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1st Story: Tom DeFalco (writer), Mark Bright (penciler), Jose Marzan (inker), Janet Jackson (colorist)
2nd Story: Bob Layton (plotter, scripter, inker), Jackson Guice (plotter, penciler), Paul Becton (colorist)
Jack Morelli (letterer), Mark Gruenwald (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)
Hawkeye is at the airport with Silver Sable and Sandman, preparing to return to the States. The terminal is overrun by terrorists from the small nation Bartovia. Eric is the leader of the terrorists, and once the main part of the terminal is secure, he takes a hostage to another area. Silver Sable is reluctant to get involved – she only works for paying clients, so Hawkeye offers to pay her a dollar to help. With Sandman they take out the terrorists in the main part of the terminal, before Hawkeye goes in search of his luggage, he needs his bow and arrows. Sable and Sandman take down some more hostages, while Hawkeye finds his weapons, they eventually end up outside, where Eric has taken the hostage. He promises to shoot her, which causes Hawkeye concern when Sable tells him that doesn't concern her – and that the French government pays her well for bringing in terrorists. The hostage frees herself during this discussion, and Hawkeye and Sable take Eric and his followers down. When the authorities arrive, Hawkeye confronts Sable about whether she would have let Eric kill the hostage, but she doesn't answer him. When he is finally on a plane en route to the United States, Hawkeye finds something in his pocket – an invoice from Sable for one American dollar for services rendered.
The Black Widow is relaxing in her apartment on a rainy night when she sees a news report about her former ballet trainer, Oksana, who is in the United States for specialized surgery. The Widow thinks back to her time with Oksana, and the medallion she gave her, being one of her prized student. Natasha feels that she betrayed Oksana by joining the KGB and then defecting to the States, so she wants to track Oksana down. Ivan Petrovich appears in her apartment, he heard the news, too, and new Natasha would try something, so he tries to talk her out of it, but she leaves anyway, and makes her way into the Russian Embassy. She takes out some staff before finding Oksana. Oksana is happy that Natasha has come to visit her, but knows she must leave as there is a bounty on her head. Natasha apologizes to Oksana for her betrayal, but Oksana does not feel betrayed. A Colonel finds them – but instead of killing the Black Widow like he was supposed to, he lets her go. The Black Widow leaves, after Oksana lets her keep the medallion. The Colonel let the Black Widow leave because he, too, has a medallion and knows what it means to have been trained by Oksana.
The Orly International Airport, which services Paris, France. 'FREEZE! Don't anybody move!' a man in green military clothing calls out as he and several others reveal their weapons, aiming them at airport staff and civilians. He announces that this terminal now belongs to the Bartovian Liberation Front, and that they are all political prisoners. Among the civilians in the terminal are three unique individuals – Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye, the mysterious Silver Sable, and her hired gun William Baker a.k.a. Sandman. 'Oh, great! Finally finish my business here so I can go home, and now this!' Hawkeye whispers to the others. Sandman tells Hawkeye to quit his griping, and points out that at least he and Sable are here to see him off. Hawkeye tells Sandman that he means no offense, but that he would feel a whole lot better if he hadn't checked the bag containing his bow and arrows! He then asks 'Who are these clowns, anyway?' to which Sandman tells him that they are a bunch of cheap thugs who started making headlines a few weeks ago, and asks his boss what they should do about them.
'NOTHING!' Sable snaps quietly. She remarks that as an Avenger, Hawkeye might feel compelled to get involved in this matter, but she and Sandman are professional mercenaries and only risk their necks when they have a paying client. This surprises Hawkeye, while Sandman tells them to keep a watch as the punks are making a move. 'You! Come here!' the apparent leader of the terrorist faction calls out as he grabs a woman wearing pink and pulls her close to him. 'The rest of you – listen up! He shouts, holding his gun to her face, he shouts that this girl will be the first to die if there is any resistance. One of his comrades calls him Eric, and alerts him to the approaching airport security. Eric holds his hostage tight and tells the security guards to drop their guns and surrender, or else his men will begin firing into the crowd. He adds that the penalty for hijacking is death – so they have nothing to lose!
The airport security hold their ground, but Eric warns them that this is no bluff. 'All right! All right, we surrender!' one of the security guards calls out as they throw their machine guns to the floor. Eric then orders everyone to get on their stomachs and lay down. 'NOW!' he booms. The civilians and staff comply with his instructions, as he suggests that no one does anything to bring attention to themselves. He reveals that they intend to kill a hostage every half hour until the French government meets their demands – and frees the heroic Bartovian patriots who were arrested last week. 'Some patriots. They got nailed trying to plant a bomb on a bus full of school kids!' Sandman mentions to Hawkeye. Hawkeye quietly tells Sable that he usually keeps a spare dollar for emergencies, and asks her if she is interested. 'Are we talking cash?' Sable replies. Eric begins to lead his hostage away and tells his men that they know what to do – pick an appropriate victim – someone who will look good for the television cameras. He then tells some of the men to come with him, as they need to make sure the entire terminal is secure.
