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Al Ewing (writer), Gerardo Sandoval (artist), Dono Sanchez Almara (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Gerardo Sandoval & Dono Sanchez Almara (cover), Alanna Smith (assistant editor), Tom Brevoort with Wil Smith (editors), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)Avengers created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Aboard the Knights of the Infinite’s starship, Lan-Zarr explains the history of the group of Skrull – Kree hybrids to Hulkling and how he is destined to be their future king. He also gives him the sword of a past king. They arrive at the Knights’ space castle, only to find that their leader M’ryn has been killed and possessed by the cosmic space horror Moridun. Hulkling battles him, while Wiccan tries to help the fallen Knights, unaware that Moridun infects him. Moridun boasts that he saw Hulkling in the Maker’s mind and manipulated events to get him and his friend here. The Avengers arrive in their spaceship and prove a distraction, allowing Hulkling seemingly to destroy Moridun, though Hulkling wonders why Moridun manipulated events to come into proximity to the weapon that could destroy him. Hulkling decides to return to Earth, while staying on friendly terms with the Knights. Power Man apologizes to Wiccan for giving him grief about his name, but Billy, already being manipulated by Moridun decides to take on the name of his future self: Demiurge.
Avengers Island:Hawkeye, Songbird and Squirrel Girl are strapped in Avenger Three (a deep space vessel), about to take off. Space the final frontier, Hawkeye announces. These are the voyages of the starship Avenger Three, boldly going where pretty much all of them have gone before.
Songbird tells him to stop being cool dad. She announces to mission control they are strapped in and ready to go. He’s not “cool dad,” Hawkeye explains, insulted. He listens to the Clash on vinyl! From mission control, Roberto daCosta announces: duly noted, grandpa. They are running final checks.
Aboard the ship, Hawkeye asks how come Sunspot gets to stay behind. Songbird explains Roberto doesn’t do missions. SHIELD may tolerate them, but lots of countries would love to arrest AIM’s Supreme Leader. Space is a country now? Clint scoffs. This is Sunspot they are talking about. He is an asset! Why aren’t they using him? He can fly, is super strong, throws fire.
As Hawkeye enumerates his powers, in mission control Roberto suffers a coughing attack but assures everyone he is fine. Nevertheless, one AIM member worries about his condition.
Aboard the ship, Songbird reminds Clint that Roberto is a mutant. That means the Terrigen Mist is slowly poisoning him, like all other mutants on Earth. Squirrel Girl seems fine, he points out. Doreen interjects she isn’t strictly a mutant, according to her mom and science. Plus, she eats a lot of walnuts for omega -3…
Is she saying Roberto lost his powers? Hawkeye asks. Melissa admits she doesn’t know and asks if he will tell SHIELD. At that moment, the rocket launches.
Meanwhile, in the forbidden asteroids at the edge of the Andromeda galaxy:Lan-Zarr, Knight of the Infinite, tries to explain the situation to Hulkling, how all this began long ago with the first Kree-Skrull war.
Two great generals had emerged, Ryga’a, war-queen of the Skrulls and Soh-Larr the Kree ultra warrior. Those two had been trained from birth to kill each other but, against all reason, when they finally met each other during the ground war for Xaccus, love bloomed on the battlefield. Neither was ever seen again but there were rumors, of their escape and of a child, the first born of a union between Skrull and Kree, named Dorrek after the fabled emperors of the twin star empires. A child, who inherited the ancestral swords of his parents, mystically merged to form the starsword Excelsior. Who gathered other like himself - Kree-Skrull hybrids - exiled for the future they represented. Who formed them into a group of heroes dedicated to uniting the two empires, the Knights of the Infinite.
They land at Castle Tarnala, home of the Knights. Wiccan is astonished and asks how many people live here. Currently seven, he is told. When he is surprised, the Knights’ magic-user Mrg’nn reminds him they are hunted as aberrants by two star empires. Life is short. Lan-Zarr explains that, until recently, they were willing to hide. But with the recent events, the Secret Invasion, the Builders War, the destruction of Hala, they must bring the empires together or they will perish separately.
Where does he fit into this? Hulkling demands. Lan-Zarr points out that he is the first royal hybrid in thousands of years. The empires already tried to recruit or destroy him. He has power as a symbol of unity as their prophesied king. He, who by taking up the Starsword of Dorrek, proves himself of his reincarnation and will bring love to a divided universe.
