Having watched Quicksilver and the Knights of Wundagore disappear underground as they approached their Savage Land destination, Scanner reports to Exodus back at Wundagore from the craft she, the Acolytes and Pyro’s strikeforce share. She informs him that they are about to commence their attack. Pyro snidely remarks, “Forget to tell Exodus the Knights were sucked into the ground, Scanner?” but she replies that they will follow them in and the Knights will lead them to the High Evolutionary. Outside the cabin, Andreas Strucker is eavesdropping, hoping to learn something. Scanner continues to remind Pyro that this is a killing mission. Exodus has decreed the High Evolutionary’s death for creating artificial mutants like the Knights. Pyro says that racial purity’s her thing; all he cares about is getting the cure for the Legacy Virus which ravages his body. Scanner tells him that their aims are not incompatible. The High Evolutionary has been using his creation, Isotope E, to effect mutations on a molecular level and Exodus believes that the Isotope may be the key to curing the virus.
Andreas Strucker turns to his sister and asks her if she heard that. She did, and already realizes that they should secure the Isotope for themselves and sell it on the black market to the highest bidder. They are looking at their team-mates on the mission, Feral, Random, Avalanche and Omega Red who have been joined by three new Acolytes; Decay, Gargouille and Projector. Decay, looking much older than his years asks the diminutive Gargouille what she makes of all this and she replies that this is a chance for them to prove themselves to Exodus. Random talks with Omega Red, telling him how he had helped Feral escape from prison, not knowing she was infected with the Legacy Virus as McCoy’s carriers also were who he had been watching over. Pyro executes their craft’s landing protocols and as it descends, Scanner gives the orders, saying team one will stay with the vehicles, cutting off any means of escape while team two will secure Isotope E and kill anyone they find.
Inside the underground laboratory, the High Evolutionary places his helmet on a table and looks a forlorn ape-like figure as he tells Quicksilver and the Knights that they must help him escape from the Savage Land. First though, he walks over to where Isotope E is being kept and opens the case holding it, exposing himself to its effects. He changes from his ape-like appearance back into his human form. He tells them that it is the only thing that can reverse his devolution, though it causes unpredictable mutations to anyone exposed to it. As he recovers from the transformation, Pietro asks why he is hiding here and devolving like he is. To understand that, he replies, he must know the whole story.
Shortly after the first world war, when the High Evolutionary was plain old Herbert Edgar Wyndham, he was a graduate student and he took a leave of absence from school so he could travel the world. His main interest was evolution and he was obsessed with the idea of creating a race of men who could survive the horrors of war. He was in Alexandria, Egypt when he was approached by a strange individual who, though he never learned his identity, provided him with blueprints of human DNA and other advanced scientific information. By 1930, he had returned to England and begun his experiments. Using the information he’d received, he created Isotope A and a genetic accelerator, using them to genetically enhance his pet Dalmatian, Dempsey. He had thereby created the first of his New Men, beings that crossed animal DNA with that from humans.
When Dempsey was killed by a group of hunters, Herbert knew he had to get away from the world of man in order to continue his work and along with his research partners; Jonathon and Merriam Drew and their young daughter Jessica, made his way to the secluded Wundagore Mountain where they would build a scientific citadel. It was then that the mysterious benefactor returned and supplied him with the knowledge he needed to build the citadel along with a workforce of Moloids. The components used were as yet unknown to the rest of mankind.
Once the citadel was complete, Herbert resumed his research in the shadow of the second world war. Isotope A had a very short half life and so he developed Isotope B which he used to create the second of his New Men, Bova. She was a kind and gentle creature and extremely loyal and she made him realize that the future of Earth shouldn’t be left in the hands of mankind, but in animal kind. Using Isotope B, he evolved an entire race of New Men and dubbed them the Knights of Wundagore, charging them with protecting the citadel of science. Eventually he hired a human woman, Jane Foster, to teach them while he worked on the next level of their evolution.
Knowing the citadel might need protection, he created Isotope C which would endow his Knights with greater strength. He used the Isotope only once though, to evolve a wolf who would lead his Knights into battle. However, the Isotope proved unstable, causing madness in his new Knight. He became a Man-Beast, trying to lead his Knights in a rebellion against the High Evolutionary. After the Man-Beast had been defeated, Herbert destroyed Isotope C, knowing it to be too dangerous. Thor, the god of thunder came to Wundagore in search of Jane Foster and ended up aiding Herbert in his battle with the Man-Beast but Herbert feared he would not keep the nature of his work secret. So with this in mind, he decided to leave Earth and flew the citadel, which was actually a rocket, into space where he could conduct his studies in peace.
