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Steve Engleheart (Writer), Danny Fingeroth (Co-Plotter), Mark Bright (Penciler), Geof Isherwood (Inker), Tom Orzechowski (Letterer), Petra Scotse (Colorist), (Kibitzer), Michael Higgins (Managing Editor), Mark Gruenweld (Editor), Jim Shooter (Editor in Chief)
The Avengers, East and West, go through the roster, trying to narrow down which of their teammates betrayed them. They exclude anyone present, dead, in space or on personal missions. They all begin to seek out other former Avengers to narrow the list down further, five former Avengers even join the active ones for the mission. When everyone is accounted for, they surmise it can only be Quicksilver, for he is the only one they could not find. Pietro then appears and reveals why he betrayed the team to the government, before vowing to destroy them for, among other things, failing him. Pietro informs the Avengers that he has an army behind him, and in five separate locations they will destroy them. The Avengers split into five groups and head off to the locations. At Avengers mansion, the East Coast team goes up against four of the Zodiac, after Gyrich gives Mystique and Freedom Force a grilling. At the circus where the Avengers first assembled, the West Coast team face off against four more of the Zodiac. Meanwhile, Hank Pym went to the home of the Scarlet Witch and the Vision. After Hank informs them of what is happening, the Scarlet Witch prepares to go to her brother, but the Vision stops her. At the “Ant-Hill” in Australia, the final four Zodiac and Quicksilver go up against those Avengers that joined the main teams earlier in the day. With the entire Zodiac defeated, the East and West teams arrive and all are attacked by Quicksilver who has found a powerful and deadly weapon. He threatens to use it to destroy the Avengers when the Vision arrives bearing a gift from the Scarlet Witch, a hologram of their children, Quicksilver’s nephews. With some powerful words from the Vision, Quicksilver flees seemingly no longer interested in destroying the Avengers. The other Avengers regroup, and Hawkeye reminds them all of the reason they came together in the first place – to play softball! Nearby, Quicksilver can hear their laughter, yet he can do nothing after rejecting their help.
It would seem that the Avengers have moved on from the last cave they were hiding in, and are now being followed by operatives from the Vault. Captain Marvel warns the West Coast team leader, Hawkeye that the guardsmen have broadened their search, to which Hawkeye calls back that he has found a new cave, while thinking to himself that it seems funny to call her by her full name, but to him “Cap” is Captain America. As Earth’s Mightiest Heroes traps through the cave, Monica says that she can give them some light, but Clint asks her to leave them in the dark, still mad at himself for getting them into this mess. Captain America tells Hawkeye to ease up as he only agreed to accept a government order and that the person who got them into this mess was the Avenger who betrayed them!
The eleven heroes stand in a large cavernous part of the cave as Iron Man informs them that he has scanned the cave with his sensors and they are alone, adding that he will keep his sensors on to monitor if anybody comes close to them. Hercules suggests that they don’t stay long, adding that he wants to seek out vengeance on the Avenger responsible for betraying them. As the others gather around, Hawkeye decides they should figure it out now, remarking that he trusts all Avengers present, Mockingbird backs up her husband when he mentions Hank Pym. The handsome archer moves on to say that whoever betrayed them knows their operations thoroughly, enough about each Avenger to supply only accusations they cannot disprove! Though he doesn’t want to, Hawkeye begins to go down the list.
Clint says it cannot be the Thing, as he agreed to join but never did, and Gyrich said it was an actual member. He shamefully admits that Firebird never got asked to join, before quickly changing the subject to one of the most hated Defenders, Moondragon, who he mentions is now dead. Clint mentions his good friend Hellcat, who joined the Defenders, and is now married to the Son of Satan, and the former Ms. Marvel, Binary, who is residing in Deep Space.
The unusually quiet Wasp steps forward, adding that Starfox is in space too, in the Andromeda Galaxy to be precise. She adds that the Hulk is currently incapacitated and in no position to betray the Avengers, while their newest recruit, the Sub-Mariner has left on a personal quest. Wasp brings up Mantis, joking that the Celestial Madonna would never work through Gyrich, before bringing up Jocasta, who despite being built by Ultron-8, was never evil, and sacrificed herself, as did the Swordsman, who died saving Mantis.
Hawkeye and Mockingbird rattle off the remaining members – Thor, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, She-Hulk, Black Panther, Black Widow, the alternate Iron Man, the Beast and Falcon. Clint tells everyone that they have to contact them all, while Captain America remarks to himself ‘who would have thought I’d live to see Hawkeye taking command, and everyone listening’? Hawkeye suggests they split up, as most of them are near New York anyway, and they can meet back at a place he knows in upstate New York, while motioning to the breeze, he adds that it will be less drafty.
As dawn approaches, the hunt begins! Captain Marvel departs for the moon, while Iron Man flies high into the air to send a straight-line signal to the West Coast, to contact another Iron Man – Jim Rhodes! Tony tells Rhodes that he doesn’t want to trust a satellite – Rhodes reminds Tony that he is okay now and would never betray him. Tony tells Rhodes that he knows, before informing him this is not an interrogation but an invitation. Rhodes is taken aback and surprised at Tony’s request, replying that he will!
In Manhattan, Tigra has come to the under-construction new headquarters of the Fantastic Four, where the inactive Avenger She-Hulk is currently serving as a member of the Fantastic Four, and tells Greer that she didn’t betray the team. Greer tells Jennifer that she never really thought she did, adding that it is hard to imagine anyone on their list turning traitor. As Tigra leaves Four Freedoms Plaza she tells herself that she isn't on the list and her cat side almost succumbed to Graviton recently, and that she is so close to losing control, but hasn’t quite yet! Greer doesn’t hear what Reed Richards a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic says to her and asks him to repeat himself. Reed tells Greer that the Fantastic Four can help her, but Greer tells him that it is something the Avengers have to do themselves.
