Well hello, Bloggers…
I said I would do it. Now I have. Get ready for FAN-FIC IMMERSION starting in THREE…
(Seriously, intolerant reader, this is your last chance to click somewhere else…)
And see how we go, with this Sentry-Hate. Why I’m wasting my precious life with this, I don’t know, but I felt compelled to write it. So let’s have at it. Let’s not stint at it. Navigator, chart a course for…
PAGE ONE: Six panels — one big one up, two normal-sized ones in the middle, two teeny-tiny ones and then an average-sized one on the bottom.
Panel 1: Layla Miller’s face is reflected in the curved, shiny surface of Professor Xavier’s Cerebra helmet as she reaches a finger out to it. We see his mouth just below, slack: he’s drooling a little.
Capt.: PROFESSOR XAVIER’S SCHOOL FOR GIFTED YOUNGSTERS, WESTCHESTER, NEW YORK.
Layla: He doesn’t LOOK so good, does he?
Layla: That’s what you get when you WORK TOO HARD, I guess. One day you just PASS OUT IN YOUR CHAIR…
Panel 2: Reverse view of Layla and her finger; Cyclops stands just behind her, ruby visor gleaming in the low light.
Layla: …Stopped cold at ONE MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT.
Cyclops: Actually, it’s only about SIX-THIRTY.
Layla: Well, that’s not exactly what I MEANT…
Panel 3: Cyclops confronts Layla, the Professor slumped in the background. She leans back from him a bit, as he is evidently making a decent effort not to snap at her.
Cyclops: …Believe it or not, I’m AWARE of that, Layla.
Cyclops: Believe it or not, I “know stuff”, TOO.
Layla: Oh, good.
Layla: Then…you REMEMBER…?
Panel 4: Cyclops’s face, grim.
Cyclops: And, you know WHAT?
Panel 5: Layla’s face, open.
Layla: No, what?
Cyclops: (off-panel) It didn’t make sense THEN.
Cyclops: (off-panel) It doesn’t make sense NOW.
Panel 6: From a different angle, they are in silhouette. Prof. in foreground, lit properly, mumbles. Layla’s shadow is gesturing broadly with its arms, like a big shrug, almost placating or apologetic.
Layla: But really, SCOTT…that’s not my FAULT.
Cyclops: It ISN’T, huh?
Layla: I don’t make the RULES, you know…
Cyclops: So who DOES, Layla? Layla Miller, who KNOWS STUFF?
Cyclops: Do you know THAT?
PAGE TWO SPLASH: Xavier’s “body” lies on the floor of the Watchtower in the Sentry’s mind, in a near-foetal position, his eyes shut. Above him, possibly straddling him, stand two red-booted feet, and the edge of a red cape. Layla’s dialogue continues in caption:
Layla: (capt.) Well, don’t YOU, Scott?
Xavier: (weakly) Nnnn…daaaa…
Layla: (capt.) I mean, isn’t it OBVIOUS?
Wanda: It’s been TWO SECONDS already, Professor.
Wanda: I can’t go back INSIDE until you get up.
Wanda: You’re breaking our DEAL.
Layla: (capt.) There’s NOBODY making them, anymore.
Layla: (capt.) This is where it all FALLS APART.
TITLE: “COSMIC IS AS COSMIC DOES, PART TWO: THE GIRL IN THE CLOCK”
PAGE THREE: Three panels, horizontal.
Panel 1: The Watcher stands on the surface of the moon, holding the 1602 snowglobe (or whatever it is) before his eyes. Something is mirrored in it, standing opposite him. A flame? A girl? The Phoenix.
Capt.: THE MOON.
Watcher: Does it CALL to you, I wonder? A SINGULARITY like yourself?
Phoenix: (capt.) I am not interested in your CATEGORIES. The structure of UNIVERSES means NOTHING to me.
Phoenix: (capt.) LIFE is all I care about.
Phoenix: (capt.) And the object in your hand is NOT a singularity.
Panel 2: The Phoenix faces the Watcher, Earth in the background.
Phoenix: NO. No more than I MYSELF am one.
