Watching the heroes’ fortress being leveled to the ground, Dr. Doom revels: “There! So much for the superheroes’ headquarters!” The villains soon proceed to examine the ruins. Dr. Octopus can’t believe they let the heroes slip through their fingers. Doom reassures him: with the destruction of their fortress complete, their moments are numbered. They shall hunt them down like dogs!
Volcana is stunned by Molecule Man’s abilities: it was unbelievable how he obliterated the entire structure with just a wave of his hand. Blushing, Molecule Man assures her it’s easy when you control all the molecules! He also tells her she can call him Owen if she wants. “Owen! What a darling name!” Volcana rejoices.
Searching among the ruins, Titania asks Octopus if he’s got any sign of the heroes yet. “Not yet!” the scientist replies, overlooking everything around the area from an elevated vantage point. He reveals that these glasses he found here and is now wearing seem to automatically detect and focus on moving objects. Sooner or later…
Suddenly, he realizes he can see the heroes five miles from here, regrouping. They look to be in bad shape; easy to finish off, he remarks with glee. They’re out of range of hand weapons, but perhaps he can salvage a heavy cannon. Titania snidely retorts she needs no weapons… “except this!” she snarls as she employs her superhuman strength to lift a giant part of the collapsed citadel. “Holee…!” the Absorbing Man spontaneously exclaims upon seeing Titania holding that huge chunk of debris. Titania vows that the heroes will not escape; she will crush them all! At once, she hurls the debris to the heroes’ direction.
Bulldozer stresses to his Wrecking Crew teammates that if she can do it, so can they! Although… he suggests they bomb them with smaller chunk of debris. His teammates follow his advice but the Absorbing Man intervenes and retorts that throwing rocks is stupid. He suggests they go after them… just in case Titania missed! Octopus agrees and urges them to go. Smiling confidently, Molecule Man retorts that won’t be necessary; he can take care of them for sure! “Really, Owen?” Volcana asks with admiration. Molecule Man confirms that and tells her to just watch. Raising his arms, he asks her if she sees these mountains in the distance. Elevating the mountains in the air, he announces he’ll just drop those on them!
Meanwhile, a few miles from there, Captain America regroups his battered troops. Hawkeye announces he’s present. Hulk does the same, while announcing he’s carrying the unconscious bodies of Mister Fantastic, Spider-Man, She-Hulk and Ben Grimm. “Iron Man present and accounted for!” Iron Man adds, also explaining he’s got the stunned Captain Marvel. The Human Torch also announces he’s here… hurting but hanging in there! Hawkeye realizes they’re all accounted for then – except for Thor and the X-Men, who apparently vanished before the battle. “Deserted, you mean!” Hulk corrects him. Cap assures him they’ll worry about that later. For now, he suggests they just keep moving and hope Doctor Doom and his allies are too busy celebrating to pursue them.
Suddenly, Spider-Man wakes up and lets out a cry. Hulk tells him to relax: he was hit pretty hard. Spider-Man explains he senses danger… his spider-sense is warning him… danger above… and then he passes out again. “Good grief!” Hulk exclaims, urging Captain America to look, as a giant fragment that once formed part of their fortress is about to attack them from high above. In despair, Hulk realizes he can’t put all these people down in time to knock that thing away!
In one fluid blur of motion, Hawkeye nocks, draws and fires an arrow in the sky. His explosive arrow isn’t powerful enough to splinter something that big, but if he places it perfectly, it’ll split it. Indeed, Hawkeye’s plan works and the huge debris is split in half. Iron Man commends Hawkeye’s work and hopes his own power is enough. Sophisticated micro-computers built into his armor guide his aim and set the focus of twin, palm-centered repulsor beams, which strike their target unnervingly with thundering impact. As the fragments collapse all around them, Captain America applauds Iron Man’s skills: he deflected the fragments just enough. And he didn’t even drop the unconscious Captain Marvel – not bad, Hulk adds. Iron Man wittily replies that he never drops talent like this. Cap suggests they keep moving before…
“Oh, no!” he suddenly cries in despair, as suddenly, unbelievably, a mountain range which would dwarf the Andes looms above them. For a second, impossibly, it hangs suspended in the sky… and then it falls!
