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Mark Waid (writer), Stuart Immonen (artist), Marte Garcia (colorist), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Richard Isanove & Joe Quesada (cover), Nick Lowe (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)
special thanks to Sebastian Girner
In K’un-Lun, Iron Man and Beast test a device to simulate battle scenarios against Cyclops with the help of the Scarlet Witch. The result is disheartening: every scenario ends with the Avengers’ defeat and deaths. The three Avengers are at a loss for words until Hope enters the room, complaining that they keep forgetting about her. When the Scarlet Witch includes Hope in the scenarios, she suddenly sees a chance of victory and they realize that all their battle plans depend on Hope.
What’s left of the Avengers have found refuge in the mystical otherworldly city of K’un-lun after they were beaten by the Phoenix Five.
Angrily, Tony Stark exclaims they are hiding like animals. He doesn’t finish the sentence, realizing it might be insulting to his teammate Beast. But Avengers don’t cower! Calling the Scarlet Witch “Witchy,” he tells her she is next.
Wanda wonders when he slept the last time. Tony flippantly assures her he is fine. A mere twenty-eight-what-passes-for coffee here in the workday and he invented a strategy for their inevitable showdown. He calls it “The Mad Thinker.”
Information determines action. Leave nothing to chance. Luck is not reliable. Hope is not a plan! Sounds “Oprah,” he knows, but bear with! He got an idea. He asks her to tilt her head and then attaches a device to the side of it. They may have finally found a way to sledgehammer their science and her magic together.
Tony tells her to relax as he switches the device on. Blurred images form in the air. Who’s most on her mind right now? he asks and image of Cyclops and Wanda’s estranged husband, the Vision, form.
Startled, Wanda exclaims she was thinking of them. She doesn’t like this. What is this device? Tony explains it has two functions. One, it does spy a slight little bit on her thoughts and projects them, and two, he tells Hank to show her. A data field is projected around the Witch. It can feed directly into her subconscious, all of the data Tony can think to gather about the coming battle ground K’un Lun. From observed power levels of the Phoenix-possessed, to all their allies to all the Avengers and their allies… to the temperature outside to the wind direction to everything that might possibly be a factor in the battle. All probabilities, which is where she comes in. Her hexes are at core probability altering fields. So they are asking her to cast one on herself. To create the feedback loop on the data that will predict all the hundreds of potential outcomes of battle, helping them to winnow their choices down to the ones that lead to victory.
So long as she is willing to freely and without reservation project her innermost thoughts for public examination, Wanda states accusingly. Alternately, they all die screaming, Tony continues, and Wanda quickly sighs that she will do it.
Tony thanks her, then asks her to turn her hex power inward and let the shiny hat do the rest…
The spectacle begins; the field around Wanda begins to glow. And images are created, different battles scenarios. Tony asks her to focus on the more favorable scenarios. Wanda narrows it down and Tony realizes that anything that isn’t an instant extinction event revolves around the smartest choices made by three of them: Iron Man, for obvious reasons: Genius, brilliant combatant etc. Thor, the god among them. And Wolverine who knows Cyclops better than any on the Avengers’ side.
He tells Wanda to play out the scenarios. She does. In each scenario, one of the three faces Cyclops. Each scenario ends with their defeat or death at Cyclops’ hands.
The three Avengers are at a loss for words. Tony meekly offers maybe he failed to account for something… someone. Like who? Like what? Beast asks sharply. They saw the grand finale with their own eyes. They are utterly without hope!
Did she hear her name? Hope Summers pipes up as she peeks into the room. Sheepishly, she remarks she is starting to get a complex. Just because she is in training instead of at the frontlines, she sometimes thinks they forget all about her.
A surprised Wanda looks at Hope and as she does a new scenario plays out, one where Cyclops lies defeated at the feet of someone who doesn’t come quite into focus.
Iron Man realizes that, tired as he was, he forgot to factor Hope in, even though the entire war revolves around her. And that changes everything. He doesn’t know how, he doesn’t know why, but Hope is not a plan… She’s the plan. And finally Tony allows himself to smile.
Beast, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch (all Avengers)
in projected scenarios:Iron Man, Thor, Wolverine
CyclopsGambit, Havok, Iceman, Magneto, Pixie III, Psylocke, Rockslide, Rogue, Storm (all X-Men)
This book is a digital story only that could be purchased with Avengers vs. X-Men #10 to be read on a smartphone or tablet.
The story takes place around Avengers versus X-Men #9.
Actually, Iron Man already used a somewhat similar device in cooperation with the Scarlet Witch way back in Force Works.