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John Byrne (Writer & Penciler), Keith Williams (Inker), Bill Oakley (Letterer), Bob Sharen (Colorist), David Wohl (Assistant Editor), Howard Mackie (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor in Chief)
Magneto belittles someone who he believes is a lackey, but may indeed be something much more, all linked to a mysterious mass-super villain attack. The Avengers West deliberate over what is best to help the near-catatonic Scarlet Witch, including Wonder Man allowing the Vision to once more copy his emotions and brain patterns, only for the Vision to reveal he is going to return to the East Coast branch of the team, when they are attacked by the U-Foes. The villains cause a fire at the Palos Verdes Compound, and only the Scarlet Witch can stop it – so Dr. Pym tricks Wanda into thinking that the Vision is in trouble. This snaps Wanda out of her catatonic state, enabling her to put out the fire. The U-Foes flee, but not without Dr. Pym sending Iron Man, Wonder Man and the Human Torch to track them down. He wanted to send the Vision also, but the Vision insists on journeying to the East Coast with Hank, the Wasp and Wanda where they are going to investigate what has happened to the East Coast Avengers.
‘The plan proceeds!’ declares Magneto to a dark-haired man in a blue suit. The man smiles and addressing Magneto as his lord, agrees, pointing out that all across America various super-villains act against heroes unfamiliar with their powers and abilities, so it will not be long until those champions are utterly obliterated! Magneto turns and exclaims ‘Fool!’ as he picks the man up by his jacket, asking him if he thinks Magneto cares for such paltry scheming. The man is surprised and is unsure how to answer.
Magneto remarks that when the man first approached him with the seed of his idea, he saw not so much a chance to crush the costumed cretins who call themselves “super heroes”, but a chance for the ultimate betterment of his own mutant kind – a chance to reclaim an allegiance that is his by right. Magneto begins to leave the room, telling his associate to continue with the portions of the plan that he allotted him, as he has other matters to attend to. ‘Yes, my lord, of course, my lord, your servant, my lord’ the other man replies.
But when Magneto is gone, the mysterious man lights a cigarette and thinks to himself that Magneto should cherish his imagined glories for the moments they are granted to him, as they will not last long! ‘Not longer, in fact, than the span of your own usefulness to the real mastermind of this plan!’
The mysterious man enters a large chamber, thinking that there are other matters with which he must attend to now, as the great plan is yet barely more than embryonic, so if it is to see full fruition, it must be property nurtured. The man takes his seat on a throne, deciding that the time has come to look in once again on those whose very existence is the inspiration for these machinations, and some energies appear before him, revealing to him what is transpiring at the Avengers West Coast Compound….
….’How is she, Doctor Pym?’ Iron Man asks Henry Pym as he stands near Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch. Also present in the Avengers Palos Verdes Compound are Simon “Wonder Man” Williams, Janet van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp, and Wanda’s husband, the android Vision. Hank replies that Wanda is not good, for since she collapsed when they were flying back to California she has been almost totally unresponsive, and so far as he has been able to determine, Wanda is not even hearing them. Hank points out that psychology is not one of his fields of expertise, so he has unfortunately at a loss as to explain her present condition.
‘You’re kidding, Hank!’ Wonder Man exclaims, before beginning to remind his teammates of everything that has happened to Wanda over the past few weeks – first her husband the Vision was kidnapped and disassembled, with his mind and personality being erased, then they discovered that he was not the original Human Torch like they all believed, and finally Wanda’s children were taken by Master Pandemonium and turned out to be not real children at all, but manifestations of Wanda’s ability to warp reality mixed with the soul of Mephisto!
Wonder Man continues, reminding everyone of how on top of it all, Wanda gets kidnapped herself by the Deviant priest-king Ghaur, who brainwashed her into becoming one of the Seven Brides of Set! Hank agrees that Wanda’s life has been in turmoil lately but points out that she seemed to be bearing well under the strain quite well, but he still does not know what to do with her for now. ‘No? Well I do!’ exclaims Wonder Man, before turning to his “brother” the Vision and reminds everyone how the Vision’s personality was based on a tracing of his own brain patterns, and until now, Simon had, for reasons of his own, refused to let Hank recopy those patterns and use them to restore the Vision to normal.
‘Until now, Simon?’ the ghostly-Vision asks. Simon announces that he has accepted the fact that Wanda needs the Vision back the way he was, so he is prepared to let Hank copy his brain patterns into the Vision. ‘I see’ the Vision replies matter-of-factly. The Wasp flits over to Simon and asks him if he is sure, ‘You love Wanda!’ Jan reminds Simon, asking him if he really wants to surrender his chance with her and if he is sure that is the right thing to do. Simon replies that it is more right than the way he has been behaving, for whatever his personal feelings in the matter, the Vision is Wanda’s husband and he has no business standing in their way of happiness.
