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Christos Gage (writer), Mike McKone (penciler), Rebecca Buchan (inker), Jeromy Cox (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Rachel Pinnelas & John Denning (assistant editors), Bill Rosemann (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Tigra is furious that three of their students have visited the Hood and given him some payback for beating up Tigra earlier. Not only that, but they posted the footage on the internet for all to see. Finesse, who wasn’t involved, visits Quicksilver and tells him that she wishes to locate a man who she thinks may be her father - Taskmaster. They head to what they believe is an abandoned facility and soon discover that this isn’t the case. They capture the villain’s minions but cannot locate the man himself. Quicksilver then departs, leaving Finesse to check the remaining files. Taskmaster then makes an appearance. The two fight and Finesse gives as good as she gets. However, the Taskmaster ends up being quite reasonable and explains that he only wished to test her. He admits that he doesn’t know if he’s her father or not, but they’re certainly alike. He asks her to take care of herself and leaves. Back at the academy, after discussing matters with the others, Tigra decides to allow the students to stay on a probationary basis. That night, Tigra heads to her quarters and logs onto the internet, finds the footage posted by the students and watches the Hood get what was coming to him.
Tigra is with Hazmat, Striker and Veil and she wants to make her position quite clear. She explains that they broke the law, endangered lives and engaged in unacceptable behavior. “You’re expelled from Avengers Academy.” Hazmat says she’s got to be kidding. They did this for her. They found the guy who assaulted her and gave him a beating his grandkids will feel. Tigra doesn’t wish to have them use her to justify their actions. She’d dealt with it in her own way. She asks, rhetorically, what they did anyway. They found out the Hood, one of the worst criminals they’ve faced, had escaped from prison and they located him. Instead of arresting him or calling them, they beat him up, put it on the internet and let him go!Striker says he loves the part where no one mentions that they were shot at. Tigra replies that this would never have happened if they’d shown any sense. Now every human being that the maniac kills is on their heads. She turns her back and asks them to be out by morning. They’re done at the Academy.
Veil turns to Hank Pym and pleads with him, reminding him that, without his help, she will die. Hank assures her that she’s not going to die. Tigra’s just… He asks them to go home for the time being. Be with their parents. He’ll call them back when they’ve figured some things out. Mettle tries to remind Jenny that he told her not to do it but she tells him to get bent. She thinks to hell with this. They can’t expel her. She quits! Striker agrees with her. He reckons this will just make them more famous, like Conan O’Brien. He thinks they’ll have a TV deal by Thursday. Mettle assures Veil that it’ll be okay.
Reptil says that he is class leader. He should never have let this happen. Finesse agrees. He shouldn’t. He displayed no leadership whatsoever. Reptil turns and tells her to go to hell. Finesse says she was agreeing with him, but it’s too late. She is surprised by the drama and the histrionics. The teachers are as bad as the students and now they’re supposed to go to their parents from whom she can learn nothing.
She heads over to a lab and finds Quicksilver quickly moving things around. She informs him that they’ve been told to visit their parents. Pietro replies that she’s still there, annoying him. “How sadly surprising.” She mentions her theory about how her real father is Taskmaster. He trains criminals. Her parents were criminals. The timings line up and their photo-reflex abilities are virtually identical. He’s the parent she wishes to find. She wants some answers once and for all and he wants Pietro to help her. “Or you’ll reveal my darkest secrets to the world?” he replies. He is quite familiar with the extortion threats by now. Still, he sighs, the alternative is a faculty meeting and frankly, he’d rather have his brain extracted through his nose.
He says he’ll help her. They’ve just identified a training facility which Taskmaster established in Nevada which appears to have been recently abandoned. However, its contents haven’t yet been inventoried, so perhaps there’ll be something useful which will lead them to him. If they can apprehend him, they can test his DNA. Granted, he adds, searching through files is only slightly less tedious than listening to Tigra sermonize, but he supposes he should resign himself to it.
(Infinite Avengers Mansion Faculty Meeting Room)Justice and Tigra are not seeing eye-to-eye. He can’t decide what upsets him more. That he made such a horrible decision or that she did it without consulting them. Tigra says she didn’t realize it would be open for discussion. They’re guilty of aggravated assault! Justice reminds her that she was also when she beat up the Hood’s gang. Tigra reckons that was different. Norman Osborn was in charge of national security and he’d branded them outlaws. He made the Hood a government employee. She’s not saying there wasn’t some element of revenge to what she did, but maybe she learned something from all that.Justice agrees: a lesson she’s not giving the kids a chance to learn. Tigra replies snarkily that she’d take this conversation more seriously if he didn’t have a relationship with Veil that borders on ‘To Catch a Predator.’ Justice can’t believe she’s suggesting he would do anything inappropriate with her. Tigra replies that he may not have laid a hand on her but even a blind person could see the way he eats up the hero worship… the things he does to encourage her crush on him.
