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1st Story: Howard Mackie (writer), Al Milgrom (penciler), Don Heck (inker), Jack Morelli (letterer), Evan Skolnick (colorist)
2nd Story: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Gavin Curtis (penciler), Steve Buccellato (inker/colorist), Richard Starkings (letterer)
Evan Skolnick (assistant editor), Gregory Wright (managing editor), Mark Gruenwald (editor), Tom DeFaclo (editor-in-chief)
Reunited with Trickshot, Hawkeye assumes that his old associate is also out to take him down, but instead Trickshot saves Hakwkeye from a weapon that one of the Death Throws hurls at him. Trickshot helps Hawkeye to escape from the Death Throws and tends to his wounds in an alleyway. But Hawkeye remembers how Trickshot previously tried to get revenge on him, and slips away when Trickshot's attention is turned elsewhere. Escaping into a sewer system, Hawkeye is confronted by Razor-Fist, whom he thought was dead. They fight, until Hawkeye is able to escape him – but as he continues on through the tunnels, he is once again confronted by the Brothers Grimm, Mad-Dog, Bobcat, Bullet Biker and the Death Throws, before the man seemingly responsible for Haweye's current troubles, Crossfire, appears, wanting his revenge for being previously humiliated by Hawkeye!
Firebird has been captured by a group of aliens known as SHIELD - Society of Higher Interstellar Education and Logistical Development. They are conducting tests on her, and use their technology to delve back into the past, relaying memories from Firebird's mind, specifically, the night she discovered her powers. They witness her learning that her social work funding had been canceled, and how she ran into the desert into the middle of the night, where she was bombarded by energies from a meteor that crashed to the earth. While Firebird thought her powers were a gift from God, she is shocked to learn from the aliens that this meteor was a child's science experiment which they hurled into space as junk. Upset, Firebird lashes out at the aliens, and when she learns she is in space, aboard their spaceship, she becomes more distraught – especially when the aliens tell her she is an accident. Firebird attacks the child who created the meteor and asks him if he has any idea what illsions she has lived under. She drops to her knees, apologizing to the aliens, she thinks about God, and that she is nothing. But several weeks later, Firebird is at peace with the revelation about her gifts, realizing that they were still given to her from God, just in a different way than she thought. With this newfound sense of self, Firebird sets out to make her mark on the world.
'Never were too good at watching your back, kid!' Trickshot exclaims as he aims an arrow at Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, who stands only several feet away from him as the moon glows down on them. 'You're involved in this too, Trickshot? I thought you'd have checked out of this world by now!' Hakweye tells the man he used to perform with at the circus. 'No such luck, my former pupil!' Trickshot responds. 'Listen, tubbo, if you want a piece of me, you're going to have to take a number!' Hawkeye exclaims, clenching his fists, he declares that every slime-ball he has ever run into seems to be taking pot shots at him tonight. Hawkeye reveals that he has Mad-Dog's venom coursing through his veins, at least one broken rib, more bruises than he can count, and he has lost his bow. 'So unless you want to arm wrestle, you're flat out of luck, bub!' Hawkeye calls out. 'I thought you knew me better than that, squirt! I'm strictly a bow and arrow man!' Trickshot responds as he opens fire – the arrow nearly strikes Hawkeye, but it soars past him and knocks a hatchet aside.
'You missed?' Hawkeye remarks, confused, before he sees Knicknack of the Death Throws climbing up onto the rooftop. 'It would've gone right through me if you hadn't -' Hawkeye begins to tell Trickshot, but Knicknack tells him not to worry, as there are plenty more where that come from. Knicknack looks down to the ground and calls out to the Death Throws, informing them that Hawkeye is up here. 'And there's some fat guy with him! Shouldn't be too much of a problem!' Knicknack jokes. 'Fat? I'll give him fat!' Trickshot snaps as he fires several arrows at Knicknack that pin him to a wall, each arrow piercing his costume. 'YEOW!' Knicknack cries out, before watching as Trickshot helps Hawkeye across the rooftop, and asks Hawkeye where he is going. 'If it isn't us, it'll be someone else! Even with the old man's help, you can run but you can't hide!' Knicknack exclaims. 'Run? I can barely walk!' Hawkeye responds, while Trickshot tells him to hold on, that he will get him out of here.
