Jump to navigation
Mark Waid, Al Ewing & Jim Zub (writers), Pepe Larraz (artist), David Curiel (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Mark Brooks (cover artist), Chris Sprouse, Karl 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
Heroes around the world have been freed from their frozen stasis, and do what they can to save civilians from the natural disasters that are occuring. On the Grandmaster's cosmic game room, Lightning is exhausted after using his power to stabilise the Earth from spinning out of control, while Hercules, Thor and Citizen V use their strength to keep the world engine from unspooling. The Grandmaster appears, and Lightning follows him into another part of the game room, where he discovers the Human Torch and Red Wolf are alive, and being kept prisoner. The Grandmaster contemplates a rematch against the Challenger in a few centuries, before Lightning offers to play him in a game of poker. On Earth, the Grandmaster Prime continues to unleash his chaos, while the remaining Avengers do what they can to try and stop him,but he is too powerful. Nadia van Dyne finds the Voyager, and asks her if she can teleport the Grandmaster Prime into the sun – but before Voyager can even try, the Grandmaster Prime grabs her, and prepares to kill her – until the Avengers rally and come to her defense. Wonder Man attempts to speak to the Grandmaster Prime, but is torn apart – thankfully, Doctor Voodoo can maintain Wonder Man in his ionic form. Both Wasps assault the Grandmaster Prime, while Squirrel Girl suggests to Falcon that he use his power to try and connect with the Grandmaster Prime. The Falcon is skeptical, but does so, and it works, he is able to link into the Grandmaster Prime's mind. Synapse joins in, and the two are able to hold the villain back, enabling the other Avengers to attack him physically – but it only works for a time, and he blasts them all backwards. Lightning continues his poker game with the Grandmaster – and the stakes increase, as Lightning bets that if he wins, the Grandmaster will free the Torch and Red Wolf, and restore Earth to its rightful place. If the Grandmaster wins, he gets to erase Lightning from existence, including people's memories of him. Around the world, more heroes do what they can to save lives. Lightning tells himself that the heroes dont' care for the glory – as long as good is done. The Grandmaster doesn't want to be known as a loser, so folds, even though he had too good cards. Lightning doesn't show his cards, while the Grandmaster keeps to his word and frees the Torch and Red Wolf. Voyager realizes that the Avengers are going to lose against the Grandmaster Prime, so taps into their minds, giving them a nudge, reminding them what it means to be an Avenger. This causes the Scarlet Witch to cast a spell which enhances the abilities of her teammates, and assembled, they attack the Grandmaster Prime, and he is shattered into hundreds of pieces. Voyager brings the space team back to Earth, and Rogue and the Torch are reunited, while Earth is put back into its proper position in the universe. The natural disasters around the world end, and the Voyager seemingly fades from existence, while the Avengers take a moment to recover.
New Jersey, where the young heroes known as the Champions are doing what they can to save civilians who have become stuck in their cars as flood water rises around them. Miles Morales Spider-Man rips open a windscreen, while Kamala Khan a.k.a. Ms Marvel stands on top of a sinking car, holding a child, while extending her arm outwards to reach a man, struggling in the water. Viv Vision hovers in the air above, a civilian clinging to her hand. She contacts Nova, reporting that it is as if they suddenly awoke from a sleepless dream into pandemonium, and have found themselves at the epicenter of a volcanic earthquake. Nova a.k.a. Sam Alexander is in Texas with Amdeus Cho the Hulk, as they lift a bus full of children into the air as the ground below them burns in a fiery rage. Sam tells Viv that they shouldn't have split the team up, and that they are just as busy. He asks her if she can send some of that water here, as half of Texas is up in flames, and he and Cho are saving who they can – but something is dribbling this planet like a basketball and it is just getting worse everywhere!
