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Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Stuart Immonen (penciler), Wade Von Grawbadger (inker), Laura Martin (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer and production), Lauren Sankovitch (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Despite reservations, Steve Rogers manages to persuade Luke Cage to run his own team of Avengers and, to help facilitate this, Tony Stark has them buy Avengers Mansion for a dollar. He soon assembles a team which includes Wolverine, Ms. Marvel, Mockingbird and the Thing. Victoria Hand, Norman Osborn’s assistant, is brought in by Steve Rogers to help them out. Meanwhile, Daimon Hellstrom is bodysnatched by a mysterious mystic force and, in turn, it takes over Dr. Strange, too. This entity wants the Eye of Agamotto, which is currently held by the new Sorcerer Supreme, Jericho Drumm, aka Brother Voodoo. They track down Voodoo but he won’t give up the Eye easily. He teleports it to Avengers Mansion and Hellstrom and Dr. Strange immediately follow. When they arrive, Luke Cage and Wolverine don’t believe that they are who they say they are. When Luke takes hold of the Eye, he is instantly possessed by its power, much to everyone’s concern.
Dr. Strange uses the Gorgerell Transportation spell from the Book of Vishanti to take him to where Daimon Hellstrom is waiting for him. He asks Daimon how he’s been. Daimon, relaxing on a part bench, thanks Strange for meeting him and replies that he’s been better. Strange asks if his problem is physical or mental. Hellstrom informs him that it’s mystical. He explains that this plane of existence has weakened, maybe beyond repair. All the fighting and the battles and the darkness that the world has seen lately have weakened the barriers that keep the mortal plane safe from those who would take it from them. He adds that there have been breaches; an invasion into this world.Dr. Strange believes him and he has to agree. There have been disturbances in the astral plane. He thinks they should get hold of Brother Voodoo and compare notes. He is the Sorcerer Supreme now. They have to figure out who is here and how they got here. Hellstrom replies that he knows how they got here. “Possession!” He quickly grows in size and flames flicker from his skin and eyes.
(Avengers Tower)It’s a beautiful day and all the Avengers are outside enjoying the day. Jarvis serves everyone drinks, Wolverine sits beside a bowl of popcorn and people catch up with each other. Luke is in conversation with Steve Rogers and he isn’t happy with what Steve’s suggesting. Steve wants them to move into Avengers Mansion and become proper Avengers, but Luke believes he just wants them to move in and do whatever he says.
Steve explains that this is a new day on every level. The war is won and the battle is finished. He wants Luke to choose to be there. He’s not making him. No one is. Luke turns to Iron Fist and Spider-Man and asks if he’s nuts or does this seem like they fought for the right to go and do exactly what Tony Stark here wanted them to do. Spidey reckons it’s a bit of both and Danny replies that he can see Luke’s point.Steve Rogers reiterates that this is a choice. Is he not really getting that? Jessica Jones replies that they’re talking about a symbolic gesture. He gets that, right? He was Captain America after all. Tony Stark tells Luke that all this time they’ve called themselves the Avengers. They hid in Dr. Strange’s basement and said they were Avengers. Luke replies that it wasn’t just ‘because.’ It was because Steve Rogers said they were. Tony asks if they still want to be Avengers. Luke casually replies yes and then Tony puts his hand out and asks for a dollar. Luke fumbles through his pockets but says he doesn’t have any cash. Danny pulls out a dollar and hands it over to Tony. Tony in turn hands over a piece of paper. “Congratulations,” he smiles. “You just bought the newly-renovated Avengers Mansion. Now go be Avengers. Save the world.”
Luke looks at the document and can’t believe it. Steve places a hand on his shoulder and tells him that Tony knew he was having problems adjusting. So, this is Plan B. They want to be Avengers, then it should be on their own terms and nothing would make him happier. Luke can’t help but grin as the news sinks in. Steve adds that they will have a team here and he will have a team there. They’ll do their own thing and, knowing how these things work, they’ll team up every now and then. When Luke asks who they get, Steve asks who he wants, but then whispers that he can’t have Thor or Iron Man.
