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Jim Zub (writer), Sean Izaakse (artist) Tamara Bonvillain (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson (cover artists), Alanna Smith (assistant editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Avengers created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
The Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man meet for the first time since Wonder Man's return to life. The Scarlet Witch discusses how settled the two of them were together before the event with the Apocalypse Twins, but now, she has found a better path – one that isn't with the Avengers, her brother, the Vision...or Wonder Man. Upset, Wonder Man realizes that what happened was the end of he and the Scarlet Witch, who no longer wants to be trapped by the past. Wonder Man doesn't like the decision, but respects it, although he doesn't want to spend time with the Scarlet Witch and flies away. Rogue and the Human Torch are soaring across New York City, before coming to a stop on a rooftop, and discussing the billions of dollars that the Torch has inherited. Rogue asks him what he is going to do with it, and the Torch reports that he has already made his decision. They carry on through the air, towards Avengers Mansion, which is currently being rebuilt – funded by the Torch, who has purchased the mansion, which along with the surrounding property, is now owned by Avengers Mansion Inc, a special holding company, meaning it is Avengers property now and forever. Rogue is delighted at this, and hugs the Torch. Synapse wakes at the Inhuman medical facility where she has been recovering from her serious injuries. A doctor assures her that she will recover, before Synapse is reunited with Hellion, who has been volunteering at the facility after the Inhumans helped him overcome his Terrigen poisoning. Hellion gives Synapse a note that he found with her when she was brought in to the clinic. Synapse cries as she reads the note, a letter from Quicksilver, who is currently speeding across the globe, hoping that Synapse will forgive him for his careless actions that led to her injuries. The Scarlet Witch is keeping a magic eye on Quicksilver, before she informs Doctor Voodoo that she has officially ended her relationship with Wonder Man – and then kisses Doctor Voodoo. They decide that they would like to see what the future brings together. Rogue appears at a court hearing where the criminal Shocker is being tried for his crimes. Rogue acts as a character reference for him following her recent time working alongside him during the invasion. She speaks highly of the Shocker, surprising the villain, and the court agrees to take Rogue's views into consideration. Rogue returns to Avengers Mansion to find the Wasp, Beast and Jarvis supervising the construction and other matters, before Captain America arrives. He admits to Rogue that he was wrong to disband the Unity Squad, and apologizes for his actions. Captain America gives Rogue some encouraging advice for leading the Unity Squad, and asks her to rejoin the Avengers officially, but Rogue tells him that the Unity Squad will be available to assist – on her terms, rather than abiding by the Avengers Charter. Captain America accepts that, and the Unity Squad looks to the future, under the statue of the Founding Avengers – Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Giant Man, Wasp and Voyager.
Central Park, on a fall day, where Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch sits on a park bench and smiles as Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man drops down towards her. 'Keeping a low profile?' she asks. 'You know me' Simon replies. 'I do' Wanda tells her former lover and longtime friend. They begin to walk next to each other, a couple of feet between them as Simon tells Wanda that he is sorry they haven't talked before this. Wanda tells Simon that she is sorry, too, but points out that this is just the nature of their lives. 'Complicated' they both remark in unison, frowning, before they smile and laugh. Simon then asks Wanda where they stand. Wand pauses and looks out over the park annd tells Simon that before they confronted the Apocalypse Twins, when they were alone, it was just the two of them, it seemed like things were finally settled, they knew who they were meant to be with. 'But life doesn't allow for such tidy little packages, does it?' Wanda adds as she casts a small hex, which glows around her fingers.
Wanda reminds Simon that Rogue absorbed his ionic form, and then he was gone, maybe forever, and she was weak and unsure. 'I needed time to reconnect with my magic and my soul' Wanda explains. Simon asks Wanda what she found, to which Wanda tells him that she found a new path, a better path – one that wasn't defined by the Avengers, or Pietro or the Vision. 'Or me?' Simon asks. 'Yes' Wanda admits, hanging her head. Simon puts a hand on Wanda's shoulder, and Wanda touches his hand. Simon looks up to the sky as he remarks 'So, that wasn't the start of us...it was the end'. Wanda tells Simon that she is sorry, and that the past will trap them, if they let it – butb they both deserve more than that. 'If you think my love is a trap, then I guess you've got to let it go' Simon replies, removing his shades. Wanda asks Simon if he understands, to which Simon responds 'No... yes. I don't like it, but I can respect it'.
Wanda tells Simon that she still cares deeply for him and wants the best for him, but Simon turns away from Wanda and tells her that he can't do that kind of talk right now. 'I just...can't' he remarks, announcing that he is going to need some time, he takes off into the air. 'Of course' Wanda replies, hugging herself, and watching as the ionic form of Wonder Man flies away, leaving her alone.