In Hell's Kitchen, New York, Iron Fist slams his fist through the wall of a house that has been hurled up into the air by a twister, with an old man trapped inside it. Daredevil grabs the old man and leaps from the building, while in Los Angeles, America Chavez runs through a burning forest carrying two small children. In Nevada, Scarlet Spider has spun a web, sticking a bus that has fallen from a bridge to the web as he helps civilians climb up the side of the bridge, and in Long Island, New York, lightning strikes and waves crash over the shore as Moon Girl and several rescued civilians cling to Devi Dinoaur, who rushes across the beach. Nova adds that this is ten Michael Bay movies at once – crazy weather and earthquakes where there shouldn't be any – people need rescuing everywhere, and they can't keep up.
In space, the Grandmaster's cosmic game room, where a team of Avengers have been doing their part to protect the world engine from being destroyed. Jane Foster a.k.a. Thor stands near where Toni Ho a.k.a. Iron Patriot is holding Miguel Santos a.k.a. Lightning, who has collapsed, while Hercules and Roberto DaCosta a.k.a. Citizen V use their incredible strength to turn a large wheel. Miguel thinks to himself that he gave it everything he has got – and a little bit more – he has never felt so drained. 'Miguel! You did it!' Toni exclaims. Miguel just groans in response, while Thor congratulates him, too, pointing out that with his energy channelled through Mjolnir, Earth is stable for the moment – so long as Roberto and Hercules can keep the “world engine” from unspooling. 'There – there is no “if”!' Roberto calls out, declaring that failure is not an option today. Miguel is still in disbelief that he is here doing his bit to save the Earth – but all this is just a short-term situation. 'Aye! For 'tis a day unlike any other! When mortals rise to do the work of the gods!' Hercules exclaims. 'Indeed – and what god would I be if I did not help?' Thor asks as she joins in and starts pushing the wheel.
Miguel thinks to himself that they are going to stay teetering on the edge of disaster – until someone puts Earth back. Suddenly: 'Pfft. The Avengers fight to save their fragile planet once again. Why am I not surprised?' a voice utters asa figure suddenly materializes on the cosmic game room. 'The Grandmaster?' Miguel gasps. 'I was' the Elder of the Universe replies, as he carries on walking towards a doorway nwarby. Toni tells Miguel to go after him. 'Me?' Miguel asks. Toni points out that she is needed here, as Roberto is doing the work of a Hulk, and if he burns out and she is not here to stabilize him, then he is dead – and possibly, Earth with him. She adds that she isn't sure if Thor and Herc can do this alone. 'You've got this, right?' Toni asks. '... yeah' Miguel replies quietly, before calling out to the Grandmaster, telling him that he can't just abandon all those people down there. 'Feeble organisms destroyed by an unfeeling universe. Listen well, human. All that mattered was the game... and the game is now lost' the Grandmaster responds.
At that moment, on Earth, the Challenger – now calling himself the Grandmaster Prime – slams his foot into a street in New York. 'Pitiable' he remarks. 'To think that of all the magnificent combat fields in the galaxy, my opponent chose this fragile silicon sphere' the Grandmaster Prime mutters. 'Yeah? Well – we kinda like it!' Sam Guthrie a.k.a. Cannonball declares as he blasts towards the villain, Rogue flying alongside him, the two slam into the Grandmaster Prime, knocking him sideways. 'Red squad, let's go!' Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon shouts as he leads Jericho Drumm a.k.a. Doctor Voodoo, Hank McCoy the Beast, Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man and Doreen Green a.k.a. Squirrel Girl towards the Grandmaster Prime from another direction. 'That's the enemy? I'm not impressed!' Squirrel Girl exclaims, pointing out that it only took two of them to knock him back. 'Only given the element of surprise! Which you have abandoned!' the Grandmaster Prime exclaims as he fires a blast of energy that knocks Falcon and the others back.
