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Roger Stern (writer), Bob Hall (penciler), Brett Breeding (inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Julianna Ferriter (colorist), Mark Gruenwald (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief)
Hawkeye and Mockingbird explore their new home, the Palos Verdes Compound where the West Coast Avengers will be based. Hawkeye checks in with the Vision via video link, and the Vision informs Hawkeye that work is underway to fill the ranks of the new West Coast team. In San Francisco, Tigra is saying goodbye to Jessica Drew after helping her on a case. Tigra isn't sure about her next move, but the decision is perhaps made for her when she gets a mysterious phone call. She leaves, without giving Jessica any information. Concerned for her friend, Jess places a phone call to the Cat's Jazz Club. In the Mojave Desert, Simon Williams is working on a film set as a stuntman. He is friendly with the cast and crew, particularly Freddy. He goes to his dressing room after performing a stunt with fire, to discover his Avengers transceiver has been buzzing. He then says goodbye to his colleagues, leaving them as Wonder Man, but assuring them he will be back. In the northwest, Jim Rhodes is exploring Silicon Valley, thinking about Tony Stark's troubles when he gets a transmission informing him that the Avengers need him. Iron Man arrives at the Palos Verdes Compound and admires how spectacular the place is, when Tigra arrives in a car. Tigra assumes that Iron Man is Tony Stark and acts friendly with him when Hawkeye comes to meet them and takes them into the Compound, unaware that a cloaked figure is watching them. They meet up with Mockingbird in the communications room, where Hawkeye explains to them the reasoning behind setting up a second branch of the Avengers, but immediately Tigra isn't sure she wants to be a member – after all, she quit the New York team because she felt she wasn't good enough. Iron man is about to state his reservations when the intruder alarm sounds. The heroes split up and make their way through the Compound. Mockingbird is the first to encounter the intruder – the cloaked teleporter known as the Shroud. They fight, before Mockingbird is taken out. Hawkeye stumbles upon them and tries to capturethe Shroud but he escapes. Tigra recognizes the dark clouds that fill the Compound as she has previous dealings with the Shroud, but Iron Man is the next to find him. He grabs the Shroud and flies through the Compound, but the Shroud manages to grab onto a wall and escape Iron Man. He leaps through a window just as Wonder Man is arriving. Assuming the worst, Wonder Man attacks the Shroud, slamming him into a tree and breaking his ribs. Before he can do any more damage, Tigra lunges at Wonder Man and holds him off, explaining that the Shroud is a friend. The heroes regroup in the communications room and the Shroud reveals that he had a call from Jessica Drew who was worried about Tigra, and so he tracked her here. After Wonder Man apologizes for the misunderstanding, Hawkeye offers the Shroud membership on the West Coast Avengers, but the Shroud explains that he has spent many months establishing himself under false reputations as an outlaw, and wants to continue that ruse to strike at the gangs, before teleporting away. Wonder Man then asks why he was called here, and Hawkeye begins his explanation about the new West Coast team once again.
'AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!' shouts Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, raising his bow above his head, as an echo flows around him. He stands at the edge of a swimming pool which is nestled between a large, sprawling building on one side, and a forest on the other. 'Very impressive, Mister Hawkeye, Sir! But what was that supposed to prove other than the grounds produce a great echo?' Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse-Barton, Hawkeye's wife, asks as she stands near him. Bobbi tells Clint that she already knew he had a great set of lungs. 'Why do you think I married you?' she jokes. 'I'd assumed it was because you were hopelessly smitten with my boyish good looks and manly charm, Bobbi' Clint tells her, before asking what is wrong with calling the team to assemble. 'Not a thing...if you ignore the fact that we're the only ones on this whole estate!' Bobbi points out.