The Vision tells Wonder Man that it is not as simple as that, for he has considered his present situation most carefully and has come to the conclusion that the addition of Simon’s brain patterns to his own programming would not in fact restore him to the form he had when he and Wanda were married – at the most, he would be nothing more than a copy of that former version of his self. The Vision states that as a copy, he would be no more than a phonograph record is truly the singer.
Simon asks the Vision what it is he is saying – ‘That you don’t want my brain patterns?’ The Vision thanks Simon, and announces that he does not, and declares that for the foreseeable future he believes it would be better if he returned to their East Coast headquarters. ‘WHAT??’ exclaims everyone in unison.
Meanwhile, in the Sixteenth Century, at the Tower of London. ‘So, cousin, we reach at last the time for final partings!’ Queen Elizabeth exclaims as she enters a chamber where her cousin Mary Queen of Scots sits. ‘And a long time it has been in coming’ Mary replies, asking Elizabeth if she would like to sit for a while, as she has sent for some wine. Queen Elizabeth tells Mary that this does not seem the proper time or place for such congeniality.
Elizabeth declares that an age of the world is coming to an end this morning under the headsman’s blade, so she doesn’t want it said that they spent the day drinking. Mary remarks that her cousin was ever too stern, too unbending – but if it were otherwise, so might be their situations. ‘Is that not so, my Lord Immortus?’ Mary asks, turning slightly to the man standing behind her. ‘I have said as much, your highness’ Lord Immortus replies.
‘Indeed you have, indeed you have’ Elizabeth remarks, before declaring that they think it now might have been a better thing if they sent Lord Immortus to the black when they had the chance. ‘Perhaps my lady’ Immortus replies, before remarking that it is a course not even he can chart. A man garbed in red tells Queen Elizabeth that it is time, to which Elizabeth addresses him as Cardinal and asks if he is in such a rush to see the end of the line of Tudor. Elizabeth tells him that the years have plodded to this day, so he should let the seconds tick by just as slowly.
Elizabeth turns to two women, and addressing them as Mistress Belle and Mistress Lettice, she asks them to attend. ‘Oh, majesty! I never thought I’d see it come to this!’ one of the women exclaims, sobbing. ‘And yet…somehow we always knew it would!’ Elizabeth exclaims, pointing out that the gown she is wearing she also wore when the men of Stuart came to fetch her here. ‘We kept it against this day, that all of England might see how the daughter of King Henry dies’.
‘You face your fate unafraid. You do your father proud, my lady’ Lord Immortus remarks to the Queen. Elizabeth tells Lord Immortus that fear is not a thing for Princes and asks him if he has come to see her royal head struck off. Lord Immortus replies that he hasn’t, as he has urgent business to attend elsewhere. Queen Elizabeth remarks that Lord Immortus always was a puzzlement to her, coming and going like a thief in the night. She remarks that she remembers him from her days as a girl in her father’s court and that he hasn’t aged a day since her father died. ‘Witchery?’ Queen Elizabeth asks.
‘Science’ Lord Immortus replies as Elizabeth takes her leave. ‘Something the world will better understand when all that happens here today is long forgotten’ Lord Immortus adds. Queen Elizabeth tells lord Immortus that, as usual, he speaks in riddles, and bids him farewell and suggests he keep his head about him now that her cousin Mary of Scotland is Queen.
‘And so the reign of Elizabeth Tudor ends, and the Stuart line is rightfully installed upon the throne of England!’ Mary exclaims, ‘And I, who have been Mary Queen of Scots, shall now rule the world!’ Mary asks Lord Immortus what he says to that, to which Lord Immortus replies that he wishes Mary no ill will, before declaring that this is now a world – a universe – that is of no more interest to him. Suddenly, everything around Immortus begins to fade away, ‘Lord Immortus!’ Mary exclaims, frightened.
‘Another divergence pinpointed…’ Immortus remarks as he enters the present – or the future – wherever his Limbo is. His “Lord Immortus” guise fades away and he is clad in his green and purple garb remarking that another errant branching of Time’s great tree has been snipped off, brining him one small step closer to becoming the true Master of Time.
Immortus remarks that there is still much to be done, much time to be consumed and it is not a thing to be accomplished quickly – not even by one who strides across the ages as another man might walk between rooms. Immortus turns to a viewing portal and exclaims that ever his countless schemes unfold themselves across the myriad of realities, soon to come together in the frail form of one mortal girl…the Scarlet Witch!
