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Rick Remender (writer), Jim Cheung with Terry Dodson, Lenil Francis Yu & Adam Kubert Mark Morales, Dave Meikis, Guillermo Ortega, Mark Roslan, Rachel Dodson, Jim Cheung, Lenil Francis Yu, Adam Kubert (inkers), Paul Mounts (colorist), Chris Eliopoulous (letterer), Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor (cover artists), Adam Hughes; Paul Renaud (variant cover artists), Idettte Wincoor (production), Jake Thomas (assistant editor), Tom Breevort with Daniel Ketchum and Will Moss (editors), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Avengers and X-Men created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
In the past, Sabretooth prepares to a kill a man, despite Wolverine offering him assistance. Today, an armor-wearing Steve Rogers fights Sam Wilson, while protecting his greatest foe, the Red Skull. Sam and Steve fight, but in the process, the Skull uses his telepathy to project an illusion, enabling he and Steve to escape. As they flee there is almost a sense of friendship between them. Iron Man, Kluh and Cage have defeated the mutants and Apocalypse, and Sam soon finds them and tells them that Steve has the Skull and is going to kill them all. Sabretooth pulls Mystique from the rubble and they share a tender moment, knowing that they are going to have to be put back to their true selves. Rogue attacks them, and Sabretooth holds her off, enabling Mystique to escape. Spider-Man comes to Sabretooth's aid, while Havok is attempting to kidnap the Wasp, determined to rebuild the reality where they were happy with their daughter. The Wasp attacks Havok and manages to escape. Apocalypse is spoken to by Deadpool's head, who urges the boy inside, Evan, to take control and save the day. On the moon, Loki continues to evade Thor, who is determined to strike his brother down. Eventually, Loki comes across Thor's abandoned hammer, Mjolnir, and picks it up, transformed into the new God of Thunder, he attaccks Thor. Steve Rogers brings the Skull safely into Avengers Mansion, but before long they, Nomad and Jarvis are attacked by Sam Wilson, Iron Man, Kluh, Cage and the Wasp. A fierce battle follows, resulting in Sam violently punching the elderly Steve over and over – until Apocalypse appears and takes on the Avengers, enabling Steve, the Skull, Nomad and Jarvis to escape. Sabretooth and Spider-Man help them, but Iron Man intervenes, and prepares to kill Steve, until Doom, the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Magneto and Brother Voodoo arrive. Doom and the Scarlet Witch re-cast the inversion spell, which is projected by the Skull's telepathy. However, Iron Man casts a force field around himself, catching Sabretooth and Havok in it, too, meaning all three avoid the spell. On the moon, Loki loses the hammer, and Thor is reverted to normal. In Manhattan, the Wasp rushes over to Havok, only to discover he has not changed. Havok takes the Wasp prisoner, forcing her to shrink them both so they can escape. The heroes' victory is hardly a victory, as Magneto points out that Stark, Doom and the Skull have all escaped. In the aftermath, the world at large is informed via a recorded message from Carnage and the other inverted villains, calling themselves the Axis of Evil, that they manipulated the heroes into causing so much damage and devestation. A recuperating Steve Rogers confides to Nomad and Sam Wilson that it was the villains' idea, and no one will ever know the truth. Sabretooth is being kept in a cell, writing about the inversion and its aftermath. Tony Stark is back at Stark Enterprises, while Havok and Cyclops meet up. Deadpool has a body once more, and keeps a low profile with Evan, no longer Apocalypse. Loki deals with having brief control of Mjolnir, while doom is back ruling Latveria, and the Red Skull is his prisoner. A new Avengers Unity Squad is formed, and Spider-Man builds a statue of Carnage.
A man in a business suit leans back against a wall, 'Whatever they're paying you, I'll double it! Please! I have a wife – children!' he exclaims. Sabretooth looms over the man, 'A widow and some orphans!' he snarls, as another voice calls out 'Always gotta pull the wings off before you work, Creed?' Sabretooth's clawed hand is wrapped around the man's face, as Wolverine stands nearby. 'It's how I'm paid to make it' Sabretooth replies. 'No' Wolverine tells him, revealing that he has been hunting him for weeks now, that Sabretooth has always been running, and that this isn't about money – but about blood. Wolverine assures Sabretooth that Xavier can help him, help fight the thing inside him that wakes up thirsty for blood, never goes to bed, never sated. 'There's a good man somewhere in there -' Wolverine begins, but Sabretooth interrupts him and tells Wolverine that he has it all wrong. 'There ain't nothing like that inside of me, runt' he declares as he shoves his claws through the man's head.
