On Earth’s Moon, the mysterious Blue area constructed millions of years ago by one alien race for the testing of another lies in ruins as it has for months, its proud buildings toppled and its atmosphere generators inactive. The Watcher’s citadel lies on the edge of the ruins which are no longer capable of sustaining life…
Or is it? A green glow of light pierces the darkness of the many shadows criss-crossing this part of the Moon. A closer inspection reveals a group of people standing around a glowing cylinder and the group’s leader raises his hand and hails he who has returned from the grave, he who is the sum of their history’s greatest statesmen and philosophers made flesh - the Supreme Intelligence. The group are the Kree Lunatic Legion. Their leader is Admiral Galen Kor who carries a cosmic-rod known as a universal weapon and surrounding him are the unnamed bald twins, Dylon Cir, Lt. Kona Lor and First Officer Talla Ron, the latter two females. He says that the Supreme Intelligence has languished for too long beneath the Earth’s surface and praises the dead gods of Hala for their success in rescuing it. They have lain in wait since their last defeat, planning and preparing for their inevitable retribution. Now, in the memory of Sro-Himm, Zarek and the other Kree heroes who used Earth as their staging base, they have renamed themselves the Lunatic Legion and rededicated themselves to the Intelligence’s sole and unyielding purpose. The Avengers had showed their true colors when they claimed the intelligence set off the Nega-Bomb which destroyed their empire (which happens to be true), and now they’ll force that lie back down their throats in his name.
The Supreme intelligence thanks them both for their rescue and their unswerving loyalty and asks Galen Kor how his plans for retribution against the humans is progressing. He replies that the humans do not suspect anything and they are almost ready. Soon, Earth will fall to the new Kree empire. They depart and the Supreme Intelligence is left alone with its thoughts. It realizes it needs them as their fanaticism is useful but it is it’s own plans that must remain paramount, not theirs. It has already taken steps to ensure the outcome of their attack on Earth; however, it may have to take others.
In Beverly, a small suburb south of Boston, Iron Man descends towards the house of Carol Danvers in full armor and is greeted by Carol’s mother who is surprised to see him. He apologizes for his dramatic arrival and asks if her daughter is there. She replies that she is, and she’s been living there for some time now before asking him inside. Iron Man goes upstairs and knocks on her room door and she allows him in. She is reclining on her bed wearing a USAF T-shirt, surrounded by space and air force posters, models and three beer bottles. She asks him if Captain America sent him there to check up on her and he says that he didn’t have to send him. The Avengers were concerned for her after the way she reacted following their battle with the Squadron Supreme. She tells him she was there, what’s his point and he replies that he though that maybe they could talk.
He looks up and sees a model airplane hanging from the ceiling and tells her she’s done some nice work on them. A result of a zillion Saturday afternoons and an airplane mad youth she replies. She loved anything with wings, especially the old Warbirds which is why she named herself after them. They gave her a connection with the past.
Iron Man thinks that the way she replied makes him realize that her troubles might go deeper than he thought. He tells her that he didn’t come here to argue and trusting her implicitly, he raises his mask and reveals his identity to her. Carol slaps her head in surprise and says, “Tony Stark. Iron Man is Tony Stark. Well doesn’t that makes sense? You hide it well Tony, the voice, the attitude, the story about being your own bodyguard. I’d never have guessed.” He removes his helmet totally and she says that he designs the world’s best armor, airplanes, computers and more and asks him if he can fix someone who had everything, but lost it all. He asks what she means. “That’s the question isn’t it,” she replies,” What do I mean?”
Carol Danvers joined the air force because she loved airplanes and because her father didn’t believe in girls going to college. She did well, and shone in military intelligence so the promotions and medals piled up. In time, she became the youngest NASA security chief in history working at Cape Canaveral. There, she met the Kree Captain Mar-Vell and got caught up in his struggles to save Earth from his own people. During a battle with his commander, Colonel Yon-Rogg, a device called the Psyche-Magnitron exploded and its radiation poured through him into her, making her a human-Kree hybrid. She became Ms. Marvel, bursting with strength, speed and the power of flight. Along with this came the fighting skill of a seasoned Kree warrior and she became a hero.
