Avengers: The Children's Crusade #8

Issue Date: 
January 2012
Story Title: 

Allan Heinberg (writer), Jim Cheung (penciler), Mark Morales with Livesay & Cheung (inkers), Justin Ponsor with Paul Mounts (colorists), Virtual Calligraphy’s Cory Petit (letterer), Lauren Sankovitch (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive editor)
Cover: Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor

Brief Description: 

At castle Doom, the god-like Victor von Doom confronts the Young Avengers and the Scarlet Witch, offering to remake the world with his newfound power. The Scarlet Witch tells him that the power will corrupt him, like it did to her, but Doom disagrees. Patriot asks Doom whether he can restore the mutants’ powers, but Doom explains that he cannot. Doom asks the Scarlet Witch to marry him, but she agrees only if he will release his newfound power. Doom will not, and so teleports the Scarlet Witch and the Young Avengers back to Avengers Mansion. Iron Lad decides everyone should escape to the Time Stream, but some of the team disappears. Patriot blames himself for their predicament, when the Scarlet Witch is suddenly rendered unconscious by the White Queen, as members of the Avengers, X-Men and X-Factor wake from their unconscious state. Wiccan and Speed challenge the White Queen in an attempt to protect the Scarlet Witch, before the White Queen reads her mind, and learns that the Scarlet Witch no longer has her massive power. The mutants are concerned, but Cyclops is determined that the Scarlet Witch be brought to justice. The Young Avengers begin to argue with him about that. Doom soon arrives, and shows the heroes how he can remake the world, and asks them to accept his offer, but the Avengers, X-Men and X-Factor attack him once he transforms himself into a giant, and warns them that they will die. The Young Avengers, Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man worry about what to do, only for Ant-Man to shrink himself down and ride an ant into the giant Doom’s ear, causing damage. Ant-Man exits the ear, only to seemingly be swatted by Doom. This upsets his daughter, Stature, who grows to a massive size to match that of Doom’s, and attacks him - only to be slain by Doom. The Scarlet Witch and Wiccan cast a spell, opening the portal to the power that Doom took. Doom believes he can be one with his creator, but the power overwhelms him, corrupts him, and he is returned to his true form. He reveals that he was behind the disassembling of the Avengers, and the depowering of the mutants, simply by using the Scarlet Witch as a nexus being. The Scarlet Witch tries to help Doom, but he calls her weak, and warns her that her friends will kill her, before he teleports away. The Avengers, X-Men, X-Factor and the Young Avengers gather around the fallen Stature, only for Ant-Man, hidden in the grass, to regain consciousness and return to his true size - whereupon he finds his daughter’s body.

Full Summary: 

Latveria, inside Castle Doom, where in a fancy white costume and surrounded by a brilliant light, a handsome man announces ‘Doctor Doom is dead. Victor von Doom has been reborn…restored and transformed by the reality-altering power of the life force itself…and by you, Wanda’ he tells Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch.

‘Victor, the power to alter reality is, by its very nature, unstable -’ Wanda replies calmly, but Victor interrupts, swearing that he shall not abuse it. ‘I shall devote my life and my power to rendering the wrongs I have done - to atoning for my sins - and to earning a place for myself among the heroes of this world’ he announces. An image of the planet Earth appears between Victor’s hands and declares that he shall make theirs a planet free of poverty, disease and war, peaceably governed by Victor von Doom and his bride, Wanda Maximoff’. He tells Wanda that, together there is nothing they cannot accomplish.

‘What about the mutants?’ calls out Patriot of the Young Avengers as he stands with his teammates Wiccan, Hulkling, the female Hawkeye, Speed, Stature, the Vision and their recently returned former member, Iron Lad. ‘Please…I’m begging you…can you give the mutants their powers back?’ Patriot asks. Victor replies that even with the power of the life force, he cannot undo a spell cast by another, however he can cast new ones. He assures Patriot that the mutants who lost their powers will lack for nothing in the new world, that they shall have everything they need and everything they desire. ‘Except their freedom!’ Hawkeye calls out. ‘I think what Kate is trying to say -’ Wanda begins, but Hawkeye interrupts: ‘Kate said what she was trying to say!’ she exclaims.