Avengers Tower, the elderly Steve Rogers, encased in a suit of armor, raises a photon shield to protect himself from the current Captain America, Sam Wilson, Steve's longtime friend and battle-partner, who flies towards him, while Steve protects the Red Skulls – whose face is now bone white. 'Drop the Nazi or I'll kill you, old man!' Sam shouts, while Steve thinks that his allies have all gone mad. His photon shield knocks Sam back, as he tells him 'You're too smart not to see what's going on here, Sam'. Steve recalls that Avengers, X-Men, Inhumans and anyone else who was on Genosha when the spell was cast has been tormented by the Inversion, which was echoed by the Skull's telepathy, hitting them all. Now, the hated monster whom he must save in hopes of reverting this madness. 'You know what's going on here?' Sam responds, extending his Falcon wings, he boasts that for the first time in his life, he is free. Sam pushes Steve back, and heads towards the Red Skull. 'Free of your regulations and expectations. Free to do what's best for me. I'm not going to let him take that away!' Sam exclaims.
Steve's old armor helps him, as he lunges at Sam, knocking him back – but he knows the armor is not enough, as it still relies on his strength, which he doesn't have any more. 'The two of you dying together – it's perfect, really' Sam snaps as he smacks Steve in the face. Sam stands over Steve, who has no Super-Soldier Serum any more, his reflexes are slow, nothing responds as it should. 'The two egotists who manipulated me into this life of lies – this life of empty sacrifice!' Sam exclaims, raising his shield, ready to bring it down on Steve, who knows that if he falters, Sam will kill him without hesitation. If he was actually there, that is. If he were dumb enough to engage Sam – but he's not, and as Sam brings his shield down, the projection of Steve Rogers disappears. 'What is this? Face me, you coward!' Sam shouts.
At the same time, making their way through a sewer tunnel, Steve asks the Red Skull how much time they have before Sam finds them. The Red Skull replies that there is only a few minutes, as he is still tranquilized, preventing him from using his telepathic powers to their fullest. 'Your partner is already free of my mnemonic fiction' the Red Skull reveals. He informs Steve that he cannot continue at this pace, as he is weary. 'You look terrible, Steve' the Red Skull remarks. 'Steve? The way you say that...kindness...' Steve replies. 'The horror I've caused...I'm sorry. I'm so sorry' the Red Skull claims. 'One thing at a time' Steve tells him, before announcing that the Avengers plan to kill the X-Men, he asks him if he can revert them, if he can fix this. 'I...I can broadcast a reversion, if we can recreate the circumstances of Onslaught's defeat, the chaos and order energies...' the Red Skull explains. 'Is that a yes?' Steve asks. 'I'll try, Steve... after all... it's not every day the Red Skull gets an opportunity to save the world' the Red Skull replies.
Iron Man, the Hulk – in his form Kluh – and Luke Cage stand amongst desctruction, as fires rage and buildings lie demolished. Apocalypse, Cyclops, the Absorbing Man, the Enchantress, Colossus and Deadpool's head lay scattered at their feet. Iron Man instructs Luke to round up any stragglers. 'Gotta get out ducks in a row' he announces. Cage asks Stark if he wants to be a bit more specific. 'Just say it, Tin Man – murder 'em' Kluh exclaims, adding that he agreed to take out the undesirables, he doesn't have to sit for no pretty corporate speak. 'A smart businessman always finds a flowerly slogan for a despicable act' Iron Man remarks, before Sam Wilson returns, 'Tony, you were right!' he exclaims. 'Story of my life' Tony replies, before Sam reveals that Steve has the Red Skull and that he is going to revert them all. 'Fine. Let's go' Iron Man declares. He takes flight and remarks that no matter how many middlemen he employs, he always has to do everything himself.
