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Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Mike Deodato (art), Rain Beredo (color art), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Joe Sabino (production), Jeanine Schaefer (assistant editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)
Morgana Le Fay travels to the past to kill Doctor Doom as a young boy, but cannot bring herself to do it while he is unaware of the reason for his death. In the present day, Norman Osborn announces the birth of H.A.M.M.E.R., a new world peacekeeping task force to replace S.H.I.E.L.D. At Castle Doom, Doctor Doom battles Morgana Le Fay. At Avengers Tower, the Dark Avengers are watching coverage from their press conference when they receive word of the attack at Castle Doom. They arrive just in time to prevent Morgana from killing Doctor Doom, after which Iron Patriot has Sentry kill Morgana. The Dark Avengers receive only a moment’s respite, however, before the Sentry explodes and Morgana returns. She takes control of the Sinister Spider-Man, reverting him to his monstrous Venom state and begins to do battle with the remaining Dark Avengers.
(Latveria, 37 years ago)A single fire lights the campsite of Victor von Doom’s gypsy clan, while the young boy lies asleep alone within a tent, a book lying open on his stomach. A shadowy female figure stands over him.
“You’ve stolen from, Victor Von Doom,” announces Morgana Le Fay, as she stands over him wielding a knife, two monstrous demons behind her. “You betrayed me. You betrayed my trust. You used me to steal the knowledge of the dark arts I have earned for myself over lifetimes of study. And tonight you will die for it. And the world will be spared your future selfish villainy…
Morgana raises the knife over her head, gripping it tightly with both hands. She stares down at von Doom and a look of realization crosses her face. “No, she says. As much effort as it was to travel to this time and find him… to do it like this…he will never know why he died, she tells the young boy. He will not know it was her. No. No, no. He has to understand why he is being punished. He has to know it was Morgana Le Fay whose heart he broke, she concludes. The young von Doom suddenly sits up, but only manages to catch sight of a thin strand of smoke. He glances at it warily, before curling up and wrapping his blanket around himself in fear.
(Today)“Change has come,” says Norman Osborn, dressed in a brown suit. S.H.I.E.LD. is no more. Tony Stark is no longer a part of their lives. So what does that mean? Does that mean the world is safe? No. Does that mean there are not men out there whose selfish agenda doesn’t fly in the face of everything they know to be the backbone of civilization? “Sadly, no,” claims Norman. Their enemies are still all around them, he continues, their enemies will use this time of transition to strike. To make their mark. They will think that this is a time of weakness and they will make their move.
“But we will surprise them,” he says, addressing a group of agents dressed in purple and black armour from a platform with the word HAMMER emblazoned on it, while Victoria Hand stands beside him. They are here today, they have been chosen as the first wave, announces Norman. An elite force that will replace S.H.I.E.L.D. as a peacekeeping task force. They have been chosen because of their loyalty to the Thunderbolts Initiative or their stellar actions as agents of what were once Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D. They will go out there and defend this world. They will keep it safe from those who would have it otherwise. They will act swiftly and they will let the world know it is safe. They are the first agents of H.A.M.M.E.R. They are history in the making. His soldiers.
“Long live H.A.M.M.E.R.!!!” Osborn proclaims, as he stands in front of a brand new helicarrier, his agents throwing up their arms in support. “May you strike down mighty and true!!”
(Castle Doom, Latveria)“Who the hell is--?” starts a startled Thunderbolts agent. “Morgana!?” exclaims Doctor Doom, as he readies his magicks.
He has stolen from her, says the sorceress as she summons an army of demons amid the ruins of what was once Castle Doom. He betrayed her. He came to her and offered himself to her in exchange for her dark secrets. He betrayed her trust and tonight he will die for it!!
“Morgana look around you!!” shouts Doctor Doom.
“And the world will be spared any more of your selfish villainy…” Morgana continues.
“Look around you!” Doom repeats. Can’t she see that he’s lost his kingdom?
“No…” says Morgana as she fires magical lightning at her former lover. Now he has.
Doom cries out to Morgana that he will not tolerate this, conjuring a magical shield, while one of the two Thunderbolts agents is incinerated by Morgana’s lightning.
Even his groveling is arrogant, remarks Morgana casting a spell. “Bring him here! Blood and bones!” she orders her demons.
Doom casts a protective ward to hold back the onslaught from Morgana’s demons.
“This is Delta Niner Six Five Two!” the surviving Thunderbolts agent cries into his helmet. They are under attack. Repeat, they are in Latveria, Castle Doom. Coordinates: Nine Five Two.
(Avengers Tower)I am the Iron Patriot. I will lead these new Avengers into battle against anyone who would threaten our way of life. My name is Norman Osborn and I approve these Avengers!” exclaims the armored Norman Osborn on the screen. The real Norman Osborn stands within Avengers Tower, while his handpicked Avengers stand behind him.
“You know, it’s too bad I killed my mother in high school… She would have loved this,” says Bullseye. The others stare at him.” Joking,” he says. She wouldn’t a’ cared.”