Wanda tells Victor that the point is, however noble his intentions, this power of his will not be contained, at least not for long. ‘It corrupted me -’ she reminds him, but Doom just tells Wanda that hers is too gentle a soul to wield such power. ‘We both know mine is not’ he points out. ‘Even so, the nations of the world won’t simply accept you as their ruler’ Wanda tells Doom, who replies that once he has proven himself, they will choose him. ‘Perhaps…but the Avengers and the X-Men will not’ the Scarlet Witch declares. The Young Avengers listen closely as Victor replies that the Avengers and the X-Men pose no threat, adding that they have already shown that left to their own devices, they will destroy themselves and each other. Victor puts a hand on Speed’s shoulder and remarks that the Young Avengers, however, have demonstrated nothing but bravery and loyalty to each other and the woman he loves. ‘It is my hope that we can become a family’ Victor tells Wiccan and Speed.

Victor continues and tells Speed and Wiccan that with their permission, he would very much like their mother to be his wife. ‘will you marry me, Wanda?’ he asks, turning to the Scarlet Witch, who instantly replies ‘Yes’, but only if he rids himself of this power and puts it back where it belongs - then she will marry him. ‘And if not? You’ll what? Side with the Avengers and the X-Men against me? That is, if they don’t kill you first’ Victor declares. Wanda sincerely tells Victor that he is dealing with forces that he cannot control, but Victor replies ‘No…I’m dealing with forces you could not control’ and tells Wanda that she has made her choice and that she must now find a way to live with it. With a wave of his hand, Victor casts magical energies, that teleport the Scarlet Witch and the Young Avengers back to Avengers Mansion.

‘Did Doctor Doom just send us home?’ Hawkeye asks, to which Hulkling declares that sounds very un-Doom-like to him. Wanda explains that Victor is hoping her presence here will provoke the Avengers and the X-Men into killing each other. ‘That sounds more like Doom’ Stature mutters. Various members of the X-Men and the Avengers, as well as several former Avengers and members of X-Factor lie scattered around the grounds, unconscious. Iron Lad states that they need to get out of here, to which Stature asks ‘And go where?’ as she holds up her unconscious father, Ant-Man. Iron Lad suggests they go into the Time Stream, at least until they can come up with a decent plan. But, the Vision announces that would be a mistake, as running away and disrupting the Time Stream whenever something displeases them is not the answer.

Iron Lad points out that it was the answer to brining Stature’s father back, and Wanda’s memory, and declares that when it turns out to be the answer to defeating Doom, they will come back to this moment in time and make history. ‘With or without you’ he tells the Vision, who replies ‘Spoken like Kang the Conqueror’. ‘How dare you!’ Iron Lad declares, while Stature goes over to them and tells the Vision to stop it. She tells Iron Lad that she cannot thank him enough for bringing her dad back, for saving the team, for saving her. ‘And I love you so much…but my place - and my time - is here. With my friends. And my dad…and the Vision’ she announces. Stature adds that they are the Young Avengers, and that they cannot leave the X-Men and Avengers to take on Doom by themselves.

‘We have an obligation to them’ Stature adds, only for the Scarlet Witch to announce that is why they should all go with Iron Lad. Wanda tells the young heroes that they are the Avengers’ last best hope for the future, so they should probably take refuge there, at least until they can find a way to restore the balance of power. Wanda states that she will stay here and lead the fight against Victor, only for Patriot to declare they he is staying. Wanda turns to him as Patriot declares that this is his fault, that he did this, so he is going to stop Doom or die trying. However, ‘If anyone deserves the blame, it’s me’ Wiccan calls out, only for his boyfriend, Hulkling, to tell him’ Don’t you start’.

‘As much as I would love to stand here and bask in the fact that for once, I’m not responsible for this apocalypse, we need to start waking up the Avengers and the X-Men least likely to kill us before Doom can launch a full-scale war!’ Speed suggests. Suddenly, ‘Wanda!’ a voice calls out, and the Scarlet Witch is under attack, dropping to the ground thanks to a psychic attack courtesy of the White Queen of the X-Men, who steps forward and tells the teenage heroes that Doom is the least of their worries, because now they have upset her. ‘And, yes, the fact that I’m angry enough to be talking about myself in the third person should terrify you’ she adds. Wiccan asks the telepath what she did to Wanda, to which Emma replies ‘The same thing she did to me’ and explains that she has taken Wanda off the grid, as it were, so she cannot use those pesky reality-altering powers of hers anymore.

