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Roy & Dann Thomas (writers), Bob Hall (penciler), Win Mortimer (inker), Rick Parker (letterer), Renee Witterstaetter (colorist), Mark Gruenwald (editor), Tom DeFaclo (editor-in-chief)
Dr Druid and Ravonna Renslayer, better known as Nebula, have been living in a literal Garden of Eden, but Druid is plagued by memories and dreams. They don't know who they are, but deduce that if they concentrate hard enough, they might be able to find the information they need. It works, and Druid relives his early adventure where he visited the dying Lama in Tibet. His memories are restored – he recalls his time with the Avengers, and the events that led to he and Nebula, truly a villain, to being stranded in this realm after they were both sucked through a time bubble. The Eden that they reside in is a trick, too, and begins to fade, revealing that they are still stuck in the time bubble. Druid realizes they need to find the center of the bubble, and Nebula races him to it. She reaches it first and gains vast powers which she uses to create an anti-time, sending them back several decades to the year 1961, before the general arrival of superbeings. She traps a time in a time aura, and starts causing trouble, battling Druid, who is unable to prove any match against her new vast powers, before she turns her powers on the locals. Druid realizes what year they are in – meaning there is no one to stop Nebula. He begs her to stop her mad quest, but Nebula boasts that nothing can stop her from turning time backwards and taking over the world. Nebula casts Druid away, where he lands in Tibet. He follows the same path he took all those years ago, and is led to meet the dying Lama. The Lama reveals that Druid's earlier time here was a test for the true Sorcerer Supreme, and the Lama is identified as the Ancient One. Druid feels betrayed that he missed out on becoming the Sorcerer Supreme, before he forgives the Ancient One. The Ancient One had counted on Druid forgiving him, and tells him that the truth will set him free. Reality warps around them and Druid is sent back to the town that Nebula has imprisoned. Druid is renewed with this information that he has been given and while Nebula tortures the locals within the time aura, Druid sets about taking special Celtic items from a museum. Nebula begins to age and de-age the locals, while Druid summons Celtic deities to help him, and he is split into three versions of himself, the past, the present and the future. They work as one to combat Nebula, they are even able to age and de-age her by using her newfound powers against her, eventually forcing her back into the time bubble. Druid finds himself back in the correct time, and the city around him is back to normal. Something isn't normal though, as Druid has been restored to his younger persona when his three selves converged to battle Nebula. Pleased with this development, he flies off, knowing how to be a better man than he used to be.
' - and I scream! It's always the selfsame anguished scream – barely audible, even to me as I make it, over the roar of the maelstrom that yawns amid a sea of stars!' Dr Anthony Ludgate Druid cries out as he has a vision of falling through a portal, the elderly sorcerer clutching his head and closing his eyes, while a blonde woman wearing a tattered green costume and thigh-high purple boots asks 'Is it another waking dream, my love?' “Another”? Druid quotes her. 'No – not another. The same one... always the same one!' Druid snaps, leaning against a tree to help steady himself. The woman goes over to him and tells him that she knows, and that the vision haunts her, as well. Nearby, a lion and a sheep can be seen in the field, as the woman tells Druid that, like him, she can never see further into her past than that single agonizing moment. 'So, we must put the past out of our minds and get on with our lives here' she suggests.
'What lives? We don't know where we are, or who we are – not even our names!' Druid cries out as he puts his head against the woman's chest. The woman tells him that however they came to this idyllic Eden, it is clear after all these months that they can never leave. 'Thus, perhaps it's best that we remember so little' the woman suggests, while asking 'Haven't we been... happy here?' while the lion and the sheep walk towards them. 'But it's a happiness born of ignorance. I want to know the truth, beloved. I must know the truth!' Druid declares. They stand up and walk across the lush field, the lion on one side of them, the sheep walking on the other. 'If that's how you feel, you know I'll help you, if I can – but how?' the woman asks. Druid tells her that their “dreams” can't ne wholly identical, no matter how close, and points out that she still sees things from her perspective, and he from his, so the two of them, between then, see more than either of them sees by themselves.
