The ending of the story arc in which the cosmic entity, Proteus, is on a mission, fueled by insanity, to destroy all other universes in which he exists. Residents of Earth-616 are forcibly brought to an alternate Earth to help combat him. Led by Crimson Shadow, these heroes join forces with the Avengers of Earth-826, led by Quasar, to end the reign of Proteus.
The prequels to this event can be found on the pages of the characters involved, listed below.
Major Characters of Earth-826
Major Characters of Earth-616
Search and Rescue
The small team, led by Quasar, made their way to the last known location of Spider, which was somewhere in the downtown ruins of New York City.
"There is nothing here, Ian must be gone already." Michael stated with anger.
"I know son, but we will find him." Quasar said, trying to comfort his remaining child. "There aren't many places left where Proteus can hide after our assault on his base."
As the Van Patricks' scoured the area for any signs of a trail, Avengers' member Thunder called out.
"They're he--" Thunder yelled before being killed by an energy blast through her chest.
"Yes we are here." Proteus announced in his crazed voice, with arm raised indicating that he killed Thunder. "Now die!"
Proteus' followers swarmed the area from all sides, while his select Heralds stood idle by. They crept out of rubble and jumped from collapsed buildings to surround the Avengers.
"Living Lightning, Guardian and Omega attack while Venom and I target Proteus and his Heralds." Quasar ordered his team, who followed without doubt.
Michael was now fully consumed by his symbiote, though he still followed the orders of his father for the time being. While Quasar and Venom fought their way to Proteus, the remaining Avengers pushed back the line of his followers.
"Just like old times eh Guardian." Omega yelled out to his former leader while apart of Alpha Flight.
"It's good to fight by you once again Michael." Guardian called out while upper cutting a civilian follower.
Proteus watched the ensuing battle and was angered by how easily his followers were being defeated. He turned towards his newest Herald, Power Girl.
"Show Papa what you can do."
"As you wish, Master Proteus." Power Girl spoke in tone without any emotion.
The scene shifts to where Power Boy had been fatally wounded by his former partner. A trail of blood followed the boy as he crawled trying to find help. Suddenly a cosmic rift tore open a section of the air and a man fell out.
"Where the hell are we?" A stunned Ricardo asks.
"I don't know but-- hey look a dying kid." Misery said to Rick.
Rick turned to see that Power Boy was staring at him, propping himself against a wall to face him.
"Who are... how'd..." Power Boy started before fading into unconsciousness.
"I guess we scared him." Misery says still not outgrowing his childish behavior, while Rick ran over to check on the boy.
"He's hurt pretty bad; I doubt he'll make it if we don't move fast."
The symbiote emerged returning to its original state, covering and merging with Rick. Now as one being they picked up Power Boy and webbed him to their back. Misery started web-slinging, taking note of the destruction that surrounded him.
"What happened here?" Misery questioned in his now dual voice. "A split-second made everything change."
Misery continued forward looking for any signs of life, but kept failing. The sounds of explosions came from the distance and he could sense a symbiote nearby, but Misery knew he could not investigate just yet.
"Hold it or I will attack with the full power of the Nova Force." Nova called out to Misery who had just clung to the side of a building.
"What does this guy want with us?"
Misery stuck his head out from around the corner and yelled to Nova.
"We don't know what you want, but we've got a kid here and he's hurt pretty bad!"
"Do you align yourself with that bastard Proteus?"
The name was familiar to Misery and he remembered that Proteus was the one who took his father.
"He's dead along with our father." Misery said as he exited his cover and headed towards Nova.
"What? How could this be?"
"We'll explain later, the boy is bleeding out fast."
"Follow me; Elixir can help him if it's not too late."
Nova's legs looked like the fire from a rocket as he took the lead, speeding through the wrecked city.
"We need to be on guard, in case this is a trap."
Misery thought as he chased after his supposed ally. Nova arrived at a fallen building and other appeared from it to consult with him. Once they saw Misery, their calm demeanor shifted to a hostile one. Nova briefly eased the tension by diverting their attention.
"Get Elixir quick."
Nova signaled for Misery to come inside, who did with hesitation. He rushed inside and ran after Nova, who was standing by an operating table with a literal golden boy.
"Hurry put him on the table." The young Elixir demanded, sounding like a surgeon.
Misery gently laid Power Boy on the table and backed up. Elixir placed his hands over the webbed-up wound on the boy’s chest. A gold glow engulfed the wound as Elixir's powers attempted to heal the injury. Soon after Elixir removed his hands and Power Boy's eyes started to open.