In time she became an Avenger and fought opponents such as a stone monster created from a meteor. She loved fighting alongside her fellow Avengers but that was before the Avengers failed her. She was mind-controlled by the son of Immortus, Marcus and the Avengers didn’t lift a finger to prevent it. She managed in time to escape but was attacked by Rogue, then a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and she stole her powers; her entire self. Professor Xavier managed to help restore her memories, but not her emotional connection to them. Apart from the time when the Stranger temporarily restored them, it was like her life was someone else’s.
Tony Stark watches her as she talks and recounts her history. He thinks about her voice. It is dry, matter-of-fact but suddenly her voice takes wing.
While Carol was recuperating with the X-Men, they were captured by the Brood and Carol was experimented on. The potential of her augmented genes was released and she became Binary, able to channel the energy of a white hole, to fly unaided in space. The stars were hers and she reveled in it. From there, she traveled with the Starjammers before coming home having found the strength, she thought, to rebuild her life. She discovered the life she wanted wasn’t there and fled back into space whenever she could, and on one of those occasions, her powers went haywire. She and the X-Men thought they’d solved her problem by re-energizing the white hole she drew her powers from. They were wrong. Her powers faded to a fraction to what they once were and she realized she’d lost everything on Earth, only to lose the stars as well.
Looking to the floor, Carol says she thought she could find a place with the Avengers and no matter what Captain America says, she will. Tony tries to defend Cap but struggles to find the right words which will appease her. He tells her that he’ll never understand what it’s been like for her, but he does know about stress, and how overwhelming it can get, adding that he knows how attractive it can be to hide from it as he picks up a bottle of Budweiser in his gloved hand.
Carol flies into a rage and her costume appears in an instant as she rises above Tony in an intimidating fashion. She is upset that he has pigeonholed her as being an alcoholic, telling him that just because he is one, he sees everyone who drinks in the same light. As he tries to explain that isn’t what he means, he thinks about Carol being right about one thing. He is an alcoholic and that never goes away, no matter how long you stay sober. He hadn’t said much earlier in case he was wrong but Warbird’s attitude leads him to believe he was right after all. She points her finger at him and in her defense says that sure, she’s taken one or two drinks but the energy in her metabolism burns the alcohol away quickly. As Tony tries to argue, Carol orders him from her home, to return to New York before she rips the armor from him and throws him there. Sadly, he departs having not said what he’d wished to.
Iron Man stews things over all the way back to his car which he drives down Route 128 in with Pepper Potts, his assistant. He then thinks about her and Happy Hogan whose marriage is in tatters. Allowing the sunshine to help brighten his spirits as he steers his Plymouth Prowler along the highway, Tony tries to talk about her and Happy but she replies that what she needs right now is a friend, not a mechanic. Tony knows to leave the subject well alone and they soon arrive at Powersource, Inc. where Tony wants to discover more about a mystery man there who’s been jerking him around. The firm is a young energy research and applications firm run by an old employee of his.
As he enters the building, wearing a sharp suit with briefcase in hand and Pepper alongside him, he is greeted by the manager, Victoria Snow, who used to manage his Cincinnati plant back when the company was plain old Stark Industries. It is now owned by Stark-Fujikawa and run by someone else, but he knows Victoria to be capable and dedicated, and direct. She asks him if he is there to look for investment opportunities in cutting-edge research but he replies that he is there as a favor for Iron Man. He tangled recently with a creature called Firebrand and had received a transmission from a mysterious source indicating that he was inadvertently created there thanks to some industrial sabotage. Victoria recalls that it was the Denninger incident; a tragic event but not their fault. It was a bunch of eco-terrorists hat caused the explosion.
Tony says that they’re not trying to blame anybody, just trying to find out who sent the data. They didn’t want Iron Man looking into this so there might be a connection to her firm. It looks like they’re building some kind of fortress or battle station and they might need a power plant. Victoria reclines in her chair and apologizes, saying client information is confidential. Tony’s suspicions are therefore confirmed; there is someone. He reassures Victoria that he’s not trying to raid her clients but this could be a very dangerous man. She turns away, telling him she is unable to help him and if he was in her position he would say the same thing.