Back in the Avengers West Coast Palos Verdes Compound, Hank asks the Vision how he can be serious. ‘How can I be otherwise, Dr. Pym?’ the Vision replies, remarking that he has considered the balance of super powers between the East and West Coast teams and has come to the conclusion that he would be of greater use in New York. ‘Balance of powers?’ mutters Simon, before pointing out that Wanda needs the Vision. ‘Look at her! In this condition, she’s so helpless!’ he exclaims, motioning to Wanda’s still body on the sofa. ‘So vulnerable!’ Simon adds.
‘So easy to kill!’ exclaims a green-clad woman with brown hair as she materializes in the room. Hank turns to the woman and asks where she came from, before pointing out that she is engulfing Wanda in something. ‘Cyanide gas, Doctor Pym!’ the newcomer replies. She is about to say something else, when Simon flies through the gas, grabbing Wanda as he tells her not to breathe the gas in. Iron Man points out that as long as their gaseous guest remains in her insubstantial form it is easy enough for him to draw her into one of his armor’s built in holding tanks. ‘NOOO!’ screams the woman as Iron Man traps her.
Iron Man has succeeded, and points out that at maximum compression, it should be enough to hold her, but he soon finds that she has altered her form, and his sensors indicate that she has become a mono-molecular mist! Iron Man’s suit’s seals cannot restrain her, and she begins to leak into all of his systems. With his internal monitors going nuts and her infiltrating everything, Iron Man is left with no option other than to blow her out of his armor – and as he does, two large hands burst through the floor and grab him, pulling him down through the floor.
Hank calls out to his teammate, before peering down into the hole and seeing that Iron Man is battling someone down there, he wonders who it is. ‘Guess that answers that question!’ he exclaims as the second mysterious foe is hurled up through the floor and right out of the Compound…
…past the original Human Torch and Ann Raymond, who are out on the patio talking. The Human Torch asks Ann Raymond to tell him again about how Toro died. ‘Well, like I said before, according to what the Sub-Mariner told me –‘ Ann begins, until she sees the metallic figure hurled out of the Compound, and points him out to the Torch. ‘Flame on!’ exclaims the Human Torch as he tells Ann to stay back while he checks this out.
The Human Torch follows the mysterious being and realizes that he is not flying, but it looks more like he was fired out of a canon or something, and wonders if he needs rescuing. Suddenly, ‘Ironclad can take care of himself, flame-brain! You’re the one who’s gonna need help!’ exclaims a bright pink man as he flies over to the Human Torch. The Torch is confused, and exclaims that his eyes hurt to look at this shimmering man. ‘I’m gonna hurt a lot more than that!’ boasts the pink man as he blasts the Human Torch.
The Human Torch falls backwards thanks to the barrage of hard radiation, which he knows cannot harm his body, but it nevertheless hurts. The Torch steadies his self and flies back up towards his foe, remarking that now he knows what he is made of, and that he can dish it out pretty well, it’s time to see how well he takes it. The shimmering man screams as the Torch hurls some flames at him, but is able to return the “favor” with another blast of radiation.
Down below, Ann Raymond watches the men fighting. ‘They’re going at it like wildcats!’ she exclaims, while wondering who the glowing man is and where the rest of the Avengers might be. Ann wonders if the armored figure could have attacked the Avengers while she and the Human Torch were talking, but as she rushes back inside, Wonder Man bursts through the window carrying Wanda, Hank and the Wasp, and shattering glass everywhere.
While Hank and the Wasp gather themselves, Wonder Man sees Ann and tells her to keep back, explaining that Vapor is attacking again, and the Vision and Iron Man are inside trying to contain her, but he had to get the others clear. ‘”Vapor”?’ Ann asks. The Wasp flies over and informs her that Vapor is one of the U-Foes, a group who fought the East Coast branch of Avengers some time ago, but they didn’t recognize Vapor until her metal teammate got in on the attack. The Wasp suggests to Ann that she get well away from the building, for with Vapor’s ability to change into any sort of gas, there is no telling what might happen – and suddenly, there is a mighty boom, and that part of the Compound explodes.
Meanwhile, nearby, a group of civilians gather around a hole in the road. ‘What was that?’ one of them asks. ‘Dunno…looked like something the size of a Buick!’ another exclaims. ‘No, it was a man! A metal man!’ another points out. ‘Iron Man, maybe?’ someone suggests. Suddenly, the ground rises, and Ironclad pulls himself up from the ground, causing the civilians to topple over as he gets up, muttering that he is miles from the Avengers Compound.