The New Men populated the planet he found but as they were raised as Knights living under the ideal of King Arthur and the round table, they were restless without a quest. They revolted but fortunately the Hulk was on hand to put down the rebellion, only not before the High Evolutionary was mortally wounded. He staggered from battle and used his newly developed Isotope D to save his own life. Exposure to it reversed his aging and granted him almost god-like powers, burning itself out in the process. Herbert thrilled in the use of his newfound powers and used them to create an entire planet which he dubbed Counter-Earth. It was intended to be a new Eden; a safe haven for the Knights, but the spirit of the Man-Beast was reborn on Counter-Earth, corrupting it. Even though the monster was defeated by Adam Warlock, Herbert knew his experiment was a failure. Counter-Earth was saved, only for it to be then stolen by a race of beings much more powerful than the High Evolutionary (the Beyonders). He thought he was a god and had now been proven wrong. In the grip of the darkest depression he’d ever felt, he lured the Hulk into destroying his armor in the hopes it would kill him.
However, he could not escape. Isotope D, which had once saved his life would not allow his body to die and he recovered, returning in his ship (the citadel) to Earth and Wundagore Mountain. He resumed his experiments there and over time, realized that his power was fluctuating madly. There were times when he felt he could do anything and he had the power to evolve things with his touch. But there were also dark times when his powers faded and he would devolve into an ape. Lord Delphis and he created Isotope E in the hopes that it would cure his condition.
The High Evolutionary concludes his recap by explaining that he was in his weakened state when Exodus and the Acolytes overwhelmed them and he had no choice but to retreat in order to stabilize himself. Unfortunately, he adds, Isotope E can only affect him for a short time and those periods are growing ever shorter as his powers fade. He tells Pietro that this is why he is grateful that he has brought Lord Delphis back to him. Pietro lays the bad news on him. Delphis isn’t with them; he isn’t even on Earth. The High Evolutionary turns and furiously asks how he could fail him this way. Before Quicksilver can offer an answer, a voice from behind them says, “That’s the least of your problems handle head!”
A sheet of flame separates them as Pyro’s strikeforce arrives, not likely to want to take prisoners. With their numbers they figure they can toast them and get Isotope E but Quicksilver isn’t going down easily and uses his super speed to round on Random and lay into him as Omega Red attacks the Evolutionary, enveloping him in his coils. Omega Red appears almost altruistic as he tells the Evolutionary that the infected mutants in his homeland Russia need his Isotope and he shall have it. Lord Tyger steps up to protect his creator but Fenris manage to join hands and blast Tyger in the back. He shrieks and drops his sword as the other Knights pick their opponents. Lord Gator thwacks Omega Red about the head with his scepter while Lady Ursula uses her claws on Pyro. With the strikeforce occupied, Lord Churchill and Lady Vermin head for the Isotope, as does Lord Anon and as Pietro unshackles the High Evolutionary from the coils Tyger cut off Omega Red, Churchill manages to beat Anon to the Isotope. He hands it to his master as Lord Anon almost desperately reaches for it. However, the combined power of Fenris shocks Lord Anon who is blasted against the console which had housed the Isotope.
With the Isotope in his possession, the Evolutionary heads for the exit while his Knights and Quicksilver keep their assailants at bay. Pietro angrily parts Andrea and Andreas Strucker with a swift punch and Lord Churchill and Lady Vermin cover their master’s escape, Churchill holding Scanner and Projector off with a brandished sword. Pietro notices the manner in which the Evolutionary climbs an escape ladder and realizes he may have devolved again already. As the Evolutionary opens the hatch and emerges into the Savage Land’s verdant surroundings, he quickly heads away as Pietro follows him. As his head emerges from the shaft, Pietro is amazed that there is no sign of the Evolutionary.
Down below, the fight continues and as Random heads for the ladder, Lord Anon notices that the blast from Fenris has pierced his armor and he must be more careful in future. Lord Churchill, standing beside him notices that something doesn’t smell right but is preoccupied with Avalanche who unleashes a shockwave which not only topples everyone down below, including his own team-mates, but also Quicksilver above. Pyro emerges from the shaft on the Evolutionary’s trail as Pietro picks himself up and spots a twig dropping from high above him. Glancing upwards, he sees the Evolutionary swinging through the trees like Tarzan and knows now he must be an ape already, wondering just how stable he really is.
Pietro sets off to follow him on foot followed by Pyro and Avalanche. As the two villains run after them, Lord Anon now crawls out of the shaft and as Avalanche reassures his buddy Pyro that he won’t let him down; the cure is as good as his, Lord Anon thinks they shouldn’t count on that. The thick brush in the jungle slows Quicksilver down a little and Pyro also spots the High Evolutionary swinging through the foliage above them, gloating that he knew Quicksilver would trail a blaze right to their target. He tells Avalanche to give them the old one-two and as he unleashes a burst of flame skywards, Avalanche uses his seismic power to shake the Evolutionary from the tree and shake the Isotope free from his grasp. Pietro manages to catch the Isotope but as he turns, he sees that Pyro has managed to reach the Evolutionary and is aiming his flame-thrower at his head. He tells Quicksilver to trade or his boss is toast.
Back in the underground laboratory, a full-scale battle is in full swing. Lord Churchill heads for the ladder as Sir Ram throws a rock at Andreas Strucker who blasts aimlessly at the roof. Lord Gator has his trunk-like arms around Random’s chest trying to subdue him as he forces a blast from his arms past Lord Tyger. Churchill knows he should be fighting at his brother‘s side as Sir Ram now goes one on one with Omega Red but there was something definitely wrong about Lord Anon’s scent and if he suspects correctly, their master is in great danger. He heads up the ladder as Sir Ram struggles in the coils of the Russian.
