Tony Stark has travelled from the present to a few years in the past to find help to save the Earth. What he finds in his penthouse is his past self, stinking drunk and announcing he is the handsomest pink elephant he’s ever seen. Angrily, future Tony throttles him, telling him he is him from the future! He loves it! past Tony replies. Ghost of Christmas yet to come, huh? Well, he’s gonna spend next Christmas the same way he spent last one. Care to join him?
Future Tony angrily throws his drink away and orders him to listen. Years from now, the entire world is going to be destroyed. Just when he’s gotten his life together, everyone he knows and loves will die horribly! He barely made it back to this era. He needs his help, to find Dr. Doom’s time machine.
Past Tony informs him he had a long night and is in no mooed for some existential chat about the future with his conscience, so why doesn’t he go back to Never Never Land?
Tony realizes more than ever he was pathetic. He wants to throw up, to hit him, but more than anything he wants a drink. He realizes he can’t stay. He takes up the helmet past Tony was playing with, threatening, if past Tony’s brain is too pickled to be of any use, he’ll get help another way. He wants the Iron Man? past Tony asks. Take him. He’s done sticking his neck out for people who don’t appreciate it. That’s another back up suit anyway. He’s got Jim Rhodes holding down the hero side of things while he takes a little Tony time. He offers him one for the road. Future Tony declines, though he wants it. Past Tony wishes him fun.
Future Tony barely makes it up the stairs to the roof where he changes into the armor. He’s weakened like a ninety year old man, ever since the Iron Man armor in his body was disabled. At least the archaic armor will give him mobility. He heads for Avengers Mansion.
In the living room of said mansion, Starfox, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) and Hawkeye are gathered. Monica wonders why Hawkeye is allowed to stay on active duty with his leg in a cast. He didn’t ask, Hawkeye replies. As long as his arms work – hey, look who’s back! he shouts when he sees Iron Man. He thought he quit!
Tony recalls aloud that he did take a leave of absence, but this is something he has to take care of. Starfox reintroduces himself to Tony. Looking at the membership, Tony realizes the Wasp would have to be chairwoman at the time. He asks to see her, as well as Thor and Captain America, if they are around. Clint informs him they’re all together, talking about Iron Man, he thinks. Is he in trouble? He hopes not, he replies and enters the room.
He steeled himself but is still shocked to see the Wasp alive. They are indeed discussing the Tony Stark of their time. Thor calls him one of the truest warriors he has known. Surely he can overcome this with their aid. Wasp is more pessimistic. Tony is an alcoholic. Unless he wants to stop drinking, none of them can make him. Cap agrees, and the man he saw has no intention of stopping.
They stop talking when they see him. Tony reminds himself he needs to convince them or they are all dead! Is he the new Iron Man? Captain America asks him. The one Tony gave the armor to? Tony takes off the helmet to show it’s him. He is from the future and needs their help, he explains.
They’ve seen time travelers before, the Wasp admits. But he is wearing a contemporary Iron Man suit. Tony upgrades his armors almost as often as she redesigns her costumes. Thor points out he reeks of spirits. It’s the helmet Tony explains. Their era’s Tony was using it as a party decoration. If they will just let him prove it!
He powered down the armor to take off the helmet. Forgetting how heavy it was and seeing Jan makes him stumble, which leads the others to believe he is drunk. Cap offers to help him up. He knows a facility…
No! Tony shouts, aware that now they will never believe him. Janet and Thor agree that drunk in his armor he is a threat. Thor asks him to see reason. He has no wish to raise a hand against him. Neither does he, Tony agrees, and uses his repulsor ray on him, then flies out.
The Wasp shouts at the Avenger outside to stop him. He is an impostor. She-Hulk grabs him by the ankle and smashes him down. He blasts her. Starfox tells him that’s no way to treat a lady and suggests they stop fighting. They are all Avengers and surely can straighten this out. Tony is almost convinced but then blasts him, recalling Starfox’s persuasion power.