'Blue squad, go!' Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America exclaims as he and Emily Gurrero a.k.a. Synapse rush forward, while Wanda Maximoff the Scarlet Witch flies alongside them. Cap instructs Synapse to probe the Grandmaster Prime's mind, and for Wanda to try for his nervous system – but before they can get any closer, the Grandmaster Prime knocks a car into them, sending them crashing backwards. 'I have gazed upon your world and seen vast armies. Nuclear arsenals. Weapons that could eliminate entire races. This is Earth's best defense? A colorful handful of native “warriors”?' the Grandmaster Prime remarks. 'Gray squad! We're up!' Rogue shouts as she, Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye and Jan van Dyne the Wasp move into action. Hawkeye prepares an arrow and asks if it is too late to raid a nuclear arsenal. 'Hawkeye!' Jan exclaims. 'Hey, he brought it up!' Hawkeye points out.
The Grandmaster Prime knocks Rogue and the others back with another explosion, while nearby, hiding behind a mailbox on the sidewalk is Voyager. Nadia van Dyne a.k.a. Wasp goes over to her: 'Valerie – Voyager – whatever your name is – can't you teleport this monster into the sun or something?' Nadia asks. Voyager explains that she has never used her powers on an Elder – but offers to try – only before she gets the chance, the Grandmaster Prime finds her and fires a blast at her head. 'You! Daddy's little spoiler!' he exclaims, before grabbing her by her neck and telling her to think about how much of this iis her fault – how much time and energy she has cost him in these last few days. 'Who do you think you are?' he asks. 'Right now? She's one of us!' Falcon exclaims as he flies towards the Grandmaster Prime, alongside the Beast, who lashes out and slams his fist into the Grandmaster Prime's face. 'All squads! Magicians to the back, power hitters to the front, now!' Falcon calls out as Doctor Voodoo blasts the Grandmaster Prime with some magical energy.
Wasp tells Hawkeye that she is giving him his Christmas present early, and tosses him two small arrows, which increase to a regular arrow size as Hawkeye catches them. 'You made these? What do they do?' Hawkeye asks. 'Have you ever seen nano-acids crawl their way through a bad guy's skin?' the Wasp asks. 'No' Hawkeye replies. 'Then savor the moment' Jan tells him as Hawkeye fires the arrows.
Back in space, the Grandmaster walks down some steps, as Miguel continues to follow him, asking if he is just going to leave. 'Indeed. I'll take a few trophies and then spirit myself away until my opponent has... cooled down. He is quite the sore winner, it seems...' Grandmaster replies, as Miguel goes wide-eyed when he sees the strange setting before him – four glowing energy crystals, one containing Johnny Storm the Human Torch, Red Wolf is trapped in another, and the other two contain Black Dwarf from the Black Order and Frene the Other from the Lethal Legion. 'Those are -' Miguel gasps. 'Points scored. No longer important' the Grandmaster remarks, while Miguel wonders how he gets them out of there. He is weak as a kitten right now, he can't fight the Grandmaster. He remembers what Wonder Man said – it's not what he can do. The Grandmaster hangs his head and supposes that in a few centuries he might approach him for a rematch.
The Grandmaster looks at a small statue of his daughter, Voyager, and calls her Van Nee. He remarks that she debases herself by fighting alongside the humans when there is nothing left to be gained, to be won. He sighs and mutters 'Such a waste' as he disintegrates the small statue. 'Your daughter?' Miguel asks as he moves closer to the Grandmaster. 'Yes' the Grandmaster replies. Miguel asks him if he doesn't care about her, to which the Grandmaster tells Miguel that he doesn't. Miguel decides that the Grandmaster is a monster – a total moral vacuum. 'The only thing is understands is...' Miguel thinks to himself, before calling out 'Grandmaster. The game is poker. Hold 'em, no limit. You in?' Miguel asks, holding up a deck of cards. The Grandmaster turns his head slightly, and narrows his eyes.