As Wonder Man streaks across the New York skyline, two other well-known heroes are flying nearby – Rogue and Johnny Storm the Human Torch, who smile at each other as Rogue tells Johnny that no matter how bad things get, nothing beats flying. They drop down onto a rooftop and Rogue remarks that she needed that. 'Same here' Johnny replies, before Rogue asks him how he is feeling. They sit down next to each other on the rooftop and Johnny tells Rogue that things are a bit awkward, but not bad – that it's hard to feel low when you find out you're a billionaire. 'But I'm used to breaking new ground' Johnny adds, before admitting that he didn't want to think about Sue and Reed, he didn't want to shoulder the burden of their legacy – but he knows he can't escape it. Johnny frowns as he tells Rogue that he is the onlyone who decides where Reed and Sue's money and scientific innovations go – and that is a huge responsibility. Rogue stands up and tells Johnny that she isn't going to tell him what to do, that is not her place.
'Well now. That's the fun part' Johnny replies. 'Oh?' Rogue asks, to which Johnny reports that he already figured it out. 'You did?' Rogue exclaims, surprised. Johnny powers up and takes to the sky again, informing Rogue that it is pretty simple, really. They fly on, low, over some civilians as Johnny reports that he is starting a series of charities and bursaries to support global education programs, bleeding-edge scientific research and a better, clearner world. 'I like it!' Rogue replies, before Johnny tells her that isn't all. Johnny smiles as he tells Rogue that Parker Industries went down the drain and sold the Baxter Building to a condo developer before he inherited Reed's billions, so while he couldn't stop that little piece of history from getting away – he decided to invest in the next best thing.
'SURPRISE! I bought back Avengers Mansion!' the Human Torch shouts as he and Rogue fly over the Mansion, which is currently being rebuilt. 'Oh mah god...' Rogue utters. The Torch smiles and explains that the building and surrounding property are now owned and operated by Avengers Mansion Inc, a special holding company with diversified assets and investments set to operate in perpetuity. The Torch reports that insurance and utilities get paid, taxes get paid, Jarvis and the rest of the housekeeping staff get paid. 'It's Avengers property, now and forever' Johnny announces. 'You beautiful, wonderful fool!' Rogue exclaims as she wraps her arms around the Torch, who tells her to be careful, or he might burn her. 'Ah don't care! Shut up and hug me!' Rogue replies.
Elsewhere, 'Huh?' Emily Guerrero a.k.a. Synapse remarks as she opens her eyes. A woman with purple spotted skin and large ridges on her head looks up from a chart she is reading, 'Oh good, you're awake' she smiles, before telling Emily not to fret, and that she is in good hands. 'Where -' Emily asks. The woman wears a lab coat and informs Emily that she is in New Attilan General Hospital, in Rochester, New York, on the university campus. The doctor explains that this is Inhuman owned and operated, that Queen Medusa helped set the facility up before she left on her pilgrimage, and they are here to help alleviate pressure on local human hospitals. Synapse looks at the doctor and asks her how bad her injuries are. The Inhuman doctor smiles as she tells Synapse that she has broken bones, strained muscles, some lacerations and bruising – inside and out. 'I've seen worse. You'll recover' she assures her.
'You're up! Finally!' the handsome Julian Keller a.k.a. Hellion exclaims as he enters the room, telekinetically lifting a tray and several containers of food towards Synapse. 'What are you doing here?' Synapse asks. Hellion smiles at Synapse as he reveals that the staff here helped him get over his M-Pox sickness, so he is paying them back with volunteer work. He adds that there is always something that needs to get done, and his telekinesis comes in pretty handy. Hellion tells Synapse that none of this would have happened if she hand't saved him, and that he is in her debt. Synapse tells Hellion that he doesn't owe her, that it is part of the job. 'That may be, but your only job right now is recuperation' the doctor remarks, before Hellion uses his powers to lift a letter with Emily's name on it over to the injured Inhuman, informing her that it was with her when she arrived. He tells her not to worry, that it is her private correspondence and he didn't read it. The doctor ushers Julian out of the room and tells him that he will have time to talk to Emily later, but she needs to rest now. 'Okay, okay. Let me know if you need anything' Julian calls out to Emily, who tells Julian that she will.
Emily opens the letter and begins to read it:
I've never been a person who looked to religion for guidance. In a world filled with so much strife, God's light has always felt distant and weak.
And yet now, I pray.
I pray for your future, healthy and strong.
I pray that I haven't destroyed your beauty and grace through my selfish actions.
Wanda told me I must leave, and for once, I must concede she is correct.
I have been a fool and need time and clarity to try and overcome it.
There's nothing I can write here that will take back the mistakes I made or undo the hurt I've caused you.