He flies outside a window, hoping that none of the others can match him for speed, but he forgot their latest member, Captain Marvel. She announces she’ll give him one last chance. However, he absorbs her energy form and redirects it back at Thor, allowing him to make his getaway.
Thor admits his fighting skill seems undimmed. Monica wants to catch up. Wasp claims he isn’t a priority. She’ll alert the real Iron Man to look for him. They’ve got other problems.
She called this meeting because Ultron is back. That’s all they need, Hawkeye moans. Is that metal fruitcake building himself another wife? Maybe 2.5 robot kids and a mechanical schnauzer?
Cap chides him that’s no laughing matter. Ultron’s been stealing cutting edge technology. Given his hatred of humanity, they can’t risk him completing whatever he’s working on. He tells Captain Marvel to trace his energy signature.
Elsewhere, Tony chides himself for his stupidity. He’d just seen his friends die in the future, so he ran to them for comfort in the past without thinking. Not only did he fail to get their help, they’ll warn all the other Avengers to be on guard for him. The Fantastic Four’s robot receptionist said Reed Richard is in another dimension. He is running out of geniuses. Then he has an idea. There is someone whose location he knows. Although the timing couldn’t possibly be worse. This could get awkward…
And so Tony arrives at Hank Pym’s Midwestern lab. Pym greets him with a punch and a curse. He has the gall to come here?! he shouts. After he seduced his wife not a month after their divorce? While Hank was rotting in jail for a crime he didn’t commit? He knew Tony was a narcissist, but this – he must be delusional!
Tony admits to himself he deserved this. By the time he crawled out of the bottle and joined the West Coast Avengers, Hank was putting on a brave face, but this is what he did to him.
He admits to Hank he is a real piece of work. Hank has ever right to be angry. But he’s not the Tony Stark he knows. Doesn’t he seem older? Hank admits he’s looked better but he’s heard Tony’s drinking again. In this era, Tony admits, but he is from the future.
Hank accuses him of being loaded and orders him to get out. Tony begs him to listen. Years from now, Hank will develop a process that’ll let him access Overspace. The dimension of abstract cosmic entities. Hank admits he’s only just begun that research. It’s still theoretical. He hasn’t told anyone yet. Tony assures him he’ll get there and again asks him to believe.
Let’s say he does, Hank concedes. Why does that change anything? Why would he help Tony? Because the fate of the world depends on it, is the reply. In the Avengers, we’d call that Tuesday, Hank replies drolly. Someone will take care of this. No one else can! Tony adds if it helps in this era he is at the lowest point in is life. He’s losing everything and a big part of why he started drinking again was guilt over what he did to Hank and Jan. He’s not saying it makes it right. But he’s paying for what he did. Can that be enough? Will Hank help him, please?
Soon, Tony shows Hank the part of the time machine he has. Tony explains he is trying to locate the other pieces in the past so the madman who used it never gets the chance. Hank examines it and explains that these machines are infused with pretty unique energies. No two are the same. He thinks Doom uses magic in their creation. It’s just a matter of isolating and analyzing the energy and searching for the same pattern. He adds a tracking device to it. Easy, he tells Tony. He could have done it himself. Nobody understands dimensional devices like Hank is the reply and, without the right equipment, Tony is useless. He thanks Hank. He’s a real Doc Brown.
Hank tries it out and gets a reading in upstate New York and another familiar energy signature. Ultron…
In upstate New York, the Avengers are battling the evil robot. Have at thee! Thor booms as he throws his hammer at the indestructible robot. Ultron uses his forcefield to keep the Hammer from returning to Thor. Thor worries that it will be kept from him for more than sixty seconds at which point he’d revert to his Donald Blake identity.
She-Hulk hits Ultron and orders Captain Marvel to help Thor. The rest are to hit Ultron hard! But Ulton takes down Jen easily.
From a glider, Hawkeye shoots a special arrow at him, mocking he’s got to be Ultron thirteen by now. So what’s his nutball computer brain up to this time? Looking for a hot date with a Ms. Pac-Man machine? Ultron replies he has no title. Individual names are a human affectation, flaws in his other models. He evolved separately from them, from remnants of Ultron-Six. But if they must, call him Ultron Omega, for he will be the last, and the end of their misbegotten species! He has obtained a fragment of a time travel device built by the one they call Doom. When it is rebuilt, he will travel to the dawn of time and crush the ancestor of humankind as it rises from the primeval sea!
