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Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), David Finch (Penciler), Danny Miki (Inker), Frank D’Armata (Colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (Letterer), James Taveras (Production), Molly Lazer and Aubrey Sitterson (Assistant Editors), Andy Schmidt (Associate Editor), Tom Brevoort (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)
The Silver Samurai kills the Hand ninjas and Kuroda, while Iron Man takes down the rest of the Hand with a concussion blast. The Samurai is ready to talk, but Luke Cage attacks him. Captain America lectures Cage, and Iron Man reveals that the Samurai is one of the prisoners in the Raft who was declared dead to the world. The Samurai explains his story of how a month ago he was taken from his plane and locked up in the Raft. It wasn’t until the jailbreak that he found out he was in New York. Then he was immediately taken to Japan and to here. The Samurai thinks the US government did this, but Captain America explains that S.H.I.E.L.D. is rotten and something is going on. Unfortunately, the authorities arrive and the Avengers leave, but take Viper with them. While flying back, the Samurai goes public with his recent imprisonment and blames the US, much to the anger of Captain America, who is deeply bothered by this new unseen enemy they are facing. When the team falls asleep, Viper gives Spider-Woman the signal to open the floor hatch, which sucks not only Viper out, but Captain America! Luckily, Spider-Woman and Iron Man are able to save Cap, but the mysterious ninja ally shows signs of knowing that Spider-Woman was behind the incident. Once at Avengers Tower, the ninja announces that he will return to Japan to watch over the Silver Samurai, but the Avengers demand to know who he is. The ninja unmasks herself and reveals herself to be Echo. Later that morning over breakfast, Captain America nonchalantly confronts Spider-Woman over her treachery, much to her disbelief.
In the courtyard of Fortress Yashida, Kuroda, standing behind the Silver Samurai and a group of Hand ninjas, scoffs at the presence of Captain America and other American heroes in Japan. What on Earth do they think they are doing here? Captain America steps forward and introduces the team as the Avengers and states that they have come to put an end to whatever is going on before it even begins. There will be no Hand power base here. They all will stand down.
The Silver Samurai raises his sword and tells Captain America that he was kidnapped by the United States. Who is Captain America to defend this behavior? In Japanese, Kuroda tells the Samurai to stop talking to the Avengers. Rather, he should defend the walls of the Yashida house. Loudly, the Samurai demands to know why he was put in American custody without a trial. Captain America tells the Samurai that they are in Japan to find that out. However, the people he has associated himself with are terrorists. Harada must drop his weapon. Angry, Kuroda yells at the Samurai and tells him to lead his troops.
Angry, the Silver Samurai spins around with his sword drawn, slicing open several Hand ninjas and Kuroda. Kuroda grabs his throat as he throws up blood, and then falls. Captain America is about to lead the Avengers into battle, but Iron Man stops Cap and instead unleashes a massive concussion blast that knocks down all the Hand ninjas, as well as destroying a few trees.
Astounded, Cage asks Iron Man what he just did, and learns that the golden Avenger unleashed a concussion blast. He then picks up the signals of 49 more enemies, and then begins to do an environmental reading. “I’m pooping in my tights,” says Spider-Man. There, says Iron Man as he blasts another ninja off a roof. Cage complains that he didn’t get to hit anything, and Iron Man apologizes to the Samurai about the trees. The Samurai does not care, but Spider-Man asks Iron Man why he didn’t use this trick back at the penthouse, to which Iron Man explains that all of the Avengers were bouncing around him. Iron Man senses three more ninjas and takes them down. The Silver Samurai then thanks the Avengers for coming as now they can make some sense of this ordeal. Angry, Cage punches the Samurai and tells him that he doesn’t want to hear it.
An angered Captain America holds Cage back, and tells him that this isn’t why they came to Japan. Annoyed, Cage argues that if they hadn’t come to Japan Harada would we wearing Hydra robes right now. Iron Man explains to Luke that the Samurai is one of the S.H.I.E.L.D. that didn’t match. He was declared dead. Cage mutters that Harada is deep in all of this, but Iron Man tells him that the Samurai is not lying. Also, they cannot just arrest him. Things are more complicated then that. Complicated, asks Cage. He just got tossed out of a skyscraper over Harada! The Silver Samurai regains his composure and asks Cage if he did not go to prison once. Luke falls silent. Are you the same man, asks Harada.
Captain America takes charge and tells Harada that they came to find out what happened and what he was going to do. The Samurai responds that his future actions will depend on why the US government kidnapped him. Captain America argues that the US did not kidnap hi. Something is wrong with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers are trying to figure it out fast. It would be a huge help if Harada told them what happened to him.
