The Fantasticar, the high-tech, high-flying vehicle of the Fantastic Four, soars in the night sky, until it lands right outside the Avengers Mansion, on New York’s fashionable Fifth Avenue, across the street from Central Park. Thing of the Fantastic Four and Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. exit the vehicle. As they reach the entrance to the mansion, a machine outside calls both of them to attention: they are in violation of the Avengers’ security zone! The machine asks them to identify themselves and state their business, or appropriate counter-measures will be initiated.
“They’re sure feelin’ hospitable!” Ben grumps. Fury tells him to ease off and reminds him the Avengers are a prime target. “And the Fantastic Four isn’t?” Ben snaps back. “It pays to be careful,” Fury insists. Exhibiting his S.H.I.E.L.D. for the robot, Fury explains they’re Colonel Nicholas Fury and Ben Grimm; they’re expected. The robot grants them access: “Identity confirmed. You may enter.”
Watching this interaction from across the street, Carol Danvers deduces that the Avengers have improved security since her last visit. “So?” Wolverine replies. He reminds her they’re the team supreme. The safe or fortress that they can’t crack hasn’t been built. Carol notes that Fury and Grimm were the last; everyone’s now inside. Lighting his cigarette, Logan asks her what they’re waiting for, then. “Let’s roll.”
Inside, the Thing is furious to see everyone already gathered together around the table for the poker game. “Aw, for Pete’s sake!” he exclaims. He tells Fury the Avengers have done it to them again: they started without them! “I’m tellin’ ya, ol’ buddy, some guys ain’t got no class!” he grouches.
“And others, blessed rockpile, have no sense of time,” Beast retorts with a smile. Jarvis, the Avengers’ butler, assuages Ben’s concerns: this was merely a practice hand. Manhattan district attorney Blake Tower reassures Ben that Jarvis is right. They wouldn’t dream of starting without Ben – none of them are that suicidal. He urges Grimm and Fury to pull up some chairs and play some serious cards. With that, the most notorious floating poker game in New York gets down in business, hosted by Jarvis – no mean player himself – and attended by Thing, Fury, Beast, Blake and Wonder Man.
Suddenly, the doorbell rings. Jarvis, who was carrying a tray with drinks, asks the gentlemen to excuse him. Beast assures him they’ll deal him in, while Jarvis answers it. Any objections to seven card stud? he asks the others. Opening the door, Jarvis contemplates they aren’t expecting any visitors… he does hope it isn’t trouble…
“You?!?” Jarvis gasps in surprise, seeing Carol Danvers standing in the threshold. Carol greets him warmly; long time, no see! “Miss Danvers! What a… surprise!” Jarvis receives her. “I’ll bet!” Carol remarks. Jarvis confesses that after the way Carol and the Avengers parted, he hardly expected to see her again, especially here. Gently rubbing his shoulder, Carol reminds him that time, as they say, heals all wounds. Besides, she missed the game. If he doesn’t mind, she brought a friend – and points at Wolverine. Logan introduces himself. Jarvis tells them they’re both most welcome and urges them to come in.
Escorting them through the hall, Jarvis admits that their arrival is somewhat fortuitous. They’re actually short of a player. One of the Avengers is late, which isn’t at all like her. Carol quips it can’t be the Wasp then. No, Jarvis confirms – she’s a newly inducted member. In fact, this will be her first game.
Jarvis takes them both to the game room and introduces Carol to the gentlemen. Ben immediately grumps. He hates to be a spoilsport, but this game isn’t open to everybody – no matter how cute they are. Carol thanks him for the compliment… but she’s not “everybody.” In the old days, she wore a mask and went by the name “Ms. Marvel.”
Amused by seeing Ben embarrassed, Beast admits that he looks really cute with that great big feet in that itty-bitty mouth! “Keep it going, furball,” Thing warns him. “Promises, promises!” Hank teases him further. Carol explains that, since she’s neither an Avenger nor Ms. Marvel anymore, she decided there’s no reason to hide her true identity – from friends, that is. After all, if she can’t trust them…
Nick Fury admits they missed her. What took her so long to come back? Carol argues that some things shouldn’t be rushed. She had a lot of pain to get out of her system. “I understand,” Fury assures her and makes to have a puff from his cigar. Wolverine interjects and tells Fury his stogie’s cold; does he need a light? Without waiting for a response, he lights his cigar.
“Logan?!” an astonished Fury gasps upon seeing him. “Yup,” he responds. Fury enthusiastically shakes Logan’s hand. It’s been years! He wonders: when was the last time…? Vladivostok, just before Fury got tapped to take over S.H.I.E.L.D., Logan swiftly reminds him. With greetings and reminiscences taken care of, the card game begins in earnest.