Phoenix: Life is FIRE, made to RISE. As ALL things are made to FIND THEMSELVES in the medium of the OTHER. This is the one ETERNAL PRINCIPLE of all EXISTENCE. Even MINE.
Phoenix: Even that ARCTURUS you hold there.
Panel 3: The Watcher faces the Phoenix.
Watcher: Why do you call it thus, O PHOENIX?
Phoenix: I will answer NO QUESTIONS. The HUMAN I LOVE waits for me in the WHITE-HOT ROOM, and I will not be KEPT from her any longer. Stir my ashes AGAIN, and no matter what her WISHES may be for this place, you will DIE.
Phoenix: I DEPART.
PAGE FOUR: Five panels, one big one up, four little ones down.
Panel 1: On the Moon, the Phoenix dissipates, the Watcher looking on. Side view, I think.
Panel 2: The Watcher’s face.
Panel 3: Layla’s face, a little grim.
Layla: Things are getting COMPLICATED. Ever since the HOUSE OF M thing went down, I’ve gotten used to having pretty much TOTAL INFORMATION at any given MOMENT, but…
Layla: …I think it’s all getting kinda SLIPPY, now.
Panel 4: Cyclops and Layla.
Layla: And I don’t know WHAT to do.
Layla: I could put on the CEREBRA helmet MYSELF…
Cyclops: You’re not a TELEPATH, Layla.
Layla: No…I guess I’m NOT.
Panel 5: More Cyclops and Layla.
Cyclops: Besides, that’s kind of a COMIC-BOOK solution. Throw more CRAP at the problem. NO. What we need is better CONTEXT.
Cyclops: So I think it’s about time…
PAGE SIX: Five panels, big one in the middle. Cyclops’ dialogue continues in caption.
Panel 1: From behind, three-quarter view of Wanda Maximoff’s face, head turned slightly back towards Xavier’s fallen form. She is dressed in her old Scarlet Witch costume.
Cyclops: (capt.) …Time we all CAME CLEAN around here.
Wanda: Do you know how OMINOUS you seemed to me when I was a young girl, Professor?
Panel 2: Xavier’s face, eyes now open.
Xavier: (still weak) Wanda…
Panel 3: We can see Xavier in the foreground now, as Wanda walks off around the Watchtower’s central chamber, cape flowing. Possibly some ghostly muralization of the young X-Men fighting the young Brotherhood? We should find ourselves very slightly reminded of a) the current interior of the Tardis in Dr. Who, and b) Dr. Manhattan’s glass house on the Argyre Planitia on Mars. Oh dear, I’ve given the game away, haven’t I?
Wanda: You and your X-MEN…you FRIGHTENED me. You were all so FOCUSSED. So INTENSE. A grim little ARMY.
Wanda: My father’s BROTHERHOOD was never like that. They were SILLY. LAZY.
Wanda: I HATED them. But except for my father HIMSELF, they never OPPRESSED me as you did. GOOD mutants…EVIL mutants…you made it all so…
Wanda: …So PERSONAL. So INESCAPABLE.
Wanda: I didn’t want that. Not for my BROTHER. Not for MYSELF.
Panel 4: Wanda’s face in profile, head bowed sadly.
Wanda: Only seventeen years old, and I was already SO TIRED. I needed FRIENDS. Not more FATHER-FIGURES.
Wanda: Deciding to join the AVENGERS was the BIGGEST RISK I had EVER TAKEN…
Panel 5: Now we see her eyes, she’s not sad at all, but angry.
Wanda: And now see how THAT’S worked out.
Wanda: The “MUTANT HEX POWER” of the SCARLET WITCH. It’s almost FUNNY.
PAGE SEVEN: Four panels.
Panel 1: Xavier.
Xavier: I was SO HAPPY for you then, Wanda. To see you FREE, beyond MAGNETO’S influence. Or even MY influence. Your own PERSON, choosing your own PATH. A HERO.
Panel 2: Wanda.
Wanda: (still angry) What are you TALKING about, Professor? I was NEVER my own person! I NEVER got to choose my own path!