Watching from a distance, the villains rejoice. Titania is confident that did it; the heroes are finished. “Amazing! Nice work!” Wrecker congratulates Molecule Man. Volcana tells Owen he’s wonderful! Arms akimbo, Molecule Man exclaims it was nothing really. Doctor Octopus agrees that must have killed them. “Perhaps…” a far more skeptical Doom utters.
Meanwhile, half a world away, Thor and the Enchantress are enjoying their time together. Thor recalls that the Beyonder, who in his infinite power brought them hence, has offered to each of the victors any prize they may ask. He asks the Enchantress: what would she ask? She who is so beautiful, powerful and immortal… verily, a goddess! The Enchantress claims she would ask for his love… because for millennia, she has desired him, as well as he knows. For she stops at nothing to satisfy her selfish desires and she has often sought to take his love by deceit or force!
Thor retorts that love is not an object to be seized or stolen; it can only be given. The Enchantress agrees. However, she stresses that immortals are wont to occupy their endless days with foolish and impossibly quests, either to keep from going mad… or because they are. She asks Thor if he could ever love her. Thor stutters that he… he knows not. “Am I not beautiful?” she asks him. “Without, surely…” Thor replies – only to add that true beauty is a thing of the spirit. Why is that not her quest? To overcome petty greed and lust… and unfetter the beauty of her godly spirit? Leaning her face close to his, the Enchantress urges him to kiss her… give her a glimmer of hope… and she will try!
Suddenly, debris crash down all over them, interrupting their romantic moment. Thor notes it was an earthquake… but sudden and quick to pass. The Enchantress agrees it was not a natural occurrence – indeed, precious little here is. She has a sense of these things. It could only have been a shockwave from some cataclysmic blow, mighty enough to shake this entire world! Thor realizes he must return to his friends, then. “And I with thee, noble Thor!” the Enchantress decides. Thor urges her to hurry; he fears they have tarried here too long. “It is done!” the Asgardian goddess exclaims and teleports them back to the fortress, right amidst the villains.
“Holy cow! Thor!” Molecule Man exclaims upon seeing him. Seeing the Enchantress with him, the Absorbing Man deduces they’ve been off partying! Thor is shocked to see that their fortress is laid waste. Absorbing Man agrees he sees real good! Titania insists they let her have Thor… one on one… Vexed, Doom demands silence!
Thor asks Doom where his comrades are. What has he done with them? He wants answers and demands that Doom speak quickly. The Latverian monarch gleefully informs him they’re dead. They have slain them all by dropping a mountain range on top of them! “Simple! Effective! No?” he triumphs. He asks Thor to listen well: he is hopelessly outnumbered. If he submits, Doom guarantees him a merciful death.
Thor wonders if Doom’s mad. Does he truly believe that any odds might deter Thor from striving till the last breath? “Of course not!” Doom retorts. However, common courtesy demands that he makes the offer. After all, it is thirteen to one against him. “Perhaps…” Thor replies, staring at the Enchantress and silently waiting for her decision. Closing her eyes, visibly sad, the Enchantress moves away from him, not looking back. “So be it!” Thor growls. “Enough talk! Let’s ace the sucker!” the Absorbing Man snarls as he attacks.
The villains attack Thor far and wide. Trying to repel Ultron, Thor tosses his hammer, Mjolnir, against the robot. The hammer ricochets and crashes through a rock nearby. Titania believes he shouldn’t have thrown away that club; he’s going to miss it! It might have given him a chance against her! Striking him, she vows that she will be known as the woman who killed Thor with her bare hands; that’s what they’ll call her! “Mayhap, woman, when icicles ornament Surtur’s fiery realm!” Thor snarls as he repels her.
Wringing his tentacles around Thor’s throat, Octopus announces to his allies that now they’ve got him and urges them to pull him down. The Absorbing Man encourages them to hold him for a few seconds, while he absorbs the properties of a mace he found. Bulldozer tells the Absorbing Man he will bash Thor’s head in for him.
