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Mark Waid, Al Ewing & Jim Zub (writers), Kim Jacinto & Stefano Caselli (artists), David Curiel (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Mark Brooks (cover artist), Chris Sprouse, Karle Story & Marcio Menyz (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
As natural disasters spread chaos across the Earth, Quicksilver speeds around the planet, attempting to catch a small beacon of blue energy – he has deduced that this beacon is keeping all of the frozen heroes and villains in stasis. The Challenger announces to all of humanity that Earth no longer serves a purpose, and that he will destroy it – as he is now Grandmaster Prime. The Avengers are in a state of panic, but adding to their problems, the Hulk skips out of the Auxiliary HQ and finds the Grandmaster Prime, attacking him for bringing him back to life. Grandmaster Prime responds by sending Hulk careening out into space. Voyager teleports Thor, Hercules, Lightning, Citizen V and Toni Ho to the Grandmaster's cosmic game room, where they discover the world machine has been badly damaged, that it needs a resurgence of energy. Lightning offers to provide this, and Thor can help with Mjolnir. Toni points out that the world engine needs to be rebalanced, and they don't have anyone with hulk-level strength. Hercules can do what he can, but Citizen V steps up to play, turning off his power regulator, he can use his mutant strength to help keep the world engine stablized. Toni warns him that it might kill him, but he goes ahead with his plan anyway. Quicksilver returns to the Auxiliary HQ where he finds Wanda and Synapse and tells them what he knows about the beacon. He wants Wanda to use her powers to to enable him to push himself beyond his limits – and Synapse needs to help him break through his mental barrier. Synapse and Quicksilver kiss, before Wanda casts her spell – and it works, as Quicksilver speeds up, while Thor and Citizen V hold the world engine stable, Wonder Man is knocked aside by the Grandmaster Prime, Lightning and Thor release their energies into the world engine – and Quicksilver suddenly catches up to the beacon. He grabs it, then seemingly speeds out of existence. Wanda collapses, she knows that her brother has gone. Voyager returns to the Auxiliary HQ, as Squirrel Girl and the other heroes frozen in stasis are freed. Voyager realizes that this is her moment, and reaches out with her power to all Avengers that she can, and opens a portal, joining them together, she has assembled the Avengers!
'The Earth is dying. I can see it' Pietro Maximoff thinks to himself as he speeds across the planet. There is an earthquake in Berlin – he checks the Brandenburg Gate, which holds, for now – no civilians in danger, this time. He speeds to Portugal, but it's a different story there, as a storm rages and lightning strikes a civilian as Quicksilver passes. There is nothing he can do now, so keeps on running. Halfway across the Atlantic, Quicksilver finds Namor the Sub-Mariner, but he doesn't say hello – he is frozen mid-dive. Quicksilver reaches the East Coast, he looks up for a picosecond to see the sky unravel above him. Quicksilver realizes that whatever kept Earth stable, here at the far edge of creation, it is failing, dying. 'Earth is dying – because there aren't enough of us to save it. And only I know why. I can see it...the beacon. Whatever it is. Whoever created it... it's keeping chosen heroes frozen in stasis'.
Quicksilver follows the beacon, he is inches away from it. 'You. Will. Not. Get. Away!' Quicksilver exclaims as he passes a group of panicked civilians, where he sees She-Hulk, frozen as she tried to protect them. He comes across Bulldozer, Wrecker and Piledriver of the Wrecking Crew, frozen, too. Quicksilver comes to a stop and sees the Black Panther head of him, also frozen. 'Okay. Plan B...' Quicksilver decides, knowing that he must find a way to destroy the beacon and set the others free.
Chaos continues to rage across the Earth, as a tsunami washes across Yokohama, Japan. In Greymouth, on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island, and earthquake rattles the small town. Heavy rains flood Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and above Manhattan, New York a globe of energy surrounds the Elder of the Universe called the Challenger. He drops to the ground and slams his staff into the earth itself, before his voice booms across the entire planet: 'People of Earth – my opponent considered your planet to be something special. I am here to inform you that is not the case. And that it no longer serves a purpose in our grand cosmic game'. Civilians all around the world cower with their loved ones, or try to run, escape, to... somewhere. 'Still, before I reduce this orb to a cloud of carbon atoms...I admit I ache to enjoy some recognition of my long-awaited victory. Yours will have to do. Sing my praises and applaud my triumph for the rest of our natural lives'. He narrows his eyes and smirks as he warns the people of Earth that they have five minutes, and that if they want a name to pray to – they can call him Grandmaster Prime!
