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Mark Waid, Al Ewing & Jim Zub (writers), Pepe Larraz (artist), David Curiel (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Mark Brooks (cover artist), Julian Totino Tedesco; Alan Davis, Mark Farmer & Matt Yackey (variant cover artists), Carlos Lao (graphic designer), Alanna Smith (assistant editor), Tom Breevort (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (president), Alan Fine (executive producer)Avengers created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
At a hospital in Manhattan, the Beast and Nadia van Dyne do what they can to save Jarvis, but the Beast discovers that something is very wrong. At Avengers Mansion, the assembled Avengers learn that Voyager is the one who called them together, and her history with the team is briefly chronicled – from her days as a founding member, to when she was shunted out of existence, and memory, during a battle between one of the Grandmaster's Squadron members, Victory. The Avengers learn that Voyager has watched their exploits from the between-time realm where she existed, and how when the Earth was stolen, that shunted her back into existence. Voyager assures the Avengers that she is not intending to lead the teams, as Rogue, Falcon and Citizen V are all capable of that, which causes Quicksilver to challenge Rogue again. The heroes assess the situation – catastrophic disasters happening around the world, most communication systems down, and magic currently unpredictable, which means anything could be happening out there, and the Avengers wouldn't know about it. In Egypt, a portal opens and from it emerges two teams – the Lethal Legion comprised of Frene, Drall, Captain Glory, the Blood Brothers, Mentacle and Moyln, and the Black Order, whose membership is Corvus Glaive, Black Dwarf, Proxima Midnight, Supergiant, Ebony Maw and Black Swan. The two teams immediately battle each other, before two unseen figures tell them that the combatants cannot engage until the pyramoid is activated, so the two teams part, and the Black Order decide to eliminate certain obstacles on this planet that may get in their way. Back at Avengers Mansion, Falcon, Rogue and Citizen V start to make plans, while their frozen teammates are placed in a safe area. An alarm suddenly sounds and Quicksilver is able to get a monitor working, which depicts Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive. Thanks to Redwing, the Falcon discover that the villains are above Avengers Mansion, but it's too late, as Proxima Midnight announces that they have much to do, and that the Avengers would simply get in the way – they then destroy Avengers Mansion!
Midtown Manhattan, where several birds fly above the hospital which is now in chaos. Sam Wilson the Falcon thinks to himself that when you see life through a bird's eyes, you see the bigger picture – sometimes, that means looking at horror and seeing the helpless, the heroes – and not the costumed variety, though they do have things in common. 'Crash cart over here! Hurry!' one of the hospital staff calls out. 'Half the city is walking in!' another exclaims, while someone shouts 'Going to bleed out'. 'Calling it' a doctor remarks. In another room, Dr Hank McCoy a.k.a. Beast and Nadia van Dyne, the young Wasp are standing over the injured Edwin Jarvis, who is hooked up to several monitors. The Beast tells Nadia that she has got this, that she won’t let Jarvis down. 'I'd rather die, Beast. Jarvis is like a father to me' Nadia replies, before the Beast tells her that they will get more accurate readings now that he has tinkered with the equipment. 'Thank you, Dr McCoy. I knew you'd – what is it?' Nadia asks as she notices the Beast looking at a monitor. The Beast reports that it is Jarvis' bioscan – that something is very wrong.
The Falcon thinks that when the worst happens, that's when they come together – they assemble, like right now, where three teams of Avengers and several reserves, have come together to rescue a stole Earth. Gathered around a table in Avengers Mansion are Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man, Rogue, Dr Toni Ho a.k.a. Iron Patriot, Emily Guerrero a.k.a. Synapse, Jericho Drumm a.k.a. Doctor Voodoo, Johnny Storm the Human Torch, Pietro Maximoff a.k.a. Quicksilver, Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. The Scarlet Witch, Hercules, Jane Foster a.k.a. Thor, Miguel Santos a.k.a. Lightning, General Robert L Maverick a.k.a. Red Hulk, Roberto DaCosta a.k.a. Citizen V, Sam Guthrie a.k.a. Cannonball and Falcon, along with Redwing. 'So what's our next move, Voyager?' Falcon asks, turning to the mysterious woman with white hair and a yellow costume – Valerie Vector a.k.a. Voyager.
'Look, I just called us together... it's Falcon, right? I'm not about to just breeze in and take over' Voyager declares. 'You're not...?' Falcon asks as he thinks that Voyager is perhaps one of the greatest Avengers ever, someone they all thought was dead. Voyager points out that it has been a long time, and that there are Avengers here who probably don't even know who she is. 'Seriously?' Falcon remarks, surprised. He tells Voyager that he finds that hard to believe.