Despite being held by three people, Thor manages to use Mjolnir in order to block the attack of the Absorbing Man’s mace. “Can’t you idiots do anything right?” Octopus reprimands his allies. Bulldozer insists they’re trying… but Thor’s too strong! Wrecker advises them to look out… and the next moment Thor pounds his hammer on the ground and forces them all off of him, demanding they stay away: their touch offends him! He commands the fury of the skies to smite his enemies and, suddenly, lightning and thunder burst forth, assailing his opponents.
Impervious to Thor’s thunderbolts, protected in his force field, Doctor Doom informs him that, when he rebuilt Ultron, he added a new weapon to his invulnerable robot body: an energy beam which cancels the forces bonding sub-atomic particles together. A disintegrator! Indeed, Ultron releases against Thor his lethal blast, which the Norse god only narrowly escapes. Pleased, Doom notes that only under combat conditions can one truly evaluate the effectiveness of one’s newly designed weapons. Taunting Thor, he asks him if he agrees.
Finally, Ultron’s blasts reach their target and Thor is reduced to nothingness. The Enchantress weeps, mourning for his loss. Doom believes that the test can be called a success! So it would appear, Octopus agrees. Nothing left of Thor but his helmet and scraps of his cape. That means they’ve won! Doom reminds him that the X-Men are not yet accounted for, nor is Magneto… and Galactus remains a potential problem. They shall return to Doombase and plan their next strike… but first, there is yet one other matter to attend here and now. One of them tried to kill Doom – indeed, he almost succeeded. And for that transgression, he must pay!
Kang the Conqueror, who previously attempted to assassinate Doom, tries to defend himself; the circumstances were… “Ultron! Slay Kang!” Doom orders his robot with a firm voice. Desperate, Kang urges Doom to listen to him. He argues Doom will need him later! Despite his pleas, Ultron zaps him and Kang is no more. As the rest of the villains look on horrified, Doom is confident that the lesson is not lost upon the rest of them. He then directs them all to Doombase.
At that moment, many hundreds of miles distant, a strange aircraft soars above an alien landscape. Inside the craft, while piloting it psionically, Professor Xavier tells Storm that he neglected to compliment her on the excellent job she did helping him navigate through the tempest. Storm admits it was powerful for her to quell entirely, but moderating the winds in their immediate vicinity was not difficult.
The silence slams shut again as Storm’s words fade, each X-Man lost in his own reverie, especially Colossus. Peter misses Kitty Pryde so much. He fears she is in awful danger right now… as they surely are here in this godforsaken world, so far from home… and her. Peter fears there is no returning from this place. All the dreams he hardly dared to dream about them – including being married one day – are finished. If only he could see her one more time…
Only a few feet away, Rogue also broods. Not too long ago, she probably would have been fighting on Doom’s side. Now she’s with the X-Men… but if push comes to shove… if they’re losing… will she stay with the X-Men? She wonders… Holding tightly onto her seat, she realizes she doesn’t want to die.
Nearby, Nightcrawler asks Wolverine why he keeps popping his claws. Surely, he isn’t looking forward to the inevitable battle? Wolverine stresses that he goes through life holding back… keeping the animal inside in check… just barely. But this is war… maybe the last war, for all the marbles in the universe! So, this time, he isn’t taking prisoners, no matter what Charley thinks.
If Professor Charles Xavier overhears, he makes no sign. His furrowed brow betrays greater concentration than necessary simply to guide the ship, as he ponders a certain incident, only hours ago, involving Spider-Man… and is deeply, deeply troubled.
Suddenly, Storm alerts Cyclops: that must be Magneto’s fortress ahead. Cyke doesn’t know whether to be relieved or worried. Magneto’s power on their side could be a deciding factor in this war. On the other hand, if he’s not in the mood for an alliance, they could be in for the fight of their lives!
Inside the awesome structure, the master of magnetism focuses his power into a concentrated field of energy potent enough to raze a small city. Straining, he subtly manipulates the field, pulling metallic particles from the very air, shaping them, compressing them, fusing them atom by atom… until he finally generates a comb!
“Here you are, Janet” he cheerfully tells the Wasp as he hands her over the comb. He trusts this will suffice. Astounded, Janet thanks him. She admits that you really discover the things you take for granted when Bergdorf Goodman’s a billion-zillion times away! Combing her hair on a mirror, she also wishes this place had plumbing. What sort of beings could build a place with no… powder rooms? Magneto believes they must have been vaguely humanoid, judging from the furnishings… and these delicious fruit nectars which they apparently consumed. Filling a glass for himself, he asks her if she wants some.
