Avengers: The Children's Crusade #1

Issue Date: 
September 2010
Story Title: 

Allan Heinberg (writer), Jim Cheung (penciler), Mark Morales & Jim Cheung (inkers), Justin Ponsor (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Cory Petit (letterer), Lauren Sankovitch (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive editor)
Cover: Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor
Variant Cover: Jelena Djurdjevic

Brief Description: 

The Young Avengers engage the hate group known as the Sons of the Serpent in battle, only for Captain America, Iron Man and Ms Marvel to show up just as one of the Sons of the Serpents reveals he has a nuclear weapon, and holds Hulkling hostage. An instant later, there is a blinding white light. Soon, the Young Avengers and the Avengers wake, only to find Wiccan hovering above them - the white light came from him, not the nuclear weapon. The Avengers accompany the Young Avengers back to their HQ and reveal to the Young Avengers information about the Scarlet Witch losing her children, going insane, creating the House of M and de-powering the majority of mutantkind. Given Wiccan’s possible connection to the Scarlet Witch, they are concerned about his power levels. Wiccan departs after the Avengers prove unsympathetic. The Young Avengers follow him, but they seem undecided about things, so Wiccan goes home - but Captain America is already there, talking to his parents. Wiccan finally agrees to accompany Captain America to Avengers Tower, but en route Hulkling finds them and accompanies them to Avengers Tower. Sparse guest quarters are set up for the young men, so Wiccan transforms the room into something more to their liking. Hulkling comforts his boyfriend, worried about what the Avengers will do to him, when Speed shows up, announcing that the Young Avengers have come to rescue them. But Wiccan doesn’t have time to explain that he agreed to be here, as Speed rescues them, and they meet up with their teammates, where Stature suggests that they should find the Scarlet Witch, supposing that when she sees Wiccan and Speed she will make everything better - which is when Magneto appears, introducing himself to his grandchildren!

Full Summary: 

In the beginning, no one knew what to make of them. Seven super-powered Avengers fans, who only came together because the Avengers themselves had fallen apart. Since then, the teenage heroes have fought Kang the Conqueror, a super hero Civil War, a Secret Invasion of Earth and a Siege of Asgard. So, you would think the Avengers would trust them by now. But they teenage heroes are still fighting to prove they are worthy of being called the Young Avengers - even if it kills them.

Downtown, the Young Avengers engage in battled with some masked, armed soldiers. Cassie Lang’s father was the microscopic Ant-Man, and after his death, Cassie used her father’s Pym Particles to follow in his footsteps as the size-changing Stature. ‘Any intel on these guys, Vision?’ Cassie calls out to her partner as she increases her size and grabs one of the soldiers. This Vision is the latest iteration of the android Avenger, who can manipulate his own density, and whose synthezoid soul makes him every bit as human as the rest of them. The new Vision grabs one of the guns from the enemy and announces that the call themselves the Sons of the Serpent, a paramilitary sect devoted to maintaining racial and moral purity.

Eli Bradley’s grandfather was the original Captain America, and as a third-generation super soldier, Eli continues to fight for peace as Patriot. ‘They’re white supremacists!’ Eli exclaims, to which the female Hawkeye adds that, to be fair, they hate gays and lesbians. ‘And uppity women, apparently’ Patriot points out as one of the Sons of the Serpent takes aim at Hawkeye, while she declares that the Young Avengers must be their least favourite super hero team ever. Kate Bishop is a former New York society debutante, and she so impressed Captain America on the battlefield that he gave her the then-deceased Clint Barton’s bow, and she was called the new Hawkeye.

Tommy Shepherd has super-speed, white hair and a criminal past - all of which he shares with the former Avenger Quicksilver, and for obvious reasons, he is called Speed. ‘Sounds like the world would be better off without them’ Speed exclaims as he darts about, removing the guns from several of the Sons of the Serpent. ‘That’s how they feel about us, so go easy. They don’t have powers, just tech’ Billy “Wiccan” Kaplan exclaims. ‘Thanks to me, now they don’t even have that’ Speed boasts. Speed and Wiccan happen to look exactly like each other, which in addition to Wiccan having magic powers makes him think that he and Tommy might actually be the long lost twin sons of Quicksilver’s sister, the Scarlet Witch.