Lord Anon meanwhile sneaks through the brush and watches discreetly as Pietro prepares to handle his situation. The Evolutionary tries to evolve Pyro but nothing happens and Pyro gives Quicksilver one more chance; trade the Isotope for this “tin-plated poser“ or he’ll broil him. Pietro asks him to hold on and calmly tells Pyro that he must trust his mercy, and his word. He throws the Isotope towards Avalanche, telling him to catch. “Finally, the cure,” says Pyro as he sees the Isotope in mid-air, but before he can take another breath, Quicksilver has smacked Avalanche in the face, rounded on Pyro and repeated the action and then gone full circle to catch the Isotope before it reaches the ground. “Fool,” says Pietro, “As if I would ever trust your word or your mercy.” The High Evolutionary, still kneeling, congratulates him but says he needs the Isotope straight away or he’ll die. Pietro thinks he sounds like an addict but grants him his request.
Lord Anon, still watching from his hiding place knows he must act quickly as he may never have another chance like this. Unfortunately for him, Lord Churchill has caught up with him, probably by following his scent and yells, “Go no further foul deceiver! I’ve finally realized who you truly are and what you would do to our lord and creator.” With effortless speed, Lord Anon swipes his sword at Churchill, disarming him in one shot and replies that he was a fool to confront him as he should also know what he will do to him. As he says this, he plunges his sword mercilessly into Lord Churchill’s chest, killing him instantly. As blood drips off his sword, he is angry that this delay has momentarily put the Isotope out of his reach but, he does know where they’ll go.
Quicksilver and the Evolutionary make their way through the jungle to the clearing where the Avengers Quinjet landed earlier. Crouching in front of it is Feral with Gargouille and Decay behind her, Gargouille taking to the air. Feral grins as she notices that they have brought the Isotope right to them. The Evolutionary commands Pietro to go and fetch the Knights; he will handle things here. Pietro departs and Feral immediately attacks, leaping, claws extended at the Evolutionary who, having had his fix of the isotope can evolve things again. He takes an insect in his palm as Feral says that she would sooner die in battle than let the Legacy Virus kill her. Wyndham replies that if that is what she wishes, then he shall be happy to oblige her.
The melee underground continues unabated with the Knights, half the strikeforce and Scanner still at each other’s throats. Scanner realizes the trouble they are in and commands them to regroup as they cannot be beaten. With impeccable timing though, Quicksilver returns and lets slip a rare pun, saying they should wrap things up quickly before tying up Scanner, Omega Red and Fenris in Omega Red’s coils, leaving them recumbent and helpless. With the situation under control, the Knights follow Quicksilver purposefully as he tells them that the Evolutionary needs them above.
Standing beside the Quinjet, the Evolutionary has by now evolved a handful of creatures which now occupy the two Acolytes and Feral. He is becoming impatient as he wishes to take the battle to Exodus’s door. Decay feeds energy from one of the creatures as Gargouille occupies herself with a winged insect and Feral tackles a monstrous beetle. Lady Vermin sees the battle and says their creator has created new Knights and Pietro replies that they’ll cover for them while they make their escape. Standing now in the Quinjet’s hatch, the Evolutionary tells them it is time to depart but asks where Lord Anon and Lord Churchill have got to. The duplicitous Lord Anon emerges from his hiding place and says he is here, but their comrade has “….fallen in battle.” The Evolutionary bows his head slightly and says his is a loss they shall mourn at the proper time, and avenge by taking back their homeland but for now, they go. The Quinjet rockets away from the Antarctic, leaving their foes behind to cope with the evolved insects. Sir Ram asks if they will not soon follow in their craft but Quicksilver tells him that he disabled it on his way to collect them.
As the Acolytes continue to fight, Scanner arrives at the clearing and asks Feral what has happened. Feral sarcastically replies, “Well, Scanner, it’s like this. Since we had no back up, the High Evolutionary and the Knights got away with the Isotope!” Scanner is furious and knows Exodus will not be best pleased. She knew they shouldn’t have entrusted this mission to impure mutants and calls for her Acolytes to prepare for teleportation; they will return to Wundagore Mountain. “Acolytes only?” asks Omega Red, “What of the rest of us Scanner?” She grimaces as she tells him that their incompetence cost them Isotope E and they no longer have any use for them.
Feral asks about the cure for the Legacy Virus she promised them and Pyro adds that the Knights beat them as well as his own team, plus their ship is disabled. He asks how they’ll get out of there. As Scanner, Decay, Gargouille and projector teleport away, Scanner replies that it is no longer their concern. Feeling justly let down, Pyro shouts after them that once they get out of this, they’ll burn for this; she, Exodus and all the Acolytes. Behind them, several Sauropods raise their long necks as Random tells Pyro that for the time being, they have got themselves other problems right now.