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Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Leinil Yu (artist), Dave McCaig (color art), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (letterer), Anthony Dial (production), Molly Lazer (assistant editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)
Jigsaw is prevented from carrying out a successful raid by Tigra. However, as he leaves the scene, he finds a note inviting him to make some real money. He attends the meeting, along with many other villains who have received similar notes. The meeting’s host is the Hood, accompanied by his assistant, John King. The Hood explains that he, as well as themselves, is sick of being continuously beaten by the heroes. He wishes to organize them properly. He explains at great length exactly how he intends to do this, and the villains are impressed. He promises them a lot of money long-term; far more than the twenty-five thousand dollars in seed money that he hands out to each of them. He decides to give them a demonstration. He visits Tigra in her home and beats the living daylights out of her. Jigsaw films the attack. He then shows this to the villains and they love what they see. Chemistro informs the Hood about Deathlok, who is in the Owl’s hands. The Hood retrieves Deathlok and sends him out to a bank in New Jersey with the wrecking Crew. The crew comes back with over $12 million but no Deathlok. The proceeds are handed out to the villains who can now envisage a more lucrative future than ever before.
(several days ago)The villain, Jigsaw, has a gun pointed at the face of a petrified security guard. He wants the safe opened, but the guard is adamant, despite a warning shot, that he is only the night watchman and unable to access it.
Suddenly, Tigra arrives and tackles Jigsaw, punching him and scratching him until police officers arrive on the scene. The cops order them to freeze, and one of them calls in a code 545 to base. Tigra tries to explain who she is and that she is a card-carrying member of the Initiative, but they panic and order her to stay down. As they argue, Jigsaw recovers and takes a few shots at the officers. He uses the confusion to make his escape, and keeps firing as he runs. Tigra bravely puts herself between Jigsaw and the security guard.
Jigsaw is annoyed that he didn’t get a dime from the robbery, and he makes his way away from the building. He then discovers a small note with his name on. He reads it. The note explains that these are challenging times, and if he is interested in making some real money, then there will be a meeting the following night in Brooklyn. He’s intrigued.
(the following evening)A group of villains is seated around a large round table. Their host is the Hood, and he is joined by his friend, John King. He tells the assembled villains that he’s proud of them for showing up. He knows that they are frustrated with what they have versus what they know they deserve. He knows that feeling too. He informs them that things are about to change. He introduces himself as Parker Robbins, also known as the Hood. He has a vision for the future and it includes all of them, and of them getting what they deserve.
He continues to explain to the group, which includes the Griffin, the Grey Gargoyle and Crusader, that they are going to get organized and help each other. He knows that they’re sick of Ryker’s and the Raft, and they’re sick of living in the shadows and wondering where the next nut or costume will come from. However, he reminds them of a few important facts. Captain America is dead. Nick Fury is gone. The heroes are fighting heroes and half of the heroes are running for their lives, while the other half aren’t able to move unless Iron Man tells them to. He walks around behind the group’s members who listen intently.
He points out that, since Wilson Fisk was put out to pasture, it’s been even more chaotic for guys like them. There’s no structure. He wants to replace that with something new. The plan is simple. If they’re having trouble with S.H.I.E.L.D. or one of the heroes, they shouldn’t take it head on, otherwise they’ll end up where they always do. They should come to him, and they’ll devise a plan together. They’ll target the problem and destroy it before it destroys them. They will work together with numbers and teamwork.
Also, he continues, no plan should be made on the street without clearing it with him first so they don’t end up tripping over one another. No job will get done without paying up and forward. If they have a problem with each other, they can come to him and he will deal with it. They won’t be paying for nothing. They’ll be paying for leadership and organization. They’ll be paying for the group.
“Why you?” asks one of the Blood Brothers. Why is he in charge? Who died and left him their godfather? The Hood asks them to open their envelopes. Inside, the villains find $25,000 of seed money. They can get themselves back on their feet in style, Robbins explains. They can upgrade their tech, get a place to sleep, pay back child support or whatever. Then, they can come back to him and tell him what they need. He will send them out to do that for which they are perfectly suited. If they have trouble with any hero, they’ll take care of that.
“How?” asks Jigsaw. The Hood says it will be the way it should always have been done - the way the Triad do it. Someone does something you don’t want, you kill their family. You destroy them spiritually and then they’ll do what you want.
The Hood tells them that things have changed over the years. He asks them to imagine getting the heroes, one by one, in their homes, and making them fear for their mommies and daddies. They will buckle and fall apart. They will disorganize while they organize. All of a sudden, Stark’s fifty-state initiative will fall apart and someone will replace Stark – someone they can control. When Stark has to sell his armor for parts they will be there to buy it.
Blackout asks what’s to stop them taking the 25 large and splitting. Robbins laughs and replies that if his life is only worth 25 g’s then he can go ahead. Would he really turn down the first person to actually give him money after the life he’s led? He is offering him a chance to be something. This is only seed money. It’s nothing. He is talking about the kind of money you can buy an island with. He’s talking abut the kind of power from the days of Murder, Inc. after World War II. They will be untouchable. He asks if they are seeing it. They will be feared and respected. The Hood promises that if they they’re impressed by $25k then six months from now they will look back and laugh that they thought it was a lot of money.