They turn to walk into the building as Clint tells Bobbi that it isn't an estate, it's a compound, and with California real estate costing what it does, there is a big difference. Bobbi tells Clint not to change the subject, and while they have enough land and buildings here to open a resort, the only Avengers in sight are the two of them. 'And I'm not so sure I'm right for the job!' Bobbi confesses, reminding Clint that the Avengers is the world's mightiest group of super-beings, people like Thor and Captain Marvel. 'And I haven't any amazing powers!' Bobbi declares. 'Neither does Captain America! Neither do I! If I can be an Avenger – anyone can, right?' Clint smiles as he presses a button on the wall nearby. 'And people wonder why you took the code-name Mockingbird' Clint smiles as an elevator door opens, and they step inside.
The elevator begins to travel downwards, as Clint tells his wife that she will be great, reminding her that she has years of experience as a SHIELD agent under her belt, and that even Captain America was impressed by her record. 'So don't think you're getting an kind of special treatment!' Clint jokes, and assures Bobbi that the fact they are husband and wife has nothing to do with her status as an Avenger.
'That's what you think' Bobbi thinks to herself as they exit the elevator and step into a large communications center, where various monitors and computers line the walls. 'Okay, good looking, so now we are two! That's hardly enough to fill the Avengers West Coast Estate!' Bobbi replies. 'Compound!' Clint corrects her. 'Compound!' Bobbi replies. Clint then tells Bobbi that he knows, and that putting together the new team is the first thing they do – just as soon as he lets the East Coast team know they are all set to go.
Clint activates a direct satellite link with New York City's Avengers Mansion, where Edwin Jarvis appears on the large monitor in front of Clint and Bobbi. 'Ah, Master Hawkeye! I take it that everything's operation?' Jarvis inquires. 'All we need now are some warm bodies, Jarv!' Hawkeye jokes, before asking if the Vision is around. Jarvis confirms that he is, and patches Hawkeye through to the android Avenger, the new chairman of the Avengers. The Vision informs Hawkeye that the Wasp left word he called earlier, and that he had been looking forward to hearing from him. The Vision reports that he has gone over the papers that Hawkeye forwarded in regards to the California Compound, and that he is impressed by the speed with which Hawkeye found lodgings and has them modified to fit their special needs. 'You've certainly proven to me that you were the right choice to lead the new West Coast division of the Avengers!'
Hawkeye smiles and thanks the Vision, telling him it was nothing really. 'Right, hon?' he asks, turning to Mockingbird, who smiles and replies 'Oh, no! Not once I'd talked him out of trying to buy Knott's Berry Farm!' The Vision is at first confused, before realizing that Mockingbird is using domestic humor. He gets back to the matter of hand, and reports that he had hoped to visit the Compound to aid in the orientation period, but that Avengers business unfortunately prevents him. The Vision then reports that he has taken steps to contact several potential members for Hawkeye's group, and that he should be seeing the results of his efforts shortly.
One hour earlier, in Downtown San Francisco, the private investigator Jessica Drew is talking business with one such “potential member”. 'You've really been such a big help to the agency while I was getting back on my feet... especially in solving the Enselmo case!' Jessica smiles as she sits on the edge of her desk. 'I was glad to lend a hand, Jess! It was fun!' a woman who is obscured by a long overcoat and wide-brimmed hat responds. 'It was, wasn't it? I still laugh when I think about the way you ran our pigeon up and down Telegraph Hill' Jessica admits. 'That was the best part of the case! After all... bringing pigeons to ground is second nature to a lady who's half-cat!' Greer Grant Nelson a.k.a. Tigra exclaims as she removes her hat, revealing her feline appearance. Jessica then asks Tigra to tell her what her plans for the future are. 'Good question!' Tigra responds, adding that she wished she had an answer. She reveals that she did a bit of modeling before she came West, but that it wasn't very satisfying, and there aren't many calls for models who are covered with fur. 'Well, if you really enjoyed playing detective, I just might have an offer for -' Jessica begins, when suddenly, her assistant Lindsay McCabe enters her office. 'What is it, Lindsay?' Jessica asks. 'There's the strangest sounding man on line-1 and he insists there's someone here named Greer Grant Nelson!' Lindsay exclaims. 'Greer? Hey, that's me!' Tigra replies.