Flashback:'The Avengers... bah! I'll destroy you all!' Loki boasts as he finds himself confronted by Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man, Wasp, Iron Man and Voyager. Thor warns Loki to prepare himself for battle, 'Against Earth's Mightiest Heroes!' Voyager exclaims.
Present:Lightning smiles and tells Voyager that she is a lot better known than he is, and points out that she helped start the team.
Flashback:The six heroes gather alongside each other, and the Hulk declares that he pities the guy who tries to beat them. Thor boasts that they will never be beaten, and Voyager agrees: 'Because we're... the Avengers!'
Present:Quicksilver smiles and tells Voyager that she is more than a founding member, at least to him, for when the others left, she stayed.
Flashback:Captain America and Voyager stand on a stage alongside the new recruits to the Avengers – the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Hawkeye, as the media stand before them, Voyager waves and exclaims 'All right! This is for you, gang! Avengers Assemble!'
Present:Wanda smiles and tells Valerie that she was the heart of the Avengers, and that if the Vision were awake, she knows he would say the same thing.
Flashback:The Vision sheds a tear as Iron Man remarks that his voice is so unspeakably cold. 'Sure – his voice! But if you saw his eyes right now, Avenger – you'd know even an android can cry!' Voyager calls out.
Present:The mighty Hercules tells Voyager that for his part, he remembers the grief they knew when that great heart was lost.
Flashback:Avengers Black Panther and Yellowjacket are with the Grandmaster and Kang, watching a monitor which depicts Voyager and a man in a green costume. The Grandmaster admits that the Avengers are beating his Squadron Sinister, but if Kang's players should lose but once. 'Bah! Gaze upon the visi-screen, Grandmaster! The next round has begun! Voyager has met with her opponent!' Kang declares.
Near Pisa, Voyager is confronted a man in a green costume with large yellow shoulder pads. He declares that Voyager's space-time powers are formidable, but that they are no match for Victory the Electromagnetic Man! He moves towards Voyager and boasts that his energo-field gives him mastery of reality itself, and that nothing can prevail against it. 'We'll see about that, gruesome!' Voyager replies, remarking that she has a few tricks of her own – but suddenly, her portal field begins to react with Victory's powers – and their powers both reach critical mass. Voyager screams as she and Victory are seemingly blown apart.
'Hmm. Total disintegration. Shall we call that a draw?' the Grandmaster suggests, while Kang clenches his fists, furious, and Black Panther and Yellowjacket look at the screen in horror.
Present:Quicksilver tells Voyager that it was a dark day for them all. 'If we'd known you'd survived... if we'd thought to look for you...' his voice trails off, while Voyager assures him that is not his fault, and explains that when their powers reacted against each other, Victory was killed outright, and she was removed from existence, even from memory, but she knows that years passed, as she saw them all move on, but for her it was like a passing dream, and then, when the Earth was stolen somehow, it jolted her back into phase, and she appeared back in Pisa, knowing only one thing for sure – that the world needed the Avengers, so she used her communicator to contact the Avengers.
Voyager tells the Avengers that the world still needs them – but them more than her, as she has been out of action for a decade or more. She adds that when it comes to good leadership, they already have all they need. She turns to the three leaders of the respective teams – Rogue, Falcon and Citizen V.
Falcon thinks to himself that Voyager is a class act, and knows that the whole room would follow her into Hell, but that she instead defers to three people who are strangers to her. Sam thinks to himself that they have to earn that trust, and they may be off to a rocky start as Quicksilver mutters 'Hmm. I suppose' and folds his arms. Rogue tells him to drop the attitude, and that they all need to be pulling in the same direction right now. 'This is grand-theft Earth, people. The moon is gone – we're getting earthquakes, volcanoes, tidal waves...' his voice trails off as Roberto reminds the others that there is a whole who's who is heroes and villains all frozen in some kind of suspended animation. He taps a panel on his watch, and several monitors appear, depicting various frozen heroes and villains.
'Are we forgetting anything, Toni?' Roberto asks. Standing near Red Hulk and Cannonball, Dr Ho reports that it gets worse – they have lost all satellites, including the Alpha Flight Space Station, but she has got AIM's science team working on low-orbit drones to bounce signals off, which will give them some communications at least, but for the most part, they are blind. Falcon thinks to himself that here is where looking through a bird's eye would be helpful, but his power has its limits, and with the birds panicking at the moment...he informs the others that he can get a view of the immediate area, but beyond that, their guess is as good as his. Hercules and Thor stand with Falcon as he asks about magic. Doctor Voodoo and the Scarlet Witch stand with Synapse, the Human Torch and Rogue, as Doctor Voodoo reports that certain scrying spells are available, given time – a lot of time, but Wanda points out that with the constellations altered and Gaia in chaos, magic solutions may be unpredictable at best. 'Great. So just about anything could be happening in the wider world... and we'd never even know' Rogue mutters.
