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1st Story: Tom DeFalco (writer), Mark Bright (penciler), Jose Marzan (inker), Jack Morelli (letterer), Janet Jackson (colorist)
2nd Story: Bob Layton (writer, penciler), Jackson Guice (inker), John Workman (letterer), Paul Becton (colorist)
Mark Gruenwald (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)
Hawkeye is pursuing Bobcat and his Claws through Los Angeles. The acrobatic criminals have stolen some money, and put up a good fight against Hawkeye, battling him in the air on his sky-cycle and on rooftops of the skyscrapers. In the streets below, an elderly man is frustrated about being stuck in traffic, and uses his mysterious psychic power to take possession of a police officer, and instructs his driver to use the sidewalk. The driver is puzzled, as is the officer when the old man, Kranpuff, leaves his mind. Kranpuff arrives at his office, where he recalls his history, how he made his fortune, and laments that his doctor has given him not much time to live. He looks over various files of people he is considering possessing, and taking their body permanently, when he notices Hawkeye fly past on his sky-cycle. Hawkeye continues to battle the Bobcats, but during the battle, Kranpuff possesses him. Kranpuff tries to fight Bobcat and the Claws, but is not adept at all, and when the criminals start to gang up on him, he knows that if they kill Hawkeye, he will die too, so he releases Hawkeye, who is able to get the upper hand on Bobcat and his Claws, capturing them all. Hawkeye wonders what happened to him during the battle, unaware that in the office nearby, Kranpuff has returned to his own body – the moment that it died.
Hercules finds a suicidal Dionysus on Olympus. Dionysus has found a large missile and plans to end his life and destroy Olympus in the process, frustrated about what his life has become, no longer able to mix with mortals, and the humiliation he suffered at the hands of She-Hulk. Hercules tries to encourage Dionysus to talk about his problems, but he isn't interested, and when Hercules plans to stop Dionysus, Dionysus brings a mortal sergeant with a large tank to Olympus. Hercules battles the sergeant, Butcher T Washington, but when Butcher gets the upper hand thanks to Hercules' head injury that he sustained some time ago, Dionysus realizes he cannot see Hercules die, and sends Butcher and the large missile away. Dionysus appears before Zeus, who is unhappy with his actions, so he strips Dionysus of his powers and memories, and sends him to Earth until such a time as Zeus deems fit. There, Dionysus is now the barman at an establishment called Dion's Bar, and seems to be happy.
'Look out! It's Hawkeye!' a man in brown and orange costume exclaims as he leaps through the air with another man in a matching costume, both dodging arrows that Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye fires at them. 'Costumed acrobats! They must be the ones responsible for the recent rash of jewelry store robberies!' Hawkeye thinks to himself as he rides his sky-cycle, knowing that that he has to stop them – but they move so quickly. 'Big deal! It'll take a lot more than an arrow-wielding Avenger to stop Bobcat and his Claws!' the second man exclaims. 'What do you guys eat for breakfast? Mexican Jumping Beans?' Hawkeye jokes as he readies another arrow, deciding that by the way they move, they could give even the original Captain America a run for his money. 'They're incredible!' Hawkeye thinks as they bound across cares that are stuck in a traffic jam on the street below. Two other members of the Claws join them now, as Bobcat tells them all to stay close to the cars, as Hawkeye can't shoot them without fear of hitting the civilians.
Hawkeye moves lower on his sky-cycle, and tells the Claws that they should be ashamed of themselves. 'I'm sure your mothers warned you that it was dangerous to play in the street!' he jokes, adding that they are lucky traffic had to stop for a traffic light. Hawkeye doesn't want the traffic suddenly starting up again, so fires a smoke-arrow into the traffic, preventing the drivers from seeing anything. 'I don't want any of you accidentally run over by an irate motorist!' Hawkeye exclaims. Bobcat and the Claws bound away, while Hawkeye follows them on his sky-cycle, remarking that Los Angeles drivers are known worldwide for their courtesy, but that even they have their limits. 'Split up! Head for rendezvous point B!' Bobcat tells the Claws, one of whom tells him that they are on their way.
