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1st Story: Howard Mackie (writer), Al Milgrom (penciler), Don Heck (inker), Jack Morelli (letterer), Paul Becton (colorist)
2nd Story: Dwayne McDuffie (writer), Dwayne Turner (penciler), Chris Ivy (inker), Jack Morelli (letterer), Mike Rockwitz (colorist)
Evan Skolnick (assistant editor), Gregory Wright (managing editor), Mark Gruenwald (editor), Tom DeFaclo (editor-in-chief)
When Hawkeye and Mockingbird learn that two people impersonating them are embarking on a crime spree in Denver, robbing stores and banks. Hawkeye and Mockingbird travel to Denver and are apprehended at the airport by the local police – who don't listen when Hawkeye and Mockingbird try to explain that they are innocent – until a report comes in over the police radio that Hakweye and Mockingbird are presently robbing a bank. Shortly, Hawkeye, Mockingbird and the police arrive at the bank, where Hawkeye sees that the imposters are Screaming Mimi and Angar the Screamer – but no one else sees this. Hawkeye fires a gas arrow which causes the criminals to drop their disguises. Angar the Screamer uses his powers on the local police, making one of them see visions of demons, and causing the officer to blindly fire his gun around the bank. Screaming Mimi unleashes a powerful scream which knocks Mockingbird out, before Hawkeye fires an arrow at the officer's gun, stopping him from causing harm to anyone, before he traps the criminals. The police apprehend Screaming Mimi and Angar the Screamer, and Hawkeye learns that the two met up after the Vault breakout, and discovered that Mimi could affect the hallucinations that Angar caused by modulating her vocal sound waves, creating the doppelganger effect – only Hawkeye wasn't affected by their powers because of his hearing aids.
Inside the Vault, the Mad Thinker is visited by the mysterious man who has been appearing before other villains and criminals, and after receiving an offer, spent some time thinking about it. The Mad Thinker claims to know who the mysterious man is, and declines his offer, preferring to remain in the Vault, so the mystery man warns him that if he reveals his identity, it will be at his peril, before he teleports away. The Mad Thinker frees himself from his cell, believing the current turmoils within the superhuman community will jeopardize his long term master plans, he plots to manipulate events himself. Several weeks later, at the Capitol Building in Washington DC, the Wasp and Wonder Man are on stage to speak about the proposed Super-Powers Registration Bill, with supporters and opposition gathered in the audience. Before they get the chance to speak, though, the enormous criminal calling himself Gargantua arrives, receiving orders from an unseen entity, Gargantua begins to cause chaos, while Wonder Man and the Wasp are quick to engage him, while civilians run for their lives. Wonder Man attacks Gargantua in physical combat, although Gargantua appears as if he doesn't want to be fighting. The Wasp shrinks down and flies into Gargantua's ear canal, where she discovers a radio transmitter that is giving Gargantua his instructions. The Wasp destroys the transmitter and gives Gargantua new instructions, forcing him to stop fighting, and enabling Wonder Man to defeat him. The Wasp and Wonder Man then address the press conference, and the Mad Thinker watches from a monitor, and believes he has achieved a small measure of success in swaying public opinion in the favor of super heroes
Once upon a time, everyone liked super heroes – but then all kinds of weird stuff started happening! 'Please, Mr Hawkeye! Don't hurt me!' a jeweler pleads as Hawkeye aims an arrow at his head, while Mockingbird shoves some stolen jewels into a bag. 'Just be a good little boys – or my Hawky will have to take care of you like he did the old geezer security guard!' Mockingbird exclaims, while two other staff tend to the injured security guard. Cabinets in the jewelry store are smashed and glass is scattered across the floor. The manager assures Mockingbird that they will have cooperation from his entire staff. 'You already have my best jewels' he adds. 'Can it, tubbo!' Mockingbird snaps. 'We're outta here!' Mockingbird exclaims as she and Hawkeye leap over a counter and head to the exit. 'Call the cops and we'll be back' Mockingbird warns the staff. The manager turns to one of his employees and instructs him to call the police. The staff member protests: 'But she said – and they're Avengers! Supposed to be good guys -' he points out. But the manager declares that he doesn't care what they're supposed to be – they are criminals and he wants them arrested!
And so, this is the story of how Hawkeye and Mockingbird became the two most wanted criminals in the history of Denver, Colorado, robbing banks and stores, taking cash and jewels – and making the front page of the New York Post, Denver Daily and Colorado Times.
