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Jonathan Hickman (writer), Steve Epting (penciler), Rick Magyar (inker), Frank D’Armata (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Jock (cover), Stephane Roux (variant cover), Jake Thomas (assistant editor), Tom Brevoort with Lauren Sankovitch (editors), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
While Reed and T’Challa construct a weapon that would destroy an incursion Earth Tony fills them in on a little secret side project. He’s been busy with Shi’Ar engineers constructing a Dyson Sphere near the Sun. Once it’s 2% complete it will provide them with enough power to do whatever they need. Elsewhere, Doctor Strange pores through the Blood Bible, a dark, despicable tome, looking for a way to stop an incursion while not having to destroy the other Earth, but would cost him his life. Unfortunately, the latest incursion happens quickly, right at Ellis Island, and the Illuminati are looking at the probability of one of them having to jump to the other Earth where one of them will have to die. Then, Beast, questions whether they could find the Infinity Gems from the other Earth and use it to prevent the incursion and buy them more time. They decide to try it, tabling their other options for later if Hank’s plan doesn’t work out. However, when they arrive at the other Earth they find it about to be devoured by Galaktus. Despite this being an easy way out, the intrepid heroes prepare to battle him. However, his herald Terrax interferes and they must go through him to get to the big guy.
Necropolis, WakandaIn the city of fallen warriors T’Challa and Reed Richards have been busy developing their next incursion device. Tony Stark enters their lab dressed in his normal work clothes. He checks his watch before being handed a three foot long, metal container, with what looks like three adjoining exhaust ports on running down the side, with a red cap covering a small circular protrusion at the top.Richards tells Stark the device is used to activate an injection sequence. For a bomb, Tony assumes. That’s when Black Panther interjects, saying it’s not just a bomb, but an antiproton sling that will destroy whatever Earth the Black Swan jumps from.Stark looks at his watch again, before admitting to the dark poetry of using an antimatter bomb to kill a world. He then asks if their version is done. Not yet, Reed admits. He feels they need another day to finish the design and another to run simulations.As Stark opens the case he brought in with him he remarks on how long it’s taken the two to get this thing going. He asks if there were setbacks and it turns out there were, though Reed chalks them up to disagreements. T’Challa says the first one had design flaws. Some of us prefer a scalpel to a sword, Reed snarks back. And some of us haven’t spent enough time with swords, Black Panther responds.The bickering is proving fruitless so Stark tells them to just forget about it. Then he hands them the items from his case, a set of futuristic-looking helmets. He tells them to put them on and then checks his watch for the third time since arriving.Before wearing it Reed says they look like military grade Shi’Ar Omnicasters and asks what they’re for. The observant Black Panther has another question, why does Tony keep looking at his watch. Tony answers T’Challa first, and explains they have a very small window to bounce a signal to the other side of the Sun without being noticed. The window is now open, he clarifies. Stark then smiles as he puts on his helmet, “Let’s take a little walk…”The three men, scientific geniuses each, suddenly find themselves looking at the construction of a solar panel of gigantic proportions out in deep space. Highly paid Shi’Ar engineers are hard at work putting it all together. Stark calls it the solution to their problem, but Reed can’t believe it; his buddy is building a Dyson Sphere.Stark says he wanted to call it “Stark Sphere,” but someone in the company is already using that name for something else, he complains. He happily adds that when the first phase is complete they will be able to start capturing and controlling the power of their Sun.T’Challa finds it hard to believe Tony’s going to weaponize a star. Stark figures if he’s going to get back into the weapons business, why not get exotic. Estimates say it’ll be operational in a month. T’Challa is impressed. What’s most impressive, Stark adds, is that it only needs to be 2% operational to have enough power to do…, but then he stops. He’d prefer not to even mention their last chance scenario.Instead, he wonders out loud what they should name it. Reed, who hasn’t stopped staring at this glorious creation, speaks quietly when he says, “Sol’s Hammer.” What, Tony asks, not able to hear him. “It’s called Sol’s Hammer,” Reed responds, louder this time.Sanctum SanctorumAn old, decrepit book lies open on a wooden table in Dr. Strange’s study. In the bottom right corner of one of the pages a giant-tentacled beast, resembling the head of cthulhu, is shown engulfing a planet. The Sorceror Supreme himself is staring out his opulent, oval window, a flickering candle the only other light source in the room. Wong enters with a tray of tea and is told to put it on the table. As the manservant moves to place the tray next to the book, he screams and drops everything onto the floor.A worried Wong wants to know what events are taking place that would require his master to open such a book. Every spell ever spoken from the Blu’dakorr has caused death upon its caster, even touching it is said to stain the soul, Wong complains. “Legend says, it requires the spirits of forty fallen man,” Wong finishes.Stephen turns from the window and looks at his long-time companion. He agrees that it takes forty of the fallen, but also one of the righteous. Quietly, Strange hopes they can find such a man. He then approaches the table telling Wong not to fear the cost, but fear that he has reason to open it.A bright pink light suddenly bathes Wong’s face. He points toward the doctor’s hand where the light is emanating from. Strange looks at it, too, and clenches his fist. He tells Wong to fear most of all that time is slipping away.Stephen places a hand on Wong’s shoulder and tells him he has taken some actions in regard to his estate. The paperwork is on his desk in the downstairs study, he