The Black Panther throws his spear into Doom, who melts apart. Namor figures it can’t be that easy. It won’t be, Panther assures him, and indeed Doom re-solidifies. He has his full attention, he informs T’Challa. He fires an energy blast at the Panther, who shields himself with the Infinity Gauntlet. Then let’s get started, he announces. No, let them finish this, Doom replies, and do so as gods on the Earth, in the sky and the heavens above!
The Gardens outside Castle Doom:
Seeing Reed Richards, Susan announces she remembers him. That can’t be, he replies. From what he understands, she doesn’t know who he was. Does she really know him? She explains she saw the holograms of the battle. He was among the people who murdered Stephen Strange. Valeria tries to point out that might not be the case.
Dejected, Reed states of course she knows him from a picture. He had nothing to do with Stephen’s death. That was Doom. He means God, she corrects him. He means Victor, Reed replies darkly. And, however well-intentioned this world of his is, he means to put things back the way they are supposed to be. He means to end this charade. Because this is not the life they are meant to have.
Who is he really? Susan demands. His name is Reed Richards, and he’s the one who fixes things.
The two Reeds enter the underground cavern, with the Maker mocking that things didn’t go as Reed expected. Reed orders him to be quiet. Does he hear that?
The Molecule Man asks if they brought him something to eat. Reed apologizes that they didn’t and asks how he is. Starving, Owen Reece replies. Reed believes they can help.
The Maker asks if that is Doom’s battery. When told that is the case, he takes out a device and traps Mr. Fantastic in a temporal bubble. In the bubble, Mr. Fantastic devolves to an earlier human state, while the Maker scoffs that, when he saw him up there with that woman he calls his wife, he just couldn’t tolerate that weakness. What’s the endgame here? Nostalgia for something that was never his anyway? Really, who’s interested in a weepy god?
Him, Owen Reece announces and uses his power to slice the Maker apart. Mr. Fantastic is restored and Owen warns him to buck up. He's going to be here soon. And then they are going to see what’s what.
Elsewhere, the Black Panther battles Doom. He tries to hit him with the Infinity Gauntlet but Doom catches his fist and asks what the Panther has gained. Nothing! He hits the Panther, continuing that he had tested him, reduced him to this physical violence but T’Challa remains something beneath him while he remains Doom.
He stops when he notices the Panther, whose mask is torn, smiling. T’Challa mocks they were playing for time and he is going to lose. All this structured chaos reeks of machination, doesn’t it?
This is all a distraction, Doom realizes and takes off. He lands in the park and finds Valeria and Susan at the cave’s entrance. Sue demands if all of it is true. He dodges the question by claiming there are complexities beyond even his abilities to explain. If she will just trust him as she always has— Like Stephen trusted him? she asks. He turns away and enters the cave.
Inside, he hisses Richards’ name. He had to meddle, didn’t he? He has some great plan, he expects? What is it this time? A new idea? A fresh take on the old problem of he and Doom? Has he built another great machine? Nothing like that, Reed replies. He just came to convince Owen that maybe there is a better solution to all of this than Doom.
A better solution, Doom repeats. His entire life Richards has been distracted by the modern concern so precious to him and his kind. Ethics and order and society. When all that ever mattered was survival. He has saved millions! Owen has saved millions. And what was it Richards said when he appeared here? All he could save was himself. He couldn’t even save his family.
How dare he? Reed seethes. Hasn’t he been paying attention? Doom retorts. He dares quite a bit. He dared to choose between living and dying for millions! And now he chooses for Richard as well. He snaps his fingers. But whatever attack he is planning on Reed doesn’t harm him. He realizes it’s the Molecule Man’s doing. Did he bring him something to eat? Owen asks. No, Doom admits. Then that makes the two of them equal, Owen decides. Fair’s fair. Right?
Reed stretches and attacks Doom, who blasts him and blusters he dare attack a god? Reed points out he dares quite a bit as well. Things aren’t so easy when he’s not omnipotent. Easy? Doom cries in fury. He thinks things have been easy? He thinks power makes impossible choices more palatable? He has always had power. Nothing has ever been easy.
He knows what’s not easy! Reed retorts. Having your life erased because someone wants to indulge himself. Doom made himself God and the first thing he did was replace Reed. The first thing he offered was salvation, Doom snarls. You stole my family! Reed shouts in his face. He’s wrong! They chose him, Doom claims. If Richards chooses to believe that they only did so in the absence of him, very well. But they chose. She chose. She believed! All that he has done here and Richards still gives him no credit. Can’t he accept that he has done good things here?
Reed replies he is not blind. But Doom could have done more. Doom closed his hands around everything that was left and called it his. He’s so afraid of losing the things he’s got that he holds them too tight. Doesn’t he see? A tree is just a seed in its realized state.
This is what always causes Reed’s fall, Doom scoffs. Abandoning the good because he desires the perfect. He understands how it is. It’s always been the same between them: Reed thinking he is better than him! He goes for Reed’s throat.
Reed replies he is wrong. He has always believed Victor could be better than he is.