When none of the terrorists are focused on them, Sable gives the order 'Now -' and she, Hawkeye and Sandman get to their feet, with Sandman switching to his sand form and moving towards a terrorist who tells a civilian to keep their head down, unless he wants the entire world to watch him as they execute him – 'Aw, shut up! It's real easy ta flap yer jaws while you're holding all the weapons, but let's see how tough ya are now!' Sandman exclaims as he wraps one sandy hand around the terrorist's face, and with his other hand grabs his weapon from him.
'Look! We're being attacked!' one of the terrorist calls out. Another orders two of them to deal with the sandy creature, while he attends to the stupid American running towards him. 'He shall be the first hostage to die!' he calls out. 'I doubt it, pal!' Hawkeye exclaims, boasting that without his bow and arrows, he is more than a match for ten of them. He slams his hand into the terrorist's face and declares that no one is dying today – not so long as his friends and he have anything to say about it!
While Sandman bursts forward and knocks two of the terrorists together, Hawkeye flips one his opponents into another terrorist. He notices Sable throw a small object at another terrorist, striking his arm and tells her that he didn't realize she could use those half moon gizmos on her belt as weapons. Sable explains that they are called chais, and that he will find them listed under “expenses” on the itemized bill she intends to give him! With all of the terrorists defeated, the airport security rush in, 'Magnificent! It barely took you a full minute to subdue all those terrorists!' one of them exclaims, asking if there is anything they can do to help. 'Why don't you and your buddies go and find some more guns to surrender to the bad guys!' Sandman suggests. 'Be nice' Sable tells him, adding that they may have to work for these people someday. Sable notices Hawkeye leap behind the check-in counter and asks him where he is going.
Hawkeye reports that he is going to find his gear, and instructs Sable to help the security guards get the civilians to safety, then they can take care of Eric and the rest of his Bartovian blowhards. Sable calls out to Hawkeye as he rides the luggage conveyor belt, asking him why they don't let the local authorities handle it from here. 'Because that's not my style, lady!' Hawkeye calls back, explaining that he can't just sit on the sidelines while lives are in danger! When the luggage conveyor belt comes to an end, Hawkeye surprises some luggage workers, asking them where he can find the luggage bound for flight 207 to Los Angeles. They don't answer him, so Hawkeye assumes they heard all the commotion upstairs and don't want to get involved. He looks around the huge luggage sorting room and realizes that he is going to have to do this the hard way!
A few frantic minutes later, Clint comes across his suitcase, recognizing it thanks to the goofy ribbon that his wife trained him to tie to his luggage. He opens his suitcase and sees his bow and arrow. 'Considering the way this trip's been going, I'm lucky the airline didn't accidentally ship it to Guam!' Clint thinks to himself, before deciding that there is no time to put on his entire costume, so he pulls his mask and tunic on, knowing that he has to hurry, as Silver Sable and Sandman may be in over their heads and desperate for his help. Clint may not be paranoid about keeping his civilian identity a secret, but he is pleased that he always travels under a fake name, otherwise his real one would be public knowledge after today. Clint readies his bow, and wonders what is going on back upstairs, as he doesn't hear any gunfire, he hopes things are okay. He has prepared his bow to the proper tension, and has found plenty of arrows. 'Guess it's finally time to rock 'n' roll!' Clint tells himself.
At that moment upstairs, Sable and Sandman make their way through a corridor, with Sandman blasting one of the terrorists in the back with a surge of sand, and Sable taking another one down with her chais. They run further down the corridor where they run into more terrorists. Sable tells Sandman to move it, as she promised the English ambassador that she would join him for high tea this afternoon and she doesn't want to be late. Sandman lurches forward, grabbing one of the terrorists and knocking him back, Sandman wonders if he could convince Sable to pay him time and a half for this job, but decides he better not push his luck. With all of the terrorists rounded up, Sandman wonders where Hawkeye is. 'He's the one who got us into this fight in the first place' Sandman points out. Sable tells Sandman that Hawkeye went to the lower level where they keep the baggage, and supposes he might still be there.