Druid continues, explaining that he thinks if they can somehow merge their thoughts, they may be able to break through and see the entirety of their pasts. 'Merge our thoughts? Can we do such a thing?' the woman asks. Druid tells her that he thinks so – and explains that it is a feeling that has been growing within him lately, but he can't explain it. They grasp hands and Druid instructs the woman to think, to think with all her being and all her soul. 'In am, my love, I – Yes! I do see something now within my mind! I see – you!'
The blonde woman tells the bald man that she sees another man, sallow of skin, leading him toward a towering structure atop a snow-capped peak. She sees the other man call him Dr Druid, and Druid announced that after coming all the way to the Himalayas, he hoped to cure the mysterious Lama's illness. ('Druid! So, we know your name at least – and your calling!' the woman remarks). Inside the fortress, Druid met an attendant, who informed him that to reach the Lama, he must walk over sacred ground without his bag or shoes. Dr Druid told the attendant that he would need his instruments, but, nevertheless, he walked barefoot over hot coals and was not harmed, as he was told that if he fixed his gaze on the Emerald Eye across the chamber they would not burn him. Next, Druid eluded a half-ape half-lion beast, called Gorlion, escaping the beast's clutches on a rope that carried him higher, as he told the Gorlion to keep back, as a man's life hung in the balance. Finally, he stood at last at the Lama's bedside, where the Lama claimed that he was not sick, but merely a old man who had reached the end of life's journey. The Lama informed Druid that for years he had used his mystical knowledge to fight sinister occult forces which are a threat to mankind, only now can he fight no more.
The Lama informed Druid that he sent to the West for a doctor, knowing that a man of self-sacrifice and courage would come to inherit his mantle. As they touched hands, the Lama announced that within Anthony Druid, lay the power of the ancient Britons, and that with his added knowledge of the East, Druid could never fall prey to the unknown. He asked Druid if he accepted his gift of wisdom. Druid’s life changed, touching his head, he felt as if he was awakened from a deep sleep. In that moment, the Lama passed over.
The blonde woman watched as she saw the many deeds that Druid would do from that day forth, standing alongside other powerful figures, even leading them – they are called the Avengers. 'Yes! Yes, my memory is coming back to me, Nebula!' Druid exclaims, turning to the blonde woman. 'That is your name, isn't it, beloved?' he asks her. 'Yes... one of them' the wide-eyed woman replies, before Druid tells her that he remembers her well now. 'An ethereal figure...' he begins.
Nebula appeared out of nowhere, claiming to be Druid's spirit guide, his channeler – but he knows that's not what she was, taking her victim's place, she used the powers inherent in his war-suit to place Thor, Black Knight and She-Hulk under her mental control. They departed in the Avengers Quinjet, watched by Edwin Jarvis. Druid understands now – she is the murderer of one of the many Kang the Conquerors spread across alternate worlds. She then forced the four Avengers to accompany her on an astonishing mission, to a phenomenon 20 years into their future, and 15 years wide - “The bubble at the heart of time”. Nebula knew, but kept it from the Avengers, that a renegade Celestial had hidden the ultimate weapon there, and she meant to find it, for her own purposes, which Druid realizes now were wholly evil.
Druid admits to doing a few things he is ashamed of since the Lama awoke his powers, such as psychically influencing the Avengers to elect him as their chairman, but nothing more than this – when the three Avengers finally overthrew Nebula's domination, he still fought on her side, not theirs. He watched as She-Hulk threatened to take Nebula apart one piece at a time – and neither of them could prevent She-Hulk from ripping her armor to shreds – and when Nebula tried to teleport herself to safety – alone – and fry the Quinjet's occupants in the process – but her Kang suit shorted out, with drastic effect, and she screamed, and Druid watched, for he loved her even then, when he knew she had coldly manipulated him, as the turbulence of the looming time bubble pulled Nebula out of the Quinjet, 'Help me beloved!' she screamed, and Druid leapt after her on impulse, with both of them being sucked into the bubble where space and time met, and from which an unending stream of alternate realities followed.
