Exiles (1st series) #52

Issue Date: 
November 2004
Story Title: 
Living Planet - part 1

Tony Bedard (Writer), Jim Calafiore (Penciler), Mark McKenna (Inker), JC (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer), Mizuki Sakakibara (Cover), Cory Sedimeier and Stephanie Moore (Assistant Editors), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

In another reality, the Avengers learn that, after the last battle with Ego, the Living Planet, the cosmic being left his seed on Earth, which has caused the planet to start the process of becoming self-aware. Earth now wants to exterminate humanity and is using antibodies to do so. When the Fantastic Four headed underground to find a solution, they disappeared. Now, the Avengers have allied with Doctor Doom to stop the Earth. The Exiles arrive in the reality in the middle of a nuclear plant under attack. Blink quickly dispatches the antibodies, which impresses her teammates. The Exiles learn of the recent events with the Fantastic Four and Blink reveals to her teammates that they must stop the Avengers and Doctor Doom. They head to a city where Doom and the Avengers are about to head underground with a drilling machine to lobotomize the Earth. The Exiles try to reason with the Avengers, but a fight ensues and soon the antibodies climb out of the tunnel. Blink discovers that the antibodies want the Exiles to follow them, so the Exiles do, but not before Blink teleports Doom’s machine away. The Exiles follow the antibodies to the brain of the Earth, where they meet the missing Fantastic Four. There, they discover that Reed Richards has connected his mind with Earth’s mind to guide it through the self-awareness process, though he fears that it is too late. He senses that Ego is racing back to Earth and his deadliest enemies are right behind him.

Full Summary: 

Deep within the halls of Avengers Mansion, a more commando-looking Captain America addresses his team of mighty heroes, consisting of Hawkeye, a female Iron Man, a female Yellowjacket and the might Thor, who wears golden armor and has a flowing golden beard with some braids in it. Captain America shows the Avengers video images of blue and purple humanoid creatures with hexagon-shaped heads, attacking innocents and destroying property all around the world. Captain America announces to the team that they have to face the facts: Earth is trying to kill humanity!

Reluctant to believe such an idea, Hawkeye asks Cap how he can expect them to believe that the Earth is responsible for these latest attacks. Cap tells Hawkeye to think about it for a moment. These monsters have appeared all around the world targeting sites only involved in oil production, logging, strip-mining and any thing else environmentally unfriendly. Eyewitnesses claim that these creatures have come out of the rock, wind and water. Does that sound familiar? It should. Six months ago, Ego, the Living Planet, attacked Earth and his antibodies are almost identical to these creatures attacking now. When the Fantastic Four and their cosmic allies forced Ego to retreat they all missed something important.

Cap has the computer play a video of the fight against Ego and has it magnify a certain part of the clip where a chunk of Ego fell into the South China Sea. Can it be a coincidence that the attacks began in that region? Ego has infected their world and now Earth is developing its own mind. Maybe that is how Ego reproduces. As for humanity, Earth thinks that they are now fleas and wants to scratch them out. Thor tells Captain America that he is no insect and asks how he plans on fighting Earth itself. Cap is not sure and he would have called Reed Richards, had the Fantastic Four not have gone missing. So, he had to ask someone else on Earth who is just as smart as Mister Fantastic. With that said, the door to the room opens and Doctor Doom enters!

Cap sighs and welcomes the ruler of Latveria. The other Avengers get ready for battle, but Doctor Doom tells them to stand down for he has come in peace. He has as much to lose as any of them, so today they shall have a truce - for if they do not pool their efforts they will all die. However, if the Avengers listen to him and follow him, they will succeed where Reed Richards and his family have failed. They will stop the global metamorphosis and prevent Earth from devouring her young.

At Pleasant Hills Nuclear Power Plant, tourists and personnel alike run for their lives, as Earth’s antibodies destroy the facility and attack the people. Suddenly, a tear in reality opens, as the Exiles teleport into the new reality. Morph shapes his head into an exclamation mark and supposes that they don’t have to look far for trouble this time. Quickly, Blink orders her team to get the civilians out of harm’s way and they will sort things out later. As Mimic flies Blink away, the others engage their foes. Namora quickly discovers that the antibodies are stronger than they look. Sasquatch punches one antibody back into dirt and arrogantly asks Namora how they can be tough when they are just soil. In response, an antibody grab’s Sasquatch’s head and slams it into the ground.

The other antibodies see the battle and turn to the Exiles. Now we have done it, mutters Beak. Done what, Morph asks. Beak replies that they have got their attention now. The antibodies quickly surround the six Exiles and Beak wonders if they can reason with them. Mimic doubts it and informs the group that the antibodies don’t speak or think. They are just mindless drones. Considering they are made out of dirt, he doesn’t even think that they are alive. Blink hopes that Mimic is right, as she has gotten to like his no killing rule.

