Moments ago, Galactus escaped the mountainous battle-site and fled to his homeworld, a construct so huge that it fills the sky though it orbits many millions of miles distant. Now, Captain America and his comrades can only watch helplessly as the homeworld of Galactus dissolves into pure, brilliant energy – signaling the beginning of the end of their lives!
Addressing Mister Fantastic, the Thing is trying to get this straight. Since they prevented Galactus from eating this godforsaken mudball they’re standing on… he’s eating his own homeworld?! Reed affirm, adding that, once he’s recharged with energy, he’ll be back to have them for dessert! He advises everyone to cover their eyes and look away, or they’ll be blinded by the light. Big deal, Iron Man scoffs. They’re going to die in seconds anyway! Who wants to see it coming?
High above, the last remains of the enormous world-ship are transformed, swelling the nimbus of raw energy which billows in the void. In the center of the seething energy-cloud, Galactus prepares to drink deep of the awesome power around him. Suddenly, though, the energy is ripped away from him!
Below, the heroes are puzzled and wonder what’s going on. Reed admits he’s not sure. Captain America points at the sky: the energy is moving toward Doombase! Human Torch is certain that this can’t be Doctor Doom’s doing! They left him imprisoned along with the other bad guys! “Who else then, Torch?” Rogue asks him. Cap decides they’ll soon see and dispatches Captain Marvel to go reconnoiter – fast! “On my way to the speed of light, Cap!” Monica replies.
Transforming her body to pure electromagnetic radiation, she knifes toward Doombase. Split seconds later, she is inside the base, spying on Doom, who’s strapped on a device. Monica thinks it’s incredible: somehow Doom escaped the cell they locked him in and constructed that fantastic machine – and it looks like he’s using it to draw all that energy into himself! She’d better get back and tell Captain America and Mister Fantastic – they’ll know what to make of this!
Xavier suddenly speaks into her head and tells her to stand fast. He’s telepathically linking her mind to Reed’s, allowing him to see through her eyes. Reed is best qualified to interpret for them the meaning and significance of what she’s watching.
Just then, Doom rises from his machine. It is finished – the power is his! Terrified, he suddenly wonders what is happening. His least whim alters the world around him! Such is the power coursing within him that stones and steel are wisps of nothing which bend and transform in slavish obedience to his merest stray thought! He must control this… separate the gossamer material world from his all-powerful thoughts… before reality and his imagination become as one, hopelessly intermingled!
“Ah!” he exclaims as he experiences yet another sensation – what now? He quickly realizes his senses have expanded – of course! Omniscience is of necessity a corollary of omnipotence! A side effect! He feels every cell – every atom! Their textures, their quivering movements, their dance of infinity! No physical barrier can restrain his senses! He sees – no, it is far beyond seeing – he encompasses all that exists around him! He possesses more senses than before – an empathy! The villains imprisoned in the dungeons – he knows their every thought, every secret, every smoldering, gnawing desire! How they seethe with hungers and wants! Each of their desires is more tangible to him than mortar and stone! Victor von Doom, to whom the minds and hearts of lesser were ever open books, now plumbs the black depths of men’s souls with a glance! For now, he is aware… aware of all things… including a spy! Uh-oh! Captain Marvel thinks, realizing she’s busted.
At that moment, at the mountain, Professor X reveals that something’s wrong; the mindlink has been cut off! Reed fears that Captain Marvel is in trouble! Cap points them to the X-Men’s ship – quick! When they come close to it, though, they see it has been partially damaged. Hulk argues this thing isn’t flying anywhere. Those boulders must’ve been thrown onto it during the battle with Galactus. Spider-Man reminds them their own ship has been wrecked, too – so what’s “Plan B?” Cap instructs those who can travel fast to go to Doombase and aid Captain Marvel – take any action against Doom they deem necessary! He also puts Thor in command.