Near a baggage collection carousel: 'Keep it down!' a terrorist shouts as he and another keep watch over some civilians who are lying on their stomachs. 'Please don't force us to kill anyone until after the newsmen have arrived!' the terrorist remarks. Suddenly, some luggage tumbles out of a chute, 'What the -' the terrorist remarks, before Hawkeye appears, 'Hi there! I'm Hawkeye! Fly me to oblivion!' Clint jokes, telling the terrorist not to look so surprised at his accommodations – only the Fantastic Four travels first class all the time. He jokes that the Avengers are going their bit to decrease spending and ease the widening trade deficit. He then fires several arrows at the terrorists.
Elsewhere in the terminal, Eric still has his hostage, and turns to several other terrorists, telling them that something is wrong, he can't seem to reach any of the other teams. He instructs several of the terrorists to scout the area and make sure that it is still secure. 'We will do as you command, Eric...for the greater good of our noble cause!' one of the terrorists responds, but Eric tells him to shut up and get moving, as right now, he is more concerned with the greater good of their lives. 'Yes, Sir!' one of them responds as they run down a corridor. 'Hey, what's this stuff on the -' one of them asks, as the sand on the floor suddenly forms up into two large fists, and pounds the three terrorists into the ground.
'What was that?' one of the terrorists with Eric asks. 'I don't think we want to know' Eric remarks, ordering the other terrorists outside, deciding that it is time they regrouped and reassessed their situation. With his arm around the hostage still, Eric makes his way outside, where a voice calls out 'Gee, that's an easy one...it stinks!' Hawkeye stands on a nearby luggage transporter, and holds up his bow and arrow, telling the terrorists that their escape flight has been canceled. 'The airline regrets any inconvenience this may cause, and is already arranging accommodations for you and your friends – for the next twenty or thirty years!' Hawkeye jokes. 'He's only one man! Waste him!' Eric tells the others – but before they can raise their weapons, Hawkeye fires arrows at them, joking that he was really hoping they wouldn't force him to sedate them with sleep dart tipped arrows.
'Keep out! Don't push me, hero! I SWEAR I'LL SHOOT!' Eric shouts, holding the gun to the hostage's face. 'Go right ahead. The girl's life means nothing to me!' Sable remarks as she appears behind Eric. 'Who are you?' Eric asks. Sable introduces herself as a professional bounty hunter and explains that she is only concerned with collecting the reward the French government pays for captured terrorists – like him. 'You can't be serious!' Eric exclaims, while Hawkeye looks even more shocked. 'Can't I?' Sable smirks, warning Eric that if he kills the hostage, she will kill him, it's his choice – and either way, she collects her fee. 'No! I can't believe you're -' Eric begins, before crying in pain as the hostage slams her foot onto his, 'Take your slimy hands off me, creep!' she exclaims. Eric opens fire, upwards, and Hawkeye tells the hostage to hit the dirt, as he fires an arrow at Eric's chest, while Sable throws her chais at him.
Later, the hostage is fine, and Sandman tells the others that the cops are arriving. He bids Hawkeye adios and remarks that while he occasionally works for Sable, some guys still consider him a criminal. 'Later, Sandy! It's been a gas working with you' Hawkeye replies, as Sable informs the hostage that the authorities will take care of her now. Hawkeye goes over to Sable and asks her if what she said about the hostage was a joke. 'I mean, you couldn't possibly have been serious' Hawkeye tells her. Sable hangs her head, then walks away. 'Sable -? Sable -?' Hawkeye calls out after her, but gets no response.
Sometime later, Hawkeye is on the plane home, 'What a day!' he thinks to himself, recalling how it took a while but that he finally managed to duck the authorities and quietly slip aboard this plane. As Paris gets smaller out the window, Clint is pleased that at long last he is on his way home. He can't wait to see Mockingbird again, as he hates being separated from her. Clint suddenly notices something in his jacket pocket, realizing that someone must have slipped it in when he wasn't paying attention, he looks at the envelope and realizes that it is from Silver Sable. 'No! She wouldn't! She couldn't!' Clint thinks, but as he opens the envelope, he discovers an invoice, addressed to the Avenger known as Hawkeye – one American dollar – for services rendered. 'She did!' Clint thinks to himself, surprised, before he bursts into laughter.
It is a rainy Tuesday evening on Manhattan's Upper West Side. For Natasha Romanoff – a dancer, spy, adventurer and reservist Avenger it is an excellent opportunity to relax in a manner most would find contradictory as she, the Black Widow, performs a one-handed hand-stand in her living room, hand resting on a stack of books, legs stretched into the air, while her television is on, a news reader reports that, in local news, the Kremlin has granted permission for one of Russia's most famed citizens to seek advanced optical surgery in the United States. He adds that famed Bolshoi Ballet instructor Oksana Bolishinko has come to New York to undergo specialised surgery at Mt Sinai Hospital, and that the sixty-two year old will be held in “protective custody” at the Soviet Embassy to avoid the American press corps and the droves of her admirers.
