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Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Leinil Yu (artist), Dave McCaig (color art), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (letterer), Taylor Esposito (production), Molly Lazer (assistant editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)
In the light of the revelation that Elektra was a Skrull, the Avengers begin to reassemble at Doctor Strange’s Greenwich home. Wolverine doesn’t appear, though. He is in combat with the Hood, who, when faced with six adamantium claws, changes into a demonic form and escapes. Back at the sanctum, the Avengers still have a problem with the fact that one of them might be a Skrull. Doctor Strange informs them that he has discovered a spell that will reveal the true spiritual nature of the individual. It will show their secret desires, and not even a Skrull could hide from that. Before they get underway, Luke Cage revels that he and Jessica Jones have named their daughter Danielle Cage. Danny Rand is touched by this, but they joke that they named her after Danny Partridge. The spell goes to work and each of them is shown, visually, who they truly wish to be. Clint’s is shown to be Captain America, and Maya’s is Daredevil. They all pass the Skrull test with flying colors - even Wolverine, who joins them at the last moment. He informs them that the Hood is threatening to use Deathlok against Avengers Tower. The team decides that they must get involved and head over there. As they approach the building, they see the registered Avengers leaving it and heading to ground level. However, it isn’t Deathlok that is causing trouble. They look down to see symbiotes everywhere. They head into action, only for Maya to be the first to get caught by one of them.
Wolverine engages the Hood in battle. Also known as Parker Robbins, the Hood blasts away at Logan with two pistols, and Logan retaliates by slashing at him with his claws. Robbins orders his assistant, John, to bail out and meet him at ‘the place’ while he tackles this ‘piece of crap mutant.’ The two men both get in their fair share of blows, and then the Hood tries to go invisible again. Wolverine reiterates that being invisible won’t help him, and he asks what’s going on with him and the Avengers. He warns Robbins that his own wounds will heal, but his won’t.
Robbins then changes his appearance and, instead of a human form, he takes on the look of a demon, with red eyes, huge teeth and claws that appear to be mechanical. He grabs Wolverine’s head and throws him away, before crashing through the window to escape. He returns to his human form, and groans as he fades into the shadows. Wolverine sits against the bar and grabs something to drink. He reckons there are worse places to sit and heal. He holds his crotch, and wonders if it’ll grow back bigger. He hates demons…
At Doctor Strange’s Greenwich home, Linda Carter, the Night Nurse, lies on Strange’s chest in bed. She asks him what he’s thinking. She’s tried all her special moves on him and he might as well have been on the Astral Plane. Strange replies that he is concerned for his group. They don’t really know who they can trust. He has the feeling that there’s got to be something he can do to fix it, but he doesn’t know what. Linda thinks it’s amazing that he brought them into his home. It’s a new thing for him, no? Strange replies that it was a necessity. They need a place to live and have a baby. Still, Linda replies, here he is with a new girlfriend and a team of heroes. The sanctuary is hopping. She always imagined it more like a monastery.
Strange says he should have been there for them during the war. He was wrong to sit it out. It’s the least he can do, and it’s not nearly enough. Linda gets up and tells him that, if he’s not going to submit to any of her considerable talents, she might as well go back to her hospice and stare at the wall. Strange asks her to come back later that night. He wants to introduce her to whoever shows up. Linda replies that she knows most of them as they come to her for band-aids. Strange tells her he wants them to meet her as herself, not as Night Nurse. “You want to show off your new girlfriend,” she replies. He jokingly tells her that he has a cape that floats and she shouldn’t flatter herself. He asks if she’s mad. “Not at all,” she answers before leaving.
Looking through window, Clint Barton watches her leave and he climbs into the shower. As he soaks himself, Maya Lopez enters, not realizing he is there. She can’t believe it, and slams the door shut in embarrassment. Clint smirks to himself.
Doctor Strange goes and meets with Iron Fist downstairs. Danny asks him whether there is a way to prevent anyone else tapping into his Iron Fist power, as someone did recently. It weakened his abilities. Strange informs him that there is no way he can do that. He mentions that before Danny there were other Iron Fist’s. There were other Sorcerer Supremes before him. Eventually, for both of them, another will come and take this all away from them. “Someone younger, someone more handsome…” replies Danny. Probably, replies Strange. Danny says that he hates them. “As do I,” adds Strange, “But on weeks like this, you sometimes wish for them.”
Meanwhile, Spider-Man reckons it would be a lot easier if he was a sleeper-Skrull; like he’s a Skrull but doesn’t know it. Someone could say Mxyzptlk and he’d turn all Skrully. Clint asks if he’s completely happy about the fact that they may have been invaded by Skrulls. Peter replies that he is, in the sense that they now have a bad guy that isn’t Tony Stark. Clint then asks Luke if he’s having a nervous breakdown. Luke says that he can’t help how he feels. Clint tells him that he was the one who was happy that he maybe knows who’s been pulling their strings during these recent crazy times. “And now?” he asks. Luke again replies that he can’t help how he feels.