Harada explains that a month ago he fell asleep on his private plane, only to wake up in the Raft. He didn’t even know he was in New York until the prison riot. He fled only to be instantly picked up by Hand agents, who told him that they were Japanese Secret Service for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. He was then brought to his ancestral home so the Hand and Hydra could suck up to him and tell him how this will all lead to a new power struggle. Now, the Avengers are there.
The Silver Samurai says hello to Jessica. Confused, Jessica asks if the Hydra and the Hand are really working together. Harada explains that Madame Hydra said that S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra are both rotten. Is that true?
Spider-Woman tells Harada that they are still putting it together. Iron Man then asks Harada what he is going to do. Silver Samurai explains that his hand was forced. He is going to take his house back and put a spotlight on himself to stay safe. The Avengers should tell their masters that he is going to tell the world about what happened to him. The only thing keeping him from turning his house into something more for the US to fear is his father’s name on the door. If their country comes for him again…
“It’s not our country,” says Captain America, firmly.
Iron Man announces that the authorities are coming. The Silver Samurai tells the Avengers to go. He will take credit for the Hand’s downfall here. However, he will warn them that his announcement will be public and it will be loud. As the Avengers walk to the Quinjet, Spider-Woman tells Harada to do what he wants, but she is taking Viper. No, says Harada, Viper stays with him and pays the price. Angry, Spider-Woman tells Harada that she is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Viper is a wanted terrorist. There is no way she leaves the country without Viper. There’s a history here, says the Silver Samurai flatly. I know, responds Spider-Woman, as she carries the unconscious Viper away.
Sometime later, over the sea, Spider-Man tells his allies that he couldn’t help but think that if the Sentry was there they could have finished that battle in three minutes. Captain America, who sits up front with Iron Man at the controls, explains that Sentry is not ready. Spider-Man, who sits in the back with Viper, Luke Cage and the mysterious ninja, says that he is ready for Sentry to be ready. Me too, replies Cap. Spider-Woman, who sits at a console between the two groups, announces that the Samurai has taken his story to the press. I’m watching, replies Iron Man.
Cap asks Tony if he is blaming America. Yes, answers Iron Man. Cap feels like he is being driven insane, but Iron Man reasons that Harada was technically held against his will on US soil. Cap does understand that they must take it to the press too. Cap asks if Tony means the whole story, Savage Land included. No, replies Iron Man, since they can’t prove that. He wants to make the Avengers public. They should make a show of it like they used to. The Sentry’s Watchtower is a bit glaring already and they can’t hold it back from the press much longer. They can use this to their advantage. Cap stares distantly ahead. Concerned, Tony tells Cap that they have fought this fight for years. Why is this one getting to him so much. Cap does not reply.
In the back, Spider-Man turns to the mysterious ronin next to him and introduces himself as the amazing Spider-Man. Cage looks up from his book at the silent ninja and asks who he or she is. Captain America invited me, replies the ninja to Luke. Yeah, says Cage, but who are you. Meanwhile, Spider-Woman looks over at Viper, who gives her a look back.
The ninja apologizes, as he has no name they would recognize. Spider-Man, recalling how this ninja is apparently a friend of Matt Murdock, asks if they have met before. If he is a friend of Matt and kicks ninja but, then…is he Iron Fist? Offended, Cage looks up at Spider-Man, smiling and tells him that, if it were Iron Fist, doesn’t Spider-Man think he would know? Shang-Chi, asks Spider-Man. Does it sound like Shang-Chi, retorts Cage. Sounds like Shang-Chi when he is ignoring me, replies Spider-Man. Cap turns and tells Spider-Man to leave it alone. Are you Foggy Nelson, continues Spider-Man. Alan Dershowitz?
Cap tells Spider-Man one last time to leave it be. Spider-Man gives up, but admits that he just wanted to know so he could take his mask off and nap. Someone replies that there really isn’t anyone who hasn’t seen him without his mask on. “I hate that joke,” says Spider-Man.
Some time later, Spider-Man, Luke Cage and the mysterious ronin all doze off. Spider-Woman looks around and sees Captain America and Iron Man busy looking a head. She then looks at Viper, who stares back. Spider-Woman becomes upset, but Viper simply stares at the ground and calls Jessica’s attention to the exit hatch. Viper then looks back at the Avenger, who is shocked that Viper wants her to release her now. Spider-Woman looks next to her at the sleeping Jarvis, and then back to the three Avengers sleeping behind her. She then accesses the hatch door emergency override, hesitantly. As Viper stares Jessica down, the terrified Avenger overrides the hatch… just as Captain America gets up to check something.
The hatch on the floor blows open and Captain America is swept off his feet, falling into Iron Man. The other Avengers are awoken by the strong wind and Viper leaps forward as she is sucked out of the hatch. Much to the horror of Spider-Woman, Captain America is sucked out as well. Angry at herself, Spider-Woman flies out of the hatch after Captain America. The ninja unbuckles himself and tells Iron Man to go after Captain America. He can fly. Stressed, Iron Man tells the ninja that this isn’t like a plane. Go, says the ninja in a commanding tone.
