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Mark Waid, Al Ewing & Jim Zub (writers), Kem Jacinto & Mike Perkins (artists), 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
Captain Glory recalls how he was plucked from battle by the Grandmaster to join his Lethal Legion, and face off against the Black Order for victory over the Challenger. In New Mexico, the Lethal Legion are up against a squad of Avengers, while in Antarctica, Rogue has just killed Corvus Glaive. Her teammates are a little stunned, before Rogue reveals that Corvus was recently resurrected by the Challenger for a competition against the Grandmaster. Frene the Other from the Lethal Legion appears and successfully obtains the pyramoid. Voyager returns to Avengers Auxiliary HQ to regain her strength, and while recovering reveals her origin to Toni Ho. Back in New Mexico, Mentacle renders Citizen V incapacitated, while Synapse learns that the Lethal Legion and Black Order are competing for the pyramoids and that once all have been captured, Earth will be tossed into a cosmic trash bin. While each member of the Avengers is distracted against their various opponents, Captain Glory instructs Mentacle to send one of the Blood Brothers towards the pyramoid. The unsuspecting Blood Brother did not know about this plan, and is terrified as he nears the pyramoid – but before he touches it, Hawkeye arrives with Red Wolf and fires some arrows towards the Blood Bother, knocking him back. Meanwhile, in Arizona, something stirs beneath the rubble – and a large green hand breaks up to the surface!
Glah-Ree a.k.a. Captain Glory stares out into seeming nothingness as images flood his mind. He is a proud captain in the Kree Armada, benefactors of countless ungrateful lesser “civilizations” such as Earth's. He remembers an encounter with the Takolians, who were an especially foul people, but were fierce warriors – who slew his squadron, leaving him the last Kree standing on the battlefield. He was suddenly pulled away by an alien force – he was not alone, as six others, all strangers, had been gathered by the celestial being known as the Grandmaster. He tasked them as pawns in some bizarre competition, his “Lethal Legion”, and if they lost, he would simply return them to certain death, but only by besting another group called the “Black Order” would they be allowed to live. Strange world-shaking devices scattered across battlefield Earth had to be obtained in order to triumph. Two have already been claimed, but neither of them by the Lethal Legion, and at the moment, a third one stands free and clear, it's a meagre defense – a band of Terran apes who call themselves the Avengers. Captain Glory decides that this will be short work.
Captain Glory flies through the battlefield that New Mexico has become, past his teammates the Blood Brothers who battle Janet van Dyne the Wasp, and his teammate Frene the Other who is about to be confronted by Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon, while Molyn the Metal Master is up against Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch, and another teammate, Mentacle, who is set upon by Roberto DaCosta a.k.a. Citizen V. Finally, the warrior Drall leaps into the air where Jericho Drumm a.k.a. Doctor Voodoo hovers, magical serpents protecting him. Only the young Inhuman Emily Guerrero a.k.a. Synapse remains to challenge Captain Glory.
'Fragile mind. Yield now' Mentacle utters as he forces Citizen V to stop mid-battle and clutch his head. 'Avengers, don't let them get the pyramoid!' Citizen V calls out to his teammates, while Captain Glory thinks that if the Avengers had an ounce of strategy between them, they would retreat. 'Careful, Roberto!' the Wasp calls out as she flits between the two hulking Blood Brothers. 'She's fast, brother! Grab her!' one of them exclaims. 'Me? You grab her, brother!' the other retorts, while Captain Glory admits that the Avengers have some minor tricks held, as they say, in chamber – and anyone capable of dropping those Blood Brothers wrests from him some meagre amount of consideration. He looks up at Doctor Voodoo, who is summoning mystcal aid, and decides that if the Avengers have already resorted to using paltry magic tricks, then they are on their way to defeat.
