New Avengers #42

Issue Date: 
August 2008
Story Title: 
Untitled
Staff: 

Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Jim Cheung (pencils), John Dell (inks), Justin Ponsor (color art), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (letterers), Aleksi Briclot (cover artist), Anthony Dial (production), Molly Lazer (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

(flashback)
Nick Fury asks Spider-Woman to allow Hydra to give her her powers back. He can use her. Jessica does so but, when they operate on her, they replace her with Queen Veranke in a ceremony. This Hydra faction is, in fact, Skrulls and Veranke now has all Jessica’s memories. Weeks later she joins her fellow undercover Skrulls to discuss the major threats to their plan. These include the mutant population, the Vibranium Mines and the super-powered community. She wishes herself, as Spider-Woman, to be stationed where she can do most damage without arousing suspicion. Soon after, she is placed at Ryker’s where Electro has been paid to break out, an action that inadvertently causes a new team of Avengers to be formed. Veranke meets up with a Skrull posing as Hank Pym and updates him on events, telling him that Captain America has asked her to join the Avengers. She thinks she’ll accept. Veranke then meets up with Madame Hydra and asks her for a new deal if she’s going to report to her about S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers. Later, she hooks up with the Avengers and during a conversation, she asks about Wanda. They inform her that she’s ill, and has gone to Genosha to be with her family. Jessica is then invited to meet S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill aboard the helicarrier. Maria is suspicious about Jessica and tells her so, however Jessica turns the tables by pointing out the lack of trust Maria’s own troops have in her. Dismissed, Veranke meets with the faux Hank Pym, who informs her that he and the Avengers, as well as the X-Men, are flying to Genosha to confront Wanda. Veranke asks him to kill her, but by the time Jessica arrives in Genosha, everything turns to white as reality alters into what will be known as the House of M.

Full Summary: 

(months ago, San Francisco, California)
Nick Fury is speaking with Jessica Drew, and he asks her to get her powers back. She thinks he’s out of his mind, but he wants to put her to work. He will tell her what to feed Hydra and she will feed him what they tell her. Jessica thinks they will kill her, but Nick reckons they’re gonna kill her anyway. There’s nothing they can do about that. At least this way she will be doing the right thing in the meantime. Jessica looks around, nervously. She thinks they’ll be watching her right now. Nick says that he wants them to. However, they can’t hear them. His high tech doohickey beats their high tech doohickey. “I wanna scream,” replies Jessica. Nick asks her to go ahead. They can’t hear her. “Here’s how it’ll work…”

(later, at an undisclosed Hydra base)
Jessica is naked on an operating table, surrounded by Hydra scientists. She has her eyes open wide, and one scientist asks if she can hear him. She doesn’t reply, but the man continues to inform her that over time, the genetic codes which her father altered in her youth have worked to correct themselves. Her body has been fighting to heal itself back to its original state. It’s taken a few months, but they’ve been able to isolate and rejuvenate a sample of her genetic tissue and clone it. It’ll take some time, he adds, but they’re going to get her her powers back. He admits that her father was decades ahead of his time. She is an inspired scientific achievement and she should be proud. “Hail Hydra.” Jessica closes her eyes and falls asleep.

As soon as Jessica is unconscious, the Skrull Queen Veranke appears. An agent asks if they should proceed. “Let’s,” she smiles. The Hydra agents then change into their true forms - Skrulls working for the queen. “For the glory,” one replies.

Soon after, Queen Veranke stands on a raised dais, bathed in green light coming from a flaming ball. A Skrull places a piece of cloth bathed in blood on her head and says something to her in Skrullian. The queen replies before screaming as she begins to change. Images of Jessica Drew’s life flash through her mind as the queen begins to take on her memories. Memories flood in of Madripoor, of Madame Web, of the Avengers and the High Evolutionary, amongst others. Blood soaks into her skin - the blood of a human, the blood of a female, the blood of Jessica Drew, the blood of Spider-Woman, the blood of an agent of Hydra, the blood of an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Veranke becomes all these things and more. She gasps as the ceremony concludes. “For the glory,” she smiles, despite her exhaustion.

(New York City, weeks later)
It’s night-time, and Spider-Man is making his rounds. Inside a Fogger Shipping warehouse, a small group of Skrulls has gathered to update each other on how the invasion is proceeding. Amongst them is Queen Veranke, now immersed in her role as Spider-Woman, a Skrull who is acting as Elektra, the Avengers’ butler Jarvis and another who has assumed the role of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. They wonder how they can get Jessica Drew back into S.H.I.E.L.D. without arousing suspicion. Valentina tells them what the situation is right now. There are two agents in charge of the white code S.H.I.E.L.D. security databases. That’s it. Just two, and they’ve already switched one of them for a Skrull.