Rounding out the team is the super-strong shape shifter, Teddy Altman, who is the son of the Kree Captain Marvel, and like his father, Teddy protects this planet as Hulkling. He is also Wiccan’s boyfriend. Hulkling grabs one of the Sons of the Serpent, who quotes “As the serpent drove Adam and Eve from Eden…so shall we drive out the unfit - the inferior”. ‘You’re actually using the Bible to justify murder?’ Teddy asks. ‘What would you know about the Bible, sodomite?’ the soldier asks. ‘This sodomite went to an Episcopal school for six years. So if you want to swap Bible verses, how about Exodus Twenty-One, verse Twenty-Four… “an eye for an eye”!’ Teddy exclaims as he holds a clawed finger over the masked soldier’s face.

‘Do it. Martyr me and show the world exactly what kind of monster you are!’ the soldier shouts. ‘If you insist’ Hulkling replies, as he plants a kiss on the soldier’s cheek. ‘You’ll burn in hell for that’ the wide-eyed soldier warns him, before managing to drop to the ground. ‘Wait - you spend your free time killing people, but I’m going to hell for kissing you?’ Hulkling asks, adding that it was not even a good kiss. The soldier wipes his face and replies ‘Proverbs 12:28. “In the path of righteousness is everlasting life…but the way of the evil-doer ends in death”!’ he exclaims as he spins around and fires a weapon, the blast which strikes Hulkling in the chest.

‘Hulkling!’ Wiccan shouts, concerned for his boyfriend. Suddenly, a voice exclaims ‘I have to admit, I underestimated you guys. I thought the Sons of the Serpent would at least be racist enough to know that Hulkling is half Kree - which makes him invulnerable…unlike you’ Carol Danvers a.k.a. Ms Marvel, exclaims as she hovers behind Iron Man a.k.a. Tony Stark and Steve “Captain America” Rogers. ‘Do it now…or my friends and I will be forced to demonstrate just how vulnerable you really are’ Cap exclaims.

The member of the Sons of the Serpent holds a detonator in one hand and grabs Hulkling by the collar with the other. He exclaims ‘I believe I’ll be giving the orders, Captain - if only because of the nuclear weapon strapped to my back!’ Wiccan hovers nearby and with magical energy ready, warns the soldier to let Hulkling go, otherwise this will become a suicide mission. ‘You’d risk millions of lives for one alien invert?’ the soldier asks. ‘Try me!’ Wiccan warns him. The soldier frowns and exclaims ‘Then let what happens here today serve as a warning that the wages of sin…are death!’ he holds his finger on the detonator, while Billy exclaims ‘Teddy!’ with tears in his eyes - and suddenly, everything goes white.

An undetermined amount of time later, the dust clears, and the heroes begin to rise from the ground. ‘Cap? Iron Man? Kids?’ Ms Marvel calls out. ‘We’re okay’ someone exclaims, while Iron Man announces that his systems are online. ‘How is that possible? If that guy had a nuke, shouldn’t we all be dead?’ Carol exclaims, before she, Cap and Iron Man look upwards, and Cap exclaims that it was not the nuke that went off - it was Wiccan! And in the sky, streams of energy ripple around Wiccan as he hovers overhead, and everyone looks on, confused.

Later, at Young Avengers Headquarters, ‘Did I kill those men?’ Billy asks, as he sits down. Teddy stands beside him, while the others gather around, and Cap, Iron Man and Carol look down on them all, standing on some stairs. Iron Man informs Wiccan that the men were all rendered comatose and the hospital just called to say that the first ones are waking up, with no idea of what happened to them. ‘Do we have any idea what happened to them?’ Ms Marvel asks. ‘Wiccan?’ Cap calls out. ‘I honestly don’t know’ Billy replies. ‘One minute we were fighting the Sons of the Serpent, and the next…’ his voice trails off.