Captain Glory turns his attention to Synapse, deciding that she needs to be taken out immediately, but Synapse flips backwards as Captain Glory opens fire on her. She continues to evade his attacks, as if she can predict his every move. Captain Glory realizes that she must be telepathic. Molyn the Metal Master moves towards the pyramoid and starts covering it in scraps of metal junk. He remarks that the Grandmaster ordered them to capture the pyramoids, but he didn't say they could encase them safely in iron, first. 'The Grandmaster? He's the one who moved the Earth?' the Scarlet Witch asks as she readies a hex blast to use against Molyn. 'What sort of sick game does he have us playing, Metal Master? What's your part in it? Why is he doing this?' the Scarlet Witch demands. 'You've not been -' the Metal Master begins, before Wanda's hex blast slams into him, knocking him backwards and covering him in scrap metal. '- been told?' he finishes his sentence, smiling, he exclaims that this will be delicious.
Meanwhile, in Antartica:
Rogue...' Valerie Vector a.k.a. Voyager calls out as Rogue stands over the body of Corvus Glaive – whom she just killed. 'Not gonna say Ah'm sorry. Not after what happened to Johnny' Rogue replies. Miguel Santos a.k.a. Lightning admits that Corvus was evil. 'But still...' he gasps, rubbing his head. Jane Foster a.k.a. Thor tells the others that she knows Rogue's look well, and remarks that revenge will not heal the wound she wears. 'Aye' Hercules agrees. Voyager notes that Rogue's skin is cracked, and her eyes have changed, too. Rogue tells her that she absorbed Corvus Glaive's thoughts and powers – she had to, but his mind is alien, she is only getting glimpses of what brought Corvus and his cronies here. Rogue sees the being called the Challenger announcing that he has returned Corvus Glaive and his brother to life, and that in turn, he will serve his cause. He instructed Corvus to capture the pyramoids and ensure his victory against the Grandmaster, then he will reward him with power beyond measure.
Rogue sees an image of the Lethal Legion and the Black Order, both teams, one working for the Grandmaster, the other, the Challenger, but both scoring points with Earth as the arena. 'It really is a damn game!' Rogue exclaims. Suddenly, Frene the Other appears, flying towards the pyramiod, she calls out 'It's true, human...we are all pawns in this grand cosmic conquest!' Rogue looks up, 'We missed one! Lightning!' she calls out to Miguel, but Frene moves closer to the pyramoid and boasts that the Legion shall emerge victorious no matter the cost – she then screams as she grabs the pyramoid, and Miguel fires an electrical blast at her – too late, though. 'Dammit!' Miguel exclaims. Floating in bubbles nearby are Proxima Midnight and the Black Swan of the Black Order. Proxima declares that the Lethal Legion has scored, the Black Order is defeated and her husband his dead. 'We are still here, Proxima. We will fight on' the Black Swan replies, as a large number 1 appears in the sky, signalling that the Legion have claimed their first pyramoid.
Referring to the other members of the Black Order who have been defeated, Voyager report that she is too drained to teleport the Avengers and the villains back to New York at al once. She suggests that she checks in with the others and recharge, then she will find out where they are most needed. 'Godspeed to you, Voyager' Thor remarks as Voyager teleports away. 'We vanquished our foes, yet this twisted competition stretches on' Hercules remarkes. Holding Corvus Glaive's staff, Rogue tells him that she hopes the others are having more luck playing goalie.
Shortly, at Avengers Auxiliary HQ, 'You're white as a sheet, Voyager' Dr Toni Ho a.k.a. Iron Patriot remarks as Voyager sits on a chair in Toni's make-shift lab, rubbing her head. Toni tells her that if it is a blood sugar thing, she thinks she saw some emergency rations somewhere. Toni starts to tell General Robert L Maverick a.k.a. Red Hulk to check the supplies, but Voyager assures Toni that she will be okay. Voyager explains that she can only travel so far with her powers, or move so many people before she has to recharge. Toni remarks that “Voyager” is the perfect name for her, before remarking that she has some theories herself about how teleportation might work. 'There are papers by a man named Arthur Vector -' Toni begins, which causes Voyager to go wide-eyed and ask 'My father? You've read his work?' 'Wow. Home run. And I didn't even know I was at bat' Toni remarks, as Voyager exclaims that her father was the one of the first scientists to devote his attention to quantum entanglement.