explains, saying he’s left everything he possesses in his care. Wong does not like to hear this dire talk. Strange gathers up the book and say that from this day forward Wong should treat every moment as if it were his last, as it very well may be. Wong asks if he’s going to see him again. “I carry the Blood Bible, Wong… It would seem unlikely.”Ellis Island, New YorkWhereas the last two incursions took place in relatively remote areas this is not the case for the third one. The invading Earth is seen hovering above the Statue of Liberty. And it’s no longer a secret as those who are visiting the historic monument are staring up in shock and disbelief alongside the Illuminati.Reed turns to look at those assembled before him. He says he and T’Challa have found a way to channel an ultimate nullifier through a vibranium barrel, which would instantly vaporize the incursion site of that world along with the surrounding one hundred square miles. T’Challa adds that evidence suggests it will interrupt the event, and then pauses before adding it will also kill the user.Iron Man curses himself for feeling so clever earlier in the day. They simply ran out of time. However, before enacting the drastic measure Beast comes up with a longshot. He suggests they head to the other Earth and see if they can find and use the Infinity Gems from that Earth to buy themselves some more time.Reed points out the flaws in the plan, the fact they would need to find and acquire them in the scant time they have, plus whoever wielded it would be stuck on the other Earth. Strange thinks they should at least try it. After all, his solution requires him to be on the other Earth to invoke, though it is something worse with roughly the same cost. Iron Man looks at him sidelong and asks, “Which is?” Unspeakable, Stephen responds.So it looks like at least one of them isn’t coming back, Beast points out. This amuses the cocky Namor who laughs heartily. A wicked smile then creeps onto his face. He tells his allies to let hope die, for it’s time to face oblivion. “We are already dead,” he cries after taking to the air toward the other Earth.The rest of the team follows moments later. Those who can’t fly of their own accord, Beast, Black Panther and Mister Fantastic, float upward in some sort of bubble. They arrive on this Earth at the same location they left from, but instead of Lady Liberty they find a monument of Magneto in her place.This gives Henry pause, to see their longtime enemy and current ally as some sort of beacon to this Earth. Namor creeps up behind him and slyly suggests that it excites him just a little bit. However, there’s no time for introspection as Reed tells them they have about four hours to find the gems if they want to leave enough time for Dr. Strange to do his thing.As some of the others begin to discuss where to start searching Black Bolt snaps his fingers and gives them pause. When they look in his direction they see Galactus off in the distance with a conversion machine working its magic on New York City proper. Reed figures the device will reach critical mass within minutes. He hurriedly suggests they go now if they have any hope of stopping him.When he turns back to face the incursion crew he can tell most of them feel conflicted. They could let this Earth fall to Galactus (Galaktus), which would temporarily save theirs, give them more time, keep them from sacrificing one of their own. However, he urges them that they have to try and save these people. T’Challa agrees, “How could we not?”It’s settled then. They’re not going to sacrifice their morals for the easy way out. Unfortunately, a new character enters the field behind them, encouraging them to do just what they were considering. It’s Terrax and he tells them an incursion is no place for a conscience, besides it’s already too late. He points back to the skyline where NYC is being enveloped in energy; Galaktus hungers.This makes things even more curious. Iron Man asks Terrax how he knows what an incursion is and how he knew to be here, or how to find it. He only smiles and says there have been rumors, whispered secrets spread by refugees, and that he knows many, many things, which they do not.RRUMMBLLE, the ground shakes beneath their feet. The city is starting to break apart and Terrax tells those before him they should run, for something glorious is about to happen. Reed disagrees, reaching into his pocket for a device. As he’s doing this he asks Henry how much time they have. Five hours, he’s told.Namor then approaches Terrax and asks if he is going to want to stop them. Terrax slings his axe over his shoulder and unflinchingly refers to them as just men. He can tell they recognize him and his master, but beyond the Eye of Agamotto he has no idea who any of them are.With one last attempt he tries to explain the feebleness of their intentions. He says that Galaktus must be there at the end of each universe, but because of this world the universes are dying too soon. “So we will unmoor our universe by killing this world.” He adds that their universe will also be saved by this action and asks them to just go home and accept the greater good and let this Earth die.“Well? What are you going to do?” Terrax asks, his axe at the ready for battle. As if it were in any doubt the heroes engage. Namor and Black Panther are rocked back by his weapon, but the other brawlers are ready to pounce right in. Dr. Strange and Iron Man hang back and prepare for a ranged assault. Terrax may have finally met his match.
Beast, Black Bolt, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Namor (Illuminati)WongShi’Ar contractorsalternate universeGalaktusTerrax (herald to Galaktus)
The idea of a Dyson Sphere came from mathematician and physicist, Dyson Freeman, who theorized that a day would come when we would need more energy than we could produce on our own and need to construct a structure around a star that could harness its energy.Not long ago, Reed Richards was part of a council of alternate versions of himself where he was made aware of a weapon, which was created using the power of the Sun, a weapon strong enough to kill the Beyond from another dimension. The weapon was called Sol’s Anvil, so Reed must have taken it a bit further by calling this one Sol’s Hammer.There was a point in the 616 universe where Terrax was also one of Galactus’ heralds.