Issue Date: May 2011
Story Title: Growing Up
Staff: Christos Gage (writer), Tom Raney (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker), Jeromy Cox (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Mike McKone & Jeromy Cox (cover artists), John Denning (assistant editor), Bill Rosemann (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Wishing to do something to justify her existence, Veil uses one of Giant-Man’s extraordinary machines to try and bring the Wasp back to life. In doing so, she inadvertently brings a woman named Carina Walters back to life. Carina is shocked to find herself back in a conscious state and quickly calls for Hank to use any cloaking technology they might have. By the time she’s said it, it is too late and her husband, the powerful Michael Korvac, appears. He wishes to take her without any problems, but Carina states that she does not wish to go. In fact, she chose death over being with him. Korvac attacks and Justice erects a forcefield to deflect his initial blast. At that moment, backup arrives in the form of many more powerful Avengers, including Thor, Iron Man and Ms. Marvel. As they tackle Korvac, Jocasta ushers Carina and the academy students into a room which shifts dimensions every 2.3 seconds. Carina uses this time to explain Michael Korvac’s history and why he must be stopped. Outside, Korvac proves too powerful for the Avengers and he takes down everyone except for Speedball who fights back. However, he too falls and Korvac feels he has little option but to kill them. Luckily, Carina informs the students that she can access their older selves’ powers and give them their abilities whilst still retaining the personas they have right now. They agree to this, especially Veil who has little to lose, and they confront the powerful Michael Korvac.
Veil figures she’s either redeemed herself or gotten herself kicked out of the academy for good. Hank finds Veil inside his lab and one of his machines in full swing. With alarms going off, he asks her what she’s done. She tells him that she’s doing what he was afraid of. She’s bringing back the Wasp! She knows that Hank wouldn’t want to risk her coming back damaged, but she is looking at the same fate and she’d take any chance to survive. Hank can’t believe it. He wasn’t even close to being ready. There are many more tests to run. However, he knows that it’s now too late to stop the machine. If he switched it off, it could cut Janet in half. Veil tells him he built the machine. He should trust himself. “Oh, God,” he sighs. “Please work.”
The machine glows bright orange before a female form drops from it and kneels on the floor before them, just as Quicksilver arrives. Veil knows that Dr. Pym can’t cure her and at some point she will fade away. All she’s done since she got there is screw up so she needs this to prove she deserves to stay. She needs this or she dies. Hank takes a closer look and exclaims, “You’re not Janet!” Veil asks who, if it’s not Janet, it could be. Hank recognizes her but can’t remember from where. The naked woman stands up and Pietro quickly covers her blushes. She asks where she is before seeing Hank. “You!” she cries. She tells him that if the place has cloaking technology then he should engage it now. “He’s coming,” she adds.
Hank assures her that his entire Infinite Mansion is in a dimension called Underspace. Whoever is after her couldn’t possibly find her there. He asks who she is and who is looking for her. What do they want? A voice from behind informs Hank that he will tell him. Hank turns to see Michael Korvac standing there. “I am Korvac,” he states, “And I want you to get your hands off my wife!”
Quicksilver remembers her now. He tells the others that her name is Carina Walters, bride of the demigod Korvac. Surely they remember, he adds. They nearly enslaved the entire universe and killed them all! Captain America reported him dead but it seems that megalomaniacal deities are quite resilient. Hank is perplexed, saying that, in her energy form, Carina looked just like Janet. Carina replies that she was a blank slate but, when he fed her his late wife’s memories, she became what he wanted until Veil forced her into physical form.
Korvac explains that before attaining cosmic power he was a mortal man. He is still prone to mortal thinking even now. Though he survived his body’s destruction, he never dreamed his wife had. As thanks for returning Carina to him, he is prepared to forgive the indignities he has visited upon her and he will take her without hostilities. Hank asks what then. His agenda has always been conquest. Can he offer them any assurances that his agenda has changed? Carina asks if it’s occurred to anyone to ask whether she wants to go with him. She tells Korvac that she doesn’t want him. She chose non-existence over him. She says she doesn’t love him anymore. He should go away and leave her alone.