Teddy doubts he is a reincarnated space king but is informed they were told so by their leader Mr’yn the Magus.
However, they are in for a nasty surprise, for M’ryn has been possessed by something evil and is in the process of killing the other Knights and devouring their souls. Wait their turn, he tells the newcomers. Let’s not and say they did! Hulkling decides and hits him.
Lan-Varr sees one of the victims is still alive and orders Wiccan to help her. He tries to cast a healing spell.
Teddy demands to see who his foe really is and the wizard turns into a tentacled horror – Moridun, dark wizard of the fifth cosmos. He blasts Hulkling and announces he would live again, but life is horror! To live is to commit horror! With these eyes he sees! He saw Hulkling in Maker-Man’s mind. Felt threads of destiny around him. He has tugged on those threads and brought him here. Leaving all friends behind save one… one tasty soul. One of his tentacles touches Wiccan, who is busy with his patient.
Hulkling attacks Moridun. Billy mutters that was like a bee sting in his brain.
One of the Knights tries a proton blast. Too late, Moridun mocks as he swallows it, but they can play pretend.
Elsewhere, the New Avengers’ ship comes out of warp having followed the tracking device Pod left on the Knights’ ship. Hawkeye wonders how powerful she is. I am Pod, she replies predictably.
Songbird steers the ship through the asteroid field and notes the giant space castle. Moments later, Moridun explodes from it. Oh good, there’s a giant space Cthulhu in the space castle, she sighs. Deep deep joy!
In the castle:Teddy holds Billy who is dizzy.
Outside:Another day at the office, Hawkeye tells himself. Space Cthulhu has five eyes. He has five TNT arrows. He nocks them and shoots. Moridun screams threatening he has fire as well.
Songbird erects a shield but feels something is wrong.
Billy and Teddy are outside the shield. Moridun attacks with a blast. Teddy means to knock it aside with his magic sword, but instead it swallows the fire ball.
The Avengers distract Moridun, while Teddy attacks him with his sword. He’s been dead a long time, he tells Moridun, It’s time to lie down! Moridun screams and implodes.
Later, the dead Knights are laid to rest. Teddy apologizes to Lan-Zarr. He wants to stay… Lan-Zarr understands. He has a duty to his friends. He promises that, when the time is right, the Knights of the Infinite will fight by Hulkling’s side.
He doesn’t know if he even wants to be king, Teddy mutters. That’s why he will be a great one, Billy assures him. Lan-Zarr agrees and tells him to keep the sword always near. Teddy is puzzled though. He only got the sword because Moridun sent the Knights out to find him. Why would he bring Teddy to the one weapon that could hurt him? The Knights figure he had to have some reason, like absorb its power. He didn’t just do it for a firework show.
Teddy still feels he is missing something obvious, recalling what Moridun said: Life eats and claws. Lays eggs. Infects. If it provides us distraction we’ll play pretend. Billy agrees. Like an itch at the edge of your brain, right? He’s getting that.
Power Man takes this moment to apologize for being harsh to him before they were kidnapped. However, Billy agrees that he should probably think about a new name. At least until he’s studied more. He’s not going back to Asgardian? Teddy fears. Billy laughs. How about something he will be in the future? How about Demiurge? Yes, he likes that. And in his eye, undetected, Moridun’s symbol shines.
Hulkling, Pod, Power Man III, Songbird, Squirrel Girl, Sunspot, White Tiger V (all New Avengers)Tippy ToeUnnamed AIM members
K’kyy, Lan-Zarr, M’ryn, Mur-Gnn (Knights of the Infinite)
In flashback:Dorrek SupremeVarra
The title refers to T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, another Arthurian work.
Hawkeye’s lines at the beginning are a riff on Star Trek: the original series.
As a mutant, Sunspot is suffering from the Terrigen Mist’s negative influence on mutants.
While Squirrel-Girl was originally introduced as a mutant, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 ruled this out and gave a non-explanation for her powers, possibly the writer poking fun at the feud between Marvel and FOX.
Hala was destroyed in the Black Vortex storyline.
The Skrulls and Kree previously fought over Hulkling in Young Avengers (1st series) #9-12.
Asgardian was Wiccan’s original codename. Demiurge is the name he will take once he realizes his full potential, according to Young Avengers (2nd series).