries as the powers begin to billow from the castle. Agatha continues to speak to Wanda, assuring her that she has done it, Agatha exclaims that Immortus and Tempus are caught up in base confusion, while the Avengers inner torments abruptly resolve themselves in ways both fortunate and tragic - even seemingly impossible.

‘Superstitious peasants burn Pietro and his sister at the stake for the simple sin of being born mutants’.

‘More happily, young Hawkeye - Clint Barton - shames the Swordsman into changing his larcenous ways’.

Iron Man:
‘Tony Stark dies of shrapnel, so that there will be no Iron Man’.

Wonder Man:
‘Wonder Man’s deadly radiation flares up at the instant of his death, slaying all of the Avengers present, save Thor’.

‘Janet van Dyne is disintegrated by the off-world monstrosity that slew her father’.

Henry Pym:
‘While most improbably of all, Dr. Henry Pym sees his wife, Maria, suddenly sit upright upon her morgue’.

‘And a hail of bullets impossibly misses the parents of USAgent’.

A horrified Immortus exclaims that this is all beyond belief, that these new images reveal what now must happen in all the timelines that are in his keeping. Aghast, Immortus announces that these new divergences will not only undo all that he has done, but they will wreak irreversible havoc across uncounted realities already in existence. ‘AGATHA HARKNESS! YOU HAVE DOMMED THE VERY MULTIVERSE!’ Immortus screams.

Iron Man is confused, ‘Agatha Harkness? What’s Immortus talking about?’ he asks, to which Hank remarks that if Agatha is here, then why doesn’t she make Wanda realize what it is she is doing. Wanda steps forward and assures her friends that she does remember, now. In fact, she claims that she remembers all that has happened, and it seems like some bad dream. Hawkeye is relieved to see his dear friend seems okay, ‘Thank Heaven you’re yourself again!’ he exclaims as Wonder Man announces that he is reverting to his true age.

Wanda exclaims that she can feel the last of her new powers draining out of herself with each passing second, and wonders if she perhaps concentrate she might be able to somehow draw the energy back into herself before she causes the cosmic calamity that Immortus spoke of. In the now castle-less landscape of Limbo, Wanda prepares to do so, when suddenly, a strange voice cries ‘No, Wanda Maximoff!’ Wanda asks who said that, to which the USAgent tells her to look behind herself, and motioning to the three strange beings, asks if they are friends of hers.

Wanda assures Agent that she has never seen them before, before remarking that in their presence, the mutant force which radiated out of her hangs motionless in midair - as if frozen. Wanda is still unsure as to who they are, so Immortus answers everyone’s question by exclaiming ‘Don’t you know who them, you foolish woman? They are…the Time Keepers!’ Agatha communicates with the Time Keepers, remarking that she was rather hoping that the three of them would decide to look in - or perhaps a better word would be praying.

Wanda exclaims ‘They can hear you, Agatha - just as Immortus can!’ Immortus turns to the three Time Keepers, and addressing them as his mentors, he asks them why they have come, before assuring them that he is fully capable of performing his tasks without their intervention. He begins to say something else when the first of the Time Keepers cuts him off, telling Immortus to be still, the Tim Keeper reminds him that long ago they appointed him custodian of time between 3000 BC and 4000 AD.

The second Time Keeper reminds Immortus that his duties required little more than the eventual transmutation of a particular nexus being into a power source. The third Time Keeper points out that Immortus was to use that power over probabilities to safeguard key events which must occur in various timelines in order to assure a certain future in which they have vested interest - ‘But that simple assignment seems to have proven too difficult for you to fulfill!’
The Avengers have been listening intently, and Clint asks Hank if he understands any of that. Hank replies that he thinks he might be starting to, while Quicksilver asks the Time Keepers of the “nexus being” that the spoke of. ‘It was I, wasn’t it?’ Wanda asks. One of the Time Keepers replies ‘The precise one selected from several possible candidates was Immortus’ choice’. Wonder Man looks at Wanda and thinks to himself that he wishes he had a choice as to whether to not to fall in love with her, as the Time Keeper explains that Immortus could only utilize a pre-existent nexus being, not create one, but when the Scarlet Witch managed to reject her augmented hex power, they the Time Keepers were forced to intervene directly.