He introduces them to John King. When they talk to John, he informs them, it’s as if they are talking to him. If one of them has a plan or a lead or a problem, then they can go to John. Jigsaw goes back to what Robbins said abut going after the heroes’ families. He’s all for that, but how would he do it? The Hood smiles and replies that they are a bunch of mysterious $*%@£s and he found out where they lived. “I know what you want Jigsaw,” he concludes as he vanishes from sight. “Consider it done. My gift to you... and our calling card to the world.”
(later)Greer Nelson walks home, wondering why she can’t just pick the state she works in. She understands that everyone wants to work in New York, but she just doesn’t want to work in somewhere like Dakota or Carolina. She wonders if she can talk to Tony Stark about this, because he owes her. She returns home and begins to relax. However, she soon realizes that something is wrong and changes into her feline form. The Hood appears out of nowhere as she sniffs the air and he pistol whips her before smashing her face into the wall. He strikes her again putting her on the floor before vanishing. Tigra gets up, gasping, confused as to what is going on. A bullet strikes her in the leg and she screams.
The Hood then reappears and grabs her by the hair. He warns her not to scream or she’ll wake the neighbors. He flicks open a cell phone and says, “Janet Garson, 45 Penny Lane, Madison, Wisconsin. That’s your mommy. You love your mommy. She loves you, even though you turned into this horrible-smelling cat person.” He tells her to say hi to her mommy and places the phone to her mouth. She struggles to no avail as her mom asks who’s there. The Hood warns Tigra to stay away from his men. She will do what he says when he says or he will kill her mother. After she has grieved the fact that she let him kill her because she is a selfish little pig, and when she has fully felt every single horrible feeling she could possibly feel from that selfishness, then he will kill her too.
The Hood asks Tigra if she understands. She hisses at him to stop but he smashes her in the face with the pistol, repeatedly asking if she’s got it. Jigsaw stands nearby, holding a video camera, grinning, as the Hood tortures his victim.
(later)Jigsaw plays back the recording to his fellow villains who whoop it up. “If only it was Frank Castle!” exclaims one. Chemistro introduces himself to John, though he already knows who he is. He tells John that he got a call from a guy calling himself the Owl. John knows him. He asks John if they asked him to be a part of this. Robbins says that they did, but he didn’t show. Chemistro informs them that the Owl has something to sell. He didn’t say what, but that they should bring a lot of money because it was sweet.
Chemistro says that if the Owl ain’t in, then he’s out. “That’s exactly right,” replies John. Chemistro adds that if he’s selling goods without their… the Hood’s permission, then he probably needs to be made an example of. Robbins asks Chemistro if the Owl said when and where.
(today)The Hood and his men have recovered Deathlok. John asks the Hood if he seriously wants to launch him at Avengers Tower. He replies that there’s no upside to that. “There’s no cash,” adds John King. Plus, Wolverine has probably heard about it. Chemistro asks the Hood if he really fought Wolverine. Robbins says he fought him last night. Chemistro is impressed that he’s still around to tell the tale. John has an idea.
He mentions a firm called Brown Brothers, Harriman & Co. It’s the oldest and largest partnership bank in the United States. It has $4.2 billion in assets. They have a branch right under the Baxter Building, but they also have a location in New Jersey. Robbins puts his hood back on and says that now, he’s talking about something.
(soon)Deathlok is put to use, attacking the bank with lethal force. He is merciless due to his programming and, joined by the Wrecking Crew who carry out the cash, he is unstoppable.
(later)A massive amount of cash is laid out on the round table, and John announces that they managed to get $12.7 million and change. Unfortunately, Deathlok was trashed. The Hood informs Chemistro that his cut is $1.3 million. Chemistro is surprised, but the Hood explains that it’s ten percent off the top… finder’s fee. This is how it works. He found them Deathlok and he got them the cash. Everyone gets their piece. John figures they should launder it, and Chemistro says that he has a guy.
Madame Masque receives a message and asks Robbins if he has a television. They switch one on, and see the Mighty Avengers in combat with a horde of symbiotes in New York City. The Hood asks if they see what he sees. “Some sort of biological attack,” says the Wizard. “Opportunity,” replies the Hood. “Grand opportunity.”
The HoodJohn KingDeathlok
Villains, including Chemistro, Madame Masque, the Wizard and the Wrecking Crew
(on screen)Black Widow, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Sentry, Wonder Man (all Mighty Avengers)Symbiotes
(in flashback)TigraDoormanJigsawSecurity guard and police officers
The HoodJohn King
Villains including Armadillo, Blackout, Constrictor, Crusader, Cutthroat, Dr. Demonicus, Griffin, Jigsaw, Mentallo, Mr. Hyde, Purple Man, Tiger Shark, the U-Foes and one of the Blood Brothers
No New Avengers appear in this issue.
Murder, Inc. was an organized crime group who operated in the first half of the 20th century. They carried out contract hits for the mob. Known members of this group included Harry Strauss and Abe ‘Kid Twist’ Reles. This Kid Twist is no relation to the Kid Twist who first appeared in Runaways (2nd series) #27, as he wasn’t born until 1906.
The Hood took Deathlok off the Owl’s hands in New Avengers #33.