New Avengers (2nd series) #18

Issue Date: 
January 2012
Story Title: 

Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Mike Deodato (artist), Rain Beredo (color artist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters and production), Mike Deodato and Rain Beredo (cover artists), John Denning (associate editor), Lauren Sankovitch (assistant editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Norman Osborn is visited by a few people who need his help. They are introduced to him by Superia. In turn, they explain who they are and what resources they bring to the table. Madame Hydra brings Hydra and in return for the manpower she requires his leadership. Gorgon brings with him the Hand and Hydra, whilst Dr. Monica Rappaccini, A.I.M.’s supreme scientist, has enormous resources but no cash. What she does have is a clone of Thor which can be programmed to do whatever he wishes. Osborn sees the possibilities of Hydra, the Hand and A.I.M. teaming up with H.A.M.M.E.R. and proceeds to recruit a new team of Dark Avengers. He begins with June Covington, who will play the Scarlet Witch and follows that up by getting hold of Ai Apaec, Skaar and Barney Barton. All he needs now is a new suit of armor.

Full Summary: 

(the Savage Land, yesterday)
A Tyrannosaurus Rex charges through the jungle, not in its usual role as hunter, but as the hunted by Skaar, son of the Incredible Hulk, He rides the giant creature, smashing his mighty fists down on its skull several times before it falls under a spray of blood. Watching him in action is Norman Osborn, who is there with three guards. He calls out to the victor. When Skaar looks over and asks who he is, Osborn supplies his name and asks if he’s ever heard of him. Skaar hasn’t. Osborn walks up to him and looks tiny in comparison. He explains that he came all this way to ask him one question. Is he planning on hanging around and beating up defenseless animals or would he like to help change the world in a significant way? Osborn has a proposal for him.

(one week ago)
Osborn is with a newly assembled group and reckons that introductions are in order. Superia does the duty and introduces him to Viper, better known as Madame Hydra. Norman asks if they’ve met before, but Madame Hydra wants to put all that behind them for now. Superia says she brings with her a large gathering of Hydra loyalists. She then asks Gorgon if that’s his proper name. He replies that it is. Superia explains that he brings with him an army of the world’s most disciplined, trained assassins - former members of the Hand. Finally, she introduces Monica Rappaccini, A.I.M.’s supreme scientist. Monica removes her yellow helmet and says it’s an honor. Osborn grins. “A.I.M., Hydra and the Hand teaming up with H.A.M.M.E.R. How is this going to work?”

(Bellevue Hospital Center, yesterday)
Barney Barton is lying in a hospital bed with a plethora of tubes inserted into various parts of his body. Two police officers standing outside his room on guard discuss him. One of them informs his colleague that he’s Clint Barton’s brother, the Avenger with the bows and arrows. It turns out Barney doesn’t like his brother much. From what he heard, he broke the law and Hawkeye got him locked up. The guy survived a building falling on him.

Unseen by the two cops, Monica Rappaccini is disguised as a nurse and she injects a serum into Barney’s arm. His life signs flicker and then dwindle quickly until he flatlines. Sometime later, Barney’s body is transferred to the coroner’s office. Monica turns up with Norman Osborn and they ask to see his body. She injects a second serum into his neck and he comes back to life. “Barney Barton. Welcome to the Avengers,” says Osborn.

(one week ago)
Madame Hydra says she brings Hydra to him. She explains that she doesn’t feel there is much room to grow or succeed at their larger goals under the current climate. They come so close to what they desire, but there’s always one piece missing… one piece that keeps them from achieving their dreams without corporations, S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Avengers stopping them. She tells Osborn that, before he was put away, he had instilled in people, probably more people than he realizes, the thing that has been missing for years.

She knows he understands but notes that he’d like her to say it anyway. Whether he meant it or not, he gave voice to the disenfranchised... the people who do not think Captain America should be allowed to do whatever he wants in the name of what he thinks is right. She believes that Osborn speaks the same language as everyone there; the one not spoken by the media. She informs him that she can’t bring him all of Hydra because they splintered and broke, but she can bring him many of them and the others will fall in line. Osborn asks if she’s willing to step in line with him and get behind him. Why? “I’m sick of losing,” she replies.

(the Brazilian jungle, two days ago)
Osborn and Superia along with three armed guards, trek through the jungle. Superia is interested in just who they’re going to find out there. Osborn replies that it’s someone he met during his incarceration. That doesn’t really answer her question, she notes. As they walk, Osborn suddenly asks her to shush and they all stop walking. Norman looks around and asks Ai Apaec if they can have an audience. When Apaec appears, Superia gasps, but Norman asks her not to be rude. He asks Ai if he might be interested in joining him back in the real world. There is much that needs to be done and he can’t think of anybody more suited.

Ai Apaec, a half-human half-spider hybrid, replies that there is nothing for him in the civilized world, but Osborn believes there is. He thinks he has a chance at a new life. He holds out something in his hand but Ai believes he’s trying to trick him. Norman asks if he really thinks he would travel across the world and sift through this hellhole of a jungle he calls home just to &%*@ with him. He came to repay a favor. He came because he thought Ai deserved more than what God has given him. Ai takes the box from his hand and looks at it for a moment before tossing it down his neck.