“Nah! Got any cold beer, Maggie?” Wolverine asks him as he appears in the entrance, alongside the rest of his teammates. “The X-Men!” Magnus spontaneously exclaims. Xavier greets him and explains he has come to discuss joining forces. He believes it may be mutually advantageous to forget their various differences and work together. As a force independent of that under Captain America’s command, there is much good they might do.
“How interesting!” Magnus exclaims and informs them that he and Wasp, leader of the Avengers, have been discussing precisely that. Slay your enemies and all you desire shall be yours: that is what the Beyonder told them when he placed them here. After seeing his power demonstrated, Magnus believes him. Therefore, they must take an aggressive role. Unlike Captain America and his allies, they must not fight a defensive battle. They must slay Doctor Doom and his lackeys.
He goes on to argue that if Captain America’s does not see the wisdom of their course – if they do not join with them, or worse, if they oppose them – they must slay them as well! Don’t they see? If Doom triumphs, he would have the Beyonder fulfill his selfish desires. But they, by the Beyonder’s grace, would create a golden age on Earth and throughout the universe. An age in which men and mutants live together in peace! He must fight to the death and win, he concludes. Janet agrees with him, doesn’t she?
Playfully pinching his cheek, Janet tells Magnus he’s a pompous, overbearing jerk – cute, though! Did he really think she’d ever consider going along with his sick plans? She’s just been playing along to find out what he’s up to! “What?! You dare?!” Magneto growls and attacks her. Janet, however, instantly shrinks to her wasp size and teases him: he can’t hit her! Exasperated, Magnus argues that shrinking to wasp size won’t save her and makes to grasp her. Wasp retorts that’s not all she can do. She reminds him that wasps also have stings… in her case, a bioelectric one! She tells him he’s a great kisser, but like all men, he presumes that once you romance a woman her mind turns into mush, and then you own her – wrong!
At once, she stings Magneto, causing him to scream with pain. Cyclops urges the X-Men to stop her. If she injures Magneto… Wolverine tells Janet they may need Magneto and warns her to settle down or… Janet retorts that if they’re on his side, then they’re not very nice, and she’s not letting them near her! Without thinking twice, she attacks the X-Men and makes her way through the mutants, stinging each of them in turn. They should just be grateful she’s not like Magneto. If she was using even half-power stings, they’d be splattered, not stunned!
Finishing her attack, Wasp realizes she’d better get out of here. One of them could get lucky and somehow zap her and she’s got to warn Cap and the others about what rats they are! Besides, that planet-quake they felt a while ago got her worried. She can’t shake the feeling that it meant something terrible happened. She’s got to get back, she decides, and rushes the X-Men’s vehicle parked at the citadel’s entrance.
In shock, Cyclops realizes she caught them flatfooted… clobbered them! Storm retorts they deserved it. They reacted slowly… no teamwork… Wolverine is indignant. First, Spider-Man trashes them… now the Wasp?! He’s had it with getting dumped on his butt! Rubbing his head, Magneto argues she won’t get far. Taking evasive action won’t save her. That little fool – he’ll crush that vehicle and her with it, he decides, as he raises his arms, generating electromagnetic energy.
Already flying the vehicle outside the base, Janet is unable to comprehend how one steers this thing; it’d take six hands to work these controls! She’d get out and walk… if she could figure out how to stop. “Goodness!” she suddenly exclaims, as the vehicle spirals out of control, courtesy of Magneto.
Inside Magneto’s fortress, Professor X tells him he can’t allow him to do this. “Allow me? You presume much, Xavier!” Magnus snaps. Xavier urges him to listen to him. He could have prevented Wasp’s escape with a simple telepathic command… but he chose not to. A few hours ago, he succumbed to temptation and psionically prevented Spider-Man from delaying their journey here. That was a crime – an act he shall long regret. In that moment of weakness, he was no better than Doom – or Hitler – or anyone else who ever used power to usurp another’s freedom. If they are to be allies, they must first agree that whatever noble ends they seek do not justify evil means.