Korvac believes that she is confused, but Carina replies that he is insane. He hasn’t changed a bit, she says. He still wants to bring ‘order to the universe’ by taking total control. He wants everything there is to obey him. Korvac tells her that it seems they have a few differences to work out, but informs the Avengers that this is none of their business and they should step away from his wife. Veil steps up and tells him that he really doesn’t care what she wants. It’s just what he wants. She is sick of people like him. He scares Carina so much that she’d rather be dead than with him. Doesn’t that tell him something? Justice appears and agrees. Korvac isn’t wanted there. Hank asks him to leave peacefully and prove that he’s changed.
Without a thought, Korvac blasts them and only a quickly erected forcefield created by Justice saves them. He exclaims that he is a God. Do they really think that he and his motley band of rejects and failures can stand against him alone? At that moment, another group of Avengers arrives including Iron Man, Captain America and Thor who informs him that an Avenger never stands alone. He hurls Mjolnir and smashes Korvac in the face with it. As the more powerful Avengers take the fight to Korvac, Giant Man asks Reptil to take Carina to the safe room and for all of them to get inside. They shouldn’t come out for anything. Carina tells them that no place is safe. They can’t hide from Korvac. Striker replies that he’s gonna try anyway. He tells her that Korvac’s a freak. Couldn’t he just Facebook stalk her instead?
As the students leave the room with Carina, the fight intensifies. Jocasta informs Carina that they aren’t intending to hide her, but rather put her out of reach. “I am Jocasta. Come with me if you want to live.” Mettle turns to Striker and asks if she just made a joke! Hazmat reckons she knew this would happen. You hang out with the Avengers long enough and sooner or later some cosmic whack job shows up wanting to kill everybody. And who ends up dying? Not Iron Man or Thor. It’s people like them who get the dirt nap. She feels like the black guy in a disaster movie. Jocasta motions towards the safe room but Striker reckons it must be the worst safe room ever. He could get in with a can opener.
Once inside, the doors close and Jocasta informs them that the walls are not the safe room. She is the safe room. Her image appears on screens all around. She explains that she is using the mansion’s technology to shunt them to a different dimension every 2.3 seconds. Carina tells her that’s worse than useless. They’re just delaying Korvac, that’s all. Veil tells her that for someone who complains so much, she doesn’t see her offering any solutions. She looks at Veil and says she’s the one who stood up to Michael. She has spirit and more than she had at her age. She defended her so she will overlook the fact that this is all her fault. “So not surprised,” sighs Hazmat. Striker asks if she’s in the middle of every disaster. Veil tries to make her excuses, but she knows that she was just trying to make someone save her. Striker is right, she feels. Every decision she’s made since she arrived was because she was desperate.
Carina tells them that they have questions and she will answer them, but first she will open a portal so they can see how the battle goes. She holds her hand out and a portal about ten feet across appears showing the Thing and Korvac fighting. She reckons they’ll last a few more minutes, anyway. Veil can’t believe that she put her life on the line for her, all their lives, and she’s had powers the whole time. She informs Veil that of course she does. Her father is the Collector, an elder of the universe. She has more power than she can imagine. “Good for you,” replies Hazmat. She asks why she can’t just go with her crazy ex and leave them out of it. As they watch the Avengers struggle against Korvac, she tells them that it would solve nothing. Michael is from the future, an Earth conquered by aliens who tortured him, as Norman Osborn did them. She knows their histories. Time is an open book to her.
She explains that when Michael gained great power and came to this era, her father sensed the danger. He sent her to gain Michael’s confidence, seduce him and learn his plans. Veil is shocked that he would do that, and Carina says that, even by an abstract entity’s standards of morality, it’s a disgusting thing for a father to do to his daughter. But, he was her father and her whole existence up to that point. She lived to please him.