Druid announces that the memories are every bit as clear to him now as they were shrouded only moments ago. 'And... to me, as well' Nebula, whose real name is Ravonna Renslayer, agrees. 'Then – this world – this paradise where lions lie gently down with lambs – it's all a lie!' Druid exclaims, turning to the animals, when suddenly, the reality around he and Nebula begin to fade. They find themselves in a strange orange nothingness, and Druid reminds Nebula that when they entered the maelstrom they were desperate for a safe haven from the time storm raging outside, so they mentally wove themselves a veritable garden of eden, which never existed except in their minds, and now that the facade is gone, they face they actuality of the time bubble, at least. Druid declares that he must find the center so he can learn what marvelous secrets lie within. 'One of them is that renegade Celestial's weapon – and that's going to be mine!' Nebula calls out as she suddenly smacks Druid in the back his his head, and floats towards the glowing center of the time bubble.
Nebula tells Druid that he was reasonably pleasant to dally with for the weeks, or months, or perhaps years, that they have tarried here – but this is business. 'I'll have that weapon, and the worlds it can win me – or else I'll find death instead!' Nebula calls out, and she starts to glow once she enters the bubble, announcing that instead of committing suicide, she feels power flowing through her like an energizing current. 'Who needs that Celestial's “ultimate weapon” when I can feel like this?' Nebula grins. Druid calls out to her, and floats after her towards the bubble, he tells her to be careful, as they know so little about the forces that swirl at the center of time. 'We must -' Dr Druid begins, before Nebula fires a blast of energy at him, which knocks him backwards, warning him: 'Interfere with me – and you'll not only not be beautiful – you won't be a memory!'
'But – I loved you!' the wide-eyed Druid utters. 'Correct! Because I wanted you to' Nebula explains, supposing it was to be expected he would have a small residual of love left, even after she had no more use for it. 'No matter! Come closer, Druid – and I'll show you what I've discovered – here, at the Heart of Time itself!' Nebula calls out. Druid asks her what she means, and Nebula tells him to watch, as she replays recent events, backwards to him: Druid realizing their paradise was a lie, Druid and Nebula trapped in the timestorm, Nebula being forced out of the Quinjet after being attacked by She-Hulk, and Jarvis waving goodbye to the Avengers.
An instant later, 'The most recent part of our lives – I could see – feel it following past us – but backwards! What -' Druid begins, as he and Nebula find themselves transported to the middle of a street on Earth. Nebula tells Druid that a far better question is “When”, and reveals that by reaching the center of the bubble first, she did find a secret – and she suggests it could be called “Anti-Time”. Nebula boasts that she intends to conquer the Earth, and tells Druid that neither he nor all the self-styled super heroes in the world can stop her. 'But then, there won't be any super heroes around – or did I forget to mention – I've taken us back to the year 1961!' Nebula declares, clenching her fists. Druid asks Nebula what she has done, to which Nebula tells Druid that he must have forgotten to whom he is speaking. 'I am – was – one of the Council of Kangs, Conquerors of Time' she declares. 'Only because you murdered one of the many “Kangs” dwelling among the timelines!' Druid reminds her.
'All the more reason you should have known I'd spread the Anti-Time aura I now wield – over a 15-mile radius – the width of the Time Bubble wherein a gained such chronal power!' Nebula calls out, as part of the city is covered by a dome. Nebula boasts that this city, whatever its name, will be the first, but far from the last, to bend its knee to her. 'You madwoman – toying with forces you can never understand – what are you trying to do!' Druid calls out as he grabs Nebula by one of her arms. 'How should I know? I just got her!' Nebula retorts, as she knocks Druid back with a surge of energy. Nebula notes that even with her Kang-armor in shreds, she is discovering new talents moment by moment, while Druid points out that he didn't gain any powers inside the Time Bubble, but he still has his old ones, like the ability to levitate himself, or anything except iron. He levitates into the air and uses his power to hurl a nearby potted tree towards Nebula in an attempt to knocks some sense into her.
