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Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Leinil Yu (artist), Dave McCaig (color art), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (letterer), Rich Ginter (production), Molly Lazer (assistant editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)
The Avengers are on their way back from Japan where they discovered, in rescuing Maya Lopez, that Elektra was really a Skrull. They transport the alien’s body home with them, not really knowing what to do with it once they arrive. Because of this revelation, no one is speaking, as they know that any one of them could be a Skrull. Wolverine decides to comment about each of them, including himself, and how it’s possible that any one of them could be a Skrull also. Peter wants to go public with the fact Elektra was a Skrull but he is alone in that thought. Jessica Drew wishes to hand the body over to Tony Stark, the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., knowing that if he’s a Skrull then they’ll know because he’ll try and kill them. The team can’t agree. Suddenly, as Danny pilots the plane, the power cuts out and he realizes that he’s going to have to crash it. Wolverine throws Jessica out as she can fly, but Strange remains, explaining that his cloak won’t work under these conditions. Spider-Man goes outside and webs up the front of the plane to provide extra cushioning as Danny struggles to land it as neatly as possible. Strange is unable to stop the plane from crash-landing, and the plane splits in two as it hits the ground. When everything goes quiet, Spider-Woman finds the Skrull’s body and knocks out Wolverine, who tries to stop her. She then departs without even checking whether the others are okay.
The unofficial team of Avengers is en route back to the United States from Japan, where they picked up the Skrull body they thought was Elektra. Lightning strikes the plane as Danny pilots it silently home, with only a rumbling sound piercing the nervy silence. Peter Parker looks at the Skrull on the floor, bound tight with cloth, and asks if anyone’s going to talk. No response is forthcoming, so he decides to talk anyway.
He points out that the largest group of assassins in the world was being led by a Skrull. Why would an alien travel millions of light years across the Milky Way just to do this? Again, no one replies. They sit silently in their seats, not really wanting to discuss the inevitable.
Wolverine eventually speaks, and he informs Peter that no one is talking because no one trusts each other anymore. “Because Elektra is a Skrull?” asks Peter. “Because any one of us could be a Skrull,” replies Logan.
Logan continues to conjecture that the Skrull they have is part of a plan. If the Skrulls infiltrated the Hand… the most cunning and ruthless assassins in the world, and if she could get her shape-shifting alien-ness past his very acute senses, then they could have infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., Hydra, the Avengers, the White House and maybe even the X-Men. Peter jokes about the Secret Defenders, but Jessica asks him not to do that. Logan adds that if any of that is true, then this is an invasion plan. Logan decides to take a look around the plane and make a few comments about those gathered.
He begins with Clint Barton, who wears the Ronin costume. He’s back from the dead and dolled up as the ninja of the 21st century. Where has he been the last few months? He no longer uses his bow and arrow and joins them instead of his friends in the Mighty Avengers. That’s not suspicious at all, he remarks. He turns his attentions to Jessica Drew. He asks who her daddy worked for. Where was she before the New Avengers got together? S.H.I.E.L.D.? Hydra? He asks where Nick Fury is these days.
Next on his hit list is Echo. All of a sudden, she’s the scourge of the underworld. The only two people that vouched for her were Captain America, who is dead, and Matt Murdock. He then asks rhetorically why Captain America is dead. It’s because all the super heroes in the world spent the summer beating the crap out of each other. He then returns to Peter Parker, and comments on the fact that he just told everyone his secret identity. Who benefited the most from him doing that?
Logan continues his monologue, turning his focus onto Luke Cage, who sits beside Danny in the cockpit. He says that Luke used to be a satin-shirt, metal-tiara-wearing hero for hire. Now, he’s gone and turned himself into a husband, a father and the leader of a super-team he wouldn’t have found himself dead on years ago. Now he rarely speaks with his so-called ex-partner Iron Fist who all of a sudden has a plane. Danny quietly responds that he didn’t ‘all of a sudden’ get a plane.
Logan then mentions Doctor Strange. There’s nothing suspicious about him, though he does ask where he was during the Civil War. Strange asks Wolverine the same thing. “Exactly,” replies Logan, “Then there’s me! Who is all of a sudden everywhere at once and all of a sudden knows exactly who he is.” Luke turns to Logan and smiles at him. Logan asks what that means. Luke feels justified that he’d mentioned that somebody was pulling their strings. Now they know it’s true, and they know who’s pulling them. Now they’ve got themselves a show.
Peter reiterates that he isn’t a Skrull, just to make it clear. Logan tells him that’s exactly what a Skrull would say. Peter says that if he was a Skrull, wouldn’t he have picked someone cooler to be? Why would he pick him? Jessica thinks they’re making a huge leap from having one captured Skrull to presuming that it’s a war. Maybe, maybe it’s a war. Peter thinks that if it is a war, then that’s how they’re going to win... because they can’t see past maybe.