Amidst the debris, Raven “Mystique” Darkholme reaches out to Sabretooth a.k.a. Victor Creed, who, calling Mystique a frail, tells her that hero business is not al it has cracked up to be. 'Watch who you're calling frail, Creed' Mystique warns him, as Creed pulls her onto a safer platform. 'Sorry. Old habits' Creed responds, before telling Raven that she did good out there, fighting for the angels. 'Showed Anna Marie her real stepmom. Awful damn proud to have been by your side' Sabretooth tells her. 'Sounds terribly fatalistic' Mystique replies, touching Sabretooth's face as he points out that Stark isn't going to leave any of them alive. 'I'm cooked – no fight left' he adds. Raven's mind wanders back, and she tells Creed that this is not too different from the first time they met. 'We nearly killed each other. Before we ravaged each other. You found strength for that fight' she reminds him. Creed seemingly smiles and reminds Mystique 'That scrap had a different payout' and points out that they fell into the black hole together because they needed someone to come down with them.
'Now the world's heroes are in that same dark place. The world can't survive without the X-Men or Avengers – go, Victor, help Rogers revert us' Mystique asks. 'That means...' Creed begins. 'We have to fall back into that black hole' Mystique utters. 'That's a hole you never shoulda crawled out of, mother – but one I'll gladly put you back in!' Rogue exclaims as she flies over and punches Sabretooth, knocking him backwards. Creed responds by lashing out with his claws, and strikes Rogue across her stomach, drawing blood. 'Run, Raven! Give me a hero moment before it's all gone!' Creed calls out. As Rogue slams Sabretooth's head into a wall, Mystique starts to run. But Rogue boasts that she isn't getting far. Seeing a large jagged spike, Rogue pulls Creed towards it, 'Gonna do just what you would – hunt her down – bring her back – and kill her in front of you' Rogue shouts as Creed's face is barely an inch from the spike. 'Holy guacamole – that's a spicy meatball!' Spider-Man calls out as he swings down and tangles Rogue in some webbing before she can skewer Sabretooth on the spike. 'Fool! What are you rambling about?' Rogue snaps. 'Sorry, it's been a long day...and I'm running out of quips' Spider-Man replies.
Inside Ship, Alex “Havok” Summers runs down a corridor, dragging Janet Van Dyne a.k.a. The Wasp with him. He tells her to hurry it up and get it together, as he needs her help. 'My help? You were going to kill me, Alex! Kill us!' the Wasp retorts. 'Never! I would never have allowed it!' Havok declares. 'Would I allow you to die?' he asks. 'To allow our daughter never to be born?' he adds. He remembers happier time, on Planet X, married to the Waps, and with their daughter. Havok explains to the Wasp that if they want Katie back, they have to stay together, and get Janet pregnant. 'I wouldn't risk that – I was going to rebuild Planet X for us' Havok exclaims, adding that he would rebuild the world where they were a happy family, and points out that right now, Steve Rogers is trying to stop that, trying to take it away – undo everything. Havok announces that they need to kill the Skull before it is undone, before they lose their future. The Wasp examines a strange red matter on the ground, and realizes that it is the remains of Carnage. 'You didn't stop the bomb...THEY DID!' the Wasp screams at Havok, firing a powerful “sting” of energy at close range, knocking Alex backwards. 'Stop – I'm sorry!' Havok calls out, but the Wasp shrinks down and flies away, calling back to Alex that he is a self-serving coward, and that he will pay for this. 'You'll die with the rest of the mutants!'
Outside, Angel and Cyclops lie motionless amongst the rubble, as Apocalypse starts to rise. 'Lost...an end to the suffering of my people – gone. My X-Men overpowered...our future...our prosperity...all lost' he utters. Suddenly, 'Not if you flip the script, Evan' a voice calls out, addressing the boy, Evan, known as Genesis, within Apocalypse. 'Wade?' Apocalypse asks, looking over and seeing the head of Wade “Deadpool” Wilson lying on the ground. 'Time to rise and help the good guys/ If they kill Skull...it's all over. We're all stuck like this. Which is groovy for me, but you...' Deadpool's voice trails off. The head continues to speak, 'The thing that inversion brought out – that evil, the seed of him, always inside you – no so bueno. This ain't the real you, li'l buddy, you were raised by people who love you' Deadpool remembers playing baseball with Evan, and tells him that there were people that taught him different, taught him to overcome those bad genes. 'Anyone can deal with adversity – and being down – it's what you do when you have power that defines you'. Deadpool asks Evan if he knows who said that, and announces that it was Abe Lincoln. 'Ain't gonna ignore Honest Abe, are ya?' he asks.