‘You put them all into comas with a single thought. You might just as easily have killed them’ Carol declares, sternly. ‘I would never -’ Billy begins, to which Carol interrupts, telling Wiccan that he doesn’t know what he is capable of, and neither do they. ‘So you’re going to be staying with us for a while’ Ms Marvel informs him. ‘What? Why?’ Hulkling asks. ‘Because we don’t want another Scarlet Witch on our hands!’ Carol declares. ‘What is that supposed to mean?’ Billy asks. ‘Carol -’ Iron Man begins, but Carol tells Tony that Wiccan should know.

Everyone looks on as Iron Man opens up a projector, displaying images of the Scarlet Witch, Magneto and Quicksilver. Iron Man announces that the Scarlet Witch has the power to alter reality to suit her whim - which makes her the most powerful and dangerous entity in the known universe. He explains that she blamed the Avengers for the loss of her sons, and lashed out at the Avengers, losing control of her powers and causing the deaths of the original Vision, Hawkeye and Cassie’s dad, Ant-Man.

Iron Man continues, revealing that the Scarlet Witch’s father, Magneto, and her brother, Quicksilver, took her to the island of Genosha to help her recover. But Quicksilver feared for his sister’s safety and persuaded the Scarlet Witch to use her powers to transform the world into one where Magneto and his family reigned supreme, until some heroes who were able to remember their former loves fought to reclaim their lives. ‘Devastated by all the blood shed by her family, in the name of mutantkind, the Scarlet Witch cast one last spell -’ Iron Man reveals. ‘No more mutants’. ‘…robbing over a million mutants of their powers and committing what some consider mutant genocide’.

‘And you think I have the power to do something like that…’ Wiccan gasps. ‘…because you believe Tommy and I really are the sons of the Scarlet Witch?’ Speed looks away: ‘Oy, here we go’ he mutters, while Wiccan points out that Speed has his doubts. ‘But how else do you explain a speedster and a witch named “Thomas” and “William” who could be twins?’ Wiccan adds. ‘If only we could find her’ he remarks, motioning at a computer image of the Scarlet Witch, while Iron Man declares that she is gone. ‘When the World of M disappeared, so did the Scarlet Witch’.

Wiccan asks the senior Avengers if they found out who was really responsible. ‘For what?’ Tony asks. ‘The World of M? The mutant decimation?’ Wiccan replies. ‘The Scarlet Witch was responsible’ Captain America declares. ‘That’s impossible’ Billy exclaims, suggesting that someone else had to be controlling her, as the Scarlet Witch was an Avenger. ‘The Scarlet Witch was a murderer’ Ms Marvel - at one time the Scarlet Witch’s best friend - exclaims, declaring that she murdered her teammates and wiped out an entire race. ‘She was Magneto’s daughter to the end’.

Wiccan asks Ms Marvel if she is sure about that, and remarks ‘After all the years she fought at your side, you’re not even willing to give her the benefit of the doubt?’, before asking what happens to him if he turns out to be Magneto’s grandson. Cap, Carol and Tony look around awkwardly, to which Billy exclaims ‘I see. Some heroes you turned out to be’. ‘Wiccan -’ someone calls out, but Billy frowns and turns away from them, telling the Avengers that he appreciates their concern, but announces he will not be staying for their evaluation. ‘Billy…’ Teddy calls out after his boyfriend.

‘…can we talk about the fact that you just walked out on the Avengers?’ Teddy asks as he flies alongside Billy, while the others hover nearby on a platform. ‘I did not’ Wiccan replies. ‘I walked out on Cap and Iron Man and -’, but Teddy interrupts him, ‘Like I said -’ ‘They were going to take me prisoner!’ ‘They were going to take your temperature’ Teddy exclaims. ‘You think?’ Billy asks. ‘I think’ Teddy tells him. ‘Oh my God. I just walked out on the Avengers’ Wiccan whispers.