Arthur Vector stands in his large, wondrous laboratory and tells his wife that, simply put, quantum entanglement is the theory that every atomic particle has a twin somewhere, linked to it by faster-than-light forces. 'That's wonderful, Arthur. But stop deflecting I'm serious' his wife replied, while a young Valerie hides behind some equipment in the lab. She was supposed to be waiting in her mother's car, but even at this young age, she can tell that something bad was about to happen. Her parents had no idea she had snuck into trge lab, or how big a mistake she was about to make. 'Arthur, we both hide behind our work, but you're never home. You're never with Valerie' Mrs Vector exclaims. She reveals that she is unhappy, and can tell that Arthur is, too. 'It cuts me to be bone to say this, Arthur...but I want a divorce'.
'NO!' Valerie screams, revealing herself as she rushes past her parents, 'Mommy, don't say that!' she utters, running towards some live cables in the lab, 'Valerie, look out! Don't touch -' Arthur calls out, but too late, as Valerie struck the cables. It should have hurt, but instead, it took the pain away, all at once, she feels part of everything, connected to every molecule, every atom on Earth. It was so beautiful to her. Her father nevber let his interest in her waver ever again, as she became living proof of his theories, and after years of refining her abilities, they discovered that she could travel instantly along the lines of quantum entanglement – and teleport anywhere on Earth, carrying whomever she pleased.
Valerie's parents went on to publish their findings, and through science they made their contribution to the world, and when Valerie discovered others like her, they founded the Avengers, and with them, she knew she could make her contribution, fighting alongside Thor, Iron Man, Giant-Man and the Wasp against the Space Phantom, for example.
'Are your parents still -' Toni begins, but Valerie reveals that they passed away not long after, so all she had was this team. 'Maybe that's why I don't miss all those years I was gone as much as you'd think' Valerie remarks. She looks at a large “A” logo on the wall and decides that no matter how much time has gone by, she is still part of something. Valerie announces that she feels rested, and declares that she should get back out in the field.
Back in New Mexico:
'Red triangle! Red! Triangle!' Citizen V utters. 'An abnormal response' Mentacle decides, as he starts to probe Roberto's mind for further data, and discovers that “red triangle” is a post-hypnotic command implanted by Professor X, who he understands was noted by the Recorder Corps as the foremost human psionic talent, but quite average by Rigellian standards. With his mental mapping complete, Mentacle begins total erasure of Roberto's mind. Roberto screams, while Mentacle notes that the human obstacles are about to lose their leader. 'Co-leader' a voice calls out. 'What?' Mentacle snaps, looking sideways, before the Falcon flies down and kicks him in the face. 'What was that about tactical observation?' Falcon asks, Captain Glory notes that Mentacle was too busy with one foe to monitor the rest, while Falcon picks up the now unconscious Roberto and remarks that he needs to get him out of range before Mentacle recovers.
Captain Glory tells himself that he can't make the same mistake, and realizes that once the Falcon has found a safe place to leave his wounded comrade, he will likely come for him, next. As Synapse twists Captain Glory's arm backwards, the Kree soldier thinks that he needs to distract her, get some distance between them. 'Distract me? How?' Synapse calls out. She moves back from Captain Glory and reminds him that she can see what he is thinking. 'Good. Then I'll drop my defenses – and let you see everything' Captain Glory tells her. 'What are -' Synapse utters, as she lunges forward, but Captain Glory has moved behind her. Synapse goes wide-eyed, 'Oh, no...' she utters. Falcon returns and asks Synapse what she is picking up. 'The secret they've been holding. We really are just obstacles in this contest, nothing more!' Synapse exclaims.