Nebula tells Druid that is a rather primitive attitude for a psychiatrist-cum-occult master. 'Still, not as primitive as that tree and its concrete base will be – once I've devolved them both backward in time – till they become only the raw elements they were before!' Druid looks shocked as Nebula's powers transform the tree and its base into basically nothing. 'Nor will it do you any good to try to mesmerize me with that wilful stare of yours – or even to swallow your pride, and try to contact your fellow Avengers?' Nebula declares. Dr Druid looks around nervously, and realizes that Nebula is correct – he tried to reach out to the Avengers, but there was nothing. 'Is that...possible?' he asks. 'Yes – because there are no super heroes to summon!' Nebula grins. She remarks that Druid may not have heard what she said as they arrived – and tells him to look at the newspaper the boy nearby is carrying.
Druid looks over at a boy who is carrying newspapers, and is confused by the headlines. He then notices the cinema nearby and realizes the films that are on show were released three decades ago. 'Either revival theaters are making a comeback, or...quickly, son! What city is this? What year is it?' Druid asks the boy, while several other civilians start to gather around nearby. 'You kidding me, mister? It's Lincoln, Nebraska – April 25, 1961!' the boy reveals. 'Then it's true! There'll be no one who can stop Nebula here – because she's somehow transported us back to a time when super heroes don't exist – more than two years before Kennedy will be shot in Dallas!' Druid calls out as he grabs the newspaper. 'Whoa! Did you say you're gonna shoot the President?' the boy asks, before turning and running away. Druid tells him to wait, but the boy carries on running and calls back 'You gotta be crazy – running around in red longjohns with a gal who's half dressed! I'm gonna find me a cop!'
Nebula smiles as she tells Druid that he must realize now how useless it would be to oppose her, and that even if he left this 15-mile area and contacted his Avenger friends, they couldn't enter it without reverting to what they were in 1961. 'Only you and I are unchanged by my anti-time aura – which I shall gradually increase – till it turns backward the clock of all the world!' Nebula boasts that nothing will be able to resist the mighty weapons she can build – and the world will be hers! 'No... darling, please – for my sake – for your own – don't -' Druid begins, dropping to his knees – before Nebula tells him that he bores her, and uses her powers to send him careening away. 'Sorry, “my love”... but this time isn't big enough for both of us!' Nebula remarks.
Dr Druid eventually lands in some snow. He is cold, and wonders where Nebula has sent him, before looking up, he sees a monk standing over him, and a temple further up the snow-covered mountain. 'Yonder is the place you seek, Dr Druid' the monk reports. Druid realizes that he is back in Tibet, before the lamasery, at the hour when he first arrived, in answer to the summons which had gone out from the roof of the world. He notes that it doesn't bother his guide that he suddenly switched to thermal underwear. He decides that after coming all the way to the Himalayas, he hopes he can cure the mysterious Lama's illness. He sits down and removes his footwear as an attendant makes him proceed barefoot. 'All right, bring on the hot coals!' Druid calls out, before he walks across the coals, thinking to himself that this time he didn't have his doctor's bag to leave behind. He eludes the strange creature and climbs a magical rope, before finally, coming face to face with the Lama, who he knows is only minutes from death.
'Lama – I have lived this moment before and -' Druid begins, before the Lama interrupts, informing Druid that this time he shall know the true reason he was summoned from the West. 'But you told me why! It was so I could inherit your mantle – merge the power of the ancient Britons with your eastern knowledge!' The Lama informs Druid that he spoke the truth, but that there was something he did not tell him, and asks if Druid knows Dr Strange. 'Of course! Earth's Sorcerer Supreme – mystic sentinel of our world!' Druid declares. The Lama informs Druid that at the time he first came to him, Strange was only a physician, like himself, but that Druid was lured here, and might be Strange's precursor. 'What? You mean you meant me to play John the Baptist to his -?' Druid starts to ask. 'In a manner of speaking. Stephen Strange is one who had to fall far, that he might be raised at last to greatness' the Lama remarks.
