Thanos relishes. All is right in the heavens for he possesses the six Infinity Gems. The universe will now be right, made over to fit his unique view of what it should be. Let nihilism reign supreme!
Flight 801 was circling for clearance to land when the Great Disappearance struck. It took out both the pilot and the co-pilot. The jet finally ran out of fuel and augured in onto Fifth Avenue. A pretty clean hit, She-Hulk thinks. Those passengers were lucky the Avengers were on hand to help out. And luckier still that Thor was passing by. Though, She-Hulk notes, they can’t be everywhere, and the whole world’s currently one big emergency!
Jennifer breaks her way inside the downed plane and urges the passengers in there to hang on; the Avengers are coming! Vision phases through the plane and informs the ambulance outside that he has a seriously injured woman in first class. Grabbing a child and getting him out of the plane, She-Hulk complains it’s too much. Not even the Avengers can handle what’s coming down. Carrying an elderly man, Thor insists they must try. They cannot surrender to despair.
Elsewhere, Wendell Vaughn is at his office at Vaughn Security Systems when the first reports of the Great Disappearance come in, making him wonder what he can do to help. He figures Epoch might have some answers but, before he can ask her, Epoch opens a portal in space right where his bookcase stands and asks him to join them. Seeing Epoch floating in space with a glowing figure right next to her, Vaughn asks her who is there with her. Epoch explains it’s one who’s made clear to her just how perilous the universe’s current situation is – and so, the cosmic guardian, Quasar, must now undertake a new mission! Wendell is transformed into Quasar and departs for space with Epoch, who reveals they’ve got an astral rendezvous to arrange.
In the Kree Empire, Captain Dea-Sea reports an entry in his ship’s log. Bulletins continue to flood in from all over the Kree Empire. Half of their people have mysteriously disappeared. There can be no doubt for who’s responsible for this outrage: this tragedy reeks of Skrull treachery! The entire fleet has been put on red alert status. They go to join the Armada. The war to end all wars begins. Glory to the Kree Empire!
In Dr. Strange’s house, the condition of Strange’s unexpected house-guest, the Silver Surfer, was such that Strange thought it prudent to seek an outside consultation on the matter. Fortunately, Dr. Henry Pym happened to be in town. After examining him, Pym explains that Surfer seems to be regaining his strength just by lying in the sun. Strange admits that, with Surfer’s alien physiology, it was the best remedy he could come up with. Pym confirms it appears to be working. He announces he must be going; he should be with the West Coast Avengers, what with the Great Disappearance going down. He’ll brief them on what Strange has told him. He suggests Strange contacts the original Avengers directly.
“Of… of... course,” Strange sees him of. He then remains frozen to the doorstep, as if entranced. Worried, his apprentice, Rintrah, approaches and asks him if there’s something wrong. He urges him to speak to him! Strange is transfixed, his eyes wide-open…
Rintrah grabs his shoulders and shakes him, asking him if he can hear him. At that instant, Strange’s spirit departs from his body and travels to another, spiritual plane, where he is expected by a glowing figure. Strange admits he’s never been contacted quite in this manner. He wonders who this one who summoned him is. The figure explains he’s one who may save their reality from the insanity that is Thanos – but he cannot do it alone. The only hope their universe has is the banding of all champions of righteousness under one leader. The figure asserts that he must be that leader.
Dr. Strange doubts that Earth’s defenders will blindly follow someone who just popped out of nowhere. The mysterious entity argues that it is Strange’s first task, then, to convince them otherwise. Strange points out that this creature is a stranger to him, as well – one he sees no reason to trust. The stranger explains there is method by which that obstacle to progress can be overcome: he could open his soul to Strange. But in doing so, Strange’s soul would be bared to the stranger. Strange admits it’s not a process he would normally opt for. But the danger that confronts them is too great; he must take the risk. He warns the mysterious creature, though: if he senses any treachery, he shall learn to his dismay why Strange is known as the master of the mystic arts. “So be it. A melding of souls,” the entity concurs and their souls are bared to each other until…
“Enough!” Strange cries and is returned to the corporeal world. He didn’t realize the things the stranger has seen… all so clear to him now. Strange tells him he now has his complete trust – he will aid him in any way he can. Rintrah wonders to whom his master speaks.
Elsewhere, Doctor Doom makes his own investigation on the current crisis. His instruments indicate that the force responsible for the Great Disappearance originated on the far side of the galaxy. Doom has never before encountered such powerful readings. Yet, he’s picking up similar emanations from a small town in upstate New York. These transmissions are being connected to the home of Dr. Stephen Strange. He wonders what the connection is. This is a question he must have answered. For this is his universe – this is his people disappearing. And no one should dare tamper with what belongs to Doom! Plus, there is the fact that great disasters of this magnitude also present a curious intellect with great opportunity. A chance to expand on his scientific knowledge and personal power.