Magneto retorts it’s not necessary to divide their forces and urges everyone into the ship. Xavier realizes what Magneto is thinking and asks them to do as Magneto says. After they get inside, Cyclops protests that this thing’s dead – even the lights are out. Every power cell has smashed. No matter, Magneto demurs – he is the power! Levitating his arms in the air, he exercises his electromagnetic powers and renders the ship fully operational. Nightcrawler is impressed: this crate never flew this fast under its own power! Cyclops insists it’s hard to tell.
Cap exclaims it’s amazing – it looks like Magneto managed to live up to his own hype. Magneto gathers that Captain America would have preferred that he fails. Or was that remark, perhaps, intended to be a “well done” for which Magnus should humble thank him?
“At ease, Mister!” Cap rejoins. Magneto insists that allies should be at ease with each other! What troubles Cap? Is it Magneto’s awesome power? Is he jealous? Afraid? Or is it merely because he’s a mutant that Cap is not “at ease?” Cap reminds him that the fact he tried to kill all of them here several times as part of various evil schemes for world conquest is pretty hard to forget entirely! However, Professor Xavier vouched for him, so Cap is allowing him to be with them. He has no qualms about him or the rest of the mutants… the X-Men.
Wolverine rejoins that maybe he ought to! Magneto asks him to stay out of this. Not a chance, Wolverine retorts. What Cap doesn’t understand is that mutants are at war – always have been, always will be. Cap, with his highfaluting ideals, is the champion of the American dream, fighting for liberty and justice… but only for his own kind. For humans… for regular Americans. However, he just stands by while mutants are being persecuted. Has he ever fought for mutants’ rights? Some of the God-fearing Americans he protects hate mutants – and when they come after them, it’s a lot like how the Nazis went after the Jews.
Logan explains how Xavier wants them to hide; try to help humanity; earn acceptance; fit in. Now, though, Xavier has convinced Magneto to lay off; stop taking the expedient route; stop taking using noble ends to justify violent means… and still Cap won’t lay off him! It sort of makes him wonder if Magneto was right. Cap retorts that nothing justifies terrorism or murder. Terrorists, Logan puffs – that’s what the big army calls the little army! Unsheathing his claws, he grunts that he used to have some respect for Cap. Scott and Piotr grab him, fearing he may lunge at Cap.
Meanwhile, in Doombase, Doom discerns with his newly-acquired omniscience that the Beyonder’s portal remains open – the better to view this planet. Clearly he realizes that these are critical moments – just how critical is for Doom to decide! When the Beyonder brought them all here, he told them “slay your enemies, and you desire shall be yours…” Now, Doom has the power to slay every being on this planet with but a wave of his hand! All the ‘heroic’ minions of Captain America are like dust to him! Should he slay them? And then demand some prize from the Beyonder? What would he ask for? What could the Beyonder give him that is not already within his power? Are those dust-mote heroes truly his enemies? Or… is there now but one foe in all existence worthy of him – the Beyonder himself?
Klaw’s detached head, discarded somewhere nearby, sings that the Beyonder is mighty, the Beyonder is tough, beating him will be pretty rough! Doom asks him if he should settle for being second, then. No! he provides the answer himself. He is Doom! As long as he knew there was one greater, he could never rest! Klaw reminds him he doesn’t have a chance; that would discourage some.
Doom admits that the Beyonder is Goliath while he is David. David had a sling and knew a weakness of his foe which he might exploit. Doom knows something of the Beyonder. When the Beyonder first spirited them to this world, Doom attempted to invade his portal and was brutally repelled… but not before his armors’ computers analyzed his energies. A few simple adjustments, based upon that data – and borrowing some technology from the device Galactus meant to use to absorb the energy of this planet – and Doom has his ‘sling’ concealed in the breastplate of his armor! He must get very close to the Beyonder if he intends to use it, however – within an arm’s length. But then, David had to brave the giant’s spears to draw within range! Brimming with energy, he teleports away, bidding Klaw his farewells: he goes to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”
At that moment, the heroes blast through the Doombase. With a quick psi-scan, Professor X reveals that Doom is gone; he is no longer in the structure. Cap tells them to quickly check on the other prisoners. Moments later, in the dungeon, several levels below, the Human Torch confirms that every villain is still bottled up… except Doom, of course. However, he doesn’t see Klaw anywhere. Spider-Man realizes he’s right and suggests they better start searching; this is a big fort! Nightcrawler thinks Professor X might be able to trace him telepathically. If that’s possible, they should head back upstairs, Peter suggests.
