New Avengers #38

Issue Date: 
April 2008
Story Title: 
The Breakup
Staff: 

Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Michael Gaydos (artist), Jose Villarrubia (color art), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (letterer), Marko Djurdjevic (cover artist), Molly Lazer (assistant editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Following Doctor Strange’s departure, Jessica Jones has found sanctuary for herself and her baby at Avengers Tower. Luke Cage, her husband, isn’t best pleased, and he heads over to talk to her about it. The couple have a long conversation about why Jessica has taken this action. She maintains that it’s in the best interests of the baby, and he should think about joining them there. Luke can’t see that happening. He feels that Avengers Tower isn’t a safe environment, especially with the Skrull thing happening, but Jessica points out that he can’t offer her a better alternative. Luke is upset that their marriage seems over, but Jessica assures him that she doesn’t want that. She wants him to reassess his options. Meanwhile, the Avengers return to the tower and Ms. Marvel heads down to talk to them both. Once again, she doesn’t want to arrest Luke, despite the Black Widow’s insistence, considering his team took down a bunch of super-villains who murdered S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Luke and Jessica’s future is left unresolved and, later, Luke joins Danny and the team in their new apartment. Luke fins himself with a lot of soul-searching to do.

Full Summary: 

Following a huge battle at Doctor Strange’s home in Greenwich Village, the good doctor has gone AWOL. Luke Cage is looking for his wife, and he heads to her office at Alias Investigations. The place is deserted. Luke looks at an old photograph of Jessica in her Jewel costume, surrounded by the Avengers. He calls for her, but there is no response. A brief image flits across his memories of a happier time. Luke then heads outside into the street which is lit by the early morning sun, and the first thing he sees across the city is Avengers Tower. “No,” he sighs.

(Avengers Tower)
Jessica Jones looks out onto the city as she eats her breakfast. Her cell phone starts to ring and, apprehensively, she picks it up. “Avengers Tower. Jessica Jones speaking. How may I help you?” On the other end is Luke, standing in a call box. “Are you @#$% kidding me?” he asks. Jessica assures him that the baby’s okay, but Luke repeats his question. Jessica adds that she’s okay too. “What the @#$%?!” Luke replies, angrily. Jessica tells him that she flipped. If he wants to come too, that would be great. By flipped, she means that she signed the Registration Act. She had to protect their baby.

Luke can’t believe it. After everything that they’ve been through, she went and ran to Tony Stark. After the Civil war, after Captain America died? Jessica replies that she knew their baby wasn’t safe in that environment. The bad guys came crashing through the front door! What was she supposed to do? She’s not going to screw up being a mom like she’s screwed up everything else in her life. Luke pauses, allowing her to explain.

Jessica says that this, she’ll do right. She let him make the first call and let him set them up in Strange’s creepy funhouse. She let him ‘live by his damn principles,’ even though no one cares about his damn principles. She agrees that the war is over, but he lost and she still went along with him. He had his shot and it didn’t work. They’re not safe. They never were. The baby needs more than what they’re doing. She admits that she might not be a parental genius, but putting Danielle before your own damn principles has to be a part of it. Luke puts the phone to his forehead and closes his eyes.

After a brief pause, Jessica asks, “Hello?” Luke tells her that it wasn’t her call. Jessica disagrees. Luke asks what she knows about the other things, such as Elektra. Jessica responds by asking why that matters. What matters is now. They have no home! The war’s over and he lost! He should lose like a man and put his kid first. Luke smashes the phone receiver in his anger and the line goes dead. Jessica apologizes to Jarvis for raising her voice. Jarvis asks what Luke is going to do now. “Trash your lobby,” is her semi-flippant reply.

Jessica slips her jacket on and heads down to the lobby. “My kingdom for a cigarette,” she whispers to herself. It’s not long before Luke arrives and Jessica warns him that, if he enters, they’ll arrest him. Luke says they’re trying to arrest him anyway. Now he can’t see his kid? Jessica tells him that, if he signs up, he can see his wife and kid. He gets to be an Avenger again, a membership card and his old apartment back. It’s a helluva package. Luke folds his arms. He can’t believe she’s done this. Jessica says that she can’t believe she didn’t do it before.

Luke believes that Jessica has sold them out and is ending their marriage. It’s a betrayal that can’t be forgotten. Jessica points out that, knowing how much she loves him, what does it say that she has done this? Does it say she doesn’t love him, or does it say that their lives have been turned upside down to the point where what he was doing and how he was doing it was not suitable?

After another brief pause, Luke says that he wants his child. She’s putting his child in danger as this place is the least safe place on the planet. Jessica disagrees. She asks him to try walking into the tower. See what happens when a bunch of super-villains crash through their front door. “You know what I mean,” he replies. Jessica does. She knows the big bad Skrulls are coming to get them. “Tony Stark is one of them!” barks Luke.

The couple argues about how little they actually know about the Skrulls, but Jessica is adamant that if the little green men are coming to get them, then Avengers Tower is the place she’d like to be. Actually, she’d like to open a bookstore in Seattle, but until such time as she can get some money, this is where she will be. Luke closes his eyes. “So we’re done,” he replies. Jessica assures him that she doesn’t want their relationship to be over. She wants him to come inside with her. According to Luke, that isn’t going to happen, but Jessica thinks that they have to decide things in an adult manner. This is what they have to do. Luke asks her why she came back from Canada after Cap died. Jessica says that clearly, she was wrong to. She notes Luke’s expression and apologizes for that.