On Titan, things are also going bad. Drax the Destroyer is not sure what’s happening. Their old man Mentor went bye-bye. The sub-space transmissions indicate this is a universal phenomenon. Starfox realizes that half the galaxy’s population blinked out of existence. Drax murmurs that’s a lot of dead people. Horrible, Firelord remarks. Starfox is not sure how he did this, but he is positive this is his brother, Thanos’ doing. If Starfox could…
Suddenly, he vanishes mid in-sentence. Firelord is shocked: first, Mentor disappears, now Eros vanishes! What’s next? Drax remarks that he means who’s next.
Starfox has been in many a difficult situation in his life. But he knows the very moment he opens his eyes and finds himself facing his grinning brother Thanos, that this is a whole new cosmic level of trouble. He immediately recognizes the legendary Infinity Gems his brother wears as the source of his newfound might. And if that weren’t bad enough, a few feet away stands powerful Mephisto. As Starfox finds himself manacled on a throne, he realizes that he’s into it up to his ears this time.
On his right, he sees Mistress Death, a regal sight he’d never hoped to see. It takes him a while to realize who the stumbling wreck wandering about is: Thanos’ granddaughter, Nebula. She’s a real mess.
Thanos tells him it’s a family reunion. Let the old, Nebula and Eros, greet and befriend the new, Thanos’ lover and mate – Death. He explains Mephisto is but an adviser. Eros protests: how can this be a family reunion without their father being present? Thanos dismally demurs that Mentor was not invited… nor will he be. Father was a dangerous man… that is why Thanos made sure he was among the disappeared. He would have tried to abort Thanos’ vision of the future; Thanos could not allow it. Ultimate power is now his and he shall reshape the universe with it. Nothing must interfere with this holy mission.
Beaming, Starfox reassures him that nothing shall. Everything is going to work out just the way Thanos wants it to. And if there’s anything Eros can do to help… “Like using your emotion manipulating powers on me?” Thanos grunts with disgust. What say they see how charming Eros can be… without his mouth! After he removes Eros’ mouth from him with but a thought, Thanos gloats: this is how it shall be with all things that irritate him! “Annoyances will simply cease to be.”
At the Avengers headquarters, Captain America presents the update on the tally of disappeared superheroes. He asks She-Hulk if there’s still no word on the X-Men or Excalibur. Observing the monitors, She-Hulk suggests that maybe they’re off the planet. Thor feels crummy doing this, but he thinks that even in the midst of this chaos he’s got to cover that he’s not the original Thor. Taking his helmet off as a gesture of paying his debts, he claims that he fought by the side of many of those fallen; they shall be mourned deeply. She-Hulk mutters this is bad; read bad. Cap agrees: it doesn’t get any worse. Jennifer asks him if he’s sure about that.
In Asgard, Odin contemplates how he witnessed half his people vanish in the twinkling of an eye. He immediately donned the eye-patch of sorrow. And he looked about and saw this catastrophe was a universal plague. Odin explains that’s why he summoned his fellow sky-fathers to Asgard. Each of them is the supreme leader of a population of deities and a mighty power in their own right. His mystic senses warn him that the peril they face is of such immense power that it shall take their combined might to overcome it. Manitou and Svarog admit they feel the same. Odin suggests it is agreed that they shall face their enemy as a united fighting force – and let their foe beware! The other divinities declare they’re with him: the sky-fathers stand as one!
2,000 light years from Earth, Quasar realizes they’re here; now what? Epoch explains they wait patiently. “Wait for what?” he asks. For the moment to happen, she replies.
On Earth, Pip the Troll is still cooling his heels in a roach-motel, waiting for the boss man to make his return from the land of sleeping-bag cocoons. Luckily, he finally found a channel on boob tube that wasn’t obsessed with filling every second of air time with coverage about the Great Disappearance. Watching Alf on TV, he is amazed: who would’ve thought this planet capable of such high-brow entertainment? He also likes the way they brew their rotgut here. Beer’s always played a big part in his life. Maybe the rest of the universe is going down the tubes, but as long as he has a good smoke, a few brewskis and some munchies, his world’s okay.
Suddenly, a tremendous explosion shatters the room. Pip thinks he’s got to hand it to the intruder: he really knows how to make an entrance; a real show-stopper. He complains that he fixed it so they can’t stay here anymore. Where are they headed now? “After Thanos,” the gatecrasher replies. Terrific, Pip grumps – just what he wanted to hear.
