Four Freedoms Plaza in Manhattan, where an out-of-control super hero brawl in in full swing! ‘Simon - stop! You’re insane!’ the Scarlet Witch calls out to her teammate Simon “Wonder Man” Williams. At the same time, Havok pulls down Captain America, while the Hulk wraps an arm around Colossus’s neck, and Mr Fantastic tangles himself up in the Beast, USAgent and Darkhawk are caught up in the midst, also. Wonder Man pulls back Wolverine, preventing him form skewering Iron Man. ‘No! No one’s insane - but you mutants!’ Wonder Man tells the Scarlet Witch. Wolverine turns on Wonder Man, claws ready, he tells him that this “Iron Man” is an impostor. ‘So you say, Wolverine - maybe it’s true about you muties?’ Wonder Man suggests. ‘Maybe you are out to get us!’ he exclaims.
‘Stop it, Simon! Or have you forgotten - that I’m a “mutie”?’ the Scarlet Witch snaps, slapping Wonder Man in the face, and freeing Wolverine from his grasp. Simon turns to Wanda Maximoff, while Mr Fantastic punches Rogue, and Wolverine searches again for Iron Man. Simon tells Wanda that she knows he is no mutant hater, and explains that something has happened to his powers. He explains that he loses them unless he is in a rage, and the rage can burn out of control. ‘When this brawl broke out between mutants and normals, I -’ Wonder Man begins, until Strong Guy smacks him in the face, ‘Who’re you calling “normal”, huh?’ Strong Guy asks. Wonder Man reminds Strong Guy that the Fantastic Four called them all here to work together. Captain America has broken free from Havok’s hold, while Rogue throws a punch at Mr Fantastic. Multiple Man and a dupe have taken hold of Nova, while Wolverine has found Iron Man, and Puck is caught up in the fray. Suddenly, ‘Hey! Behind you, it’s a -’ Strong Guy begins, as a box opens behind Wonder Man, and an instant later, there is a massive explosion, as the top floors of Four Freedoms Plaza is destroyed.
‘WANDAAAA!’ Wonder Man screams for the Scarlet Witch, however, the Invisible Woman has managed to contain the explosion in a force field. The new Thor asks her if her field can really hold the explosion back, and as the Thing, Colossus, Hulk, Jean Grey, Iceman, the Black Knight and Captain America all look at the contained explosion, the Invisible Woman explains that she can only redirect it, and that it is taking everything she can to do so. Wonder Man asks if Mr Fantastic called them into a trap, while the new Thor swings his hammer and states that he has a cleansing whirlwind to whip up. Wonder Man suddenly sees the Scarlet Witch lying motionless under some rubble, and he pulls her free, asking her if she is okay. ‘Mm?’ Wanda mutters, while Simon tells her that she scared him, and holds her close. ‘You scared me’ he whispers once more.
Suddenly someone gasps, ‘It’s Thanos!’, as a portal opens, and Thanos, and a purple-skinned companion emerge. ‘Look out!’ someone else gasps, while Thanos fires a beam of energy at Colossus, the Beast and Thing, keeping them back. Wolverine, the Scarlet Witch, Gambit and Speedball rush forward, while Wonder Man tells Wanda to be careful - but before they can reach Thanos and his companion, the titan grabs Iron Man and Mr Fantastic and the four vanish. ‘They’ve got Iron Man…and Reed!’ Wanda exclaims. ‘They got duplicates of ‘em’ Wolverine declares. Wonder Man points out that would explain Reed’s behavior, but not much else, while Wanda remarks that it is odd, as Thanos’s companion looked very much like Adam Warlock. Simon frowns and remembers what he just said - “Wanda, be careful”. He tells himself that Wanda is no damsel in distress, but a super hero, and more experienced than he, for that matter.
Simon tells himself that if he is going to be a hero with powers going insane, what other kind of woman can he be with? He knows he put a lot of people in danger yesterday, and blasted his friends with ionic energy. ‘How can I subject a normal woman to that?’ Simon wonders - especially a woman like Alex, with a twelve year old kid.