"Hey I'm Josh, glad you’re okay." Elixir said to try and comfort the boy, before walking away to attend to his other duties.
Misery's face peeled back to reveal Ricardo's as he attempted to move closer to the boy he saved.
"I need you to come with me." Nova said as he led Rick out of the room.
Power Boy sat up, removed the webbing and felt his chest.
"How am I still alive?" He began, "Wait where's Sha-Renn?" Power Boy questioned as he jumped off the table.
The people around Power Boy began to talk with him to try and answer his questions, while also attempting to find out who he was.
"Why do you think one man could kill Proteus?" Nova questioned Rick as they walked through the hideout.
"Because we saw my father do it days ago."
"Trust me if Proteus were dead that long we'd know."
The two arrived at a room where a man in a red and white costume was looking over plans. His back faced them, so Rick could not get a good look at his face.
"This man here is claiming that he saw Proteus' death." Nova said to the man. "Do you think he's found some way of replicating himself?"
"We've seen that before to." Rick said before the man could speak referring to the Onslaught War.
"Rick?" The man turned to reveal that he was Crimson Shadow.
"Dad, how'd you... we thought..."
"I know son it gets confusing but I'll fill you in as best I can."
The Last Stand
Back at the battle site, Living Lightning had been killed after being overwhelmed by Proteus' followers. Proteus continued to fight and taunt Quasar, while Venom fought his altered brother. Power Girl had beaten down Guardian and was winning the fight against Omega. To try and turn the tide of the fight, Omega had been absorbing as much energy as he could from whatever source he could find. When he was ready he unleashed it all at once, while destroying his body he managed to wipe out a majority of the followers. The dying Guardian was caught in the blast, but Power Girl was shielded from harm by Silver Surfer. A building a few blocks away collapsed due to the fight amongst brothers.
"For the last time Ian, give up." Venom said as he stood over Spider.
"Ha-ha, you think you can beat me brother, you never could, even before." Spider taunted, even more eager now to end his brother's life.
In the skies above, a battered Quasar continued to do battle with Proteus. The power of his Quantum Bands was draining from their constant use.
"I can keep this up for all eternity Van Patrick." Proteus proclaimed, no longer fazed by Quasar's attacks. "I'm going to kill you this time. Tell your wife I said hi."
He used an overhead smash to send Quasar hurling into the pavement below. Quasar attempted to get up while in the crater, but Proteus landed on him, placing his foot on Quasar's chest.
"One shot and I'll blow your head clean off. It's been nice beating you down all these years, now die."
As Proteus took aim, a blast hit him from the side, sending him through a nearby building.
"That was for the Nova Corps." Nova said as he rushed to Quasar's side. "C'mon let's get you out of here."
Above in the streets, the rest of the Avengers, led by Crimson Shadow fought off Proteus' forces. Quasar saw them as Nova helped him to his feet.
"This is our last stand." Quasar said. "Proteus dies tonight."
Nova left Quasar to confront Stardust in their final battle, determined to finish her. Power Girl remained by Silver Surfer's side as he watched the incoming Avengers attack their forces. Then she turned to look as well, immediately seeing Power Boy in fight. She looked at the Surfer who gave her a nod. She leapt off his surfboard, aiming for Power Boy.
"Sha-Renn?" Power Boy said as he saw his friend coming at him. He looked past her as she fell through the air at the Silver Surfer. "It was you."
Power Girl crashed down in front of Power Boy, who jumped out of the way to avoid her ferocious clothesline. As he flew at the Surfer, Power Girl grabbed his ankles and smashed him into the ground below. Power Boy climbed out of the rubble and stared down his partner.
"I'm sorry about this Sharon."
He attacked Power Girl and gained the upper hand. Power Boy managed to distance himself from Power Girl after he punched her into a broken down bus. He then turned his attention to Silver Surfer who still hadn't moved from his spot. As he flew at him, Power Boy narrowly missed being hit by Thor's hammer. Crimson Shadow speared Thor away from Power Boy, who continued forward only to be met with a cosmic blast for the Surfer.
Thor's body cratered into the concrete, though he still managed to push C.S. back. Thor swung his hammer upward, colliding with Crimson Shadow's chin. The force of the impact launched him into the air. Thor followed to continue the fight. He hoped to end the battle with an overhead swing, but that was not the case as Crimson Shadow's fist collided with the hammer. The collision created a shockwave that pushed both competitors back.