In Dr. Strange’s abode, Silver Surfer comes around, only to see Dr. Doom standing above him. Restrained by Doom’s robotic servants, Strange warns him that he meddles in dangerous matters he does not fully understand. Doom suggests that Strange enlightens him or suffers further discomfort at his servants’ hands. Livid, Surfer demands that he unhand his comrade or he shall… Doom scoffs that the Surfer will fall victim to a superior intellect and power as he did in their last encounter and repels him with a blast. Squirming on the floor, Surfer thinks this is exactly what he does now, being terribly weakened from his earlier battle with Thanos’ stone golem. Further time is needed for his strength to renew itself.
Waving his hand menacingly in front of Strange’s face, Doom demands that Strange brief him on everything he knows of the Great Disappearance and the forces behind it, or he will…
Suddenly, a mysterious intruder demolishes Doom’s robotic servants and tells Doom there’s no need to threaten anyone. It will be his pleasure to tell Doom everything he wishes to know. Doom asks him who he is. Stepping out of the shadows, the man reveals that, in his time, many called him Adam Warlock! Doom may do so also, if he feels so inclined. A man who was supposed to have been killed nearly a decade ago while battling Thanos, Surfer thinks.
In Thanos’ palace at the far end of the galaxy, Thanos subjects Starfox and Nebula to unendurable horrors, gnarling and twisting their bodies in unspeakable ways. He asks Death if she understands now the pleasures of having family visit – amusing, aren’t they? Mephisto whispers in his ear that Mistress Death doesn’t appear to think so. Thanos believes that situation can be easily remedied; new entertainment can be devised. He abruptly puts his prisoners’ torture to a halt and they drop to the ground.
As Thanos leans above him, Starfox thinks that his brother’s newly acquired power has obviously deranged him. He’s gone completely insane! In his current state of mind, anything is possible. He might, on a whim, even destroy the universe!
At Dr. Strange’s sanctum, Warlock finishes his narrative of how Thanos gained his vast power and Warlock came to aid in the thwarting of his mad schemes. Strange realizes Warlock was the entity he communicated with earlier. Doom remarks it’s an amazing story and a peril that rivals the coming of the Beyonder. Warlock stresses it is a challenge they must meet and triumph over. There is but one way this can be accomplished. He must lead the forces of sanity against the mad Titan.
Indignant, Doom wonders by what right he claims the mantle of leadership. A man who was supposed to have been killed nearly a decade ago while battling Thanos! Perhaps, Warlock admits. But he alone is familiar with the secret workings of the Infinity Gems. That knowledge is the universe’s only hope. A banner I will gladly stand behind, Strange argues. He asks Surfer on the matter. Surfer argues that it’s better than following Doom. Doom concedes defeat and suggests Warlock raises his army and they shall see what comes of it. Surfer asks himself if Warlock is truly the best choice. He seems markedly different from the man he met on Soulworld. There’s so little anyone really knows about him. How can they be certain?
In his palace, Thanos devises new ways to twist and mangle the bodies of Starfox and Nebula. He asks Mistress Death if this improvisation is more to her liking. Seeing her cold and silent as usual, he wonders in fury what it takes to please her! He has given her her every wish and the universe to boot! Yet still she denies him even the slightest of smiles! He strives only for her affection and approval! He would do anything to just once hear her speak his name aloud! Anything!
Thanos’ anger and frustration, awesome in force, become a psychic wave of force which rises from his stellar monument of love and washes out into the ether. The first heavenly body to encounter the wave is a 20,000,000 year-old red giant star. Every law of nature revolts against its continued existence. The explosive end of the star is breathtaking. It is but one of many that will fall before the wrath of Thanos.
Watching all this from his world-ship, Galactus witnesses a planet he was about to consume crumble beneath Thanos’ rage. The second banquet of which Thanos has cheated him. Yet, Galactus keeps his anger in check. He has to – for now he realizes that even his staggering might is nothing compared to the near infinite power Thanos now wields. However, he vows he will not turn tail and run from this upstart demigod. He is a being of power and intellect. Plans must be conceived and alliances formed. Only then he may savor the cold feast of vengeance. The readings on Thanos’ destructive psychic emanations are astounding: the wave devastates nearly a quarter of the galaxy. It will only be at 2% of its peak strength when it hits that planet that Silver Surfer once talked him out of consuming – the one they call Earth.