Apocalypse lunges forward and picks the talking head up, 'There is no part of that sniveling infant Evan within me!' he booms. 'Baloney. The inversion flipped you, brought out evil genie Apocalypse' Deadpool explains. Apocalypse looks Deadpool in the eyes as the talking head tells Evan that he can fight, that he is in there, buried. 'C'mon, it's time to be super, Evan...it's time to save the day'. Apocalypse just stares back.
The moon, where Thor skulks about an abandoned facility and shouts 'You can't hide, brother!' He tells his brother that this ploy, whatever reason he has brought them here for, pretty game player, it will avail him not. 'And you'll not be so pretty when Jarnbjorn is done with you!' Thor warns his brother. Loki slides down some debris amongst the ruins of the facility, 'Okay, he's good and crazy. No problem getting Lord Loudington to chase me. Now for my great, idiotic embarassment...' Loki tells himself, before telling him to stop that talk, he must stay positive – all is on the line now. 'And not just for them – my one chance to escape fate, to escape my rotten future. No pressure' Loki adds. Suddenly, Thor tells him to run as fast as he can. 'But I am coming, you preening half-a-man!' Loki reminds himself that Steve Rogers made him an Avenger, so they are counting on him. 'If Thor goes back down there, it's going to be a bloodbath – he's your brother – he's your responsibility' Loki declares. 'DEATH IS COMING!' Thor calls out. 'Come now – where is that bravery you feigned before?' Thor asks, searching through the ruins, passing the area where Loki just ran through.
Loki comes to a halt – 'Sink or swim' he tells himself, as he sees Thor's discarded hammer, Mjolnir sticking up on the moonscape. 'Only those worthy can lift it – the truest of heroes' Loki reminds himself, deciding that he will die if he can't pick it up – literally and metaphorically. Loki's eyes look sad, as Thor calls out 'Mother and father will shed no tears at the passing of such a burdenstone bastard! Such a -' as Loki's mind wanders to the past:
Odin stands at his throne, with Thor appearing before him, and Loki standing nearby, listening. '- grave disappointment. Loki has always been thus, regardless of his mother's doting' Odin tells Thor, unaware that Loki stands in the shadows. Odin adds that Thor's brother lacks the heart of nobility, and that it is likely he will never live up to his station. 'Regardless, it's up to you ro try and teach him, Thor... though I fear it is an impossible task' Odin adds.
'Father. If there be gods that that gods may pray to...let me have truly changed' Loki utters as his hand reaches down to pick Mjolnir up. Skulking nearby, Thor calls out 'After I have killed you I will kill your friends! Anyone tainted by your love! I will ensure they know it was your failure that incurred my wrath!' Thor holds the axe, Jarnbjorn, and asks his “brother” if he finds thew truth so to his liking now? 'Here is the truth: I NEVER LOVED YOU!' Thor booms, adding that nor did their father, or mother. 'That is the truth. You are a burden – a grave disappointment to your family!' Thor shouts. Suddenly, Loki responds by saying 'How much more heartbroken they must be – at the chosen's failure to lift his own hammer!' Loki responds, as he appears before Thor, his costume changed, cape flowing behind him, as he slams Mjolnir into Thor, knocking the surprised mighty god backwards with a roaring noise.