At that moment, ‘Oh!’ Jamie Flores gasps as she sits up in bed during the middle of the night. ‘Are you okay?’ Alex asks her daughter as she enters her room. Jamie explains that it was a dream, but that it seemed so real. ‘I dreamed my soul left my body and I flew out the window, over the trees…and I flew back down and scared this little back cat onto the windowsill, and…’ her voice trails off, as Alex sits on her daughter’s bed, ‘The dreams you have!’ she exclaims, adding that she is supposed to be the screenwriter, with the visual imagination. Jamie replies that she likes having dreams, as they are the best part of sleeping, but that this one was too real. Alex points out that they have had a tough couple of days, what with Angkor, and getting zapped by Simon’s ionic whatevers. Jamie lies back down as Alex tells her to get some sleep and dream about something boring - like boys. Jamie tells her mother that she loves her, and Alex replies the same. Jamie falls back to sleep - and outside, a black cat sits on the windowsill.
Back at Four Freedoms Plaza, ‘You’re going to get Dr Druid and Agatha Harkness?’ Wonder Man asks, surprised. ‘What do you want with those mystic screwballs?’ he enquires. The Scarlet Witch points out that Thanos and Warlock left a mystical trail, so if they are to understand what they are plotting, and why they want Earth’s heroes dead, and if they are to find the real Iron Man and Reed, they will need mystics to trace them. ‘All right. But when you come back we’re going to talk. I need to make you understand’ Simon tells Wanda, who replies ‘When we can, Simon. But for now…we must do what we must’ as she turns and walks away.
‘Was that a brush-off, or -’ Wonder Man thinks to himself, when he notices Hank McCoy a.k.a. his good friend the Beast leap towards him. Simon moves aside, so the Beast misses him, and he tells him that it’s funny, but not now. ‘How can this be? The day a New Yorker can’t surprise a Californian…civilization has surely fallen!’ the Beast jokes. Wonder Man tells the Beast that he doesn’t want any jokes, as he needs his help, and reveals Hawkeye never showed for this meeting, and Wolverine acted like he knows something about it, only at the moment, he and Wolverine aren’t the best of friends. ‘Get me?’ Simon remarks.
The Beast bounds towards Wolverine, and exclaims ‘Well, well, well! How tempers do flare, eh, Logan?’ Wolverine just lights a cigar, while the Beast smiles and announces that he never thought he would see mild-mannered Simon Williams fly off the proverbial handle. ‘But when you call an Avenger an impostor, well…heh heh…even the best of men can…can…’ the Beast frowns as Wolverine blows smoke in his face. ‘If Williams has something to say…tell Williams to say it’ Wolverine snarls. Simon strides over and tells Wolverine that he hopes there are no hard feelings, but Wolverine points out that Wonder Man stuck up for one of his own. ‘I’d have done the same’ Wolverine admits, before Wonder Man announces that he is worried about another of “his own” now, and points out that Wolverine knew Spider-Man and Hawkeye wouldn’t be at this meeting, and asks him how.
Wolverine replies that he saw something that gave him a funny feeling they may be delayed. ‘What? Wolverine - what did you see?’ Wonder Man asks. Wolverine smirks and replies that he saw the phony Iron Man blasting them. ‘WHERE?’ Wonder Man demands, grabbing Wolverine and holding him overhead. ‘Down, Williams’ Logan snarls, unsheathing his claws. Wonder Man ignores Wolverine and declares ‘Hawkeye. Spider-Man. Where are they?’ Wolverine leers at Wonder Man, before suddenly smiling, and telling him ‘Not bad, Williams. Never thought you had that much steel in you’. He then suggests Wonder Man try 29th and Park Streets. The Black Knight and Multiple Man gather nearby, while Wolverine tells Wonder Man to keep an eye out for more duplicates, as something tells him it isn’t just Mr Fantastic and Iron Man.
‘Don’t fret your furry little head over me, Logan’ Wonder Man replies, before turning to the Beast and asking him if he is with him. ‘Alas, the anti-mutant sentiments still bristle hereabouts…and I won’t leave my brothers and sisters until they ebb. But you know I wish I could -’ the Beast replies, but Wonder Man frowns and turns away, ‘Forget it. Everybody’s so into their own kind…I’ll get my own kind to help me!’ Wonder Man exclaims.
Shortly, the new Thor flies through the air, ‘Scan the rooftops as I carry us up! If we don’t see -’ he begins, carrying Hercules, who in turn holds onto Wonder Man, as Wonder Man suddenly points to a nearby rooftop, and shouts ‘There! It’s them! And they’re hurt’, as Hawkeye and Spider-Man lie motionless in some rubble, Hawkeye’s damaged sky-cycle crashed nearby. The three powerful men drop down onto the rooftop and Wonder Man tells Thor to check on Spider-Man. Lifting Spider-Man up, Thor reports that he is unconscious, but alive. Wonder Man checks on Hawkeye, and announces the same, suggesting they get them to a hospital. Hercules frowns, wondering what base fiend would leave such noblemen here to perish. A figure emerges from behind a water tank, wearing a strange costume, with thigh-high red boots, a lot of red lining with metal spikes, and one side of his chest bare. ‘Don’t look now, Hercules, but I think we’re about to find out, and Lord save me - I think it’s me!’ Wonder Man gasps as he stares at his doppelganger.