'WHAT?' Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye shouts as he screws up a copy of the New York Post. He tosses the paper aside and declares that he would expect this from the National Enquirer but not for the New York Post to make up this kind of garbage. 'I'll sue!' Hawkeye shouts. 'Sue? You? Who?' Bobbi Morse Barton a.k.a. Mockingbird asks as she puts a hand on Hawkeye's shoulder. Clint turns to his estranged wife and tells her that he doesn't know – but he will find someone, as it's all going too far.
Hawkeye points out that things have been going crazy for weeks – villains are more out of control than usual, Avengers Island has sunk and all the heroes are getting the blame. Bobbi reminds Clint that there is nothing they can do about all the other craziness until Cap and the Avengers get to the bottom of it all, but suggests they can go to Denver and clear their own good names.
A few hours later, a Quinjet arrives at Denver Airport. Hawkeye announces himself over the communications system to the airport, who give him clearance to land. As the Quinjet touches down, Clint tells Bobbi that this was a good idea, and supposes that it shouldn't take more than a few hours to clear up this little misunderstanding. As they exit the Quinjet, Hawkeye and Mockingbird find themselves surrounded by police officers. 'Oh, good! The local police are here to greet us!' Hawkeye declares. 'I'll give you a greeting, Bub! Though I've got to admit I never thought you two would be so brazen as to hit this city again – or so stupid as to announce your arrival' one of the police officers declares, before instructing the other officers to take Hawkeye and Mockingbird in. Hawkeye readies his bow and an arrow, while Mockingbird raises her staff overhead as Hawkeye announces that they are here to clear their names – and they aren't going anywhere until they convince everyone that they didn't commit those crimes.
The officers step back slightly, while raising their guns and aiming them at the Avengers. 'You've got a real interesting way of showing your innocence, Avenger!' one of the police officers exclaims. 'You're only proving to me that you're guilty as the day is long!' the officer declares, when suddenly, everyone turns to a nearby police car as they hear someone over the communications line inform all units that a robbery is in progress at the Mile High Bank, that the suspects are allegedly Hawkeye and Mockingbird, that they are armed and have hostages. 'Proceed with caution!' the announcer reports. 'What? But -' one of the officers utters, wide-eyed. 'I told you so!' Mockingbird exclaims.
Several miles away at the Bank of Denver, 'Hurry up! We ain't got all day!' “Mockingbird” snaps at the bank teller as she grabs a sack of cash from him, while “Hawkeye” aims an arrow at a customer standing in line behind him. 'Just don't get stupid, or Hawkeye will give you a third eye!' “Mockingbird” warns everyone. The two impostors make their way to the exit, and “Mockingbird” warns them 'Nobody follow us, or -', when suddenly, 'You'll nothing!' the real Hawkeye exclaims as he and the real Mockingbird burst through a window into the bank. 'Hawk? It's us!' Mockingbird calls out. 'What're you talking about, Mock?' Hawkeye asks. 'I know them!' he tells her as he sees the criminals Screaming Mimi and Angar the Screamer standing before him in the bank. He tells Mockingbird who they are, but Mockingbird replies 'No – it's me – me and you! Now let's get them!'
Hawkeye informs Mockingbird that he doesn't see what she is seeing, and decides that it is time for him to clear the air with some tear gas. He fires a tear gas arrow at Mimi and Angar, who begin to cough and gasp when the arrow detonates. Mimi tells Angar not to shut his mouth, or else everyone will see who they really are. But too late, as Angar closes his mouth, the disguise is broken. 'Hey! I recognize them! It's Angar the Screamer and Screaming Mimi!' Mockingbird declares. 'That's what I said!' Hawkeye mutters, while Angar tells Mimi that the gig is blown, so they should split. 'You're not splitting anywhere, you two-faced hippie freak!' a police officer responds, aiming a gun at the criminal. 'Be cool, my man!' Angar replies, to which the officer tells him to shut his mouth. 'No, man, I thought I'd open it wider so you could open your mind – if not blow it!' Angar exclaims, as he uses his powers to create hallucinations of monsters that swarm around the frightened police officers – who suddenly opens fire in all directions, trying to shoot the “monsters”.
'Good going, lover – I'll take care of the heroes!' Mimi declares as she releases a scream towards Hawkeye and Mockingbird, who clutches her head and tells Hawkeye that her head is spinning – before she faints into Hawkeye's arms. So that she doesn't get struck by one of the officer's bullets, Hawkeye lays Mockingbird onto the ground, before spinning around towards the officer, where he fires an arrow, knocking the gun from the officer's hands. Hawkeye then fires an arrow which releases a bolo that wraps around Angar and Mimi before they can escape.
