Avengers West Coast #76

Issue Date: 
November 1991
Story Title: 
Infamous Monsters of Filmland, part 1: Make Way for the Night Shift!

Roy & Dann Thomas (writers), Dave Ross (penciler), Tim Dzon (inker), Bob Sharen (colorist), Bill Oakley (letterer), Nelson Yomtov (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Wonder Man gives Spider-Woman and Living Lightning a tour of a movie set which is finishing filming a long abandoned film, that has been plagued with troubles. The troubles continue, as members of the Night Shift, including their new leader, the new Hangman, suddenly attack the set, demanding the set be closed. The Avengers West Coast engage the Night Shift in combat, and after the villains leave, with a note demanding that they are to receive 40% of the gross profits if this film gets finished, the main actor quits, so Wonder Man agrees to fill in his role. As the three Avengers leave, they bump into the Wasp who was at the studio for a script reading with an executive, and she declines their request to assist against the Night Shift. The Night Shift regroup at their headquarters, with some members curious as to what their new leader has planned for them. Hangman promises them great power, and when a portal opens, they enter it, with the Hangman telling them they have nothing to lose, except their souls. The Avengers West Coast also have a meeting, discussing the Night Shift. Wonder Man is told he can’t have another member assisting him on set, while Spider-Woman suggests that she investigate the disappearance of Jason Roland, an actor from the original film, and Hawkeye agrees to go with her, when he receives a phone call from his estranged wife, Mockingbird, who is coming to LA and wants to see him, as she is starting to have second thoughts about their impending divorce - only Hawkeye is more interested in Spider-Woman, and tells Mockingbird that he can’t see her. Hawkeye is disappointed to learn that USAgent is tagging along with he and Spider-Woman, while the Scarlet Witch decides that she will accompany Wonder Man on set. Arriving at the home of Roland’s ex-girlfriend, Stella Houston, Hawkeye, Spider-Woman and USAgent get some information from her about Roland and his disappearance, before the mysteriously powered-up Night Shift attack them. The Avengers are outnumbered, and although they fight valiantly, they are captured and later, the Night Shift perform a ritual, with Hawkeye, Spider-Woman and USAgent as their captives - and a portal opens, where a large green hand reaches down for the Avengers.

Full Summary: 

‘Laaadiees and gentlemen…for your entertainment, Mr Florenzo Avanti will now dive from a board 100 feet above the ground, into this tank of water, only ten feet deep!’ a circus ringmaster announces, as a scantily clad man bounces on the diving board, somersaults, and dives to the small tank below. ‘Isn’t that beautiful, ladies and gentlemen? He’s completed his forward flip and now - he cleaves the water, graceful as a sea otter!’ There is a small splash, but then nothing.

‘Florenzo?’ the ringmaster calls out. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, something seems to have happened to -’ the ringmaster begins, when suddenly, the motionless body of Florenzo is thrown from the tank. ‘But what in the world could have?’ the ringmaster wonders, before a huge orange scaled beast bursts from the tank and tears it apart.

‘Good Lord! The tank is bursting apart, ladies and gentlemen - and something’s coming out!’ the ringmaster calls out, as Florenzo’s motionless body can be seen, with scratches all over it. ‘It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before!’ the ringmaster exclaims as the beast lurches forward, water spilling all around. ‘Something that -’ the ringmaster begins, when suddenly, ‘CUT!’ shouts the director. ‘That was great, Bob - really fabulous!’ the director tells the stuntman within the monster suit, who removes part of his mask and tells the director, Mr Waite, that he really took a chance filming the whole scene in one unbroken shot like that. ‘You were the one hunkering down in that water with another stuntman hurtling down at you. Well, I guess we can all be brave in our own special ways’ Mr Waite tells Bob, before turning to the other stuntman, and addressing him as Cal, he tells him ‘Nice dive’.