In Wakanda, inside his palace the Black Panther is speaking to Hawkeye via a viewscreen and after hearing Clint’s story. The King remarks at how serious the news is, before assuring Clint that he has sworn to aid the Avengers whenever they call, except that his own people have greater claim on him. Clint starts to ask T’Challa when can they expect him, but the Black Panther is already on his way!
Back in Manhattan, a man called Sigurd Jarlson is furious at Hercules’ sudden arrival, mad that he entrusted his new address with one Avenger, and of all of them Hercules comes to him and asks for aid! Suddenly, “Sigurd Jarlson” switches into his real identity – the Mighty Thor! Furious that Hercules has come to ask his aid while “consuming fried fowl”. Thor grabs Hercules, knocking some furniture over as he tells the Olympian that every time he considers him a full-fledged god, he is reminded of his half human heritage. Hercules tries to defend himself saying that it was a long night and he needed strength to exact his revenge, and as Thor flies Hercules out the window and into the Manhattan daylight he mutters that he needs strength to deal with him!
In a high-rise apartment underneath the flying gods, Captain America knocks on one of the windows. The Falcon pops his head out and jokes as if Cap was collecting for something he says that he gave at the office. The old friends greet each other and Cap asks Sam Wilson if there is nothing that fazes him. The Falcon tells Steve Rogers that after all these years as his crime-fighting partner nothing he does can faze him! Cap tells Falcon that if he wants to be his – and the rest of the Avengers – partner again he can. Sam jokes that that is what happens when one becomes a social worker – ‘all the derelicts want your help’!
On the Lower East Side, Dr. Hank McCoy, the Beast, is caught by a phone call in mid shower. It’s the Wasp, who explains the situation to the renowned scientist. Hank tells Jan he understands, Jan tells him that she knows he is back with his old friends in X-Factor, and probably never ever thinks about the Avengers anymore – Hank tells her that isn't true, Jan tells him that she just has to ask, and Beast tells her he wants to answer! Jan must take the hint and shuts up as Beast tells her a smart mutant stays as far away from the government as one can get, but in normal times he would go to help, but right now he is heavily tied up with his old/new team. But ever loyal to the Avengers, Hank tells Jan that if she really needs him – Wasp cuts him off and tells him its okay, before wishing him well.
On the Upper East Side meanwhile, the Black Widow reminds Mockingbird that they were both spies and she must realize that this could be an exercise in dis-information. Natasha jokes that one does not have to be born Russian to know Big Government, adding that Gyrich has had years to ferret out a fact here and there. Mockingbird informs Natasha that Gyrich was too specific to be guessing, before telling her that if she doesn’t want to help – Natasha snaps back that she didn’t say that, while thinking that this is the woman Hawkeye married, Hawkeye being the man she came to America for! Natasha decides Mockingbird is pretty, while Bobbi thinks the same about Natasha! Regretfully, Natasha thinks of her former lovers Alexi and Matt, and how she kept none of them, before informing Bobbi that she will come.
Meanwhile, in Leonia, New Jersey, the home of inactive Avengers Scarlet Witch and Vision! Wonder Man tells his brother the Vision that he never expected to be back so soon, and while the new parents feed their twin sons, Simon tells them he knows they have better things to do than hassle the Avengers, and that he took this assignment to see his nephews! The beautiful Wanda Maximoff tells her brother-in-law that he is always welcome, adding that she wishes it was not under such unhappy events. The Vision mentions how their sons Billy and Tommy have made them more sensitive to the dangers of the world. Wanda reminds Simon that having twins was a surprise, as Billy was not detected by any instruments. Luckily Wanda is in good health, however Vision tells Simon he will understand why they cannot join the Avengers on this mission.
The husband and wife follow Simon outside as Wonder Man takes to the air, telling his family to look after themselves while he saves the world, ensuring that no one will bother them again! Wanda turns to Vision and worried she says ‘Oh Vizh! It can’t be…him. Not him…can it?’ With Wanda’s mysterious predicament, the search concludes.
One hour later, in a cabin near Chichester, New York, The Avengers have reassembled and with the new additions to their group and those they can cross off their list they wonder who it could be. Captain Marvel arrives and proclaims that Quicksilver is not on the moon. Iron Man – the original – remarks that Pietro was not the least likely suspect as he was never truly part of the team. Hawkeye comes to Quicksilver’s defense, telling Tony that he doesn’t know Pietro like he does, adding that when the team was he, Wanda, Captain America and Quicksilver, they were a solid team!
Thor proclaims that Cap, Clint, Wanda and Quicksilver made the original Avengers proud, adding that he rejects the assumption of Pietro’s guilt – and turns to Hank Pym, the man he believes shamed the team the most. Wasp pleads with Thor as he marches up to her ex-husband, reminding him that she and Hank were part of the original Avengers too, its just that unlike the rest of them he didn’t turn out to be suited for this kind of life. And he just “lost his way” for a while, but after recovering he faced the fact he wasn’t a super-hero and retired. Wasp adds that their marriage was over by then, but she knows Hank Pym inside and out, and she knows he is not guilty.