'Who could be calling who'd know my old name?' Tigra wonders as she picks up the phone on Jessica's desk. 'Hello? Yes, this is -! Oh...of course, I should have guessed. No... maybe once, but not anymore! No I really don't want... how much money? Yes, but...uh-huh. I see. All right' Tigra remarks as she listens to the person on the other end of the telephone line. 'What was that all about? Someone trying to collect on an old gambling debt?' Jessica asks. 'Not exactly' Tigra replies, as she collects her hat and tells Jess that it has been fun, but that there is some pressing business in Los Angeles that she really has to attend to – and she has to hustle if she's going to make the next shuttle flight. Jessica asks if it is anything she can help with, but Tigra explains that she has to settle this on her own, and tells Jess not to worry, as she is a big girl and can make her own mistakes. As she leaves Jessica's office, Tigra tells her that she has been great, and that when this craziness is finished, they could maybe talk about that offer. 'Sure!' Jess replies. 'Dynamite!' Tigra exclaims, before bidding Jess goodbye. Jess decides that the call bothered Tigra a lot more than she was willing to admit, and doesn't like the sound of this. She would tail her, but knows she could never keep up with her – but she knows someone who might. Jess picks up the phone and asks Los Angeles Information for the number for a place called Cat's Jazz Club.
Meanwhile, in the middle of the Mojave Desert, a red car speeds across the sand, dodging bullets fired from several cars that are giving chase. 'Very good, my friend, but not good enough!' the driver of the red car calls back as he fires a weapon that topples one of the cars pursuing him, and causes the shooter to fall from the car. 'Harry!' the driver of the other car giving chase exclaims, while the man in the red car glances back and sees that the driver in the car behind him is preparing to throw a grenade. 'A man with a grenade! Clever!' he remarks, before deciding that he is due for a bit of a shock. The driver presses a button labeled “Power discharge” on the panel in front of him, which releases a blast of energy from a device on the back of the red car, energy which bursts across the sand and strikes the grenade-holding driver of the other car. The live grenade falls beneath the seat of the dune buggy, causing it to explode, with the driver still in the car, caught up in the flames. 'Well, he certainly went all to pieces' the driver of the red car smiles, when suddenly, 'Cut! Print that!' a voice calls out, as men with extinguishers move in to put the flames out. 'Beautiful, Sean! That's a keeper!' a man in a baseball cap carrying a megaphone shouts as he stands next to the cameraman. Other film crew members mingle about nearby.
'Simon? Simon?' one of the men with the extinguishers call out, before realizing that Simon is still in there. 'Bring those extinguishers up! Hurry!' he shouts. Suddenly, 'Relax, Freddy! No need to get all upset!' Simon calls out as he lifts the flaming wreckage of the car up above his head. 'Huh?' Freddy gasps, and then, with the ease of a man tossing a softball, the helmeted figure hurls the blazing wreck 100 yards away from the film crew. 'Simon? You're okay?' Freddy asks. 'I'm fine, but you better bring plenty of water! The fire left me a little hot' Simon replies as he begins to remove the helmet. Freddy and another man then throw water from buckets at Simon, whose clothes have been burnt away, leaving his muscular body only wearing jean cut offs across his crotch and butt, and scraps of a white t-shirt around his neck. When his body is finally cool enough to approach, Freddy goes over to him and gives him a towel and a dressing gown, and tells him that he thought he was a goner. 'You worry too much, Freddy! I told you it's almost impossible for me to be hurt!' Simon replies, drying off his face, he then asks 'Did you bring my shades?'
'Right here!' Freddy replies as he smiles and places the shades on Simon William's face. 'But geez, will ya take it easy? You're gonna put the rest of us stuntmen out of business!' Freddy jokes. Simon then heads towards his trailer, a woman is standing nearby and tells him to watch his step, as some practical joker must have placed something in his grip – it started buzzing at her when she was in the trailer. 'Thanks, Carol. I'll – wait a minute. Did you say buzzing?' Simon asks, frowning. He excuses himself from Freddy and rushes into his trailer, where he pulls his Avengers transceiver from his bag. He supposes that there must be trouble if they are calling out the reserves. 'Hello... Williams here' Simon answers the call.