Doctor Strange wonders what they should do with the body. Jessica wants to take it to Tony Stark. Logan flat-out replies no. Jessica reminds them that he’s the biggest cop in the world so they should take it to him. Luke point out that if anyone’s a Skrull, then it’s Tony Stark. Is she %$^#ing with him? The guy’s done more damage in less time that anyone. This whole thing is because of Stark. Jessica replies coolly that if he is a Skrull, they’ll know by what he does with the information. If he tries to kill them then they will know he’s a Skrull.
Peter explains that he knows a reporter who is so not a Skrull, it’s not even funny. Strange says no. So does Logan. Clint Barton explains to Peter that they won’t even publish it, anyway. They’ll publish a storyline about how insane Peter is for telling them to publish it. Then they’ll mock him.
Jessica tells everyone that, when aliens first landed on Earth in the thirties, the government spent millions of dollars not denying it, but mocking the people who went public. The googly-eyed alien creature drawings you always see… those are their tax dollars at work. If they go public with this, it makes them not only the ‘wanted criminal against the state’ that they are, but it’ll also make them a mockery. For someone who’s been beaten up by the media as often as Peter Parker, she can’t believe it’s even an option for him.
“Was that Skrully of me?” jests Peter, dead-pan. Clint sees how Tony Stark could be a Skrull, but who else has been Skrully lately? Maya asks who brought the SRA to Congress. Who was the person who actually drafted the bill? Jessica doesn’t know. “Well they’re a Skrull,” remarks Clint. “And maybe the president,” adds Jessica.
Peter asks Danny if he’s purposefully hitting every cloud between Japan and New York, as rumbles continue to make him nervous. Danny wonders what the Skrulls really want. Clint thinks they want the planet. They have no planet themselves since the annihilation wave destroyed it, and now they want theirs. Maya comments that she’s never seen an alien before. Clint jokes that she’s never been dead before. It’s been a real renaissance week for her.
He continues to point out that the Skrulls want them exterminated as a point of cultural pride. They tried to whack them before and they failed. They are a proud warrior race, he continues, on a level that they can’t even wrap their heads around. They’ve always failed to get their mitts on this planet, and maybe this is a real plan they’ve got here. Jessica adds that, if Luke’s thinking is right on this one, then the secret war, the civil war, Wanda Maximoff, the Raft and all of this is because of them. If that’s true, they may have already won.
Suddenly, a krakaboom shakes the plane and the lights go out. Danny informs everyone that something’s wrong with the plane and he thinks they might have to land in Chicago. Both engines then splutter to a halt. “Oh my God…” gasps Danny.
The plane begins to shake and everyone is thrown around in the back. Danny informs them that they’ve lost power and they’re going down. He asks Doctor Strange to make that not happen. Strange puts his hand out, looking afraid. “No!” he cries. The plane becomes uncontrollable and turns over. Wolverine tells anyone who can fly to fly out of there. Strange explains that his cloak won’t work under these conditions and Jessica refuses. Danny tells Logan to get his three-hundred pound butt to the back of the plane to steady it, but he’s too busy throwing Jessica out of the door.
Strange utters a spell which envelops the plane in some kind of mystical energy, but it doesn’t seem to slow the rapid descent. Spider-Man then leaves and begins to web up the front of the plane; providing extra cushioning should the plane hit something hard. Danny sees a golf course below and tries to aim for it. The wheels come out as the team braces itself for impact. The plane then lands hard and splits in two, as the front end is bounced back into the air again. It’s chaos in the back, as half the team disappears with the rear of the plane. The plane comes to a halt eventually, leaving a trail of devastation behind it.
Spider-Woman finds the Skrull’s body. Wolverine is first out of the wreckage, and he walks towards Jessica, knowing what she might do. He warns her not to, but she aims her bio-electric blast at Logan and fires. It rocks him, but he keeps coming. She smashes him in the face and grabs his head. She then apologizes before unleashing a powerful blast which knocks him unconscious. She then puts the Skrull’s body over her shoulder and calmly walks away from the wreckage, not even checking to see if everyone is all right.
Luke Cage, Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Ronin, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Wolverine (all Avengers)
Dr. Strange’s lack of power might possibly be attributed to his injury during the previous storyline.
Logan’s comment about knowing exactly who he is stems from him regaining his memory following the House of M storyline.
The Secret War ran through Secret War #1 - 5 and The Pulse #6 - 9. The escape from the Raft occurred in the first arc of this series.
As explained in the prefix, the plane’s loss of power results from Ultron’s attack on the Mighty Avengers.