Soon, down an alleyway: 'Ouch!' Clint utters as he sits on a crate while Trickshot wraps some bandages around his waist. Trickshot tells Clint to quit whining, and points out that the real pain will be when a doctor gets hold of him. Trickshot points out that Clint has bought himself a pack of trouble this time. 'No fooling, Sherlock!' Clint replies as he informs Trickshot that, so far, he has been attacked by the Brothers Grimm, Mad-Dog, Bobcat, Bullet Biker and those juggling clowns. He adds that he thinks there is a price on his head. 'Close, but no cigar!' Trickshot smiles as he reveals that the price isn't on Clint's head – it's on his arm! 'MY ARM?' Hawkeye shouts, confused. Trickshot tells him that it looks like someone is willing to pay a hefty price to the first person to bring in one of his arms. He adds that he guesses they figure he won't be able to shoot too well with only one. 'But don't worry, kiddo, the bright side is that they won't be able to collect the money if you get killed' Trickshot jokes.
Trickshot looks around a corner and tells Hawkeye that in order to keep him alive, they have to keep him moving. He adds that the streets are full of guys with all sorts of personal vendettas against him, and most wouldn't mind settling the score and making the big bucks to boot. Trickshot suggests to Hawkeye that he catch his breath while he can. Hawkeye wonders why Trickshot is being “Mr Helpful”, as it wasn't too long ago that Trickshot was the one with the vendetta against him. Trickshot looks back at Hawkeye and reports that the cost seems clear enough, so they should move, but that before they go, he wants to give him the once over, as best he can tell, someone must have planted an electronic bug on him, that is the only way they would be able to track him down – but Trickshot sees that Hawkeye has vanished. 'Bad move kid! Real bad!' Trickshot thinks to himself.
At that moment in the sewer under Trickshot's feet, Clint climbs down a ladder to the murky waters below, thinking that he slipped right out from under Trickshot's nose, and that he should have some breathing space down here – although he uses the term loosely. He supposes this will give him a chance to figure out where all these bad guys are coming from and how they are tracking him down. 'You'd think I had a sign on my back saying “Please take my arm”!' Hawkeye jokes, deciding that Mockingbird was the only one who knew he would be in this part of town tonight, he wonders if his estranged wife is in on this, but tells himself that is ridiculous, and that Mad-Dog's venom must be clouding his brain – he hopes.
At that moment, a figure standing in the cover of darkness listens on a phone as he is informed that Hawkeye is under surveillance, but has gotten away from the overweight archer, and they will confront him shortly. 'This time see to it that he doesn't escape! I will be coming ti witness the final operation personally!' the person in the shadows declares.
A few minutes later, Hawkeye trudges through some muck and admits to himself that he is losing it, that he is banged, bruised, bitten and exhausted. He comes to a stop and sits down, realizing that he has no idea where he is going or what he will do when he gets there. There is a strange SHING sound that starts to echo through the sewer tunnel and Clint thinks that there are some noisy rats down here – and big ones, too. He hears the noise getting closer, and not wanting to risk another fight in this condition, Hawkeye gets to his feet, but as he comes to an intersection in the tunnels, standing at the entrance to another tunnel is a figure with two blades for hands. 'Aww, no! I know that silhouette!' Clint thinks to himself.
'Hey, Archer. You look dog-tired' the figure at the tunnel entrance remarks, before offering to help him out by lightening his load – maybe take an arm or two. 'I heard you were dead!' Hawkeye calls back. 'Razor-Fist doesn't die so easily, bowman!' Razor-Fist exclaims as he lunges at Hawkeye and kicks him in the chest, knocking him backwards. 'But you will!' Razor-Fist warns Hawkeye as he attempts to shove his blades into Hawkeye, who rolls to one side, dodging the deadly blades as he utters 'I thought you couldn't collect if I died!' Razor-Fist responds by kicking Hawkeye in the face and asking him if he heard about the reward. Razor-Fist kicks Hawkeye hard against the sewer wall and tells him that it is true that the price on his arm did attract his attention, and if he wants to collect it, he can't kill him. 'But I figure that if I ace an Avenger – even you – my price as an assassin will increase tenfold!' Razor-Fist explains.
