Standing in awe, their mouths agape, the heroes watch as Galactus’s mammoth ship descends from the skies. Mister Fantastic gasps that he should have known – he should have suspected this! Captain America wonders what it means. Iron Man is awestruck by the size of this thing; it takes up the whole sky! Even though it’s still millions of miles away, Hulk notices. Having former experience with Galactus, Human Torch explains it’s Galactus’s home. Reed speculates he must have summoned it from the far side of the universe – but why? Thing stresses that it’s not for their health; maybe it’s a present for the Beyonder! Mesmerized, Spider-Man remarks that it’s a big as a whole solar system!
Ostensibly terrified, the beautiful white-haired alien healer wails something in her language. Human Torch doesn’t know what she’s saying, but he can tell she’s afraid. He wishes he could explain to her what’s going on – not that they can do anything about it! He urges her to calm down. It’ll be okay… he hopes. If only he could talk to her… but she doesn’t speak English, and he sure doesn’t dig her lingo. Hugging her tightly, he decides to start by thanking her for fixing up his busted ribs… but he thinks they could have a lot more than a doctor-patient relationship!
The woman suddenly drags Johnny to a nearby dwelling. Johnny wonders if she’s taking him to her place. Not that he would mind, but this is a heck of a time to duck into the parlor for some R and R! The woman shoves him inside her hut and proceeds to open a strange-shaped bottle. Johnny wonders if she’s going to fix them both a drink – is that it? He quips that she’s one fast mover! If that’s Pepsi Cola in the bottle, he suggests she makes his a double! He can use a good stiff belt about now!
As they both sit on the floor and around the bottle, the woman opens it, releasing some vapors from it. Johnny nervously wonders if she wants him to inhale this stuff. “Okay… I trust you,” he hesitantly complies. The vapor smells sweet but strong. The woman tells him something and the Human Torch deduces that means “shut up and breathe, jerk!” He can tell that! As he inhales, he feels weird; it’s like his mind is opening up like a book!
Suddenly, the images in Human Torch’s mind are hers to behold. The woman witnesses his memories in the recent past. She sees those who were brought to this world with him: teammates, the Fantastic Four; allies, the Avengers; some whose allegiance he holds in doubt, the X-Men; and one he knows as enemy, Magneto! She also sees those who were brought in a separate vessel, evil men possessing awesome power; their leader, a man he had believed to be dead, the most fearsome enemy, Doctor Doom; and the cosmic force given form as a living being, the planet-eater, Galactus, the entity who looms over the village, standing upon a mountaintop, whose home-ship fills the sky.
The woman witnesses in Johnny’s mind the creation of the Battleworld, constructed from bits and pieces stolen from many planets, including many her own distant sphere. She understands that she and her people, like the citadels and weapons brought hither, are but raw material for war… potential innocent victims, hostages perhaps… a resource for warring factions to exploit. She hears the mysterious author of this conflict, Beyonder, address his captive combatants: “I am from beyond! Slay your enemies and all shall be yours! Nothing you dream of is impossible for me to accomplish!”
In Johnny’s mind, the woman sees the first battles and tastes with him the sweet memory of victory, as well as the despair of defeat. All too clearly she feels the terror of being buried alive under billions of tons of stone… but then, too, she knows the exultation of escape from that most horrific death. Driven from their citadel, Johnny and his friends found refuge in the woman’s village. In him she relived the meeting, she feels the pain from his injuries, then feels it ease under her healing touch and now she understands much…
With their strange mindlinking over, Human Torch thanks her: that was neat! It was like touching souls – he saw it, in her mind, too… and he liked what he saw! He knows her name now… he caught it… The woman utters her name for him to hear. “I love you, too, Zah-Shee…” an infatuated Johnny murmurs as he locks lips with her. “Zsaji…” the woman corrects him, as she succumbs to his kiss.
Meanwhile, far away, in the fortress of Magneto, in a darkened chamber, Colossus wallows in an ocean of loneliness and worry. He wonders where Kitty Pryde is now, what she’s doing. He would give anything – anything – just to see if his little Katya is safe and well. He wonders if she misses him as much as he misses her. He loves her so… All his big plans for her, for a few years from now, when she is old enough… what are they now? Dust! Less than that, he is thinking. Something tells him he will die here in this war, billions of miles away from her. And even if they win, who is say to say that the Beyonder will send them home? “Slay your enemies,” the Beyonder said and he would grant their wishes. Piotr know what his would be!