(Brother Voodoo’s sanctum sanctorum, New Orleans)Voodoo’s brother Daniel, a ghostly form, asks Jericho what he’s doing. He replies that he’s meditating. Daniel reckons he should be studying ancient texts, but Jericho asks him to be quiet. Daniel feels that just because he is now the sorcerer supreme, it doesn’t mean he can set aside his heritage. Jericho replies that he’s not setting anything aside, but Daniel is right. He does have to study more. He has to find the ‘off switch’ for the spirit of his dead brother, who just won’t leave him alone. Daniel says that his brother needs him, but he then becomes strangely distracted. Jericho, facing away from Daniel, jokes that he never talked this much when he was alive. Daniel says Jericho’s name, and then again. He finally shouts his name in order to make Jericho listen.Jericho turns around and sees Dr. Strange standing there amidst swirls of mist with Daimon Hellstrom. He asks what they’re doing there. They reply that they need his help. There’s trouble and they need to see the Eye of Agamotto. He needs to give eye to them, now. Brother Voodoo stands and holds his staff out, demanding to know who he’s speaking to now. Who is so bold and powerful that they could take the form of the master Strange. Who is he speaking to, really? Daniel calls for his brother to run!
(Avengers Mansion, later)Luke Cage, Jessica and Danny Rand are pleased that they are not only moving into Avengers Mansion - they own it. As they approach the door, Victoria Hand steps out carrying a very big gun and orders them to stop right there. She provides her name and asks them if they know who she is. Luke warns her to put the gun down and Jessica scowls at her saying she knows full well who she is. She was Norman Osborn’s Saturday night party. “Screw you,” she replies. She informs them that she was Deputy Director of H.A.M.M.E.R. She was a S.H.I.E.L.D. commander and she has a note for them. Luke tells her to put the gun down or he will knock her head off her shoulders. Victoria hands him the note and he takes it, reluctantly.The note is from Steve Rogers. It explains that he needs someone to keep tabs on them; not to interfere but to facilitate their work there. He believes Victoria deserves a second chance. Luke looks at her and asks what’s with the gun. Victoria asks what she’s supposed to do. Walk up to them and blow kisses? She doesn’t have powers. They hate her guts and could kill her. Luke brings his hands together quickly and claps. The resultant shock wave knocks Victoria off her feet and into one of the large terracotta vases nearby.
He asks her what the hell she was doing working for Norman Osborn in the first place. “Trying to help the world,” she replies. Luke and Danny look down at her as she pulls herself together. She tells them not to worry. She’ll leave. This was hardly her idea. Luke asks her, in that case, why she came. She replies that Captain America asked her to. She turns and walks away. Jessica asks Luke what he’s thinking. She then realizes he’s considering it and says no. The woman held a gun to their baby’s head.
(New Orleans)Dr. Strange and Daimon Hellstrom attack Brother Voodoo but he defends himself with the Coloctor’s protective spell. As he lies on the ground, he demands that the daemons reveal their names. Hellstrom tells him to give forward the Eye of Agamotto and his brother’s spirit will be spared true suffering. Again, Jericho asks their names, but Daniel shouts at him to run. As Daniel speaks, two demons emerge from his eyes and they round on Jericho. Daniel cries out that he must run. He cannot win this fight. Brother Voodoo holds his staff out before him and it glows brightly as he casts the Longorian spell for the battle of an astral incursion into the corporeal world. Jericho tells his brother not to let them win, but as he watches, his brother’s spirit disappears in a wisp of smoke and Dr. Strange says that the Eye of Agamotto is needed for the next event to happen.(New York, later)Victoria Hand is relaxing by having a drink at a rooftop café. Her peace is interrupted when Luke Cage and Wolverine appear and Luke tells her that the trouble he has with her is that she had no problem with the world according to Norman Osborn. She asks if he brought Wolverine to stick her, but he replies that it’s not how they do things. She tells them that Osborn was a sick man but he was a genius. She did everything she could to try and help him live up to his potential and to combat his demons. She did so gladly because his ideas for the world were bold and brash. If they really look at what he did… if they could see past his illness and look at how willing he was to get his hands dirty to keep the world turning, they’d find it was hard to argue that he wasn’t successful. “Up until the point he wasn’t,” replies Wolverine.Victoria replies that he’s in jail and, if he wasn’t by now, she would have had to put him down herself. Speaking of jail, she’d rather be there than being sandbagged by them. Luke asks calmly why she wants to work with them, really? Victoria replies that it’s because now, more than ever, they need someone to tell them when they’re right and when they’re wrong. She thinks they need a perspective other than their own. Everyone does. She asks them to imagine where Nick Fury and Tony Stark would be if they had gotten off on their egos and done the same. And, frankly, Steve Rogers obviously thinks so too or he wouldn’t have made them all go through this.