In the lab, Spider-Woman suddenly runs into a strange form consisting purely of light, and lets out a gasp. Reed asks her what it is. Spider-Woman reveals it’s Captain Marvel – there’s something wrong! Reed quickly realizes that Doom must have forcibly changed Monica to her light form, and frozen her that way! She’s become a living hologram! Klaw’s head, also present in the room, tells him he’s right – no wonder they call him “Mister Fantastic!” Grabbing Klaw’s head, Reed deduces that Doom sliced away most of his body and used it to make the energy-lenses for his power-absorbing device. Klaw joyfully claims it didn’t hurt at all, because he’s made of solid sound! Cap asks him where Doom is; what is he up to?
Just then, a terrible tremor almost topples everyone over. Smirking, Klaw announces that Doom will be right back. He’s using off some gadget in his chestplate to steal all the Beyonder’s power and conquer him! Hearing this, a shocked Cap exclaims that Doom must be insane! Klaw chuckles that maybe that’s why he gets along with him!
At that moment, somewhere past the portal of the Beyonder, Doom is already knee-deep in his fight with the omnipotent being. The Beyonder’s voice, coming from a void, forbids him to advance: Stop! You cannot approach me! Calling him a coward, Doom suggests the Beyonder approaches him, then, on his knees – if he has knees! “Cringe before your master! Grovel before Doom!”
In Doombase, Hulk notes that whatever’s going out there, it’s shaking this place to pieces! And this fort could withstand a direct hit from an H-bomb! Captain America dispatches Spider-Man and Thing to get down to the sick bay and bring She-Hulk up here. He has a feeling they’re going to need every single hand soon, wounded or not!
Reed finds a monitor that’s still working. He soon locates the Beyonder’s portal – definitely the source of the disturbance. Shockwaves emanating from there are causing upheavals in the very fabric of the time-space continuum for a hundred cubic parsecs. Only violent movement of energy on an unimaginably gargantuan scale could cause this. Doom and Beyonder are firing force-bolts at each other, perhaps… Reed wishes this monitor, this equipment, were powerful enough to get inside the portal!
Iron Man wonders if Reed can soup it up, like he did with his own arm. Reed explains there’s no time. No matter, though: it’s still powerful enough to locate Galactus so he can bring him back here and revitalize him! Jim retorts they’ve got enough trouble already! What if he tries to kill them again? Reed agrees he may… but if Doom should give up his attack on Beyonder and turn his attention to them again, the only way they’d stand a chance is with the power of Galactus on their side! Finally locating Galactus, Reed wishes they can now lock a tractor beam on his coordinates.
Meanwhile, Thing and Spider-Man retrieve She-Hulk from the infirmary. Suddenly, a new violent shock shakes Ben off and he drops the senseless She-Hulk from his arms! “Careful, Thing!” Peter bellows at him and grabs Jennifer before she hits the ground. He remarks it’s a good thing he’s fast; the last thing She-Hulk needs is being dropped on her head right now. Ben claims that he knew Spider-Man was going to catch her!
As they return to the upper floor, they find it even more devastated than before. Reed is trapped under an enormous chunk of equipment. Ben tells him to hang on; he’s coming! Lifting it off of him, Ben tells Reed to say something complicated so that Ben knows he’s okay! “Easy, Reed!” Johnny tells him and advises him not to try to move. Reed is struggling to catch his breath. Spider-Man thinks She-Hulk’s still weak, but okay; she’ll be on her feet again after she rests a while more. Seeing Hulk watching the still-functioning monitors, he asks him what’s on TV! “Worldwide destruction, I’m afraid!” Hulk replies, seeing how the entire planet is being torn apart. He fears She-Hulk’s condition, and theirs, too, may soon be academic!