A few hours later, Ben can’t stop nagging. He complains that Wolverine has done it to him again – the shrimp’s another ringer! “Come on, Ben,” Carol consoles him – Ben himself isn’t doing too badly. Ben stresses that winning three hands in two hours isn’t his idea of success. Carol tells him to blame it on her – she taught Logan how to play. She asks Logan to remind her where that was – Saigon? Tokyo, he corrects her.
Carol tells Ben not to despair; the night is still young. “Call, Logan?” she asks him. He reveals he has trip deuces. “Ha!” Ben gloats, as he hands down his cards: king-high flush! He tells them to read and weep! Unbeknownst to him, however, Carol has a higher hand, a full house. She tells Ben she really hates to do this, and then hands down her cards with a mischievous smile, amassing all the chips on the table.
Suddenly, a blinding light blazes into the garden, alarming everyone. Blake urges Jarvis to get set the alarm – it could be an attack! His action masked by the tablecloth from all save Carol, Wolverine extrudes a set of claws from their bionic housings built into his forearms. Carol whispers to him to be on his toes: there’s something within that glow, moving toward them at incredible speed. Wolverine is amazed: she can see that?!
Finally, the source of the dazzling light materializes before them and greets them all – it is Monica Rambeau, the new Captain Marvel. She apologizes for being late. Seeing Fury with his gun at hand and Wolverine with his claws unsheathed, she can’t help but exclaim “My goodness!” If this is the reception she gets…
Ben tells them to relax. He explains she’s one of the Avengers’ newest members. He’s surprised Nick hasn’t heard of her. Fury reveals he has. He just never saw her make an entrance before. Very impressive, he notes. Carol interjects that she wouldn’t mind an introduction. Ben introduces her to Captain Marvel. “Oh really?” Carol scoffs at the sound of that codename. There have been a few changes since she left, she notes with irony. She’s certainly an all-new, all-different Captain Marvel – did Mar-Vell decide to retire or is this some hitherto unsuspected side to his character?
Ben grimly reprimands her: that isn’t very funny, or in good taste. Carol is at loss: since when is it a crime to be irreverent towards friends? Mar-Vell can do the same for her, anytime. He always has. “Carol, don’t you know?” Nick tells her with a serious expression in his face. “Know what, Nicholas?” she replies, a bit impatient. He informs her that Mar-Vell is dead.
Carol is shocked. “What?! When?” she asks in confusion. A few months, Fury replies. A devastated Carol demands to know how. Accident? Murder?! Who killed him – the Kree Supreme Intelligence?! “Tell me!” she barks at him. With a sad face, Nick explains it wasn’t like that at all. He had cancer.
Seeing Carol burying her face in her hands, Monica tells her she’s really sorry. They thought all his friends had been contacted. Ben insists they tried everything – Reed and the biggest brains from Earth and across the galaxy worked their butts off… but it was of no use. Monica tells Carol she knows how she must feel.
“Lady… YOU KNOW NOTHING!!” Carol roars. Transforming into her glowing Binary form, she bursts through the mansion roof, much to everyone’s surprise. “Oh, my stars and garters!” Beast exclaims, observing the huge gap on the roof. “Jeez,” the Thing remarks. He thought she’d lost her super-powers. When did she get better?! Nick demands to know if Logan knows anything about this. Wolverine admits he knows pretty much all about it – and it’s none of Fury’s business.
Logan thinks to himself that Carol was a normal woman when she, along with him and the rest of the X-Men, got shanghaied to the other end of the galaxy by an alien race called the Brood. The X-Men were to serve as living hosts for the Brood Queen’s eggs – but they had other plans for Carol. Her hybrid Kree-human genes intrigued them, so they played with her, ran her up and down the evolutionary scale. If anything came of their tinkering, they’d use her as a host; otherwise, they’d simply eat her. However, they did their work too well. Carol mutated beyond their wildest expectations from human to something far, far more. She became a child of the cosmos, a living star… Binary!
In outer space, Carol/Binary flies through the asteroid belt – rocks of all sizes and shapes, scattered through the gulf between Mars and Jupiter, further from Earth than Earth is from sun. Out here, the sun shines hardly more brightly than the other stars of the Milky Way, casting little light and less warmth.