At that moment in Wadi el Rayan, Egypt. Several civilians look out over a desert, where the night sky is broken by a strange glowing portal. 'Mother, we should go home. The reports say it's dangerous to be outside' a man tells his elderly mother, who points out that the sky is on fire, and asks him if he thinks that having a roof over their heads will somehow keep them safe. Civilians begin to run as energy crackles down from the portal, striking the sand-covered ground below – and when the dust clears, two groups of strange individuals appear. The first group is the Black Order – consisting of Corvus Glaive, the large alien Black Dwarf, the glowing Supergiant, the deadly Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw and the sultry Black Swan. Across from them is the Lethal Legion, another group of aliens, consisting of the large Drall – Gladiator from Beyond the Stars, Frene the Other, the two Blood Brothers, the odd-looking Mentacle, Moyln the All-New Metal Master, and Captain Glory, who hovers in the air above the rest of the Legion.
'The battle is joined! Show these fools what it is to face the Cull Obsidian!' Glaive exclaims, while Proxima readies her weapon and Glaive that she will slaughter them in his name. The Lethal Legion run towards the Black Order, 'Stay sharp!' Captain Glory tells the others, while Drall shouts 'Your corpses shall ride my blade!' in the language of the War Chants of the Endrionic Empire. The two teams engage in battle, 'A psychic projection!' Captain Glory calls out as Supergiant moves towards him, warning him that he will serve as her vessel, but Mentacle appears before her and tells her that she is incorrect, and that Gla-Ree's mind will stay unencumbered by her presence. Mentacle then releases some energy, knocking Supergiant backwards away from Captain Glory a.k.a. Gla-Ree.
'My weapon cannot be stopped!' Glaive boasts as he attempts to strike Frene the Other, who leaps backwards and replies 'True, but only if you strike your target!' Black Dwarf goes over to Moyln and raising a large axe-like weapon overhead, he declares that he heard the first Metal Master lost a fight to a cardboard gun. 'He was an artist, you philistine. His work will be studied for centuries -' Molyn replies, firing a surge of energy at Black Dwarf's axe, preventing Black Dwarf from bringing it down. '- and mine, for far longer. The metal within your weapon is quite fascinating, by the way. Maybe I'll take it for myself...'
One of the Blood Brothers slams his fist into the ground, 'Get him, brother!' he calls out to the other. 'Hey!' the other brother exclaims as their target, Ebony Maw, teleports away from their fists. 'Strength without skill...it's sad, really...' Maw remarks. Proxima screams as she lunges towards Drall, 'Eat oblivion!' Drall shouts as she raises her sword – and when Proxima's weapon slams against Drall's, when suddenly, there is an explosion that knocks both warriors backwards and separates the other members of the two teams. 'Enough. The rules of engagement must be followed' a voice booms over the desert. 'My opponent speaks true. Combatants may not engage until the pyramoid is activated' a second voice states, instructing the two teams to gather themselves, survey the battleground and prepare for the trials ahead. 'When next we meet, I shall bring you death' Glaive utters. 'Prove it on the field, fang-face' Captain Glory tells him.
The Lethal Legion then walk towards a brick building nearby, and Frene tells Captain Glory that she senses their spirits are formidable. Captain Glory tells her that he expects no less, and points out that both sides know how to recruit the best. The other members of the team sit on some steps at the front of the building, 'Next time Maw shifts out of the way, you mind-blast him, Mentacle' one of the Blood Brothers declares. 'Affirmative. He and the others will be isolated and punished' Mentacle responds. 'By Arishem, my blade will not be denied' Drall declares.
The Black Order retreat to a slope nearby, where Black Dwarf suggests to Supergiant that she take a human body as her own, but Supergiant tells him that their minds are fragile at best. Ebony Maw asks Corvus what his plan is. Corvus states that the rules are clear – they cannot slay the other team until the match begins. 'But that does not mean we must stand by and do nothing' Corvus adds, explaining that this planet was chosen as the battleground because of its unique defensive properties. 'The “designated obstacles” selected to make the game more interesting are already in play. The Black Order will take the initiative and clear them from the board...' he boasts.