Wanda: Has there EVER been a person LESS FREE than I am?
Wanda: MANTIS had it EASY. Even your precious JEAN had it EASY. DESTINY…TRAGEDY…
Panel 3: Wanda.
Wanda: Honestly, I’d SETTLE for a tragic destiny at this point, instead of just going ROUND AND ROUND FOREVER, with no ENDING and no SENSE! I became destiny’s PUNCHING BAG, Professor!
Wanda: I wanted to DIE!
Wanda: Only once I realized I wasn’t GOING to…I don’t know, maybe it was the AVENGER in me…
Panel 4: Wanda and Xavier.
Wanda: …But I found a way to COUNTERPUNCH.
Xavier: Which is where I came in, correct?
Xavier: You’ve used me very POORLY, Wanda…
PAGE EIGHT: Six panels, any old way. I’m thinking something very slightly reminiscent of the page where Layla walks into the X-Mansion unobserved.
Panel 1: Cyclops stands over Layla, ticking off points on his fingers.
Cyclops: …And you’re saying you’re the OPPOSITE of a ZETA-CLASS mutant…
Layla: UPSILON. It means “CROSSING”. And I’m the ONLY one.
Cyclops: …Because she MADE YOU, TOO. Do I have that right?
Layla: I’m pretty sure she didn’t KNOW she was doing it. I mean, not like with BOB — she really DIDN’T KNOW.
Panel 2: Cyclops is putting it together.
Layla: Not REALLY.
Cyclops: RIGHT. I SEE.
Cyclops: My GOD, it’s like nobody ever thought to ask a QUESTION about ANYTHING for the last couple of years…
Layla: Well, like I said…
Panel 3: Layla is sitting down, her back against a wall of the Cerebra chamber, arms around her knees. She looks dejected. Cyclops’ shadow is falling over part of her left side.
Layla: …Things are kind of starting to SLIP, now.
Cyclops: But WHY?
Layla: I don’t know…because PROFESSOR X has come BACK? Because he’s woken her UP?
Layla: Or maybe because…
Panel 4: Layla in profile, face upturned, gestures vaguely with one hand.
Layla: The world is full of PATTERN, Scott. Pattern that COMES FROM NOWHERE, and GOES TO NOWHERE, and it all LINKS UP along the WAY. Endless. Self-creating.
Panel 4: Cyclops thinks.
Layla: And right now it’s all linking through WANDA. So maybe there’s no “WHY” — we’re just inside her MIND, that’s all, and this is what it LOOKS LIKE.
Layla: What are you thinking?
Panel 5: Cyclops grabs Layla’s hand and drags her off behind him as he strides purposefully from the room.
Cyclops: Well, for starters I’m thinking it’s a DAMN GOOD THING I didn’t put you in CEREBRA.
Cyclops: COME ON.
Panel 6: They exit the Cerebra chamber, Cyclops still dragging Layla behind him as they pass through the door’s iris.
Layla: We’re LEAVING him?
Cyclops: TRUST me. I’ve seen this BEFORE.
Cyclops: Now that I finally know what I’m LOOKING at…
PAGE NINE: Five panels, two big horizontal ones on top, three little ones on the bottom.
Panel 1: They pass by the door where the Sentry lies sleeping. Layla hangs back a little, looks toward it, gesturing, but Cyclops drags her onward, down the hall.
Layla: We’re leaving HIM, TOO?!
Cyclops: YOU and BOB and WANDA, huh Layla? But you’re forgetting something. Wanda isn’t just this MIND…
Cyclops: …She has a BODY, too.
Panel 2: The X-Men’s hangar, with imposing Blackbird sitting there.
Cyclops: So WHERE IS IT?
Panel 3: Cyclops hustles Layla aboard the Blackbird.
Cyclops: What I know about the ASTRAL PLANE wouldn’t fill a TEACUP, Layla. But I know ENOUGH to know that the MIND and the BODY are always CONNECTED.