A Skrull raises his hand and says it’s him. Valentina explains that he will be tasked to test Veranke for reassignment, and greenlight her. He will get her in and assign her a job that they will pick. Valentina will personally recommend her. This is just the beginning. She tells Veranke that on her command there will be dozens of agents in Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D. switched and ready to go. Veranke provides her permission to proceed.

Veranke says that they will stick to the First Wave plans: the Vibranium Mines, the mutant population growth problems and the super-powered community. Vibranium can be used to make weapons that the Skrull Empire cannot fight back against. It’s the only thing on the planet that they can’t combat. They will destroy it, and that means letting their people in S.H.I.E.L.D. do just that in Wakanda and the Savage Land. Veranke tells them that they will create what appears to be a corrupt faction of S.H.I.E.L.D.; disgruntled Fury loyalists out for a payday. Maybe they’ll even let them get caught. They will have everyone pointing their fingers at each other. Nick Fury is out and the new girl, Maria Hill, is in. No one knows or cares about her, so they’ll set her up to take the fall.

Veranke continues to explain that the mutant population is a very serious problem. There are simply too many of them, and now they have their own island and real estate. If they don’t thin them out, this might all be for nothing. A fight against an army of Earth’s mutants is a fight they cannot win. The more mutants there are, the more chance of one of them gaining a power that specifically outs them. The only thing they have working for them is the unbelievable racism that the human race has towards them.

Valentina points out that the humans hate mutants because they know that they make humans almost instantly extinct. Veranke agrees. The hate crimes and the racism… they need to heat that up more and get them to start fighting each other. The more casualties there are, the better for them. That goes double for the super-powered human population. They must start at the top of the list and start taking out the bigger guns one at a time. She’s talking about humans and mutants like Doctor Strange, Doctor Doom, Namor, the Scarlet Witch, Hercules…

Valentina reckons they got lucky with Thor dying, but Veranke thinks that it means the Scarlet Witch is more of a concern. And Reed Richards and the #$%^ Tony Stark. A Skrull tells her that they should kill them now. She can be Sue Storm and kill Richards in his own bed… tonight. Veranke disagrees. She wants Richards and Stark to answer for their crimes, and they will do this in the throne city of Galax. For now, they will enjoy watching them do as much damage to themselves as they can possibly help them do. They will feed their inherent mistrust, paranoia, hatred and racism. Valentina thinks that if Nick Fury was still running the show, this wouldn’t be half as easy. Veranke asks her not to get too cocky. He’s still out there and this will not be easy. Most of them will die before this is over. Valentina asks where Veranke wants Jessica to be stationed. “Where the most madness can be unleashed with the least amount of suspicion,” she replies.

(Ryker’s Island Maximum Security Penitentiary)
Veranke, as Jessica Drew, is at the prison and waiting for a helicopter to land. When it does, Luke Cage gets out alongside Matt Murdock. Jessica tells Matt that she is honored to meet him.

(later)
Veranke is with a Skrull posing as Hank Pym in his lab. She explains to him that what followed was Max Dillon, Electro, being hired by them to help over fifty super-powered criminals break out of the prison. Dozens of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents died but there are dozens they can easily replace in their hospital beds. The Silver Samurai went off to Japan and Karl Lykos headed to the Savage Land. A potentially corrupt S.H.I.E.L.D. would be blamed. Hank smells a ‘but’ coming. Veranke admits that it appears that they accidentally put the Avengers back together.

They also have another name to add to their ‘big guns’ list - the Sentry. Hank seems perturbed that he wasn’t called to join, but Veranke points out that these he wasn’t there for this. These are the New Avengers. Hank reckons they’ve always treated hank like crap. He asks who hired her. Veranke replies that it was Captain America himself. For the glory, she could have killed him right there. She told him she’d think about joining. Hank reckons she has to do it.

Veranke knows this. She’ll be living in Stark’s house where she can keep an eye on him. It’s probably the only way they will get a chance to crack his technology. Hank asks if Madame Hydra knows. Veranke says she is meeting her in an hour. She is sure that she will find some way to congratulate herself for it.

(an hour later)
Veranke, as Jessica Drew, meets up with Viper in a public place. Jessica asks her to promise that she didn’t have anything to do with what happened on the raft, because she almost died three times there. Viper tells her that it wasn’t them. If they wanted to kill her, they could have. Viper finds this new situation very interesting. Jessica says she is going to be an Avenger. Who would have thought? “Same deal as before?” asks Viper. Jessica replies no. This is going to cost her. It’s an entirely different situation.

She wants her to report back to her and on S.H.I.E.L.D? That’s gonna cost her. Viper asks how much. Jessica tells her that it’ll be enough so that when all this is done, if she’s still alive, she can forget all about them… in style. Viper reminds Jessica of her family history with Hydra, and that by this point in their relationship, bribery and threats would be replaced by dedication and devotion. Jessica turns to her and asks her to spare her this. She doesn’t care about them and she doesn’t care about Viper, either. Viper has her where she wants her, and she has Viper where she wants her. “Just pay me,” she snarls.