They explain that the reason being is that if the power were allowed to cause chaos among the timelines, and all futures would be in jeopardy - including that in which they themselves came into being. ‘Now I’ve got it! Bottom line: Your own survival!’ Hawkeye exclaims, to which the Wasp turns to Hank and asks him if Clint is correct. Hank tells Janet not to rush and judge these entities by human standards. ‘Well, I’m going to do some judging, whether anyone likes it or not!’ Wanda exclaims with determination, before looking towards Immortus, and crying ‘It was you, Immortus - you who did all those terrible things - to me, to the Vision - to everyone!’

‘It was nothing personal, woman!’ Immortus replies, before claiming that the Time Keepers did not tell him precisely what future he was ultimately protecting, that he simply had a mission to fulfill and he did that as best he could. ‘Your best, alas, was not nearly good enough!’ one of the Time Keepers exclaims, while another of them remarks that Immortus’ ego was clearly not content to rule just Limbo, so he made himself believe that he was meant to be the master of all time, rather than what they named him - the Custodian of a paltry seven millennia. Immortus reminds the Time Keepers that they promised him “Total mastery” at least - total mastery over seven thousand years!

‘I guess there’s power - and then there’s power, huh?’ Clint remarks, while Hank points out that this is just one more case of subordinate exceeding his authority. Iron Man seems rather amused by it all, and thinks to himself that after all these years of batting Immortus, who has had this top secret plan, it turns out that somebody else was pulling his strings all along. ‘Enough already!’ shouts USAgent, who tells the Time Keepers that they are to turn Immortus over to the Avengers right now for trial by the US government, or else he is going to take the three of them in too.

Hawkeye tells Agent not to get them in over their heads, to which one of the Time Keepers suggests USAgent take that advice. Another of the Time Keepers points out that their actions at least were unselfish, and that they did what they did for the greater good of the cosmos. The third Time Keeper explains that if the three of them should cease to exist because of befouled time lines, the loss to the Multiverse would be profound, adding smugly that all the force they could muster against them would not suffice to harm so much as an antenna upon their age-old, unborn heads.

‘That’s it!’ Hawkeye exclaims, firing an arrow as the USAgent tosses his trusty shield at the Time Keepers. Iron Man calls out to Clint, who just remarks that the Time Keepers got to him with all that mightier-than-thou bull. Agent bets that his shield can out-race Clint’s blast arrow, but as both weapons are hurtled towards the cosmic beings, they suddenly come to a stand-still in mid-air, and one of the Time Keepers remarks that he would actually consider it more in the nature of a tie, before asking his fellows what they think. Time itself swirls, and the second Time Keeper points to the arrow which is slightly ahead of Walker’s shield, and states that it is perhaps not strictly a tie.

The third Time Keeper points out that after all, they have only reduced their velocity by a ration of 100,000 to one. The second Time Keeper remarks that if they felt like waiting for it, he feels certain the arrow would reach them sometime during the Earth’s next ice age. The third adds that, in all honesty, the shield would take a century or so longer. Agent and Clint are shocked, and Clint remarks that it serves he and John right for trying, ‘I knew we were mixing it up with guys in Galactus’s class!’ USAgent turns to Clint, ‘All right, you’re the one with more experience dealing with cosmic-powered creepazoids, bow-slinger. So tell me - what do we do now?’ ‘Not much…unless you’ve got a deck of cards up your sleeve!’ Hawkeye replies.