Mentor – ruler of Titan – told Carol where to find Mar-Vell’s grave. “There it is,” she finally detects it. What a lonely, desolate place, she contemplates. How like the man. Mar-Vell’s tombstone is an obelisk, with a statue reminiscent of planet Saturn on top of it, standing solitary in an asteroid wasteland. After she lands down, Carol approaches the tomb and fondles it. They gathered here to honor him, the best of Terra’s heroes… all save her. Did she know? Did she remember? Did she care?! Does she sound harsh and unforgiving? Perhaps it’s because she’s angry. They had their chance to save him, and then to say farewell. But she was the one who knew him first – and in some ways, best.
Carol reminisces how she was newly-appointed chief at Cape Canaveral back then. No one had been told that she had spent ten years as a top field agent for air force intelligence – or that Wolverine had just broken her out of a Russian prison. To them, she was a woman in what most considered a man’s job. Mar-Vell’s arrival didn’t make life any easier. They had no idea then that he was an alien. The consensus was that he was one of a steadily-growing number of home-grown super-beings, and luckily for them, a hero. He was a mystery wrapped an enigma and she was determined to ferret out the truth for professional – and for other – reasons. She succeeded – and as usual, nearly got killed in the process.
When Mar-Vell’s arch-foe, Colonel Yon-Rogg, took her hostage, Mar-Vell came after her without a moment’s hesitation, even though he knew it was a trap. She loved him for that… yet hated, with every fiber of her being, needing to be rescued. All her life she’d fought to be her own woman, she couldn’t bear to find herself helpless. Out of that cauldron was forged Ms. Marvel. The rest, as they say, is history.
Fumbling the tombstone, she thinks she’s unique – a synthesis of the best elements of human and Kree, of her genes and his. Her blood, her genes, might have held the key to his salvation, as he held the key to hers. Mar-Vell abandoned his people for Earth, he chose to be an outcast, whereas for her it was fate who made her a child of the stars. She needed him to tell her how to handle that – to tell her who and what she is: Carol Danvers or Binary? And perhaps, my old friend… you have, she thinks as she leaves the asteroid belt behind her.
A time later, back on Earth, Carol gazes at the sunrise from atop a cliff. Logan approaches her from behind. She wonders how he found her. He reminds her they’ve been friends a long time. He knows her as well as she knows herself… he knew where to look. Carol reveals that she could say the same about knowing him, and about their friendship… but it wouldn’t be true, not really. That knowledge means nothing. The form of the woman she was still exists, but the substance is gone.
She explains she and Mar-Vell had a special relationship – he was the genetic template for Ms. Marvel – yet, when he died, she didn’t know. She should have, but the link, their special, mutual awareness, no longer existed. It was torn from her by Rogue, when she stole her powers, her identity… her very soul. As Binary, she has more power than she ever dreamed of as Ms. Marvel. And thanks to Professor Xavier, her memories have been restored – but she still doesn’t know who she is!
She owes her to life to Logan – she remembers every detail of every mission, including, maybe especially that last night in Lubyanka prison – but it means nothing. “Forgive me, but it means nothing,” she repeats. She looks at her folks and where she should feel – where she felt – love, there’s only a void. Sometimes, it’s like she died but hasn’t realized it yet. And others, it’s as if she’s a newborn. She has emotions – she feels – but none of them connect with Carol Danvers. Mar-Vell was the last straw. She stood over his grave, her mind full to overflowing with images of what they’ve done together, what they once meant to each other… but she couldn’t cry. She couldn’t grieve. She wishes Xavier had never restored her memory. Better to let her start afresh, with a new identity to go with her new life.
Fine, Logan says – only what about those who knew her? How would she have dealt with them, or they with her? That’s the point, Logan, Carol accentuates. She can’t stand it anymore. She sees people, places, things that are important to her in life but the emotional memories that give them true meaning aren’t there, and never will be – Rogue has them! If she ever meets Carol’s family, Rogue will feel the love and affection that Carol can now only fake!
Logan asks her what her solution is, then. Carol reveals that Corsair offered her a place among the Starjammers. Deep space is where Binary was born; that’s where she should make it her home. “You sure?” Wolverine asks her. ‘Course not, she replies – but it’s better than what she’s got or staying where she is. Hugging her, Logan tells her he’ll miss her. Much to Logan’s surprise, Carol immediately turns into her Binary form and fires up into the sky. But I won’t miss you, Logan, she thinks as she reaches outer space. Not as anything but a friend – when once, like Mar-Vell, he was so much more. And that, in the final analysis, is why she has to go. Her life as Carol Danvers is over… the ghost finally laid to rest… so, at long last, Binary’s life can begin!