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Mark Waid, Al Ewing & Jim Zub (writers), Kim Jacinto (artist), David Curiel (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Mark Brooks (cover artist), Nick Bradshaw & Jim Campbell (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
Rogue reels at the loss of the Human Torch as Voyager returns to her squad and reports that more beacons of light have been detected. Rogue tells her squad that they will continue to defend the world and Voyager teleports them to the Antarctic, while at Avenges Auxiliary HQ, Toni Ho relays the information about the energy beams to the Falcon and his team, who are having roubles of their own, as Red Hulk finds himself without any power to carry on. Voyager is unable to teleport to the team as she is weakening from her overuse of her power, so Doctor Voodoo masters a bodily substitution spell, which sends Red Hulk back to the Auxiliary HQ, and the Scarlet Witch, Citizen V, Voodoo and the Wasp, free from her frozen state, take his place. The Avengers plan their next move and head for Los Alamos in a Quinjet, save for Wonder Man, who flies to the hospital where the Beast and Nadia van Dyne are trying to save Jarvis. They think they can have Wonder Man use his power to pull the radiation out of Jarvis, but when he tries, Wonder Man reports that there is no radiation within Jarvis. The Black Order arrive in the Antarctic, but Rogue and her squad are on hand to figh them – and Rogue is relentless, as she struggles with everything the Avengers (and X-Men) are forced to deal with, she absorbs Corvus Glaive's abilities – and then kills him. Frene the Other from the Lethal Legion arrives on scene and does something to Supergiant as the other Black Order members retreat. Frene looks at the energy beam and thinks victory is close at hand, while in Nevada, something troubling is trapped amongst the rubble within demolished buildings. Back in Peru, Wolverine is seen, apparently frozen in status.
In Rome, Rogue, Hercules, Dr Jane Foster a.k.a. Thor and Miguel Santos a.k.a. Lightning have regrouped. Rogue is unimpressed, as Lightning's words hit her harder than she ever thought possible - “Johnny... he's gone” she remembers Lightning telling her. Rogue tells herself that she is supposed to be leader and that she has to fight through this – but it feels like her heart is going to explode.
Suddenly, Valerie Vector a.k.a. Voyager teleports onto the scene, reporting that they are back on the clock, as Toni Ho's scans have spotted two more beacons of light, meaning the Black Order and the Lethal Legion won't be far behind. Hercules tells Valerie to give Rogue a moment, as losing their ally John Storm has affected her. Voyager asks Hercules what he means, before Lightning explains that the Human Torch touched one of the glowing pyramids and disintegrated right before his eyes.
Rogue knows that everyone is staring at her, waiting for her to shatter into a million pieces. 'Rogue...there's nothing I can say that will -' Voyager begins, as Rogue turns to her and declares 'It's true, so don't say anything. I'm doing the talking'. Rogue knows that she won't though, as Johnny deserves better. She tells the other four Avengers that she doesn't give a damn about this game that is being played, wo the players are or who is winning. 'I'm done running defense' Rogue declares announcing that all she wants is to beat the baddies black and blue until they stop messing with her team. 'Is that clear?' Rogue asks. 'Crystal' Voyager replies, before Thor asks her where the villains gather. Voyager reports that beacons have been spotted in New Mexico and the Antarctic but that Roberto wanted her to bring them all back to base, 'No. I'm going now' Rogue exclaims. Lightning announces that he is in, too, and Hercules assures Rogue that they will fight by her side. 'Okay, Avengers... let's live up to the name' Rogue frowns.
Meanwhile, at Avengers Auxiliary HQ, Roberto DaCosta a.k.a. Citizen V and Dr Toni Ho a.k.a. Iron Patriot are at a station of monitors, as Roberto speaks to Sam Wilson the Falcon over a communication's monitor, and asks 'Wait. The Human Torch is dead?' Roberto mutters that he was in the shower for two minutes. The Falcon tells Roberto that nobody has been able to process it yet, and that if what Toni is saying is true, then they won't get time to, as there are two more of those beacons out there. Watching her screens, Toni confirms that one is relatively close, in Los Alamos, the test site of the first atomic bomb, and news repors are talking about some kind of superstorm, with gale-force winds and lightning, while the other is in the Antarctic, where a research station nearby is reporting massive drops in temperature and some extreme ice buildup.
In Peru, the Falcon reports that his team is all clear, but with the torch gone they need to regroup, as they are down to four Avengers now. 'Hold that thought, Wilson. Feels like I'm about to -' Red Hulk a.k.a. General Robert L Maverick begins, before he suddenly shrinks from hulk-size back to regular human form. 'General?' Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man asks. General Maverick explains that ever since Hydra screwed with his Hulk genetic plug-in, the hour of power is getting shorter. He adds that he got some heart damage and a few other things. Emily Gurrero a.k.a. Synapse asks General Maverick if he could stop hulking out. 'Would you?' General Maverick asks. Synapse helps him to walk, as General Maverick reports that he can still lift a gun, but the Falcon tells General Maverick that he is benching him.