‘Thanks’ Cal replies, while mumbling to a woman called Lisa ‘I’m the one risked his tail, Jessica - first in the dive - then being “thrown” out of the tank’. Mr Waite turns to the cameraman, Fred, and asks him if he got it all. ‘Yes Sir!’ Fred replies. Nearby on the side of the set, actor Simon Williams a.k.a. the super hero Wonder Man stands with two of his teammates from the Avengers West Coast - Julia “Spider-Woman” Carpenter and Miguel Santos a.k.a. the Living Lightning, and tells them that with several different cameras covering from different angles, they get all the footage they need. ‘Saves the studio mucho dinero not to have to do that stunt twice, huh?’ a woman standing with them remarks, while Julia asks Simon if he said he worked on this picture the first time around. ‘As a stuntman, yeah, before I graduated to acting’ Simon confirms, adding that most of “The Demon that Devoured Hollywood” has been in the can for several years, before Jason Roland’s disappearance made him an even bigger star-legend than he had been before.

The Living Lightning remarks that he loved those movies as a kid, while Simon reveals that Roland was last spotted stalking off the set in the same monster outfit, and nobody has seen him since. Living Lighting turns to the woman and addressing her as Mona, points out that she works around here, so he asks ‘Am I crazy - or is that another “demon” stomping in complete with flunkies?’ Mona explains that he is Wes Nelson, the star of the new footage, to which Miguel exclaims ‘He’s the best horror guy since Jason Roland! With both of them in them in the same picture - even if one’s been missing for years - I’ll bet this thing makes a bundle!’ Mona confirms that that is the idea.

Spider-Woman remarks that she understands why the star didn’t do the stunt, but asks if everything takes this long. Simon tells Julia that they say your most exciting day is your first day on a movie set, and your most boring day is the second one. They turn to leave the set, with Simon suggesting they hit the commissary. As Wes, in the monster suit, takes his place over Cal the diver, Cal asks a woman called Caroline if this is how he was sprawled. Caroline tells him that his left arm was stretched out a little more.
Spider-Woman takes a look back, and tells Mona that she doesn’t know much about making movies, which is why she supposes Simon offered to show them around, but asks if “that” is supposed to be there. ‘What, Spider-Woman?’ Mona enquires.

‘That whatsit being lowered towards Wes Nelson’s head’ Spider-Woman points out. ‘You know - that noose!’ she exclaims, while inside the monster suit, Wes exclaims ‘Can we get on with this please? If I’d known the few scenes left to shoot were going to take this long -’ he begins, before the noose is dropped down over his head, and tightens around his neck, yanking him into the air. ‘Holy spit!’ Cal exclaims, leaping up, while Caroline alerts everyone to the noose that his dropped around Wes’s head. ‘Somebody help him!’ she shouts. The Avengers West Coast leap into action, but Wonder Man tells his teammates to stay here, however Living Lightning points out that Wonder Man isn’t the only Avenger around here, ‘How about giving the Living Lightning a crack at it?’ Miguel asks as he fires a blast of lightning, which several the rope. ‘It’s no contest, Miguel! Go for it!’ Simon encourages his new teammate.

Wes Nelson falls to the ground, ‘Who - whoever left that rope hanging there - I want him fired - no, I want him barbecued!’ he exclaims, while someone remarks that they see Wes is still the same warm, caring human being he used to be, and adds that they are glad he wasn’t hurt too bad. Mist has engulfed the top of the diving board, and someone below shouts ‘Look! There’s some kind of cloud around the diving board - and there’s somebody inside it!’, but someone else states that that is impossible, as there was nobody up there. ‘Well, there is now - and that’s where the noose came from’ the first person adds, as they see the rope hanging from out of the cloud. The figure starts to appear clearer in the cloud, ‘This set is now closed - by order of the Hangman!’ he proclaims. ‘The Hangman? I thought some movie critic killed him a while back?’ Wonder Man remarks as he takes flight towards the diving board. ‘What say we go upstairs and make him wish somebody had?’ Miguel suggests as he shifts to his lightning form and joins Wonder Man, who exclaims ‘Kid, I like the way you think!’