Speed smiles and asks ‘Why is that a bad thing? Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are afraid of you. That’s how powerful you are. By walking out, you probably earned their respect. Even I’m hating you a little less than usual’. Billy thanks Tommy and tells him that means a lot, before asking if anyone other than the team sociopath would care to weigh in on this. Everyone looks away, before Hawkeye reminds Billy that he took out guys with nukes all on his own. ’And you don’t even remember doing it’ she adds. ’Bad guys, Kate…and I didn’t hurt them’ Billy exclaims.

‘Billy…you lost control’ Teddy exclaims, reaching out to his boyfriend, who asks if he thinks the Avengers are right about him. ‘I didn’t say that’ Hulkling remarks. ’You’re just afraid that I might be’ Wiccan exclaims as he takes flight, away from his boyfriend and teammates. ‘Can we please just talk about this like the mature, semi-adult super heroes that we want the Avengers to think we are?’ someone calls out after him. But Billy replies that he is not interested in what the Avengers think anymore. ‘And this is my problem, not yours’ Wiccan tells them, adding that he will figure it out by himself - but as he opens the front door to his parents home, he is shocked to find Captain America standing in the living toom with his parents.

‘Son…?’ Jeff Kaplan calls out. ‘Is it true?’ Rebecca Kaplan asks her son. Wiccan reminds himself that his whole life he has dreamed that one day Captain America would show up and ask him to move in with the Avengers. ‘So it’s true what they say…be careful what you wish for’ Wiccan tells himself as he leaves his home with Captain America, frowning. ‘It’s just until we get a sense of what you’re capable of’ Cap assures him. Wiccan is surprised as Cap hails a cab: ‘Are you seriously trying to hail us a cab right now?’ he asks. ‘Unless you’d like to take the subway, because unlike Iron Man I can’t -’ Cap begins, but Wiccan tells him that this is one of the things he is capable of, and lifts Cap into the air. ‘Unless you’d rather take the subway’ Wiccan offers.

‘Are you kidding? This is so much better than riding on Iron Man’s boot. C’mon, I’ll race you’ Cap declares. As they fly across the night time sky, Wiccan remarks that Captain America has known the Scarlet Witch longer that anyone. ‘You’re the won who made her an Avenger’ Billy points out. ‘In all that time, did you ever think she’d be capable of hurting her own teammates?’ ‘Never’ Cap replies, but points out that losing a child - losing two children - is something that you never recover from. ‘But I don’t think she has lost her kids’ Wiccan exclaims. ‘Billy, I just met your biological parents -’ Cap points out.

But Wiccan interrupts, explaining that he is not saying he and Tommy are the biological sons of the Scarlet Witch. ‘I’m not insane. I’m talking about the transmigration of souls. Which, now that I’m saying it out loud, sounds a little insane’. Cap warns Billy that a connection to the Scarlet Witch is not going to win him any friends when they get to Avengers Tower. ‘Did you guys even consider that she might be innocent?’ Billy asks. ‘I was there. She’s not innocent’ Cap declares. Wiccan asks Cap how he knows the Scarlet Witch was not possessed by someone - Immortus or Chthon, as it happened before and it could happen again. ‘Because Dr Strange would have detected it’ Cap points out.

Wiccan declares that he heard Dr Strange’s powers are not what they used to be, to which Cap asks Billy if he thinks he is more powerful than Dr Strange. ‘I guess that’s what we’re going to find out’ Billy replies, when suddenly, ‘Not without me, you’re not!’ Hulkling declares as he flies towards Billy and Cap. ‘Teddy!’ Billy gasps. ‘Hulkling, I understand you want to protect your friend, but -’ Cap begins, to which Hulkling interrupts: ‘Captain, I understand you’re concerned about Billy. But if anything happens to him…your primary concern should be me’ Hulkling warns him.