Cyclops: CHARLES thought he was dealing with BOB. And Bob’s right THERE. So, so far so GOOD — except that Bob’s a TRAPDOOR to WANDA, TOO. Because somehow Bob and Wanda have gotten TANGLED UP…
Layla: But, SCOTT…
Panel 4: Inside the Blackbird’s cabin. Cyclops gets into the pilot’s seat. Layla lags behind a little.
Layla: …Scott, haven’t you been LISTENING to me? Bob’s not REAL!
Cyclops: SURE he’s real. He’s as real as SHE is. As real as YOU are.
Panel 5: Layla reluctantly gets into the co-pilot’s chair — she’s a little depressed.
Layla: …But I’m not real EITHER.
Cyclops: No, you ARE real, Layla. That’s the KEY to this whole SITUATION — everybody’s REAL, they just don’t KNOW it.
Cyclops: I TOLD you — I’ve seen this BEFORE.
Cyclops: You need help STRAPPING IN?
PAGE TEN: Two horizontal panels, one large one up, one medium one down.
Panel 1: We’re looking down on the Blackbird as it emerges from its hangar, and briefly hovers over the mansion. Unsure if there should be anybody outside, surprised to see it go.
Cyclops: Stomach doing FLIP-FLOPS?
Layla: Uh…YEAH. A little.
Cyclops: Just try to think of it as a big RIDE.
Layla: Gee, THANKS.
Panel 2: The Blackbird flies away into an evening sunset, beautiful but cold. Again, unsure if there should be any observers on the ground.
Layla: …So what’re you thinking NOW?
PAGE ELEVEN: Six panels. I’d be happier (much happier!) if this could be a nice symmetrical ninegrid, but I don’t see how it can be. So I’m picturing it like: a skinny one a wide one, a wide one a skinny one, a skinny one and wide one again.
Panel 1: The Watcher’s hand, against a black background, holding the snowglobe (or again, whatever it is), within which spins a tiny Milky Way. Just slightly reminiscent of Krona’s hand, from over at DC. The Watcher’s dialogue is all in caption, here.
Watcher: It began…
Panel 2: Flashback, in watered-down colour (or maybe most of this page has a slight yellow-orange wash to it?), of the X-Men circa #108 (do I have that right?), fallen before the M’Kraan Crystal as the universe prepares to blink out. Jean, as the Phoenix, is the only one standing, facing toward it, and away from us.
Watcher: …with an ENDING.
Watcher: As these things often do.
Panel 3: Muralization of many of Marvel’s cosmic entities standing out in space — Galactus, Eon, even perhaps the annoying Whoopi-Goldberg-like Numinous. Order, Chaos, the In-Betweener, Eternity, Death, the Silver Surfer…yes, the Silver Surfer…a Celestial or two, perhaps (although no Watchers). The Soul Gems are scattered throughout the picture. And behind them all, the Living Tribunal stands back-to-back with The Stranger.
Watcher: This MULTIVERSE runs riot with COSMIC SYMMETRIES, spontaneous EXPLOSIONS of multifarious BEING, that exist to MIRROR one another…
Panel 4: Jean’s face, filled with a strange expression, lit weirdly as she gazes into the M’Kraan Crystal’s universe-destroying glow.
Watcher: …And yet every JEWEL must also have its FLAW.
Watcher: And not all FORCES can have their own FACES.
Watcher: This has long been KNOWN to us.
Panel 5: Flashback to that scene from the first issue of Civil War, the Watcher standing around while the heroes argue politics.
Watcher: But the NATURE of the flaw is that it is not always VISIBLE.
Watcher: OFTEN, its PRESENCE can only be INFERRED. Sometimes in SMALL things, gone subtly WRONG…
Panel 6: Possibly on an angle, one of those Lichtensteinian Sentry “comics” pages: the Sentry faces Galactus high above the Earth.
Sentry: HOLD IT RIGHT THERE, GALACTUS!
Watcher: …Occasionally in LARGER things, that were NEVER MEANT TO BE.
PAGE TWELVE: Six panels. The Watcher’s dialogue is still in caption. Things will get four-dimensionally trippy before we’re done with this page.