As Ultron takes out Hawkeye, Cap throws his shield at Ultron, pointing out the flaw in the plan. Ultron was created by a human. He’d undo his own existence! Catching the shield, Ultron pronounces this a small price to pay to wipe the stain of humankind from Earth. He throws it back, taking out Cap, Starfox and the Wasp with one throw.
Thor asks Captain Marvel to fight. Maybe her power will succeed where his failed. The newest Avenger attempts a wide spectrum barrage to disrupt Ultron’s systems. He calls her a fool. She thinks too slow or overcome his defenses, while he feeds on energies like hers. He captures her energy form and observes that he may not be as evolved as he thought, for he looks forward to slaughtering them all, as soon as he has killed Thor! Thor nervously thinks that in a few seconds that will be very easy if he doesn’t reach his hammer.
That moment, Iron Man flies in, blasting Ultron. He’s seen the future, he announces, and it doesn’t include Ultron Omega. Somewhat familiar with Ultron’s tech, he sets up a counter frequency to disrupt the forcefield, allowing Thor to take Mjolnir just in time. Thor admits he owes him an apology. Tony suggests he can make it up to him by taking Ultron apart. They just have to keep him busy; he’s got an ace in the hole…
Hanky Pym (as Ant Man) enters Ultron and follows the course Iron Man uploaded to his helmet. He asks Tony to call him “Hank.” He isn’t Ant-Man anymore, someone else is. He’s just wearing the suit out of necessity again.
Suddenly, a swarm of internal defense drones attack. Tony was worried about this. He warns Hank they face some defense of artificial intelligence for identifying contaminants. But Hank announces he can handle them. He still has the strength of a full-sized man.
Hank hits the bots, then sees Ultron’s molecular rearranger, the device he uses to reshape his adamantium body, meaning he can also be destroyed with it. Tony tells him to attach the device he made to it, activate it and get out. He is interrupted when he tells Hank how much time he has as the battle outside becomes hotter.
But suddenly, Ultron feels his internal systems corrupted. He literally begins to melt as he shouts: “Father, why have you betrayed me?”
Captain Marvel is freed and unharmed and to Iron Man’s relief so is Hank, who even managed to get the fragments of Dr. Doom’s time machine, which he hands to Tony.
Captain America apologizes for doubting Iron Man, who replies he hasn’t done a lot to earn their trust. Hawkeye asks Hank if he’ll reconsider returning. Hank tells him too much has happened, too much to pretend they can just start over and he couldn’t do that to Janet.
Captain Marvel and She-Hulk help the Wasp, who was grazed by Ultron’s encephalo beam. When she hears what Hank did..., Monica begins. Hank asks them not to tell her. He created Ultron, so he felt he had to help stop him. But, if Janet knew, she’d feel obligated to ask him back and he’s hurt her enough. He suggests they tell the Wasp Hank was here to give advice on Ultron’s construction. Or keep the mission out of their records entirely, given the time paradox. Captain America doesn’t like it but respects his wishes.
Tony muses that, despite it all, they are still friends. After so long they’ve finally come back to that in his era. If he tells them what is to come, warns them, could he stop the Civil War? Prevent Cap and him at each other’s throats? Bill Foster’s death? Could he stop what happens to Wanda…could he save Janet and do more? Could he change his past? But things might turn out worse. He needs to find the rest of the time machine or there won’t be a future. Still, he wonders if there isn’t something he can do.
Captain America points out that both Tony and the time machine pieces are glowing. Is it some attack? Hank explains that now that two pieces of the time machine are united, it is taking him to the others, trying to achieve equilibrium. Before he disappears, Tony wants to tell them something about the future. Hank warns him he can’t. There’s potential for disaster! He won’t get specific, Tony promises, but he can see how hard this has been on Hank and he just wants to tell him that, from someone else who has hit bottom, he will get through this. Hank smiles and thanks him, hoping Tony will get through this. Because his future sounds like someplace he’d really like to see.