Professor X’s astral form appears before him, interrupting his meditations and ordering him to come at once! Startled, Colossus complies. Seconds later, the X-Men rush into the control room far and wide. Observing them, Magneto can’t help but note how quickly they respond; Professor X has them trained well! Xavier briskly notes that they are slower than he is content with! Hearing this, Nightcrawler demurs that perhaps they would be quicker, if the force of his telepathic summons did not bowl over them! Nonetheless, he reports himself, as does Storm. Wolverine stresses they’re all here already and asks Xavier what the rush is. Charles assures him that will be evident very soon. He asks Magneto to retract the dome.
Before them, they see Galactus’ massive ship, filling up the sky. “What… is that?” an astounded Rogue exclaims. Professor X explains he has telepathically gleaned this information from Reed Richards’ mind: what they see is the home of Galactus – a solar-system-sized mechanical construct! Galactus has apparently summoned it here for reasons not yet clear. Cyclops remarks that if he hadn’t seen Beyonder destroy an entire galaxy, he wouldn’t believe it. However, now, it’s getting easier to accept the impossible! “No, it isn’t, Cyclops!” an awestruck Colossus retorts.
Rogue wonders with trepidation what they are all going to do. Magneto authoritatively replies that she and the others will go now and prepare a ship. They may have to move quickly against Galactus, if, as Xavier and Magnus himself fear, this event foreshadows hostile action on his part. In the meantime, he and Xavier shall try a more subtle approach. Seeing them fixed in their positions, Magneto impatiently reiterates they heard him and again demands they go! “Since when do you give us orders?” Wolverine snarls with indignation. Storm also stresses that she is the leader of the X-Men. “That’s right!” Cyclops seconds that, only to actually contemplate that, with stakes this high, perhaps he should be, given his experience.
In uncharacteristically high-handed fashion, Xavier clarifies that until further notice he shall give the orders… here and in the field. He implores them to do as Magnus said; there is no time for discussion! Cyclops hesitantly complies: “All right…” only to further contemplate… for the moment anyway! As the X-Men heed to Magnus and go, Xavier warns them to be careful: imperiousness for the sake of expediency is not wise. Magneto simply suggests they get on with it!
At that moment, thousands of miles away, at the massive fortress called Doombase, the villains are resting in the atrium. Walking arm to arm with Volcana, Molecule Man confesses to her that life was very difficult before the atomic accident – that is, when he gained absolute mastery of all molecules. People always made fun of him and hurt him. Did he tell her about the chicken-feather incident in junior high school? Addressing him as “poor boy,” Volcana clarifies he did; she wishes she’d been there to help him!
Nearby, Absorbing Man presents a chainball to the members of the Wrecking Crew and relates how after he busted a couple of guards’ heads, they gave him this sucker to slow him down – but he just turned around and used it on them! Showing his own chainball, Thunderball boasts that his is a wrecking ball! Seeing Molecule Man and Volcana approaching, Piledriver snorts that here comes the milksop and his cow; Romeo and Guernsey! He then further mocks them by mooing. Volcana is about to lash at him, but Molecule Man holds her back, suggesting they get away from here. “Why those… those scum!” she rages, flaunting her fist. Owen stresses that his therapist tells him not to react; they should just go and be by themselves.
As she proceeds to go with Molecule Man, a furious Volcana warns them: one more sound out of them and she’s going to make them very sorry! Undaunted, Piledriver presses on: “Yez’m, Miz Nerd! ‘Evening, Mr. Nerd!” Snapping with rage and turning back at him, Molecule Man, his powers flaring up, demands to know who said that… word? “Wh-what about it?” a suddenly frightened Piledriver stammers. Volcana retorts she’ll show him “what about it” and whacks him in the face! Watching from a distance, Titania can’t believe how Volcana mothers that little wimp. The mighty Molecule Man… hah! she muses with contempt, thinking this might be interesting.