While Cyclops struggles to get to his feet, Speed announces that Wanda doesn’t have those powers any more, but that now Doom does. Wiccan tells the White Queen that keeping Wanda safe is the only way they are going to survive whatever Doom has planned. Cyclops orders the young magician to step away from her, but Wiccan asks the White Queen to read his mind if she doesn’t believe him. ‘It’s not your mind I’m interested in…it’s Wanda’s’ Emma announces as she kneels down beside the unmoving Scarlet Witch, and reads her mind - where recent events flash through her. ‘Bloody hell…’ Emma utters a moment later. ‘Then it’s true?’ Cyclops asks.

Many of the mutants begin to wake - standing with four members of X-Factor - Rictor, Shatterstar, Multiple Man and Strong Guy, the Beast is forlorn and declares ‘It can’t be true. If Wanda doesn’t have the power, then she can’t restore the mutants’. Shatterstar puts a comforting arm around Rictor, while the X-Men Storm, Colossus, Iceman and Gambit stand together, and Storm remarks ‘And if Doom has the power…’, to which Gambit concludes ‘We’re all dead’. Rogue stands with Magneto and Quicksilver, as well as Wolverine, although Wolverine is currently working with the Avengers. Magneto orders that his daughter be revived at once, as she will know what to do. ‘Great idea’ Wolverine mutters, pointing out that if it wasn’t for the Scarlet Witch, they wouldn’t be at war with an all-powerful Doom.

Cyclops tells Emma to wake Wanda up. Emma begins to protect, but Cyclops states that although she may not be able to break the spell, the Scarlet Witch can still be brought to justice. ‘I’m sorry, but what does that even mean?’ Speed demands as he races over to Cyclops. ‘Are you going to put her in a mutant jail? Or have your girlfriend give her a psychic lobotomy? Are you gonna torture her? Kill her? Torture her and then kill her? Would that be enough justice for you?’ he demands, angrily. ‘No’ Cyclops frowns. ‘Then what would? What’s your plan, Mr Summers?’ Speed asks. The Young Avenger asks Cyclops what, when he came here for the Scarlet Witch, was he planning to do with her. ‘Put her on trial for crimes she’s already confessed to? For killing three people who are now alive? For turning a million mutants into…human beings?’

‘Mutants died. Hundreds of mutants died, because the Scarlet Witch stole their powers. And hundreds more died trying to get them back. As your uncle Pietro about that’ Cyclops replies, while Quicksilver and Magneto kneel down beside the Scarlet Witch. ‘What am I supposed to do, Speed? Welcome Wanda back and say “It’s okay. I know you didn’t mean it. You can be an Avenger again and we’ll just pretended you didn’t murder people and destroy millions of lives”?’ Cyclops asks. ‘Is that what I’m supposed to do?’ Magneto remains silent, while Wiccan shouts ‘Yes. After all, Magneto’s killed untold thousands…and you made him an X-Man’.

Members of the Avengers gather around now as well as Wiccan begins running through a list of former criminals amongst them. He reminds everyone that Emma Frost was the White Queen of the Hellfire Club, and a murderer, while Rogue was a terrorist for the Brotherhood of Mutants, and Gambit was a member of the Thieves’ Guild. Wiccan continues, pointing out that Wonder Man, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Vision all started out on the wrong side of the law. ‘But I personally can’t imagine the Avengers without them’ Wiccan declares, while asking ‘And how many times has one of you been possessed by an evil spirit…or mind controlled and forced to do things you would never do - to hurt people - to kill people - even people you loved?’.

Wiccan declares that he is not saying they should pretend this never happened, but he doest think they should look at the whole picture. ‘Whatever her crimes, Wanda Maximoff has saved the world - more times than we probably know. She has proven herself again and again to be a hero. And what happened to her is bound to happen to every single one of us someday, if it hasn’t already’. Wiccan tells the heroes that the question is, how do they want to be treated when it happens to them.
‘With compassion…and forgiveness’ Victor exclaims as he bursts into the air in a blaze of brilliant light. The heroes all look up at the transformed Doom, and tells reminds them that Wanda was trying to save her sons’ lives when she was possessed by the power of creation itself. ‘The power to make and unmake reality. The power that I now possess. But have no fear…for I intend to use it to heal’ Victor announces as he crouches down beside the Scarlet Witch and revives her.

