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Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Mike Deodato (artist), Rain Beredo (color art), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters & production), Mike Deodato & Rain Beredo (cover artists), Jake Thomas (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 are transporting their mutant captive, Emma Frost, to a detention center when their truck is attacked by a group of fanatical Purifiers. Luke and Daredevil refuse to allow Emma access to her powers in order to fight back and they head out to confront their assailants. A massive firefight ensues with Mockingbird and the Thing joining in to protect their prisoner from capture or death. The fight is relatively even until one of the Purifiers blasts Luke Cage into a wall and continues shooting him. Whilst being shot at, he thinks about his wife and daughter and everything that’s happened of late. He makes his decision to leave the Avengers, and then helps bring the fight to a swift end alongside Mockingbird. When the police arrive to mop up, he borrows a phone and calls Jessica, informing her that he’s coming home for good.
(San Francisco)Luke Cage and Daredevil are in the back of a truck transporting Emma Frost for incarceration. Sitting across from each other, Luke tells Matt that he never got to ask, but how does he like being an Avenger? Daredevil nurses a bandage on his right arm and asks if it’s always this crazy. “Can you handle crazy?” asks Luke. Matt says this is crazy on another level completely. Cosmic forces, out-of-control mutant terrorists… From the back of the truck, Emma Frost says she’s right there, but Luke asks her to settle down. Matt tells him that he can’t believe he’s trying to raise a child in all this. Luke doesn’t reply, but loses himself in thought for a moment.
Matt asks if the baby’s okay and Jessica, too. Luke replies yes, but Matt asks what happened. This life is no place for a baby. Luke reminds him that there are babies born in every hellhole all over the planet. Matt says there are, but they don’t have a choice. Luke closes his eyes. “You’re quitting the Avengers?” asks Matt. Luke admits that something’s gotta give. He never had something to lose before. He thought he did, but he was kidding himself. Once you’ve got a baby… it’s a cliché but it changes everything. He keeps pretending it isn’t, but…
“Dear lord, please make it stop!” says Emma, bored with their conversation. “Lady, I told you to pipe down,” snaps Luke. She tells him he can call her Emma. Luke goes into sarcasm mode and tells her that now he can call her Emma. Yesterday she wanted him to bow down and call her God. She says she never used those exact words. Luke tells her that for the life of him he doesn’t know what she thought was going to happen at the end of this. “We were trying to fix the world,” she replies, adding that they were trying to use what powers they had to create the best version of the world. At the end of the day, isn’t that what they’re trying to do. “You two of all people.”
Luke asks what that means, but Daredevil replies that she thinks it means that they’ve dedicated so much of their lives to fighting for their neighborhoods… and because they’re both black. Luke smirks but Emma tells them that if her mental powers weren’t locked down because of the contraption they have her in, she would have gotten that joke. Matt tells Luke that he should call his wife and tell her he’s okay. Luke knows that he’s right. He really needs to remember to do stuff like that.
Daredevil suddenly sits up straight, sensing danger outside the truck. A moment later, the truck is rocked by a massive assault by a group of mutant-hating Purifiers. They surround the truck and, hovering several feet in the air, pour firepower at its wheels to disable it. They each quote from various sources as they fire. “Mutant is the abomination of the devil,” says one. “Mutants must die so that we may live,” adds another. Inside, Luke stands up and asks if they can have just one normal day. Daredevil informs him that they’re surrounded and they have tech. Emma recognizes them by what they are saying and tells the others that they hate people like her on a religious level. She asks that they take off her power-dampener to give them a fighting chance. Luke and Matt ignore her and prepare to exit the vehicle.
Matt mentions that Luke’s the bulletproof one. He should go first. “Everybody makes me go first,” he balks. Emma tries again to be freed, but Luke gives the order. “Go!” They smash open the back doors into fresh air and find the Purifiers waiting for them. As soon as they are out, one of the Purifiers starts ranting that God did not create mutants. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. The Earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. As he runs, Matt replies by asking what about, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” The Purifers continue shooting, with one pointing out that even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Both heroes are rocked by the gunfire.