Inside a chauffeur-driven car, the driver tells the elderly man sitting in the back seat, Mr Kranpuff, that there seems to be a delay up ahead. 'I hate being in such traffic, Winston! It's such an utter waste of time! Can't you take another route?' the old man asks. Winston tells him that they can't, as they are already thickly trapped in gridlock. 'In that case, I'd better handle this myself' Kranpuff thinks to himself, as he suddenly takes mental possession of a nearby police officer, who walks over to the limo and tells Winston that the streets are jammed so he can use the sidewalks. 'Move it! We've got to get this traffic cleared!' he exclaims. 'Yes, sir!' Winston replies nervously as he drives the limo onto the sidewalk. As he does so, Kranpuff releases his psychic hold on the officer, and returns to his own body. Another officer walks over and asks him what possessed him to direct those cars onto the sidewalk. 'I... uh... don't know' the officer replies, rubbing his head. The second officer asks him if he is okay, as he looks a little wasted. The confused officer explains that he must have blacked out, as he remembers pacing up the street to help Hawkeye – and then nothing.
In the back of the car, Kranpuff thinks to himself that it must be very disconcerting being on the end of one of his mind-melds, but that is an experience he will never have, as since he was a teenager, he has always been the one who pulled the strings. His mind begins to wander back...
Flashback, years ago:
Kranpuff could slip into another's mind, seizing total control of their body. 'What's wrong with you, Kranpuff? Why do you keep raising your son's allowance?' an unimpressed woman asks Kranpuff Snr, who slips his son some money, unaware that he is being possessed. 'He's a good kid...I...er...he deserves this money!' Kranpuff says through his father's mouth. As he grew older, he used his talent in more imaginative and profitable ways, and watched from his window as police officers lead a man into their car, 'Where's the money you stole?' one of them asks. 'What money? I don't know what you're talking about' comes the reply, while Kranpuff has a sack of money on the table next to him. His victims never remembered ayn of their actions while under his control. He eventually gave up penny-ante crime and turned his attention to the world of high-finance, becoming the ultimate inside trader – spying on competitors and secretly manipulating the stock market.
The limo pulls up outside a large building, and Kranpuff wonders what good that does him now, as he may be one of the richest men in the world – but he is almost ninety years old and his doctor tells him that he will not live much longer. He enters his office and walks over to his desk, which is placed near a long, large set of windows that look out to nearby rooftops. Kranpuff hates the thought of abandoning his own body and allowing it to die – he knows he must find a host body before it is too late. His desk is littered with dossiers of likely candidates – movie stars, politicians, captains of industry. Kranpuff knows that if he is going to assume another man's identity, he must make certain that he has a life which is exciting, challenging, fun and full of adventure – as if on cue, Kranpuff looks out his window, and sees Hawkeye fly past on his sky-cycle. Kranpuff then smiles.
Hawkeye catches up to Bobcat and his Claws on a nearby rooftop and tells him that he wished they didn't move the fight to the rooftop, as his panting public can't see all the action up here. 'It's no use we can't escape him!' one of the Claws points out. 'Turn and fight! He can't beat us all!' Bobcat tells the others, while Hawkeye fires an arrow and points out that his sleep-gas arrow will argue that point! The arrow strikes one of the Claws, taking him out. 'Nice shot, bowman! But your fancy arrows won't save you now!' Bobcat declares as he leaps at Hawkeye. 'We're gonna play slice 'n' dice!' another exclaims. Hawkeye tells them to get real. 'Do you really think I'm just gonna sit still and let you sink your claws into me – when I can do this?' Hawkeye replies as he flips the sky-cycle upside down, preventing Bobcat from leaping onto it 'Yeow! I didn't realize your sky-cycle could do maneuvers like this!' Bobcat exclaims. 'There' a lot more this baby can do in the right hands!' Hawkeye exclaims.