‘Ted-’ Billy begins, but Hulkling tells Cap that he and Billy are partners. ‘Where he goes, I go. And if you have a problem with that -’ but Cap continues onwards, assuring them that he has no problem with that. ‘You don’t?’ Wiccan asks. ‘You don’t?’ Hulkling exclaims. ‘No. In fact…I’ll have Jarvis prepare your room’ Cap tells them.

‘Twin beds?’ Billy remarks as he and Teddy, in civilian clothing, stand before the two single beds, in a dank, dark room. ‘Is it a guest room or a holding cell?’ teddy asks. ‘It’s just lacking a little magic, that’s all’ Billy points out, before using his powers to spruce up the room - a large double bed, furniture, plants and paintings. ‘Better?’ Billy asks. ‘Mints on the pillows. Nice touch’ Teddy remarks. Billy replies that he couldn’t help himself, to which Teddy assures him that he is not complaining.

The young men begin to embrace, with Billy telling Teddy that he is sorry about today. ‘You couldn’t help yourself’ Teddy tells him. ‘What do you think they’ll do to me?’ Billy asks. Teddy tells him that the Avengers will run some tests and sit him down with Dr Strange, and then the two of them will be out of here. ‘Promise?’ Billy asks. ‘Promise’ Teddy assures him. ‘Are we about to make out in Avengers Headquarters?’ Billy asks. ‘The minute you stop talking’ Teddy tells him. ‘I’m not talking anymore. As of now that was the last talking’ Billy exclaims.

But before they can kiss, Speed appears beside them. ‘What the hell are you idiots doing?’ he asks. ‘Tommy -’ Billy exclaims. ‘We go to all the trouble to rescue you, and you two are here making out? You’re prisoners. Prisoners don’t stand around making out with each other. Do they?’ Speed exclaims. The Vision phases into the room, apologizing for interrupting, and announces that he can only disrupt the alarm system for so long before the Avengers notice. Speed asks Billy if he can magic them out, to which Billy begins ‘Actually, Tommy -’, but Speed ignores him, and remarks ‘I guess if you could, you wouldn’t be here, right?’

‘The problem is -’ Billy begins, but Speed tells him that there is no problem and to hold on. ‘What are you doing?’ Teddy asks, as Speed begins to accelerate their collective molecules fast enough to vibrate through that wall. ‘I think I’m going to be sick’ Billy utters, ‘Ideally, without either of you becoming unstable and exploding in the process’ Speed adds, while Teddy tells Tommy to stop. An instant later, the trio are outside. ‘I’m definitely going to be sick’ Billy exclaims, while Tommy tells him not to throw up on him or he will kill him. ‘And ruin an otherwise perfect rescue mission?’ someone calls out.

Billy turns to see the rest of his teammates, and exclaims that he can’t believe it. ‘You guys all showed up to rescue me?’ he asks. Kate tells Billy that they are family, that they stick together no matter what scary, unstoppable powers he may have. ‘Plus, if you do have scary, unstoppable powers, we’re thinking we should probably be on your side’ Patriot points out. ‘But if the Avengers find out -’ Billy begins, to which Patriot declares that they will deal with the Avengers. ‘you and Teddy need to get out of here’.

‘You guys are actually willing to take on the Avengers for me?’ Wiccan asks. ‘If it comes to that’ Kate smiles. ‘That’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard’ Billy tells them, to which Eli remarks that they are hoping it doesn’t come to that. Teddy puts his arms around Billy as Billy tells his friends that he cannot thank them enough for breaking him out, but that he thinks he needs them to break him back in. ‘What?’ Speed exclaims. ‘Why?’ he adds. Billy explains that he runs the Avengers are just going to find him. ‘What other choice do I have?’ he asks. ‘You could find the Scarlet Witch’ a solemn Stature suggests.