Instantly, his body begins to convulse violently. His body shakes and he curses Osborn who stands there smiling. Moments later, Osborn looks down at him and asks how he feels. Can he get up? Ai Apaec replies weakly, “Whaaaat am - rRrr. What ammmm I?” He then stands up, revealing a brand new body resembling Spider-Man in his black costume, only with six arms. “You’re Spider-Man,” gloats Osborn.

(one week ago)
Gorgon warns the others to guard their thoughts around him. He can see inside their souls and feel their heart’s desires. He is more than Hand, he explains. He is a mutant and he is Hydra. He did more damage to the infrastructure of the mutant and powered community than any of them. He turned Wolverine on them and he did it by bringing Hydra and the Hand together. That’s how he knows this will work. He turns to Superia and says she mocks him in her mind. He reminds her that he almost assassinated Nick Fury. He had his life in his hands,. Superia replies that everyone’s almost killed Nick Fury. “But I died for it,” he replies. “Turned to stone and died. I am here because this will work.”

He points at Osborn and asks him if he will put his devil Avengers back together. Osborn replies yes, and he wants Gorgon to be part of it. He asks who he shall be. Osborn replies, telepathically, that he thinks it’s clear he will be whoever he wants to be. The question is… who does he want to stick it to the most? Gorgon replies in the same manner and tells Osborn that there are demons in his head. “Then you best stay away from them,” he replies verbally. Viper and Superia have no idea what’s going on.
(three days ago)
June Covington relaxes in bed after messing around with Osborn. She enjoyed it, just like it was in prison. She asks him what he’s going to do with his new toys. Osborn says he’s going to finish what he started. Or, she suggests, he can go hide away on a tropical island and live happily ever after. He tells her he can’t, and she asks if it’s because he’s addicted to madness. She tickles him and asks why he came. He laughs before explaining that it was to offer her a place. “On your lunatic Avengers,” she replies. “You want the Toxie Doxie by your side. You are crazier than I am.” He reckons she can control herself enough. She asks him why he needs the Avengers anyway. They didn’t work the first time. He looks up at her and tells her he didn’t know then what he knows now. He has a plan. June smiles and wants to see this plan. She can dress up for him. “Which Avenger would you like me to be?”
(one week ago)
Monica Rappaccini informs Norman Osborn that A.I.M. is an organization of science. They are entirely dedicated to the overthrow of all government by any and all technological means. They’ve been at it since World War II in one shape or another, but they’re no closer to achieving their goals. However, they have tremendous assets. One problem though is that without their erstwhile leader M.O.D.O.K., they’re having a cash flow problem and the reason they’re having a cash flow problem is because of M.O.D.O.K.’s leadership. She explains that if he truly wants to make a play for a new world order he’s going to need more than what he has. It’s going to take more than muscle. He asks what they’re talking about. Monica smiles and replies that A.I.M. came bearing gifts.
(A.I.M. laboratories, five days ago)
Monica takes Osborn and the team to her lab where they discover a figure in one of the bubbling tubes. Monica introduces them to Ragnarok. It is a clone of Thor and they can thank Reed Richards and Tony Stark for that. They designed it specifically to attack other heroes. She adds that the clone was destroyed around the time Osborn was incarcerated. When he asks how they got their hands on it, Monica replies that they have more friends than he could possibly imagine. Osborn asks what good it will do them, to which Monica informs him that the clone was created specifically to program. It has all the power and resolve of the mighty Thor and can be programmed to do whatever he needs him to do. Osborn asks if she can fix it. Monica reckons the only thing holding them back was financing. Osborn grins and tells her that there’s nothing to hold them back now. “Welcome to H.A.M.M.E.R.,” he replies. “Let me know as soon as he is ready. He’ll be the crown jewel of my Avengers.”

Norman Osborn stands before his new team. They are Gorgon as Wolverine, the Toxie Doxie as the Scarlet Witch, Skaar as the new Hulk, Ai Apaec as Spider-Man, June Covington as Ms. Marvel and Barney Barton as the new Hawkeye! “So,” he smiles. “Does anyone know where I can get a decent suit of armor?”

Characters Involved: 

Norman Osborn

Ai Apaec (The Decapitator), Barney Barton (Trickshot), June Covingham (The Toxie Doxie), Ragnarok, Skaar (all Dark Avengers)

(in flashback)
Norman Osborn
Three guards

Gorgon, Madame Hydra and Superia
A.I.M. agents
Dr. Monica Rappaccini

Barney Barton
Two police officers

Ai Apaec

Story Notes: 

It says the date is January 2011 in the index, but it’s really January 2012.

Gorgon first appeared in Wolverine (3rd series) #20. He was turned to stone by seeing his own reflection in Wolverine’s claws in Wolverine (3rd series) #31. He was resurrected by the Hand in Secret Warriors #2. The Toxie Doxie first appeared in Osborn #1, as did Ai Apaec.

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