That was, however, until she met Michael Korvac and fell in love with him, or at least became infatuated with him. She saw his passion for bringing order to the universe as benevolent and visionary. She was naïve in her youth. Michael had no power and no control. Now that he did, he wanted to rule everything so that nothing could ever hurt him again. But, she adds, he was scarred. He hated the universe for what it had done to him. Ruling wasn’t enough. He wanted to subjugate all life and with his power… he could.
As Spider-Man, Mockingbird and Tigra get caught up in Spidey’s own webs and even Quicksilver’s super speed doesn’t save him from being blasted by Korvac, Carina continues her story. She says that she was a cliché - the sheltered girl who ran off the first rebel who comes along. But, on some level she sensed how damaged Michael was and he saw that doubt in her. He committed suicide and in her grief, she did the same. A foolish young girl and her tantrums, she sighs. Her father cannot die and neither can she.
She tells them that her body became pure energy while it healed itself. She had every intention of finding her beloved and resurrecting him, but there was no need. To escape the attention that they had drawn, Michael had hidden his life force in the bodies of his ancestors, tricking everyone, including her. Michael and her father, the two men in the universe that she’d given everything to, had betrayed her. She didn’t want to live, but then she couldn’t die. So, she continues, she stayed in an energy form hidden in Underspace and let her consciousness drift.
Then, Dr. Pym found her and thought she was his late wife, Janet. He transmitted Janet’s memories to her which, she admits, was a revelation. She experienced the growth of a woman, who began much like her - beholden to a father, then a husband, defining herself through them and hurt by them. However, Janet Van Dyne was stronger than she was. She rose to be a hero, a leader of the Avengers. A complete woman in her own right. She wants to be like her and the only way that she will achieve this is if she stops Michael.
Finesse asks, in that case, why doesn’t she? She seems more powerful than any of the Avengers. Carina replies that she is but it’s not enough. Michael knows her intimately and his power surpasses hers. He can overcome her with ease. Veil closes her eyes and says that it’s hopeless. She screwed up again. Carina turns to her and asks, “Have you noticed that the only time you show confidence in yourself is when you declare everything your fault? That you’ve doomed yourself and everyone around you?” She should listen to what she’s been telling her. She doesn’t need Giant-Man or Justice to save her. Michael is not omnipotent. His defeats have weakened him.
She recalls the time when the villainous Red Skull used anti-matter to disintegrate Michael, scattering his atoms into multiple dimensions. It took him a while to recover from that. Madeline asks what she is telling them. She gets that Carina is all about empowerment these days, but they should face facts; they’re the most useless people in the entire Avengers organization. Carina finds that statement ridiculous. Why does she think she’s allowed herself to be locked in there with them and spent precious time explaining Michael’s history? “You are my only hope of defeating Korvac!”
The students look at her as if she’s insane. Mettle thinks she may have confused them with somebody else. She has Iron Man and Thor out there - living legends. They’re not even in any of the cartoons. “Reptil is,” remarks Striker. He reckons he needs a new agent. “Pfft. Kids love dinosaurs, my butt.”
Carina tells them that none of them listen very well. As she’s said, time and space hold no secrets from her. She creates an image of futuristic heroes in action - Deathlok, Spider-Man 2099 and Killraven. She explains that she can see an endless array of possible futures; things they could never conceive of. She didn’t choose them because of who they are. She chose them because of what they might become. She asks if they’d like to see what they’ll become when they grow up. The kids are visibly shocked at the idea.
Veil asks if she’s saying she can grab their adult selves and bring them here. Carina says that it would be inconvenient for many reasons. She can do better. She can allow them to ‘borrow’ the bodies of their mature selves from specific timelines while replacing their conscious minds with theirs. They will retain their present thoughts and personas, but they will be able to draw on the skills that their future selves wield instinctively. She admits that it’s too delicate a process to force upon them. She needs willing participants.