Hank grows in size and gets in between them. He says this is getting them nowhere. He thinks it’s obvious where they stand. “Speedball?” Robbie says he’s with Vance which doesn’t surprise Tigra in the slightest. Robbie explains that he’s with Vance because these kids haven’t done anything they can’t come back from… yet! Once they do, it’ll be too late and they’ll have more criminals who can blow up a city or turn a school bus into an electric chair. He doesn’t wish to downplay the incident, but saying it makes it that much more important for them to work even harder to get them off the path they’re on.
Hank asks Jocasta for her thoughts. She replies that Avengers Academy was formed to help troubled young superhumans salvage their lives rather than throw them away. She believes that by abandoning them when circumstances are difficult is contrary to the reason that they are there. Tigra walks towards the door and says fine. They can bring back the delinquents. Hell, she adds, throw them a kegger. If they’re not gone, she is.
(Nevada)Quicksilver and Finesse easily take down a bunch of hired employees in the Taskmaster’s facility, which wasn’t quite as abandoned as they thought. Quicksilver says he’s found nothing which could lead them to Taskmaster, but he thanks her for the excuse to leave the meeting, which, by the constant buzzing on his card, he still needs to attend. Finesse replies that she’d like to carry out a more thorough search through Taskmaster’s files. Pietro reckons the others would frown on it, but he has experience with unorthodox fathers, as annoyingly Oedipal as it sounds. If he is her father, then helping bring him down will let her forge her own identity. He does, however, ask her to signal him if there’s any trouble. Taskmaster is one of their deadliest foes and they should underestimate him at their peril.As soon as Quicksilver departs, Taskmaster makes his presence known, leaping down towards Finesse with sword in hand. A throwing star narrowly misses her head, as if to grab her attention. He tells Finesse that he knows her. They say she has skills like him. If that’s true, she might just live to see prom night. She asks him to wait. “I… I think you’re my father.” Taskmaster replies that her comments brings to mind something his dad used to say. “I brought you into this world. I’ll take you out!” He brings his sword down but Finesse blocks it with her Billy clubs.
(Infinite Avengers Mansion)Pietro arrives back and spots Tigra. He asks surely they haven’t finished trading self-righteous platitudes just yet? She replies that the meeting’s still going on but she’s done. He asks if she was overruled. Tigra replies that they all think they can turn those nasty little narcissists into another ‘you.’ Well, so does she, which is why she’s quitting. Pietro says he’s gutted by her well-aimed barbs. They strike to the very heart of him. She turns and slashes with her claws, asking him to go away. Pietro tells her she’s employing one of Magneto’s old tactics. He delighted in placing him and Wanda into situations where they’d rescue some poorly educated peons from a fire or whatnot, only to have them brand them witches and try to kill them.Then, he adds, he would save them, tell them how much better they are than ignorant humans and that only he understood their true greatness. He feels that, by expelling the students for coming to her defense, she’s just serving them up on a platter for the first master manipulator that comes along. Congratulations, he smiles. She’s managed to achieve the opposite of what she formed Avengers Academy to do.
Tigra replies that the students need to learn that actions have consequences. Pietro agrees, but learning something does little good if one never has an opportunity to use the newly acquired knowledge. She calms down, smiles and informs him that his cologne makes him smell like a French gigolo. He replies that her scent calls to mind the snow leopard enclosures at the Bronx Zoo. He thinks they can agree never to get this close to one another again. “Hm?”
Tigra tells him she wanted so badly to do what they did to the Hood that she fantasized about it. But, even when they were outlaws and she was attacking the Hood’s gang, when she could justify it by saying they were in a guerrilla war, it made her sick to her stomach. Those kids were proud of themselves. What does that say about them? Pietro replies that it says they’re young and that their parents certainly aren’t providing good role models. If she decides to leave, could she let him know? Her bathroom is bigger than his and he’d like an upgrade, assuming the drains aren’t full of furballs.