Shortly, 'Yeah, I like to live dangerously, why?' a man with a cowboy hat remarks to Carol as he lights a cigarette. 'Cause those smokes are gonna kill you' Carol tells him. 'You tell him, Carol!' Freddy exclaims, before Simon calls out to him. 'Yeah, Simon? What is it...?' Freddy gasps, wide-eyed as he turns around. 'Ooooo!' Carol utters. 'You don't need me any more today, do you?' Simon asks. 'N-no, Simon. Your next stunt isn't until tomorrow' Freddy replies, as Simon stands at the edge of his trailer, wearing his black and red costume, he declares 'Good. Something's come up that needs the attention of Wonder Man!' Using his jet blasters to propel him into the air, Simon takes flight, telling Freddy that he will see him back here tomorrow. 'I hope! The Vision was a little vague as to what this meeting is all about!' Simon thinks to himself, before he flies across a mountain range, supposing that the others can fill him in when he gets there. Simon knows that the location the Vision gave him is nearly 200 miles west of here, and so he pours it on, because even with his belt-jets at full thrust, it will take him almost an hour and a half to get there.
One hour later, and some 400 miles to the northwest, an armor-clad figure soars high over Stanford University's Linear Accelerator Center. The red and gold armor is of course the armor of Iron Man, who looks down at the center below him and tells himself that he thought nothing on Earth would impress him anymore, but he was wrong – as that building is two miles long. He decides that Silicon Valley is a lot different from the South Philly neighborhood where he grew up, but that this seems like a good place to make a new start. He adds that now that Tony Stark has gone on the wagon, he and the Erwins should have their new company humming in no time. He thinks that it is good to have the boss sober again, as he wants to see him back on top so bad. Iron Man darts around through the air, hoping that once Stark is there, he doesn't get in any hurry to reclaim this tin suit of his. 'I've gotten real used to being called...' he thinks to himself, when suddenly, he hears someone call out 'Iron Man!' The armored hero realizes that someone is cutting in on his secret radio frequency, 'This is the Avengers! You are needed!' the voice announces.
Following the directions given to him, Iron Man rockets down the Pacific Coast, arriving just twenty minutes later at a complex of buildings situated atop the bluffs of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. 'Some spread! This looks like the kinda place Tony would've hung out... before he lost Stark International!' Iron Man thinks to himself, remembering that the best part of being his pilot in those days was ferrying him to spots like this. He lands down on the Compound grounds as a blue car drives onto the grounds, 'Who'd have thought I'd ever be invited on my own? Then again, who'd have thought little Jimmy Rhodes would grow up to be Iron Man!?' he wonders as he sees the blue car. 'Iron Man, hi! This place is beautiful! Did you arrange all this?' Tigra asks as she emerges from the car. 'Ah, no...I just got here' Iron Man responds, wondering who the strange woman is, as she seems to know Iron Man.
Tigra places a hand on Iron Man's arm and admits that she didn't feel all that good about coming down here, but that seeing him makes her feel so much better. 'Uh, yeah, likewise!' Iron Man replies, before realizing that this mysterious woman is furry. 'Even with those ocean breezes, it's a lot warmer here than it was in San Francisco' Tigra remarks as she removes her hat, before asking Iron Man to be a doll and help her with her coat. 'Sure, I'd be...glad...to!' Iron Man utters as he helps Tigra remove her coat, revealing her scantily clad body beneath the large coat. 'Oh my-my-my! This just has to be Tigra!' Iron Man supposes, as Tigra thanks him and tells him that the sun feels good. 'And here I thought the Wasp was the Avenger with the smallest costume!' Iron Man thinks to himself as Tigra tosses him her hat, asking him to hold it while she tosses out her hair. She then shakes her hair about, and Iron Man tells her that he doesn't mind, and that she should have a good shake.