Outside, Spider-Woman dives towards Captain America, though Viper is out of sight. Captain America plummets precariously close to the ocean, but at the last second Spider-Woman reaches him and wraps her legs around his waist, using all her strength to keep afloat. Jessica screams in pain and she begins to realize she might not be able to stay afloat. Just then, Iron Man arrives and grabs the both of them.
The three Avengers return to the Quinjet, and Iron Man states that he can’t find any life signs of Madame Hydra. Stuttering as she straps herself back into her seat, Spider-Woman tells the team that she doesn’t know what happened. The override for the door occurred before she could even react. Captain America checks up on Jarvis and tells him that they will get him home.
In his seat, Spider-Man asks if Viper is dead. Cap says no, but Cage questions this logic as there is no way she could survive the fall all webbed up. As the ninja returns to his seat, Cage asks if Viper had a device to override the hatch. Didn’t anyone frisk her, asks Spider-Man. Yes, says the stoic Iron Man. In her seat, Spider-Woman turns around as the ninja, who shoots her a dirty look, sits. Captain America sits in his seat angry.
Back at Avengers Tower, the Avengers land on the roof and disembark. The ninja apologizes for the mission going badly, but Cap tells him that he did nothing wrong. The ninja then announces that he is going to return to Japan to make sure Harada doesn’t buckle under the pressure, as he has in the past. He hears Elektra Nachios runs the Hand now. She will come looking for her men – or revenge. His sensei used to tell him that the war between the Hand and the Yashida family was centuries old and would not end in their lifetime. However, the ninja does not believe that. It must end one day. Plus, he made Cap and Matt Murdock a promise.
As Spider-Man hugs Mary Jane, Cap tells the ninja that a deceased from of theirs told them once that the Avengers had trouble following through on things. They always jumped from one drama to the other. Cap has thought about what his friend said and he is correct. Iron Man steps up and says that, if the ninja is willing to do all of this, then he will fund it. If he needs a team he can call them, even if he needs another team put together. The ninja is silent until Captain America asks him if he needs financing. The ninja declines the offer, stating that he has plenty of money.
Iron Man asks the ninja how he knew how to fly a Quinjet that was recently designed and not shown to the world. Once again, the ninja does not answer until Captain America repeats the question. The ninja answers that he saw Iron Man fly is. If he sees someone do something, then he can do it. As the ninja bows to Cap, the man tells the black clad warrior that he wasn’t aware of how intense his feelings about Japan were. Is he willing to go the mile with the Avengers on this?
Who is this, asks Iron Man. Captain America tells the ninja that the Avengers wish to know who he is.
The Avengers all stare as their new teammate takes off her helmet and reveals her face. “My name is Maya Lopez,” says the woman with a distinguishing mark on her face, “They also call me Echo.”
The Avengers look at Echo with astonishment.
Later that morning, Jessica sits in her street clothes in Avengers Tower, eating cereal and thinking. Captain America then enters the room and sits next to her, pouring himself a glass of milk. Rough night, says Cap. Jessica agrees.
“So…” says Cap, without even looking at Jessica, “…who are you working for?”
Jessica looks at Captain America in disbelief.
Luke Cage, Captain America, Echo, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman (Avengers)
Various Hand ninjas
JarvisMary Jane Parker
Ronin was first introduced in interviews and preview art much earlier before this arc. A clue was given to the identity of Ronin, which was that the person already was in a hit movie. This clue would later prove to be untrue, but speculation began to pour out, even mentioning of names of people who did not have a movie yet. Suspects for the identity of Ronin include Elektra, Iron Fist, Shang-Chi, and Stone. Unfortunately, the identity of Ronin was spoiled in the OHMU: Avengers 2005 a few months prior to this arc.
Not once in this story is the new Avenger referred to as Ronin, a name given to Echo in publicity and interviews. Until Ronin officially becomes canon, Echo and “mysterious ninja” it is.
Silver Samurai was one of the many criminals who escaped the Raft off panel in New Avengers #3.
The Avengers discovered that a rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. ops team was illegally mining for vibranium and that many of the prisoners S.H.I.E.L.D. has been detaining in the Raft were officially declared dead in New Avengers #6.
The Sentry’s Watchtower appeared on Avengers Tower in New Avengers #10.
Iron Fist was Luke Cage’s old partner back when Cage used to go by the name of Power Man.
The reason Echo only responded to when Captain America or Luke Cage spoke is simple: Echo is deaf! Since Iron Man and Spider-Man wear masks, Echo is unable to read their lips.
Reader’s first learned that Spider-Woman had multiple allegiances at the end of New Avengers #3.