Cyclops asks Victor if he can heal the mutant race, to which Doom boasts that he can do anything. ‘I can make the blind see’ Victor states as he removes Cyclops’s visor, revealing his eyes, free from optic fire. Victor turns to the Beast, and reveals that he can cure the afflicted, as he transforms the Beast back to his human form. Victor adds that if needs be, he can raise the dead. Images of dead X-Men and Avengers surround him. Jean Grey. Banshee. Nightcrawler. Thunderbird. Captain Mar-Vell. The Wasp. ‘I can give you everything you’ve wished for…or nothing at all. It’s up to you’ Victor declares as the images vanish, and Cyclops and the Beast return to how they are. ‘And all we’d have to do to receive these miracles is…?’ Cyclops begins. ‘Accept them’ Victor replies. ‘You mean surrender’ Cyclops declares.

Victor’s eyes flare with energy, and he tells the heroes that they may resist if they wish, if their pride demands it. ‘But you won’t win. Even the power of the Beyonder was nothing compared to that of the life force. And those who resist it will surely perish’ he declares. ‘So will you accept my offer?’ Victor asks as he suddenly increases his mass, rising above the heroes. ‘Oh, no…’ Rogue mutters. ‘Not again…’ Wolverine declares. ‘…I guess this time it’s a not-so-Secret War’ Wolverine adds, while Doom asks them if they will fight and die. ‘You even have to ask?’ Ms Marvel asks as she flies towards him. Every hero moves towards the massive Victor. Iceman slides towards him on an ice-sled, Storm, Rogue, Iron Man, Wonder Man and Magneto fly upwards, Spider-Man swings towards Victor on a web, while the other ground-bound heroes prepare to fight. ‘AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!’ Captain America shouts.

However, the Young Avengers, the Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man remain standing where they are. ‘What do we do?’ Iron Lad asks. ‘We can’t just stand here, watching. We have to do something’ he tells his companions. Ant-Man asks if the all-new giant-sized Victor von Doom has any weaknesses they can exploit, to which Wanda repliers that Victor may feel li8ke a god, but that he is still a man, he is omnipotent, but not invulnerable. Wanda adds that unless Victor puts the power back where it belongs, it will consume and destroy him. ‘So how can we get him to put the power back?’ Ant-Man asks. ‘We can’t’ Wiccan announces. ‘But id Wanda and I can reopen the portal -’ he begins, only for Wanda to point out that the minute they open the portal, Victor will sense it, and know what they are doing. ‘We’ll need a distraction’ Wanda declares.

Looking up at the massive Victor, Ant-Man points out that he has got the X-Men, X-Factor and the Avengers crawling all over him, so what is more distracting than that? ‘I am. If I can grow to Doom’s height -’ Stature begins, but her father turns to her: ‘No way’ he declares. ‘Dad, I can do this. I know I can’ Stature replies. ‘I’ll go’ the Vision calls out. ‘I’m going’ Iron Lad exclaims at the same time. Ant-Man tells the kids to stay put, and that he will distract Doom while Wanda and Wiccan start casting that spell. He shrinks down in size, and rides the back of an ant that flies towards Doom. ‘Dad, wait! What are you gonna do?’ Stature calls out. ‘Kiddo, the key to defeating any opponent…is to get inside his head’ Ant-Man calls back, as he rides the ant towards Doom’s head. He adds that you need to do as much damage to his inner ear as possible. Doom cries out in agony and clasps at his head, while Spider-Man, Ms Marvel, Storm, Iceman, Iron Man and Multiple Man are nearby. Ant-Man then rides the ant out of Doom’s ear - only for Doom to notice him, and slams his hands together over Ant-Man. ‘Dad!’ Stature calls out.

‘No…’ Wiccan utters. The Scarlet Witch calls out to Stature, who is in shock, and instantly increases her mass, ‘YOU KILLED MY DAD!’ she shouts as she reaches up and punches Doom hard in the face - so hard that she knocks him onto a nearby building, sending both he and the building toppling to the ground. Stature moves on top of Doom, ‘You killed my father!’ she exclaims as she wraps a hand around Doom’s neck. And I can just as easily do the same to you, child. So I suggest you rein in this tantrum of yours…before I lose my temper!’ Doom warns her as they are both reduced to their regular sizes, and Doom casts Stature off of him with a burst of energy.