Immortus suddenly exclaims that he will not stand idly by while he is robbed of the fruits of his labours, and exclaims that he has devoted whole lifetimes, both past and future, to overseeing his seven thousand years. ‘Yes - that’s what I said, my seven thousand years which you now threaten to take away from me!’ Immortus exclaims that he chose the Scarlet Witch as his vessel and found ways to secretly alter and increase her energies to suit the purpose of the Time Keepers. ‘Tell them, girl, what I did for them!’ Immortus asks Wanda. Held up by Quicksilver, Wanda swears to Immortus that if she were not so weak, then she would certainly show him.

Turning back to the Time Keepers and addressing them as “wise ones”, Immortus exclaims that, in return, they promised him continued over-lordship of those seventy centuries, and that they even hinted of greater responsibilities to come. ‘am I to be denied my reward - because some old hag of a witch whispered in a mutant female’s ear?’ Immortus asks furiously. ‘I beseech you, keepers - mentors - masters - give me my just due!’ The first Time Keeper turns to the others and remarks that there might well be justice to Immortus’ cause. The second supposes that Immortus served them as well as he could, and the third wonders if perhaps they should permit Immortus to continue serving them - but as repository of that which he himself created!

Suddenly, Immortus watches as the mutant energy expelled by Wanda no longer floats immobile in space, but flows into him! Horrified, Immortus asks the Time Keepers if they mean to destroy him, and if so, why, before suddenly exclaiming that he feel himself growing more powerful - ever more powerful as the force that controls cosmic probabilities penetrates to the very fibre of his being. ‘I shall be invincible - the true Master of Time at last!’ he boasts, when suddenly, his body twists as he realizes that something is wrong, as his whole body begins to stiffen. ‘MASTERS!’ he shouts, but the Time Keepers simply stare at him, silently.

The Avengers look at Immortus in awe, as Quicksilver points out that Immortus now stands as silent and motionless as a statue - the very fate he planned for Wanda. Wanda turns to the Time Keepers and asks them if this is to be Immortus’ final destiny. The Keepers reply that Immortus left them little choice, and tell Wanda that only in one like herself, already possessing the power to alter probability, could sufficient excess energy have been cultivated for their purpose. The Time Keepers explain that once that power existed, they had the means to turn one of Immortus’ stamina into an alternate receptacle for it. Meaning, they had secretly made him ready, just as he had secretly changed the Scarlet Witch.

Wanda asks what will happen to Immortus now, to which the Time Keepers reveal that Immortus will henceforth stand unmoving in Limbo. In one sense, he will be all-powerful, filled with such a force as they need to assure their own, and thus the Multiverse’s future, and in another sense, Immortus is now totally impotent, lacking free will - or even the ability to move. ‘He will be, in short, what he intended you to be, Wanda Maximoff’. Wonder Man exclaims sarcastically that it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, while Quicksilver declares that if ever the punishment fit the crime, this is that time.

Wanda looks towards Immortus, and half-heartedly agrees with Pietro, before placing a hand on Immortus’ face and exclaiming that despite what Immortus has tried to do with her, she cannot help but feel sorry for him. ‘Villain though he was to us - he still was noble in his own way!’ Wanda walks solemnly back towards the Avengers, while Hawkeye whispers to his teammates ‘Huh? How can she possible feel sorry for that?’ Pym tells Clint to be glad that Wanda can, for if she can feel pity for Immortus after what he did to her over the years, then maybe she is on the way to recovery. Janet tells Hank that she hopes he is right.

Agatha’s astral form hovers over the Scarlet Witch as the Time Keepers declares that it is time for they to take their leave. USAgent tells them to ‘Hold it right there!’ and that if they think they can leave them stuck in here without so much as a buss pass, then they’re crazy….But in an instant, the Avengers West Coast find themselves back in their Palos Verde Compound, and USAgent once more has his shield strapped to his hand. Wanda tells John that the Time Keepers could have done anything they wanted with them. The Wasp exclaims that it is great to be back, but that she wonders if ‘We hero types’ really accomplished anything in Limbo. ‘Yeah, or were we just along for the rides?’ Wonder Man asks.