'Wonderful! I've got to run into the one professional assassin with a marketing strategy!' Hawkeye thinks to himself as he reaches into his quiver and grabs an arrow, 'Only one thing I can think of! Hope it works!' Clint tells himself as he holds the arrow, pointed towards Razor-Fist who runs towards him and points out that it looks like he is down the sewer without a bow. 'Face it – you're done for!' Razor-Fist declares. 'You're right, I've had enough' Hawkeye responds, dropping to his knees in the dirty water. 'Do whatever you want!' Hawkeye tells Razor-Fist. The villain raises his blades overhead and tells Hawkeye that he appreciates him making it easy for him, and for that, he will make this as painful as possible – but as Razor-Fist brings his blades down towards Hawkeye, the archer suddenly raises is arrow – and as it connects with Razor-Fist's blades, the arrowhead explodes, releasing a sticky gunk. 'Haha, nice try! What was in that arrow, bubble gum?' Razor-Fist grins, before discovering that he cannot separate his blades. 'What is this stuff?' Razor-Fist asks.
'Face it, Raze – you're just putty in my hands!' Hawkeye jokes as he gets to his feet and shoves his knee into Razor-Fist's stomach. 'Sticky situations those putty arrows!' Hawkeye adds as he slams his elbow down on Razor-Fist's back. Razor-Fist drops to the murky water, and Hawkeye staggers forward, that fight taking the last bit of strength he could muster. He plans to crawl into a nice quiet corner and luck his wounds and get his head together before someone else shows up – unfortunately, as Hawkeye reaches another intersection of tunnels, he found himself confronted at each tunnel by one of his opponents. 'Where you off to, archer? The Brothers Grimm want to party!' one of the Brothers Grimm calls out, ready to throw a pie at Hawkeye, and another spins a yo-yo. 'With that yo-yo, I thought you were the Brothers Smothers!' Hawkeye calls back, telling them that he would love to stay and talk, but he will take another tunnel. 'Whoops, wrong tunnel!' Hawkeye exclaims, finding his exit blocked by Mad-Dog, who growls at him.
'Sorry, Mad-Dog. I don't have time to play fetch!' Hawkeye calls out, suggesting to Mad-Dog that he play with the Clown Brothers while he takes tunnel number three. But as Hawkeye moves to the third tunnel, only to find Bobcat waiting for him. 'There's nowhere -' Bobcat begins, '-for you to run!' Bullet Biker points out as Hawkeye moves to a fourth tunnel. Hawkeye drops to his knees, as 'Nowhere' echoes around the tunnels, and the Brothers Grimm, Mad-Dog, Bobcat, Bullet Biker, Knicknack, Tenpin, Oddball, Bombshell and Ringleader move towards him, closing in on him. Another figure emerges alongside them, a man in a red and white costume who tells Hawkeye that it is time for him to face the music – time to pay the price for humiliating him. Hawkeye looks over and is shocked at who he sees: 'Crossfire!?' he exclaims.
Sweat drips down Bonita “Firebird” Juarez's face as powerful flames glow around her. “His word was as fire shut up in my bones” Bonita thinks to herself, the verse from Jeremiah 20.9. It was in that regard that she had always considered her superhuman abilities, a gift from God, a boon with which to carry His ways and His words. She tells herself that fire was always His instrument of power, a display of approval or destruction, but after all she has been through, she doesn't know if that is true anymore. 'I am HIS. Firebird! And He is letting me go down in flames...' Bonita thinks to herself.