On Earth, Cloak feels lost. Dagger is gone; how can he go on? The truth is he has no reason to. He and Dagger were linked in so many ways, two halves of a whole. He is better off dead. He can never…
Suddenly, the rooftop of the building he is standing on gives way, as the building begins to crumble. All around the city, skyscrapers and other buildings begin to collapse, much to everyone’s horror. In the commotion, a man leaps forward and pushes a woman and her young child out of the range of a collapsing building. It’s Wolverine. The woman cries he saved their lives! Wolverine tells her that’s right. Looking around at a New York City that has been utterly destroyed in a matter of seconds, he admits it remains to be seen if he did them any real favor.
Iron Man hovers on the edge of space in a specially constructed Iron Man rig, trying to get some better readings on certain off-planet energy signals. He suspects they have something to do with the Great Disappearance. Suddenly, every gauge of the sensor unit red lines. The force wave hits him like a runaway train. It shorts every circuit in the suit. Fortunately, his back system is able to kick in, saving him from collapsing to his death. That’s when he sees it. From this altitude it’s quite a sight, one that will surely give him nightmares for the rest of his life. Helplessly he watches as the entire West Coast of the United States breaks off and falls into the ocean. He knows there’s nothing he can do to help, but he has to try.
On the way down, he picks up on an Avengers quinjet. The original Human Torch explains they were coming in for a landing when it hit; there was nothing they could do. Tears filling her eyes, Scarlet Witch realizes they were millions of people in California alone. They’re all gone. They just couldn’t save them. Wonder Man mumbles that it was… all of a sudden… like the end of the world.
In Asgard, inspecting his now half- destroyed kingdom, Odin thinks there was no way to predict the approach of Thanos’ destructive psychic onslaught. How was he to know how devastating it would prove to be? One moment beautiful Asgard sat peacefully, a jewel in heavens. A moment later it was torn asunder, its spires toppled, the Rainbow Bridge shattered.
Odin asks his fellow sky-fathers if they felt the change. Zeus agrees: it was no simple earthquake. Osiris senses that the turmoil has brought interdimensional changes. The time/ space continuum has shifted! Odin realizes they have been cut off from Midgard and its reality: they are trapped on Asgard! Tezcatlipoca laments they are unable to return and protect their homes. Zeus tells Odin not to blame himself; there was no way he could have known. Odin realizes this – and yet, his heart and soul damn him for a fool.
Elsewhere, Namor has felt the tremors and traced them across the Atlantic Ocean floor to their source. What he discovered was the incredible. Not even he has ever seen such a magnificent sight: a number of newly-formed, highly aggressive volcanic isles sprouting from the sea. His awe is tempered by the realization that the creation of these isles will have cataclysmic results. There will be tidal waves, probably even now heading toward the Eastern Coast of the United States.
Meanwhile, Namorita is flying over Atlantic City. It’s early morning and a young couple is walking along the boardwalk, alone – probably honeymooners. They hear the roar and look up to see approaching death: a tidal wave, nearly a quarter mile high. There’ll be no escaping it. Namorita dashes below and grabs the couple. They are the only people she manages to save: everyone else in the city drowns.
Elsewhere, Thor, flying over a vast expanse of ocean, contacts the Avengers headquarters. They can inform Colonel Fury that the reports he received about the isles of Japan are confirmed. They are no more.
At the team’s headquarters, speaking with the team through a monitor, Fury tells them to thank Thor for the recon when he returns. He wonders how the Avengers headquarters held up to the quake. Cracked, but still standing, Cap informs him. “Thank God for New York bedrock,” Fury remarks. Cap explains they’re gearing up to be the com-center for any paranormals who wish to help during the crisis. Through the communication systems, She-Hulk has been able to locate Spider-Man; Black Widow has contacted Cloak and Vision is talking with the Inhumans. Good move, Fury remarks – he promises he’ll spread the word and breaks off.
Cap asks Vision about their West Coast branch. Vision is accessing them now. Scarlet Witch appears on the monitor. Cap asks her for a progress report. Wanda announces they’re setting up house in Vegas, calling in the reserves. Same here, Cap replies – they’re going to need all the help they can get. Things are getting pretty ugly out there. The monitors show horrific disasters plaguing various parts of the world, ranging from fires and tornados to earthquakes.
Elsewhere, Dr. Strange’s house is the only one still standing intact in the neighborhood. Inside, Warlock notices that everyone apparently fared fairly well, thanks to Dr. Strange’s hasty cast spell of protection. Crawling from behind a fallen bookcase, Rintrah wonders what that was. Obviously an earthquake, Doom replies. Pip remarks that something apparently got God teed off. “Exactly,” Warlock broods.