Back on Earth, the Grandmaster Prime knocks back Hawkeye and Squirrel Girl, while Wonder Man flies over to him, 'That's enough, Challenger! If you've got a legitimate grievance, I'm willing to talk – but if all you are is a bully who likes hurting people – you'll have to start with me!' Simon exclaims. 'Simon!' the Beast calls out as he and Doctor Voodoo watch from nearby. 'That seems reasonable' the Grandmaster Prime decides, as he fires a blast of energy that tears Simon apart. 'Simon!' the Beast calls out, while Doctor Voodoo uses his powers to keep Simon's ionic form stable, at least for a time. 'Thank heaven' the Wasp utters, before calling Nadia over to her. The two Wasps fly up to Grandmaster Prime, who remarks that this is madness – the strongest of them all and he only wanted to talk. 'This is a planet of gnats...' Grandmaster Prime mutters. 'That's what makes him the strongest of us, monster! You'll regret not taking the offer!' Jan calls out as she and Nadia begin firing their energy blasts into Grandmaster Prime's eyes. 'And for the record – we are not gnats! We are Wasps – and this is our sting!' Nadia exclaims, while the Grandmaster Prime roars.
Back on the Grandmaster's comic game room, Lightning and the Grandmaster sit opposite each other. Grandmaster points out that all of the cards are now dealt – a king, two queens, a ten, a two – three cards in the same suit – it is a very potent hand. 'Of course, it all depends on what you can make with the two cards you're holding...' the Grandmaster adds. 'I know the rules, En Dwi Gast' Miguel replies, addressing the Grandmaster by his true name. 'Then I'll remind you of the stakes. The Human Torch's freedom – against your own. Will you check, or bet?' the Grandmaster declares. Miguel pauses, tells himself to be careful – as he is not just hustling car thieves now. 'I bet' Miguel tells the Grandmaster, adding that it isn't just his freedom, but his life. He then declares that if he wins, Grandmaster has to give him Red Wolf. The Grandmaster agrees to this, and then raises Miguel: 'Your planet, back where it belongs – if you win. Or if I win...when I win...I'll take your Earth and everyone on it. Seven billion trophies. And oh, the games I will play!' the Grandmaster grins, while looking at the cards he holds in his hands – the King of Hearts and King of Diamonds. Miguel looks solemn as he stares at his own cards, and thinks to himself that the Grandmaster is the most dangerous player in the universe – but he has one thing going for him – his hole card. The one thing the Grandmaster doesn't know about.
Back on Earth: 'He knows – he knows I'm trying to attack his mind – but he's blocking me!' Synapse calls out as Grandmaster Prime casts blasts of energies towards Cannonball, Beast and Captain America who all lunge towards him. 'So take the back door, Synapse!' Squirrel Girl suggests, before calling out to Falcon, telling him to use his power on the Grandmaster Prime. 'What? He's not a bird, Squirrel Girl!' Falcon replies. Squirrel Girl points out that he is an alien, so perhaps he is evolved from birds, or dinosaurs – common ancestors. 'You don't know until you try!' Squirrel Girl shouts, as Falcon sets down on a nearby ledge. 'Fine – I'll reach out, try to see what he needs. But this isn't going to – it's... foggy, distorted... it hurts... but... I can see it!' Falcon exclaims as reaches the Grandmaster Prime's mind, and sees what the madman sees, as Beast, Cap and Hawkeye move in for another attack.
'Told you!' Squirrel Girl calls out, before telling Synapse to use the connection, to go in through Falcon's mind. 'Are lady there – and I've found his pain centers!' Synapse responds as she strikes Grandmaster Prime from within, causing him to cry out in agony. 'Uh...okay? I mean, I was going to suggest having a conversation...' Squirrel Girl remarks. Cannonball and Rogue move towards Grandmaster Prime, with Rogue telling Synapse to keep it up, and for everyone else not to pull their punches. She then slams her fist into the Grandmaster Prime's face, while Cannonball blasts straight into the villain's stomach, and Squirrel Girl kicks him in the chest, muttering 'Ugh. Fine. But afterwards, we're rehabilitating this guy'.
At that moment, in the Grandmaster's cosmic game room, the Elder of the Universe asks Lightning if he will fold.