Piledriver struggles to threaten Volcana: “You filthy fatbag! I’m going to…” Molecule Man retorts he won’t do anything, because he controls all molecules and he’s the most powerful person in the universe! “Izzat so?” Piledriver attempts to doubt it and half-heartedly urges the rest of the Wrecking Crew to rearrange the Molecule Man’s face molecules! He finds no support when he turns to the others, though, all of them purposely ignoring him and talking about the weather, refusing to face the wrath of Molecule Man.
Suddenly, the Molecule Man uses his powers of Piledriver, explaining that all he did was compress the molecules of his suit into an ultra-hard metal like substance. Piledriver howls that he can’t move! Molecule Man dismissively notes that now Piledriver is a pushover. “Take that, smarty!” he mocks him as he pushes him, causing him to fall on the ground. Thrilled, Volcana congratulates Owen! Using her foot to shove Piledriver’s face into the mud, she suggests he eats some! Turning to the other villains, Molecule Man wonders if any of them has anything to say. “Uh… nope,” they all nervously respond. Owen corrects them: “That’s “no, sir, Mr. Molecule Man!” Tamed, they all proceed to call him “sir”. A frightened Absorbing Man assures him he’s okay by him!
Molecule Man makes a flying chariot out of solidified air molecules and proceeds to go off to someplace away from the others, together with Volcana. As soon as he leaves, the others try to free Piledriver from his suit. Absorbing Man urges them to rip that suit open; Piledriver can’t breathe! Wrecker insists he’s trying! Even with his crowbar it’s not easy – and he can rip plate armor apart like paper! Titania tears off a tree in a very demonstrative manner and dismisses them as “stupid cowards.” She boasts that she would have ripped that little twerp in half before he could…
Suddenly, she sees something and alerts the other villains to Galactus’ ship to the sky. Absorbing Man admits he doesn’t even want to know what this is. Wrecker just hopes it’s on their side! Thunderball wonders where Doom is; he’ll know what that thing is. He speculates it might even be his doing!
Elsewhere, Doctor Doom watches from his monitor and realizes that, at last, Galactus’ home has arrived here, as he knew it would. As Galactus’ plans become clear to him, so do Doom’s own plans crystallize; timing will be critical! Speaking to a loudspeaker, he alerts his ‘servitors’ to prepare themselves for battle. From this instant, they are all on red alert! They shall be ready to strike at a moment’s notice! If they fail him, they shall be utterly destroyed!
The Enchantress appears and announces she wants to have a word with him. Doom stresses that his orders were clear. She would do well to obey… immediately! Enchantress retorts he cannot deceive her. She senses the odds are against them… and she is afraid. She accentuates she is a goddess; beautiful; powerful; immortal. What has she to gain here? She wants no part of this war! Some barrier prevents her from simply fleeing this world – she’s tried! Perhaps, though, if she and Doom combine their talents, they could escape… together. The Enchantress cajoles him: he’s such a clever mortal! How would he like the love of a goddess… for the rest of his life?
“I would not!” Doctor Doom sternly denies her. The Enchantress retorts that, if her beauty holds no charm for him, then let them consider… his own! She could repair the scars that hide behind that iron mask he wears! Momentarily tempted by the offer, Doom wonders aloud if she could restore… his face. “Easily!” the cunning Enchantress assures him. Doom quickly brushes off her seductive proposal: “No!” He knows enough about sorcery to realize the hidden price of such a feat! He suggests she saves her tricks; she will need them, and every ounce of power she possesses, in the coming battle!
Kneeling before him, the Enchantress begs him: she doesn’t want to die! He cannot imagine what it is for an immortal to face total, ultimate death! Doom coldly asks her if she’s finished. The Enchantress growls he will regret this. Doom reminds her she’s got her orders and commands her to go. “Very well, madman!” she snarls and vanishes in a puff of smoke. Alone, he wonders if it madness which drives a man of genius to strive for an impossible prize… or is it the string for that which is ever out of reach which prevents madness from overtaking him? He does not fear death…
Meanwhile, in Magneto’s lair, an impatient Magnus asks Xavier why it is taking so long. Xavier explains that, even unawares, Galactus’ natural defenses are strong beyond imagining. All he can do is keep probing… pressing… entreating! He urges Magneto to fuel more energy; to open the barriers within his consciousness. He urges Magnus to let him tap the deepest pools of his latest mental powers. If they can contact Galactus mind-to-mind they may learn his plans and perhaps reason with him.