Hawkeye flips back to an upright position, sending Bobcat crashing into a rooftop, he then turns his attention on the Claws 'I haven't forgotten you!' he tells them, adding that if they think that last stunt was awesome, he is even better up close and personal! Hawkeye leaps from the sky-cycle, taking one of the Claws out as he lands on the rooftop, while thinking that his sky-cycle is on automatic pilot, it will keep circling the rooftop until he returns to it. 'Get him! Close in on him so he can't shoot any -' one of the Claws begins, while Hawkeye then uses a stun-arrow, which works just as well as a hand-held weapon, knocking it into two more Claws and taking them out. 'You boys have great taste in leaders!' Hawkeye jokes, pointing out that it looks like theirs is cutting out with the cash, as Bobcat leaps onto another rooftop, carrying a sack of stolen cash. Suddenly, Hawkeye feels something whirling through the air behind him – he ducks, just in time, as one of the claws throws a bolo to him, and congratulates Hawkeye on dodging it, as not many men could. 'Save the compliments until after I've bagged you! The news will want a few juicy quoes for the morning editions!' Hawkeye replies.
Hawkeye starts to run along the rooftop, 'If you play your cards right, they might even slip you a few bucks for an exclusive interview -' he begins as he leaps onto another rooftop, when suddenly, he is possessed by Kranpuff, and then falls onto the next rooftop, where Bobcat and his Claws surround him. 'What happened? Why did Mr Mouth suddenly take a header?' one of the Claws asks. 'Who cares! Now's our chance to stomp him!' another points out. Kranpuff looks up and realizes that something tells him he chose the wrong moment to switch bodies! He allows Hawkeye's natural instincts to take over and handle this situation, thinking that considering the level of intelligence of the average criminal element, crime fighting can't be all that difficult. 'Surrender, villains, or face the wrath of Hawkeye, the world's greatest – WHOOPS!' Kranpuff calls out as he fires an arrow – but it arches wide above the Claws.
Kranpuff forces Hawkeye's body to stand up, as the Claws move in closer, 'Looks like things are finally going our way, boys! Get him! Give him a beating he'll never forget!' one of the Claws calls out. 'We'll mess him up real good, Bobcat!' another Claw exclaims, while Kranpuff thinks to himself that this is not happening the way he planned. 'What are you clowns waiting for? Move in! Tear him apart!' Bobcat shouts, while Kranpuff thinks that he needs to defend himself – he can't let them destroy his new host body! He attempts to punch one of the Claws, but misses. 'Can you believe this guy? He can't seem to connect with a single punch! He's totally off balance completely uncoordinated!' the Claw exclaims. 'How'd he ever survive in the super hero biz?' another asks, while a third lunges towards him and points out that one thing is for sure – after today, his crime busting days are over! He slams his fist hard into Hawkeye's face, then all of the Claws start to pile on him. Kranpuff is unable to take much more of the pain – he knows he has to concentrate, he has to leave Hawkeye's body – or he will expire with it.
Hawkeye is free – he's back, as Kranpuff releases him. 'You do a mean imitation of Phil Collins, my friend! But net time, beat a drum – and leave my stomach alone!' Hawkeye exclaims as he grabs two of the Claws and uses them to prop himself up, as he kicks another backwards. Hawkeye then slams the other two Claws' heads together, 'I'd like to thank you for your support but I can stand on my own from now on!' he tells them. Hawkeye then somersaults towards Bobcat who wonders 'What's with this guy? First he fights like a wildcat! Then, a creampuff! And now?' he remarks, as Hawkeye grabs is bow and arrow, 'Maybe I'm just going through a little identity crisis!' Hawkeye jokes as he fires the arrow at Bobcat, telling him that it is nothing compared to the crisis he is about to have. The Arrow lands against Bobcat and takes him out, while another few arrows take out the remaining members of the Claws, trapping the in ropes or knocking them out with gas.
Hawkeye rubs his head and wonders what happened to him back there, whether he blacked out or had some kind of seizure – or whether he experienced something much worse. He wonders what it was, and how he prevents it from happening again. He looks out over the rooftop he stands on, but doesn't see, barely fifty yards away, a peaceful smile lights the face of Winston J Kranpuff, who had the unfortunate luck to return to his own body at the exact moment of its death. For a brief moment, he was Hawkeye. He was an Avenger – a hero. There are much worse ways to spend one's final moments....