If you can find it in your heart to forgive me, I will endeavor to make myself worthy of such kindness.
Until then, you are in my thoughts and prayers.
At that moment, as Emily reads the letter, Pietro Maximoff a.k.a. Quicksilver speeds across an ocean, then up the side of a cliff face, where he comes to a stop on the edge of the cliff, looks out over the ocean and puts his hands behind his head, while Emily finishes the letter and sheds a tear.
Meanwhile, the Scarlet Witch sits in a meditative pose, hovering in the air, her eyes closed, when suddenly, she opens them as a voice calls out 'Pietro is well?' causing her to drop down to the ground and informing Jericho Drumm a.k.a. Doctor Voodoo that he is as well as can be expected, given the circumstances. Voodoo tells Wanda that her brother is a good man who carries his flaws heavily on his back. 'Don't well all?' Wanda asks. 'Perhaps' Voodoo replies. They walk side by side through a park as Voodoo tells Wanda that meditation provides insight, and insight provides answers, so he hopes Pietro will look inward for solutions. 'Pietro is not the only one in need of self-reflection' Wanda adds. Wanda turns to Voodoo and tells him that she told Simon she needed to chart a new course for her life, a better balance between her duty and desires. 'You should as well' she adds. Voodoo asks Wanda how she proposes to do that, to which Wanda throws her arms around Voodoo's shoulders and kisses his lips. Voodoo responds by putting a hand on Wanda's back and kissing her back.
When they stop kissing, Voodoo tells Wanda 'That was sudden. Good, but sudden'. Wanda smiles and tells Jericho that he is one of the most powerful mystic practitioners on the planet. 'I know, but -' Voodoo begins, before Wanda tells him that his obsession with the powers of mind and spirit have pulled him away from the needs of the physical world. Wanda remarks that she has never been with anyone who understands both sides of her – the woman and the witch – and she wants to find that balance. 'Will you search for it with me?' she asks. Voodoo extends a hand to Wanda and tells her that he does not know what the future brings. 'Nor I' Wanda replies. '...but I would like to explore the possibilities...by your side' Voodoo announces, as Wanda takes his hand.
At the Daniel Patrick Mdynihan United States Courthouse, where a court is in session, and defence counsel informs the judge that, before sentencing they would like to call a character witness. The judge allows this, and the counselor motions to Rogue, who wears a suit while sitting at the defence table, her haired pulled back from her face, she informs the judge that “Rogue” was a member of the Avengers “Unity Squad”. The judge reports that she is aware of that, before defence counsel explains that Rogue has had recent interactions with the defendant and when she heard he was on trial, she reached out to speak on his behalf. 'Miss, uh, Rogue. How do you know the defendant, Herman Schultz?' the judge asks. Rogue explains that she met Mr Schultz in his costumed persona, known as “The Shocker”. 'Yes, yes. We're aware of that, of course. Can you tell us why you came here today and any insights you may have into Mr Schultz's character?' the judge asks.
Rogue looks to the man dressed in a greenish-brown suit sitting next to her and explains that during the recent invasion of New York, she stumbled across Mr Schultz and his accomplice breaking into the Federal Reserve Bank on Liberty Street. The judge starts to remark that Mr Schultz's crimes have already been well documented, to which Rogue asks if she can continue. Rogue states that Mr Shultz was committing a crime, but that given the chaos and destruction happening all around them, she could see why lawlessness might take hold. 'Survival of the fittest and all that' Rogue adds. She explains that Mr Shultz has spent many years on the wrong side of the law, and as someone who once fell into that trap, she knows how hard it can be to break the cycle. 'More plainly... what Ah'm trying to say is Ah don't think that trouble-making criminal is the real Herman Schultz' Rogue adds.
Rogue continues, stating that the real Herman Schultz stepped up to fight demons from the Darkforce dimension when they were cornered and hope was fading. She remembers fighting alongside Shocker against a horrid creature, and tells the judge that the real Herman Schultz is the guy who threw himself into a near-suicidal battle against a 30-foot-tall monster to save the people of New York City, and that he is smarter than he lets on, kinder than he believes and just as courageous as the Avengers she has stood in battle with. Schultz goes wide-eyed at Rogue's remarks, before Rogue tells the judge that, it might just be her “hero” brain talking, but that she thinks Herman is worthy of something more than just another go-round in the New York State penal system. 'If you give him a chance to redeem himself, I believe he'll step up to meet your expectations' Rogue tells the judge, who is fascinated by Rogue's proposal, and tells her that the Court appreciates her opinion on the matter, before telling her that she is free to go. As the judge announces that they will continue with sentencing, Rogue stands up to leave and waves at Herman, who smiles back at her. As Rogue leaves the courthouse and takes to the air, civilians look up at her and smile.