England, years earlier. Everything is grey with rain. Tony Stark sees a news report on a TV set in a shop window. It shows a speech of one Sir James Jaspers, MP.
It’s true that these are dark days. Unemployment has risen, yes, but this recession has made life difficult for everyone. We must all tighten our belt at a time like this, Jaspers demands. People are scared. They feel their very way of life is under threat. And this is precisely why he believes these… “mutant” individuals should not be allowed to live amongst them without regulation. Until they know exactly what they are capable of. Internment is simply the simplest choice. This is an unstable, volatile time. Their heroic troops have been fighting a war overseas. And the safety of good honest people is his only concern in the matter.
Disgusted, Tony mutters that some things never change. That moment, the TVs shut off. So much for hoping the news would tell him what year he was in. Or telling him why people are running to get off the streets like their lives depended on it. He figures this is London. Hank Pym’s GPS is showing that a part of Doom’s time machine is nearby.
He drops the trenchcoat and is about to put on the helmet, wishing he had the strength. He misses the modern armor, feeling strong. He misses his friends. He needs sleep, a hot meal, but has a word to save. He needs help! So does someone else, as he hears a scream and flies towards its source.
A woman in a car screams at armed soldiers in beetle-like armors to leave her husband alone. They haven’t done anything wrong! As the soldiers get the unconscious man out of the car, she babbles that Mark can move a chess piece a few centimetres by thinking, if he concentrates really hard. That’s all he can do.
One of the Beetles begins to inform her that her husband isn’t human. Something hits him at super speed. He thinks that’s quite enough! the perpetrator announces and gives the other two Beetles a bit of advice to take back to STRIKE and the Vixen: You don’t send people to a prison camp for what they might become one day! “These are my people!” Captain Britain announces. “His is my county. So sod off out of it!”
From a roof, Iron Man observes the scene, recalling he saw Captain Britain’s face on display in Birch’s base. Just like Hank Pym. What’s going on here? Maybe these are the people that are meant to help him. But how could Birch know that?
As Cap helps up Mark, Iron Man approaches him. Seeing another armored man, Cap reacts automatically and hits him. Iron Man falls and sees that the time machine control panel has cracked during the fall. In despair, he shouts that without this he is lost! He attacks Cap, calling him an idiot. They are all dead! he shouts, and now he can’t save them! He sinks to his knees. He can’t do it. Can he help him? he asks Captain Britain.
At STRIKE command, the crime mistress Vixen, who is currently in charge, listens to the tortured screams of a prisoner, remarking she enjoys a spot of agony in the morning. She asks her scientist if there is anything superhuman about their prisoner and is told it would not appear so. She sighs. So all these gadgets were made by an ordinary little man? Boring. Jim Jaspers has them round up anyone with the slightest show of superhuman potential. It would be nice if they could actually find one special person. England is currently very ordinary, it seems.
In the East End of London, Iron Man tries to fix the panel, while Cap asks if the rest of the Avengers are with him. He’s alone, Iron Man admits. That’s a shame, Cap agrees, but he knew someone would come. Someone from across the pond would notice what’s going on here. They couldn’t just ignore it. The food lines and the curfews were bad enough, but now? They’re dragging innocent people off to camps! There’s talk that they’re death camps! In Britain! It makes him feel ill. And the sky… He thinks they’ve done something to the sky…
They’ll get through it, Iron Man comments, not really caring. Angrily, Cap asks if he is paying attention. These are his people he is talking about! What is that bloody thing anyway? Something with bigger implications than what’s happening in London! Iron Man snaps.
“My God, the arrogance!” Cap shouts. If it threatens America, it’s important, but if there’s a threat to Britain? If he can’t get it working again, there won’t be a Britain, Iron Man retorts. What does he mean? Cap asks. Iron Man just tells him he has to trust him. He doesn’t even know who’s under the helmet, Cap retorts. He actually thought he’d come to help.