Avengers Mansion, where The Red Skull leads the weary Steve Rogers into a control room, where Steve's son, Ian a.k.a. The new Nomad and Edwin Jarvis are observing the goings-on via monitors. Steve calls out to his son, and the Red Skull reports that Steve is weak, in need of medical attention. 'Dad!' Nomad gasps, while Jarvis looks at the Skull and remarks that he never thought he would be glad to see that face. Steve collapses and announces that his armor helps, but that he can't keep this up, for he is too damn old. 'I have Shmidt's memories. I know the type of opponent you are...the kind that always stands up' the Skull declares, and Steve looks him in the eyes, standing up, the Skull assists him. 'Almost there, soldier' the Skull encourages, adding that he can revert them all, but that they need to find Doom and Strange, for an inverted Scarlet Witch will not be interested in aiding them. Nomad reports that Dr Strange disappeared with the rest of the heroes. 'Then we must find them -' the Skull begins, but Nomad interrupts him, pointing out that they have bigger problems.
'SOMEONE SAY MY NAME?' Kluh roars as he bursts through the floor, knocking Steve Rogers and the Skull backwards as debris is blown into the control room. 'Barbaris monster! Your mind is no match for my telepathy even in a weakened -' the Skull begins, while Nomad attacks Kluh, Iron Man, Cage and Sam Wilson enter, and Iron Man fires a repulser blast at the Skull: 'Rain check on the mind games!' he exclaims, knocking the Skull back. The Wasp flies into the room, as Nomad continues to battle Kluh, Iron Man wraps his hands around the Skull's throat and asks 'You still in there, Xavier? Because I got something to tell you. Those Stark Sentinels – I'm rebuilding them for sale. To wipe out all the mutants forever – and after what your X-Men tried to do today – business will be booming!' he boasts. Jarvis helps Steve Rogers up, while Iron Man continues: 'You hear that, Charles? Stark Sentinels marching in the streets!' he exclaims, while the Skull is choked. 'Keeping humans safe from your mutated freaks and keeping me rich! That's your legacy, Professor!' Stark cruely exclaims.
'Dad! Stark's killing Skull! Get him – Go!' Nomad calls out, when suddenly, Kluh grabs him and slams him into a wall, 'Nah – better stay and watch, pops!' Kluh exclaims. Iron Man casts more energy at the Skull, while Kluh announces that he loves an audience. 'Get off of my son before I -' Steve Rogers calls out, holding his photon shield up, until Sam Wilson slams his own shiled inot Steve's face, 'Before what, old man?' he asks. 'Finally free of the garbage you filled my head with! FREE TO GET WHAT I'M OWED!' Sam shouts as he knocks Steve's helmet off, and starts punching the original Captain America's face, over and over, sending blood splattering over them both. 'It's not garbage, Sam...it's duty. I didn't teach you that – your father did...he died to stop people fighting' the very weak Steve manages to utter, causing Sam to stay his punch, and grit his teeth. He steps back and declares that his father gave his life for nothing by helping people who forgot him, he abandoned his family. 'He died for an ideal. The same one you're throwing away' Steve utters. 'HEY! I got a dream, old man! Fer you ta see what it looks like when I tear your son in half!' Kluh grins, holding Nomad overhead. 'I hate to be a buzzkill – but that's a terrible dream, brother!' Deadpool exclaims, strapped to a pouch on Apocalypse's side, as Apocalypse bursts into the control room, and slams Kluh to the ground, causing him to drop Nomad. 'Oh, son of a -' Iron Man utters, before Kluh falls into him, and the two are knocked into a wall, enabling the Skull to stand up.
'GO!' booms Apocalypse as he blasts the Wasp with optic beams. 'I'll hold them off!' Apocalypse announces, grabbing the approaching Sam Wilson, he tells the others to get the Skull out of here. 'Confused, but not about to look this gift horse in the mouth' Steve Rogers remarks as he and his son help the Skull away, with Jarvis at their side, reporting that the Quinjet is prepared. 'We should help that purple man!' the Skull calls out, referring to Apocalypse, he then announces that Iron Man's telepathic dampener is still in effect, and he needs a few minutes to recover. 'No. We're getting you out of here' Steve declares, adding that they can risk anything happening to the Skull. 'That's awful sweet' Luke Cage exclaims as he appears in front of the Quinjet – but before he can act, Sabretooth slashes his side, and Spider-Man swings down and shoots webbing in Cage's eyes. 'Sweet like Christmas? C'mon, Cage, they cued you perfectly for that one' Spider-Man declares. 'Gotta love the nick-of-the-time saves' Sabretooth remarks, to which Spider-Man jokes 'I always shoot for at least one per battle, but two? Home run'. Spider-Man then tells Creed to lay in, as they have to buy Steve a chance to escape. 'You can't afford it' Iron Man declares as the Quinjet starts to take off. 'And I can't afford you taking this from me!' Iron Man exclaims as he starts to fire at the Quinjet. 'HOLD ON!' Steve calls out at the controls of the Quinjet, before the jet falls to the ground, and bursts into flame.