'How goes the build?' Rogue asks as she drops down at Avengers Mansion where Jan van Dyne the Wasp is speaking with Henry McCoy a.k.a. the Beast and Edwin Jarvis,. 'Stupendous so far!' the Beast calls out, while the Wasp remarks that Jarvis is just a bit twitchy about making sure everything is back where it is supposed to be. 'Of course, Miss van Dyne. The Avengers Founders Statue must be placed in its original position or else the afternoon sun will cast unflattering shadows on their faces!' Jarvis exclaims. Rogue and the Wasp walk away from the others and the Wasp tells Rogue that she is still amazed that Johnny Storm is fitting the bill for all of this. 'That boy is full of surprises' Rogue replies. The Wasp asks Rogue if she and Johnny are getting close, to which Rogue replies 'Maybe...' while the Beast can be scratching his head as Jarvis shouts out to someone 'No, no! The hedges line up over there!'
The Wasp then informs Rogue that there is someone else here to see her, that he heard about the construction and headed straight over. 'Do tell...' Rogue replies, but the Wasp smiles and replies 'I'll let him speak for himself'. Rogue looks surprised as Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America steps into view, smiling, he tells Rogue that it is good to see her. 'Cap...Steve!' Rogue gasps. Cap tells Rogue that he wanted to speak with her about all she has done with the Unity Squad. 'We ain't the Unity Squad. Not anymore. That evil guy who thought he was you disbanded it' Rogue replies. Cap hangs his head and tells Rogue that he is sorry. 'No need to apologize. You didn't do it' Rogue replies. 'True. But I still feel responsible for all the pain and suffering caused in my name' Cap explains. Rogue reminds him that he stopped Hydra in the end, to which Cap points out that he now has to rebuild his reputation and fight for the values that Captain America embodies. 'Can you place your trust in me again?' he asks. 'Yes I can... Sir' Rogue smiles.
Cap tells Rogue that as the world teetered on the brink of destruction, she kept this team from breaking apart. 'It wasn't just me' Rogue remarks, but Cap tells her that they looked to her for leadership and she answered the call. 'Ah can't take credit for that' Rogue responds. 'Real leaders never do...' Cap points out, before telling Rogue that she held on when most heroes thought all was lost, that leadership isn't just about issuing orders – unity isn't about one person dictating rules from on high. As Johnny Storm shows some plans to a construction worker, Captain America adds that rebuilding Avengers Mansion and reconnecting with their past is more valuable than Rogue may realize. The Beast and Jarvis watch as a large crate is lowered into the grounds, as Cap tells Rogue that understanding who they have been is crucial to moving forward and becoming who they need to be. As Wanda and Doctor Voodoo perform some magic at the gate, Cap states that the days ahead will be difficult – but that he truly believes they can overcome any challenge.
Cap asks Rogue to rejoin the Avengers, explaining that he can't be with them right now, but she can, and could help take the team to new heights. 'Ah... Ah can't do that, Sir' Rogue replies, turning from him, she tells him that if she learned anything in the time since the Unity Squad disbanded through to now, it is that rules and charters don't make someone an Avenger – never have and never will. 'Banding together, fighting for what's right – that's what we stand for' Rogue declares. She turns back to Cap and promises that they will answer the call when the time comes, but that they need to do it in their own way – the way that works for them. Rogue extends her hand to Cap, and Cap shakes it, telling Rogue that he accepts that. 'Good. So where do we go from here?' Rogue asks.
'Let's find that future...and make it brighter than ever' Cap suggests as he shakes Doctor Voodoo's hand, while Rogue and the Torch smile at each other and the Scarlet Witch and Beast hug as the Wasp flies over to join them as they assemble under the statue of the Founding Avengers – the Hulk, Iron Man, the Wasp, Giant Man, Captain America, Thor and Voyager....!
Doctor Voodoo, Human Torch II, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Synapse, Wasp (all Avengers Unity Squad)
Beast, Captain America, Quicksilver, Wonder Man
in flashback image:
Final issue of Uncanny Avengers (3rd series). Writer Jim Zub has said that he had plans for stories beyond this issue, however all of the Avengers titles were canceled and folded into Avengers (1st series) #675.
Wonder Man and the Scarlet Witch were romantically involved when Wonder Man became trapped trapped in Rogue's head in Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #21. He was freed in Uncanny Avengers (3rd series) #22, but the two had not seen each other since this issue.
Wanda's quest to find a new path where she wasn't defined by the Avengers or the men in her life took place in Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #1-15.
Hellion was last seen in New Attilan, suffering from the M-Pox in Uncanny Avengers (3rd series) #6.
Rogue worked with Shocker and Scorpia in Uncanny Avengers (3rd series) #24-25.