Beak then leaps over the Exiles and throws three arrows at three antibodies and teleports them away. She then gracefully leaps all around the antibodies, throwing more arrows to teleport all the attackers away. The other Exiles stand in awe; even Namora is impressed at Blink and calls her remarkable. Beak tells the others that he did not know she could move like that. “That’s my girl,” says Mimic with a smile on his face.

Mimic walks up to Blink and asks her where she sent the antibodies. Won’t they just harass people wherever they appear next? Not likely, says Blink, as the antibodies she teleported all emerge into outer space. A man in a suit accompanied by his assistant approach the Exiles and admits that he does not know who they are, but he thanks the Heavens that they showed up. He introduces himself as Kirk Brasington, the plant manager. He then tells the Exiles that he doesn’t want them to take this the wrong way, but why did they show up anyway? Mimic turns to Blink, wanting to know the same thing, and asks her what the Tallus says. Blink listens to the Tallus for a moment and then tells the others that she knows the latest mission, but would rather not repeat it in mixed company.

Blink apologizes to Mr. Brasington for not being able to tell him too much, but they operate in secret – for national security. Easily duped by Blink’s lie of working with the government, Mr. Brasington assumes that the Exiles are some sort of Black Ops super-team. Blink does not confirm nor deny and hopes he understands why they cannot tell him anything else. Mr. Brasington happily complies with the Exiles and takes them into his plant. The other Exiles follow, though Namora insists on floating with the group instead of walking. Mr. Brasington tells the group that there is plenty of coffee and food, unless the antibodies destroyed it all. He knows it is not much of a thank you. Morph, wearing a haz-mat suit, thanks the man, as he hasn’t had a good cup of coffee in a while.

As they enter the cafeteria, Blink asks the man what the monsters were. Mr. Brasington was hoping Blink would know, but if the Fantastic Four could not stop them then maybe no one can. Interested, Namora asks the intimidated Mr. Brasington what happened to the Fantastic Four. Confused as how she could not know, Mr. Brasington asks the Exiles where they have been. Classified, says Blink. Could he just tell them what he knows?

Brasington informs the group that when the attacks started a month ago the Fantastic Four thought they could solve the problems. For some reason that they never explained, the solution involved them going underground to the Earth’s core or something like that. They used the tunnels that the Mole Man used to live in and they haven’t been seen since. It has been all over the news and the media doesn’t even talk about anything else.

Brasington turns on the television, which shows a live report in the streets of a city where the Fantastic Four were last seen. It seems that there is now going to be a second attempt to go underground, but this time it is an alliance between the Avengers and the controversial Doctor Doom. That is what the Tallus meant, says Blink, as she now understands her mission. Heather asks Blink about the mission. Blink then informs the group that they have to stop the Avengers and Doctor Doom.

In a city, the Avengers stand over the hole to the tunnel the Fantastic Four were last seen entering. Doctor Doom stands by his drilling vehicle, while thousands of citizens watch behind police barricades. Captain America approaches Doom and tells the man that they have trusted him this far but, like Reagan said to Gorbachev, “Trust, but verify.” Doom tells Cap to spare him the Americanisms and state what he means. What he means, says Cap, is that the Avengers are not going anywhere until Doom explains exactly what his machine does. Doom is disappointed that the heroes haven’t deduced it by now. The problem is that the Earth is self-aware. His Metakirlian Imploder will destroy any burgeoning intelligence within Earth before it can kill them all.

Captain America turns to Iron Man, who runs a voice scan, which confirms Doom speaks the truth, but he might have calibrated his own armor to modulate his speech. Hawkeye, reluctant to believe again, asks Cap if it is a little too much to lobotomize the Earth. Cap admits that it bothers him. He turns to Doom and tells him that there must be a better way. Doom tells Cap that there is no time for weakness. While they argue, the human race is dying. Suddenly, a portal opens and the Exiles teleport through. Thor at first thinks this is part of Doom’s plan, but Doom reveals that he has no clue who the new arrivals are.

Blink apologizes for alarming the heroes and villain, but they did not come to start trouble. They are the Exiles and they want to help. Cap stops the heroes and tells them that he appreciates the gesture, but this is no time for a rookie hero team to step in. Blink tells Cap that they are not rookies, but the Avenger tells her that he has never heard of the Exiles, so they must be newcomers. That means they need to move to the other side of the barricade and let the Avengers to their job. Angered, Namora is about to approach Captain America, but Blink orders her to stand down. Blink tells Captain America that what she has to say will be difficult to swallow, but he must believe her. What he is about to do will probably end the life of every one on Earth. Life is already in danger, Captain America says. They cannot just stand around.