The Lama's voice is weak as he explains that he was then Earth's Sorcerer Supreme he was not certain he was fully up to the task, as there was too much at stake for him to risk his all without first testing his ability to pass on his full powers to an appointed heir, so he made Druid the repository of some of his powers, even as he awakened some of his own innate Celtic ones. 'And then... I died... even as I die now, and shuck off this false form' the Lama utters as his body begins to change. 'LAMA!' Druid calls out. 'You're changing – before my eyes! The face – I've seen images of it before! You now wear the visage and shape of – the Ancient One – Dr Strange's late mentor!' the wide-eyed Druid exclaims. 'I do so, Anthony Druid, because that is who I am... indeed who I always was!' the Ancient One declares.
Druid remarks that he begins to see the truth, and the Ancient One explains that he needed a temporary champion, to shield the Earth from the demons of shadow, while Stephen Strange fulfilled his first destiny which was to be an ego-centered, greed-filled surgeon.
in flashback images:
Nurse... be sure to give Mrs Smythe my bill as soon as the anaesthetic wears off' Dr Stephen Strange tells a nurse, while he smokes a cigarette and drinks from a glass. 'Yes, Doctor' the nurse replies hesitantly. Later that night, Strange's careening sports car hurtles from a midnight road, and his dreams of temporal wealth vanish – along with the skill of his damaged hands. 'I'll never be able to perform another operation!' Stephen exclaims, looking at his hands. He fell mightily, before becoming a human derelict, and overhears the pre-ordained mention of the Ancient One's name, from two men standing nearby, one of whom remarks that the Ancient One can cure anything and has magic powers. Strange goes to the same Himalayan lamasery where Druid had visited sometime earlier, though it looks far different to his eyes, of course, as it looks different to everyone who sees it.
'All these years – I should have guessed!' Druid exclaims, adding that he has long since learned something about Dr Strange's origin, knew it was similar to his own, even though his career was almost unknown until recently. 'But I never imagined I was simply – A TEST RUN FOR DR STRANGE!' Druid shouts. The Ancient One asks Anthony Druid to forgive him and admits that he should have revealed the truth to him years ago. 'You used me, old man!' Druid frowns. 'And now, after all this time – you dare ask me to forgive you?' Druid's frown turns into a smile, 'Oh, all right. You're forgiven. After all, it's not everybody who gets to be a point man for a Sorcerer Supreme!' Druid remarks. 'I knew you would say that – if I had chosen well' the Ancient One responds.
Druid suddenly realizes that if the old Lama was really the Ancient One all along, then he is dead. 'In the present, yes... but not in the year the western world calls 1961 AD' the Ancient One points out, before telling Druid that now he knows the truth, the truth, it has been truly said, shall set him free. 'Druid watches as the Ancient One raises his arms, and everything around him begins to shift, as he sees Lincoln, Nebraska, 1961. The Ancient One informs Druid that the woman called Nebula awaits him, serene in her newly-enlightened ignorance. He explains that Nebula thought to send Druid at random to another age, but being alive in this era, the Ancient One decided to intercept his timeward flight, and perhaps, to rectify an old wrong that he had done to him. Druid looks somber as he tells the Ancient One that it is he who has done wrong, as in his own way, he has been more selfish and egotistical than Stephen Strange ever was – conniving his way into the Avengers, subliminally influencing them to elect him their leader, because he lacked self-respect, always thought of himself as a minor-leaguer, a failure – but now he knows he is not. He declares that he succeeded at being what he was always meant to be – the mystic harbinger of Dr Strange! As the Ancient One vanishes and Druid flies off across Lincoln, Nebraska, he shouts 'The woman called Nebula is going to wish she had never encountered me!'
'I love it! Outside my 15-mile anti-time aura the year is 1990! Inside – it's 1961!' Nebula calls out as she stands on a rooftop, while people, cars and trash cans are hurled about around her. 'There are 120,000 people living in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1961 – (I looked it up) – and tonight, not one of them is happy!' Nebula shrieks, before adding 'To continue in the crude vein of the vernacular – you ain't seen nothing yet!' she calls out, while a woman running down below with a crowd trying to escape the chaos asks 'Who is that crazy woman?' 'Can't anybody stop her?' a man asks. Nebula supposes that she should introduce herself to these hapless fools, as she would rather like them to know they are in the throes of the anti-time energy she acquired at the center of a vast time bubble, and that the name of their conqueror is Nebula.