Panel 1: The Watcher, in profile, holds a hand to his chin contemplatively. It is not his typical gesture. He is unusually, unnaturally confused. Behind him is a starlit field of black.
Watcher: Was that a UNIVERSE, truly?
Watcher: I cannot seem to REMEMBER anymore.
Panel 2: Wide panel — The Watcher walks across the lunar surface, seeing ghost-tableaux around him of certain past “What Ifs” — the Armoured Avengers, the Richards Rocket Group, the “X-Man”, the different-powered FF battling the Red Ghost…
Watcher: Although the DIVERGENT UNIVERSES are INFINITE IN NUMBER, nevertheless they must RADIATE from some central point of ORIGIN…
Watcher: …Which means though the universes may be LIMITLESS IN VARIATION, they are nevertheless BOUNDED…
Panel 3: Wide panel — with our view lagging behind, the Watcher walks up to his House. In his wake, different parallel universes contend with each other: Arkon, Scorpio, Dragon Lord, the Squadron Supreme vs. the Avengers, Makhizmo (or whatever it’s called), the void of Gaard, the ludicrous spires of the world of the Living Eraser…maybe even a shot of some Mindless Ones…it is a mess of ghostly images of possibilities.
Watcher: …For even the truly PARALLEL realities and dimensions are not ARBITRARILY STRANGE.
Watcher: Rather the ORIGIN-POINT masters them ALL, in a PATTERN UNSEEN.
Panel 4: The Watcher passes through the permeable membrane of the outside of his House…
Watcher: And from a DISTANCE UNKNOWN.
Watcher: Even the WATCHERS’ map of the SUPERSPHERE is far from COMPLETE.
Watcher: For all WE know…
Panel 5: …And into a vast gallery of Kirby-shapes, Jack’s idea of celestially-advanced technology: just weird sculptural blobs, whose use is guaranteed, but hard to grasp.
Watcher: …It could be THIS universe, that forms the STEM of ultimate reality. THIS universe that forms the ORIGIN of all THINGS, from which ALL FORMS DESCEND.
Watcher: MY universe.
Panel 6: Somewhere in the Watcher’s house, there’s a meta-dimensional window, that he stands in front of.
Watcher: True, the odds AGAINST IT are UNIMAGINABLE…
Watcher: Yet I have seen MANY unimaginable things, in my time.
PAGE THIRTEEN: Five panels, two up, one large horizontal one down, two down even further.
Panel 1: The Scarlet Witch primps for the camera, as though she’s on a reality show…which she is…but she doesn’t know that. Nevertheless: she fixes her hair a bit, as if in a mirror, and we see it. A bit of shadow obscures her face tellingly. Subliminally referencing Eternity, Eclipso?
Wanda: PIETRO gave me the IDEA.
Wanda: Or, NO…
Wanda: That’s a LIE.
Wanda: I had the idea for AGES.
Panel 2: Xavier lies on the ground, paralyzed again. We can tell from the positioning of his legs that he can’t move them. He props himself up on one arm, looking at Wanda, who is just at the edges of the foreground.
Xavier: Well, that’s not true EITHER.
Xavier: Do you forget I was THERE, Wanda?
Panel 3: Xavier, still on the floor. More muralization, this time of House Of M.
Xavier: I was THERE: it was ME you used to create the world that FULFILLED EACH PERSON’S DESIRE so PERFECTLY…
Xavier: I was there when you learned –
Xavier: — as I already KNEW, if you had thought to ASK –
Xavier: — That such a world can NEVER BE MAINTAINED.
Xavier: That was when you TRULY formed the idea, wasn’t it? After PIETRO’S DREAM finally COLLAPSED?
Xavier: Or should I say it FRACTURED…
Panel 4: Wanda’s face in close up, angry.
Wanda: I TOLD you, my brother had NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS!
Wanda: You don’t know ANYTHING…!
Xavier: (off-panel) I know more than you THINK.
Panel 5: Xavier.
Xavier: As long as you stayed in HIDING, no one could directly perceive this NEW WORLD of yours as the COLLECTION OF BROKEN PIECES that it is. But you are NOT IN HIDING NOW, are you, Wanda?