'Iron Man... Tigra... welcome to the Avengers Compound!' Hawkeye calls out as he approaches them and informs them that they are the first to arrive. Hawkeye leads Iron Man and Tigra into the building, offering to give them the tour while they are waiting for Wonder Man to show. 'The Avengers own this place? Fabulous!' Tigra grins. 'That we do! And the world will soon be hearing it...now that you're here' Hawkeye replies. 'Say what?' Iron Man asks, as several yards away, the airport limo that brought Tigra to the Avengers Compound exits through the automatic gates, closely watched by an eerie, ebon-clad form which has already evaded a dozen security devices and invaded the Compound grounds!
Minutes later, in a a chamber two levels below the Compound's main building, Tigra, Iron Man and Mockingbird lean on stools or consoles around the room as Hawkeye stands before them and tells them that this is the nerve center of the entire operation, and asks if they have any questions. 'Just one, Hawk...where do we figure in all of this? The message I got just said that I was needed here. It didn't say why' Iron Man announces. Tigra agrees, and remarks that when the Vision called her, he offered her a $1000 stipend just too fly to LA and see if she could “help the Avengers out, and of course she was too curious to turn down an offer like that. Hawkeye tells them that this is the scoop – back when Captain America was group leader, he made a rule that, except in emergencies, the active membership would be limited to six members, and while it was a good rule and stuck, there were still too many Avengers showing up on their doorstep, which is when the Vision took over, and it became a whole new ball game.
Hawkeye continues, explaining that the Vision knows that there is always a need for experienced Avengers – so to keep the group from becoming a mob, he authorized him to set up a California expansion team – which will be them – the West Coast Avengers. Hawkeye reports that they will be operating under the same basic by-laws as the New York team, with the same rights and privileges, and both groups will be closely affiliated, but they will run their own show out here. Hawkeye adds that from now on, if Avengers are needed anywhere west of the Rockies, this team will answer the call. He starts to explain that once Wonder Man shows, there will be five of them, which leaves on spot open. 'I'm hoping to -' Hawkeye starts, before Tigra interrupts him, declaring that he may have more than one vacancy to fill, as she never said she wanted to join. Wide-eyed, Tigra explains that she quit the New York team because she felt she was out of her league, and doesn't see that things would be any different here. 'I may be fast and strong and agile, but I don't have near the experience of Iron Man' Tigra points out. 'Whoa! Hold it, lady! I doubt that you're any less qualified than I am! You see -' Iron Man begins, before an alarm sounds, interrupting him.
'What the -?' Iron Man begins, as Hawkeye announces that it is the intruder alarm, that somebody is trying to break in. He quickly brings up schematics of the main Compound building on a monitor, which shows three areas of concern. 'If those lights mean what I think they do, somebody's done a lot more than just try' Iron Man points out, while Hawkeye is shocked, as the intruder has already penetrated to the first basement level. 'More than that, Hawk! The remote cameras have been blocked out as well!' Mockingbird points reports, motioning to several smaller blacked out monitors. Hawkeye is frustrated, and supposes that this must be some highly organized commando raid – some group hoping to catch them off guard before they get organized. 'Let's see what an infrared scan shows -' Hawkeye tells the others, as the monitor brings up a shadowy figure on the infrared scan. 'There's your “group”, dear!' Tigra exclaims. 'Huh? One guy?' Hawkeye asks, surprised.
Hawkeye narrows his eyes and tells the others that he doesn't know how this guy managed to get as far as he did, but that he is soon gonna be very sorry he even thought about breaking in, as he has just entered a security area, which means that a stunulator is about to put him in his place. But as the heroes watch the monitor, they see the intruder duck the blast that the stunulator fires at him, then dodge another blast, before he leaps up under the stunulator and directs its blast towards a nearby camera, ending their viewing link. 'Son of a - ! I don't believe it! He derailed the stunulator and knocked out the infrared scanners!' Hawkeye exclaims. 'That does it! I want this guy!' he snaps. Hawkeye then presses a button on the console in front of him which seals off the rest of the security levels, meaning they can get out but their intruder can't get in – he can only go back up into the domestic areas, which is where they will get him. “We?” Tigra quotes. 'That's right' Hawkeye answers her, instructing the others to split up, to each take a corridor, and they will surround him before he knows what is happening. 'Come on, let's go!' Hawkeye exclaims.