'Oksana!' Natasha thinks to herself, as she drops down from her one-handed hand-stand, in disbelief that Oksana is here in the states – as Oksana was her ballet master. Natasha wonders how long it has been – possibly eleven years. She recalls how life was so much simpler then – her whole life revolved around pleasing her instructor. Natasha remembers how she was to be prima ballerina of the Bolshoi, and touches the medallion that Oksana gave to her premiere students, which Natasha still wears to this day. She remembers the day as if it were yesterday – Oksana giving her the medallion as a small token, and the old woman telling her that she has made her very happy. 'Thank you, master! I'll make you so proud of me!' the young Natasha replied. Rubbing her shoulder as she stands up, Natasha remembers that three years later, she was recruited by the KGB and trained to be an undercover operative – all those years Oksana gave her, and she betrayed her, forsaking her artistic disciplines. Natasha decides that the irony is that a few years after becoming the Black Widow, she defected to the United States, and wonders if betrayal is in her nature – like her namesake.
Natasha changes into her Black Widow costume and decides that now, she might have an opportunity to make amends. She hears someone else in her apartment, and thinks she knows who it is. Stepping back into her living room, Natasha sees a man standing near the kitchen counter, 'Dressed for an evening on the town, eh, Czarina?' he asks her in his native Russian. Natasha addresses him as Ivan and tells him that they are in America, so he should speak English. 'Don't do it, Natasha' Ivan tells her, remarking that he was down at Nicola's having a cold one when he saw the news report. Ivan goes over to Natasha and reminds her that the KGB has a standing death sentence on her head – if she sets foot on Soviet sil, she is as good as dead. Natasha hangs her head and tells Ivan that she knows he loves her, but that he has it all wrong. 'Tasha – I've looked after you since you were an orphaned child – I know you!' Ivan replies.
Natasha opens a sliding door and goes out onto her apartment balcony as the rain pours down. Ivan tells Natasha that when she was a spy, her one weakness was her conscience, and asks her not to let her guilt make her do something stupid. Natsha tells him not to be silly, and claims that she ran out of caviar and was on her way out to the 7-11 for some more. 'Ta-ta, darling!' Natasha calls out as she leaps from her balcony, swinging from a grappling rope.
The downpour continues as the hours pass, and patiently, Natasha waits for the opportunity she needs – trying desperately to ignore the elements assaulting her. She clings to the side of a garage door, and when it opens, she thinks 'Finally! I thought that no one would ever leave the compound!' and knows that she has to make up her mind – once she goes in there, there is no turning back. She climbs under the roller door, before it rolls back down, the tiny suction devices in her boots and gloves enable her to cling to the door, the driver of the car doesn't see her. Once inside the garage, she scans the surroundings, searching for what her espionage-trained mind knows she will inevitably find. 'There is is – the ever present surveillance camera!' Natasha thinks to herself, knowing that there is no time to disconnect the camera, and she will be spotted in a few more seconds, she uses her Widow's bite, firing a blast from her arm band, the energy blast strikes the camera, destroying it before it scans over to her.
But, in the control room: 'Yuri! We've got a malfunction on the garage level!' someone monitoring the cameras throughout the Embassy calls out. The large man called Yuri enters the control room and laughs, 'They're American made! They malfunction constantly, comrade!' while the man wearing glasses who was watching the monitors tells Yuri that he thought he saw a girl on the screen, just before it went blank. 'Thought? Bah!' Yuri replies, before announcing that he will get Boris and they will take a look down there. Yuri instructs the man with glasses to notify the Colonel that they are checking out a glitch.
Moments later, on the parking level, Yuri and Boris enter and see smoke everywhere. Yuri assumes that there must have been a circuit burn-out, and Boris suggests that next time they bring their own equipment from Leningrad. Yuri walks over to the camera and remarks 'Curious – it looks like it's been – shot!' just as Boris is suddenly shot in the black by three Widow's stings. The Black Widow reveals herself, leaping over some crates, straight towards Yuri. 'Lenin's ghost! It's the accursed Black Widow!' he calls out, before telling her that she must be insane to come here. 'Perhaps you're right, comrade. But not half as crazy as -' Natasha begins, as she slams her hand into Yuri, '- you to think you can stop me!' she concludes.