Colossus asks him if he can focus on the village they once occupied. Hulk complies and scenes from the village are broadcast on the monitor. Hulk remarks that it look like they’ve fared no better than the rest of the world. Colossus spots Zsaji, the healer, in one of the images: she’s hurt, carried away by some of her fellow villagers! Colossus wishes he were there to be with her now! But… it is not he she would want! It is the Human Torch she loves! He decides he must tell him. He announces to Johnny he has bad news: Zsaji has been injured! Johnny retorts he has no time for a chippie now: Reed’s hurt! He’ll send her a card later! At the sound of this, the lovelorn Colossus exasperates: “Chippie? Chippie?!”
Before he has time to say more, another shock comes – the worst yet, Cap realizes. He tells everyone to stay alert for falling debris. He instructs Colossus, Iron Man and Thor to stand by to brace walls and shield the more vulnerable!
Shrieking winds protest the agony of this planet, which is battered and distorted by forces beyond comprehension, while the sun it orbits seems on the verge of being blown out like a candle. In the realm of the Beyonder, Doom continues attacking him with his energy bolts. He wonders: is there no end to the Beyonder’s strength? Doom doubles and redoubles his onslaught with each passing second. He must draw nearer, still, and yet, all his power is not enough! His thrust has been blunted… his energy ebbs… his defenses crumble! It is hopeless! He cannot reach the Beyonder, any more than the anvil can rise to strike the hammer! He despairs: a way! There must be a…
Suddenly, a force-bolt coming from the Beyonder tears off Doom’s left leg! The Latverian monarch releases a terrible scream and collapses, amidst a relentless assault of energy blasts that proceed to tear him apart. “Thus falls Doom?” he soliloquizes in agony. “No! No!” he cries. What is pain to one such as him? He will shut it out! Other men fall prey to the very specter of death… When her cold embrace seems imminent, they simply swoon into her arms… But he… he is Doom! “I… I deny you, death! Victor von Doom must not die!” he howls.
Suddenly, a stillness sweeps through the fabric of reality. On the Battleworld, the remains of Doombase shiver and settle. In the lab, Professor X warns everyone to beware: he senses someone or something approaching; something awesome! Spider-Man knows what he means: his spider-sense is going bazonkers! Whoever’s coming is dangerous to beat the band!
A hologram of Doctor Doom materializes before them. Doom greets them and introduces himself… though he clarifies he is far more than the being they once knew! Indeed, he has transcended mortality. And yet, he is their champion, fighting for their sakes! He announces he’s about to crush the Beyonder! The Beyonder, in his cosmic arrogance, abducted them all and brought them here to do battle for his amusement. “Slay your enemies,” he said – but in truth, he is the real enemy! While he can reach them, the universe is not safe from his manipulations. He must be utterly defeated and sealed away beyond the portal forever… or be destroyed! In the name of all who exist in their universe he, Doom, has dared to attack him!
He fibs that the battle has gone well; even now, the Beyonder cringes in terror, marshalling his failing strength against Doom’s final assault. Hence, this lull in the strife, which has allowed Doom to appear to them and offer them the chance to share in his glorious conquest! He invites them to lend him their power and hasten the Beyonder’s certain defeat! Extending his hand to them, he asks them to come! Who will join him against their common foe? They have but to touch his hand! Who shall be first? To him, after their victory, he promises he shall grant power beyond measure – with which to further his noble purposes, of course! He insists they all know he speaks the truth. They feel it, do they not?