Steve, Nomad and the Skull emerge from the wreckage as smoke and flames billow around them. 'Not another step!' Nomad calls out to Iron Man, who looms over them. Iron Man responds by grabbing Nomad and declares 'Kid – you're in no position to give orders' as he smashes Nomad's face into some flaming wreckage. 'As much as your family loves to do so' Iron Man remarks, while Steve stands to protect the Skull: 'Tony – please, listen...' Steve begins. 'Hmmm...no' Iron Man replies as he knocks Steve back. Iron Man declares that he is not going back, that he likes who he is. 'How unfortunate for you – that Doom does not. And your domination doesn't fit our purpose!' Dr Doom declares as he appears overhead, with Wanda Maximoff the Scarlet Witch, her brother Pietro a.k.a. Quicksilver, Magneto and Brother Voodoo. 'And our purpose is the good of mankind!' Magneto announces, before telling Stark that the world cannot survive his brilliance turned to evil. He uses his control over metal to place Iron Man in a tight grip that ever increases in fury. 'Stop! You're killing him, Erik!' the Skull calls out. Magneto turns to the Skull and replies that he sees no other option. 'It was this same line of thinking that led you to kill me!' the Skull reminds Magneto. 'Your choice of solution released Onslaught – caused all of this! Please. Stop now, old friend' the Skull pleads, oddly. But Magneto glances sideways: 'That voice!' he remarks.
Magneto narrows his eyes and releases Iron Man, who falls to the ground with a thud. 'Cast the damn spell' he mutters. 'There is no picking or choosing who will be affected – it's all or nothing' Doom adds, unaware that Havok is nearby, listening in the shadows. 'We'll be returned to the monsters we once were, Shmidt' Doom points out, to which the Skull replies that it is the sacrifice they must make. 'Perhaps we will become better men even without the Inversion' Doom suggests. 'We both know better than that' the Skull responds. Doom starts to cast some energy, and speaks to Daniel Drumm who is possessing the Scarlet Witch, telling her that once has casts order, he must use Wanda's memories to open the nexus of chaos. 'Do not condescend to me, Doom. I've already done it' Drumm responds, as the Scarlet Witch starts to cast her spell, too. The Skull unleashes his telepathy and declares that once bathed in the energies, he will broadcast the Inversion and undo the effects of the original spell. 'NO!' screams Havok as he rushes forward, shouting that he won't go back, that he couldn't survive knowing what he has done.
Havok unleashes a blast which knocks the Skull over. 'You won't have to!' Iron Man calls out to Havok, as he attacks Magneto. But Brother Voodoo intervenes, casting energies towards Iron Man, he tellls him to cease this insanity, or else he will cordon him within the Bile Pits of Ogoun. Sabretooth lunges at Havok and shoves his claws into his back, exclaiming 'If I'm willing to go back to being a savage beast, you gotta handle getting your boy scout bade back, Havok!' as his back is shredded, Havok screams in pain. 'Now! Before more arrive – cast the spell!' Brother Voodoo urges to Magneto and the Scarlet Witch. 'Goodbye, Von Doom' the Skull says to Dr Doom as the two of them and the Scarlet Witch are engulfed in the chaos and order energies. The trio are levitated into the air, with the two energies flowing from the Scarlet Witch and Dr Doom, projected outwards by the Skull's telepathy. 'NO! I won't go back! I won't!' Iron Man shouts as he, Sabretooth and Havok look up at the spectacular display of power before them. Suddenly, Iron Man reveals that he is prepared for this, and emits what appears to be a force field around himself, Havok and Sabretooth.