Suspended in some scientific laboratory, Bonita is observed by an assortment of aliens. 'Fascinating, prime theoretician Chlree' one of them remarks. 'Indeed, Cmar Har' Chlree agrees as they look up at Firebird. 'All sensors indicate the specimen is in an abundance of physical discomfort... yet it refuses to cry out in protest' Chlree states. A short alien suggests that '”it” might be of heartier stock. Wide-eyed, Bonita cries out to her captors, asking them why they are doing this to her. 'It responded coherently?' Chlree asks. 'Affirmative' another alien replies, stating that it used Terran dialect, of an Anglo-Saxon derivation. 'Indeed' Chlree agrees, pointing out that they are learning what “it” is made of, so they should now divine what “it” is made from. Images begin to form before them from a holo-pict database, they begin playback, and see Firebird soaring through Yosemite National Park, using her powers to absorb a wildfire that was spreading. The images then show their own teleportation probes appearing around Firebird, who was then remanded into their laboratory for study and safekeeping.
Chlree tells the alien controlling the holo-pict, a wiry creature called Hji that these images are too recent, and he wants the specimen traced backwards. The holo-pict images transform to show Firebird fighting alongside Hawkeye and the Thing, part of a peacekeeping force known as the West Coast Avengers. 'They skirmish Kree?' one of the aliens inquires. 'Affirmative' comes the response, as another image depicts Firebird, as Espirita, taking a gun from Hank Pym before he was about to shoot himself. The aliens find this image fascinating, before Chlree orders the actualization of the specimen to be traced back further. 'Show me the specimen's first contact with our – how do I say this? Our handiwork!' he exclaims. Another image appears through the holo-pict, a car, 15 kilometers outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a story begins to unfold:
'Your funding must be cut' an elderly man driving the car tells Bonita, who addresses him as Father Mendiquez, and tells him that the church program is needed for the sake of the children, and that if he cuts the social service funding, many will be lost to the church forever. 'Bonita, Bonita, Bonita. I am not refusing you your money. The Archdiocese is' Father Mendiguez claims, asking Bonita if she understands. 'In understand completely, Father. Stop the car' Bonita replies. Father Mendiguez keeps driving, so Bonita raises her voice: 'I said – stop the car!' she exclaims, and the car comes to a screeching halt. Bonita steps out of the car, despite Father Mendiguez asking her to get back into the car, she tells him that she needs to be alone, to think. 'But surely not in the desert, in the dead of night!' Father Mendiguez tells her. 'What better place or time for what I desire, no?' Bonita calls back, arms folded, she tells him that she will be fine, after all, what can happen to her out here?
'Idiota!' Bonita mutters to herself as she treks across the harsh terrain. She walks with her head hanging, and doesn't see a fiery glow soaring across the sky. She wonders what could happen to her out here besides getting totally lost and wandering about aimlessly for hours while bordering on dehydration and exhaustion. Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, Bonita sees the fiery glow – too late though, as it crashes to the ground in front of her and releases a fiery energy around her. Bonita screams, before crouching beside the meteor, rubbing her head, 'Que? - un meteoro de fuego frio?' Bonita utters.
The aliens continue to watch the holo-pict and Hji informs the others that the specimen was speaking a Latin derivation, and that the specimen was wondering why the meteor was emanating cold fire. 'That was it, wasn't it... base-level pupil Yoof?' Chlree remarks, frowning as he turns to a green-skinned alien with large black eyes. 'Yes Prime Theoretician Chlree' Yoof confirms. Chlree asks Yoof if he has the awareness of the difficulties his actions have precipitated. He then asks the base-level pupil what he suggests they do with the fruits of his labor. Suddenly though, there is a FWOOSH as the flames around Firebird go white. 'Fall back!' one of the aliens exclaims. 'Get the retardant screens up!' another calls out. 'Is the specimen undamaged?' one of them asks. When the flames clear, Firebird, free of the restraints she was held in, hovers directly over the aliens. 'I demand to know what you are doing with me! I demand to know now!'
'Get that translator activated immediately! Specify both Terran Anglo-Saxon and Latin derivations' Chlree calls out, while one of the other aliens suggests to Chlree that he would be wise to negotiate, and as the translator is turned on, Chlree gets his chance. 'I am waiting!' Firebird shouts, annoyed. Chlree asks her to forgive their impertinence, and explains that it was necessary for them to locate her and properly diagnose her condition to verify that the child's negligence had not caused her or her fellow sentients any difficulties. 'Child's negligence?' Bonita asks, wide-eyed. Chlree offers to explain and informs Bonita that she is the product of a base pupil's unsupervised experimental curiosity. 'That explains nothing!' Bonita tells the yellow-skinned alien, before asking them who they are, and where she is.