(Nevada)Finesse bats another throwing star away with her club and kicks at Taskmaster. He asks if that’s all she’s got. What’s the matter, he asks, she doesn’t like weapons that do damage? She flips over and replies that she likes them but her teachers don’t. She flips the sword from his hand and into hers, instantly bringing it down on his shield. She then kicks him in the stomach and punches him in the chin sending him flying.He gets up and tells her that she disappoints him. Daredevil vs. Bullseye on live TV? That’s what she’s got for him. He reckons her generation isn’t interested. If it ain’t on the internet, it doesn’t exist. He throws his shield at her to force her to the side and follows up by kicking her in the face, knocking off her face mask. He then punches her and asks if she knows who’s got a hell of a library? The government, that’s who. They’ve got footage of the original Angel. He made it through the big one with no powers. Helluva fighter. He uses a lariat and wraps it round her neck, pushing his heel down on her back to tighten it. He explains that the American Avenger choked people with one and turned it into an art form.
Finesse, however, isn’t done yet. She crouches quickly and throws Taskmaster to the floor. She replies that she fought Iron Fist in person. She picks up the sword and explains that she trained in swordsplay with Valkyrie. She pins his cape to the wall behind him and cracks him in the head with her knee, adding that she’s fought Steve Rogers herself. She doesn’t need his damn newsreels! As she strikes again, he calls time on their battle. It’s all fun and games ‘til someone loses an eye, he quips. “You’re giving up?” she asks. He laughs and tells her she has moxie. He’ll give her that. “Damn cape. I know it’s a liability but I love the way it looks,” he adds. He tells her that there’s no point fighting unless she wants to try and take him in. She pauses and then asks, “Could I?” He says maybe someday.
He informs her that he heard the speculation as soon as the students hit the airwaves. He’s got to admit, they do seem a lot alike. She asks if he knew her mother, but he replies that he doesn’t really know. He’s trained a ton of crooks and known more than his fair share of broads. It’s hard to remember them all. She asks for some of his hair so she can check their DNA, but Taskmaster is too sly for that. He isn’t about to hand his DNA over to the freakin’ Avengers. She asks, in that case, why bother fighting? He could have just left. He replies that he guesses she could be his kid. The odds are pretty high so he’s gonna take a chance.
He admits, though nobody knows this, that he has something which might help her down the line. He explains that he has this memory thing. He picks up other people’s moves just be seeing them. That’s a lot of data… more than his brain’s got room for. So, he forgets some things; things that aren’t combat or survival related. He forgets people and places. By Monday, he might have forgotten this entire conversation. He wanted to fight her because he thought that, if he remembered her moves, he might remember her. He says all her moves are somebody else’s, just like his. He reckons she’ll do just fine. She’s smart and the Avengers Academy gig is the sweetest scam he ever saw. She can live off Stark’s cash and, when that goes sour, she’ll have inside info worth a fortune to the right buyer. The bottom line, he concludes, is that she’s getting better and that’s what life is all about. He asks her to take care of herself and leaves.
(Infinite Avengers Mansion, six hours later)Tigra meets the students and informs them that they have spoken and she stands by everything she said. However, she may have been overly harsh. They are no longer expelled but they are on probation. She tells Hazmat that she will take extra classes in anger management and ethics. The next mistake she makes will be her last at this school. Jenny asks what if they don’t want to come back. Tigra says, in that case, she can go. No one’s forcing her to remain if she has someplace better to be. Hazmat stares at her a moment and then turns away. “Whatever. I’m going to bed,” she replies.Veil wraps her arms around Justice and thanks him. Self-consciously, he replies that there’s no need really. They should just earn it. Mettle welcomes Striker back. Striker says he figures he’ll build his brand name a while longer. His agent was talking ‘The Real World,’ can he believe that? He’s ‘Survivor’ or nothing. Speedball tells Tigra that she did the right thing. He admires her for how she’s dealt with this and everything that happened. She’s a great example for these kids. If they don’t know it now, they will someday. She thanks him and hopes he’s right.
Tigra retires to her quarters, flicks on the internet and sits down.
"Say you’re sorry,” demands Hazmat.“Sh-shove it up your…” KZZZT
The Hood screams. “I… I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” he cries.
Finesse, Hazmat, Mettle, Reptil, Striker and Veil (all students)Giant-Man, Jocasta, Justice, Quicksilver, Speedball, Tigra (all teachers)
Taskmaster and his minions
The students headed to Brooklyn and beat up the Hood in the previous issue but fled when the Hood’s cousin, John King, lied that the Living Laser was on his way. They showed Tigra the footage and she expelled them from the academy.
Conan O’Brien is an American talk show host and television personality.
‘To Catch a Predator’ is an American reality show which ran from 2004 to 2007 in which the hosts posed as underage youths in order to lure and detain adults who tried contacting them for sexual liaisons.
The Real World is a reality television show, the forerunner of many, which has run over twenty-five seasons since first airing in 1992 on MTV. Survivor is another reality show first shown in 2000 and has aired over twenty seasons.