Veil’s mind runs all over the place. “Won’t I be dead in the future?” she asks. Striker is all for it. He’ll kick her hubby’s butt and then hit Vegas! Carina spaces out a little and informs them that she’s looking at a timeline right now in which Veil is alive at age thirty. Time is running out, however, and she needs a decision. Veil thinks about the choice before her. Dr. Pym said that the atoms in her body are slowly drifting apart. What if she’s only partially there? What if she can feel herself dying? She chastises herself for sounding desperate again. Whatever she turns into, it can’t be worse than she is now. “Do it,” she says. With no one asking otherwise, Carina opens her arms out and reaches out into several possible futures. Veil feels the changes happening and smiles. Oh… she thinks. Oh wow!
(Infinite Avengers Mansion, Main Atrium)
The Avengers are putting up fierce resistance against the mighty Korvac. He tells them that they test his patience. He is trying to be merciful and restrain himself from slaughter. However, if they don’t bring him his wife he will erase them from existence! Thor replies that these are bold words and hollow ones. Had he the power he would already be victorious. But, the Avengers still stand and they shall lay him low. He once again hurls Mjolnir which smashes him down and Speedball and Ms. Marvel assist.
Korvac, however, is resilient and he zaps Ms. Marvel. “Enough!” he cries. Thor orders him to unhand her and tries to hit him with the hammer but Korvac holds his hand out and stops it in its tracks. “Oh, do shut up,” he replies. He then redirects Mjolnir’s power back through the hammer, blasting Thor with an almighty ‘shrakabooooom.’ Thor drops to his knees and slowly drops to the ground unconscious. Speedball sees the other Avengers also out for the count leaving him all alone. Korvac turns to Speedball and asks him if they’re ready to surrender now. Robbie looks up, pauses a moment and replies, “No. Not now. Not ever!”
Speedball blasts Korvac to the ground but the output of energy has weakened him enormously. He too drops leaving Korvac to recover. He is impressed. He has hurt him and weakened the energies he thought infinite. He realizes they are a greater force than he realizes, perhaps enough to defy his will. So… he is afraid that he cannot ignore them any longer or allow them to survive.
Before he can act, he is zapped by several bursts of electrical energy and cries out in pain. Carina then approaches him and tells him that that’s his problem. He thinks that no one should so much as draw breath unless he allows it. He would choke off all the potential anyone has, keeping it locked away for fear it might threaten him. “I prefer to unleash potential.” Korvac calls her a fool and warns her that she cannot stop him. Carina says she won’t. “They will.” Out of the smoke comes the adult versions of Avengers Academy and they look like they mean business.
Veil never dreamed. She never imagined. Her worst fear came true. She knows that now. No one is going to save her. She’s going to have to save herself.
Finesse, Hazmat, Mettle, Reptil, Striker and Veil (all students, also in their older bodies)
Giant-Man, Jocasta, Justice, Quicksilver, Speedball, Tigra (all teachers)
Luke Cage, Captain America, Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, iron Fist, Iron Man, Mockingbird, Ms. Marvel, Protector, Spider-Man, Thing, Thor and Wolverine (all Avengers)
(as images created by Carina)
Black Knight, Captain America, Hercules, Thor, Wasp (all Avengers)
Deathlok, Killraven and Spider-Man 2099
The Korvac Saga ran through Avengers (1st series) #159, 167, 168 and 170 to 177 in the late 1970’s. A prelude to the story appeared in Thor (1st series) Annual #6.
“Come with me if you want to live,” is a line from 1984’s classic Terminator movie.
The Red Skull used the Cosmic Cube to scatter Korvac across dimensions in Captain America (3rd series) #19.
Reptil appears in episodes of The Super Hero Squad Show which debuted in 2009.
Striker fancies hitting Las Vegas because the legal drinking and gambling age there is twenty-one.
The older versions of the students look very similar, only aged slightly. Reptil is now a full-size T’Rex, Hazmat’s costume glows like a costume from Tron, Striker has a goatee and Finesse’s hair is a little longer and more unkempt than usual. Mettle and Veil look pretty much the same.
Issue Summary written by: Fantomex