Tony thinks about arguing but before he can say another word, Warbird comes crashing through the window shouting his name. “Big shot Mister Stark,” she says, “With your good looks and your fancy technology and, and all your money. Well you can just tell Captain America that you’re not gonna get me thrown out of the Avengers either! No, you’re not!” Tony is obviously surprised to see her as she pins him to the ground, holding him by the neck. She is out of control, especially for an Avenger and asks if he though the could just run off and tell Cap she’s a drunk. She’d called happy at Stark Solutions and he told her where he was, saying, “Anything for an Avenger.” Now she is here, she’s not going to let him sandbag her. She raises Tony above her, still clutching his neck in her powerful fingers and he smells alcohol on her breath and he can’t help it, but his own mouth waters. He tells her this isn’t the way; resorting to violence does no good. Suddenly, Carol releases him and holds her head in her hands, apologizing profusely for what she’s done and before Tony can speak, for the second time in as many minutes, he is interrupted, this time by Dylon Cir and one of the bald twins.
Dylon wields a large gun, as do three more Kree soldiers who follow them into the room. Victoria calls Dylon by his name, showing that she knows who he is, while he calls his legionnaires to arms as their security has been compromised by the Avengers. He tells his soldiers to seize them as Tony recognizes them as being Kree. There’s no time to react before they are surrounded. Victoria tells Dylon this isn’t necessary; they didn’t know about him and she could have handled the situation. Dylon Cir reminds her not to be so insolent and looking at Warbird, he tells her that she is part of their plans. Tony catches Warbird’s eyes and glances downwards. She gets the message and reacts quickly, blasting the floor beneath them which allows them to escape and think of a plan of action. She asks Tony if he has any idea what they are doing here and why they might want her. Reaching down for his briefcase and dodging a couple of weapon blasts, he replies that he has no idea, and asks her to make sure Pepper and Victoria get to safety, and to keep them busy as he contacts Iron Man. He figures that it’s good to maintain security as you never know who might overhear.
With his suit assembled and now ready for combat, he soon flies out of the hole in the ceiling and finds Warbird taking care of things, handling the situation better than he expected. She has the soldiers pinned down and is firing her blasts in order to allow the civilians to escape. She gloats that she isn’t doing badly for someone he called a lush. He concedes her point but tells her not to focus on their differences and just get the job done. The employees of Powersource, Inc. flee in panic as Dylon Cir recognizes his new opponent. “Iron Man, one of the seven. One of the would-be slayers of the Supreme Intelligence! This will be a proud day indeed!” he says, aiming his gun at shellhead. As the two Avengers stand side by side, blasting away, Warbird asks him if he knows what Dylon Cir means by ‘seven.’ He replies that he’s starting to.
Suddenly, he is interrupted again as an explosion hurls them forwards. Through a gaping hole in the exterior wall, the massive figure of Sentry #571 appears, telling them they have been targeted for termination. The Sentry looks a little like an early Sentinel, mainly purple in color with blue arms and legs. He also looks really powerful. Iron Man thinks this is getting ridiculous. On the one hand he thought they might be the ones he was after, but they reacted to Carol and not Tony so they’re someone else. On the other hand, when he said ‘seven,’ he’s referring to the seven Avengers who made the decision to kill the Supreme Intelligence. Decidedly, he thinks, not one of his prouder moments. He figures they must be out for revenge, except that by the way he talks, it sounds like the Intelligence isn’t really dead after all, and they want Carol. Victoria also appears to know them, and they’ve brought in one of their most powerful killing machines. He looks up at Dylon Cir and says, “Could I, could I just have a moment to catch up here?”
Dylon grins and says it’s refreshing that one of the arrogant Earthmen finally admits he’s outmatched. He gives him all the time he needs and turns away, departing through the hole in the wall with his soldiers. He tells Iron Man that he’s taking his belongings and departing and anyone who knows of their activities will die when the facility accidentally explodes. Iron Man thinks he’d give chase but he has more pressing matters. The Sentry creates a Kree vibro-field and tells them that the entire structure is now encased within an impenetrable field of shimmering colloidal atoms. Iron Man and Warbird stare at the Sentry and Carol recognizes the phenomenon. She’s never seen one personally and begins to tell him of some memories Professor Xavier restored but decides to just stick to the action, telling Iron Man that there’s no way to break through the field; they’ll have to shut the Sentry down. Sounds like a plan, says Iron Man.
