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Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Mike Deodato & Will Conrad (artists), Rain Beredo (color art), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters & production), Mike Deodato & Rain Beredo (cover artists), John Denning (assistant editor), Lauren Sankovitch (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
The Avengers return to their mansion to find government troops waiting to arrest them. Dr. Strange transports them to his house in Greenwich Village to get them clear of danger, but Luke is concerned about his wife and child. He heads off to locate them, after Wong informs him that she and Squirrel Girl left the mansion. The team then heads to Victoria Hand’s apartment and, after a few verbal threats, physical action and a magical scenario, they discover the truth about her actions. She’s working for Norman Osborn but also for Captain America. Meanwhile, Gorgon and Madame Hydra continue plotting their future once they get rid of Norman Osborn. She shows him that Hydra has Captain America captive. The Avengers persuade Victoria to call Osborn and arrange for him to collect her. He calls the Dark Avengers and, as they head off to the meeting point, Gorgon lets on that they have Captain America. The powerful Skaar takes this as his cue and he shouts, “Avengers Assemble,” as he attacks his teammates.
The Avengers have arrived back at the mansion only to find government troops there to place them under arrest. Their leader asks the team to stand down, as they are to be detained for questioning. The Avengers respond with a barrage of questions, all from a position of disbelief. Camera crews film them and a crowd of anti-Avengers protesters look on with interest. The leader informs them that serious allegations have been made. “Put your hands in the air and…”
Luke Cage is furious and wades through them to try and get to his wife and baby. Iron Fist tries to pull him back but there’s no stopping him. As he moves forward, one of the soldiers aims his weapon at him. Luke asks what he’s going to do with it. Shoot him for trying to walk into his house? The soldier shoots him point blank with some kind of energy pulse and Luke is hurled backwards, coming to a rough halt when he hits the concrete. He picks himself up, winded from the weapon’s effect.
(elsewhere)As a reporter advises people not to go to the Central Park area, the Dark Avengers watch events unfold on television. Barney Barton and June Covington find the situation highly amusing but Skaar is more stoical. Arms folded, he asks if this is Osborn’s doing. Barton says yes. Ai Aipec asks how he knows. Barton replies that he’s been paying attention. Osborn’s working every angle at once. It’s freakin’ music! “We’ll see,” replies Skaar. “We will when we’re living in Avengers mansion, Hulk Boy,” replies Barton. Skaar grabs him by the throat and asks him what he called him. Barton apologizes and Skaar reminds him of his name… Skaar, son of Hulk. Barton repeats it, just to assure him that he heard. Superia asks the pair of them to put ‘em back in their pants. Something’s happening on screen.
Back at the mansion, the Avengers vanish from sight. They reappear at Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. Luke Cage asks what happened and why are they there. Strange replies that he took the liberty of getting them out of a no-win situation. Spider-Man for one thanks him. Strange adds that he transported them back there so they can figure out just how Osborn played them so expertly as well as the media, placing them in the situation they’re in now. However, they’re not safe there either. They’ll figure out to check his home pretty soon.
Wolverine doesn’t like any of this and Luke says he needs to get back there for his wife and kid. Wong informs Luke that she left. She took his baby and the squirrel nanny and walked out the front door. She asked him to give Luke a box. Spidey asks what it is. “Her phone,” replies Mockingbird. Danny doesn’t like the sound of that. Luke asks if she didn’t say anything. Wong says they don’t have that kind of relationship. He assumes she was doing what was best for the baby. Danny replies that she was. Luke broods for a moment and then heads for the door. He stalks out of the house in a determined fashion.
On television, the White House press secretary is fielding questions from reporters. One asks if the president will be commenting on the Norman Osborn accusations and the situation at Avengers Mansion. She replies that the President, along with the F.B.I., has asked Captain America and the Avengers to report to local authorities for questioning in regard to the accusations that Osborn has made in public. They are also monitoring the investigation of the Avengers’ quinjet crash in Long Island Sound. As this is an ongoing investigation, however, the White House will have no further comment at this time.
(Victoria Hand’s apartment)Victoria Hand is packing her bags as quickly as humanly possible. As she reaches the door and opens it, she finds herself face to face with Wolverine. His claws are bared and he asks her if she knows what he hates more than anything in the world? “Hitting a dame.” Victoria puts her hands up in a defensive manner and says that’s good because she’s not a big fan of that. Out of nowhere, Mockingbird appears and smashes her in the face. “Thankfully, I have no such issues,” she snarls. Victoria hit’s the floor and tells Bobbi that she can’t believe she punched her. Bobbi can’t believe she can’t believe it!
Wolverine bends down and tells her she’s been playing a dangerous game. Turns out she’s been feeding Osborn after all. They know it. She knows it. So, they can cut the crap and get down to it. Victoria asks how they even found her. Wolverine replies that he has crazy mutant senses and hunted her down like the dog that she is. Danny adds that he doesn’t mean that in a sexist way. He means that she is a backstabbing weasel. She replies that they have no idea what they’re talking about, but Daredevil says, “Toss her.” a moment later and Victoria is defenestrated. She falls, horrified, several stories towards the sidewalk, screaming in terror before crashing into a cab roof.
Luckily for her, the experience was just one of Doctor Strange’s illusions. Mockingbird asks her if she wants them to do that to her again. “You want us to do it for real?” asks Wolverine. Mockingbird adds that they have nothing to lose on account of Victoriaand her guy. Wolverine wants her to take them to him.