Falcon contacts Voyager over the communicator and asks her if she can get them back to base, but Voyager, who is with Rogue and the others, reports that she can't, as she knows her limits. Voyager explains that she can get Rogue and her team to Antarctica now or bring them all home and have to rest for half an hour. 'I know which one makes more sense to me' Voyager adds. Synapse tells Falcon that Voyager is not wrong. 'Maybe not' Sam tells her, pointing out that they need transport of their own. He contacts Roberto, who reports that they have an AIM Quinjet en route to Peru, with an ETA of two minutes. 'And as for your manpower shortage...we've got something for that, too' Roberto replies, as General Maverick suddenly fades away – and Roberto, Jericho Drumm a.k.a. Doctor Voodoo and Wanda Maximoff the Scarlet Witch appear in his place. 'A spell of bodily substitution' Doctor Voodoo explains, remarking that the General returns to base to look after the wounded with Toni Ho, and they take his place.
Doctor Voodoo tells the Falcon not to ask him to do it again, as the spell's ingredients are difficult to source. The Falcon tells Doctor Voodoo that he will take it, as their odds just doubled. 'Look a little closer, Sam. The odds are better than you think' Wanda smiles, as Jan van Dyne a.k.a. the Was appears hovering near Wanda's shoulder. 'The original Wondrous Wasp at your service. I'm just sorry it's not under better circumstances' Jan remarks, before increasing her form to regular size as the Falcon remarks that he thought she was on pause. Jan confirms that she was, but that her best guess is that whoever is running this wants a specific number of heroes on the field. 'So when the Torch died...' Simon begins, his voice trailing off. 'I snapped out of stasis. I'm so sorry' Jan remarks, putting her hands on Synapse's shoulders. As a Quinjet descends from above, Sam tells Jan that they will have to mourn later, as their ride is here. Simon hangs his head and announces that he won't be going. He assures Sam that with his speed, he can meet them at the scene, but that there is someone he needs to check in on first.
And, at Lenox Hill Hospital in Midtown Manhattan, Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast tells Nadia van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp that Jarvis is stable right now, and perhaps that is the best they can hope for. 'Hope for more' a voice calls out. 'How you holding up, pal?' the voice asks. Hank looks over and sees his good friend Wonder Man, and wraps his furry arms around him. 'Oh my stars and garters, I'm glad you're here. The Beast and Wonder Man – together again!' the Beast exclaims, before asking him what news there is from the front. Simon frowns as he reports that there is nothing to make light of, and reveals that one of the “pyramoids” in Peru, they tried to claim it, but it turns out they destroy whoever touches them – and they lost Johnny Storm. 'What?' the Beast utters, wide-eyed, before exclaiming that he needs to be out there in the field. Simon raises his hands and tells Hank to stop.
Simon informs Hank and the young Wasp that he doesn't have much time himself before he has to get back out there and deal with some other pyramoid or some other enemy, but that he came her to tell them that the Avengers need the two of them here – as this isn't just about saving the world. Simon looks over at Edwin Jarvis, hooked up to life support, and declares that it is about saving the people they love. Simon goes over to Jarvis and asks 'All this from a concussion?' to which Nadia explains that she and Dr McCoy think there may be more to it – accumulated micro-energies and trace alien elements, the sorts of toxins he might accidentally have picked up in gradual doses over all his years with the Avengers.
Suddenly, Nadia smiles and remarks 'If some of it is radiation, no matter what its frequency -' 'it has the ability to eject electrons' the Beast chimes in. '- turning atoms into cations -' Nadia adds, '- with positie charges – yes! Yes!' the Beast exclaims. Simon looks at Nadia and tells her that he is lost. 'No, you're in exactly the right place' Nadia replies, hooking her hands around Simon's massive bicep and asks 'Your power is to transform energy, yes? Into ionic energy? That's yours to control?' 'I still don't -' Wonder Man begins, to which the Beast reminds him that they have talked about this: 'Ions, at base, are nothing more than atoms with missing or added electrons. Atoms short are attracted to atoms with a surplus, like those given off by radiation...and that, my friend, is magnetism' the Beast explains. 'You're saying that I -' Simon begins, 'If you concentrate' the Beast adds, 'that I an pull radiation out of the air?' Simon asks. 'Not jut the air. Power up, cowboy' Nadia exclaims.
Energy radiates around Simon, who asks what he is supposed to be doing. 'Something new. It'll be a sesnation. Like sun on your face. Like sleet on your skin. Just...sense the energy in the air' Nadia tells him. 'Like you never have before. The world is full of electromagnetism. Focus, and you should be able to feel it rush over you' Nadia adds. Simon concentrates, and Nadia asks him 'Well?' to which Simon replies 'I...I think...yeah'. The Beast tells Simon to find the radiation in Jarvis, pull it out, extract it like a bad tooth, or a splinter – pull it. Simon puts a hand over Jarvis' lifeless body, but then frowns, he tells Hank and Nadia that he is sorry, and that he wishes something was there – but there is nothing – no radiation, alien or otherwise. Nadia frowns, and hangs her head. The Beast puts a hand on Nadia's shoulder to comfort her, and Simon tells them that whatever they think is causing Jarvis' coma, they are headed in the wrong direction.