Spider-Woman checks on Wes and tells her teammates to be careful, while Mr Waite orders ‘Never mind that…I want that man off my set!’ Wonder Man hears this and calls back ‘Always the director, huh Waite? Well, don’t sweat it, we’ll -’ but he stops himself mid-sentence, as he sees the upper parts of the cloud around the Hangman start to break up, and two figures can be seen inside them. ‘I see ‘em - but what are they standing on?’ Living Lightning asks. The Brothers Grimm appear, and one of them exclaims ‘You might think it’s just your imagination -’, while the other explains ‘ - but in point of fact, it’s magical aviation!’ Wonder Man recognizes the Brothers Grimm from the bunch who call themselves the Night Shift. ‘Worse yet, they’re tossing dumb rhymes at me!’ Simon complains.

‘And that’s not all we’re tossing! Here!’ one of the Brothers exclaims as he tosses an egg towards Wonder Man, who dodges it, ‘Uh-uh! I’ve heard all about those corrosive-filled eggs of yours!’ Simon exclaims, supposing that the corrosive probably wouldn’t hurt him, but he doesn’t want to risk it. ‘Looks like he’s done his homework, brother dear!’ the other Brother calls out, as the egg slams into a pole, and Living Lightning is shocked as the corrosive eats the metal pole. ‘I may be the new chicano kid on the Avengers’ block - but I learn fast!’ Living Lightning exclaims, and as he confronts the Brothers Grimm tells them that they don’t get invited to the next Easter Egg hunt. ‘Now, forget all that stuff about “magic”! I want to find out what you’re really standing on under that cloud’ Miguel exclaims as he flies towards one of the Brothers, but he dodges the Living Lightning and remarks ‘Your caustic words - they leave me stung!’ while the other Brother remarks ‘Such skeptic views, for one so young!’

‘Go get ‘em, guys!’ Spider-Woman calls out to her teammates, while thinking to herself that since she has hooked up with the Avengers West, they have tangled with the Pacific Overlords, the armies of Arkon and Thundra, and now Night Shift. ‘Don’t we ever get any action where we outnumber the bad guys?’ Julia wonders, while telling Mr Nelson not to worry. ‘I won’t let anything happen to - Mr Nelson -?’ Julia exclaims as she turns to him, but finds that he has vanished. ‘Up here!’ Mr Nelson calls out, where he is hovering in the air as woman in an orange and black costume with light wings exclaims ‘Greetings, girl! I’m Gypsy Moth!’ as she telekinetically holds Wes Nelson mid-air. Gypsy Moth reveals that she locked mandibles with another so-called Spider-Woman some time back and asks ‘Any relation?’ while Wes Nelson calls out for help. ‘The only answer you’re getting, “girl” - is this!’ Julia shouts as she throws a psi-web around Gypsy Moth.

However, this causes Gypsy Moth to drop Wes, and he plummets towards the ground. ‘Didn’t think my web’d make her drop him’ Julia tells herself, however she holds her arms out and catches Wes as he falls. He is surprised, ‘You caught me - with your bare hands?’ he asks, before quickly pointing out that if Spider-Woman hadn’t attacked her, then she would not have dropped him. ‘You stupid -’ Wes begins, but Julia tells him to shut up, as she is trying to think. Julia remembers that according to the Avengers West records, Gypsy Moth lifts thinks telekinetically, mostly soft textures, like Nelson’s suit, but can’t seem to lift more than her own weight. She supposes that her psi-webs rattled Gypsy Moth, which is why she let Nelson fall. ‘All right, Mr Nelson - you may commence your whining’ Julia tells him.