Meanwhile, far away, deep beneath billions of tons of stone, the heroes are still alive, enshrouded in absolute darkness. Someone suggests a little light. “You got it!” Captain Marvel delivers and breaks the darkness with one of her photon blasts, revealing Hulk holding the entire mountain range on his shoulders. Iron Man realizes there must be two miles of rock above them. How can even Hulk hold that up? Hulk explains he’s just bracing it… he’s got leverage… Still, he doesn’t know how long… seconds… a minute maybe… Hawkeye retorts they couldn’t dig out of here in a month! They’re as good as…
Captain America retorts they’re still alive – there is a way! He asks them to help him revive Reed. As Mr. Fantastic is coming around, Ben Grimm informs him they’re in trouble. They dropped a whole mountain on them! Iron Man and Hulk wedged out a space as it landed, keeping them from being squashed. However, there isn’t enough air for the Torch to flame on and burn his way out – and it’s probably too far anyway. No one here has power enough to cut through or dig out. Except me, Hulk corrects him – but if he lets go, the rock above will fall, smashing them all, before he could start digging.
Reed decides to have a look on Iron Man’s armor. If it operates as he suspects it does, he just might have an idea. Iron Man must have a tool kit – Reed will need it. He also asks Hawkeye if he has any tricks with microelectronic components, before he realizes that Spider-Man’s web-shooting devices must have circuitized relays – he’ll need them, too! “My web-shooters…?” a surprised Spider-Man exclaims. Reed retorts there’s no time to argue! Peter hesitantly complies: the air’s running out… Hulk’s getting exhausted… why not? He quickly removes his web-shooters.
Captain America asks Reed if they can help. Reed turns his offer down. Examining Iron Man’s armor, he confesses in admiration that it’s more technologically advanced that he’d ever dreamed. Working with it is easier than he dared hope. Every system is already cross-linked… a cinch to modify. He knew Tony Stark was brilliant but…
Hulk suddenly intervenes and orders him to shut up! He’s tired of hearing how brilliant Richards is and now how brilliant Stark is… He hammers the point that he, the “dumb brute” who’s buying them this time is fed up with this garbage! “I… see!” a flabbergasted Reed mumbles. Regaining his composure, he admits that’s exactly the self-pitying mewl he expected from Hulk… or Doctor Banner… or whoever he is. But he’s correct: he’s a brute, so he should keep using his muscle. That’s all he’s good for! “You arrogant clown!” Hulk grunts, while sweating from the effort. Richards knows Hulk’s losing his intellect and he thinks he’s just a dumb ox again already, doesn’t he? Well, maybe he is, but Richards better pray his dumb plan fails… because if they get out of here Hulk’s going to rip him apart!
Hanging two cables over to Human Torch and Captain Marvel, Mr. Fantastic explains that he’s adapted Iron Man’s energy-input circuits so that they can feed their energy directly into his power pods using these makeshift transfer units. He asks them to concentrate. He urges Johnny to channel his maximum nova-flame heat through his hand into the unit, while Captain Marvel is to give Iron Man the full spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. Within seconds, Iron Man can feel their power pouring in, adding to his – it’s unstickinbelievable! Reed can hear something… a tapping noise. He orders Iron Man to release his full-force repulsors that way… now! Iron Man complies and manages to blast a way through the mountain range!
The heroes quickly escape through the passageway. Flying in the air, Iron Man admits he never dreamed how powerful this armor is. With enough energy, he can do anything! Reed apologizes to Hulk about what he said down there. He was only… Hulk, however, reassures him he knows. Reed knew that Hulk was losing it. He deliberately made him angry, because he knew the madder Hulk gets, the stronger he gets. Hulk assures Reed he finally figured it out. He’s not that stupid!
Thor suddenly greets Captain America, finding him a welcome sight. Cap indeed thought that the tapping sound they heard might be Thor trying to dig them out. “His mightiest blows… tapping?” Thor wonders at loss – they were buried deep, indeed! He explains that while in battle with Doom’s forces he learned of their plight. He used a flash of lightning to blind them while he escaped to come to their air – unduly, it would seem. Cap thought the Enchantress had somehow spirited him away. Thor admits it’s a long story in the telling. Later then, Cap agrees, before he turns his attention to Captain Marvel. Before he even tells her what they need, Monica is on it: food, shelter, medical supplies; the speed-of-light scouting service is on the case, she jests as she flies off.