No, he means now, this moment! Doom insists, his hands sparkling with energy near Reed’s face. If Reed had the power, he thinks he could have solved it all, solved everything. He thinks he could have done… so … much … better! Doesn’t he? Doesn’t he? Yes, Reed agrees calmly. And they both know it, don’t they? Yes, damn him! Victor swears. Now die!
But before he can kill Reed the Molecule Man announces calmly if they both agree… Doom tries to protest, but there is an explosion of energy. The energy engulfs all of Battleworld and the Black Panther stares at the Infinity Gauntlet he is wearing.
When reality reestablishes itself, he finds himself once more in a blooming Wakanda and realizes it worked. He follows a voice and finds three young Wakandans discussing tradition as one of them drops some blood on a cairn.
Suddenly, the stone projects a holographic stellar map of the solar system. Their solar system, Kimo believes but another boy points out that it has twelve worlds. It’s not theirs. But it is where they are headed, T’Challa announces as he joins them. He congratulates Kimo and T’dori as the finest makers of their generation. He identifies one of them as the great-grandson of his generation’s Black Panther whose spirit now lives in T’Challa. He looks on him with pride. Pride and not shame, which is what they feel for the world out there.
Great societies are crumbling around them and the men who are running them run out of ideas. So all eyes turn to the children to build something better. He points at a world, M23-671-A. An M-class world circling an orange dwarf 241 lightyears away. The West has abandoned space and the East crawls when it could run… As a result, Wakanda now possesses the preeminent space program on the planet. But they must do more, go farther to some place no human has ever been. Their prize is the stars themselves!
The youngsters are amazed, then notice small tremors. T’Challa tells them to look up and they see a rocket leaving. The Panther explains this rocket is for Earth command to support local system travel. They will drag mankind to the stars on the back of Wakandan science. Step by step. And this is the very first one. Their Alpha Flight!
Eight months later:
The Marvel Universe:
The Prime Earth:
New York City:
Miles Morales (aka Spider-Man) looks down on the city from a rooftop. He recalls the Molecule Man thanking him for the burger and promising him he owed him one. The adult Spider-Man Peter Parker joins him and asks what Miles told his mom he was doing. Studying with a friend, Miles replies. So not a total lie, Peter decides. He asks if he ate a snack and did his homework, then asks if he wants to go beat up some bad guys. Miles agrees and they swing across the city.
Elsewhere, Susan Richards asks her daughter Valeria to explain it to her again. Val asks if she wants the complicated version or the super-complicated version. She’d prefer the one that makes sense, Sue suggests.
They stand some distance away from the others: Mr. Fantastic, Franklin, Owen Reece and the kids of the Future Foundation.
Val sighs and explains that Owen Reece is the key. He’s kind of a human repository of unlimited power. And that energy has to be directed – used – by one individual, in this case Dad. And this is where it gets really interesting, as Franklin is a universal shaper. A dreamer. So he has these ideas for whole universes!
Franklin creates a bubble and hands it to Reed, who using all that power sends it off into their own reality. Finally, they slice off a bit of Owen to go with it. Like an anchor. But it also serves to make the Molecule Man better. Whole. Healing him.
Owen waves after the part of him that joins the new universe.
And that’s just the start! Val enthuses. All of this has to be catalogued, recorded, explored! So they are like Clark and Lewis, Sue laughs, except for all existence. Well, sure, if Lewis and Clark were also creating the land they were exploring, Val corrects her as she rejoins the rest of the Future Foundation kids. And were smarter, Dragon Man adds. And better looking, Bentley preens.
Val asks Alex if they discussed how they should start. Alex replies he thought they should start with the underlying physics. But then Onome noticed that Franklin is actually playing fast and loose with the entire superstructure. So his best guess now is they have to start with creation myths…
Sue smiles and joins Reed. Looking up, she tells him this is sure something. Franklin asks if they are not superheroes anymore. Reed thinks about it, then replies it’s doing good that counts, not how you do it. And what they are doing right now matters. It might be the most important thing ever, and the best part is he gets to do it with all of them. So no more superheroes for a while. Just science. And no more Mr. Fantastic, just dad. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Nope, Franklin agrees and decides he’s gonna play now.
Sue praises him for the way he handled that but he admits he has regrets about Ben and Johnny not being here. She reminds him their act isn’t anywhere close to being finished. Still, it was enough. Their life raft broke and she thought they were done and then he saved them. Reed admits he had some help. The Molecule Man smiles.
And that help bought him just enough time to fix so many things he’s been wrong about. He learned that the difference between living and dying is managing fear. Not being so afraid of losing the things you love that you are holding too tight. He used to believe in universal contraction. Entropy and the end of all things. Well, he’s changed his mind. He’s letting go. Because now he believes in expansion. He believes they endure.
Doesn’t she see? Everything lives!
In Latveria, Dr. Doom stands on a balcony of his castle. Slowly, he removes his mask and touches his unscarred handsome face. He begins to smile slowly and finally laughs happily, joyously.