Avengers Academy #24

Issue Date: 
March 2012
Story Title: 

Christos Gage (writer), Tom Grummett (penciler), Cory Hamscher (inker), Chris Sotomayer (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Rodin Esquejo (cover artist), Jake Thomas (assistant editor), Bill Rosemann (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

An older version of Reptil from the future, inhabiting his younger body, begins leading victims to Hybrid’s room in the hope of giving him more power. In turn, he hopes the future he desires will come to fruition. He gives him Tigra, Butterball and a few others and finally offers him White Tiger. However, White Tiger turns out to be problematic and she even manages to persuade Reptil to turn against Hybrid. He hits the alarm which brings other students such as X-23 and some faculty members running. Unfortunately, Hybrid is strong enough to capture both X-23 and Quicksilver and he turns X-23, White Tiger and Reptil against the academy.

Full Summary: 

(Avengers Academy campus)
It’s a bright sunny day but Juston Seyfert is a little concerned. Reptil flies over to him as Juston sits on his Sentinel’s chest and asks what’s up. Juston replies that it’s the new kid, Jimmy Marks. He’s totally making his sentinel freak out. He says Jimmy is a mutant which is no big deal, but it was built to destroy all mutants. He’s programmed it not to, but it also says Jimmy’s an alien and it’s like Skrull invasion 2.0, right? He knows Reptil and Jimmy are tight and they’re all there because they’ve got some stuff in their past they’d rather not have held against them, so he figured he’d talk to Reptil as he‘s class leader. He apologies for laying this on him.

Humberto asks him not to worry about it. He’s glad he did speak to him as his Sentinel is right. He asks Juston if he knows what a Dire Wraith is. Juston asks if he means the shape-changing aliens who shove their spiky tongues into your brain. Reptil says that’s right, but Jimmy is half human. He explains that Jimmy’s father came to Earth to scout an invasion but he fell in love with a local woman. They got married and had a kid. He asks Juston to think about it. An alien from a race that considers compassion a weakness, fell in love. That’s amazing, isn’t it? He asks Juston to go with him and talk to Jimmy. He’ll see that he’s no different from them.

Juston is a little reticent, mainly because his Sentinel can’t fit inside and he has no powers of his own. He’s not prejudiced, but aren’t these Dire Wraiths full of dark magic and stuff? Humberto replies that so is he, and he was tortured and brainwashed by Norman Osborn. He asks Juston to relax. All he has to do it yell and his iron giant will rip the walls down, right?

Juston reckons that’s true. He guesses a guy whose best friend is a genocidal robot can’t be too judgemental, right? They head inside, and Reptil says that besides that, Jimmy’s not a Wraith or a human. He’s something new. Juston reckons if his parents set an example of love and tolerance, he’s probably a pretty decent kid. As they open the door, Reptil replies, “Except Jimmy killed his parents.” As soon as Juston sees Jimmy he is instantly taken into his mental thrall. Jimmy is in his Hybrid form and Reptil apologizes to Juston, but Jimmy isn’t like them and he’s not like his folks either. He’s worse.

Reptil asks Hybrid to take it easy and just mess with his head a little so he thinks he’s cool. He can’t kill him or his robot will tear the roof off. Hybrid replies that he fears no machine and he is so… hungry. Reptil reminds him that he just got his powers back. Does he really want to start a fight that will get all the students and faculty running? Or, does he want him to bring them one by one so he can feed off their energy and get strong enough to take on all comers. Hybrid asks why he should heed advice from him. Reptil reminds him that it’s because only his body is young. His mind is from the future; a future he needs to work out the way he remembers which means Hybrid murdering half the academy.

Hybrid replies that, if he does not, his daughter will never be born. That much he can see. It’s at the forefront of his thoughts. However, his magical nature prevents him from probing further so he still does not trust him. Reptil says he doesn’t trust Hybrid either, but he needs him to kill some students and not the ones he doesn’t want killed. In return, Hybrid needs him to lead them to the slaughter. So, he adds, either they can cut the crap and work together or he can go ahead and commit suicide because he can’t just wait five minutes for him to being him someone else. Hybrid realizes Humberto is right and he works him mental magic on poor Juston.

Moments later and they both leave the room with Juston commenting that Jimmy’s a hell of a guy. He thanks Humberto for introducing them. He tells his Sentinel that they’re gonna go surfing and he asks Humberto if he fancies coming along. Humberto apologizes but he has a few things he can’t get out of that he still needs to do.

(south campus border)
Humberto finds Tigra standing on the cliff edge looking absently into the distance. He asks if she’s okay. Tigra turns and replies that it’s just that she misses her son. It was her idea that the Cat people raise him. She wants him to learn to balance his feline and human sides and avoid the problems she had. But, when he’s in their dimension there is a hole in her heart. “I know… uh, I mean… I can imagine,” replies Humberto. He tells her she’s doing what’s best for her kid no matter what it takes. Even if it means she suffers. That’s what being a parent is all about, right? She tells him he’ll make a great dad and he whispers to himself, “God, I hope so.” She asks what he just said but he changes the subject and tells her that the new kid Jimmy is in his room but isn’t answering. He’s not saying he’s hurt himself but he did seem kinda down. He tells Tigra that her senses are more acute than his. Can she come check it out?