“Yes! Yes!” an entranced Magneto exclaims. Time seems to tread water as Magneto suddenly lunges forward. The others stand transfixed. Magneto reaches out to grasp Doom’s spectral hand… but then, he hesitates. His eyes find Xavier’s, and for an endless split-second, Magneto trembles on the brink… Then, abruptly, Hawkeye and Iron Man charge at him and grapple him, while Wasp attacks him with her stings, trying to hold him back. Iron Man assures Hawkeye that Magneto is not going to reach out and touch anybody unless he can find a pay phone!
Doom’s holographic form begins to fade; he cannot maintain it any longer. Magneto is furious with Hawkeye and makes to attack him: how does the human scum dare? Iron Man grabs Magnus from behind and tells him flattery will get him nowhere! No way they’re letting him help Doom! Hawkeye insists he doesn’t buy that bull about Doom fighting for their own sakes. No matter how sincere he says it, he isn’t the type to change his spots – and from the look of it, neither is Magneto! A furious Magneto demands they unhand him and magnetically repels all three Avengers.
Hawkeye aggressively asks the X-Men if they saw their buddy trying to throw in with Doctor Doom – the same Doom who only a few minutes ago aced Captain Marvel! Does this rat have to murder somebody right in front of them, or what? What’s it take to convince them that Magneto is pond slime and they should lock him up? And if they can’t see that… maybe they ought to start wondering about them!
Cap tells him that’s enough. They were all tempted. He suspects that Doom was exerting some sort of mental control, and maybe Magneto got the biggest dose. The way he saw it, Magneto stopped himself before Hawkeye jumped him. That means he did nothing wrong – he’s innocent. As for whatever Magneto might have done in the past, they agreed to set that all aside for the duration when they finally accepted him as an ally. And besides, they’re not sure what’s happening out there. It’s possible they’ll regret not helping Doom!
In the Beyonder’s portal, Doom’s last, desperate ploy has failed… and now, as if on cue, the Beyonder’s onslaught begins again. This time there is no defense: Doom lays still. Long minutes pass, and then, finally, there is silence. Slowly, the victor – the Beyonder – approaches the charred, wretched, lifeless body of Doom. Gathering up the savaged remains, the Beyonder begins to probe, soon focusing upon the apparent center of his foe’s being. Stimulation of certain electro-chemical reactions elicits a parade of images, dancing in the mind’s eye of Doom. The Beyonder pays close heed… and sees unfolded before him the life-journey of this carrion he holds.
The Beyonder sees Doom as he remembers himself from years past, a gypsy youth, handsome and proud… Prominent is the haunting visage of Doom’s mother, the healer, maker of potions – cruelly put to death when Doom was but an infant, slain at the command of a petty official for practicing her arts after failing to cure an ailing horse. He witnesses the young Doom’s finding of his mother’s hidden cache of sorcerous and scientific secrets and the growth of his knowledge of sciences both physical and supranormal. He observes Doom’s discovery that his mother’s spirit form is trapped in an infernal, extra-dimensional netherworld and sees Doom’s tragic attempt to contact her, which leaves his face a scarred ruin.
Finally, the Beyonder beholds what these events have wrought in the dark reaches of the heart and mind of Doom as the images change, revealing the desires which rule him: power! As though usurping control over the destinies of other men would serve as vengeance against the cruelty heaped upon him by fate. Restoration for his mother’s spirit, seized and held by the demonic Mephisto in his fiery dimension, as payment for arcane knowledge granted to her. Restoration of his ravaged face – the undoing of the horror he has kept hidden behind his grim iron mask.
For long moments, the Beyonder reflects upon this thing, desire. He ponders the passion, the bitterness, the hatred with which it seethes… the mystery of it. But there is much else to investigate… and perhaps he can learn more of this emptiness-which-drives by exploring other organs. The bilateral symmetry of his beaten foe, though damaged, is still evident. The Beyonder strips Doom’s body, and leaving one side intact for comparison, begins dissection.