Xavier: And I am REMEMBERING EVERYTHING.
PAGE FOURTEEN: Five panels, one big one up. three little ones in the middle, another big one down. Xavier’s dialogue continues in caption.
Panel 1: The Blackbird flies along to…where?
Xavier: (capt.) The SPARKS are being gathered together again, at LAST.
Cyclops: What about DR. STRANGE? Wanda’s powers are partly MAGICAL…
Layla: Definitely NOT Dr. Strange. He’s been MORE CONTAMINATED than ANYONE.
Panel 2: Cyclops and Layla inside the plane.
Cyclops: …The AVENGERS, then?
Layla: WHAT Avengers?
Cyclops: Good POINT.
Panel 3: More Cyclops and Layla.
Cyclops: Seems like the X-MEN are the only ones who escaped MOSTLY UNSCATHED, then.
Layla: DECIMATION, maybe? The SENTINELS?
Cyclops: Again, nothing I haven’t seen BEFORE. But the X-Men THEMSELVES…
Panel 4: More of the same.
Cyclops: ME, HANK, WARREN, BOBBY…we’re all STILL HERE, aren’t we?
Cyclops: Not to mention KITTY, LOGAN, ORORO, KURT…
Cyclops: Even COLOSSUS is back.
Cyclops: You know, it’s almost FUNNY…
Layla: What is?
Panel 5: The Blackbird continues to fly.
Cyclops: That I have to tell you ANY of this.
Cyclops: I mean, why else did you come to the MANSION, if it wasn’t to lead me to WANDA?
Cyclops: Why else were you with JAMIE’S X-GROUP, except you knew it’d be SAFE there?
Layla: You’re really GOOD at this.
Cyclops: I KNOW.
Cyclops: (capt.) Chalk it up to the LIFETIME OF TRAINING, I guess.
PAGE FIFTEEN: Four panels, two big ones up.
Panel 1: Time passes; the Blackbird flies.
Panel 2: Cyclops and Layla arrive over the tiny Eastern European country of Transia. Ahead of them lies the ominous bulk of Wundagore Mountain, below them some small trails of chimney-smoke from cottages and towns.
Cyclops: Here we ARE.
Panel 3: Cyclops and Layla. Cyclops is deadpan, Layla is listless.
Cyclops: She’ll be on the MOUNTAIN, won’t she?
Panel 4: Layla snaps. Scott smiles a little, the bastard.
Layla: Okay, look, SERIOUSLY Scott…
Layla: …How do you KNOW that?!
Cyclops: Stands to REASON.
Layla: WHAT reason?!
PAGE SIXTEEN: Six panels, one big one up, three little ones down, and just the barest slice of a panel at the end left over.
Panel 1: The Blackbird descends on an alpine meadow where a fetchingly innocent Wanda is picking flowers. Possibly away in the background is a glimpse of the abandoned chalet Professor X entered.
Cyclops: Pay ATTENTION, Layla. Can’t you, OF ALL PEOPLE, see how ORCHESTRATED this whole thing is?
Cyclops: You said it YOURSELF — we’re inside her MIND.
Cyclops: I was Professor X’s PRIZE PUPIL, and JEAN GREY’S HUSBAND. I know a LITTLE SOMETHING about how MINDS work.
Cyclops: Even YOURS.
Panel 2: Cyclops and Layla exit the Blackbird, Layla hanging slightly back, afraid.
Layla: I shouldn’t go OUT there. Not with HER…
Cyclops: Yes, you SHOULD.
Cyclops: It’ll be FINE, Layla. BELIEVE me, I KNOW what I’m DOING.
Panel 3: The pair approach Wanda, who has now noticed them. Well, she’s noticed Cyclops; she can’t perceive Layla.
Wanda: Hello! My, what a strange VEHICLE you have!
Cyclops: It’s called an AIRPLANE, Miss…?
Wanda: Why, YES…
Panel 4: Wanda greets Cyclops, does not notice Layla, who’s cowering a bit.