Tigra follows him and they arrive at Jimmy’s door. Tigra can’t believe the stench. She asks him to stay back as there’s something very wrong. She wants to call the others. However, as she speaks, Humberto tells her that for what it’s worth, he’s sorry. He transforms and smashes her through the door using a stegosaurus tail right into Hybrid’s clutches. “Ah. Room service,” he says as Tigra hit the floor. He holds her by the throat and tells Reptil that she’s infused with magic like him. It’s intoxicating. He says he’s more concerned with the one named White Tiger. She wears magic amulets like Reptil and he must know more before facing her. He tells Humberto to learn their nature for him.

“You’re not going to kill Tigra?” he asks. Hybrid replies no. He explains that females with power are prime breeding stock and Wraith children mature quickly. He can have an army within the year and now that Wraithworld has returned to their dimension, it will need a king. He tells Humberto to go and learn what he requires. He can send him some more victims. Now that he’s tasted superhuman power again he is positively ravenous.

Reptil then heads back onto campus and finds Butterball with a game in his hand. He tells Reptil that he just got the new Crystar, the Crystal Warrior game. Wanna play? he asks. Humberto replies that he’s in the middle of something and then he stops walking. He says Butterball is indestructible, right? He can’t get hurt or die? “Yup,” replies Butterball. Reptil figures that means he’ll live forever and never get old. Butterball doesn’t really know about that. Reptil thinks about this and whispers, under his breath, that he ought to be more than a mouthful anyway. Butterball only half catches this before Humberto adds that the new kid Jimmy is a big Crystar fan. He bets he’d play. Butterball smiles and thanks Humberto. He says he loves this place. Everyone there is like family. As he wanders off, Humberto frowns. “Yeah,” he sighs. “And in the end, family’s all you’ve got.

He next visits the White Tiger, who is looking at family photos on her wall. She explains to Humberto that she was the baby of the family. She wasn’t just the youngest. By the time she was born her sister Awilda already had her own kids. It was kinda nice having everyone fuss over her but it was also lonely. They all had grown-up lives, especially her brother Hector. He’d found the magic Tiger amulet that gave him his powers. He had strength, agility, incredible fighting skills. He called himself the White Tiger and he was the first big-name Hispanic super hero. She worshipped him and thought he had it all. She never realized how hard it was.

She adds that he always seemed so sad. She asked her parents why and her mama told her they’d talk about it when she was older. Then, one day she came back from school and she knew there wouldn’t be any more talks. She starts to cry as she can still see them lying there. Some psycho killed them because of her brother… because he was the White Tiger. Hector didn’t die until years later, but inside he died that day. She covers her face as she explains that she went to live with Awilda’s family. Hector almost never came to visit. She knows he loved her but he was afraid that it might happen again. She thinks that him seeing her reminded him and she thinks he blamed himself.

Humberto doesn’t really know how to respond, but Anya apologizes to him. There she is, Miss Got-It-All-Together getting EMO in front of a guy who doesn’t even like her. He just wanted to know if there was a connection between their magic amulets, right? She doubts it. Hers are pieces of a statue from a hidden city called K’un L’un. They have a dragon there but no dinosaurs. Humberto tells her that it’s not that he doesn’t like her, it’s that he doesn’t even know her. He says he’s sorry he’s been so hard on her but it’s not personal. White Tiger pulls herself together and says it’s cool. She was pretty tough on him. She reckons it’s just that her brother sacrificed so much to be a hero and she holds everyone up to his standards. That’s not really fair to anybody.

Humberto replies that a lot of life isn’t fair. He informs her that Hector was his hero when he was growing up. He has some old magazine articles about him which he thought she’d like to see. This perks Anya up and she says she’d love to. They head outside and walk towards Jimmy’s room. “You really loved your brother, huh?” asks Humberto. She replies that she loved him more than anything in the world. He asks her if she could go back in time and save his life, even if it meant innocent people getting killed, she’d do it, right? Anya says a flat-out no. She explains that Hector dedicated his life to helping people. He’d never want her to do that. Humberto replies that she’s a stronger person than he. He opens the door and asks her to remember that this isn’t personal.

Her eyes open wide in shock as she looks inside and sees Tigra, Butterball, Striker, Lyra and Lightspeed all under Hybrid’s thrall. He does the same to her immediately and thanks Humberto. He motions to Butterball and says that he’s a revelation. He does not die and he could feed off him forever. Humberto tells him he thought Butterball couldn’t feel pain, but Hybrid laughs and informs him that physical and spiritual pain are very different things. Humberto guess that they are.