(meanwhile, back in the truck)Mockingbird is at the steering wheel next to the Thing but the truck is on its side. “Why can’t we have one normal day?” asks Bobbi, asking Ben to wake up. He asks if they are there yet. “We’re under attack,” she replies. Ben says he’s sleeping, so she should do it. Bobbi can’t believe that the truck blowing up didn’t manage to wake him up! Ben informs that he’s tired. Mockingbird wastes little time in leaping from the truck with her billy club in hand. A Purifer fires at the truck as Daredevil and Luke Cage go on the attack. The Purifers find the fact that despite them not being mutants and instead mutant sympathizers, even worse. “Mutant protectors,” says one. “Traitors to the human species,” adds another. “Betrayers of the human race,” adds a third as they shoot. Luke asks if they just called him an Uncle Tom. Daredevil tells him that if it makes him mad enough to whoop their ass, then sure. “It does,” replies Luke. “Then they did,” quips Matt.
Luke charges at them and, along with the Thing, gets down to some serious ass whupping. One of the Purifers is sent crashing into a storefront, whilst another is grabbed by Ben and lifted into the air with one hand. He wonders how many hits it takes to get one to the center of a whacked out zealot. “God be with me,” he prays, but he is saved by a fellow Purifer who blasts Ben from behind. “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven,” he exclaims.
As Luke punches Ben’s attacker, he tells the others that he wishes he could tell them that his heart was in the fight. He’s about as mad at Frost as these guys are, except that he seems to be able to do it without coming off like a nutball. Mockingbird replies that it makes them better than the Purifers. They can just not like her for her. She throws a Purifier over her head and into a signpost which crumbles under the weight. Emma, meanwhile, tries to escape, but she is soon approached by one of the terrorists. “Abomination,” he snarls. With no powers, Emma is almost defenseless, but she is saved as one of Mockingbird’s billy clubs bounces off the guy’s helmet. She continues running as Mockingbird finishes him off, but she herself is clocked by a billy club courtesy of Daredevil who reminds her that she is still under arrest.
Daredevil takes out two more of them as the Thing uses two Purifers as shields when a third opens fire on him. Mockingbird leaps acrobatically over another and contacts S.H.I.E.L.D. command. She asks them to tell Captain America that they are under attack by joyless anti-mutant zealots. Meanwhile, Luke warns them that he will give them to the count of three. “Cut this @&*%$ out or I’m gonna…” One of the Purifers blasts him in the face at close range and stands over his fallen body. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” He then blasts Luke again, this time in the chest.
Luke shoots backwards into a nearby building. As he sits there, his mind is flooded with images of his wife Jessica, his daughter Danielle and his best friends such as Iron Fist and Misty Knight. As he takes a couple more shots, the images keep coming and Luke decides he has finally had enough. He leaps from the building and punches right through the Purifer’s armor. His fellow Avengers keep up their momentum and are assisted ably by Mockingbird who appears with a really big gun which she appears to have torn from one of their foes. “Everbody down!” she cries as she blasts away, ending the fight once and for all.
The Avengers look at their fallen opponents as the cops arrive, right on cue. Mockingbird looks up to see backup arrive in the forms of Iron Man and Thor. “Wow,” exclaims Iron Man. “Can’t we just have one normal day?” Thor reckons it is a fine day. Their foes have been vanquished and their prisoner is still their prisoner. Tony says he doesn’t remember the Purifiers having this level of tech. Emma replies that when someone believes God told them to kill a species… money is no object.
Luke and Ben deal with the police. One of the officers tells Luke that there is no way he would remember this, but Luke saved his life two years ago. He was a volunteer in Harlem. Luke tries not to be rude but he simply asks if he can borrow his phone. The cop hands it over and Luke calls Jessica. He explains that he’s okay and he is coming home. For good. Iron Man asks the others what’s going on with Luke. Daredevil replies that he just quit the Avengers.
Luke Cage, Daredevil, Iron Man, Mockingbird, Thing, Thor (all Avengers)
(in flashback)Jessica Jones CageDanielle Cage
Iron FistMisty Knight
This is part of the AVX crossover and follows AvX #11.