Split-seconds later, akin to a rocket, Monica flies rapidly above various areas. She passes by a deserted area and then flies above what’s left of their old headquarters. She momentarily wonders where it came from. Whose it was before the Beyonder transported it here? She then flies over Galactus, still keeping some mysterious vigil atop a mountain peak. He’s been like that almost since they arrived here. She definitely doesn’t want to disturb him… Richards says he eats planets!
Suddenly, she spots a village – so, Beyonder brought some non-combatants along for the ride, too! She realizes that the “Big B” spared no effort to provide all the necessary accoutrements for this little special war… and what’s a war without innocent victims? She can’t get over how abruptly and dramatically the terrain changes every few hundred miles on this crazy patchwork planet. She wonders if there’s anything past this weirdness. Absent-minded, she suddenly finds herself flying over Doom’s base. She’s not likely to find help here! She decides she’d better about-face before she’s detected. Flying over the village again, she thinks that even though it has one teensy little problem; still it would seem to be their best bet.
Hours later, the heroes relocate to this village… whose only disadvantage is that one of its mountains functions as Galactus’ observatory! Spider-Man wonders if Captain Marvel’s kidding – right under Galactus’ nose? Monica insists she told them that – this is the best she could do!
As the heroes advance inside the village, they encounter the locals, humanoids dressed in purple garments and speaking in an incomprehensible language. Hulk notes they don’t look too happy to see them. “Who can blame them for being afraid?” Cap remarks. Hulk is furious: can’t they see they need help? He’ll make them help them! Cap chides him: that’s not their way. Besides, he thinks that one of them, a young, white-haired woman at the front is arguing on their behalf.
Finally, the alien beings proceed to carry the wounded heroes. Johnny realizes that the young woman won. “Or… it’s a trap!” the ever suspicious Hulk suggests. Spider-Man disagrees: his spider-sense would be tingling a blue streak. They really mean to help them… so far! As She-Hulk is placed on a seat and the young villager uses her powers on her, Reed realizes that this girl seems to be the village healer. This must be some kind of ritualistic laying-on-of-hands… He assumes it can’t hurt.
As the woman proceeds to touch the Human Torch, a smiling Johnny announces that it feels terrific. His arms and ribs feel better already – really! The young woman tells him something in her language. “Yeah, same to you, gorgeous!” Johnny responds. He suddenly thinks he’s in love and tells his benefactress that he’ll tumble for her! Iron Man remarks he has no class!
Ben tells Reed that he’s unsure about this place – they’re right in plain sight of Galactus! Reed assures him that if Galactus cared about them it wouldn’t matter where they were hidden – but he doesn’t, so right here is just as safe as everywhere else. Ben hesitantly complies. After all, Reed’s the boss…
All of a sudden, out of the blue, Ben regresses to his orange, rocky, Thing appearance. Awfully confused, Ben struggles to understand what’s wrong with him. On Earth, he’s always a loveable lump of orange rocks. Here, all of a sudden, he got human again, for no reason, at the worst possible time… and now he’s a monster again. Desperately, he asks Reed why. Reed stammers he isn’t sure but he’ll give it some thought. Ben tells him to do that. He decides to go and see if these guys have a cot big enough for him and hit the sack… if these little wimps don’t panic and run off at the sight of his beautiful bod!
Left alone, Reed contemplates that he’s got, in fact, a strong suspicion of why this is happening to Ben – and it’s not good news. At last, he truly understands just how lonely Ben feels, trapped in that body. Now, Reed’s trapped too, billion of light years away from Sue, fighting what may be the last fight. It must be worse for her, he thinks: about to give birth to their second child, not knowing when – or if – he’ll back.
Suddenly, Reed notices Galactus, still up on his mountain peak, moving! As Galactus raises his arms to the sky, Reed lets out a cry of terror, finally realizing what is happening: “Oh… no! No!”