And, in New York, 'E – enough. You have... succeeded – in irritating me!' the Grandmaster Prime declares as he gets to his feet, and releases a powerful surge of energy, knocking the Avengers backwards and destroying more of the city around them.
'And leave your planet – your friends – to the mercy of the Elders?' Grandmaster asks. He warns Miguel that whether he calls or folds, it doesn't matter, either way, he will win it all. 'He doesn't know. He doesn't know about the hole card' Miguel thinks to himself, before announcing that he raises. 'WHAT?' the Grandmaster asks, surprised. 'How? You bet your life – your planet – what else do you even have?' Grandmaster enquires. 'My history' Miguel points out, reminding Grandmaster that his daughter can alter memories, so he would bet that the Grandmaster could, too. 'So if you win...I'm forgotten' Miguel offers. 'Every bit of good I ever did. Every life I ever saved. Every victory erased. If anyone remembers me...let it be as a nobody. A d-list failure. A loser' Miguel declares, frowning. The Grandmaster contemplates this, realizing that if Lightning wins, then he would have to pay the same fate – be a loser. 'And there it is. The hole card. The thing he doesn't know' Miguel thinks to himself, smirking as he sees the Grandmaster contemplate his offer.
As heroes around the world do what they can during the chaos – Thing lifts a car from a woman, while Spider-Man swings down and grabs a boy from an explosion. Dr Strange keeps civilians safe in the middle of a twister, and a hooded figure brings a young person into a makeshift medical clinic. Storm uses her powers to calm the swelling tides, while Wolverine pulls a rescue worker from a blazing fire.
Miguel thinks to himself that what he is betting here, the massive raise he just made – bigger than a planet – is simply nothing, as this isn't about being the winner. It is not for glory. Heroes don't care if they are remembered – because it doesn't matter if anyone knows what good you did – as long as the good was done. 'That's what being an Avenger is. That's what he'll never know' Miguel thinks to himself. 'Well?' Miguel asks, leering at Grandmaster. 'I... I... I fold' the Grandmaster gasps, dropping his cards onto the ground. 'Fine. You owe me two Avengers and an Earth' Lightning reminds the Elder. 'NOW' Lightning snaps, raising his voice. 'I had a full house...kings high...' the Grandmaster mutters, snapping his fingers. He then looks up at Lightning, asking him to tell him what he lost to. 'Did you have the better hand? Were you bluffing? I have to know. I have to know how you won...' Grandmaster declares as Johnny Storm and Red Wolf appear near Lightning who replies 'Oh, honey. I don't play'.
Back on Earth, 'Hold the line! He's weakening! We can do this!' Captain America shouts as he hurls his shield towards the Grandmaster Prime. Wanda and Doctor Voodoo casts their respective spells and fire them towards their foe, while both Wasps fire their energy blasts at him. Hawkeye shoots an arrow at the enemy, as Synapse, Cannonball, Beast, Falcon, Squirrel Girl and Rogue battle alongside them. Nearby, 'He's wrong...they're going to lose' Voyager utters as she watches the fight. Captain America's feet dig into the ground, as Voyager tells herself that the Avengers' powers are finite, and they are now running out of time. Synapse continues her assault of the Elder, as Voyager thinks to herself that the Challenger's energy is nearly limitless. The Scarlet Witch digs her feet into the ground, too, while Voyager realizes that the Avengers are losing ground before they lose it all.
Voyager turns to the Beast and tells him that humans are legendary throughout the galaxy for their fighting spirit – but it is failing them. The Beast tells Voyager that it is time to rally the team. 'You control memories, right? Make them remember!' the Beast exclaims. 'Remember what it means to be an Avenger!' Voyager shouts as her powers wash over the Avengers. Heroic memories flood their minds, of the good that they have done as Earth's Mightiest Heroes. 'Avengers – you fight for mankind! You give your all and then double it! You look death in the eye and you tell it no! No retreat! NO SURRENDER!' Voyager screams.