Victoria asks if that’s what they think. She doesn’t answer to Osborn. Bobbi asks her to cut the crap. No one’s buying this. Daredevil, however, asks her to hold on. He knows that Victoria is telling the truth. Wolverine tells her that the human lie-detector says she might be telling the truth. He asks who she answers to, and she’d best make it a good one. The devil knows if she’s lying.
(meanwhile, at H.A.M.M.E.R. headquarters)Gorgon is removing his Wolverine costume when Madame Hydra walks in on him. He asks where Osborn is, but she tells him that he saw him last. “He tends to disappear,” replies Gorgon. He asks if her mission was successful. She says that it was, and him? Gorgon admits that he has no idea what their mission was. She informs him that it was to disgrace the Avengers. It was mission accomplished according to the media. And, if they’re reporting it, it must have been spectacular.
She asks if his new teammates are any good. “Not particularly,” he replies. She tells him that they won’t need them much longer. They have the secrets of the entire super-powered community and the scientific knowledge to do something with them. They will create their own using their own men. She asks him to follow her. With Gorgon’s Hand, her Hydra and the science of A.I.M, it’s almost time to cut the cord to Osborn. The Avengers are down, the New Avengers are on the run in disgrace and she’s got that something that everybody wants…
They enter a room and Gorgon finds Captain America sitting there, slouched over with his hands tied behind his back. Gorgon bares his mechanical claws and rushes towards him, wishing to put his head on a pike. Madame Hydra says no. They need his head on his body a little longer. She reminds him that he’s a war criminal and he will be tried and fried by the system he has spent his life protecting. And she is going to watch and laugh until she cries. Then, and only then, does he get to have his fun. He can play soccer with his head for all she cares.
(Victoria’s apartment)Things have calmed down and the Avengers are seated in the kitchen willing to listen to what their liaison has to say. Victoria tells them that all she keeps asking herself is… how did she think this was going to go? She thinks this is the best way it could have gone. Wolverine asks who she answers to. Victoria is reluctant to answer, but Mockingbird says, “You’re working for Captain America, aren’t you.” Victoria looks into her eyes and Daredevil says bingo.
Victoria replies that it’s not the assignment. Spidey then suggests she works for Osborn. Daredevil says she is but it seems she‘s doing it for Cap. “Triple agent?” Iron Fist wonders. Spidey thinks not. Why would Cap pull her out of a house full of people that don’t trust her and then have her calling Osborn and helping him? Victoria explains that it was her cover. Them not trusting her made Osborn trust her more. Spidey can’t believe this.
Victoria continues to explain that originally Osborn reached out to her and she told Cap. Cap told her to follow through and wait for his signal. Spidey ask, in that case, why was she packing and running. Victoria replies that it’s because Cap was supposed to tell her what to do next, but now she can’t get him on the phone. She can’t find him anywhere and Osborn is out there. Spidey asks if she’s definitely telling the truth. Both Logan and Daredevil reply yes. “Unless,” adds Spidey, “she’s one of those ninjas who can control their heartbeat and…” Iron Fist interjects and says he’s not buying it. His fist glows as he calls Victoria a traitor. He swings his fist towards her face and she closes her eyes, fearing the worst. His fist stops an inch from her skin. With no contact, Victoria opens a wary eye and sees that his fist looks normal again. Daredevil says she’s definitely not controlling her heartbeat. Wolverine is pleased that at least, now they know.
Ms. Marvel reckons they should cut her some slack now. She’s been out there and she knows what she did. Mockingbird agrees that it was the hardest thing to do. Victoria asks where Captain America is. They need a plan. Bobbi says that Osborn is tearing it up. They need to move now. Does she understand? She can call Osborn and tell him she wants to come in. Victoria takes the phone and calls Osborn. He tells her that she was supposed to wait for her call. Her unheard reply makes sense to him and he says he’ll have someone pick her up. It’s better if they come for her. She can trust him. He knows what he’s doing. Hovering above a factory, he looks down at a scene of devastation beneath him.
(H.A.M.M.E.R. headquarters)Osborn has called Superia and she’s rallied the Dark Avengers. He has given her an address in midtown Manhattan where he says they will find the New Avengers. It sounds like they’re putting the finishing touch on them. “Just like that?” replies Skaar. Gorgon asks where Osborn is. Superia tells him that the government wants the New Avengers. If they bring them down, they’re heroes and, all of a sudden, they’re the Avengers.
Ai Aipec asks what the difference is between the New Avengers and the Avengers. Superia says not much. One has a Captain America and one doesn’t. “We have Captain America, actually,” replies Gorgon. “What?” exclaims Skaar. Gorgon informs him that Hydra has him, in the basement right there. Skaar reckons that news is his cue. He swings his massive right arm and smashes everyone off the ground. “Avengers Assemble!” he cries.
Luke Cage, Captain America, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Mockingbird, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Wolverine (all Avengers)
Ai Aipec, Norman Osborn, Gorgon, Skaar, Superia, Toxie Doxie, Trickshot (all Dark Avengers)
WongVictoria HandMadame HydraNinja
(on television)Luke Cage, Daredevil, Iron Fist (all Avengers)
Inexplicably, the White House press secretary seems to be Dana Perino, the fourth and final of the George W. Bush administration, two press secretaries and one presidential administration ago from the issue’s publication.