Wanda: …How SILLY of me.
Wanda: My name is WANDA MAXIMOFF.
Wanda: You are new to TRANSIA?
Cyclops: We’re TOURISTS.
Panel 5: The merest slice of Wanda’s eye looking a bit askance — she did not process that “we”. Or did she?
PAGE SEVENTEEN: Five panels.
Panel 1: Wanda turns slightly away, as if leading them back to the meadow. Layla has a worried hold on Cyclops’ arm.
Wanda: Ah, come to see famous WUNDAGORE, the HAUNTED MOUNTAIN.
Wanda: You’re a BRAVE MAN, I think…
Panel 2: Cyclops and Layla, maybe a bit of Wanda in the foreground as she continues to lead.
Cyclops: She’s not SEEING you, Layla. She’s not ALL THERE.
Wanda: I’m sorry, sir, did you SPEAK TO ME?
Panel 3: Wanda among the flowers.
Wanda: I was BORN here on Wundagore, you know. I’d be HAPPY to tell you ANYTHING you’d like to KNOW about it.
Wanda: It’s such a DEAR place to me…
Panel 4: Cyclops gestures.
Cyclops: Well, now that you MENTION it, Miss Maximoff…
Wanda: (off-panel) Please, call me WANDA.
Cyclops: WANDA. We’d — I’D — really like to see what’s up THERE.
Panel 5: We’re looking down on the three figures in the meadow from a point just above the flat, flagstoned area where Professor X found the Watchtower. There’s no Watchtower there in reality, of course, but we ought to recognize it. Cyclops’ arm is raised to point at it.
Wanda: Well, it is not very INTERESTING. I much PREFER the MEADOWS…
Cyclops: I understand. The mountain must get more DANGEROUS the higher you CLIMB, even for a NATIVE.
Wanda: DANGEROUS? Oh, no…certainly NOT. There is NOTHING dangerous on THIS mountain…
Wanda: Well, I suppose you might as well SEE FOR YOURSELF.
PAGE EIGHTEEN: Three panels, big one’s on the bottom.
Panel 1: They climb the same path climbed by Xavier, with the same backdrop, only this time it’s morning instead of late afternoon. And, of course, this time it’s real.
Wanda: And I suppose I shouldn’t miss an opportunity to show PROPER TRANSIAN HOSPITALITY to a TRAVELLER.
Wanda: Especially when the traveller is as HANDSOME as yourself.
Layla: Oh my God, Scott — I think she’s HITTING on you!
Wanda: Do you hear that BIRDSONG, my friend? Isn’t it BEAUTIFUL?
Panel 2: Cyclops and Layla follow Wanda up the path.
Cyclops: CAREFUL, Layla. It’s all about the TIMING, now.
Layla: Yeah, OKAY, but…
Wanda: And there it is AGAIN! GLORIOUS!
Layla: (sotto voce) Right.
Panel 3: They emerge onto the plateau. Wanda twirls prettily on the exact spot where the Watchtower stands, in the centre of the Sentry’s mind.
Wanda: You see? No danger at all!
PAGE NINETEEN: Five panels, three skinny ones on the bottom.
Panel 1: Cyclops and Layla. Cyclops draws Layla to him by the shoulder or arm.
Cyclops: (Quick now, Layla.)
Panel 2: Cylcops now with Layla standing directly in front of him, his hands resting protectively on her shoulders. Layla looks a little shocked, scared…something.
Cyclops: …Yes, we DO see.
Cyclops: We BOTH see.
Panel 3: Wanda, starting to crack, goes a bit crazy-eyed.
Panel 4: Layla, lip trembling, staring at Wanda. She is suddenly seized by a strange feeling, a strange impulse. A peculiar glow lights her features, and her expression is one of…possibly a rare species of recognition? One might make a comparison with Jean’s face, looking into the M’Kraan Crystal.
Panel 5: Wanda throws her head back in what looks like pain; weird bursts of colour come out of her, comics-style.
PAGE TWENTY: Two panels, the bottom one larger than the top.