The Black Widow makes her way up a flight of stairs, deciding that if they follow procedure, control will send someone to search for the missing guards soon, so she must act swiftly, with no more mistakes. Natasha finds herself in some sort of living area, knowing that she has to find the control center, as that is the only way to locate Oksana without a room by room search. She opens a door, admitting to herself that every moment she wastes will increase her changes of being caught. As if on cue, she steps into the control room, where the operator wearing glasses holds a gun to her head and tells her to freeze, warning her that if she bats an eyelash he will kill her. He then instructs the Black Widow to return to the USSR to be tried and executed as the traitor that she is. 'You have betrayed us all!' he exclaims.
Wrong choice of words though, 'LIAR!' Black Widow shouts as she kicks the operator in the head, breaking his glasses and knocking him back into some monitors. Standing over him, Natasha admits that it angered her to be called a betrayer and wonders if it feels too close to the truth. She dares not let her emotions cloud her reasoning again, and starts to search the monitor system to find Oksana. After a few anxious moments, Natasha comes across the dance studio on level three, where she sees Oksana sitting in a wheelchair. To insure that she will be safe from prying eyes, Natasha fires her Widow's sting at the monitor, destroying it.
Quickly, Natasha stealthily makes her way through the Soviet Embassy, taking a route could follow as she climbs across ceilings, then, comes to a balcony to level three. She sees a maintenance man sweeping the balcony and feels sorry for him, but seconds later, she leaps up and onto the balcony, 'Forgive me, comrade, for what I must now do!' the Black Widow calls out as she startles the man, who recognizes her. 'You think me but a helpless victim, eh, spy?' the maintenance man asks, as he raises his broom, blocking the Black Widow's attack, he introduces himself as Igor Kulgarian, an Eastern Bloc martial arts champion for seven years – and that he is no easy prey. He throws the Black Widow against the railing, breaking some beams. 'You, on the other hand, will be child's play to dispatch!' Igor claims, but the Black Widow holds herself up and tells him that she happens to know a few moves herself. She adds that, unfortunately, she doesn't have time to waste sparring with him. 'So sleep well!' she exclaims as she suddenly strikes him repeatedly with her Widow's bite. Igor falls backwards, and Natasha tells him that, luckily for him, her bite was only set to stun.
With her heart pounding in her throat, the Black Widow approaches her former mentor in the dance studio. 'Hello? Who is there? I can hear someone!' Oksana calls out from her wheelchair, and Natasha realizes that the old woman is blind. 'Teacher – I have come to beg forgiveness!' Natasha responds, in Russian. 'Czarina! It warms my heart to hear your voice after all these years!' Oksana replies, asking Natasha to come closer. There is a momentary silence as Natasha kneels before the blind instructor. Oksana then tells Natasha that she should not have come, as she is in the gravest of danger. 'I don't care about that Madame Bolishinko... I've come to return this medallion to you' Natasha explains, crying, she holds the small token up, and tells the old woman that she has betrayed her trust in her, and her dedication in artistic prowess. 'This belongs to a true dancer – not someone like me' Natasha remarks.
'Poor child – you've misunderstood my intentions, haven't you?' Oksana asks, before telling Natasha that in Russia, she became what the party decided she would be – that she wasn't the first student she lost to the KGB recruiting program, and, she fears, not the last. Oksana tells Natasha that she was a great dancer, but that the Black Widow is respected and feared by the Kremlin – it is her true calling! 'I merely gave you the token because – I loved you, my dear' the old woman explains. Oksana tells Natasha that there are to be no more self-incriminations. 'Go and be as proud of yourself as I am' she declares.
Suddenly, though, a handsome blond man armed with a gun enters the dance studio. He points his weapon at Natasha and declares 'None of your tricks! One move and you're both dead'. Natasha narrows her eyes at him and tells him that he is bluffing. 'Try me' he replies, before walking over to them and tells the Widow that he thinks he should leave and not return. 'You're letting me go?' the Black Widow asks, surprised. Oksana tells Natasha to do as he demands, and adds that all her love goes with her. Oksana tells the Colonel that the Bureau will have his head for this. 'I know, Madame' the handsome man replies. Oksana calls him Sasha and tells him that he is a good boy, and makes her proud. As the Black Widow swings out into the now clear skies, Sasha smiles and tells Oksana that it was the least he could do. He holds up a small medallion around his neck and adds that he knows exactly how the Black Widow feels.
Silver Sable II
Eric and other Bartovian Liberation Front members
Airport staff and security
Hostage and other civilians
Colonel / Sasha
Boris, Yuri and other Russian Embassy staff
in Black Widow's memory:
First mention of the country Bartovia.