Goaded by Hawkeye's gung-ho entreaty, each of the heroes head into the building's upper levels by separate paths. Iron Man walks down a corridor and decides that Hawkeye sounds like he is really getting into giving orders. 'Not sure if I like that' he thinks to himself, while Tigra climbs a staircase, telling herself that she must be some sort of masochist to get involved with the Avengers again, as they always seem like they know what they are doing – not like her. 'What am I doing here? What am I trying to prove?' she wonders. Bow in hand, Hawkeye strides forward and wonders whether he should let the others catch their intruder, or rush in and collar him on his own. 'How would Cap handle this?' Hawkeye asks himself.
Making her way through one of the living room areas, Mockingbird thinks to herself that Hawkeye wants so much to be a good leader, she knows he can do it, but wishes he wouldn't try quite so hard. She decides that in a way though, it is funny – his first act as leader was having the team split up. Suddenly, a smoke screen emerges from a capsule that is tossed towards Mockingbird, but she quickly realizes it isn't a smoke screen – it's just dark. Bobbi tells herself that this is flat-out weird. She can't see a thing as the darkness surrounds her, but she can hear something – someone moving nearby. With a single snap of her wrist, Mockingbird activates a spring-loaded mechanism strapped to her forearm, hurling a steel-alloy battle stave from beneath her billowing sleeve at her opponent – but she misses, only just, as the stave crashes into a lamp, the figure next to the lamp thinks that Mockingbird has considerable skill, and given half a chance she might actually give him some trouble getting out of here. He doesn't want to let that happen, he knows he must get away and rethink his strategy, perhaps get help.
Swiftly, the mysterious man shrouded in a dark cloak closes the distance between himself and Mockingbird, his hand darting out to squeeze certain nerves at the base of her neck – but even as consciousness dims her, the daring adventurer strikes back with her last remaining battle stave – that slams into the escaping intruder. 'Bobby, are you in there? Bobbi?' Hawkeye calls out as he arrives in the darkened room. Hawkeye knows that Bobbi would have come down this hall, but it is black as pitch in there – fortunately, he has a little something that should shed some light on the subject. Hawkeye fires an arrow into the dark room, its magnesium-flare tip emitting a blinding radiance – which is immediately swallowed by the gathered darkness! Hawkeye frowns and thinks that whoever is making with the blackness knows his stuff. 'Let's see how he likes 95 decibels of high-freq sound!' Hawkeye thinks to himself as he fires another arrow into the room, which seems to do the trick, as the blackness melts away. 'But where's the clown who made it? No one here but – Bobbi!' Hawkeye gasps as Mockingbird stirs on the ground before him. 'Honey, are you okay?' Hawkeye asks his wife, he goes over to her, and Bobbi rubs the back of her neck, telling Clint that she will be as soon as he kills this hypersonic arrowhead, as she holds the arrow in her hand. 'Where'd our man go?' Hawkeye asks. 'How should I know? It was dark!' Mockingbird exclaims.
At that moment, in another section of the compound, Tigra is perched on a ledge and notices the blackness floating through the building. She decides that it is no ordinary fog, that it is some sort of dark air – and she knows of only one man who controls the dark. 'Shroud! Shroud, where are you?' Tigra calls out, as the darkness engulfs her, her cat-like eyes unable to peer through the gathering darkness.
At the same moment, Iron Man enters the other end of the wing of the building, and has no problems seeing through the darkness. He assumes it is a gas attack, as the stuff is as thick as pea soup, so seals off his helmet and switches on his radar. 'Bingo! There's my bogey now!' Iron Man thinks to himself as he flies down a corridor. The Shroud lurks behind a corner and sees Iron Man approaching, he wonders what he has walked into. 'No use running any further, sucker!' Iron Man exclaims as he flies towards the Shroud, who turns and flees. 'Where were you the day they passed out brains? Any fool oughtta know better than trespass on Avengers turf!' Iron Man declares. 'Avengers! Then you're Iron Man!?' the Shroud replies. 'Me? Naw, I'm Smiling Jack!' Iron Man jokes as he grabs the Shroud by his cloak, and flies along the corridor, dragging him behind him. 'Wait! This is all a mistake!' the Shroud exclaims. 'Mistake, huh? Let me guess... you're really the meter reader, but you thought that wearing a cape and mask would make you fit in better?' Iron Man jokes.