Gypsy Moth flies towards Hangman and calls out ‘Hangman! We didn’t count on any Avengers being here! We’d better -’, but Hangman interrupts her, stating that he didn’t become Night Shift’s new leader to head a rout, and tells her that they will leave when he gives the word, and not before. ‘The only world you’re gonna give pal, is “uncle”!’ Wonder Man calls out, as the Brothers Grimm move towards Hangman and Gypsy Moth, ‘We’re outclassed, Hangman - let’s face facts!’ one of them calls out, while the other shouts ‘But ere we flee, how about a game of jacks!’ and tosses a dozen or so small jacks towards Wonder Man and Living Lightning. Wonder Man warns his teammate that those things are liable to explode, and indeed they do, creating bursts of bright lights that cause Simon and Miguel to fumble. ‘Can’t see!’ Living Lightning exclaims. ‘Actually now - there’s nothing to see’ Wonder Man points out, as the lights fade, and the four Night Shift members have vanished. ‘They’re gone without a trace - almost like they really were magic!’ Living Lightning exclaims.

The cast and crew gather around the Avengers, and Mr Waite points out ‘Now quite without a trace, hotshots. They dropped this piece of paper’ he remarks as he picks it up. Spider-Woman asks him what it says, so the director reads it out: “If you want to finish this picture, we get 90% of the profits - that’s gross, not net - or your star eats the big one!”, Mr Waite adds that it is signed “The Hangman - President, Night Shift”. Wes Nelson takes off his mask and exclaims ‘That’s it! I’m outta here - riding off into the sunset through the loophole in my contract!’ Mr Waite asks him what lawyer he is going to find. Mr Waite warns Nelson that if he quits, the stuntman can finish his part. ‘Not when I tell the union what happened today!’ Nelson responds. ‘See you in court, Waite!’ he adds as he strides to the exit.

Wonder Man approaches Mr Waite and introduces himself, reminding him that he did stunt work for him in “Decimator 2”, and since then, did some acting in one of the Arkon pictures. ‘Yeah, I saw that turkey’ Mr Waite replies, before asking if there is a point in here somewhere. Simon offers to take over the part of the demon, adding that he can even do his own stunts. ‘Say no more. You’re hired!’ Mr Waite calls out, adding that they might even get some publicity out of having an Avenger on the set to protect them.

Simon, Julia and Miguel make their way back to their Quinjet, and Julia asks Simon if he has a plan, or if he was just drumming up some business. ‘Wait and see’ Simon tells her, when he notices Jan van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp walking nearby. ‘Hi, everybody! What’s going on?’ Jan calls out. Wonder Man asks her if she heard how the Night Shift attacked one of the sets, but Jan replies that she didn’t, explaining that Dino Domani left word their script conference wasn’t to be disturbed for anything short of Nuclear War or Arnold Schwarzburger. ‘Mmm. Care to help us out?’ Simon asks her, but Jan carries on walking, and reminds him that she is just a reservist now. ‘Watch yourself with Night Shift, you hear?’ she calls back, adding ‘Those guys are nuts!’

Meantime, at a large mansion atop a narrow cliff, in the dead of night, ‘This session of Night Shift, meeting in the Tower of Shadows, will now come to order - so you foul-ups can tell me why I should keep my promise to make Night Shift a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood!’ the Hangman exclaims as the strange assemblage of people sit around their meeting table. ‘He said the same in four possible futures I can see, you know’ Tick-Tock mutters, while the Brothers Grimm remark ‘Oh, don’t be so smug’ and ‘He’d like to give us all a slug’, while Dansen Macabre tells the Hangman not to be too hard on them, while Misfit snarls ‘He better not try it with the Misfit’, to which the Hangman tells the Night Shift that they had better give a wide berth to the Avengers West. He adds that they will all need more sheer power if they are going to make show business.