"I told you brother; there was no way of defeating me." Spider said as Venom lay on the floor.
Throughout the fight, Spider managed to exploit both of the symbiote's weaknesses, gravely injuring it. The Venom symbiote retreated from Michael's broken body desperately trying to survive.
"I'm s... sorry Ian." Michael managed to say before being beaten to death by his corrupted brother.
Spider left the room of the ruined building to join the fight outside. The Venom symbiote continued to crawl away in search of a new host.
Misery had been engaged in a battle with herald Moonstone. Her photokinesis powers had been enhanced to the point where she could release heat intense enough to melt through thick steel. Misery had to be careful when fighting her to avoid being caught by one of her attacks. It could spell death for the symbiote and subsequently Rick as well. Misery managed to web up Moonstone's face, bringing her to her knees. He increased his size so he could quickly incapacitate her, when all of a sudden; Misery sensed the nearby Venom symbiote.
Because of how badly injured it was, Misery didn't pick up on it until it was right below him. He had been standing in symbiote, thinking it was a puddle of sludge. The Venom symbiote took advantage of the opportunity and it bonded with Misery. As it engulfed Misery, the two symbiotes fought to expel the other. Meanwhile, Moonstone had removed the webbing from her face and she blasted a car near Misery, causing it to explode.
Out of the smoke and fire, emerged out a new symbiote altogether. Venom had merged with Misery and took control, increasing itself to a hulking size. The Venom/Misery hybrid unleashed tendrils around his midsection that grabbed on to Moonstone.
"Feeed!" The symbiote said in a menacing voice, while Moonstone struggled for freedom but was no match for the Hybrid's increased strength.
She was pulled into the symbiote's body and kept there for several seconds. Moonstone was then expelled from his body as a lifeless corpse.
"Need more..." Hybrid started again, but stopped walking, then grabbed his head. "Ahhhh. No... take over."
The Misery symbiote was fighting for control again and this time succeeded. With a clear head, Rick saw what the abomination inside him did to Moonstone. He was horrified at what it forced him to do. He began to shrink down to his original size, though with an alternate appearance. The Venom symbiote returned the Misery symbiote to its original shade of black, but now with white spider emblems on its torso. It was raining heavily now and Hybrid fell to his knees, putting his hands on his face and letting out a loud scream.
Silver Surfer relentlessly attacked Power Boy, who continued to put up a good fight. His efforts were no use, as Sha-Renn would join in on the assault. Nova, having just bested Stardust, came to Power Boy's aid, taking on Power Girl.
"No don't--" Power Boy yelled to Nova, before being hit it the throat with a fist.
Quasar was taking the fight to Proteus, determined to destroy him for good.
"You know I'm surprised at you." Proteus intriguingly said to Quasar. "You’re still fighting even though my Herald Spider already killed his brother."
A look of sheer anger appeared across Quasar's face as he constructed hundreds of versions of himself. Each construct was exceptionally powerful because of the amount of concentration Quasar put into them. Proteus destroyed one after the other, desperately looking for the real Quasar. He started backing up to avoid the incoming attacks. Quasar then appeared behind Proteus.
"It's over!" He screamed as he plunged his fist into Proteus' cosmic body, unleashing a beam of Quantum Energy to further damage him.
Down below the Silver Surfer was flying to Nova, prepared to kill him, when the silver coating on his body dripped down into his surfboard, which then disappeared altogether. What remained was Thomas Scaletta, falling to his death. His life was saved by Power Girl, who had also returned to her normal state. She along with Nova, Power Boy, and the few surviving Avengers members stood around the boy. Thomas stared into the eyes of each one.
"I'm sorry." Thomas said while breaking down. "He forced me... I couldn't stop..."
"We have to make sure that he doesn't become the Surfer again." One Avengers member said, thinking that death would be the only way to stop a future transformation.
"Please... forgive me, for--"
"Stop." Power Boy said as he knelt down in front of the crying Thomas, placing his hand on the boy's shoulder. "You didn't deserve this. I was born Kael, destined to be a pawn for the Kree, a race whose only desire was to conquer. I overcame that because of the ones who helped raise me." Power Boy looked over at Sha-Renn, she smiled at him. "I stand before you as Nathan Coen of Earth, and I won't let you be persecuted for a life you didn't wish to have."
Sha-Renn stood by Kael's side, with both of them helping Thomas to his feet.
"Thank you for believing in me."