The Norse God backs down and asks who is, and as if on cue someone cries ‘I am!’ All the Avengers simultaneously turn to their accuser – Quicksilver! Raging, Pietro proclaims that he, the fastest man alive is guilty of vengeance! Wonder Man holds Hawkeye back as he tries to rush Quicksilver, telling him that he was defending him all this time. Iron Man announces that he wants to hear Quicksilver’s reasons for betraying them. The mutant speedster reminds Iron Man that he said himself that he was never truly part of the group, though he gave everyone his trust – and the Avengers betrayed him like everyone else had.
Iron Man tells Quicksilver that that is crazy, to which Quicksilver replies that everyone always tells him he is being crazy or paranoid! Quicksilver asks the Avengers who wouldn't be paranoid when Magneto was your father and enslaved he and his sister into his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, or when upon joining Earth’s Mightiest Heroes a synthetic “hero” seduces your sister and the other “heroes” support him! Captain Marvel steps forward and tries to reason with Quicksilver, mentioning that she doesn’t know him, to which Pietro says ‘To know someone you must care’.
Pietro reminds the Avengers of when he was gravely injured in a battle with the Sentinels and how his teammates left him to die, someone protests, telling Pietro that they didn’t know where he was. Almost bitterly, Quicksilver proclaims that he was rescued by Crystalia Amaquelin of the Inhumans, to whom he gave the love his sister threw away! They married and soon after moved to the moon, but that was the final trap Quicksilver says, as a mutant in the real world he was as outcast – but as a mutant in the closed society of the Inhumans, he was the one and only alien!
Quicksilver’s emotions show strong now as he tells the Avengers how Crystal betrayed him, by having an affair with real estate salesman, not to mention his own sister who tried to make him forgive her! ‘But I do not forgive’ cries Pietro furiously, telling the Avengers that he forgives none of them, and that if Gyrich betrays him by failing to destroy them, then he will destroy them himself, as he can only trust himself! As the Avengers look on cautiously, Thor decides Quicksilver is madder than his own brother Loki, while Quicksilver informs them that he has an army behind him and that they shall destroy the Avengers and all they stand for!
Quicksilver tells the Avengers that three things mark them, as he knew them. The circus where the Avengers first fought side by side to become the team, the mansion where Quicksilver first joined them and the installation in Australia where they left him to die, that in those places they will pay for what they have done. Captain America tries to reason with Quicksilver, telling him they can help him, adding that whatever his grievances he must remember how good they were together in “Cap’s Kooky Quartet”, they saved each others lives dozens of times. Quicksilver cuts Cap off, telling him not to remind him as he gets sick to his stomach thinking of how starry-eyed he once was. As the Avengers slowly creep towards Quicksilver, he tells Cap to save his own life now, and not to edge closer to him – as they are all snails in his eyes!
With that said, Quicksilver uses his mutant speed to run out of the cabin, but not far behind him is Captain Marvel, whom Quicksilver notices following her, however his speed renders him sufficiently invisible, which Captain Marvel notices, and so she returns to the cabin. There Thor remarks how he has seen this sort of madness plague Asgard, before telling the Avengers that Quicksilver is as much their brother as he is that of Wanda’s. Thor tells Cap that they, Iron Man and the Wasp need to leave for the point where the Avengers began, but his attempt at command is shot down by both the Wasp and Iron Man.
Iron Man tells Thor that that is the old team, and now they have two teams operating the way they want them and that he will remain with the West Coast team. Wasp backs Tony up saying the East Coast team will go as they are, while thinking to herself even more so since Thor didn’t invite Hank to join his team. Wasp proclaims that the East Coast team will head for the Mansion, to which Monica, as she re-enters through the window, reminds Jan that Gyrich will have it covered. Hawkeye tells her that there is no alternative, and that his team will take the circus in the Southwest, while the Avengers not from a team can go to Australia. Hank Pym watches as the three teams of five depart, where he admits he never knew Thor held a grudge against him, before deciding that there is something important that he too has to do!
Chapter 2: Cardinal SinsCentral Park, where four of the Zodiac Cartel are standing around menacingly. Gemini, Cancer, Taurus and Aries, where the latter is complaining to his teammates, asking them why they should have to work with Quicksilver when there are already twelve members of the Zodiac. Cancer informs Aries that it is because Quicksilver has lived on the moon, which is precious to him, adding that none of them have ever left Earth in all their lives. Taurus smirks that none of them even have lives. To that, Aries reminds his companions that they are Life-Model-Decoy’s that were created by Scorpio, though they have evolved since then, recreating themselves, done by themselves, but no matter how good they get, they will never be alive. Gemini tells Taurus to lighten up, remarking that he may want to get mad, but that Gemini has other ideas! Just then, Quicksilver arrives! Cancer greets Pietro as Aries asks if he can get his hands on some Avengers!
Across the street from Central Park sits another landmark of New York City – Avengers mansion! Inside the great and mighty mansion, one of Washington’s “finest” – Henry Gyrich, who along with Freedom Force have come to oversee Quicksilver’s crusade. Gyrich tells Pietro that he and his associates appreciate his efforts, especially as he “lost” the Avengers several hours ago. Quicksilver tells Gyrich that he knows several of their quarries will be at Avengers mansion momentarily, to which the enigmatic Mystique asks if the Avengers are really that simple.
Not bothering to look at her, Quicksilver simply tells Raven that he considers no Avenger simple, which is why he is going to lead his own team against them. Obviously annoyed, and having no worries about voicing it, Mystique asks what about her team, to which Gyrich asks what her problem is. Mystique tells Gyrich that Quicksilver’s team is just a bunch of criminal LMD’s and that he can’t remove Freedom Force for them. Annoyed himself, Pietro reminds Raven that her very own “Freedom Force” was once the “Brotherhood of Evil Mutants”, adding that it was a much inferior Brotherhood at that.