Several blocks away, Druid stands atop another building and observes the chaos before him. 'Poor Nebula...watching her here from the dome of the State Capitol, I almost feel sorry for her in her blind egoism...so like my own, in days past' Druid realizes. He leaps off the building and flies towards the ground, telling himself that Nebula has become like a child, playing with a new toy, barely comprehending the awesome power at her fingertips – even though that means if he levitates over to try another frontal assault on her, even if he survives it, the city's inhabitans may not. 'Before the Ancient One humbled me by revealing the true secret of my origin that might not have bothered me. But now it does' Druid realizes. He enters a museum, hoping to fall back on the ancient Celtic rituals with which magnifies the power of his mind, although he knows that even if he finds what he wants in this museum, that will take time – and he hopes he has time.
Nebula encases a family in a glow of energy, 'Do you want to know something, people?' she calls out. 'I'm discovering something about this anti-time force of mine' she announces, remarking that in order to increase the 15-mile radius of her powers, the anti-time force needs to feed on time – to sap up days, hours and years like a thirsty beast. 'Can you spare a little of your precious time?' Nebula asks the family. 'Mom – Dad – what's happening to us?' the boy asks as the family begin to age rapidly. 'Thank you. I'm ever so grateful' Nebula tells them, as the now elderly boy utters 'I feel so old...!'
Inside the museum, Druid uses his power to put the guard to sleep, while he looks at an object encased in a glass display. 'It's added strength I need – strength I pray I can find in the few Celtic relics on display here – especially those in three parts, which is the sacred number of strength' Druid tells himself. He reaches for a vase which depicts the three-headed god, and decides that it may well prove the salvation of past, present and future. 'If it doesn't – it may well prove the last thing I ever hold in my living hand!' Druid realizes as he holds the vase up.
Back outside: 'They say there's nothing quite so sad as a parent seeing a child reach middle age. Well, I think anti-time and I can go them one step further!' Nebula cries out as the aging family float before her. 'What of parents who see their child reach old age – only a few seconds behind them?' she asks.
Nearby, Druid is busy drawing symbols in a clearing. He tells himself that where others might draw a pentagram or a zodiac, he draws the circle of his own ancestors, and sitting in the middle of the circle, he calls upon the three mother goddesses of war.
Nebula tells the aging family that she knows she really should get on with the more serious business conquering of the world, but she has had so little time for fun since she became one of the Council of Kangs. 'Let's see, what next? What if I revert the parents to their proper age again – so they can revel in a son who's twice that old?' Nebula smiles. The parents indeed revert to their true ages, and the mother screams, while her son remains very old.
'Morrigan – Macha – Badb – Help meeeeeee!' Druid cries out, energies darting around him as he concentrates hard.
'What's that, you say? You don't appreciate an octogenarian offspring?' Nebula asks, grinning. 'Perhaps you'll like him better at half that age?' she remarks as she de-ages him. 'Or half that...or even half that?' she declares as the wide-eyed parents watch as their son is returned to his true age.
'Come, you three who are called the Great Queens – you Morrigan, who sends your ravens forth to drink the blood of the battle – HELP MEEEEE!' Druid pleads, his face looking angry as he clenches his fists.
At the same time, Nebula reduces the boy's age in half again, and again, turning him into a baby. 'Again and again – until you are nothing more than an eyeless amoeba, wriggling in the eye of the universe!' she exclaims, while the mother pleads with her: 'Please, whoever you are – have you no mercy?' Suddenly, 'The innocent should not plead for mercy, woman!' a voice exclaims, and a surprised Nebula looks up to find herself confronted by Druid – or, rather – three versions of Dr Druid! '- but for justice!' a dashing, younger past version of Druid with hair declares. 'For vindication!' the present-day Druid calls out. 'And, failing that – for vengeance!' an even older Druid, still bald save for the sides of his head which have grown long and gray. 'WHAT?' Nebula exclaims, confused. 'Three men, each attired like Dr Druid!' But the future version explains that they are each one Anthony Druid.
