Sheriff Strange’ state funeral:
Before there was the world, there was the ether, an old Thor narrates as the imperial family walks through a cordon of Thors. They cannot call it heaven or forever or any other joyful thing, for it was nothing. And in that ocean of absence, there was only God Doom and his first disciple: their fallen leader, Stephen Strange.
Think on it, brothers and sisters: there was nothing and then there was everything! And the only witness to the miracle of creation besides the All-Father was the good sheriff Strange.
He stands beneath a statue erected in Strange’s honor which stands close to the statue of the Molecule Man. What an honor! What a life! If Valhalla is for the brave, then there Stephen will be a king! Of them all, he was truly the most worthy! The other Thors shout their agreement.
What the Hel is going on here? Thor from Earth 616 whispers to the Thor of Higher Avalon, who shushes her and promises they will speak later.
Susan informs Doom there will be a public memorial later, where all the barons and citizens of Doomgard can pay their respects but he was Victor’s friend. She thought he would appreciate something more personal. Doom thanks her.
Susan hands Franklin a flower. He flies up, attaches it to the statue’s collar and creates an abundance of flowers there. He is sorry that Strange died. He liked him a lot. He promises to smash the person who did this into small pieces.
Doom steps into his garden and looks at the statue. He and she didn’t always see eye to eye, Valeria suddenly addresses him, but he was certainly a great man. She’s sorry.
They live their lives defined by the choices they make, he replies, and in the end the high cost of living is death. They all deserve better. Val points out she is the reason he was out here. Her team found the vessel and quarantined it. So maybe this is all her fault and she should be smart enough to keep her head down, but she has to ask, why is he now tasking her office with finding the people who did this? More than that, why aren’t they dead? Who escapes the judgment of God in a situation like this? No one has escaped anything, he replies calmly. But it is unwise for him to pursue them at the time. He is upset and in such n state he might just break the world. So she will find them and then he will show her what real judgment looks like.
She still doesn’t know how they escaped Valeria stresses. If she is going to find them she has to know everything about them. She knows something unexpected happened out there and she wants to know what it was.
They look at each other silently before Doom reminds her that undying love and eternal patience are not the same thing. He warns her not to confuse them. He needs her find those people and catch them. He needs her to do it without asking anymore questions. Is she the daughter of Doom? Capable of all things? Yes, Sir Val replies. Then find them, he orders. Val races off.
Doom looks up at Strange’s statue. “Damn you, Stephen,” he swears. Then he walks towards Owen Reece’s statue and enters an entrance of light. He walks down a cave.
It is full of light, light that reminds him of the moment he faced the Beyonders and recreated the world. A voice calls through the light, announcing: find the quietest place in the world. Call it here, call it now and if you close your eyes and listen, you still won’t be able to hear a thing. Not one thing, Victor. Like most things that perceive, their ears lie so much. But if you sit still, unmoving, at peace with your place in the universe, you can feel it. A slight rumbling in your stomach. A disturbance in the world. One resonating in your guts. The world has the appearance of peace, of being whole but he thinks it might all just fly apart if they are not careful. Did he bring him something to eat?
Doom apologizes. It did not occur to him. He had other things on his mind. He devoured everything but he is still hungry, Owen Reece, the Molecule Man, complains. If he doesn’t eat something soon, he’ll just be skin and bone.
Stephen Strange is dead, Doom states. Well, isn’t that a surprise, Owen muses. Was it cancer? It’s always cancer. Doom replies it was inner decay of a different sort. His doubt killed him. Interesting, surprising, unexpected, Owen prattles. How is that possible? Because he knew. He was there, he saw it. But then their eyes are like their ears. They lie too, don’t they?
Stephen was only there at the end, Doom points out. And even Doom was not there at the start. In the beginning, it was just Owen Reece and them. No, Owen corrects him. It was just them. The Lords of White Light. Those from Beyond. The Beyonders. Omnipotent. All-powerful. More curious than a cat. They built whole universes. Random ideas given form. They tested them. They twisted life into every shape possible. They pushed it as far as it could go… and then they got bored with life and started loving the idea of death. Sometimes you’ve tinkered all you can… and the only thing left to do is to tear it all down and start over. So then they made him.
Yes, Doom agrees. Owen Reece the Molecules Man. A bomb built to destroy a universe. Not a bomb, the bomb, Owen corrects him. Bomb bomb bomb… set him off and watch him explode!