Raven turns away as Gyrich reminds Raven of how much they value her services, adding that she knows she still has to prove her obedience to him and telling her that Quicksilver can be accommodated to here. The four members of the Zodiac muter to themselves, surprised that they were chosen over Freedom Force, as Gyrich informs Mystique and her team that they will be given full credit for the original capture of the Avengers and asking them to take the back way out of the mansion. Pyro asks if he can shoot one fire burst at Gyrich, but Destiny tells him even a precog does not need powers to know the outcome of that, before deciding that Freedom Force’s part in the drama is over.
On the roof of the mansion, Gyrich’s voice is heard over the intercom of one of the guards on post duty. The guard answers back that it is still quiet, to which another guard says ‘Once we take possession of a place, it stays took sir! Gyrich bellows back that it is “taken” not “took”. Back inside, Gyrich informs Quicksilver that he is turning responsibility over to him, with the situation currently secure. Pietro smiles, thinking of how much a fool Gyrich is, as Quicksilver knows the Avengers better than he – and he knows how they will try and get in!
The Avengers, aided by breathing masks, use a secret under-water passageway beneath the mansion to enter. As the five Avengers climb out of the water and up the ladder to the hatch which will enable them to enter the mansion. The dashing Black Knight jokes about how he is glad they didn’t rush and tell Gyrich about the their sub-marine entrance, to which Hercules agrees, adding that Gyrich will be surprised when they climb straight into his ugly face! At that very moment however, Taurus uses his super strength to pull the ladder back down.
Cap grabs onto the vault at the top, while the Wasp hovers in the air as Captain Marvel in her electric form dives back into the water, where the Black Knight has just fallen into, joining Hercules. Cap suddenly drops into the water and Captain Marvel cries the infamous Avengers call, ‘Avengers Assemble!’ Her voice is transmitted on radio waves and is digitally crisp and clear so that everyone can hear it. Captain Marvel expresses her concern for Hercules, who didn’t have any time to draw breath and doesn’t have his air mask either! Monica realizes that the man Hercules is fighting doesn’t have a mask either and wonders if he doesn’t need to breathe. Hercules himself fights with Taurus while thinking to himself that he could hold his breath for an hour – if he had any, and that he quickly needs to get to the surface for air.
Captain America sees Black Knight in serious danger of drowning as he too is without a mask and struggling with Aries. Cap’s attention is drawn elsewhere – to Quicksilver, who managed to swim in so fast he doesn’t even need to breath. The thing that startles Cap the most is that Pietro is at the purge switch, and as he pushes it down the Avengers and the LMD’s are sucked back into the underground river. Captain America manages to grab Hercules and the Black Knight, but Monica is worried that they will drown before they all reach open water. Monica has an idea though, and she streaks up from the water to the top of the tunnel and creates a hole in it, with the pressure drawing the water behind her.
Captain America pulls Dane and Hercules from the river and applauds Monica for her quick thinking. Monica replies that she had to be quick as their friends would not have lasted much longer. Quicksilver and two of the Zodiac members appear behind the Captain’s and Pietro tells Monica not to put that thought in the past yet, proclaiming that he, Cancer and Gemini are still committed to their destruction. Wasp suddenly appears above the Captain’s and forcefully tells Quicksilver that she has had enough of his threats and she urges the Avengers on. Captain America is a little surprised at Jan and so the Wasp asks him if he forgot she was team leader.
Quicksilver tells Jan that they thought she had drowned, but that doesn’t matter, as she has not escaped her fate. Cancer attacks Wasp, informing her that he is a water sign. Jan asks him what else he is, as he is not the Cancer that the Avengers previously captured. As Captain Marvel attacks Pietro, she informs her teammates that she had heard police reports of a new Zodiac created as LMD’s. Pietro tells Monica that she is correct, to which the surprised Captain America asks Quicksilver if he has allied himself with people who are not even alive.
Gemini mocks Captain America, asking him if he isn't the person who thinks all men are “created” equal. Gemini announces that he has no second thoughts about being an incarnation of the Gemini force – with its ability to expand! With that, Gemini increases his mass and strikes Captain America’s shield. Captain America tells Gemini that the greatest battles in history have been fought and won by underdogs – David vs. Goliath, America vs. the British Empire – and Captain America vs. a Blowhard! Cap strikes Gemini with his shield, telling him that size means nothing, only a will to live – which an LMD cannot possibly know.
Gemini returns to his normal size and tells Captain America that he is right, and that he has changed his mind about siding with Quicksilver. Captain America asks what kind of trick this is, to which Gemini replies it is not a trick and that he has simply reversed himself, adding that they are all incarnations of their signs. Cancer turns to his teammate and tells him to change his mind back again and fight, until his words are cut off by the Wasp who sends her bio-sting into Cancer’s water, effectively shocking him.
With the four Zodiac now defeated, Captain Marvel tells Quicksilver that his dreams of destruction have come to an end, adding that she may not know him, but has seen him in action, before telling him she learns with the speed of thought. Monica comes to a sudden halt when Quicksilver enters one of the buildings, which are scattered throughout the park. She returns to her physical form and stands at the entrance to the building, faced with twenty different tunnels. She jokes that when she starts chasing him through the tunnels they will look like a Marx Brothers movies on a runaway projector. Monica is startled by loud firing, and she realizes that it is not the Zodiac!
In fact, it is Gyrich and his Federal marshals! Hercules and Black Knight have since recovered from their near drowning and Hercules is shielding his teammates by holding up a chunk of the earth, ripped from the ground, to block the bullets. Hercules then suggests that they should not be hiding, but engaging the agents in combat. Wasp tells the Olympian that it may mean their deaths, before reminding him that as much as they all despise Gyrich he is not the real enemy, that Quicksilver is the key!