The pair fly up towards the Sentry’s head blasting as they take the attack to the robot but it uses it’s giant arm to defend itself and then swipes them both with a powerful backhand which sends the two flailing through the hole in the floor. Iron Man asks Warbird if she’s all right and she replies that she’s more than that; she’s mad and tells him that they’ll show the soulless thing what Avengers are made of.
While the battle rages, the company’s employees, Victoria Snow and Pepper Potts huddled under the massive cyclo-generator for safety, the only thing they can hear being the vibro-field’s electronic hum, the whine of power bolts and the clang of metal against metal. Pepper doesn’t stop trying to look for a solution though and she asks Victoria what’s going on. She replies that it’s too late for secrecy and recalls the events leading up to this moment.
The company was failing and had too many experiments that went bust. They had developed designs for a new power plant that could revolutionize the industry but had no money to build it. After the Denninger incident, the insurance didn’t even cover the cost of rebuilding and they were looking at bankruptcy. She was then contacted by the Kree who wanted their power plant and were willing to fund it. Victoria was desperate to keep Powersource alive and tried not to think about why they might require it, and made the deal.
Victoria tells Pepper that they’ve now only got the prototype and she heard Dylon Cir talking about how it’ll doom the entire Earth. Pepper says Iron Man better hear about this and fills in Tony via phone link, direct to his armor.
Meanwhile, the Sentry had managed to grab hold of Warbird, saying she will be delivered to its masters; Iron Man need only die and it blasts away at Iron Man who manages to use his aerobatic prowess to avoid them. Warbird is angry with herself, realizing this began because she went and got herself blitzed and busted in there. Summoning renewed power, she breaks free of the giant hand and heads straight for the vibro-field, thinking that she can maybe absorb its power. Unfortunately, she absorbs nothing and as she strains herself, Iron Man recognizes the desperation in her voice. He remembers being that lost, that determined to force his world back into some kind of sense and remembers also what it cost him. He’d like to tell her not to push so hard that she breaks but has more important business in the form of Sentry #571 who steps towards him amidst a cloud of smoke and dust.
Iron Man is now feeling confident, having being used as a punch bag recently by lots of underlings such as Firebrand and Tuatara and that’s too bad for the Sentry as he’s had enough. He is going to show it what it means to cross the invincible Iron Man and he strikes the Sentry with a powerful right-hook, a deft kick with his armored boot and follows the attack up with a double-fisted uppercut which rips through the sentry’s durable armored head. Now the Sentry is history, the vibro-field dissipates and he heads off after his next quarry, seeing Carol pursuing the Kree ship, firing at its rear as it rockets away. Unfortunately, he suddenly hears a groan of metal below him and realizes that the vibro-field was probably the only thing holding the structure together. He calls the Warbird, telling her that there are lives in danger below but she just calls back to him, “Then save ‘em! I’m going to catch these jerks, going to prove myself!”
Tony doesn’t have time to argue and heads back to he plant. He thinks about Avengers procedure; to save innocents first and catch the bad guys later and swoops down to prevent the massive generator from crushing Pepper and the other employees below it. His boot’s boosters providing enough thrust to allow him to hold the generator, many times his size and hundreds of times his weight aloft. Amongst the crowd of jubilant faces he catches sight of Victoria and knows what she’s thinking. Where everyone else would see rubble and wreckage, she sees her company, her life and she knows where her choice has led her.
Later, a television reporter speaks into a microphone, telling the world of startling news of alien infiltration in this Suburban Boston industrial area, shocking the nation on the heels of Captain America’s recent tangle with another alien threat from within. She asks if this is the end, or the beginning? Tony Stark and Pepper accompany Victoria through the crowds of angry people calling her a traitor. He assures her that he’ll call her lawyers for her but she doesn’t seem to care anymore, as if she’ll take whatever she gets. As a crane removes the body parts of the Kree Sentry, the police arrive and two officers handcuff her. She asks what the charges are and the taller one replies, “We don’t know yet, treason? Unauthorized commerce with foreign nationals? We’ll figure it out down at the station.” As she departs in a patrol car, Tony watches her and thinks about how he came to be there, chasing one mystery after another. He’s lost one old friend and hopes he won’t be losing a second.