‘Now sit up and take notice…’ Hangman remarks, as he addresses the team individually: He tells Dansen Macabre that she doesn’t want to go through life as a stripper. ‘Exotic dancer’ Dansen corrects him, before he moves on to the Brother Grimm, remarking that they ran an x-rated movie house. ‘That’s an insult’ one of the Brothers exclaims. ‘The word is “adult”!’ the other points out. Hangman continues, turning to Needle, he remarks that his exhibitionist tendencies led him to sew up the mouths of criminals. Hangman adds that Gypsy Moth was a move star’s mistress, who now wants to be a star herself. ‘So?’ Gypsy Moth asks, while Hangman reveals that Tick-Tock longs to be a timer in an animation studio. ‘I knew you were going to say that’ Tick-Tock replies, while Hangman announces that Tatterdemalion was once part of a dance team. ‘The best!’ Tatterdemalion remarks from behind his scarf, while the Hangman concludes that Misfit paid the Power Broker to build him up so he could break into the movies.

‘Yeah…and look how that left me - all twisted up!’ Misfit snarls, while Needle points out that he is not even symmetrical. ‘So who’re you to be calling us names?’ Misfit asks, remarking that Hangman just waltzed in the other night and announced that he was their new boss, replacing the Shroud. ‘Your ex-leader was a turncoat! You’re well rid of him and that unpredictable Werewolf!’ Hangman adds, referring to Werewolf by Night. ‘As for my origins, you’ll learn them when I’m ready for you to’ Hangman tells his team, before revealing that he is not the Hangman who was killed some moths ago by film critic Jack O’Brien. ‘No, you’re gonna be remembered as the lariat-tossing loudmouth who was wasted by me!’ Misfit exclaims as he lunges across the table towards Hangman - who swats him back with ease. ‘I don’t think so’ Hangman exclaims.

‘What - you can’t be that strong! You just can’t be!’ Misfit shouts, surprised. Hangman throws his noose around Misfit’s head and declares that he has considerably more abilities than that. ‘That noose of yours hopped around my neck like it was magic!’ Misfit gasps. ‘And I can loose you just as easily, as you see’ Hangman points out as the noose is removed from Misfit’s neck. Hangman tells Misfit that if he wanted to choke him, then not all his strength could have saved him. ‘All right…’ one of the Brothers Grimm remarks. ‘We’ve seen the light’ the other exclaims, while Dansen tells Hangman that if he can give them that kind of power - star-power - then he has got himself a gang to lead.

Hangman throws his rope upwards, and asks the Night Shift if they are all agreed, and states that the ultimatum to mammoth, was only the beginning. ‘You’ll understand…after the ceremony’ he remarks. ‘Ceremony?’ Gypsy Moth asks. As the rope hovers upwards, a portal forms around it, and Hangman states that he will explain later. Tatterdemalion points out that the top of the rope has disappeared, while Dansen wonders what keeps it up. ‘Aw, it’s just some Indian rope trick’ Misfit mutters. ‘Is it?’ Hangman remarks, instructing all of the Night Shift to grab the rope, it suddenly starts to pull all of them upwards. ‘Right into that light show up there!’ someone exclaims. Hangman grabs the bottom of the rope and as he is pulled upwards also, he tells the Night Shift not to fear, as they have nothing to lose - except, of course, their souls. He then laughs wickedly.

‘What do you mean you’re against it?’ Wonder Man asks as the Avengers West Coast gather around their meeting room table. ‘Read my lips, Boy Wonder! “I’m against it”!’ John Walker a.k.a. the USAgent exclaims, adding that he is not standing around guarding some movie set for the next two weeks just so that Wonder Man can bet his big break. Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch remains silent as the two men argue, while Tony “Iron Man” Stark tells USAgent to calm down, and not to make a personal vendetta out of everything. ‘We’re just discussing whether to send a second Avenger to assist Simon, that’s all’ he explains. Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye declares that, for once, he is with USAgent, and exclaims ‘We’re the Avengers West Coast, not seven rent-a-cops’, while Living Lightning adds ‘If we needed the money…’. ‘Aw, poor baby’ USAgent exclaims, while Wonder Man points out that he is only asking for one more Avenger, since he will have to appear in most of the scenes.