Gyrich calls out to the Avengers, telling them to give up, informing them that he has all the authority he needs to issue the order. Captain Marvel returns to her teammates and diving into the ground she creates a passageway for her team to escape through. Hercules tells the others that he will only have to strike Gyrich once, but Wasp orders him not to. As the Avengers enter the tunnel, Captain Marvel hopes the other two teams have done better than they. Gyrich and his followers stand over the hole in the ground, angry that even Captain America defied him, before telling the federal agents that it only proves what he has always said – that super-types have to be controlled for the common good, and vowing that they will control them eventually. ‘Right’ one of the federal agents thinks to himself.
Meanwhile, Hank Pym has arrived at the home of the Scarlet Witch and the Vision. The android answers the door and Hank tells Vision that he hopes he isn't disturbing them. The Vision replies that he and Wanda haven’t been able to sleep, and can guess why he has come!
Chapter3: Fixed Assets!
In Monument Valley, Arizona, a sacred Indian spot, where Quicksilver has arrived to join four other members of the Zodiac Cartel. Upon his arrival, Libra realizes Quicksilver is not even breathing hard, despite all the running he has been doing. Leo compliments Pietro, realizing that he does indeed intend to lead all three of the Zodiac clusters. Scorpio reminds Leo that is what Quicksilver said he would do! Turning away and frowning, Pietro tells Leo that he, unlike the majority of mankind, keeps to his word. The cloaked Libra suggests to Quicksilver that he still needs a co-captain in each cluster, as he cannot do everything himself.
Quicksilver disagrees, and raising his voice, shouting out over the vast landscape that normal men “can’t” do what they want to do, but Quicksilver is no “normal man”, but as far beyond “normal men” as – his voice suddenly trails off when the pink-clad Virgo places her hands on Pietro’s chest. Pietro continues his train of thought – that “normal men” are beyond the Zodiac, however they do make a good militia. Virgo tells Quicksilver that she doesn’t mean to pry before asking him what his stand on normal women is, reminding him that he lost his wife because they couldn’t work it out. Quicksilver removes the hands of the only female LMD telling her that he will never work it out again, as marriage was a mistake, as it diverted his energies and could have lost his purity because of it, before suggesting they get to the circus.
This circus has paled in comparison to its larger competitors, but in the smaller towns however, where the entertainment industry is non-descript, it never fails to offer a night of thrills – tonight being no exception! As the two trapeze artists prepare to join hands in mid air, Libra appears in between them, stopping the stunt. Screams start to erupt from all around as Leo frees his “brethren” – real lions, telling them to claim the realm for their own and show the humans why lions together are called prides. Within the big top, chaos runs rampant as the patrons flee in all directions. One patron in particular remembers another time when the Hulk tore up the same circus wit the – ‘Avengers mister’ says Iron Man, finishing the mans sentence and saving him from the lion.
Tigra leaps towards Leo, informing him she remembers how much trouble Cat-People have caused her and that he is her meat tonight! Wonder Man picks up a rampaging elephant, much to the amusement of onlookers. Hawkeye fires several arrows at Quicksilver and Virgo, the two look up and see Clint and Bobbi standing on a trapeze platform. The marksman tells the speedster that he knows it is not easy turn good and stay good and reminds him that they did it together and can keep doing it together. Pietro asks Clint what he knows about togetherness, reminding him that he has quit the Avengers many times. Hawkeye tells Quicksilver that quitting and selling out are two different things.
The man inside the large cannon tells Scorpio to blow him out of there while Hawkeye is talking, and as Clint suggests that his marriage to Bobbi is togetherness. Clint adds that he could never act like Pietro is now for Bobbi’s sake, suggesting to Quicksilver that if he cannot stop his plan for them, then to stop it for Crystalia. With a loud BLAM the human cannonball is fired to the platform where Clint and Bobby are standing. Mockingbird sees him coming and dodges out of the way, but in doing so she pushes Clint off the platform, and she too falls. On the ground, Hawkeye regrets that Bobbi would have been fine if he wasn’t in her way.
Iron Man fires at Scorpio, but the LMD dives underground as Hawkeye tends to his unconscious wife, realizing she will be okay, but angrily he shoots more arrows at Quicksilver. Pietro tells Clint he is an idiot, as he could never hit him with those “lumbering shafts” and races away. But he can still hear Clint as he informs him that he wasn’t aiming at him, as is evident by the arrows taking a 90-degree angle and hitting Libra who was hovering above them.
Hawkeye turns now to Virgo, pointing an arrow at her he asks her what her game is. Virgo replies that she has no death wish, when suddenly the tunneling Scorpio breaks through the ground in front of Clint and tells him that he has death in the form of his scorpion’s neurotoxin and he fires it at Clint. Wonder Man steps in to protect Clint from the poison, informing him that all the animals have been caged. Scorpio tells Simon that the toxin can stop him and every elephant he just carried. ‘Do tell!’ cries Wonder Man as his body re-channels the poison, causing an explosion, knocking he, Clint and Scorpio down.
Iron Man comes to Tigra’s aide, and knocks Leo back, realizing that Greer is tired from fighting either Leo or herself, adding that she has to solve her problems soon or else will go mad! Tony calls to Simon to ask him how he is doing, but when he gets no answer, he discovers Clint and Simon lying stunned on the ground. Wearily, Clint tells Tony that it wears off before trying to warn him of Virgo’s approach behind him. Virgo places something on Iron Man’s armor, and Tony can no longer move! Virgo informs him that she too is good with machines and created this energy siphon.