At the Avengers Auxiliary HQ, 'He's... he's here!' Voyager gasps, wide-eyed. 'The Challenger is here on Earth' Voyager announces. Dr Toni Ho a.k.a. Iron Patriot confirms this as she checks a monitor and reports that the Challenger has been sighted at Avengers Mansion. 'So he's the one making the planet crumble around us?' Roberto Da Costa a.k.a. Citizen V asks. Voyager explains that not even an Elder could break a world, not alone. Voyager reveals that on her father's satelite, there is a machine that maintains the energy envelope keeping Earth at the correct rotation and temperature, and if it were damaged, Earth could tear itself apart. Suddenly, a loud rumbling knocks the three from their feet '... the Hulk?' Roberto asks.
'What the Hell?' Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon asks in another room. Jan van Dyne remarks that it sounded like someone was smashing a hole in the roof, and Edwin Jarvis reports that he is afraid it was – and reveals that Dr Banner overheard them discussing the Challenger's current location and became rather violently upset.
'Hhrrh. They built a statue. A statue to that disobedient monster...madness' the Grandmaster Prime remarks as he stands near the statue of the founding Avengers at Avengers Mansion. He holds the head of the Hulk statue up and declares 'I'll be doing these primitives a favor -' when suddenly, a shadow looms over him, and the Hulk drops down on him, slamming him into the ground. 'You!' the Hulk calls out as he starts punching the Grandmaster Prime over and over. 'You woke me up. Brought me back to life. You didn't leave me alone!' Hulk exclaims, before telling the Grandmaster Prime 'You should have left me ALONE!' But the Grandmaster Prime is enraged by this assault: 'You hurt me. You actually hurt me...' he utters. 'How DARE you?' the Grandmaster Prime roars as he slams his fist into the Hulk's head – hard – in fact with so much force that it sends the Hulk careening upwards into space, which causes the Hulk to start laughing hysterically.
At that moment, Voyager teleports a small squad of Avengers – Toni Ho, Roberto DaCosta, Hercules, Jane Foster a.k.a. Thor and Miguel Santos a.k.a. Lightning onto the cosmic game room. 'I'll be honest, team...I'm not really seeing the funny side' Roberto remarks, as Miguel points out that this whole place is rubble. 'What happened here?' he wonders. Hercules looks at the strange contraption that houses some flickering energy and tells Lightning that if he was to judge, he would say it was the rampage of a maddened god. 'I know the signs' Hercules laments, adding that yon machine whirls and screams as if maddened itself. Toni turns to Voyager and points out that she is the expert, so asks her how bad it is. 'Bad, Toni' Voyager replies, explaining that the world-engine itself is almost indestructible, but that the machines feeding it data, and power, have been smashed. Voyager adds that it will spin further out of control until it uses up all its energy, and then it will die – and so will Earth.
'So... how do we keep the lights on?' Roberto asks. Voyager explains that part is relatively easy – they can charge the induction vent with electrical energy – a few hundred thousand gigawatts' worth should do it. She looks at Lightning, who shurgs his shoulders and offers to give it his best. Thor adds that Mjolnir stands ready to aid him. Toni supposes that between them they could generate about that much energy, before asking Voyager what the hard part is. Voyager explains that the wheel is linked to the planet's rotation, so they need to hold it steady, but the strength it would take to hold up the world... 'It would be Herculean. A task for a god!' Hercules declares, cracking his knuckles. 'More than one god. Even you can't do it alone, Hercules – and Thor's required elsewhere' Voyager points out. 'In other words, we need the Hulk after all' Toni mutters, hanging her head. She declares that they are all out of Hulks to give, before Roberto exclaims 'Not necessarily'.
Roberto loosens his collar and tie and boasts that he has been waiting for the chance to assert his unique leadership style and do something ridiculous. 'Hi. I'm Roberto Da Costa. I'll be your Hulk for the evening' he jokes. 'Eh?' Hercules asks. Toni admits that Roberto is super strong, but tells him he is nowhere near the level they need. 'Oh, yes I am' Roberto smirks, touching his head, he announces that he has switched off his regulator headband. 'You – are you insane?' Toni asks, telling Roberto that without that headband, his powers run out of control, and they will kill him! 'Eventually. But until they do, I happen to be the strongest mutant on Earth' Roberto replies, rolling up his sleeves. He then stands at the machine and tells everyone to take their places, joking that he and Earth now have an extremely limited window of survival, and he likes to work fast.