At that moment, the Avengers and Fantastic Four are holding an emergency meeting. It seems plain as day to Human Torch: Galactus is going to eat this planet right out from under them! Thing asks Reed if that’s right. Mister Fantastic is not certain but he’d like to find out. He informs Captain America that he once saved Galactus’ life – he alone has a chance of communicating with him. Cap retorts it’s against his better judgment; they can’t afford to lose him! He rephrases that and urges Reed to be careful.
Shortly, Reed stretches all the way up to the mountain peak, calling Galactus’ name. Reed realizes that Galactus is completely oblivious to him, but he must reach him. He urges Galactus to listen to him: he thinks he know what he’s planning… and it is madness! It will guarantee Galactus’ death as surely as theirs! He knows this!
Back at Magneto’s fortress, Professor X exclaims it’s no use. They’re like gnats to Galactus. Even at rest, his mental defenses are far too much for them. Speaking of himself, Magneto retorts that he’s no insect; Galactus must acknowledge them! If they must, they’ll batter their way through! Xavier tries to dissuade him, informing him he’s causing a surge!
Meanwhile, Reed Richards tells Galactus that there’s another way; he is their only hope. With him they may be able to approach the Beyonder and perhaps put an end to this insanity! Seeing Galactus glancing away, Mister Fantastic wonders why. Clawing at the fringes of consciousness something garners but a flickering of Galactus’ awareness, and by sheer reflex, a massive wave of psionic feedback inundates the source of disturbance with devastating effect!
Reed discerns that Galactus finally noticed him – and then forces him back with a telekinetic blast. In vain, Mister Fantastic begs Galactus to hear him out, before he is forced off the mountain peak and lands to the ground below. Cap asks him what happened. Reed explains that whatever disturbed Galactus aroused him sufficiently to make him aware of them as well. Spider-Man consoles Reed: he tried, but the big guy just doesn’t have any couth.
Cap tells Reed that if he’s okay, then no harm was done. Richards retorts they don’t understand. They’re in incredible danger now! Galactus is pointedly aware that potential pests – them – are close at hand. “So?” Hawkeye wonders – is he going to sic his cat on them or something? “Exactly!” Reed replies.
Indeed, at that very moment, a blast cuts through Galactus’ shuttle and reaches the ground. A hideous mechanical creature, clad in metallic armor, is beamed on the planet’s surface, amidst the heroes. Spider-Man wonders what the heck that thing is. Hulk deduces it’s the “cat” – some construct for dealing with the vermin. Thing recommends to Hulk to stop just standing there waiting for it to him! Before Hulk has the time to respond, the creature launches its attack and sends Hulk flying with but a fist. Thing haughtily notes that Hulk must be a lover, because he sure isn’t a fighter! Hawkeye states the obvious: they’re in trouble!
Meanwhile, using complex modules beamed down from his massive home-ship, Galactus assembles a massive machine undisturbed.
Below, Human Torch urges his fellow combatants to get back, so as to give him some room to use his nova-intensity flame; that should stop the creature! As Galactus’ being swats Thing and Iron Man away like flies, while still pummeling on Hulk, Ben tells Johnny to call them a cab and drop them a postcard when he’s done frying him! The being then proceeds to grasp Spider-Man and She-Hulk. Spidey warns the others to look out; his spider-sense is going bonkers! He realizes he’s too late, though, as the being fires some kind of goop that paralyzes Thor, Hawkeye and Monica.
Human Torch despairs: Thor’s down! With his hammer out of the fight… Cap urges him not to think about it and do exactly as he told him. Their attack must be perfectly coordinated; that thing’s “gun” must be silenced at any cost! Thing admits he loves that kind of talk and all three men lash at the creature. Cap hurls his shield at the creature and gets it at the eye; Johnny applauds his shot. Cap verifies that the creature does have weak points and encourages the others to hit it; he’s counting on them!
Ben thinks there’s something about Cap… you just can’t let him down! He quickly climbs on the being’s back and holds his hands with a grip. Ben jokes that it’s a good thing they’ve never heard of Rasslin on Planet Remulac! If this guy he’s fighting knew the counter move for this hold, he’d be in the soup! He then urges Johnny to hurry up; even with this leverage, he can’t hold him for long!