Ironclad assumes that Iron Man used his repulsor rays to throw him this far, before realizing that it will take him hours to get back to the Compound on foot, and he is too big to drive in even the largest normal vehicles – lifting up a bus and tossing it across the street, Ironclad decides that if he cannot get back to the battle, then he will bring the battle to him! Civilians scream and run in terror from their attacker. ‘There’s nowhere you can hide from the fury of Ironclad!’ the deranged U-Foe bellows.
Up in the air, the Human Torch dodges more of his opponents blasts, before seeing the smoke rising from the area that he believes the metal man would have landed. The Torch blasts back at his foe and remarks that the battle is starting to range wide, yet he doesn’t see any of the Avengers responding, so he assumes something must be keeping them occupied. Flying back towards the mansion, the Human Torch sees that it is ablaze, but he knows he first must deal with the ‘X-ray guy’ before he can attend to the Compound.
Suddenly, X-Ray grabs the Torch, ‘You’re not going to find that so easy to do hot-shot – you’re not going to kill me like you did Vector!’ but the Human Torch is just confused, ‘Kill…? Who…?’
Back at the Compound, Hank tends to Wanda while Iron Man and the Vision try to fight the fire. Soon though, Iron Man announces that it is no good as he has exhausted all of his fire-fighting capabilities and there is no way they can douse the blaze so long as Vapor remains inside, feeding the flames. Hank tells Iron Man that he did his best, no on could ask for more, before remarking that their only hope now lies in Wanda.
‘Wanda? But you said she was completely unresponsive!’ Simon reminds Hank. Hank replies that she unresponsive to normal stimuli and he didn’t want to subject her to anything like shock therapy, but there is a slim chance this crisis situation might trigger instinctive responses in Wanda. Hank turns back to Wanda and asks her if she can hear him. ‘You’ve got to help us. The rest of the Avengers are in trouble! The Vision is in danger!’ Hank exclaims. A groggy Wanda whispers ‘…Vision…’ and gets to her feet, a determined look spreading across her face.
The Wasp cries out that it is working, and Wanda asks where the Vision is. ‘I am here, Wanda, are you all right?’ he asks, shifting his appearance momentarily into his original green and yellow clad form. Wanda continues to see him in that form and exclaims ‘Oh, Vision! You’re recovered! You’re back to your real self!’ Simon frowns and the Vision begins to explain what is going on, but Wanda interrupts, exclaiming that they best save the reunion for later as she has to do something about saving what is left of the Compound.
The Scarlet Witch points, and even those present who have grown to know and accept her power feel the sudden stillness. Wanda Maximoff is a woman – mortal, fallible, only the strange quirk of a few misaligned genes to distinguish her from any other creature on Earth’s biosphere. Except…Wanda points…and the universe reshapes itself to her will!
The random paths of atoms are altered, turned, the odds against a spontaneous flux field forming at the edge of the conflagration are millions to one against. Ask that such a field draw from the flames only those atoms which support combustion and the odds against it become to great to calculate. However, this is not Wanda’s conscious intent – it is precisely the manifestation of Wanda’s power. Much to the astonishment of the woman called Vapor, who suddenly finds herself human again.
However – the surprises do not end there! ‘A temporary effect at best, Vapor – as you should know only to well by now!’ a yellow and orange clad man exclaims as he flies towards Vapor, who is surprised and declares ‘Vector! But you’re dead!’ ‘Far from it, as you can see!’ Vector replies as he blasts the Avengers, reminding his teammate that she is vulnerable in her human form so she needs to get clear while he keeps the Avengers back.
(Shown with flashback images)‘But the monitor camera’s at our base…’ Vapor exclaims, before reminding Vector that after they broke out of the Vault he said it would be better if they split up and rendezvoused later at one of their hidden bases. Vapor informs Vector that when she, X-Ray and Ironclad met up, they found their base had been virtually levelled, but fortunately one of the automatic monitors was still functioning so they were able to ascertain what happened – and what they saw on the monitors was Vector being blown to atoms by the attacking Avengers!
(Present)Vector continues to blast at the Avengers West, telling Vapor that he also saw that when he finally arrived at their pre-arranged meeting place, explaining that he was delayed en route just long enough for his three teammates to decide to seek vengeance on the West Coast branch of the Avengers, this he also saw on the monitor. Vector boasts that without him to formulate a proper plan of attack however, his teammates were certain to wind up being shipped back to the Vault.