The mask is pulled away, and as the icy vacuum of the Beyonder’s realm washes across half of Doom’s bared face, Doom awakens, feeling half of his body being pulled apart, peeled away in layers. The agony, the nausea and the horror are beyond imagining. Utter death, only split-seconds away, offers an escape, which any other mortal would gratefully accept… but he is Doom! The breastplate hovers nears… and the Beyonder himself is close at hand. Doom’s remaining arm quivers weakly, its battered flesh loathe to respond… but he is Doom! As his vision blurs, and the ebony warmth closes around his consciousness, he fights on, reaching, groping…
Just then, another terrible shock rocks the Battleworld. The biggest yet, the Human Torch confirms: the whole Doombase is coming down! Demolishing some collapsing parts of the complex with his optic blasts, Cyclops tells Nightcrawler to teleport over to the Professor and to help him avoid the debris. Kurt complies. Captain America urges everyone outside! No matter how bad it is there, it’s better than in here! This place is going from shelter to tomb in a hurry! “What about you, Cap?” Reed asks him. Cap tells him to go; he’ll follow in a minute!
Moments later, Cap gets in the dungeon. The villains beg him to get them out of here! Cap insists he’s trying, but the structure’s shifted… the doors are jammed! He promises he’ll find a way and tells them to hang on. Wolverine shows up and asks him if he needs help. Steve tells him to hurry; he’ll cover Logan.
As Wolverine breaks through the cells, Cap admits he’s glad Wolverine’s here. Logan claims he wasn’t going to let these men die in cages, no matter what they did or whose side they were on. Magneto was on his way down here, too. He’s got a thing about folks being trapped and left to die like rats… even humans! However, Logan told him he’d take the detail while Magnus got the other couple bad guys out of the sick bay. He didn’t expect to find Cap here. Cap insists even these villains have rights. After they are all set free, he urges them to move on and get out of here. There’s no guarantee that any of them will survive the next few minutes, but they all stand a better chance outside!
Steve and Logan are the last individuals to evacuate the dungeon. Just in time, Wolverine remarks – that whole section of the fort is collapsing! Cap tells him to keep moving; it’s a long way to open air! As they flee, Wolvie tells him not to take this wrong… but he realizes Cap is a better man than he gave him credit for. Wolverine’s an attacker, while Cap’s a defender… but they’re both soldiers. He’s beginning to think Cap has room in his highfaluting ideals for all people – even if they’re mutants! Cap quips that some of his best friends are people!
Outside the fortress, the other heroes are waiting for them. Seeing them approach, Johnny informs the rest that these two are okay. Yeah, but this planet isn’t, Hulk retorts. It’s just about to shake into space gravel – and then where will they be? Ben supposes they will be part of that great driveway in the sky!
All of sudden, the violent shocks and the shattering stop. It’s all quiet again. “What gives?!” Spider-Man wonders. Hawkeye points at the sky and urges them to look up there. Rogue exclaims it’s a light! What is it? It’s coming closer! Seeing the light descending toward them, Cap instructs them to be ready for anything! Hawkeye thinks Cap is something else; doesn’t his jaw ever go slack? Isn’t he ever just too flabbergasted to shout orders? Steve shushes him and tells them to stand ready; the light is almost on top of them! Something is forming inside of it!
Doctor Doom emerges from the light – only now he is of monumental, massive proportions, larger in size than even Galactus! Doom announces that the Beyonder is dead! Now, the supreme being in the universe, is Doom! “My gosh, Cap! Now what?” Spider-Man gasps. As everyone gathers around Cap in shock, Steve realizes this is going to be the fight of their lives. On his command, they are to attack – and not to stop… not let up… no matter what! They must find a way… they will find a way to win! He is about to give the signal for attacking…
“Hold! Stay your hand, Captain America!” Doom suddenly cuts him short. He explains that absorbing the Beyonder’s energies caused his form to swell to enormous proportions – but he is what he wishes to be now! He returns to human proportions so that they more easily speak face to face. Taking his iron mask off, he announces they are to know these things: the Beyonder no longer exists… and Doom himself has been reborn! Thus, have two evils come to an end! There is no enemy left to fight: the war is over!