Panel 1: Wundagore Mountain, from a distance, suddenly covered with red and gold fire: its famous “lights”, that tourists sometimes come to see. Possibly we see a couple people in the town below looking at its glowing peak. Wanda’s dialogue continues in caption:
Wanda: (capt.) AAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!
Panel 2: Steam rises from Wanda’s form, now dressed as the Scarlet Witch once again, and on hands and knees in the middle of the sacrificial space of Chthon (for that’s what it is), breathing hard. Meanwhile Layla is slumped on her ass over to one side, holding one hand to her face like she’s got a migraine, as Cyclops hovers over her, seeing if she’s all right. A little bit of steam rises from her, too, but not from him.
Layla: ow ow ow ow ow OW!
Cyclops: Are you OKAY?
Layla: What is the MATTER with you, I thought you were AGAINST comic-book solutions!
Cyclops: I never said I was AGAINST them. I just think they need CONTEXT.
Layla: Well, OW!
PAGE TWENTY-ONE: Five panels, big one up top, four equal ones on the bottom.
Panel 1: The same scene, from a different angle. This time our perspective is close to the ground, Wanda in the foreground to the right of the picture, hyperventilating.
Layla: How does this HELP anything? Now she’s just…
Layla: …She’s just BACK!
Layla: We’re back where we STARTED! It’ll just be the whole damn thing all OVER again!
Cyclops: Give it a minute…
Panel 2: Cyclops, arm around Layla’s shoulder, looks up to see Professor X’s astrally-projected head talking at him.
Cyclops: HI, Charles.
Xavier: ROBERT is on his WAY to you. His speed has been significantly REDUCED, but he should arrive within TEN MINUTES. Can you HOLD ON that long?
Cyclops: Who is he REALLY, Professor?
Xavier: NOW? Only whoever he CHOOSES to be, I suppose.
Xavier: Like ANY of us.
Panel 3: Xavier again. Cyclops is pointing at him.
Xavier: But the FRAGMENT of reality that was his PAST is…WELL, it’s…
Layla: ISN’T it?
Xavier: I would perhaps say it’s “LOST”, Layla.
Layla: Well, same THING. Take it from ME.
Cyclops: WAIT…Layla, you can SEE him?
Panel 4: Xavier again.
Xavier: Layla is still PART OF WANDA, Scott. And I am still in TELEPATHIC CONTACT with…
Panel 5: Xavier’s images fritzes out.
Xavier: (staticky) With…rrr…nn aa dd uu aa vv…
Cyclops: Professor? PROFESSOR?
Layla: Oh, that can’t be good.
PAGE TWENTY-TWO: Three panels, two average-sized ones on top, one big one on the bottom.
Panel 1: Cyclops and Layla’s heads swivel to see their new surprise visitor…who I might as well tell you now is The Watcher.
Watcher: (off-panel) Layla MILLER. Scott SUMMERS.
Watcher: (off-panel) Do not be CONCERNED for your MENTOR.
Layla: Hey, he’s not MY mentor…
Watcher: (off-panel) There are REASONS why I have chosen to DISRUPT his COMMUNICATION with you…
Panel 2: Wanda, still hyperventilating.
Watcher: (off-panel) …Reasons that will become APPARENT in DUE COURSE.
Watcher: (off-panel) At least…should all go WELL.
Panel 3: The Watcher stands there looking creepy.
Watcher: I am THE WATCHER.
Watcher: And I must ask you to HAVE FAITH…
Watcher: …Faith that a WATCHER’S JUDGEMENT can be TRUSTED.
Layla: Now where have I heard THAT before…?
Next Issue (just joking — there will be no next issue): The 1602 Universe Goes Under The Microscope, Dr. Strange Gets His Head Shrunk, And Our Heroes Take A Whirlwind Tour Of Three Galaxies — But Not The Ones You Think — As The Sentry And The Scarlet Witch See “Here A God, There A God, Everywhere A BIRD-GOD!”
Okay, actually it would probably be called something else.
Merry Christmas, Internet. I didn’t mean it to be so very much like coal, but that’s how it turned out, I guess. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts, right?