“Okay, Avengers,” Norman says, drawing his team’s attention, while they all hold celebratory drinks in their hands. Let him make some things perfectly clear… None of them—he means none of them--talk to the media ever again. That was it. If they do, if they even wave at the paparazzi, back to the basement of Thunderbolts Mountain they go.
“I do as I please, Osborn,” says Ares. Osborn asks him if he wants to talk to the media. “Not really,” Ares replies. “Okay then,” Osborn confirms. “Verily,” says Ares. “Right,” says Osborn.
“And more importantly, and I can’t make this point any more clear…” Osborn continues as his armor begins to disassemble. If they start any macho ego @#$ with each other… Any button-pushing, any testosterone… they’re out. No three strikes. No warning. They’re out.
The last of Norman’s armor flows into his belt. “Get to know each other,” he says. Get along Become a team, you all know a thing or two about a thing or two… Learn from each other.
“Okay then what’s next?” asks Mac Gargan, the team’s Spider-Man otherwise known as Venom. As in what do they actually do?
They are going to prepare a list of targets around the world and strike at them, says Osborn, as he puts on a tie and a jacket. Ares confirms and asks to be allowed to contribute to that. Osborn says of course. It’s why Ares is here. “Aye,” says Ares. Osborn then introduces Victoria Hand. She’s Deputy Director of H.A.M.M.E.R. She’s his second in command.
“Whoa wait,” Moonstone interrupts, dressed in the original uniform of Ms. Marvel. She’s not even second in command now?? She’s his Ms. Marvel. She’s field leader! Osborn exclaims. If, God forbid, something happens to him, he mutters under his breath. “Okay then,” replies Moonstone. But she answers to her, Osborn fires back. “You suck,” says Moonstone.
Mac Gargan asks who is she? She is him as far as Mac is concerned, Osborn tells him. Mac asks if she talks. “Yes,” says Victoria. Now step out of her airspace or she’ll have him replaced with D-Man, she threatens. Mac asks what a D-Man is and Victoria assures him it’s not a compliment.
“Osborn, we need to do a Skrull sweep,” announces Noh-Varr. Hawkeye concurs. Noh-Varr states that there are still some of them out there. Osborn counters that there aren’t as many as Marvel Boy thinks. “Captain Marvel,” corrects the Kree. Osborn says, Right. Sorry. They have people on that. No, Skrulls are yesterday’s news. He needs Noh-Varr, he needs them all, to make people feel safe for tomorrow.
“How about Tony Stark? Right? Public Enemy Number One? He let the invasion happen. He’s a war criminal right? Let’s go get him,” suggests Bullseye. “No,” replies Osborn as he glances at the frowning Ares and Sentry. For now, Tony Stark is a court of law matter, he claims. Kicking a man while he’s down is hardly a way to win over the public. Hawkeye asks who cares about that on any level. Osborn says that he does, so they do, too.
Moonstone asks if they should go around the room and introduce themselves. Daken asks her why. That was her nice way of saying she doesn’t know who the@#$% he is! Osborn turns his head to the window as Moonstone asks him, seriously… Who is this?
(Latveria)Doctor Doom continues to protect both himself and the helicopter that brought him there from Morgana’s magical lightning. Arcane symbols glow in front of both Morgana and Doom as they repeat their spells, their eyes closed as they furrow their brows furrow in concentration.
Morgana casts another spell, her eyes glowing with power and a bolt of magical lightning breaks through Doom’s defenses and he cries out in pain. Morgana tells him he would not believe how long she has waited to hear him say that. Doom raises his hand and attempts to cast a spell, only for a demon to smash him into the ground.
(Avengers Tower)”I said he’s our Wolverine,” Osborn tells Victoria. Now they have one too. “They have one, we have-- Hold on.” He says as Victoria hands him a small monitor. She tells him that this just came in over the secure line. Norman asks what is it? Victoria tells him she can put it up. Osborn tells her to do so.
Footage of Doctor Doom’s battle in Latveria appears on screen. “This Delta Niner Six Five Two,” the transmission begins. “We are under attack. Repeat, we are in Latveria. Castle Doom. Coordinates: Nine Five Two. We are under attack. Unidentified female. Doctor Doom is down. I repeat, Doctor Doom is down!!”
“Um…” begins Sentry. Why is Doctor Doom back in Latveria? Norman tells him that he sent him there. He orders Victoria to get him satellite footage, she gets him intel. “Yes, sir,” says Victoria.
“Damn,” says Norman. “Helping Doom isn’t the ideal first mission. Suit up, Avengers. Let’s go do something.”
Moonstone, Iron Patriot and Sentry fly through the air under their own power, while the remaining members of the Dark Avengers fly from the inside of a Quinjet. Norman muses that at least they get to see what the team can do.
“Gagagoo!! Gadapoo!!” a small demon mocks, as it stands on the torso of the unconscious Doctor Doom. “So beautiful,” says Morgana as the demon continues to repeat its earlier speech. She raises her knife and then turns. “Hmm,” she says, summoning forth demons to deal with the newly arrived Dark Avengers. Iron Patriot asks who they think all this is?