Two hours later, police lead away Angar and Mimi, who have had restraints placed over their mouths, preventing them from using their powers, while Hawkeye comments on how quickly the Vault personnel got those restraints to them, and Mockingbird remarks that is two more of the escapees rounded up, before confessing to not knowing how Angar and Mimi made themselves look like the two of them, as she doesn't remember that being either of their powers. Hawkeye admits to wondering the same thing, and reports that he had Angar jot down a brief explanation for him, revealing that Angar and Mimi apparently met up after the Vault breakout, and quite by accident discovered that Mimi could directly affect the hallucinations that Angar caused by modulating the frequency of the sound produced by her own sound waves – the Doppelganger Effect. The police officer asks Hawkeye why he wasn't affected by their power, to which Hawkeye smiles and tells the officer that he didn't quite hear that – so he will just turn his hearing aid up!
The criminal mastermind known as the Mad Thinker sits on a bunk in a cell. He is a man possessed of a level fo genius rarely seen on this planet. His brain is the equivalent of an organic computer. Given sufficient data, he is capable of predicting the future with a very high degree of probability. The gap between “a high degree of probability” and perfection explains his current prison stay. The Thinker was content to spend some time here calculating precisely where his last plan went awry. But several weeks ago, the mysterious man in the trenchcoat standing over him appeared and asked the Thinker to join a group of other super-villains in carefully planned acts of vengeance that would destroy all of their enemies forever. The Mad-Thinker told the mysterious man in the trenchcoat, not surprisingly, that he would “think about it”. And so he does.
'Well?' the mysterious man asks. The Mad Thinker gets to his feet and announces that he has calculated the odds, and that although he foresees major losses among the ranks of the super heroes as a result of the plan, he also predicts certain disaster for those behind it all. 'And not a little trouble for you when your brother discovers what you have done!' he reveals, looking at the mysterious man in the trenchcoat. 'You know who I am?' the mystery man asks, raising a fist. 'It's obvious if one thinks about it' the Mad Thinker replies. 'Then may you rot here!' the mystery man snaps. He begins to disappear in a flash of energy as he warns the Mad Thinker to tell the secret at his peril.
'Melodramatic. But well advised' the Mad Thinker decides as he sits back down on the bunk. He neglected to tell the mystery man the problems that he sees for himself, and lifting up one of his shoes, thinks that if this “Super Powers Registration Act” passes, as it likely will, then the super hero backlash will lead to major problems for him. The Mad Thinker had planned to sit this situation out in the relative safety of prison, but the social destabilization that will stem from the Act's passage will jeopardize any number of his long term master plans. He pulls a small piece of metal wire from between his shoe and the sole of the shoe, and uses the wire to unlock his cell door, deciding that he is forced to act. He steps out of his cell and wonders how best to sway public opinion, and supposes that he is sure he will think of something.
Several weeks later, at the Capitol Building in Washington DC, where inside, witnesses are testifying before Congress on the proposed “Super Powers Registration Act”, a bill that would force those with super-powers to register them with the government. Outside, on the Capitol steps, the public in the form of demonstrations from both pro and anti-registration act organizations making its feeling known. A representative of CLARION, the Civil Libertarians Against Registration In Our Nation, stands on the stage and addresses Congress and the audience, stating that they are proud to introduce the next two speakers – both super-powered Avengers, one a bonafide movie star, the other a wealthy socialite. Sitting on seats on the stage, Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man glances at Janet van Dyne the Wasp and tells her that he is nervous, that he still doesn't know what he is going to say. Wearing a blue and white costume, the Wasp tells Simon that she doesn't either, and that she is going to wing it.
'Well ho ho ho' Simon smiles, before the CLARION representative calls them by their names, as suddenly, a towering figure in a blue and yellow costume lumbers towards the gathering, 'What the heck is that?' someone in the crowd calls out, while the approaching giant calls out 'I'm Gargrint...uh...Glargunt...ah...GARGANTUA! Right?' Wonder Man and Wasp look at each other, as Wonder Man tells the Wasp that this guy is pretty big, so she better stay back. 'Bigger than me? Gosh, what a frightening thought!' the Wasp replies, while a man in a suit shouts' Run for your lives!' Wonder Man leaps forward, wishing that he was wearing his jetpack. He looks at the Wasp, impressed that all she has to do is shrink down and her wings come out. Turning back to the giant, Wonder Man is curious as to who he is. 'Goliath's stupid younger brother?' he thinks.