He asks what Humberto has learned of the White Tiger. He explains that her amulets are just pieces of a statue that broke a long time ago. Hybrid reaches out to the amulets around her neck but they begin to glow. They then emit a blast which burns Hybrid. The distraction loosens his control over the others and Striker takes control of himself for a moment until Hybrid orders him to stop. He orders Reptil and his charges to kill Anya whilst he regains control of the others.

Traitor,” cries Anya. “Why are you doing this?” He replies that it’s the same reason she does everything: family. She prepares for battle and tells him that if he’s got his parents she will help him. Reptil changes into a dinosaur form and charges at her. He tells her that if he wants to help him then she can lie down and die! He slashes her costume with his claws and snaps at her with his huge mouth. “I’ll try to make it quick,” he says. The amulets then kick in and the White Tiger’s personality somehow changes. She punches him, sending him flying backwards. She then leaps on him and asks how he dare challenge the Tiger. She is ferocious in her attack and keeps him on the ropes. As she strikes she tells him that he is an avatar of dead things whilst she is older than the immortal cities. She is eternal! She presided over the great lizards’ death once and shall again. As she draws blood and he begins to change back to his human form, she tells him to retreat into his mortal body. She prefers the taste of warm… blood.

As she speaks she suddenly regains control of herself. She wonders how Hector got his amulet under control but she cannot. She drops to her knees and calls herself a monster. She asks him to go ahead and kill her. She won’t live like that - not as something she’d be ashamed of. Her brother died a hero and she will too. “Do it!” Reptil turns back into his dinosaur form and looks her in the eye. Something stirs inside him, a faint pang of guilt at the back of his mind. He reaches up as if to slash her but instead brings his claws down on the fire alarm which rings loudly.

Hybrid calls him a fool. A weak human fool. He could have ended her but instead he summoned help. He thinks it’s sad as he was actually considering honoring their bargain. It’s a pity, he adds, that his amulet doesn’t keep him from reaching inside his head and forcing his transformation. Humberto loses his dinosaur form and becomes normal again. Hybrid grabs Reptil and White Tiger by the throat and tells them that if the think they’ve changed anything other than their futures becoming agonizingly short then they are sadly mistaken. He is brimming with power. Let their friends come. He is ready to gorge!

(meanwhile, on the athletic field)
As Finesse spars with X-23, Mettle stands with Hazmat. He can’t believe she was jealous. She asked him to talk to Laura. Hazmat, arms folded, replies that they’re on first name terms. He’d better choose his deodorant carefully. There’s a trigger scent that turns her into a mindless killing machine. Mettle asks what it matters whether he calls her X-23 or Laura. It’s not like she’s gonna go for him anyway. Hazmat asks if the only thing stopping him from cheating on her is girls not being interested in him? Mettle replies that what he’s saying is that she shouldn’t be mad at her because she didn’t do anything wrong. What does she care anyway? he adds. She’s obviously not interested in him as anything more than arm candy.

The comment catches Jenny off guard. She asks if this is about the other day. That had nothing to do with him. Mettle replies that all he knows is that he never had a girl run out of the room when he had skin. Hazmat can’t believe he said that. Before they can get into an argument, X-23 leaps over them at the sound of the alarm as she heads for the house.

(Giant Man’s lab)
Meanwhile, Jocasta’s inert body lies on the table as Hank and Clint Barton watch over her. Hank tells him she’s empty. Rebuilding her was easy, but he couldn’t find any trace of her personality in her destroyed body or anywhere else. Clint thought she made backups, but Hank says that whoever attacked her erased every one using a precision virus that sought them out and irreparably overwrote them. They knew her inside out. Clint mentions her husband, Ultron. He was already nuts and it’s a thin line between love and hate… even for robots. Hank admits he had the same thought, but he’s also wondered, given his history of mental breakdowns, if there’s some chance that he’s at fault.

Before he can continue this thought process, Quicksilver appears and orders them to the south dorm. It’s an emergency. Everyone rushes over and they find Hazmat standing next to a large hole in the wall. She tells Hank that it’s X-23. He must have gotten her trigger scent somehow. Hybrid then emerges through the hole. He has Quicksilver in his grasp and Reptil, X-23 and White Tiger under his control. He calls Jenny a stupid girl. Why would he need a scent? Why would he need anything when he can turn off their higher brain functions?

Characters Involved: 

Finesse, Hazmat, Lightspeed, Mettle, Reptil, Striker (full-time students)
Butterball, Lyra, Juston Seyfert and his Sentinel, X-23 (part-time students)
Giant Man, Hawkeye, Jocasta, Quicksilver and Tigra (faculty)


(in flashback)
Anya and her family

Iron Man
Dire Wraiths
Guy being attacked by a Dire Wraith

(in photograph)
Anya and her family

Story Notes: 

Wraithworld returned to their dimension in the Annihilators mini-series.

Hector Ayala, the original White Tiger, was shot and killed in Daredevil (2nd series) #40.

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