‘Think about it. Billy’s not the problem. The problem is Wanda Maximoff. She’s the one who lost her mind. She’s the one who made mutants an endangered species. She’s the one who murdered my dad’ Cassie declares. She asks her friends why the Scarlet Witch did that, and points out that it was because she thought she lost her kids. ‘If we can show her that her sons are alive and well, she can undo all of it. She can reverse the spell, give the mutants back their powers…and she can bring my dad back to life’ Cassie declares, teary-eyed.

‘Cassie, I know how much you miss your father, but -’ the Vision begins, while Stature points out that the Scarlet Witch already brought Wonder Man back from the dead, and the original Hawkeye. ‘So why not my dad?’ she asks. The young heroes gather close as Cassie exclaims that if they really are a family, they should at least try, for Billy’s sake. Suddenly, a voice exclaims ‘My sentiments exactly, child…’ and the Young Avengers all look up - as the Master of Magnetism descends upon them, exclaiming ‘which is why I think it’s time you boys met your grandfather, Magneto!’….

Characters Involved: 

Hawkeye III, Hulkling, Patriot, Speed, Stature, Vision II, Wiccan (all Young Avengers)

Captain America, Iron Man, Ms Marvel (all Avengers)

Jeff & Rebecca Kaplan

Sons of the Serpent

On Recorded Images:
The Scarlet Witch

Story Notes: 

This series was planned some time in advance, and as such the costumes of Captain America and Iron Man do not represent the costumes they are supposed to be wearing.

This issue is narrated by Wiccan.

The Scarlet Witch became pregnant in Vision & Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #3, and gave birth in #12, only for the revelation that her children are actually the lost souls of Mephisto that her powers latched onto and shaped into children in Avengers West Coast #52.

In 2005 an event known as “Avengers Disassembled” shattered the Avengers. Although many things happened in that saga, the cause of the destruction of the Avengers was none other than the Scarlet Witch, who had, after so much suffering and manipulation in her life, not to mention her unmeasurable amount of power, went insane. There is a flashback panel in Avengers (1st series) #503 which shows the Wasp mentioning something about Wanda’s children, then immediately regretting it, while Wanda was very confused at the notion she had children, as her mind had apparently regressed to the time when Agatha had erased the children from her mind. Another flashback panel in that issue shows Wanda going to Agatha Harkness to ask where her children are, though no answer is given. In the present-time Agatha Harkness’ rotting body is found. Additionally, Wanda seemed to have created some reality in her mind where her children were alive.

Following the Immortus fiasco [Avengers West Coast #60-62], it seems that Agatha Harkness restored Wanda’s memories of William and Thomas, for in Avengers West Coast Annual #7, and Avengers West Coast #71, Wanda talked about her “children”. They were also mentioned again in Scarlet Witch #2 when Master Pandemonium returned, and during the uber-saga known as “The Crossing”.

Also during “The Crossing” there were two characters that appeared called Malachi and Tobias. While little was revealed about them, there were several hints and suggestions that they may be adult versions of The Scarlet Witch’s children. However, with so much going on in what was perhaps one of the most confusing saga’s in all of Marvel, the characters were all but forgotten about. Whatever the real intention behind the characters no longer matters, as they were revealed to just be Space Phantoms during the Avengers Forever mini series.

The Vision, Hawkeye and Ant-Man all died via the actions of the Scarlet Witch during “Avengers: Disassembled”.

The world in which Magneto and his family reigned supreme was the “House of M” [called the “World of M” this issue] and featured in House of M #1-8 as well as a myriad of tie-in issues in regular series and mini series.

The Scarlet Witch has been seen twice since “House of M” - in New Avengers (1st series) #26 when Hawkeye found her in Transia, and in the “Endangered Species” crossover, when the Beast also found her in Transia.

Captain America made the Scarlet Witch an Avenger in the classic Avengers (1st series) #16.

The Scarlet Witch brought Wonder Man back from the dead in Avengers (3rd series) #2-4, 10-11. She brought Hawkeye back from the dead following “House of M”.

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