It was a good plan. The Beyonders really knew their stuff. They made one of him to kill a universe and all of him to kill the multiverse. The same person across all reality. Sliced into delicious little bits. But does he know what the Beyonders forgot to plan for? Yes, Doom replies, they made Owen a man. They gave him choice. They live their lives defined by the choices they make. And in the end the high cost of living is— Me! Owen shouts, memememe! He had a choice and his choice was him. He points at Doom! Does Victor ever wonder who exactly found whom? Forwards and backwards in time. Did Victor find Owen or Owen find Victor?
Doom finds the order of little consequence. What matters is they both knew what had to be done. He was a bomb meant to simultaneously explode. So they decided to set some of him off early. Blow the primer to diminish the charge.
They had to kill him, Owen recalls. Lots of him. At first, it was a cost he was willing to pay, and they built a religion of Black Swans around the idea. With each him, he lost a bit of what made him him. But the madness wasn’t worth it. They weren’t going to prevent the early death of the multiverse. The Beyonders had built him too well. So the got tricky. And that’s when Stephen joined them. Right at the end. While the Swans were busy killing Molecule Men Owen and Doom were busy building something else, better versions of him. They drew the Beyonders out, destroyed them with the newly created Molecule Men, stole their power and stored it someplace else where it could be used to preserve some of what had been lost.
Doom told Strange the Molecule Man would serve as a conduit. Together they could save the remnants of worlds. Strange was scared by the sheer scope. How to decide what lives and what dies - it’s too much. He asked Victor to do it.
And now Stephen is gone, the Molecule Man finishes. Goodbye! Doom admits that he killed him. Owen confides he knows. He could smell the guilt on him. “You reek of shame, God!” Doom explains Stephen may not have fully comprehended it but he made his decision which marked him as a threat to what they had built. He left Doom no choice! And so their friend the doctor had to go, Owen adds cheerfully. He thinks Victor has started something. An unraveling that may just take them all down. Which makes him wonder who is next. If they kiss God Doom goodbye, they say goodbye to this world also, as he is the one holding it together.
And what if it is him? Doom asks. Won’t that be exciting? Owen asks as Doom walks away. Next time bring him something to eat!
The Department of Science:
The Future Foundation:
Listen up! Valeria addresses the people assembled (Alex Power, Dragon Man, Bentley-23, Psycho Man, Tesla and Nostradamus). God has a job for them, Val announces, and when she says ‘God’ she means Daddy. They’re gonna play a game of hide and seek with a bunch of bad boys and girls who present a threat to the kingdom and possibly the world itself. Doom wants them to find these rebels. So as of now all other projects are suspended. She asks Alex and Dragon Man to fill the others in on what they know about the crime scene.
Alex starts that they have developed some pretty specialized equipment for detecting and differentiating specific energy signatures. It’s always been hard because their world gives off so much background radiation. They know, God particles… the stuff of Doom. Which radiates from the point of its highest concentration: Castle Doom. This is the basic stuff found at the heart of their planet.
It’s what they are all made of, which is why until they built their equipment they couldn’t tell any of it apart, Dragon Man continues. Now they can. And since they’ve been recoding readings they’ve noticed there are always tiny energy spikes popping up when one of Doom’s agents –
Thors! Bentley shouts. God, he hates the Thors!
- any time one of his agents is deployed, Dragon continues. They are pretty easy to pick out. As are major incidents of Doomstuff, Alex continues. When God himself acts, the readings are off the charts.
Tesla interrupts asking about the significance of this information. This is all exactly what would be expected. And such data bores them, the Psycho Man adds.
Val grimly points out that in all the world there is only one person whose power was completely independent of Doom’s. The Sheriff. His power spiked on the negative. It was always an absence of Doom. Alex calls it dark matter and announces it spiked yesterday, before the rebels disappeared. They believe Strange scattered them. Which implies what: mind control? Possession? Nostradamus foresees something worse.
Val agrees. Here is what they are going to do:
They are going to take this all the way to the end of the line.
In Doomgard, Thor sits unrecognized among the Thor Corps.
No matter where it goes.
In Egyptia, an angry Namor faces the Black Panther.
She’ll handle any noise from the throne, but from now on, what they learn stays with them. Understand?
In Bar Sinister, Captain Marvel is brought as a prisoner to Baron Sinister.
The Black Swan stands outside Doomstadt.
She wants to know what really happened. She wants to know who these people are, where they disappeared to, what they are able of. And more than anything else, they have to find out what they want and why it scares God so badly.
Thanos stands among several memorials with Mjolnirs just outside the Shield. He begins to smile…