Iron Man apologizes to Simon and adds that as Chairman, he thinks they all see which way the wind is blowing on this one. He adds that that doesn’t mean they won’t be scouring the town for any sign of Night Shift, and if they do attack the studio again, they will all come running. ‘Thanks. I’ll be the one underneath umpty-zillion super-villains’ Simon mutters. Suddenly, Spider-Woman asks Iron Man if she may speak, and Iron Man tells her that she can. Spider-Woman admits that she and Living Lightning have been keeping quiet, because they are new, but that she would like to volunteer to look into the disappearance of Jason Roland, several years back, as there could be some kind of connection. ‘Great idea, Spi! I’ll go with you!’ Hawkeye exclaims. Spider-Woman thanks Hawkeye, when Carlos, the Avengers West housekeeper enters the meeting room, and informs Hawkeye that he has a phone call.

Hawkeye reminds Carlos that he knows the Avengers are not supposed to be interrupted for personal calls while they are meeting. ‘It’s your wife’ Carlos explains. ‘Estranged wife’ Hawkeye mutters. ‘Still, Mockingbird is an Avenger, so I assumed -’ Carlos begins, so Hawkeye apologizes to Carlos, and admits that it might be business, so he gets up and goes over to Carlos and takes the phone from him. ‘Clint? Bobbi’ Barbara Morse-Barton a.k.a. Mockingbird exclaims, before explaining that she is in Detroit, and reveals that she is flying to LA tonight and thinks they should have dinner. ‘“Why?” since when did you need a reason?’ Bobbi asks, before telling Hawkeye that if he must know, she has been thinking she was too hasty about some things.

‘Gee, Bobbi sounds great - but you caught me at sort of a bad time’ Clint tells her. ‘I promised another Avenger I’d help - him - with an angle on a tough case’ Clint half-lies. ‘The Night Shift, remember? You caught one of ‘em, that creep, Digger’ Clint reminds Bobbi. ‘Whaddaya mean they were push-over? Those guys are killers!’ Clint snaps at Bobbi, before telling her that he has to run and that he will call her when he gets in. ‘No, don’t call me. I, er, may be working on this all night…’ Clint remarks, looking at Spider-Woman. ‘You say you’ll go with Simon, Wanda?’ Iron Man asks the Scarlet Witch, who confirms that she will.

Hawkeye goes over to Spider-Woman and tells her that he is sorry about that, but he had some stuff about the separation to get settled. ‘And here I always thought you and Mockingbird made the perfect couple’ USAgent remarks, before telling Hawkeye and Spider-Woman that this is their lucky night. ‘Why? You decide to go spend the 90’s with the Avengers East?’ Clint asks. Spider-Woman reveals that USAgent has volunteered to come with them. ‘Figured you could always use a little extra muscle, Arrowhead…not that there’s liable to be anything going on that Spider-Woman and I can’t handle’ USAgent adds, and shortly, the three depart in a Quinjet.

Shortly, Hawkeye, USAgent and Spider-Woman are inside someone’s home. ‘…appreciate your getting up to talk to us about Jason Roland, Ms Houston. We know how painful it must be to dredge up those seven-year-old memories’ one of the heroes remarks. ‘Please…call me Stella. Painful? Yes, I suppose it is…in a way’ Stella Houston replies, revealing that she and Jason were having one of the usual run-of-the-filming romance. USAgent looks at a photo of Stella and Jason, who is dressed in a monster costume, while Stella remarks that if Jase did have a plan to disappear for good that day on set, he never confided in her about it. ‘And you’ve no idea what became of him?’ Spider-Woman asks. ‘No’ Stella replies, explaining that Jason went into his dressing room to take off half his make-up, as it wasn’t just a mask, to scotch the rumors that someone else was the true genius behind his movie disguises and fast rise to fame.