'You are aboard the SHIELD Orbiter' Chlree announces. 'SHIELD?' Bonita asks as the large alien spaceship soars through space. Chlree tells her that they are the Society of Higher Interstellar Education and Logistical Development and that its members are in good standing of the Intergalactic Institute of Advanced Learning on the planet Rus, and that she is the product of an unwarranted scientific project. 'I'm WHAT?' Firebird asks, shocked. 'You are an accident' Chlree states.
'You are all insane! Stay away from me!' Firebird exclaims as she blasts the ground between the aliens and herself, creating a fiery barrier. 'Sentient Terran. Please compose yourself' one of the aliens calls out. 'Allow us to explain further, please' Chlree offers, before informing Firebird that pupil Yoof was working independently on a project which proved untenable, and so he expunged the experimental by-product into space. He puts a hand on Yoof and adds that the Yardian race is notorious for their haphazard disposal of dangerous wastes. 'And the meteor...my powers...are the result of this child's failure?' Bonita asks. 'Considering the experiment a success could we now not be?' a broccoli-like alien called Cmar Har asks, communicating telepathically. 'Does this mean I pass?' Yoof smiles. 'Quiet, you selfish little creature!' Firebird exclaims, using a force of heat to raise Yoof off the ground.
'Do you have any idea what you have done to my life?' Firebird asks. 'Do you have any idea of the illusions I've lived under?' Firebird exclaims, before asking God to forgive her anger and vanity, and to forgive her vain self-importance. Firebird releases Yoof, who falls to the ground. Chlree looks over at Yoof and as Firebird drops to the ground before him, he remarks that a control of molecular expansion through heat that creates a contained cushion of hot air is fascinating. 'I am so sorry...God...I have been a fool...' Firebird utters. Chlree smirks and asks Firebird why she pleads to her proclaimed creative deity. Firebird clenches a fist and, with tears in her eyes, explains that she thought her powers were a sign from Him, to do His work. 'I was a fool. I am nothing more than a child's mistake. I am nothing' Bonita utters. Chlree tells Firebird that she is far more than nothing, and asks her if she would like to know what.
Weeks later, Firebird soars across the desert, fiery energy surrounding her, and a smile on her face. She now has a true understanding of her abilities. She can manipulate all forms of heat energy, in reality, she controls the microscopic random motion of atoms or molecules which cause combustion to occur. In this form, she is capable of heat capacity, storage exchanging and recovering. Bonita knows that the explanation would be as nothing compared to the deed, and decides that, truly, she is a wondrous being, capable of so much more than she had ever dreamed of. Bonita admits that she does believe her powers came from Him, albeit through a rather circuitous route. For that, Bonita decides that she is beholden to do His work on this world, and that there is so much work that needs to be done. 'Having risen from the ashes of self-doubt and ignorance... it is time to make my mark on this world... the mark of the FIREBIRD!'
Bombshell, Knicknack, Oddball, Ringleader, Tenpin (all Death Throws)
Dr Myron Steinmetz (voice only)
Chlree, Cmar Har, Hji, Yoof (all Society of Higher Interstellar Education and Logistical Development)
In Projected Images
Firebird, Hank Pym, Hawkeye, Thing (all West Coast Avengers)
Trickshot was last seen in Solo Avengers #1-2, 4-5.
Hawkeye encountered Razor-Fist in West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #11.
Razor-Fist was believed to have died in Wolverine: Save the Tiger #1.
Hawkeye previously encountered Crossfire in Hawkeye (1st series) #4 and Captain America (1st series) #317.
Firebird's most recent appearance was in West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #25, where she left the team to go on a spiritual quest. What happened to her on that quest has not been chronicled.
Firebird adopts a new costume this issue, and returns to her original codename, having used the alias La Espirita during West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #17-25.
First and only appearance of the Society of Higher Interstellar Education and Logistical Development, also known as “SHIELD”.
Firebird next appears in Avengers (1st series) #305, in which her status as an Avenger is made official.