Proteus was still in the air with Quasar in front of him.
"You... really think... it’s over." Proteus told Quasar. "Not by a long shot."
He unleashed a cosmic blast from his entire body hitting Quasar in the process. As Quasar was falling at a fast speed, a battered Crimson Shadow caught him and brought him to the ground next to Ian, who had taken off his mask.
"Dad I'm sorry... I killed him... I--" Ian hugged his Quasar, burying his face into his shoulder.
"It's ok Ian, it wasn't your fault." Quasar held his son tight and then looked up in the sky at his nemesis. "Proteus will pay for hurting our family with his life."
The cosmic killer was dying, but he was not willing to give up.
"I'll destroy all of you and this whole damn universe!" Parts of Corwin's face could be seen beneath the chipped parts of his second skin, his eyes were crazed and bloodshot. "You will all die while I'm alive and well in another reality."
Proteus swiped him arm across the sky, opening a cosmic rift to Earth-616. The entire Earth was shaking as Proteus began to collapse the universe in on itself. He then sent a blast at the last Avengers, who were unaware of their annihilation.
"No!" Crimson Shadow screamed as he watched the team die before him. "He's not getting away with this!" He was already levitating, ready to go after Proteus.
"Don't it's not your job." Quasar grabbed Crimson Shadow's leg to keep him back. "I need to end this. I was his beginning and now I will be his end. I'll avenge them; I can assure you of that. Hurry and get whoever's left to safety."
Knowing very well about personal vendettas, Crimson Shadow nodded in an understanding manner. He gathered the only residents of Earth-616, as well as Thomas and made his way to the portal. Then he realized his son was not with him.
"Rick, where are you!" Crimson Shadow called out to his son. "Wait here, I'm going to find my boy."
He searched the battlefield, and then saw Rick on his knees, with his hands over his face. Crimson Shadow cautiously approach his son, not knowing what happened to him.
"Dad, look at us..." Rick began sadly, "There's another one in my mind and body, it's taking over, corrupting us."
"I'm here for you Ricardo. You beat this the first time and I won't let it take you away from me again." Tyson tried reassuring his son.
"It turned us into a killer, how long can we control Venom before it takes over again."
"You are stronger than it, you want to know how I that. Because your my son."
Rick looked up at his father and nodded at him. He along with the other survivors, were taken to the portal.
Crimson Shadow dropped them all in the rift at once, while Nova levitated beside him.
"We’re gonna buy Quasar all the time he needs right now." Crimson Shadow told Nova, who nodded with him in agreement.
As an explosive battle took place above, Ian was sitting with his father.
"Son, I need you to understand why I'm staying--" Brian was cut off by Ian.
"Dad, I have to be here for this; for you, mom, and Michael. We're the only Van Patrick's left and we need to stand together."
Brian smiled at his son and gave his a nod of approval. He flew up to the battle, levitating Ian alongside him, and readied himself.
"You’re not leaving Corwin!" Brian yelled. "We're gonna die together."
Proteus blasted Crimson Shadow, causing him to be sent through the portal. He was now facing three opponents hell-bent on ending his life. The universe was being torn out from under them, destroying the ruined city as it came closer to the fighters. Proteus made a mad dash to the portal but was grabbed by Nova. It closed in front of him and Brian came in for an attack along with Ian, but Proteus grabbed his arms, shattering the unbreakable Quantum Bands.
"Goodbye my boy." Proteus mocked because without any Quantum Energy supporting him, Ian fell from the sky.
Nova released his grip around Proteus and attempted to save Ian.
"Oh a two for one special, you're gonna want to see this Van Patrick."
"Ian, Nova!" Brian tried to break free but could do nothing.
Nova managed to catch Ian in time, but he was caught in the destructive wave below.
"I'm sorry kid." Nova said and then the two were wiped from existence.
"It's just you and me now." Proteus taunted.
At that moment, the Xandarian Worldmind within Nova had transferred itself inside Brian in a last attempt at survival. Brian was bestowed with the power of the Nova Force, and he head-butted Proteus. His silver face shattered and Corwin's human face was now fully visible.
"We both die now." Nova said with a god-like voice. "But you die as the worthless man you so desperately tried to leave behind."
"Nooooo!" Corwin shouted as Nova dropped him into the annihilating wave below.
Nova's Quantum Bands were partially restored by the Xandarian Worldmind and it attempted to teleport to safety.
"It's finally over." Nova shut his eyes and awaited death as Earth-826 was destroyed.