Now operating in nova-intensity mode, Johnny hopes that something inside the creature is meltable and blasts his fire inside the being’s wide open mouth. Fortunately, the creature collapses immediately. “Well, lookee there!” Thing enthuses – he jokes that their adversary must feel like he ate too many sardine sandwiches! Johnny bets that never happened to one of Galactus’ toys before! Cap is satisfied to see that everyone is good. Iron Man grumpily wishes he’d gotten some licks in! Thor, however, suspects that their chances for glory shall abound soon. Maybe real soon, Spidey confirms – his spider-sense is buzzing again! There’s danger near!
“Look! Doom’s men!” Hawkeye cries as he sees the villains marching towards them. Blasting them with a cannon from atop a vehicle, Octopus realizes they’re battered and exhausted: easy pickings! Bulldozer doubts that. If that mountain they dropped them last time didn’t kill them, no way they’re easy pickings… ever! Absorbing Man proposes that this time they kill them for sure!
Not far away, Doom lands with his own vehicle. It wasn’t surprising for him to discover that Captain America, Reed Richards and their lackeys had somehow survived their apparent death at the end of their last encounter. As it happens, their presence here is extremely convenient. It eliminated the need for him to send his forces in a direct attack against Galactus, during which they surely would have been annihilated. A savage battle against the heroes in Galactus’ immediate vicinity will serve just as well, if it succeeds in disturbing Galactus and drawing his attention. A split second is all Doom needs!
In the battlefield, the heroes slowly retreat, overwhelmed by the villains’ onslaught. Doctor Octopus advises his colleagues to cut down the star-spangled fool first; with him dead, the rest will be easy pickings! Cap realizes they’re in trouble… they’re tired… battered… He urges his fellow warriors to fall back; give ground but return fire! Keep slugging and slow them down! Once they blunt the initial thrust, on his orders, they are to dig in and hold!
However, as Ultron’s energy rays intersect Volcana’s thermal blasts, a destructive blast ensues that literally scatters the heroes all around. Volcana gleefully notes that she and ‘Ultie’ are a devastating combination! Absorbing Man notices that ultimate strike softened them and suggests they finish them. Persevering, Cap urges his allies to stay together and keep fighting; they’re not done yet! Thing assures him they’re with him till the last breath!
Suddenly, though, the X-Men appear behind the villains, with Professor X ordering his team to attack! Press them hard! The villains’ power exceeds their own, so they must strike as one! The mutants launch their attack, with Magnus and Xavier overseeing the battle. Xavier telepathically alerts the high-flying Rogue that she’s lugging behind; Titania is closing on her, cutting her off from the rest. He urges her to beware! Rogue assuages Xavier: he shouldn’t worry about her so! As Titania hurls a giant rock against her, Rogue effortlessly cuts through it with her fist.
Below, Colossus rages. Grabbing Piledriver by the throat and clasping one of Octopus’ tentacles, Piotr rants and raves he will smash all of them; they are what keeps him from his Katya! In despair, Octopus asks for help! Thunderball realizes this one’s crazy; he’s a berserker!
High above, Storm boasts that the elements marshal their infinite might at her beckoning! Power seethes in the roiling clouds! At her command, the elements of weather strike the villains! Storm generates a raging gale, which even Galactus cannot utterly ignore. At that moment that Galactus ponders its possible significance, concluding that to him, it has none, Doom reacts. At tachyon speed, his jump-ship spans twenty-two million miles in one heartbeat, passing like a wisp of sub-spatial ether through the world-ship’s hull.
Below, Wrecker strikes Colossus’ sides with his crowbar. Freaking out, Wrecker decides that he will kill the raging Colossus, before he kills them! Seeing Colossus battered, Cyclops screams to them to get away from him and unleashes a massive optic blast against them. As the battered servants of Doom struggle to their feet, the Enchantress notes that their enemies fight as though possessed. She decides that they should leave while they are together and she still has strength – before they are overwhelmed. “This day is theirs!” she concludes. Titania disagrees and urges them to let her at them again! Absorbing Man suggests she shuts up, just as Enchantress whisks them all away.