Meanwhile, in the Antarctic, the Black Order members Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Black Swan, Ebony Maw and Supergiant push their way through a raging snowstorm. Corvus Glaive tells his team that they must hurry, before others arrive and distract them. Flying through the air with a bubble around her, Black Swan remarks that she didn't think such cold could exist on a planet's surface, while Supergiant explains that the pyramoid magnifies elemental power nearby to defend itself. 'The deep freeze surrounding it can hurt even you, Yabbat' Supergiant adds. Energy crackles around Proxima's weapon, and she tells her lover, Corvus, that thery will not yield, and that victory will be theirs. 'I have no doubt. Fight on, my dear Proxima...' Corvus replies, when suddenly, 'Eh?' Ebony Maw asks as he turns – and then is knocked backwards by Mjolnir.
A portal opens courtesy of Voyager, as she, Rogue, Hercules, Lightning and Thor arrive. Mjolnir returns to Thor, while Rogue decides that she is not much for fancy battle cries or stirring speeches, and that is oka – as her fists do the talking just fine. Rogue speeds towards an angry looking Corvus Glaive, and knocks him backwards. Lightning fires a blast of energy at Proxima, knocking her backwards. Corvus looks up at Rogue, who hasn't let him out of her sight. She knows that it is not very mature of her, but she has to say that letting out a bit of rage, giving these monsters a piece of the pain rolling inside her – feels great. Hercules leaps at Black Swan, forcing her to the snow-covered ground, while Rogue attempts to grab Corvus Glaive's powerful weapon.
Rogue has been fighting all her life – it's what she does. Corvus Glaive shoves his knee into Rogue, pushing her back. 'Something righteous. Something selfish' Rogue thinks to herself as Black Swan fires a blast of flaming energy at Hercules, forcing him back. Lightning electrifies Proxima's weapon as Rogue tells herself that the X-Men, the Brotherhood, the Avenges – good, bad and everything in between – always fighting.
Rogue wipes her lip, then flies towards Corvus Glaive, who lunges towards her, too. Rogue remembers how Johnny kept telling her that she wasn't as bad as she kept saying, that he said she made bad choices, but wasn't a bad person. Rogue tells herself thsat Johnny's optimism drove her crazy, but she loved it. Voyager slams a fist into Ebony Maw's face, while Lightning strikes Proxima with a blast, and as Black Swan constructs a force bubble around her, Hercules and Thor start to pound on it, while Rogue reaches Corvus Glaive – and an ungloved hand suddenly touches his face. 'Needed it. Still do. What would he say if he could see me now?' Rogue wonders as she drains the life-force from Corvus Glaive. Her own skin takes on a sickly gray appearance – before she shoves a fistb through Corvus Glaive's body in spectacular display.
'You will pay for that, human!' Proxima tells Lightning as she lunges towards him – only to be smashed backwards as Thor tosses Mjolnir at her. Black Swan extends her force bubble around Proxima and tells her that they must retreat, or all will be lost. 'No! We stay and slay them all!' Proxima responds. 'Glory and triumph, my friends! Even in this chill, my blood boils with the thrill of victory! We';; route these villains and ensure they face justice for their...' Hercules calls out, finding himself at a loss for words as he sees Rogue, standing over Glaive's lifeless body. '...uh... well done, warrior' Hercules remarks.
Nearby, Supergiant watches the Avengers, who regroup around Rogue. 'Damned Asgardian witch...I'll take your mind for my own, then make you kill your allies before I -' Supergiant begins, when suddenly, Frene the Other appears behind her, and attacks her with some sort of energy blast. 'Shhh...the prize is at hand...and this victory belongs to the Lethal Legion' Frene declares, looking up at some energy glowing above the icy terrain
Meanwhile, in Nevada, beneath the rubble of several collpased buildings, 'Help me... I'm still down here. In the darkness. In the shadows' someone thinks. 'With him. He won't stop, don't you understand? No matter what. He won't die. Oh, God. What if... what if he can't?' the voice wonders, as a set of teeth can be seen through the darkness.
Back in Peru, the Avengers' Quinjet flies high and away from the city, no one sees Wolverine, apparently frozen, halfway down a series of steps in an alleyway....
Falcon, Hercules, Thor IV, Wasp III (all Avengers)Beast, Doctor Voodoo, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Synapse II, Wasp, Wonder Man (all Avengers Unity Division)Citizen V VII, Iron Patriot II, Red Hulk II (all US Avengers)LightningVoyagerEdwin Jarvis
Black Dwarf, Black Swan, Corvus Glaive, Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, Supergiant (all Black Order)Captain Glory, Drall, Frene the Other (all Lethal Legion)
Unidentified being in NevadaWolverine
This issue is narrated by Rogue.
The Human Torch touched one of the pyramoids in Avenges (1st series) #678, and was seemingly disintegrated, however in Avenges (1st series) #679 it was revealed he was alive, held in the Grandmaster's games room.
Wolverine's cameo appearance this issue is part of the “Where is Wolverine” storyline going as a back-up feature through several titles..