Olympus, the extra-dimensional home of the Greek Gods, where the heroic Hercules finds Dionysus, sitting on a large missile. Hercules calls out to Dionysus, announcing that he needs to speak to him. 'Flee, Hercules – lest thou die with the rest of the diseased Olympus!' Dionysus responds. Hercules goes over to Dionysus and asks him if he has taken leave of his senses, perching on a mortal-made thermo-nuclear missile. 'Thou must stop this folly -' Hercules begins, but Dionysus warns Hercules not to come any closer, revealing that he has been told all that is needed is one swift blow to its head, and then for all of them, reality ends. Hercules replies that perhaps his head has yet to heal, but he doesn't understand. With tears in his eyes, Dionysus replies 'How couldst thou – as gods go, you art young! But Dionysus is an elder!' Dionysus reveals that his powers are fading away, and soon the God of Vine will be as an old serving woman.
Dionysus reminds Hercules of how the boredom of godhood wasn't enough, but that call to arms came from Zeus, and the immortals were routed by Hercules' mortal comrades – and the ultimate indignity was his to endure as he was bested by the emerald-skinned wench! Dionysus reveals that, shortly thereafter, the resolve came to him that they are dying as a race, so better they end now with a whimper – but with a bang! Hercules pleads with Dionysus to reconsider, and points out that it is bad enough to take his own life, but he should have compassion for Olympus, as the ensuing blast that ends his existence will destroy all the beauty and culture that is their heritage – it is unthinkable! Dionysus frowns: 'To Hades with thee all' he replies.
Hercules explains to Dionysus that on Earth, mortal healers would say that he is suffering in the throes of mental depression. 'Thou art merely having a bad century!' Hercules points out, suggesting that they retire to some peaceful oasis for a time and reflect on what troubles him. 'Mayhaps we can find some solution' Hercules offers. But Dionysus tells Hercules that it is too late for that – he has already violated Zeus's edict against contact with the mortal world. Dionysus wonders why Zeus made such a decree, as it is cruel to deny them the pleasure of mortal revelry. 'Nay – Zeus will punish me...but short of the oblivion I yearn for!' Dionysus declares, asking Hercules to forgive him, but he refuses his aid – Olympus must perish with him. Hercules announces 'Thou hast left me with no other recourse, save to -' Hercules starts, but Dionysus interrupts him: '- I know, I know! “take thee by force”!' he quotes, before revealing that he anticipated such a response. 'Behold! Allow me to introduce my new servant – Sgt Butcher T Washington!'
Dionysus casts some energy upwards, and Hercules turns around, where he sees a massive tank rolling towards him, with Sgt Butcher T Washington in command. 'Is he da target, clean-head?' Butcher T Washington asks Dionysus. 'Verily! Yon timer is set to explode within the next twenty minutes! Thou shall have escape and reward aplenty if thou dost serve me well!' Dionysus tells the soldier. 'I'm yer man, brother Dion. Now, as fer you, run along or I'll snuff yer butt!' Butcher T Washington warns Hercules. Hercules is shocked – Dionysus has brought a mortal to Olympus. 'Though must be truly unbalanced!' he shouts. 'Thou may kill him now' Dionysus frowns. 'You got it!' Butcher T Washington responds as he uses the tank to open fire – and blasts Hercules, knocking him backwards. But Hercules recovers, and takes hold of the tank, bending the front of it backwards and boasting that it will take more than these mortal toys to vanquish him.
'If dat's the case, here's sumthin ya might take a li'l more seriously!' Butcher responds as he opens fire again, blasting Hercules with flame. 'Too easy! He'll be ashes in seconds and all the loot fat boy promised is mine!' Butcher declares, but Hercules tells him that he thinks his celebration is a bit premature. 'But for thy effort – I applaud!' Hercules exclaims as he claps his hands together, and the vacuum that ensues from his thunderous clap extinguishes the inferno. Suddenly, though, another set of arsenal rises from the tank – several small missiles that Butcher fires towards Hercules, telling him that he is standing between him and his payday and is forcing him to break out the big guns. Hercules grabs one of the missiles, 'Bah! These puny darts are of no consequence to Hercules, but to thee – they should concern thee aplenty!' Hercules declares as he throws the missile back at Butcher, it explodes, destroying some of the tank.
'My tank! Ya killed my tank – ya dirty son of a -' Butcher shouts as he uses a machine gun to try and take Hercules down. Hercules runs forward towards the remains of the tank, dodging the bullets, Hercules shouts that he has no more time to waste on the likes of him, an impudent mortal – especially when the fate of beloved Olympus hangs in the balance. Hercules then slams his fist into Butcher, knocking him to the ground. But still Butcher opens fire on Hercules, 'Da fat boy told me about yer li'l medical problem an I got just da thing ta insure you go down – a li'l high voltage taser blast ta yer swollen grey matter!' he exclaims. The taser strikes Hercules, and in his already weakened state, he succumbs to the blast. Butcher frowns as he holds up an adamantium garote, and pulls it around Hercules' neck, 'The last moments of your life!' Butcher declares, while the weakened Hercules attempts to break free. Butcher boasts that it is so strong it is guaranteed to remove anyone's head – even a god's!
Dionysus watches – his world will end as he wished – with a bang. But not so for Hercules, as his life slips away with a whimper. 'No... Dionysus suddenly utters. 'NOOOOOOO!' he roars, getting to his feet, he tells Butcher to begone and to take his destructive toy with him. Dionysus surrounds Butcher T Washington in a mystical energy, and Butcher throws his arms into the air, 'Wha -? I knew I shouldn't trust a -' before he vanishes.
When all traces of the conflict has vanishes, Hercules goes over to Dionysus and thanks him. Dionysus looks to the ground and tells Hercules to say nothing – for even though he is despondent, he could not allow Hercules to perish on his behalf. He adds that perhaps he simply needed to know that someone cared. 'Nut old friend – what hath become of “Butcher T” and the bomb?' Hercules enquires. Dionysus reveals that he gave Butcher T access to all the wealth his greedy heart dares desire.
Indeed, Butcher T Washington finds himself inside Fort Knox, where he and the missile are surrounded by soldiers.
Sometime later, Dionysus stands before the King of the Gods – Zeus, in judgment. Hercules stands near Zeus, as Dionysus announces that he throws himself at his liege. Zeus looks unimpressed, and points out that Dionysus hast dared to defy his will by making mortal combat, but that his blackest transgression is his disregard for his own immortal soul, and for that, he must be punished. Zeus announces that Dionysus, the God of Wine and Mirth is to be stripped of all that he possesses – powers and memories will be denied to him. Zeus adds that Dionysus will be banished to a place of penitence until such time as he deems his sentence served. Dionysus offers no response, he simply extends his arms, 'So be it!' Zeus declares, casting energy at Dionysus, who vanishes.
A short time later, in Zeus' private chamber, Hercules tells Zeus that his plan worked perfectly, a great tragedy was averted this day. 'Thanks in no small way to thee, my son' Zeus replies, adding that had Dionysus not believed Hercules was in danger, this tale might have had a less pleasant resolution – he counted on Dionysus' affection for Hercules to undo the situation. Hercules tells his father that his wisdom was great, and asks what happened to Dionysus. 'I sent him to a place – where he may learn to appreciate life once again' Zeus reveals, as he waves his hands over a scrying pool, he and Hercules look into it and see Dionysus, at quite an appropriate location on Earth.
Dion's Bar, where a man enters and wonders 'Is that sign new?' as he looks at the “Dion's Bar” sign scrawled across the window. Dionysus is behind the bar, drying a beer mug, as a patron asks for another brewski. Other patrons are enjoying their drinks in the bar, as Dionysus replies 'It's my pleasure'.
Mr Winston J Kranpuff
Winston the driver
In Dionysus' memory:
Sgt Butcher T Washington
First appearance of Bobcat.
Hercules is still recovering from serious head injuries sustained in Avengers (1st series) #274.
Dionysus encountered She-Hulk in Avengers (1st series) #284.