Suddenly, the Scarlet Witch casts a spell: 'By earth and sky, by craft and hex – by the past and the future – I call hope forth from the darkness!' Crimson bands of energy wrap around Wanda's teammates as they continue to fight the madman. 'I speak the worlds of power! The words we gave power to! The words we made into magic!' Wanda continues her spell as the Avengers continue their assault against the Grandmaster Prime. 'Let their power augment our own! To strike one blow from our hearts and souls – from all that we are! Let the call go forth – AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!' the Scarlet Witch screams as her energies strike the Grandmaster Prime and he is torn apart, exploding into hundreds of tiny shards.
The broken remains of the Grandmaster Prime crumble to the ground as the Avengers gather together. Voyager teleports Thor, Lightning, Herc, Citizen V, Toni Ho, the Torch and Red Wolf back down to Earth, reuniting them with the other Avengers. 'We don't do this to be remembered. We do it for our friends. For those who believed in us' Lightning thinks to himself, as Rogue goes over to the Human Torch, who smiles at her, before they embrace. Cap puts a hand on Synapse's shoulder, while Voyager steps away from the others, as Lightning decides that, sometimes, they do it for their better selves – for the people they want to become – one day. Voyager smiles, before she fades away.
In space, Captain Marvel is hovering in the emptiness where Earth once floated – then, suddenly, Earth returns. 'Holy crap!' Puck shouts aboard the Alpha Flight Space Station. 'Earth just...reappeared! Not to mention the moon!' Sasquatch declares, before informing Captain Marvel that the readings are normal – this is the real deal. 'Thank God' Captain Marvel gasps. Lightning thinks that they do it for everybody – but most of all, they fight for those who can't fight alongside them – to give them just a little hope. To let them know they are not alone. Civilians around the world look up to the sky, they throw their hands up in joy, in relief. Lightning decides that they do this to let them know they are not alone, that the Avengers stand with them, together – from the highest to the lowest. From the most loved to the most feared. 'We stand with you'. In Wakanda, Black Panther looks out over his kingdom, while Colosuss and Kitty Pryde rescue some civilians from a crashed plane.
'We don't do it to be remembered. But sometimes... just sometimes... we know we'll remember it forever' Lightning smiles, as he sits alongside the Beast and Squirrel Girl. Captain America, Rogue and the Human Torch stand behind them, while Thor, Hercules, Hakweye, Cannonball, Toni Ho and Citizen V stand to their right. Both Wasps hover above them, and Red Wolf, Falcon, Doctor Voodoo and the Scarlet Witch stand behind them. The Avengers did not surrender. And they saved the Earth once again....
Beast, Cannonball, Captain America, Citizen V VII, Doctor Voodoo, Falcon, Hawkeye, Hercules, Human Torch II, Iron Patriot II, Lightning, Red Wolf, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Squirrel Girl, Synapse, Thor IV, Voyager, Wasp, Wasp III, Wonder Man (all Avengers)
Challenger / Grandmaster Prime
Frene the Other
Captain Marvel VII
Puck, Sasquatch (both Alpha Flight)
Hulk III, Ms Marvel V, Nova III, Spider-Man VII, Viv Vision (all Champions)
Luke Cage, Daredevil, Iron Fist (all Defenders)
Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur
Black Panther, Dr Strange, Spider-Man, Thing
Colossus, Kitty Pryde, Old Man Logan, Storm (all X-Men)
This issue is narrated by Living Lightning.
Living Lightning has the deck of cards with him because he was playing cards with some criminals in Avengers (1st series) #675.
Synapse was not included in the gathered Avengers on the final page of this issue. Wonder Man's absence can be explained by being kept in stasis in his ionic form, while Enigma was not shown to be taking part in the final battle, probably because her armor was destroyed, similarly, the Vision was left at Avengers Mansion due to the damage he sustained against the Hulk, and Quicksilver seemingly vanished from existence.