Gargantua looks down at the scattering civilians running around him and wonders where everybody is going. 'Wuzzat? You want me to pick up the cars and do what?' he asks someone, wide-eyed. 'Oh, okay. If you say so..' Gargantua remarks as he lifts two cars up into the air. 'All right, big fella – drop the car!' Wonder Man exclaims as he flies into Gargantua and slams a fist into his knee. Gargantua drops the cars and begins hopping one one leg, while clutching his other leg, pulling it towards his chest, 'YEEOWTCH!' he cries out. 'I don't believe I said that!' Simon thinks to himself as one of the cars crashes into the ground. Simon slams into the other, while Gargantua begins to jump up and down on one leg, still crying out in pain, 'OW! OW! OW!' he calls out over and over again – when suddnely, he slams a foot down on the surprised Wonder Man.
'Back off, big guy!' the Wasp calls out as she flies towards the giant, blasting his face with energy bolts. 'Super-dupers hurt! I hate super-dupers!' Gargantua complains as he hops towards the Capitol Building, while the Wasp drops down towards Wonder Man, who sits up in enormous footprint-sized crater, rubbing his head. 'Would you stop goofing around? He's getting away!' the Wasp exclaims, while Wonder Man thinks that this sort of thing never happens to Thor. Wonder Man gets to his feet and lifts a car above his head, 'Hey, Gargantua!' he calls out. The giant turns back to Wonder Man, Yeah?' he asks, while Wonder Man shouts 'CATCH!' and hurls the car at Gargantua, who catches the car and asks what he should do with it. 'Okey dokey' Gargantua replies after receiving instruction – he hurls the car backw towards Wonder Man, who dodges it just in time.
Wonder Man looks over to the Wasp and tells her that he wishes he had his jet-pack, as he knows he could deck him if he could reach his chin. The Wasp tells Wonder Man not to sweat it, that she will handle him. As she flies towards Gargantua, Jan decides that he is big, and that he kind of reminds her of her ex-husband – but this guy is pretty stupid, even by super-villain standards – which makes him a prime candidate for the old “fly in his ear and cause him extreme pain” bit. The insect-sized Wasp enters Gargantua's ear canal, but it is her ears who are subject to assault, when she hears a voice within Gargantua shouting 'ATTACK! ATTACK!' 'My ears!' the Wasp screams, while Gargantua lumbers towards Wonder Man, 'Okay...uh, attack! Attack!' he exclaims, as Wonder Man climbs a phone pole, 'You do that. And while you're at it, come a bit closer. If I can't reach your chin, I'll settle for your stomach' Wonder Man decides.
Making her way deeper into the ear canal of Gargnatua, the Wasp is unimpressed – he obviously doesn't use Q-Tips. Suddenly, she comes across some kind of transmitter, and turns it off as she picks it up. 'Okay, Gargantua! I've got some new orders for you!' the Wasp exclaims. 'Uhhh... okay' Gargantua replies as he stands and stares at the phone pole, which Wonder Man now stands atop. 'Oh, this is too good!' Wonder Man remarks, before asking the Wasp if she is responsible for this. As Gargantua remains in place, without moving, the Wasp flies out of his head and tells Wonder Man to try and punch him away from the crowd. 'How long do I have to stay here?' Gargantua asks. 'Not very' Wonder Man tells him as he reaches across from the top of the phone pole and slams a powerful fist into Gargantua's face, knocking the giant backwards. 'Allright! Bring on Tyson!' Wonder Man jokes.
Later, Wonder Man and the Wasp have returned to the stage at Capitol Hill, addressing the crowd before them. Wonder Man announces that he and the Wasp are voluntarily public about their identities, but admits that is a privilege most heroes can't afford. The Wasp states that super heroes with secret identities are just as willing to help the public as they were today – so the Super Powers Registration Act would endanger the families and friends of super heroes all over the country, and if it should pass, their numbers would dwindle – and their ability to aid the public would dwindle as well.
Watching on a monitor is the Mad Thinker, who decides that this is excellent – an exciting show and an impassioned speech. He calculates that today's media event will serve to sway public opinion ever so slightly in the heroes' favor. He switches off the monitors and thinks to himself that that is not a practice he wishes to implement as a continuing policy – still, it is unexpectedly pleasant to win one every so often!
Angar the Screamer, Screaming Mimi
Jewelry store staff
Wasp, Wonder Man
Loki/Man in trenchcoat
This issue ties into the “Acts of Vengeance” event.
The breakout at the Vault took place in Avengers Spotlight #26.
Gargantua previously appeared in Defenders (1st series) #126 and #128, known as Leviathan