The Moon, energy crackles from Mjolnir as Loki holds the mighty hammer overhead, while Thor is on the ground before him. 'How does it feel, Thor? To be the one fallen? To be the failure defeated by the noble hero? How does it feel to know... I AM MORE WORTHY THAN YOU?' Loki demands, when, suddenly, the Inversion spell sweeps over them, and Mjolnir falls to the Moon ground. 'No...' a forlorn Loki utters, his costume reverted back to what he was wearing before he picked Mjolnir up. 'What trickery is this? Where – what have you done to me?' a confused Thor demands. 'I defeated you! I was then God of Thunder!' Loki claims. But Thor announces that he recalls no such thing. 'You remember – you must' Loki replies. 'Certainly it is another lie... from the prince of all liars' Thor suggests.
Back outside Avengers Mansion, flames and smoke rise from nearby buildings, while the Wasp goes over and helps Havok to his feet. 'Alex? My God – are you okay?' she asks him. Havok coughs in response, while Luke Cage assists Sabretooth, pulling him up, he asks 'Are you gonna make me put you in a hold?' But Creed tells Cage to pipe down, as he does not have a murderous thought in his head – or Cage would already be dead. 'And if Stark's shield left me all heroic-like...means Summers ain't Creed points out, while Brother Voodoo checks on the Scarlet Witch, who rubs her head. 'Alex? What are you doing?' the Wasp cries out, as Alex puts her in a headlock. 'Get back – GET THE HELL AWAY OR I'LL FRY HER HEAD OFF!' Alex shouts as he prepares to unleash his mutant power. 'Alex, whatever' going on – stop. For Katie's sake -' the Wasp begins, but Alex declares that Katie never existed – the same as their love. 'Now get back!' he warns the others, and instructs the Wasp to shrink them both down, get them out of here, or he will kill her. 'Don't test me, woman!' he warns the Wasp. 'Stop him' Brother Voodoo calls out to the Scarlet Witch, who casts hex, and Brother Voodoo releases energy from his staff, but Havok warns the others that if any of them follow, the Wasp will die.
'Quicksilver, go!' Brother Voodoo shouts, but as Quicksilver races forward, he announces that they are already gone. 'Find them! He can't be allowed to take Janet!' Steve calls out as he and Nomad rush over, but Brother Voodoo reports that he detects nothing, and suggests that they are already deep within the Microverse. Nomad turns to his father and tells 'I'm sorry I couldn't stop him, Dad', to which Steve tells his son that he just got them through a war, and he made him proud. 'Fools – this is not a time for congratulations. Or haven't you noticed? They're gone' Magneto narrows his eyes and announces that Stark, Doom and the Skull are gone. 'You let them escape' he declares.
One week later, a news announcer is in a studio as an image of the burning Manhattan is displayed behind her, with the caption “Mutant menace?” and the announcer states that after the attack of Apocalypse on Manhattan, recovery crews continue to sift and rebuild, but that city planners say it could take upwards of a month before the city is completely up and running, adding that reports from Avengers Tower indicate that all of the heroes have been freed from the ant farm where they were held prisoner since the attacks began. She continues, stating that little is known of the man who referred to himself as Apocalypse, the mutant who ordered all humans to vacate Manhattan under threat of execution. She adds that his army of mutants is well known as the X-Men, but that apparently that is not the entire story, as she has received the following video, made by a villainous gang referring to themselves as the Axis of Evil and recorded earlier before the now-famous battle of Manhattan. An image of Loki, the Enchantress, Jack O' Lantern, Hobgoblin, Carnage, Sabretooth and Mystique appears on the monitor behind the newsreader and Carnage's voice can be heard, and he remarks that usually, if people see his face, then their day is coming to an end, permanently, but if they are watching this video, it is because their bid to steal Manhattan has failed.
Carnage can be heard announcing 'See, it was our mischievous machinations what done manipulated yer “heroes”. Sweet Enchantress' trickery led the X-Men to joining Apocalypse. Idiots ain't got that kind of sense on their own. She drove the Avengers nuts to boot. We don't like the idea any of them ding-dongs getting credit for our work, see. We are the Axis of Evil. The world gonna quake where we tread. Maybe some of your hero-folks got lucky – maybe we been defeated – but know this – next time we won't be'. Carnage concludes by announcing that the X-Men and Avengers will pay for putting the kibosh on their plans, and soon, they will all bend to their knees.