Professor X telepathically informs his X-Men that the enemy has fled and orders them to get to their own ship at once. Storm retorts they will do so as soon as they get Colossus. Xavier stresses that Colossus must not be moved and reiterates his order. As his enters the ship together with his teammates, Nightcrawler retorts he does not like this; how can they just leave Piotr? Cyke, however, urges him to get inside; he presumes the Professor will explain. Wolverine wishes it’d better be good! Cyclops assures him that, for once, he’s with him.
Magneto impatiently wonders: why this foolish mewling? Colossus was obviously gravely injured. He is of no further use to them! They cannot afford to be encumbered by casualties! Wolverine retorts that the X-Men stick together – and he’s got no further use for scum like him, even if he did magnetically shield them all when Galactus smashed his fort. “This is war, cretin!” Magneto snarls.
Professor X interferes, demanding silence. Colossus’ injuries were such that to move him would kill him. There is a healer in that village who may be able to save his life, and he believes Captain America and company can be trusted to do him no harm. As an independent ally of Captain America’s group they were extremely effective. He believes they should continue to play this role as a “third force.” To do so, they must keep their distance… even if it means leaving Colossus temporarily.
Back at the village, Zsaji rushes to Johnny’s arms, saying something in her language. Johnny bets she’s saying she was worried – he was, too. Tending to Colossus, Iron Man informs Human Torch they’ve got a badly wounded man here; can he get his medic girlfriend to take a look? Johnny claims he’ll try… but who know if she can help a mutant? They’re not exactly normal humans! He’s a whole different species!
Surprised, Iron Man realizes that a guy who can burst into flames has doubts that this broad from planet Mongo can help this mutant dude – thanks God he isn’t black, he mocks him. Vexed, Johnny tells him to knock it off; he knows what he meant. As Zsaji kneels down on Colossus and makes to touch him, Piotr wonders what she’s doing and asks her to leave him alone. Johnny tells him to chill out; she’s trying to help. Clenching his teeth with pain, Colossus stammers that he wants no help and asks her to stay away. Johnny grumbles he’s nuts; maybe they all are! Iron Man tells Colossus that now he’s lost his place in line; is he happy? Next to them, Zsaji proceeds to heal the injured Spider-Man. Exhilarated, Peter admits that feels so good!
Johnny congratulates Zsaji, telling her she’s terrific, and they kiss. Spider-Man agrees. That healing touch of hers is better than a week in intensive care! Iron Man adds she’s gorgeous, too; not a bad package! Watching the couple kiss, Colossus contemplates that she is very beautiful… and very much in love with the Human Torch. Why does that trouble him? And why can he not picture Kitty in his mind now? From what he heard before, her name is Zsaji…
Suddenly, Piotr moans with pain again. Iron Man urges him to hang on and Zsaji rushes to his aid. Johnny realizes it’s duty calls again snf tells her he’ll catch her later. Zsaji kneels above Colossus and heals him. Smiling, Piotr tells her that feels good and thanks her.
Nearby, Mister Fantastic and Captain America are observing Galactus. Reed tells Cap that it takes time for Galactus to complete the assembly; there’s no telling how long, though. “And once it’s together?” Cap wonders. Reed presumes that Galactus plans to consume this entire planet, probably destroying them in the process. And thereby winning the Beyonder’s game, Cap adds. Reed doubts that it’s that simple. Galactus is calculating… planning something; he is feeling it. Cap wonders what – and what is Doom up to? Why wasn’t he with his little army when they attacked?
At that moment, inside the home of Galactus, Doom stands awestruck and transfixed. His senses cannot adequately transmit to his brain the indescribable grandeur they perceive, countless strange machines and devices. He confesses he entered this place as sub-existent hyper-energy in a vessel whose technology is undreamt of by his kind… whose simple controls even he could barely fathom… And now, he sees that the unbelievable vehicle which brought him hither is but a toy. That he is but a virus on this greatest of world he now treads! Other men would simply blind themselves or fall to their knees and worship. Or perhaps, if they were less learned than that, they would lack the wit to react at all.
However, he, Victor von Doom, shall find an answer here. He shall find a way for the virus to grow… to become strong… the overcome this mighty pulsing world-ship… and then Galactus himself… and then Beyonder! And then, “answers” are of no concern… for they shall simply be his will!
Suddenly, he holds back as he sees something. “What’s this?!” he exclaims in shock.