The Young Avengers are concerned for Stature, so Hulkling and Speed race towards them, telling the others to get the spell started while Doom is still disorientated. Wanda turns to Wiccan and tells him that she needs him to promise he will do what she says. ‘That depends on what you’re about to say’ Wiccan replies. ‘I mean it’ Wanda declares, telling Wiccan that once the portal is open, she needs him to run - to get as far away from her as he can. ‘Why?’ Wiccan enquires. ‘Because with magic there is always a price to be paid. And if anyone pays, it must be me’ Wanda announces. ‘No -’ Wiccan begins, but Wanda hangs her head and reminds him that she has taken people’s lives, and that it is only right that she should forfeit hers.

‘But -’ Wiccan begins, only for Wanda to tell him to try and let her be a decent mother this one time. They clasp hands as their magical energies swirl around each other, and Wiccan tells Wanda that he is not losing her again. ‘Just remember that I love you…and when I say the word…RUN!’ Wanda declares, as Doom hovers over them, ‘I should thank you’ he calls out, smiling, the brilliant light radiates around him and he tells Wanda and Wiccan that by opening the portal, they have only given him more power, more illumination, more white light that floods his soul. He basks in the power, and declares that he has been made one with the creator, that is sins are being burned away.

Suddenly, Doom falls to the ground, in flames. ‘Victor, let it go. It’s killing you’ Wanda calls out. Victor declares that he will not be corrupted, that he is not weak like she is. He keels over, ‘Victor!’ Wanda gasps, rushing over to him. ‘You’re hurt -’ Wanda exclaims, but Doom, returning to his true guise, covers his face with his cowl and tells her to get away from him. ‘But I’m -’ Wanda begins, ‘You are nothing’ Doom snaps. ‘A nexus creature - a conduit to power - that’s all you are. That’s all you’ve ever been!’ he exclaims cruelly. ‘What?’ Wanda gasps. ‘You think you were powerful enough to destroy the Avengers and rid the world of its mutants? That was me. That was Doom!’ Victor reveals.

‘You don’t know what you’re saying’ Wanda tells him, while the others all gather around in shock at the revelation. ‘Let me help you, please -’ Wanda calls, but Doom gets to his feet and holds his hands up, ‘Help me? You can’t even help yourself!’ he tells her. ‘You’re as weak, as trusting, and as easily led as your so-called friends. I’ll leave you to them’ he tells the Scarlet Witch. ‘Perhaps they’ll even save me the trouble of having to kill you’ Doom adds as he vanishes. ‘Victor, wait!’ Wanda calls out, while Captain America tells Wanda to let Doom go, as she is needed here. The heroes all gather around the fallen body of Stature. Iron Lad and the Vision are crouched at her side. Hulkling comforts Wiccan, while Patriot puts his arm around the female Hawkeye, and Speed puts a hand on Wanda’s shoulder.

‘Poor Scott…’ someone calls out, referring to Ant-Man. ‘Is there anything you can do?’ someone else asks. The Vision announces that it is too late, while someone else calls out ‘Don’t say that. Please don’t say that…’, when suddenly, ‘Guys. I’m here! I’m okay!’ Ant-Man calls out as he rises from some grass, and returns to his regular size, he walks over to the heroes. ‘You’re alive. You’re -’ Rogue begins, while Ant-Man suddenly sees what - who - everyone is gathered out. ‘Oh my God…Cassie…’ he utters, staring down at his dead daughter….

Characters Involved: 

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

Scarlet Witch

Multiple Man, Rictor, Shatterstar, Strong Guy (all X-Factor)

Beast, Luke Cage, Captain America, Hawkeye I, Iron Man, Ms Marvel, Spider-Man, Wolverine (all Avengers)
Ant Man II, Wonder Man (inactive Avengers)
Jessica Jones

Colossus, Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Rogue, Storm, White Queen (all X-Men)

Doctor Doom

In Doom’s Illusion:
Banshee, Phoenix IV, Nightcrawler, Thunderbird (all deceased X-Men)
Captain Mar-Vell, Wasp (both deceased Avengers)

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.

It’s Patriot’s fault because he disrupted the spell that the Scarlet Witch and Doom were casting in Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #7, resulting in Doom gaining this power.

The true details as to what lead to the Scarlet Witch’s actions during “Disassembled” and the “House of M” were revealed in Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #7, and are expanded upon this issue with Doom‘s revelation.

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