Iron Man walks up to Blink and asks what she knows about their mission that they don’t. Has she been spying on Doom or does she have a crystal ball stashed around. Blink shows Iron Man her Tallus and explains that it warns her when a timeline has been damaged and what needs to be done to fix it. Doom does not take Blink seriously and complains that it is bad enough a child challenges his wisdom, but he won’t listen to such garbage. He presses a button on his glove, which activates his drill machine. Doom tells the heroes to argue amongst themselves, while he will stop the end of humanity. Doom is about to enter the tunnel when Namora flies before him and tells him that she killed him once before and can do it again.

Captain America is confused on Namora’s meaning and Beak immediately realizes that they are going to fight again. Doom tells Namora to move or die, but Blink won’t let her do that as she teleports away Doom’s machine. Doom blasts Namora and Sasquatch, as he accuses Blink of dooming them all. Blink orders Namora to keep Doom away from the hole, as Iron Man and Thor take on Sasquatch and Captain America and Hawkeye take on Mimic. Beak stands scared with his bat; while Morph sprays Yellowjacket with a gas she immediately realizes isn’t bug spray like she thought. Morph informs her that it is a frozen burrito smell.

Within moments, Hawkeye notices that the antibodies are climbing out of the hole. Thor warns his teammates, as he uses Mjolnir to destroy one creature, but another one punches him in the back of the head. An antibody grabs Beak and drags him into the hole, as he screams for help. As Hawkeye gets knocked out, Captain America orders everyone to retreat. Doom gets surrounded and curses everyone for dooming them all. Blink is grabbed by one antibody, but teleports away, as she sees all her teammates being dragged into the hole. She reappears on the ground and is about to teleport Sasquatch to safety when she notices something.

Sasquatch asks Blink why she isn’t freeing her, as she is taken underground. Blink tells Sasquatch to look at the other antibodies. They are waving at her to come down. She thinks it might be okay. They seem to be invited to come along. Cap, who is still fighting the antibodies, tells Blink that she does not know what is down there. Doom tells Blink to destroy herself if she wants, but first she must give back his Imploder. As Blink jumps down the hole after her teammates, Cap screams that she doesn’t have to die in vain. Blink calls back that she doesn’t plan on dying at all; or at least not today.

In the tunnel, Blink sees her freed teammates and is happy to learn that she was right. Mimic sees that the antibodies want them to walk with them ahead, so the Exiles follow, though Morph quickly loses sight, as it is too dark. Namora can still see, though, as she is used to the ocean depths. Mimic orders everyone to stay together. After walking a while, Namora complains about the heat, but Blink notices a light ahead. The Exiles reach what looks like a giant brain in the Earth! Mimic announces that he can feel the half-formed thoughts and raw emotions from the brain. Morph notices a little shelter stuck in the brain. It looks like the Fantastic Four’s Fantasticar. The Exiles spot two figures outside the car, who call out to them.

Morph uses binoculars to see who they are and realizes that the two are the Human Torch and the Invisible Woman. Blink calls out to the two and informs them that everyone on the surface think that they are dead. The Invisible Woman apologizes and explains that they had to stay down here once they arrived. The Exiles will soon learn why. Blink is about to introduce the team, but Sue tells Blink that Reed was listening to them when they spoke to the Avengers. From down here, questions Blink. Sue suggests that it would be better if Reed explained things and escorts them into the small Fantasticar.

Inside, the Exiles see the Thing and Reed Richards, the latter appearing to have the Earth’s brain synapses’ connected to his head. Reed thanks Blink for stopping Doom’s machine, as he does not know how much damage would have occurred if the Fantastic Four would have had to fight him down here. Blink is worried over the situation and asks Reed if he is okay. He is fine, though not very mobile at the moment. As the Exiles see, he is linked to the Earth’s mind in order to guide it through the process of becoming self-aware. That is how he monitored their appearance on the surface. He even gained control of some antibodies, like the ones that escorted them here. However, he still has to convince Earth not to exterminate humanity, but he is afraid time is up. The Exiles stand surprised as Reed explains that he can feel him coming closer, at supra-light speed. Ego, the Living Planet, is coming back and his deadliest enemies are right behind him!

Characters Involved: 

Beak, Blink, Mimic, Morph, Namora, Sasquatch (Exiles)

Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Thor, Yellowjacket (Avengers)

Invisible Woman, Human Torch II, Mr. Fantastic, Thing (Fantastic Four)

Doctor Doom

Various antibodies

Mr. Brasington and his assistant

Various civilians at the power plant

Story Notes: 

Though this reality’s golden Avenger is clearly drawn as a female, “he” is still called Iron Man and not Iron Woman.

Mr. Brasington and his assistant are clearly based on the characters Mr. Burns and Smithers from the television show the Simpsons.

Namora killed all the super-powered individuals in her reality, as seen in Exiles #47.

While Reagan made the phrase “Trust, but verify” famous in the US when describing relations with Russia after signing the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty in 1987, it is actually a Russian proverb, “Doveryay, no proveryay,” made famous in that country by Lenin.

Issue Information: 

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