Inside the tower, Jarvis listens over the intercom as he dries the washing. The Avengers arrive back, and Ms. Marvel notices baby Danielle. She asks if Jessica is there. Jarvis informs her that it’s been a rather dramatic day. While they were gone, Jessica has come seeking asylum. Considering Carol’s relationship with her, he took the liberty of inviting her in. She and her husband are having words outside. Carol knows it’s bad, but figures she’ll have to handle it.

Downstairs, the couple is at somewhat of an impasse. Luke asks if it’s the case that he has to get a lawyer to see his kid. Jessica reminds him that his fugitive status will look great at a child custody hearing. Or, she adds, he could get over himself. Most of the people inside the tower are his friends… were his friends. “Until they sold out,” he replies. Jessica asks him to grow up.

Ms. Marvel descends and tells Luke that he’s got to go. Luke calls her the Queen of sellout. Carol asks him not to take out his crap on her. She’s the only reason he isn’t lying in jail right now, and this is what they do? They take it to her front door? Jessica asks Luke to think about it. She knows that he’s mad, but at the same time, he can’t tell her what she should have done instead. As Jessica departs, Carol asks Luke if he is going to think about it, because if he is thinking of signing, she can let him walk out of there. If not…

Luke asks what the alternative is. Carol asks if he wants to walk away right now, or sit in a cell opposite Marvel Boy. She thinks Luke makes it impossible to do right by him. Wonder Man then appears and asks if everything is all right. The Black Widow, Spider-Woman and Ares join him. “And look who it is,” quips Luke, “Sellouts Assemble!” Natasha tells him that he’s under arrest, but Carol corrects her. She informs them that he’s thinking about changing over. Spider-Woman doesn’t think so. She thinks he’d rather die. Luke warns them that if any of them (calling them Skrull shape-shifting @#$%$) touches Jessica or his baby, he’s going to kill them and everyone they’ve ever met. Carol doesn’t really understand the Skrull reference, and Luke reckons she should talk to her boss, or the Prom Queen standing nearby. Simon asks what that means.

Luke begins to walk away, and Natasha is surprised. Carol says it’s her choice as team leader. She reminds Natasha that she’d be rotting in the Russian Gulag if not for bending the rules a little. Cage’s guys took down an entire gang of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent murderers - high risk bad guys, twice in one night. He’s thinking about flipping, so why doesn’t she crawl out of her nose for two seconds? Jessica returns and apologizes for Luke’s behavior. He hasn’t slept in days. Natasha asks what’s going on, but Spider-Woman says that it’s classified S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff. “And?” replies Natasha. They’re agents. They’re Avengers! Spider-Woman asks her to wait until Tony gets back. She’s not the one to talk to.

(later)
Danny Rand enters an empty but spacious room high up in a skyscraper with open arms. Can he pull something out of his %^$ or what? Maya asks whose apartment it is. Danny tells her that it’s theirs. It’s not just an apartment. It’s the entire floor. He explains that the building is in Rand Corporation’s real estate holdings through a sister company. Clint jokes that he’s bored of this answer already. Danny continues to say that the entire floor was rented out to Samuel Sterns under a third party on his side. Clint asks who he is. Danny informs him that he’s the Leader: a gamma-radiated genius what superhuman intelligence and mind-control abilities. The team is still in the dark. “Big green head. Used to fight the Hulk,” adds Danny. They pretend they have a clue who he’s talking about.

Maya asks if he’s coming back. Danny tells them that Sterns is no longer a concern, so his real estate holdings were seized and then turned into receivership. So, for the first year at least, this already-rented floor is not being used. It’s also indirectly owned by him, and it would take a team of lawyers to even figure out he owns it, let alone to look for them there.

Danny asks Maya, Logan and Clint to use the back elevator as no one has access to it but them. Spidey can use the window in the alley which leads directly to his own room. Danny then reminds them that Doctor Strange is now walking the Earth like Caine in Kung Fu, so they have no magic or hocus-pocus. They now have to be covert. This is a one-time deal. If they screw this up before they figure out the Skrull thing, that’s it They’re meeting in a Wendy’s bathroom. ‘At least Wendy’s has food,’ thinks Logan.

He says he’s crashing, and Spidey tells everyone that he’s going to figure out exactly why he was in such a hurry to get out of the House of M world. Clint thinks about the name, Avengers Apartment. It doesn’t have much of a ring to it. Danny adds that there is no Jarvis or Wong around, so if they mess a dish, they can clean a dish.

Maya doesn’t think that this is how she imagined being an Avenger to be. Luke opens the door and leaves without a word. Clint asks Danny if he found Jessica and the baby. He tells him that he did, but that they’re going the other way. “Ouch,” replies Clint. Danny knows all about it.

Characters Involved: 

Luke Cage, Echo, Iron Fist, Ronin, Spider-Man, Wolverine (all New Avengers)

Jessica Jones
Danielle Cage
Jarvis

Ares, Black Widow, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman, Wonder Man (all Avengers)

(in photograph)
Jessica Jones (as Jewel)
Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Thor (all Avengers)

Story Notes: 

This story follows on from New Avengers Annual #2 and comes under the ‘Secret invasion’ banner. In that issue, Carol had the option to arrest Luke’s team, but decided not to.

“My kingdom for a cigarette,” paraphrases William Shakespeare’s Richard III in which King Richard III says “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”

Marvel Boy is Noh-Varr, a Kree soldier enhanced with insect DNA.

Caine was the wandering central character in Kung Fu, which was a television show set in the 19th century American West. Produced between 1972 and 1975, it starred David Carradine.

Wendy’s is an American-based fast food chain.

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