‘Don’t be so sure of that!’ X-Ray declares as he flies down towards the scene, holding the Human Torch, X-Ray boasts that he has captured Johnny Storm without any of their help. ‘But…that isn’t the Human Torch!’ Vapor exclaims. X-Ray sets the Human Torch on the ground and remarks that he does a pretty good impression of Johnny Storm, adding ‘And thanks to my radiation he’s doing an even better impression of a corpse!’ Vector remarks to his teammate ‘I doubt that, you may have rendered him unconscious – but this being should be impervious to your powers!’
Vapor addresses Vector as Simon and asks him what he is talking about. Vector tells Vapor that unlike herself, her brother X-Ray and their missing teammate Ironclad, he did a little research before he came after them, in which he learned that this is the original Human Torch – the android crime fighter of the 1940’s and 1950’s – and of whom the youngest member of the Fantastic Four, Johnny Storm, took his code name. Vector informs his teammates that the original Human Torch was recently restored to full activity, and according to the news reports they were denied from seeing during their incarceration, the original Human Torch has joined the Avengers.
‘Speaking of whom, we’d better get back to killing them or…what a minute! If you’re not dead…’ begins X-Ray. ‘Then we were set up! Somebody was using as pawns! Cannon fodder!’ Vapor exclaims angrily. The three U-Foes quickly take flight, with Vector remarking that, until they know who, he doesn’t think they will continue to play along, and suggests they locate Ironclad. Vector adds that there is bound to come a day when they find themselves ready to engage the Avengers once more, but when they do, it will be on their own terms and for their own reasons.
The Wasp points out that Vector just stopped his barrage and now the U-Foes are flying away. Iron Man declares that they had better go after them – but Hank suggests they don’t. His lover the Wasp asks him why they shouldn’t go after their foes, but Hank explains that what he means is that they should, but not all of them. Hank explains that he took the lull provided by the U-Foes retreat to try and make contact with the East Coast branch of Avengers for further data on the U-Foes.
The Vision asks Hank what he means by “try” to which Hank reveals that he could not get anyone at Avengers Island, even their communication systems seems to be out. Hank announces that Wonder Man, Iron Man and the Vision have the best chance to find the Human Torch and deal with the U-Foes, while he, Wanda and Janet head back East. But Wanda doesn’t like that idea, and tells Hank that she goes where the Vision goes.
Hank tells Wanda that they may need her power if some menace has attacked the Island. The Vision tells Hank that there is no need for debate, and points out that since it his stated intent to return to New York, he and Wanda will accompany Hank and the Wasp while Wonder Man, Iron Man and the Torch when they find him, pursue the U-Foes.
A few minutes later, in one of the Qunijets, Hank is piloting and the Wasp sits beside him, quietly remarking that he doesn’t seem happy with this arrangement. Hank replies that it isn’t that, for if they find the Torch, Simon and Iron Man will be more than able to deal with the U-Foes. Hank explains that he just has a bad feeling, a premonition, but Avengers East headquarters going silent the moment they were attacked makes him wonder if there is something more going on than one of the usual bad guys up to no good…something much more!
Human Torch I, Iron Man, Dr. Hank Pym, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wasp, Wonder Man (all Avengers West Coast)
Ironclad, Vapor, Vector, X-Ray (all U-Foes)
ImmortusMagnetoLoki (in disguise)
In the 16th Century:Queen Elizabeth IMary Queen of ScotsLord ImmortusCardinalMistress’ Belle and LetticeOthers
In Flashback:Iron Man, Wonder Man (both Avengers West Coast)Ironclad, Vapor, Vector, X-Ray (all U-Foes)
This issue is part of the Acts of Vengeance, a company-wide story that took place throughout Marvel titles at this time.
The core Avengers Acts of Vengeance titles include Avengers (1st series) #311-313, Avengers West Coast #53-55, Avengers Spotlight #26-29, and an epilogue in one of the back stories in Avengers (1st series) Annual #19.
The Scarlet Witch collapsed in the 1988 Fantastic Four Annual.
The Vision was kidnapped, disassembled and rebuilt with no memories or emotion in West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #42-45.
The revelation about Wanda’s children can be seen in Avengers West Coast #51-52.
Wanda’s kidnapping and brainwashing into one of the Seven Brides of Set (along with Jean Grey, Storm, Invisible Woman, Andromeda, She-Hulk and Dagger) took place during the “Atlantis Attacks” mega-crossover.The Vision rejoins the East Coast branch of the Avengers this issue, and his relationship with Wanda never really recovers, though years later they at least become friendly with each other. Wonder Man and Wanda however begin a serious relationship when Wanda plays a part in his resurrection. [Avengers (3rd series) #3, #11]
The U-Foes fought the Avengers (East Coast) in Avengers (1st series) #304.
The original Human Torch was re-activated in Avengers West Coast #50.