Clint is surprised that everyone’s met up again after having a chance to get away from each other. They’ve come back with clear heads to deal with this problem. “No Wolverine,” remarks Cage, holding his baby daughter. Peter reminds him that he is on like three other teams. Give him a break. Luke replies that eh can’t help feel what he feels. Peter asks Luke if he feels Skrully. Jessica appears and says that Luke thinks his kid might be a half-Skrull baby. Luke tells her that he isn’t in the mood for this, but she takes her daughter and tells him tough $%#@. He’s had his chance. He didn’t want to talk to her about this privately; to confide in his wife about this gigantic thing that has dropped on all of them. She had to find out from Maya who she doesn’t even know.
She turns to Doctor Strange and tells him her husband thinks she is a Skrull, and that his baby is a half-Skrull. He is taking his feelings of inadequacy about being a husband and father, and he’s twisting them into a very dark place. Strange replies that he was hoping they would reconvene tonight. He knew that the same issues of trust would loom over them, so he did some research and found some spells that will show the true spiritual nature of the individual. His tome floats towards him, and he adds that it will provide a visual projection of who one truly is, versus who they pretend to be or are trying to be. If one were concealing oneself as a shape-shifter, it would most definitely reveal that.
He adds that the projection will be there for all to see, and Clint realizes that this might be really embarrassing. Peter quips that, if deep down he’s a really hot Italian lady trying to get out... Strange tells him they will see him as he truly is, inside.
As Strange conjures the spell, a green swirl of mystical energy envelops them. Luke tries to say something to Jessica, but she simply tells him she wants her husband back. She asks Doctor Strange, “Throw some dry ice in a pot and let’s go.” Peter wonders when they’re gonna name their kid. Luke replies that they did. She’s called Danielle Cage. Danny is touched, but Luke jokes that they named her after Danny Partridge. Jess smiles and says that he’s her family... unless he’s a Skrull of course, then he can go @**$ himself. “And you got matching booties,” quips Luke. Jess tells Danny that he’s been waiting to drop that joke on him.
Strange asks everyone to sit, and they take their seats in a semi-circle. The mystical energies begin to work, and images appear in the air. Luke Cage is first. An image of himself from the days he wore a yellow shirt and tiara appear. He can live with that. With Danny, it’s another version of the Iron Fist taken from history. He’s glad there’s no cross-dressing involved. Jessica’s image is of herself as a super hero. Jess refutes it, but Luke loves it. “I knew it,” he remarks. Jess tells him she hates him.
Peter Parker’s younger self appears and Jess asks what that means. Peter reckons it must be because he liked himself before he became Spider-Man. Maya Lopez’s image is that of Daredevil. She says that he is why she does what she does. She finds that interesting. Clint is next, and Captain America’s image appears. He knows exactly what it means and asks them to keep going. Next is an image of Doctor Strange, only looking suave in a white suit and tie. There’s nothing Skrully about any of them.
Wolverine then appears and asks what the hell they’re doing. The spell catches him too, and he is shown to be in traditional Japanese clothes. He appears pleased that everyone showed. Doctor Strange tells them that everyone is who they say they are. Wolverine says that it’s good as they have things to do. He asks if anyone knows who the Hood is. A guy with a hood, turns invisible, demon crazy, Parker Robbins? Peter replies that he knows him.
Wolverine informs them that he’s planning on launching Deathlok at Avengers Tower. Clint thought Luther Manning was dead, but Logan says the same could be said about him. The Hood has Deathlok and he’s looking to aim it at Tony Stark’s house. Maya asks how he knows. Logan tells her that he was snooping for Skrulls and ran into the Hood instead. He’s getting better after being injured during the ensuing fight.
Jessica asks Luke if he’s sorry for doing the silent treatment crap with her that he promised he wouldn’t do. Luke says he is. Jessica tells him, in that case, she’s sorry for embarrassing him in front of his friends, but this is serious. They kiss one another, and Luke tells her she looked good in tights. “You’ll never have sex again in your life,” she jokes.
The team wonders what to do about Deathlok. Danny reckons they could holler out to the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents watching their building, but Clint thinks they should go and help them. Peter reminds him that they’re trying to arrest them, but Luke asks if he remembers him asking him how they knew if they were the good guys in all this. This is how they know. They do good guy #$%@.
The team makes their way to Avengers Tower. Clint, wearing his Ronin gear, says he hasn’t been there before which seems odd to him. He misses Jarvis. Wolverine asks for quiet. He spots the other, registered Avengers exiting the building and descending to ground level. He realizes that they aren’t coming for them. Spidey looks down and sees what’s going on. The problem isn’t with Deathlok. The ground and rooftops are swarming with symbiotes. As they head into action, Maya’s arm is attacked by a symbiote, which begins to mould itself around it. Maya screams.
Luke Cage, Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Ronin, Spider-Man, Wolverine (all Avengers)
Echo/Maya LopezJessica Jones and her baby, Danielle CageWong
The HoodThe Hood’s messenger, John
Ares, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Sentry, Wasp, Wonder Man (all Mighty Avengers)Spider-Woman
Linda Carter, the Night NurseSymbiotes
Linda Carter spent some time recently over in the Daredevil series.
Mister Mxyzptlk is a villain who inhabits the DC Universe.
Danny Partridge was a character in the television show, the Partridge Family. He was played by Danny Bonaduce.