Elsewhere, ‘But Ginger, baby, I can get you work! Wanna be on “Full House”, baby? I know people -’ a drunk man declares as he leans into Ginger Flores, who replies ‘I’ll bet you do. Give their names to my agent!’ she then slams her door in his face. Inside, the young woman slaps her hand to her forehead and wonders why her agent gets ten percent of her money, but not ten percent of her dates. She hears the television going, and enters the darkened living room, where her brother, Spider, is watching television. She asks him what she is doing up at four in the morning, and reminds him that she told the judge she would be responsible for him after their mom disappeared. ‘Sure, sure’ Spider replies.
‘You promised you’d always be in bed by two, and not stay up watching…CNN?’ Ginger exclaims, surprised, as a report about high gamma radiation levels in Manhattan is playing on the television. Spider tells his sister that he wanted news on Wonder Man, as a bomb exploded in New York. ‘They think he was there’ Spider reveals. Ginger replies that a bomb can’t hurt Simon, or so she hopes, before realizing that her brother really cares about Wonder Mann. ‘Not particularly, but being his sidekick is sure a fun gig!’ Spider smiles. ‘Yeah. I guess that’s what I’m worried about, too. Losing the girlfriend gig’ Ginger replies. ‘Oh, suuuure that’s it, Gin!’ Spider exclaims, lowering his shades.
‘Whadda you know, punk? I can’t believe I actually hired a lawyer to keep you!’ Ginger exclaims, throwing a pillow at her brother, who asks ‘“Hired”? Is that what they call it now? Ha!’ Ginger is about to slam the pillow into her brother’s head again, ‘Why you scrofultic little -’ she begins, but Spider grabs her by her wrist, then, they are both knocked backwards by a surge of energy. ‘Ow!’ Ginger exclaims. ‘Yow!’ Spider declares. Laying back on the couch, Spider asks his sister what that was, and what she did to him. Ginger looks at her hand and replies that she doesn’t know, but realizes that it did come from her.
Elsewhere, others are watching a news report, which states that police feel certain that the now vanished Angkor is not connected to yesterday’s fire--bombing of a Beverly Hills mansion. The woman called Lotus lies back in her bath, bubbles covering her, while a man in a green suit sits on the bathtub edge, Lotus sips some tea and exclaims ‘At last Los Angeles should have spent all night working itself into a paranoid lather over that bombing. Instead, thanks to this Angkor, I have to wait until four AM to hear a mention of it’. Her companion points out that at least it is starting and assures her that they will get there, that they need to let the tension build. He gets up and announces that he is going to bed. ‘You never seem to need sleep, but the rest of us mere mortals do’ he declares. Lotus leaps up in the bath and shouts ‘No! We need to move forward!’
‘Surely, Lotus, it can wait until -’ the man begins, but Lotus throws her tea cup against the wall, and it shatters beside him. ‘Now!’ she screams. He turns and sees her standing up in the bath, Lotus orders him to bring her her planners, too wake up the weapons men, to order some dim sum - not from that dump on Wilshire - and get some espresso started. ‘Yes, ma’am’ the man replies, while Lotus boasts ‘Today, fiery death strikes Beverly Hills again!’
At that moment, ‘Your time is finished - Wonder Man!’ exclaims the doppelganger as he punches Wonder Man off the rooftop. ‘What’s wrong with me? Knew about the duplicates…should’ve been ready…but..’ Wonder Man thinks to himself as he falls downwards, and both slam into a parked car on the street below. ‘I can’t stay intense’ Simon realizes, as his doppelganger smiles and punches him in the face. ‘You see - now my time begins!’ the doppelganger boasts, as Wonder Man’s powers cut out. The doppelganger knees Simon in the face, then punches him to the ground. ‘Now - I replace you!’ the doppelganger announces, while Simon lies on the ground and realizes that something is holding him back and making him confused. ‘There’s something…something terrifying about fighting yourself’ Simon realizes, while his doppelganger smiles again.