Virgo tells Iron Man that his team got most of hers, but that it is always the one who is overlooked that gets you in the end! ‘You said it!’ cries Tigra as she pounces on Virgo and rubs her face in the dirt. Iron Man suggests to Tigra that if she gets the energy siphon off his back then he can get after Quicksilver. Greer tells Tony that Pietro will be halfway to Australia by now and that they nay as well just wait for Clint, Simon and Bobbi to recover so they can follow him as a group, while she – Greer stops talking quickly, as she was about to say she wants to ‘play with her prey’!
Meanwhile, in Leonia, Vision calls out to Wanda, asking her where she is. Clad in her costume, Wanda makes her presence known to her husband. She tells him that there are bottles for the sons in the fridge, and that she has to go to her brother. Vision frowns and tells Wanda that she will not.
Chapter 4: Mutant Meltdown! Near the “Ant-Hill” in the Australian outback, Pisces, Sagittarius, Capricorn and Aquarius stand around waiting for Quicksilver. Pisces mentions that he is not so sure about this situation, as Sagittarius adds that it would be nice to hear from their teammates who are overseas still. The stroppy Capricorn states that if Quicksilver doesn’t arrive soon then he is taking over as leader. Quicksilver arrives in time to hear Capricorn’s comment and Pietro tells him not to strain himself. Aquarius tells Quicksilver that he never doubted him and that if he were to choose a sign to lead, it would be he, Aquarius, the rugged individual.
Capricorn looks over his shoulder at Pietro and tells the mutant that he has no use for individuals when they disrupt the plan, suggesting to Pietro that after running halfway around the world he must be tired. Fed up, Quicksilver shoots back, telling Capricorn that he is tired of failure by their fellow LMD’s, as the Avengers have beaten them both times, despite his best efforts. Turning to the “Ant-Hill” Quicksilver informs the last of the LMD’s that they have a chance to rub their noses in the past, and that he is never tired when triumph is within his grasp!
Moments later, Pisces smashes his way into the “Ant-Hill” and tells the Aussies that they know they took this bunker over for government research, but they are taking it for the Zodiac now, and if they give them any back talk they will slap them silly! Pisces shuts-up and he and the others look around the empty bunker, curious as to where the workers would be. Suddenly, the mighty hammer of Thor rebounds from the wall behind the villains. The quintet of villains follow the hammer back to where it came from – Thor, Black Panther, Black Widow, Flacon and the second Iron Man.
Quicksilver gloats, calling Thor and his team a team of rejects, as unlike the East and West coast teams, none of these five have worked together, adding salt to the wound, Pietro informs the Zodiac that the “Iron Man” is only a stand-in. Rhodes informs Quicksilver that he was never just a stand-in, or a reject, despite it taking him some time to realize that for himself. The two teams start to fight each other, Rhodes telling Pietro that he is the only Iron Man they need to take him down. Quicksilver starts to run away, telling Rhodes that he will need to prove that.
Thor attacks Pisces with his hammer as the Black Panther informs the Zodiac, while attacking Aquarius, that they have duties, which keep them from being full-time Avengers and that their status is their choice. As Black Widow follows Capricorn she adds that while she has only worked on a few cases, she appreciates the honor of membership and responsibility, while the Falcon proclaims that some of them don’t like working with crowds when they go to work. Sagittarius agrees, informing Sam that he likes open spaces which is why he didn’t want Hawkeye monopolizing the arrow business as he fires some arrows at Sam.
Falcon dodges the arrows, telling Sagittarius that he has a long way to go threatening him, as Black Widow thinks to herself while kicking Capricorn that some of them don’t like crowds, while others may have pushed the pursuit of freedom too far. That ever since she defected to the West she has exemplified the cult of individuality, especially in her relationship with Matt Murdock, yet in Matt’s hour of need…Natasha’s thoughts trail off as Capricorn tells her she is going to insult him unless she gets her mind back on business. But Natasha is struck down by Aquarius, which was Capricorn’s intended plan.
Aquarius reminds his teammates of what Quicksilver said – that these Avengers do not know how to work together – ‘If only men would be as silent as the beasts’ says Black Panther as he kicks Aquarius from behind, stopping the Zodiac members babble. Natasha thanks T’Challa, regretting that it should have not even been necessary, to which Thor agrees, before reminding himself that even his thoughts have been elsewhere, specifically on that of the changes in the Realm Eternal. Like the ascension of Balder to the throne, and the damage to his own face, which his beard barely hides! As Thor pummels Pisces some more he digresses that it is he who revels in gatherings of the Avengers, yet this was not the time he would have chosen for it. Wanting the battle to finish, he pulls some large equipment over Pisces, whose awe of Thor’s strength is cut off with the crash of the equipment.
Quicksilver is annoyed at the defeat of the Zodiac, regretting that they could be great given time and leadership, but he used them too quickly. As he races away he decides it doesn’t matter as his plan allowed for this possibility, adding that there was a better reason than nostalgia to end the battle in this installation. Pietro’s thoughts are brought to a halt as Rhodes tells him that even though he is fast, he knows how to use the armor, and does so, firing at Pietro, who trips and falls over. Thor calls over congratulating Iron Man, but as they both go in to capture Quicksilver, they hit each other, much to Pietro’s amusement as he speeds away.