Back on Earth, Quicksilver returns to the Avengers Auxiliary HQ, speeding into a room where he finds Wanda Maximoff the Scarlet Witch and Emily Guerrero a.k.a. Synapse. He calls out to them, frightening Synapse. Quicksilver declares that there is no time to waste. 'We know. The Challenger is on Earth – we have to go -' Wanda tells her brother, but Quicksilver grabs her by her shoulders and announces that there is a becon keeping everybody else in stasis, faster than anyone can see, moving without friction, he chased it across the world, but even he cannot catch it – not on his own. Wanda tells her brother that even if she could use her magic to help, there is no guarantee he could stop it, as he could end up frozen again, or worse. 'We're stretched thin and the world crumbles before our eyes. If this could bring us more allies to turn the tide, we must try!' Quicksilver tells Wanda, who replies 'There must be another way.
Quicksilver points out that they don't have time to search for one, to which Wanda remarks that she doesn't know what will happen if he moves beyond the limits of his powers. 'I'll worry about that. Just make it happen' Quicksilver replies. 'Pietro...' Synapse calls out as she walks over to him. Quicksilver turns away from her, 'Emily, please don't try to talk me out of this' he asks her. Emily assures him that she won't – and that she just wants to help. She explains that Pietro's mind will try to keep him from going too fast, so Quicksilver suggests she use her powers to help him break through that mental barrier. 'Even if it hurts you?' Emily asks him. 'Even if it kills me' Pietro replies. Wanda readies her hex, while Synapse pulls down her mask and leans into Quicksilver, 'I'm sorry we never -' she begins. 'Don't apologize. Don't regret' Quicksilver tells her, before they kills. 'Pietro...I love you...' Wanda tells her brother, who gets into a starting position, and tells his sister that he loves her, too. 'Go' Wanda utters, tears in her eyes as she casts her hex.
Quicksilver speeds onwards, he sees the beacon, taunting him, just out of reach. Synapse and the Scarlet Witch both use their powers on Quicksilver, who realizes he is going faster than he has ever gone – but now he isn't alone, not anymore, as Wanda's sorcery destroys probabilities, and Synapse's mental powers unlock speed beyond fear. Speed. Beyond. Fear. Quicksilver thinks that together, the Avengers are stronger. Together, they sacrifice for those in need. Together, they engage the impossible.
Back in the cosmic game room, Hercules and Roberto use their strength to keep the world engine stable, while at Avengers Mansion, Wonder Man is knocked aside by the Grandmaster Prime. Quicksilver speeds ever closer to the beacon. Lightning and Thor release their energies, and Quicksilver thinks to himself 'That is why wer are a team. That is what it means to be an Avenger. Fighting together'. Rogue and Falcon go up against the Grandmaster Prime, but they are both knocked back – and then, suddenly – Quicksilver grabs the beacon!
Quicksilver looks horrified as the beacon struggles within his clenched fist. But he keeps running, thinking to himself 'Now... and... forevermore...' - he carries on running, and then, nothing. The Scarlet Witch drops to her knees, crying, she utters 'He's... gone...'.
Voyager then returns to Avengers Auxiliary HQ, into the room where the heroes in stasis are being stored. She tells herself that Hercules and the others are trying to keep the world-machine stable, but even if they do, the Challenger's rampage could still doom them all. 'There must be some way to free -' she begins, when suddenly, '- ah, nuts!' Doreen Green a.k.a. Squirrel Girl gasps, as she is freed from her stasis. 'The stasis has been broken!' Voyager exclaims. 'Uh...who are you?' Squirrel Girl enquires. Around them, other heroes are unfrozen – Captain America, Daredevil and Spider-Man – as Voyager announces that she thinks she is the hero they need right now. 'Trust me and pray this works!' Voyager tells them, as she starts to reach out with her power, to everyone close by – everyone calls themselves an Avenger. She connects with Rogue, the Black Panther, Doctor Voodoo, Falcon, Cannonball and Beast, and a portal opens.
From the portal, Voyager appears, with her are Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch, Captain America, Wonder Man, Synapse, Rogue, Squirrel Girl, both Wasps, Cannonball, Beast, Falcon and Doctor Voodoo, as Voyager shouts 'WE ASSEMBLE!'
Beast, Cannonball, Captain America, Citizen V VII, Doctor Voodoo, Falcon, Hawkeye, Hercules, Iron Patriot II, Lightning, Quicksilver, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Squirrel Girl, Synapse, Thor IV, Wasp, Wasp III, Wonder Man (all Avengers)
Black Panther, Daredevil, She-Hulk, Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner
Challenger / Grandmaster Prime
Bulldozer, Piledriver, Wrecker (all Wrecking Crew)
This issue is narrated by Quicksilver.