Luke looks at her and asks Logan if she’s lying. Wolverine sniffs the air and replies, “Not even a little.” Luke extends his hand and welcomes Victoria to the Avengers. It’s a second chance, so she shouldn’t mess it up. Victoria shakes his hand but Luke warns her to stay the hell away from his wife. She wants to kill her. Victoria replies that she got that part. Wolverine asks now what. Luke informs him that it’s time to put the band back together; see if they can’t surprise some people.
(later, at the dining table)“You call this the Avengers?” asks an incredulous Ben Grimm. Luke tells him that this is the New Avengers. At the table are Wolverine, Mockingbird, Hawkeye, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, Jewel and Ms. Marvel. Luke adds that the New Avengers want him in the team too. He knows Ben has his Fantastic Four thing going on, but they’ve got history. And when ‘he who we’re not allowed to call Captain America’ said he could pick a team, his big head popped into his mind. Ms. Marvel asks Luke to take it easy. Ben’s a busy man. “A man can ask,” replies Luke.Wolverine swigs a beer and reminds them that he’s on two teams. When Mockingbird asks how the hell he does that, Logan replies that multitasking is his mutant power. “Don’t tell anybody,” he whispers. Ben says that he does love his family… Susie, Reed and that other guy, but they are driving him insane lately. Luke extends his hand and says he’s not saying he should quit them. He’s just saying that, when he’s not there, he should be with them.
Out of the blue, due to Caroni’s teleportation spell for endangered material possessions, the Eye of Agamotto appears in Luke’s hand which startles not just him but everyone else in the room. Ben asks what the hell just happened. Luke drops the Eye and says he doesn’t know. Luke then recognizes it as the Eye of Agamotto. Mockingbird asks him to pick it back up, but Luke asks her to pick it up. Ben remembers that the Eye isn’t Dr. Strange’s anymore; it’s Brother Voodoo’s. Iron Fist asks what it’s doing there. “It was looking for me,” comes a voice from behind them. They turn to see Dr. Strange and Daimon Hellstrom standing there and Strange informs them that it can only mean one thing. Doctor Voodoo is dead. This is terrible news, he adds. He asks Luke to hand it over. They will avenge his death.
Luke asks if they knew where Voodoo was when this went down. He then looks at Wolverine, whose facial response confirms Luke’s suspicions. “Who am I speaking to?” asks Luke. Dr. Strange replies that he’s talking to the new rulers of this dimension… with his help. Luke picks up the Eye and is immediately possessed by its occult power. His eyes glow as its power courses through his veins and his colleagues look on, concerned.
Luke Cage, Hawkeye, Iron Fist, Iron Man, Jewel, Mockingbird, Ms. Marvel, Steve Rogers, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Thing, Thor, Wolverine (all Avengers)Danielle CageDr. StrangeDaimon HellstromHawkeye II, Speed, Stature, Vision, Wiccan (all Young Avengers)
Phobos & StonewallJarvisBlackWidow, Captain America (Bucky Barnes), Daredevil, Hellcat, Maria Hill, Hogun, Jocasta, Mr. Fantastic
Brother Voodoo and Daniel Drumm
Fandrall, Hogun and Volstagg
Following the Siege storyline in which Norman Osborn (though he was manipulated by Loki) attacked Asgard, the superhuman registration act was abolished [in Siege #4] - something Luke Cage had been vociferously opposed to. Captain America took charge of the Avengers and installed Luke as leader of the New Avengers. Luke was also leading the Thunderbolts at the time of this issue.