Back at Avengers Mansion, the Falcon realizes that everyone is looking at him for guidance. 'Leading 9,000 Avengers is more difficult than leading six – but you can do this' Sam thinks to himself, before Quicksilver declares that he does not like standing around here. The Falcon tells Quicksilver that they are all champing at the bit to get out there and help, but that unless he has come up with a plan to punch earthquakes, they are going to need a cohesive, Avengers-wide strategy. The other Avengers all look around at Quicksilver, before Rogue announces that Falcon is right. 'Let’s pair off into twos and thr-' Rogue begins, while at the same time, Roberto exclaims 'Okay! Going solo, we'll maintain a more immediate eye -' The two then turn to each other and snap 'I was talking' in unison. 'Terrific' the Human Torch smirks, throwing his head back. Sam realizes he is starting to lose the others, and urges himself to stay in control.
'It's a big room. We don't necessarily need it to have one voice, but we do have to work together' Sam urges all of the Avengers. Voyager agrees, and asks if they have taken care of those in stasis. The Falcon reports that Hercules and Wonder Man have gathered them and taken them into another room. He adds that if the Beast can break away while treating Jarvis, he might be able to figure out what “has” them. At that moment, Hercules and Wonder Man set down the frozen Vision, Wasp, Squirrel Girl and Enigma.
Voyager speaks up again and remarks that she thinks Rogue had it right – they should split into small groups, which will limit their coverage but maximize their resources. She adds that communication is going to be their biggest problem, as no one's comms are working out there. Suddenly, there is a strange screeching noise, and Sam tells himself to remember the lesson of the birds – there is always a bigger picture. 'To illustrate the point' Quicksilver remarks as he touches a control panel, which depicts a screen with static. 'Can we shut that off before ears start to bleed?' Sam asks. Pietro taps away at the console, 'I'm trying -' he begins, eventually shutting the alarm off, he then offers to see what he can do about the screen – and when an image of Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight appear on the monitor, the Falcon tells Quicksilver that he doesn't think they are in control any more. Lightning asks who the two are, and Citizen V reports that they are members of the Black Order, who used to work for Thanos – and are as powerful and unpleasant as that implies.
'Okay, where are they?' Lightning then enquires, but Citizen V points out that there is no telling, as satellite recognition is useless right now. Falcon instinctively tries to help, but part of him hopes he can't. His power has limits, after all. 'Avengers. We've much that needs to be done...and you'd only be in the way' Proxima announces, as Falcon uses Redwing to fly out above Avengers Mansion – where he sees the two villains. 'Farewell' Proxima calls out, as energy begins to radiate around the two villains. 'They're on top of us! Avengers! They're here! They're right here! They're directly above the -' Sam begins, but he doesn't get to finish his sentence: “mansion” as Avengers Mansion explodes!
Falcon, Hercules, Thor IV, Vision, Wasp III (all Avengers)Beast, Doctor Voodoo, Human Torch II, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Synapse II, Wasp, Wonder Man (all Avengers Unity Division)Cannonball, Citizen V VII, Enigma II, Iron Patriot II, Red Hulk II, Squirrel Girl (all US Avengers)LightningQuicksilver
Voyager / Valerie Vector
Black Dwarf, Black Swan II, Corvus Glaive, Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, Supergiant (all Black Order)Blood Brothers, Captain Glory, Drall, Frene the Other, Mentacle, Moyln (all Lethal Legion)
In Voyager's flashback:Ant-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Voyager, Wasp (all founding Avengers)LokiCaptain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Voyager (all Avengers)Iron Man, Voyager, Vision (all Avengers)Black Panther, Voyager, Yellowjacket (all Avengers)GrandmasterKangVictory the Electromagnetic Man
This issue is narrated by Falcon.
Victory the Electromagnetic Man was not originally seen in Avengers (1st series) #70.
In addition visually Victory is a homage to the DC character Triumph. Created by Mark Waid, Triumph was retconned to be an original member of the Justice League who got lost in the timestream, was forgotten and reappeared in the present, so basically someone with a similar story to Voyager.
The Black Order have served Thanos, although most members were apparently killed before returning here.
The Lethal Legion that appears this issue is the sixth version of the team, mostly comprised of new members.
The first version of the Lethal Legion worked for the Grim Reaper and debuted in Avengers (1st series) #78. The second team worked for Count Nefaria in Avengers (1st series) #164, while the third was once again operated by the Grim Reaper in West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #1. The fourth was created by Satannish in Avengers West Coast #98 and the fifth during the “Dark Reign” event. Various members have appeared across different iterations of the team.
The 1st and 2nd flashback take place during Avengers (1st series) #1
The 3rd flashback around Avengers (1st series) #16
The 4th around Avengers (1st series) 58