He knows exactly who this is! Ares exclaims from within the Quinjet. It’s Morgana Le Fay. Dark sorceress from another time. As Iron Patriot fires energy blasts at two winged demons outside, the Sinister Spider-Man asks if he can eat her. “Why do you always have to make it about eat…” begins Daken, before a giant winged demon sinks its teeth into the Quinjet and sends crashing into the ground while Morgana watches.
While Moonstone deals with the demon, Iron Patriot announces that his name is Norman Osborn. Leader of the Avenges, Miss Fay! They’re here to ask her to go back to where she came from or face them head on!
She has battled Avengers before, noble knight, Morgana tells him, while several demons leer up at Iron Patriot and Sentry. “Not like us, you haven’t. Surrender or leave.” Iron Patriot orders her.
“Or what?” cries Morgana, her hands crackling with magical energy. Iron Patriot tells the Sentry, Bob, that he has his permission… don’t hold back. Sentry complies and streaks towards Morgana, ripping her head clean off her body, magical lightning escaping from her neck as he does so.
He doesn’t say this much but… Whoa, says Bullseye as the Sentry holds Morgana’s body aloft and the demons all vanish in flashes of pink light.
What he did? Was it a good or a bad thing? Sentry asks. “Ha!” says Ares, smiling. “Well, that is one way to end a fight.” “Was it a good thing or bad thing?” Sentry repeats. “Good thing, Bob. Absolutely,” assures Iron Patriot. “It was?” Sentry asks. Daken asks what’s wrong with him, exactly?
The Dark Avengers turn their attention to the unconscious Doctor Doom. “Victor?” Iron Patriot says. Bullseye asks if he is alright. “Is it really him?” Moonstone asks. Iron Patriot confirms that it is. “What’s wrong with him? I thought this was the big ‘ol Doctor Doom. I thought he…” Venom begins. “She took him down. She got him.” Daken replies. “Doom?” questions Venom. “Never thought I’d be looking right at him, says Daken.
“He’s breathing,” says Moonstone. “In a coma, maybe?” Bullseye suggests. “I wonder what he did to make the sorceress so insane she would travel to our time to punish him so severely.” Ares wonders. “She time-traveled to do this?” Moonstone exclaims. “Well, she’s from the time of Arthur Pendragon,” Ares informs her. “King Arthur,” says Moonstone. “Long way to go to get your head popped off,” Bullseye says
“Hand, this is Iron Patriot,” Iron Patriot says into his helmet. “He’s really going to call himself that in public?” Bullseye asks. Ignoring him, Iron Patriot tells Victoria they’re on the ground at Castle Doom. They need a clean-up team and an EVAC, ASAP.
Sentry tenses and keels over. “Um…” he mutters. “Bob, what’s wrong with--??” Ares asks. “Ow!” cries Bob. “Something’s…” He screams, throwing his head upwards and spreading his arms out as he explodes in a flash of golden light, sending his teammates diving for cover.
“Son of a…” Venom begins. “Okay, Hand” Iron Patriot says. He doesn’t know if Victoria saw that but the Sentry is… gone.”
Morgana and her demons reappear and she tells the Dark Avengers to understand this, you simple, simple mortals of flesh. She is not from their time. Even if they kill her here… She can come back from her time in the far past and destroy them. Do it again and she’ll come back in their childhood and remove them from existence.
“Morgana, I am Ares, god of war, son of Zeus! And I demand that you go back whence you came,” Ares orders. Morgana turns her gaze to him thoughtfully and says that it is him, mighty Ares. Her humblest apologies for not recognizing him before. Her lips curl into a smile as she tells him that he says Zeus’ name, as if his father cares if he lives or dies. She knows in this time that he does not.
“Pavati Mulandooso,” she pronounces, casting another spell. Venom cries out in pain before transforming from his Spider-Man form back into his monstrous Venom state. “Jeez!” says Bullseye, as Venom swallows half of Ares in his mouth. A strike of magical energy strikes Iron Patriot and Morgana’s demons attack the remaining Dark Avengers as they attempt to flee.
Ares, Bullseye / “Hawkeye,” Daken / “Wolverine,” Iron Patriot, Moonstone / “Ms. Marvel,” Noh-Varr/ “Captain Marvel,” Sentry, Venom / “Spider-Man” (all Dark Avengers)
Morgana Le FayUnnamed demons
Victoria Hand (Deputy Director of H.A.M.M.E.R.)Unnamed H.A.M.M.E.R. agents
Unnamed Thunderbolts agents
Doctor Doom made a deal with Morgana Le Fey to furnish him with an army of Mindless Ones in Mighty Avengers (1st series) #11. He was forced to renege on his end of the bargain due to being imprisoned in the Raft.
This issue takes place concurrently with New Avengers (1st series) #50. However, the room the Dark Avengers are in displays no signs of the damage it sustained during the Dark Avengers’ confrontation with Spider-Woman in that issue.