'Why? Why would they have filmed this, Steve?' Sam Wilson asks as he and Nomad are in a room where Steve Rogers, arm in a sling and several bandages on his body, is recovering. 'If everything you said is true, why would they take credit for crimes they didn't commit?' Sam asks, as Nomad turns the television off. 'After everything that happened, someone had to' Steve replies. He adds that it was the villains' idea, that it is the only way the world will ever forgive and trust the Avengers and X-Men again. 'And they knew that' he adds. 'So...no one else will know?' Sam enquires. 'They made me promise to keep the truth a secret. That's the sort of sacrifice a hero makes...the kind no one knows about' Steve remarks.
Elsewhere, Sabretooth sits shackled in a cell, writing on a piece of paper that it is day one of this new stint, day one of wondering if maybe he got the short end – Inverted permanent. He writes that the sociopath cold was washed away by a strong sense of empathy, bad emotions welling up as memories flood – memories of the man he was – and the things he did – memories of murder, bodies twitching while he laughed, while he tried to feel something. As Tony Stark sits in his latest armor at Stark Industries, surrounded by many women, Sabretooth continues to write, recording that some of the others remain the same, but most were reverted – and the reverted can go back to being themselves, sink back into that comfortable old suit, into the grooves of familiar habit. 'And me. Where once I only wanted to share my pain with the world...now I got a strong desire to help others do away with theirs. The others back out there. Back to their scheming and heroing'. At the secret school, Havok approaches Cyclops, and the brothers embrace.
Elsewhere, Deadpool, his head once again on his body, runs down an alleyway with Evan, reverted to his young self, they avoid a police car and climb into the sewer. Sabretooth writes that it is the same dance, the same cycle, but finally one he sees the need for – as rotten people don't know they're rotten, they never do. The human mind can rationalize just about near anything as people are self-centered at their core – down deep, but it is hard to admit it. 'Easier to cook up a story you live in. One where you're the hero. One where it doesn't matter how you get what you want – so long as you get it. That's villany'. Loki raises a hammer somewhere, to a woman's fright, while in Latveria, Dr Doom sits on his throne, the Skull trapped in some sort of restraint before him, his face reverted to red. Sabretooth writes that this is the ugly thing that won't stop rising up in folks, that is what he was through and through, and that is why they need people who are strong enough to fight those self-serving urges – to stand tall and set an example – like the Scarlet Witch, Rogue, Sam Wilson, Brother Voodoo and Quicksilver, whoe have gathered together for a press conference, and Rogue announces that the Avengers Unity Squad will stand together. 'Bridging the gap between the Avengers and the X-Men to ensure nothing like this can ever happen again' the Scarlet Witch smiles.
Sabretooth continues to write, stating that there are folks inspired to live up to the example, which is how they really change the world, as in a lab, Peter Parker is sculpting the Carnage statue. 'Rhinestone sculpture...damn Parker luck...can't remember when following through on a promise was so hard' he tells himself. And, back in his cell, Sabretooth finishes off his writing, stating that they inspire the rest of us by showing it is possible to be better. 'But you knew that, Logan. You pulled yourself up on your own and grew into something better. Now it's my turn to see if I can find that spirit to overcome my past. The heart to push through the glaring eyes that only see the beast I was. You'll see, Logan. I'll do it. I'll find it. Spirit of a Wolverine'.
Havok, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Steve Rogers, Thor, Wasp (all former members of the Avengers Unity Squad)
Angel, Colossus, Cyclops (all X-Men)
Captain America VIII, Hulk / Kluh, Iron Man, Luke Cage (all Avengers)
Absorbing Man, Deadpool, Dr Doom, Enchantress, Loki, Mystique, Sabretooth
Apocalypse / Genesis II
Red Skull / White Skull
In flashback image
Mystique & Sabretooth
Havok & Wasp
On television screen
Carnage, Enchantress, Hobgoblin, Jack O'Lantern, Loki, Mystique, Sabretooth
Carnage sacrificed himself to stop the Gene Bomb last issue.
Apocalypse tore Deadpool's head off in Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #7.
Magneto killed the Red Skull in the neo-classic Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #25.