As Widow and Panther chase Capricorn, the Zodiac member reminds them that he is a mountain goat and unlike a spider or panther there is no place he cannot climb. As he swings onto a pipe, T’Challa and Natasha leap onto him. Natasha informs Capricorn that when she has her head set on something she can reach anything she wants. Panther tells Natasha to brace herself for the fall – which upon the three reaching the ground, they find the mountain goat has taken the burden of.
As Falcon deflects more of Sagittarius’s weapons, he informs him that more of his teammates are falling, but as Sagittarius points out, so is Flacon when one of his wings is set ablaze by a flame-shaft. Falcon tells Sagittarius not to get too optimistic, and as he falls to the ground he re-arranges his body so that he speeds up enough to dowse the flame and crash into Sagittarius in one swoop! As the other Avengers run by, Falcon asks if that was the last LMD, as he lost count. T’Challa replies that that it is everyone accounted for besides Quicksilver, the one they want the most, Black Widow adds. Thor remarks that he does not think Quicksilver will escape them, to which Rhodes points out that due to his electronic ears, he can hear the rest of the Avengers arriving!
Which is true, as the five Avengers make their way out of the “Ant-Hill” they are joined by ten others. Hawkeye reports that the Zodiac members they captured have told everything to Gyrich, to which the original Iron Man reports that they have all been cleared of any charges! As Hercules makes his way out of the Quinjet he states that he still wants to get his hands on Pietro. Suddenly, all the Avengers are repelled backwards by some strange power.
Quicksilver stands atop the “Ant-Hill”, informing the Avengers that the power was courtesy of the Australian government, and is now his! He reminds the Avengers that they knew the “Ant-Hill” was a research station, but they didn’t know the research was for a way of defending Australia without nuclear warheads. They had developed particle bean weapons, weapons that are as deadly as they are predictable. Holding the detonator in his hand he tells his former teammates that if this is what it takes to secure his revenge, then it will be! He farewells the Avengers, when suddenly, the Vision appears!
Vision floats up beside Pietro and orders the shocked mutant to stop. Pietro tells Vision that whatever his plan, it will be futile, as all it takes is one squeeze of the trigger. Back on the ground, the stunned Avengers watch what transpires. Clint suggests to Captain America that the combined might of their arrows and shield could be able to stop him, but Captain America reminds Hawkeye that Quicksilver would have plenty of time to react before they hit him. Iron Man suggests he hit him with a repulsor ray, to which Thor suggests could cause Pietro’s fist to clench.
Quicksilver warns his brother-in-law that an attack will have serious consequences. Vision replies that he understands, informing Pietro that he brings only a gift. He calls to Captain Marvel, asking for her help. Quicksilver warns Monica as she flies up to join them to stay back and that even she is not fast enough. Vision’s ruby detaches itself from his head and Vision tells Pietro the gift is inside it, informing him that Wanda created it, because she still believes in him. Vision tells Quicksilver that his sister wanted to bring it herself, but he stopped her, as he does not have the faith the Scarlet Witch has.
Vision shines his solar beam into the ruby, as Captain Marvel adds her laser ray, and the forms of two baby boys are seen – holograms of Billy and Tommy, the children of the Scarlet Witch and Vision – Quicksilver’s nephews! Vision reminds Quicksilver that he claims to hate everyone in the world – his wife, his sister, his former teammates, and asks him if he can hate two innocents. Vision tells Pietro that Tommy and Billy need their uncle, just as his own child needs her father. Vision is about to tell Quicksilver that whatever the adults have done to him, the children should not suffer.
But Pietro cries ‘Enough’ and in a heartbeat he is as if he was never in the presence of the Avengers at all, far, far away. Sixteen Avengers know he was there however, and Vision apologizes for not arriving earlier, informing the others that he and Wanda were unsure of the situation until Hank Pym came to them. Thor is surprised Hank contacted Wanda and Vision, to which Wasp sticks up for her ex-husband and tells Thor that no one is more sensitive than he is.
Captain America asks Vision if he thinks they stopped Quicksilver for good, to which the android Avenger replies he wish he knew, but that Pietro is so unstable. And by next week his longtime hatred of him could be transferred onto his sons, but for the sake of his family and everyone else, he wishes he knew. Hawkeye says that he may have overestimated Pietro’s character today, but that he has to be ‘the coldest fish that ever lived to be back anytime soon’.
Changing the subject, Clint reminds everyone of a much better reason they all got together for the weekend – some serious softball! Quickly, he proclaims that he chooses Thor for his team! Everyone turns and frowns at Clint, as Mockingbird tells her husband he is certifiable! The handsome archer asks everyone if they are all tired and if they are Avengers or Campfire girls? With that, all those Avengers with weapons hurl them at Clint, who dodges them, while supposing his teammates are Avengers after all!
Avengers they are, West, East or uncommitted, they are all Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – save one – and he can hear their laughter as he stands upon the “Ant-Hill”, returning to them in silence and shadow.
Hawkeye, Iron Man, Mockingbird, Tigra, Wonder Man (All West Coast Avengers)Black Knight III, Captain America, Captain Marvel II, Hercules, Wasp (All [East Coast] Avengers)Dr. Henry Pym, former Avenger, current West Coast ally
Beast, Black Panther, Black Widow, Falcon, Iron Man II, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, She-Hulk, Thor, Vision (All former/inactive Avengers)
Henry Gyrich, former Avengers liaison
Thomas and William, the children of Scarlet Witch and Vision
Mr. Fantastic (Member of the Fantastic Four)
Avalanche, Blob, Destiny, Mystique, Pyro, Spiral (All Freedom Force)
Aries, Aquarius, Cancer, Capricorn, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Pisces, Sagittarius, Scorpio, Taurus, Virgo (All LMD Zodiac)
National Security GuardsPeople at the circus
In Flashback/Illustrative ImagesBinary, Firebird, Hellcat, Hulk, Jocasta, Mantis, Moondragon, Starfox, Sub-Mariner, Swordsman, Thing (All former/inactive/deceased Avengers)
Daimon Hellstrom, husband of Hellcat
Puck, Vindicator II (both Alpha Flight)
The first part to this story occurred in Avengers Annual #15, where the Avengers were freed from the Vault by Spider-Woman II, though they are unaware it was she.