(sometime later)
Queen Veranke, as Jessica, is in her Spider-Woman uniform and back with the Avengers. She joins them for breakfast. Seated around the table, being waited on by Jarvis, are Tony Stark, Wolverine, Captain America, Spider-Man and Luke Cage. The Avengers are chatting and joking amiably, and during the conversation, Jessica asks where Wanda Maximoff is. The room goes quiet, and Jessica apologizes for asking. Tony informs her that Wanda had… a breakdown. Cap adds that when it all went to hell at the mansion - that was her. This is news to Spider-Man, but Wolverine thinks that because Magneto is her father, it doesn’t surprise him too much.

Tony explains that Wanda isn’t a bad person. She’s a sick person. Logan reckons that having a terrorist for a dad sure does a number on a kid. Jessica apologizes again, but Tony says it’s okay. She didn’t know. Jessica asks if she’s okay. Tony hopes so, and informs her that Wanda is with her family now. “She’s with Magneto?” asks Logan. Tony reminds him that it’s her family. Logan quips that he’s sure nothing bad will come of that.

(later, on board a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier floating over Langley, West Virginia)
Jessica has been invited to see S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill. Maria asks how it feels being an Avenger. Jessica replies that apart from mysterious people trying to kill you, it’s pretty good. Maria asks when the last time she spoke to Madame Hydra was. Jessica replies that it’s in her file. Maria asks how up-to-date that is. Does it include recently? Maria adds that she gets squirrely having ex-terrorists on board her ship. “You invited me her,” replies Jessica. Maria tells her that she makes her nervous. Her spider-sense is tingling about her. Jessica informs her that her predecessor, Fury, had a great deal of respect for her, and for the journey from having parents who were Hydra to now. Maria says Fury doesn’t work there anymore. “Clearly,” replies Jessica. Maria dismisses her.

Before she departs, Jessica asks if there’s anything she can do to make her less suspicious of her. Maria replies no, but Jessica turns and leans over the table to speak with her. She tells Maria that she bets a lot more people don’t trust her than don’t trust herself. In fact, she’d be a whole lot more worried by the fact that most of the people aboard the helicarrier and most of S.H.I.E.L.D. and most of those renegade agents they found in the Savage Land… hate her guts. “Dismissed,” barks Maria. Jessica thinks that perhaps she should try wearing an eye-patch, and leaves the room.

Once on the deck she calls the Skrull posing as Hank Pym, who is leaving Avengers Tower with the Avengers and X-Men for Genosha. Hank asks why she isn’t there before explaining that they’re going to confront the Wanda Maximoff situation. She’s out of control again. Half of them want to kill her and the other half want to save her. Jessica tells him to kill her. Hank asks if he should, even if it jeopardizes things? Jessica tells him that it won’t. Wanda killed Hank’s friends. He snaps and kills her, then they’ll switch him out.

(Genosha, hours later)
Jessica is there as the world turns white and the House of M begins.

Characters Involved: 

(in flashback)
Luke Cage, Captain America, Iron Man, Sentry, Spider-Man, Wolverine (all Avengers)

Nick Fury
Spider-Woman

Queen Veranke and fellow Skrulls including Elektra, Jarvis, Hank Pym, Valentina and Skrulls posing as agents of Hydra

People from Jessica’s memories including Captain America, the High Evolutionary, Morgan Le Fey, Ms. Marvel, Nick Fury, Spider-Man, Thor, Tigra, Viper and Wolverine

Matt Murdock
Viper
S.H.I.E.L.D. agents including Maria Hill
Jigsaw and other Raft escapees

Black Widow
She-Hulk

Colossus, Emma Frost and Kitty Pryde (all X-Men)

Story Notes: 

This is a Secret Invasion tie-in issue.

The rogue Skrull S.H.I.E.L.D. faction was seen in the Savage Land Vibranium Mines in New Avengers #6, but they were taken down by a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier.

Nick Fury asked the real Jessica Drew to get her powers back in a flashback in New Avengers #14, the same issue in which she was operated on by the Skrulls, posing as Hydra.

Thor died in Thor (2nd series) #85 but returned in Thor (3rd series) #1. Nick Fury went into hiding in Secret War #5 but returned in Mighty Avengers #12.

In the scene at Avenger Tower in which Queen Veranke greets the Avengers, Wolverine is with the team. In New Avengers #4 when this scene originally took place he wasn’t there, but Luke Cage was.

The Raft breakout occurred in New Avengers #1. Electro was paid by a mysterious employer to break Karl Lykos out of the prison. The employer appears to have been Queen Veranke or another Skrull.

Hank Pym was shown to be a Skrull in Secret Invasion #1.

Wanda’s destruction of Avengers Mansion was shown in the ‘Disassembled’ storyline running through Avengers (1st series) #500 - 503.

The Avengers and X-Men left for Genosha in House of M #1.

Written By: