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1st Story: Tom DeFalco (writer), Al Milgrom (penciler), Jose Marzan (inker), Jack Morelli (letterer), Janet Jackson (colorist)
2nd Story: Peter B Gillis (writer), Don Perlin (penciler), Jack Abel (inker), Richard Starkings (letterer), Andy Yanchus (colorist)
Mark Gruenwald (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)
In the AIM facility, Mockingbird watches as AIM operatives transport brains in canisters onto a teleport platform, and leaps onto the platform as they activate it, taking her and the brains to another part of the facility, where Mockingbird starts fighting the operatives. At that moment, Hawkeye and Black Widow have been captured by Hank Pym, known as the AIM operative Enforcer Fourteen – which Hawkeye soon exposes as a robot. The real Hank Pym is also shown to be a prisoner of AIM. He recalls trying to help cure his first wife, Maria, from the super brain that had been attached to her, when he was knocked out. Hawkeye wonders if there is a link between Maria and AIM, when Maria, inside a flying capsule to support her enormous brain, appears, introducing herself as SODAM, a product of Project Brain Drain. She hints at not actually being Maria, but when Hank queries her on this she refuses to answer. Mockingbird's battle continues, and she takes out a power station, which frees Hawkeye and Black Widow from their stasis chambers. Along with Hank, they engage the Pym imposter and the AIM operatives in battle, and Hank realizes that Project Brain Drain is to artificially enhance human intelligence and create a super mind which the AIM can control. SODAM joins in the battle, but the AIM Imperial Council are worried she will get injured, and after she accidentally blows up the Hank Pym imposter, she is ordered to launch the self-destruct sequence. She does so, and the AIM operatives flee. Fire rages through the complex, and the Avengers escape – Mockinbird does, too, with only a moment to spare. Hawkeye, Black Widow and Hank Pym watch as the escaped operatives are rounded up by the authorities, and Hank wonders if SODAM really was Maria. The Widow tries to tell him it doesn't matter, as SODAM belongs to the AIM. Hawkeye thinks that it does matter, that it is terrible when you lose someone you love. He thinks about Mockingbird and wishes she was here – he wants her – but he can hear her laughing at him. Only, Mockingbird watches him from the shadows, and walks away without ever letting him know she was here.
Pamela Douglas, an editor for a trade journal in Manhattan, feels like there is someone else inside her head. After struggling at work, she returns to her Soho apartment that she shares with her boyfriend, Tom. She accuses him of not loving her, and breaks down, wondering what is happening to her – of course she loves him. While Tom sleeps, Pamela goes into the bathroom and shaves off all her hair – although she can't understand why. Some days later, she attends a conference in Indiana, but on the way home, she crashes into a billboard with the picture of a fetus on it. Back in Soho, she talks to Tom about the baby, but Tom reminds her that she isn't pregnant. Pam tries to tell Tom that this is all real, that she is going crazy – when a large hand breaks through the skylight window and reaches out for her. Pam runs in a panic out into the street and hides behind a dumpster, while she wonders where the baby is. Suddenly, the essence of Moondragon – Heather Douglas, appears before her. Heather explains that they are cousins, and that when she died, her body was turned to ash, but her mind wandered adrift until it found her. Adding to the fantastic story, Heather reveals that on Titan, the computer called Isaac is incubating a clone body for her. Pamela is confused by all of this, until a small spaceship appears above them, and Heather tells Pamela that it will take her to Titan. A man dressed in a soldier's uniform appears on the street, and reaches out to Pamela with the same hands that attacked her in her apartment. She runs from him, until Moondragon realizes who he is. Pamela allows Moondragon to speak through her body and Moondragon identifies the spirit within the crystal hanging around the soldier's neck as Isaac Christians, her former teammate whom she killed, Gargoyle. Moondragon assumes the soldier to be one who was working on the clean-up of the site where the battle against the Dragon of the Moon took place, and takes the crystal from him. The spaceship then beams Pamela and the crystal up, and Pamela is terrified about what is to come – but someone inside her is singing.
In a vast underground complex, Hawkeye and Black Widow have been taken captive by AIM – but help is on the way in the form of Hawkeye's estranged wife, Mockingbird, who looks around a corner into a lab, she thinks to herself that she has to find Hawkeye without letting him know that she secretly followed him here because she heard he was meeting his former flame the Widow.
Bobbi Morse-Barton a.k.a. Mockingbird watches as two AIM operatives load strange capsules onto a platform. 'Yeech! It's disgusting to think that these things hold the brains of dead AIM agents!' one of them declares. The other tells him to shut up and keep loading the brains onto the teleportation platform, or they might be next! 'Relax, pal! We're finished here – and we ain't joining Project Brain Drain!' the first operative replies. 'Let's hope not' the second mutters, before telling the first to get ready, as he is activating the tele-jumper. He presses a button, at which time Mockingbird leaps onto the platform, and vanishes alongside the two AIM operatives and dozens of capsules containing brains.
An instant later, they all re-materialize in another part of the lab, where dozens of AIM operatives are waiting. 'Look! An intruder materialized with our cargo!' 'It's Mockingbird of the West Coast Avengers!' one of them shouts as Bobbi springs into action, using her trusty staff, she knocks several AIM operatives backwards, and several canisters containing the brains are tossed about in the process as she declares that she quit that group. 'But you gentlemen must be so busy with your plans for world conquest – that you just don't have time to read the current gossip in the supermarket tabloids!' Bobbi jokes.
At that moment, elsewhere in the complex, Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye and Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow find themselves suspended in strange triangle contraptions, while dozens of AIM operatives stand before them, along with Hank Pym, who wears an AIM jumpsuit and goes by the name Enforcer Fourteen. He tells his former teammates that there is no need for them to exert themselves, and they have his personal guarantee that they will never escape from those electromagnetic immobilizers. The Black Widow exclaims that she can't believe a man like him, a former Avenger, would betray them to the AUIM. 'I've got a flash for you, Natasha – this joker may look and sound like Hank – but he's as phony as a politician's promise!' Hawkeye declares, revealing that this is just some crummy robot. “Hank” suddenly pulls back his jumpsuit, revealing a robotic body underneath. He tells Hawkeye that he is impressed with his powers of observation, and explains that he is no ordinary robot, but a highly sophisticated simulacrum, before asking what it is that gave him away. 'Get real, pal! You need a lot more than a pretty face and some high tech hardware to pass yourself as a man like Hank Pym!' Hawkeye responds.
Hawkeye decides that there is no need to admit he suspected the imposter from the start and turned up his hearing aid so that he could hear the gears moving in the robot's artificial body. Enforcer Fourteen decides that since Hawkeye has already seen through his disguise, there is no need to concela the genuine article anymore. He presses a button on a control panel, and a door slides open, revealing the real Dr Hank Pym. 'Hawkeye!' Hank calls out. 'What are you doing here?' Hawkeye asks as he looks over at Pym, who explains that he isn't sure – he remembers working in his lab, desperately trying to cure his wife, Maria, to find a way to reverse the expansion of her artificially enhanced brain. He was on the verge of making some real progress with her, and had finally managed to stabilize her condition and had just completed a mobile support system for her, when some gas was released from a vial on the device containing Maria's enormous brain, and knocked him out.
Hawkeye declares that there must be a connection between Maria and AIM, and wonders what it is. 'The answer should be quite obvious, Avenger!' a voice calls out, as suddenly, inside a large flying capsule which holds her enormous brain safely in place, Maria flies into the large room, and announces that she has always been a creature of AIM – a product of Project Brain Drain! She then introduces herself as SODAM – a Specialised Organism Deisnged for Aggressive Manuevers! 'No! It isn't possible!' Hank shouts, while Maria grins, her eyes are wide as she explains that her “birth” was not without problems and she needed a genius with unique skills and knowledge to resolve them, so she devised a stratagem which would force Dr Henry Pym to aid her. 'You mean you're not my wife? You're not Maria Pym?' Hank exclaims. The woman continues to grin and replies 'That question is irrelevant! I had no life before AIM created me... no other identity... I am SODAM!'
Meanwhile, as Hank Pym gasps in shock and horror, Mockingbird continues her savage battle against the AIM operatives, and a carefully placed kick knocks back the arm of an operative who was about to fire his weapon at her – so the weapon sends a blast of electro-magnetic force into a nearby computer, shorting the entire system and causing a massive overload.
Back in the other chamber, the lights begin to dim, causing Hawkeye to assume there is some sort of power failure in the facility – and this enables he and Natasha to free themselves from the stasis chambers they were trapped in. 'The cutback was enough to weaken my immobilizer!' Hawkeye declares, while Black Widow tells him to move it, and points out there are only the three of them against a few dozen of the agents. 'Yeah, the poor suckers don't stand a chance!' Hawkeye jokes, before he shouts 'AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!' and starts to battle the AIM operatives. Hank starts to tackle his robot imposter, while SODAM flies above them and shouts 'Cease this foolishness at once!' and warns the Avengers that even though they managed to break free, they will never escape. 'Who wants to escape? I'm just treying to reach the clown who copped my bow and arrows!' Hawkeye responds as he retrieves his weapons, 'Sheesh! I don't mind passing out a few souvenirs to my adoring public – but thiis guy got just a little greedy for his own good!' Hawkeye jokes.
Hawkeye readies his bow and starts firing arrows as he asks 'Who else would like a genuine arrow...shot from the bow of the World's Greatest Archer?' The arrows strike the AIM operatives and release a gas which knocks them out. 'Don't be bashful, boys...step right up! I have plenty for everyone!' Hawkeye jokes. As the battle rages, Hank informs Hawkeye that he has managed to piece together the purpose of Project Brain Drain, and announces that AIM is trying to artificially enhance human intelligence and create a super-mind which they can control. Before he can reveal anything else, Hank is thrown into the air by his robot imposter, who exclaims 'I am afraid that knowledge is classified!' The Black Widow knocks back one of the operatives she is fighting with and tells Hank to hold on, that she is coming. 'But you will never reach him!' SODAM shouts as she begins firing blasts down below, 'Mind-blasts are quite deadly!' she calls out. 'They'd better be accurate, too – because you won't get a second chance to stop me!' the Black Widow calls back as she dodges the blasts which strike several AIM operatives, before she fires her grappling cable towards the robot imposter, which wraps around his neck. The Black Widow then tugs on the cable, and pulls the robot backwards.
'Good work, Natasha! You managed to catch my double by surprise with your Widow's Line!' Hank calls out, while SODAM appears above them, and point out that she also left herself totally exposed to another mind-blast – but to SODAM's surprise, the Black Widow reacts quicker than SODAM's ability to fire the mind-blast, and she tosses the robot double of Hank Pym straight into the line of fire, causing it to explode as SODAM's mind-blast strikes it.
At that very moment, the AIM Imperial Council of Seven, the secret rulers of the AIM, watch the battle on a monitor, and tension mounts among them. 'This is getting totally out of hand!' one of the Council exclaims. Another suggests that they have invested far too much in SODAM to allow her to be endangered in this fashion. 'I agree! There is only one way to proceed...!' another shouts, before one of them contacts SODAM and instructs her to initiate code-omega. 'But I can win this battle and defeat these fools!' SODAM responds. 'You have been given an order! Obey it!' the Council member retorts. And so, without another word, SODAM fires a previously programmed coherent beam of light, and initiates the self-destruct sequence. An alarm sounds, and the AIM operatives stop fighting the Avengers, they turn and run. 'Why is everyone bugging out?' Hawkeye wonders, before SODAM fires a blast at the ceiling, which causes it to collapse and separate herself from the Avengers. 'But, why? WHY?' Hawkeye shouts.
The Black Widow and Hank Pym drag Hawkeye away from the rubble which collapsed near him and is set ablaze. 'No time for questions, my friend! We must get out of here!' the Black Widow points out. Hank agrees and points out that the walls are suddenly bursting into flame – the whole place is crumbling down around them!
Meanwhile, Mockingbird knocks out another of her foes, while noticing that others panicked when they heard the alarm. She wonders if those who could still walk have fled, and on a monitor, she sees Hawkeye, Widow and Pym make it to a rocket sled and escape. As flames begin to engulf the room she is in, Mockingbird leaps to the teleport platform. 'Something tells me that I'd better activate it before -' she thinks to herself, when suddenly, the platform explodes!
Sometime later, soldiers are leading the AIM operatives who have been rounded up into police vans. Hawkeye, Widow and Pym watch them, while Pym tells his allies that he can't top thinking about SODAM. He wonders if she was really Maria, or just some pitiful creature who tricked him into helping her. Natasha tells Pym that it doesn't matter, and reminds him of what she said – that whoever she once was, she now belongs to AIM – body and soul. Hawkeye thinks to himself that it does matter to Hank, though – that it is terrible to lose someone you love, even if that person doesn't care about you. Clint wishes that Mockingbird were here now so that he could tell her his misses her, needs her – wants her. Standing behind a corner, Mockingbird watches the other Avengers in silence. She then turns and strides away, as Hawkeye thinks that it wouldn't do him any good – Mockingbird would probably laugh right in his face. 'Yeah, in fact, I can almost hear her laughing now...' Hawkeye decides, while Mockingbird frowns, and looks as if she is about to cry....
In a darkened office, a woman sits slumped over her desk, resting her head against one of her hands. Her name is Pamela Douglas, and she is an editor for a business trade journal, “The Manhattan Project” - and somebody is free-associating inside her head – and she doesn't think it is her. 'You know the Monty Python routine about the art critic talking about “the history of the nude in my bed...I mean in art! Art! Or maybe it's more like the one about the barber, when the customer says 'razor' he starts saying 'razor cut blood spurting psycho mangling'...”. Pamela realizes she isn't making much sense, 'Razor razor slash burn psycho shower help me...' she thinks to herself as she lets her hand shift away, and drops her head onto the desk with a THUMP. Suddenly, her office door swings open and the room fills with light from the corridor, as a man calls out to her 'Pam, you thinking about din – ssay, are you all right?'
Pamela looks up at him, Joey Barker from the production department, and all she sees a hateful scuzz-bag who wants her dead. “Get out!” she wants to scream – or does she? Pamela stands up and tells Joey that she is okay, and that she and Tom are going out tonight. 'Your funeral. See ya!' Joey replies, closing the door. Pam crouches down and picks up a snow globe which she knocked from her desk, and thinks to herself that Joey is a good guy – they are all good guys and gals and she gets along fine with them, a good working relationship with them, that this is a fine place, a fine job. She looks down at a notepad, where she has written over and over “Hate them” across the paper. She screws the paper up and clutches her head, 'Help. Stop. Help. Stop' she thinks.
Soon, Pamela arrives in her Soho apartment, 'H'lo, Pam. How was the day?' Tom calls out to her as he waters some potted plants. Tom announces that he wasn't sure whether they wanted to do the Chanterelle again, or Barocco, so he made reservations for both, and asks Pam what suits her fancy. 'You don't love me! You don't love me because I'm -' Pam shouts as she strides across the living room, slamming her briefcase down on a table as she passes Tom. 'Pam!' Tom calls out, before grabbing her by her shoulders. 'Because I'm...' Pam utters as Tom assures her that he loves her. 'Because I'm what?' Pam wonders to herself, while reminding herself that Tom does love her, she knows that – so why is she screaming? Pam begins to cry and Tom tells her that they can order out. Pam then tells Tom that she is sorry.
Later that night, Tom is asleep, and Pam is in the bathroom. 'Of course he loves me. Or does he? Does he not love me because I'm going mad? He doesn't. He doesn't and I'll show him. Show you all. Show you all -' Pam thinks to herself as she starts shaving – hair falls onto the bathroom counter – then she looks into the mirror, horrified – she has shaved all of her hair off. 'My God. What did I -?' Pam gasps, before throwing her hands to her head and screams 'NOOOOO!'
A new day, and Pam is driving in Indiana. The tranquilizers she is on help, and the doctor advised her that she needs a vacation, but she told the doctor work would be the best therapy and Tom backed her up. Pam decides that stress is a stupid word, as everything's stress these days. She thinks that the conference was fun, and nobody even noticed her wig. She hasn't blown up once since – when suddenly, as if on cue, Pam begins to sweat, 'I'm not -' she begins. 'Ashes no please!' Pam exclaims, as her car skids off the road, and down a small hill towards a billboard. 'Please what please I don't please I'm not!' Pam exclaims. She looks up at the billboard, which depicts a fetus and reads “15 weeks – heartbeat – fingerprints – reactions to sound”. 'Baby...' Pam utters.
Once back in Soho, Pam sits up in bed, 'The baby, Tom, the baby -' she begins, but Tom, sitting on the edge of the bed reminds Pam that the doctor checked her, and that she is not pregnant. Pam, whose hair is starting to grow back, starts to get out of bed, 'You think I'm crazy! I'm not! All this is real!' she exclaims. 'All what is real? Pam, please – what's real?' Tom asks, reaching out to Pam, who turns to him and shouts 'I don't know! I don't know what's real! But it's real!' 'Pam, please...' Tom calls out, while Pam exclaims that it is real – she is going crazy and it is real. Suddenly, a large hand bursts down through the skylight window, 'NOOOOOO' Pam screams as the hand reaches out for her. 'Holy!' Tom gasps.
Pam runs out into the street, she has to get somewhere – but where? She doesn't remember. She thinks about Tom, then hides behind a dumpster. She tells herself that she has to stop it, that something is out there and she has to hide – she doesn't know where she is running to. She thinks of Tom again, then the baby. 'There is no baby – where is the baby?' Pam asks herself, clutching her stomach. 'Titan' a mysterious voice suddenly calls out. 'Titan?' Pam wonders, as the face of a bald woman materializes in front of Pam, and tells her that Titan is the biggest moon of Saturn, that she knows that. 'No. I never studied astronomy. What are you doing in my mind?' Pam screams, before the mysterious face greets Pamela, and tells her that she is sorry. 'You're sorry? What have you dont to me? Who are you?' Pam shrieks, hysterical. The face introduces herself as Heather Douglas, and informs Pamela that although they have never met, she is her closest living female relation, cousin, she thinks, and that on Titan, she took the name Moondragon. Moondragon explains that she ewas corrupted by the Dragon of the Moon, and when she ewas with the superhuman group called the Defenders, she gurned on them, and paid the price – she died and her body was turned to ash.
Heather continues, explaining that her mind, though shattered, was set adrift, until now, when it found Pamela, and on Titan, the living computer known as Isaac started preparing a clone host for her. Heather reveals that the clone host is incubating on Titan as they speak and that her soul had hidden in Pam's mind, that it was weak and wounded, and she heard her death screams and hatred. 'I wasn't strong enough to talk until now' Heather adds. Pam is still huddled behind the dumpster and asks about the hand and the busted glass. Heather assures her that was not her, and that it scares her, too, before announcing that they need to get her out of here. 'I really doubt that I -' Pam begins as she stands up, while thinking that she can't stand sounding like she is talking to herself, and wonders where they run to, as Titan isn't on the subway line. 'No, it isn't – so I hired a limo' Heather declares as Pamela walks back out onto the sidewalk, and sees a spacecraft hovering above her. 'Please don't make jokes' she thinks, to which Heather informs her that this is her personal spacecraft, Sensia II, and explains that it has been orbiting Earth for a long time now.
Suddenly, a man in a uniform approaches Pam and calls out 'Heather', causing Heather's voice to tell Pam to run. 'Who is that?' Pam wonders, but Heather tells her that she doesn't know. 'Heather' the man in the uniform calls out again, before releasing two large hands which move towards Pam and attempt to grab her, like the one in her bedroom. 'Oh God oh God oh God!' Pamela declares, ducking between two parked cars for safety. One of the hands slams into one of the cars, crushing it, as Pamela tells Heather that she has to do something. 'I can't! Your mind doesn't have any powers and I'm dead! Heather responds. 'Dead? We'll both be dead if we don't do something!' Pam exclaims. 'Dead? Dead! You killed me! You killed me!' the man in the uniform calls out as he moves closer to Pam, his hands extended and reaching out again.
'Killed?' Heather's voice asks, before telling Pam that she might have this, and instructs her to get closer to the man. 'But I -' Pam protests, to which Heather tells her to trust her. The man's hands revert to normal, and as the stands in front of him, Moondragon's ship hovers above them. Pam tells the man in the uniform that she just wants to talk, and asks him not to do anything for a second. Heather asks Pam to let her have her voice, to relax and let her speak. Moondragon speaks through Pam, and tells the man in the soldier's uniform that she knows what happened, that she is sorry, and that he has to know she wants to help – and then holds up a crystal hanging around his neck and addresses him as Isaac Christians! Heather admits to Isaac Christians that when she was under the Dragon's control, she deceived him, reached intothe breast of the Gargoyle's body he inhabited and ripped his naked soul out. She remembers doing this, and tells Isaac that the evil of it still burns in her, that she cast his spirit away and she didn't care, she would have let him die – but his spirit found its way into this crystal, one which he took from the house of Dr Strange. As she starts to remove the crystal from around the man's neck, Moondragon assumes him to be one of the military men that helped clean up the aftermath of the battle with the Dragon of the Moon, assuming Isaac's soul took him over and went hunting for her.
Heather tells Isaac that she died for her misdeeds, died and wants to start again 'Please let me!' she asks him, telling him that her has to know she cared for him. 'Heather, I -' Isaac starts to say through the soldier. Heather asks Isaac to come with her, suggesting that perhaps he can begin again, too. 'We can – begin' Isaac utters. The spacecraft Sensia suddenly releases a beam, which carries Pamela upwards. She thinks to herself that she works for a trade journal in Manhattan and is going on a spaceship to Saturn to give birth to her cousin, and has a gargoyle's soul in her hand. 'I'm floating upward on a beam of light. Scared? You betcha'. The spaceship streaks out into space, and Pamela realizes that there is someone inside her singing.
Dr Henry Pym
Hank Pym duplicate
SODAM / “Maria Troyvana”
Imperical Council of AIM
(in flashback image)
in flashback image:
Dragon of the Moon
Hank was trying to cure Maria in West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #36.
First appearance of Pamela Douglas.
Moondragon died in New Defenders #152 after succumbing to the influence of the Dragon of the Moon.
Moondragon's original aircraft, Sensia, was destroyed in Avengers (1st series) #220.
Gargoyle took the crystal from Dr Strange's house in New Defenders #147.
This story continues in Solo Avengers #18.