‘And you and several reporters waited for him?’ Spider-Woman enquires. Stella explains that they waited for an hour, and then split. She adds that they heard he raced out of the studio later in full demon hear, and she never saw him again. Stella accompanies the three Avengers out onto the patio, as Stella reveals that, fortunately, she had a little money of her own. ‘We didn’t think this Malibu beach house came cheap’ USAgent remarks, but Stella explains that her career was down the toilet after that though, as nobody wanted to touch her after the thing with Jase, like she was a jinx or something. ‘That hardly seems fair’ Hawkeye remarks, unaware that a noose is being lowered towards his face. ‘What’s “fair” got to do with it? This is Hollywood’ Stella replies, before the noose grabs hold of Hawkeye and pulls him into the air by his neck.

USAgent sees Hawkeye being pulled upwards and Spider-Woman exclaims that it must be the Hangman again, before ordering Stella to get back inside. ‘Sure thing!’ Stella exclaims as she leaps back into her living room. ‘Yes…it’s the Hangman - and friends!’ the Hangman declares as he appears on the rooftop, his teammates at his side. ‘Hang ‘im high, man! We’ll take care of the rest!’ Misfit exclaims, while Hawkeye struggles to free himself, and asks his teammates for a little help. Spider-Woman is climbing up the side of the house and tells Hawkeye to stop struggling. As she reaches him, she pulls out an arrow of Hawkeye’s pack, which she plans to use to cut Hawkeye free. ‘Any Night Shifter that makes a move toward either of you gets a shield in his teeth!’ USAgent announces.

Spider-Woman sees that Hawkeye has gone limp, and hopes he is okay. She uses the arrowhead to cut through the rope, and is almost through, but she is stopped as there is something at the core of the noose, something metallic. An instant later, Spider-Woman is electrocuted, and screams as she falls to the patio. USAgent turns to her, but Hangman frees Hawkeye, dropping him on Spider-Woman. USAgent sees that Hawkeye is still breathing, and supposes that the chain mail around Hawkeye’s neck must be reinforced. ‘All right, Shift-Heads! I’ll take on the whole bunch of you!’ USAgent exclaims, adding ‘The others told me what a bunch of anemics you are, so this should be easy for a guy with my muscles’. Tatterdemalion moves forward and swats USAgent back with his scarf, shouting ‘Alas for you, you ersatz Captain America - they’re all in your head’. ‘That’s showing him!’ Gypsy Moth exclaims, while one of the Brothers Grimm paraphrases the commercial arts: ‘This is not your father’s Night Shift!’ he declares.

Suddenly, USAgent is pulled into the air, while Gypsy Moth remarks that earlier tonight she could barely levitate a man by his garments, but now she feels as if she could levitate a hippopotamus. ‘Keep ‘em flying, Moth - at least as long as you want to!’ Tatterdemalion exclaims, before Gypsy Moth slams USAgent into the side of the house. The Brothers Grimm follow USAgent in, and one of them exclaims ‘That would’ve been a fatal nose dive’ while the other reveals ‘Except the Hangman wants you alive’. USAgent rubs his neck and replies ‘That may be how he wants me - Brothers Grimm - but I don’t care much how he gets you!’ Walker grabs both Brothers Grimm at once and tells them that he knows for a fact that they are a pair of sissies who couldn’t tear a matchbook in two, let alone a phone book.

The Brothers Grimm pull at USAgent’s arms, as one of them exclaims ‘He thinks we’re Dorothy and Lillian Gish!’ while the other remarks ‘Just grab an arm, bro, and make a wish!’ and an instant later, USAgent cries out in agony, ‘My arms!’ he utters, before flinging the Brothers Grimm from him, ‘You two picked up a whole lot of muscle someplace - but it’d still take a whole family of Grimms to take me out!’ Walker declares. Suddenly, Dansen Macabre appears behind him in a flash of light. ‘Or perhaps just one little girl with a gimmick, Agent?’ Dansen suggests, but Walker covers his face and remarks that he doesn’t remembering hearing that Dansen could blind people, so he rushes for the gaping hole in the wall, knowing that he has to get out of here until he can see again.