Got it! Iron Man exclaims. Good luck, Cap tells him, looking at the readings. What he’s looking for is in STRIKE headquarters. STRIKE is Britain’s SHIELD, so he’s going to have to get past a high tech army. An army trained to kill superhumans!
Iron Man asks for his help. No, Cap tells him after some thinking. Iron Man tells him that Captain America went through this. Sooner or later, he’s going to have to decide what he wants to be: Whether he is a British hero or a hero. Full stop. This isn’t America, Cap insists. Super people aren’t ten-a-penny here, he’s all they have. Iron Man wishes him good luck but, before he goes, anywhere around here he can get a cheap suit?
Outside STRIKE HQ, the top secret underground bunker in Central London, two armed Beetles guard the entrance while discussing football. Suddenly, someone knocks on the door from outside. They look at each other, confused to find Tony Stark, head of Stark International, who was just passing by and thought he’d say ‘hi’.
In her bedroom, the Vixen, informed of this, scoffs. Why would Stark turn up at the front door unannounced? The messenger Rodney informs her Stark’s been visiting the Ministry of Defence and wants to sell STRIKE Stark technology while he’s in London. Vixen orders one of her submissive men to check the story with the ministry. She admits that Stark has the reputation of being something of a loose cannon in the business world. Not to mention a notorious ladies man… She checks her wardrobe in anticipation of the meeting.
Soon Tony kisses the hand of the Vixen, who is clad in a tight dress and informs him this is a charming surprise. Does he often go knocking at the front doors of top secret covert organizations? Only when he’s been told there’s a beautiful host inside and an excellent cup of tea, he retorts smoothly. He has a flattering tongue, she informs him and imagines that’s why he’s been so successful at business. That and the fact he’s a genius who creates the most advanced weaponry on the planet, he reminds her. Weaponry that he’d very much like to sell to STRIKE…
Well, the free market is the way forward, their inspiring prime minister informs them, the Vixen muses and, until she gets official word from the MOD that his story is correct, he is her rather cute prisoner.
Tony opens his case to put on an Iron Man glove. What elegant wares is he touting today? she asks. What does it do? “This!” he replies and takes her and the guards out.
He runs through the complex to look for the time machine piece and hopes that, once he finds it, he will fade out of this time zone. If not, he hopes this armor can get him past an army. Which it can’t.
He finds the panel in a not too heavily guarded area. On a chair next to it is a tied up, tortured man who is unconscious. Tony recognizes him. It’s Birch, the man who destroys the world. Birch, with his first part of Doom’s time machine. Helpless, unconscious. One point blank high power repulsor blast… no more Birch. He considers murder to save the world. Or he could smash up the two parts of the time machine he has. That way Birch can never rebuild it. Never bring back Phoenix.
But it happened. Tony was there. They all still died. But if he can put the machine back together, go back a few minutes before… A few seconds even. He can save everyone! Still, the saver option would be to kill that monster.
“You don’t send people to a prison camp for what they might become one day” he recalls Captain Britain’s words and powers down. He’ll survive, he tells the unconscious Birch. He’ll see him again and will stop him. He promises that.
Iron Man gets ready to battle an army, one trained to kill super heroes. Some things never change, he sighs as he begins battling the Beetles.
Vixen notices there is no sign of Stark and his body guard arrives suddenly. She wonders what they were after and wants to find out who is inside the Iron Man suit.
Iron Man is about to be overwhelmed when suddenly someone knocks on the door. The next moment, Captain Britain tears open the door. Leaving people to starve and strike and rot in darkness, while they enjoy the spoils of power; that is not Britain! The army behind him though: they’re Britain!
While the soldiers keep the Beetles busy, Cap assists Iron Man and helps him outside. He orders him to go. He explains STRIKE aren’t the army. The soldiers agreed to help him because they are angry about what’s happening. He can’t leave them. This country is being ripped to shreds. It’s a civil war. America has to help. No, Iron Man tells him. He doesn’t think Cap will need him. Then the time machine rips him away.