'What contest?' Falcon asks. They both duck as some rubble is blasted towards them, and Synapse tells him that she doesn't know the stakes, but that the Grandmaster pulled together the Lethal Legion to be his players. The Scarlet Witch continues to keep Molyn the Metal Master at bay, as the Metal Master announces that the Challenger summoned the Black Order to do the same, and reveals that the Grandmaster moved planet Earth to liven up the “game board” with utter chaos. Synapse reports that the two teams are competing for the pyramoids – and once they are gone, the game is over – and the game board will be tossed away into some cosmic trash bin! Falcon tells the other Avengers that they cannot let their foes take one more pyramoid out of play. 'Do you hear me? We have to protect this one at all costs!' he shouts. 'So noted' Wanda replies as she casts another hex sphere, and boasts that the Metal Master is not getting his hands on anything right now, as dust and rubble rises up around the small alien creature.
The Lethal Legion begin to change battle partners, as one of the Blood Brothers slams into Doctor Voodoo and declares 'This scrawny stick's not gonna stop anyone'. Wasp calls out to her teammate, while the other Blood Brother exclaims 'C'mon, human twig. Bring the hocus-pocus'. 'If we cannot crush these flesh-wrapped whelps... what good are we?' Drall asks as she hurls a spear towards the Scarlet Witch – but just before it strikes her, Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man comes between them, blocking the spear, 'They don't give up, do they' he remarks, while Wanda calls out to her ex-lover and close friend.
Captain Glory decides that the Avengers are more bothersome than he had given them credit for – especially counting the new arrival. Captain Glory thinks that his team still outnumbers the Avengers by one, so one they can certainly lose afford to lose. The Wasp fires her sting at one of the Blood Brothers, while Captain Glory tells Mentacle that this is the perfect time, while the Avengers are all occupied. 'Take the steps we discussed' he instructs him. 'Send him in'. Suddenly, one of the Blood Brothers looks confused as he finds himself levitating towards the pyramoid. 'Mentacle... Mentacle, what are you doing?' he calls out. 'No... wait… stop pushing me!' the Blood Brother exclaims as he nears the pyramoid. At the same time, Wonder Man is firing blasts of energy towards Drall, hoping to box her in between some large rocks, which he thinks will settle this peacefully, but Falcon doubts it. 'That's it, fools – focus on me!' Drall calls out.
The Blood Brother looks petrified, 'Send one of the others! Metal Master! Drall! Anyone! Please! Don't do this to me!' the Blood Brother shouts. 'I don't want to -' he utters, as he is forced to reach out to the pyramoid – but before he can touch it, several arrows are fired towards him and the pyramoid, which explode, shunting him backwards. The explosion forces Wonder Man, Wasp, Falcon, Wanda, Synapse and Doctor Voodoo to look up from their vaious individual battles, 'Hey, gang...somebody want to fill ol' Hawkeye in on what we've missed?' Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye smiles as he and Red Wolf appear on a ridge above the battlefield.
At that moment, in Arizona, at the ruins of the mount. 'Everybody missed it it was so obvious...and everyone missed it. The Hand...the Empire...they didn't do anything. Not really, just prodded him. And he came back. Because he always comes back' a voice thinks. There is movement beneath the rubble, something stirs. 'Please, if you're out there – if you can hear me...please, Lord, let someone be able to hear me... you have to get away from hee. Please! He's coming! He can't be stopped! He can't die! You have to get away!' And suddenly, through the rubble, a large green hand reaches upwards....
Falcon, Hercules, Thor IV (all Avengers)
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)
Hawkeye & Red Wolf
Black Swan, Proxima Midnight (both Black Order)
Blood Brothers, Captain Glory, Drall, Frene the Other, Mentacle, Molyn (all Lethal Legion)
Unidentified being in Nevada
Blood Brothers, Captain Glory, Drall, Frene the Other, Mentalce, Molyn (all Lethal Legion)
In illustrative image:
Black Dwarf, Corvus Glaive, Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, Supergiant (all Black Order)
Voyager at various stages
Arthur & Mrs Vector
Giant Man, Iron Man, Thor, Wasp (all Avengers)
This issue is narrated by Captain Glory.