‘You accomplished…a very great deal!’ Agatha Harkness exclaims as her astral form returns to her body. Wanda rushes over to her mentor, ‘Then you’re all right, body in body and spirit?’ she asks. Weary, Agatha replies ‘More or less’, but that without the others fierce battle with Tempus, then she would not have had the chance to help Wanda throw off Immortus’ yoke. ‘Thus, it was an Avengers victory after all!’ Wanda embraces the aged sorceress, ‘And what am I, dear Agatha - if not an Avenger!?’ Wanda exclaims. ‘you are - you have always been many other things, my dear Wanda - each of them just a wee bit more wonderful than the last!’

Lockjaw growls, and Quicksilver tells the Inhuman that he may return to the other Inhumans now if he wishes, and that after Immortus’ sleep-spell, he may take a bottle of aspirin with him. Pietro turns to Hawkeye to ask where the aspirin is kept, but seeing that Hawkeye is asleep and snoring on the couch, Wonder Man offers to find the aspirin. The Wasp smiles, ‘Hawk sat down and nature did the rest!’ she jokes. ‘What right’s he got to be tired?’ Agent asks, to which Iron Man points out that Wanda has stopped being a victim - which is enough cause for all of them to celebrate. Unsmiling, Hank thinks to himself that if he can just find a way to help the Torch and Tigra, then maybe he will also feel like sending up rockets.

Characters Involved: 

Hawkeye, Iron Man, Dr. Hank Pym, Scarlet Witch, USAgent, Wasp, Wonder Man (all Avengers West Coast)

Agatha Harkness
Ebony (Agatha Harkness’ cat)


The Time Keepers

In Quicksilver’s Flashback / Alternate Reality:
Pietro & Wanda Maximoff
Angry towns people

In Hawkeye’s Flashback / Alternate Reality:
Clint Barton
The Swordsman

In Wonder Man’s Flashback / Alternate Reality:
Wonder Man
Captain America, Giant Man, Iron Man, Thor

In Iron Man’s Flashback / Alternate Reality:
Iron Man

In Dr. Henry Pym’s Flashback / Alternate Reality:
Henry Pym
Body of Maria Pym
Russian Authorities

In Wasp’s Flashback / Alternate Reality:
Janet Van Dyne
Dr. Vernon Van Dyne
The Creature from Kosmos

In USAgent’s Flashback / Alternate Reality:
Caleb & Emily Walker

As Illusion:
Thomas & William Maximoff

Story Notes: 

It is important to note that the Limbo in which Immortus resides is not related to the Limbo commonly seen in the X-verse and ruled at one time or another by Illyana “Magik” Rasputin, Belasco, and currently Amanda Sefton.

The Avengers West Coast battled the Legion of the Unliving in Avengers West Coast #61.

The Vision was destroyed and rebuilt with no personality or love for the Scarlet Witch in “The Vision Quest” [West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #42-45]

The Scarlet Witch’s children were revealed to be the souls of Mephisto mixed with Wanda’s desire to have children in Avengers West Coast #51-52.

Wanda became statue-like during a battle with Magneto, only for Immortus to reveal himself once the Avengers had rescued her. [Avengers West Coast #60]

The Avengers first set of inner torments is narrated by Immortus, the second set by Agatha Harkness.

For Immortus’ appointment as Time Keeper to the period 3000 BC - 4000 AD see Thor (1st series) #282 or the flashback scenes in Avengers West Coast #61.

Immortus next appears in one of the back-up stories in Avengers Annual #21.

Lockjaw was put into a deep sleep by Immortus in Avengers West Coast #61.

Hank’s comment about helping the Human Torch and Tigra refer to events in recent issues where the Human Torch was once more deactivated, and Tigra was long ago reduced to the size of an actual cat.

Undoubtedly, had John Byrne not abruptly quit following Avengers West Coast #57, things would have certainly turned out differently in the saga of the Scarlet Witch which he began when he first took over the writing duties on this title. For example, Byrne mentioned that Immortus would alter the first battle of the Avengers with Kang, so that Kang would win, which would have dire consequences for the entire new timeline created.

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