'But...you're of three differing ages!' the confused Nebula exclaims. 'Which of you is the true one?' she asks. 'I am!' the present day Druid declares. 'And I – as I would have been, if I'd gained my powers at the height of youth' the younger Druid explains. 'While I am Druid, as I shall be in the ripeness of age!' the third Druid reveals. Nebula glows with energy as she boasts to them that even if they have split into threes, they are no match for her. 'At the best of times, you were only a relatively weak sorcerer – whose powers are as nothing compared to those I can unleash!' Nebula exclaims as she surrounds each of the Dr Druids with energy – but to her surprise, they neither age nor become babbling infants as she intended. 'We – I – have tapped the power of three ages, woman!' the older Dr Druid informs her. 'Aye! Past – present – and future!' the present Dr Druid exclaims as he clenches his fists. 'We are the three ages of Dr Druid – and all of mankind!' the younger Dr Druid calls out, while he clenches his fists, too.
'I sorrow, Nebula, for what we once were to each other' the older Dr Druid remarks. 'And I ponder, uncertain what will happen' the present Dr Druid reveals. 'While I relish only the present, wherein your destruction lies!' the younger Dr Druid declares. 'Destruction?' the wide-eyed Nebula asks, before she shouts 'NEVER!' as she increases the amount of power she is unleashing on the three Dr Druids. 'Not while I possess the power I wrested from the bubble at the heart of time!' But suddenly, the energy engulfing the three Dr Druids fades away from them, as the Dr Druids turn it back on Nebula, with the present Druid telling her that if she is anti-time, they are time itself. 'And time, in the end, conquers all things – even the Conqueror!' the elderly Druid explains. 'Look at yourself, Nebula!' the past Druid calls out, as Nebula suddenly begins to de-age, then ages back rapidly, before de-aging to a baby, then quickly aging into an elderly woman. 'How?' she gasps.
'If you'd truly understood your power, Nebula, we couldn't have done so – but now it's too late for you!' the present Dr Druid warns Nebula. The elderly Druid explains to Nebula that they merely stopped her anti-time from striking them, while the past Druid tells her that they cascaded it back on her, until she had lost all control over it. 'Please – I beg you – stop – STOP!' Nebula pleads. As the three versions of Dr Druid begin to merge into one version, he tells Nebula 'Gladly – now that it's safe for the three Anthony Druids to become one again!' Nebula begins to disappear in a glow of energy, while Druid drops to his knees and tells her that he doesn't know if she will be hurled into past of future, into space or time – the woman he once loved. 'Yet, wherever it is – I doubt you'll ever menace anyone again – with the power of anti-time!' Druid adds as he collapses.
Druid looks up at the city which Nebula left behind, and sees that the aura over Lincoln has vanished, and, not that he is any judge of car styles, but he thinks he is back in 1990. 'So, apparently, are the city's people' he realizes as he looks over at the family which Nebula was tormenting earlier. 'Thanks to you – whoever you are' the father remarks. 'I heard that woman say he was an Avenger, darling' the mother adds. 'But Mister – weren't you a whole lot order before?' the boy enquires. 'Older?' Druid asks, as he stands up, he appears in his younger, fitter form, with a full head of hair. 'Why, yes, I believe I was!' he replies. 'A few years older, anyway!' he jokes, before excusing himself from the family.
Druid thinks to himself that this is an unexpected side effect, realizing that somehow, when his three selves merged, he kept the younger persona. 'Maybe for good, maybe only for a little while' he tells himself, before deciding that, either way, he thinks maybe Dr Druid is a better man than he used to be. As he takes to the air and flies away, he thinks 'Who knows? Maybe this time I'll even keep my hair!'
Black Knight IV, She-Hulk, Thor (all Avengers)
Black Knight IV, Dr Druid, She-Hulk, Thor (all Avengers)
Dr Stephen Strange
Dr Druid and Ravonna were lost in a timestorm in Avengers (1st series) #297. They then appeared in Fantastic Four (1st series) #337-339 and #341 before their return this issue.
Dr Druid next appears in Quasar #23-25.
Ravonna/Nebula returns in the “Citizen Kang” crossover which took place in several annuals released in 1992.