‘Do you want me to hit you more, Wonder Man?’ the doppelganger asks, while Simon starts to get to his feet, realizing that you look at yourself, and see everything you don’t want to. The doppelganger squats down beside Wonder Man and asks ‘Please - make me prove I am better!’ Simon frowns, ‘Everything you don’t want to know about you. And suddenly…you want to kill it’ he thinks to himself, before his eyes flare up and he shouts ‘You want to rip its flaming head off!’, he punches the doppelganger hard in the face, knocking him back. ‘Think you’re Simon freakin Williams? You ain’t mad enough, boy!’ Wonder Man declares. He tries to punch the double again, but misses, as he tells him that he isn’t crazy enough. ‘Yes - you are crazy - you leave yourself open!’ the doppelganger exclaims as he grabs Wonder Man and flips him over.
Suddenly, Thor’s hammer is flung downwards, and it strikes the doppelganger in the face. ‘Assail a sole Avenger, treacherous impostor - and, verily - though assailest us all!’ Hercules exclaims. ‘Got that?’ Thor asks. The double looks up to the rooftop and replies ‘No - you are not mine’. He smiles, and then tells them that theirs will come, and will take them. ‘Gotta take me first, buddy’ Wonder Man tells his double, and lunges to grab him, but fails, as the double takes flight. Simon watches his doppelganger leave, and thinks to himself ‘That lunge was nothing. One moment of doubt - and my powers drop’. He wonders why he can’t get his head straight about that creature, and whether that is because he can’t keep it straight about himself.
Thor and Hercules drop down beside Wonder Man, and Hercules asks him if he wants to pursue the “base faker”, for if he does, they will stand at his side. Wonder Man tells Hercules to forget it, and suggests he gets Spider-Man and Hawkeye to the hospital, while he goes back and tells the others what is going on. Simon supposes that what he told the others sounds convincing, better than telling them that he can’t trust his powers or his own mind. He wishes that he knew why the duplicate scares him, and hopes he gets one more shot at it. Thor picks up Spider-Man and takes flight, with Hercules, who is carrying Hawkeye, holds onto Thor’s ankle.
‘Have Thor and Hercules return as soon as they finish’ Captain America announces back at Four Freedoms Plaza, as he has a feeling they are going to sorely need their raw power. Wonder Man points out that they are going to need guards, and the Black Cat volunteers herself. Cap tells her that the jobs is hers, while Wonder Man asks ‘What’s up with the brain’s trust?’ as he sees several heroes gathered around a computer console. ‘Will you look at this! Massive energy receptors on each planet and star!’ Dr Hank Pym points out. The Invisible Woman asks him what their purpose are, while the Thing asks Wonder Man what he thinks. Simon tells the Thing that he doesn’t know, but that if a bright boy like Pym is that freaked, then they must be up against something big.
‘A good guy like Warlock teaming with a tyrant-type like Thanos…evil duplicates from another dimension…cosmic energy going nutty…’ the Thing mutters, while Hank announces that they have to find out where the emissions are originating from. The Vision states that he doubts their technology is up to the task, while the Thing tells Wonder Man that “big” is a good word. The Human Torch smiles and exclaims that the cosmic cataclysm hasn’t been born yet that can take them. The Thing turns to the young hero and tells him that Thanos and Warlock on their lonesome have nearly attained godhood once or twice, so if you stick them together, you get enough cosmic hoo-hah to turn reality on its pointy pink head. ‘Oh, wow. Excuse me while I do my “we’re like ants” speech the Human Torch mutters. ‘We’ve got -’ he begins, when someone tells them to shush.
The Human Torch lowers his voice again and points out that they have more power in this room than any wannabe “god” can handle. ‘If Pym and the gang can track Thanos and send us there -’ he begins, to which Wonder Man asks ‘Send us where? To another dimension? It sounds like it, and that kind of challenge is -’ he finds himself interrupted by the Scarlet Witch, who returns with Agatha Harkness and Dr Druid, announcing ‘One I might be able to help you with’. Wonder Man tells her that he hopes she can ship a heavy load, while thinking to himself that he hopes he can keep his head together, because tackling two cosmic bruisers on their home turf means being at his peak, and pulling his weight with others. Several other heroes gather around him - Wolverine, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm, Rogue, Colossus, Psylocke, Puck, Windshear, Captain America, Quasar, Nova, the Human Torch, Warpath, the Thing, the Hulk and She-Hulk, and he exclaims ‘With the biggest, baddest bunch of heroes the boy’s ever seen!’