‘Stop him, Needle!’ Dansen calls out, but a voice exclaims ‘No need, Dansen…not with the roadblock he’s coming to!’, and a second later, USAgent, eyes closed, crashes into the behemoth Misfit. ‘Who -?’ Walker exclaims, while Misfit raises a fist, and declares ‘This is the only time you’ll ever have to be told - that you had a run in with Misfit!’ as he punches Walker hard in the face. USAgent falls to the ground near Hawkeye and Spider-Woman, while Misfit asks Hangman what it was he was spouting before about giving a wide berth to these losers in the Avengers. ‘You make my point for me, friend! USAgent would have chewed you up and spit you out - before tonight’s little ceremony’. Hangman announces that it is time to take this hero-heap back to the Tower.

Shortly, ‘I told you people…I’ll start the ritual in a moment. Its success is dependent upon all three of the offerings being conscious…and the last of them is only waking now’ Hangman declares, as he looks down to a contraption on the floor, which has Walker, Hawkeye and Spider-Woman strapped to it at their feet, waists and arms. ‘We’ve been waiting for you, USAgent’ Hangman remarks. ‘Then that means…now you can all take a long walk…off a short pier’ USAgent replies. ‘That’s telling him’ Spider-Woman adds, while Hawkeye tells USAgent to spit on Hangman. ‘I’d do it myself, but my throat’s still kinda raw’ Hawkeye remarks. Standing around the contraption is all of Night Shift, and one of the Brothers Grimm exclaims ‘Hangman - can’t you just shoot ‘em or hack ‘em up with a cleaver?’, while the other replies ‘Yeah! All these candles burning just gives us a fever!’

Gypsy Moth tells the Brothers Grimm not to rush him, while Hangman tells the Night Shift to say the words with him, just as he taught them. ‘But they don’t make any sense!’ Tatterdemalion remarks. ‘Just say them!’ Hangman retorts, so they do: ‘Nestorium brylla cthuliorus zuul xerxiolana…darios mutualism zarath…’ they begin. ‘Catchy lyrics, guys - but the melody’s strictly from monotone city!’ Hawkeye exclaims. The Night Shift ignore him, and continue with the chant, while Hawkeye continues, asking if it ever occurred to them that who they are calling isn’t home. A portal begins to open above, while Night Shift continue with the chant, and Spider-Woman exclaims ‘Uh, correct me if I’m wrong, fellas - but I think somebody just answered the phone!’- indeed, as a huge green hand reaches down to grab the heroes….

Characters Involved: 

Hawkeye, Iron Man, Living Lightning, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman II, USAgent, Wonder Man (all Avengers West Coast)
Mockingbird, Wasp (both reserve members of the Avengers West Coast)

Brothers Grimm, Dansen Macabre, Hangman II, Gypsy Moth, Misfit, Needle, Tick-Tock, Tatterdemalion (all Night Shift)



Mr Waite, Bob, Cal, Caroline, Fred, Jessica, Mona, Wes Nelson and others (all actors / staff)

Stella Houston

Story Notes: 

The Night Shift were previously seen in West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #40.

The Avengers West Coast took on the Pacific Overlords in Avengers West Coast #70-74 and the armies of Arkon and Thundra in #75.

Gypsy Moth previously encountered the original Spider-Woman in Spider-Woman (1st series) #10, #48 and #50.

Of course there is no relation between Julia Carpenter and her predecessor, Jessica Drew, although the briefly met in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #206.

The original Hangman was killed by the film critic in Bizarre Adventures #31.

Jason Roland and Stella Houston were seen dating in Tower of Shadows #5.

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