When running through the list of former Avengers possible for betraying the team, Firebird, Hellcat, Jocasta, Moondragon and Thing are mentioned to never have actually being members. Since then, this has been corrected, and all five are definitely full Avengers (or in Thing’s case a former Avenger).
Thing and Firebird were both candidates for the West Coast team, Thing didn’t want to join, but Firebird did, except Hawkeye really wanted Thing and forgot about Firebird. Feeling neglected, Firebird left; though she would serve with the West Coast team briefly shortly after as “Espirita”, while the Thing finally accepted to join, but never did. After serving for many years as a reservist, Firebird would later go onto to serve a lengthy stint with the Avengers proper during the Kang War [Avengers (third series) #38-55] her current whereabouts are unknown, though she has presumably returned to her mission work in New Mexico. Thing, like the other members of the Fantastic Four who served briefly, have all been removed from the Avengers roster.
Moondragon served some time with the Avengers before leaving [Avengers (first series) #150-151] though to this day she returns as she pleases. She joined the Defenders in Defenders (first series) #125 and served to some degree with the team until the majority of the team all died in the final issue, but they got better. [Defenders (first series) #152]
Hellcat wanted to be an Avenger, but before joining took up Moondragons’ offer undergo further training. [Avengers (first series) #150-151] This training lasted a short time before Patsy joined the Defenders, serving uninterrupted until she left to marry Hellstorm, though she always remained an Avengers ally and close to several members. [Defenders #44-125]
Carol Danvers, the original Ms. Marvel, left the team in Avengers (first series) #200 after traumatic events. She would later go onto hanging out with the X-Men for a while before joining the Starjammers as Binary, [Uncanny X-Men #174] and years later, rejoining the Avengers as Warbird. [Avengers (third series) #4-7, 27-70]
Starfox left the team in Avengers (first series) #261
Sub-Mariner along with Alpha Flight began a search for his beloved Marrina, and would later return to the team, with Marrina as an honorary member [Alpha Flight (first series) #39].
Mantis became the Celestial Madonna in Giant Sized Avengers #4 and would remain in space for years.
Jocasta died in Marvel Two-in-One #93, only to be rebuilt behind the scenes, and to die again in Avengers Annual #17, more recently, her consciousness became integrated into Iron Man’s computer. [Iron Man third series]
The Swordsman died in Giant Sized Avengers #2, though a plant form reanimating his body married Mantis in Giant Sized Avengers #4.
Tigra and the rest of the West Coast Avengers fought Graviton and his cronies in West Coast Avengers #12-13, where she transformed back into her human form, albeit briefly.
Black Widow’s arrival in America occurred in Tales of Suspense #57, Alexi is her deceased husband, and the Matt she is talking about is her former love Daredevil.
The Scarlet Witch gave birth to the twins in Vision & Scarlet Witch (second series) #12.
Quicksilver sometimes lives on the moon with his wife Crystal, daughter Luna and the rest of the Royal Inhumans.
Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver joined the Avengers in Avengers (first series) #16, the team was dubbed “Caps Kooky Quartet” and was the first and one of the most important roster changes in Avengers history.
Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were part of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in Uncanny X-Men #4 (they didn’t know he was their father then) and they both joined the Avengers in Avengers (first series) #16. Quicksilver did not like the blossoming relationship between Wanda and the Vision, whom he thought, was not a real man, and always protested against them. He was injured by the Sentinels in Avengers (first series) #104.
Crystal rescued Quicksilver in Fantastic Four #131, they married in Avengers (first series) #127/Fantastic Four #150 and moved to the Moon in Fantastic Four #240. Crystal had an affair with real estate agent Norman Brewster over the course of the Vision and Scarlet Witch (second series), which Quicksilver found out about in #10.
The LMD (Life Model Decoy) Zodiac’s history dates back to Defenders (first series) #50 where they were created by Scorpio. Other than the team name (and the fact that they are all dead), they have nothing to do with the most recent Zodiac who first appeared in Alpha Flight (second series) #1 & #12, who were apparently actual super-humans.
Quicksilver’s comment about Mystique’s Brotherhood being an inferior one to its predecessor is of course because he was on it. The original Brotherhood consisted of Magneto, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver (these two only out of fear of Magneto), Toad and Mastermind, while later additions included Blob, Lorelei, Unus, Astra and the Vanisher. The second Brotherhood (Mystique’s first of three) consisted of herself, Destiny, Rogue, Blob, Pyro and Avalanche (the Brotherhood in this issue), when it was “re-christened” Freedom Force, they were joined by Spider-Woman II (only because she was forced to be with them), Spiral, Crimson Commando, Stonewall and Super Sabre.
The Avengers fought a Zodiac incarnation in Avengers (first series) #120-122.
The Hulk and the Avengers meeting at the circus occurred in the very first issue of Avengers ever! [Avengers (first series) #1]
Tigra’s dual-identity crisis is solved in Avengers West Coast #14-16 when the WCA, Hellcat and Hellstrom travel to the Land of the Cat-People!
The Sentinels built the “Ant-Hill” in Avengers (first series) #103.