The Shroud suddenly grabs a alcove and hangs onto it, the act of reaching up causes Iron Man's energy thrusters on his boots to tear through the Shroud's cape, and frees Shroud from Iron Man's hold. 'He doesn't seem to be in any hurry to hear me out...not that I can really blame him under the circumstances!' the Shroud admits. 'Hey!' Iron Man exclaims, as the Shroud leaps towards a window, deciding that at the speed Iron Man is going, he will have to put on the brakes fast and do some fancy maneuvering to avoid smashing up the place. The Shroud is determined to get out of here, and crashes through the window, landing on a balcony, the Shroud tells himself to get undercover and think out his next move – he doesn't want to fight Avengers, that could become a life's work – and he has better things to do. However, the Shroud doesn't notice the arrival of Wonder Man, who swoops down out of the eastern skies. Wonder Man sees the building he was told to report to, and wonders who the hooded figure is. He recalls hearing rumors around LA about a guy who dresses like this – called the Shroud – and that he is supposed to be some sort of crime-lord.
Leaping off the balcony, the blind Shroud doesn't see Wonder Man, his mystic senses only enable him to perceive objects that are closer than 100 feet – but by the time Wonder Man is within that radius it is too late, and the Shroud is knocked to the ground and then thrown against a nearby tree. 'Okay, buddy – why are you snooping around here? Where are the Avengers?' Wonder Man asks, suggesting to the Shroud that he talk fast, or he may do something they will both regret. 'Wonder Man! No!' Tigra calls out from the ledge of the window the Shroud smashed his way through. She then clears 40 feet in a single bound, dropping down on Wonder Man, she tells him that this is the Shroud. 'I know. He's a crook!' Wonder Man replies, but Tigra tells him that the Shroud is a friend. 'A friend?' Wonder Man asks, surprised. Hawkeye, Mockingbird and Iron Man arrive on the scene as Tigra helps the Shroud to his feet, the Shroud remarks that he is certainly glad he is not an enemy – as he would hate to think how he would be treated then. 'Careful... my ribs' he adds.
Soon, inside the sub-basement communications room again, Mockingbird wraps some bandages around the Shroud's waist, as the Shroud explains that Jessica was so worried about Tigra's abrupt departure that she got a desperate message to him, asking him to keep an eye on Tigra, so he picked up her trail at the airport, and here they are. Hawkeye tells the Shroud that he doesn't have to say anymore, and reveals that he checked Captain America's file report on him, which says that he is legit. 'And that makes you okay in my book!' Hawkeye declares. The Shroud thanks Hawkeye and remarks that he just wished he had known the Avengers were setting up shop here, as he would have presented his calling card more formally. Wonder Man assures Shroud that he feels awful about this, that he came charging in like a locomotive. 'And I do mean loco' Wonder Man jokes. Iron Man tells Wonder Man that he isn't the only one, and admits that a lot of this could have been avoided if he himself just stopped and listened.
Tigra supposes that if she is the one who started this mess, if only she had taken time to tell Jessica who called. The Shroud tells everyone to relax, as there has been no harm done – well, no permanent harm. He pulls his top down over his bandages, as Hawkeye tells the Shroud that he is glad he feels that way, because he would like to propose him for membership in the West Coast Avengers. 'Me? An Avenger?' the Shroud asks. 'Sure, why not?' Hawkeye replies, telling the Shroud that the trick he does with the dark is one slick number, and that anyone who can hold his own against them as long as he did obviously has what it takes in the skill department. 'Besides, what you did reminds me a little of how I introduced myself to the Avengers – I broke in, too!' Hawkeye recalls, before asking the Shroud for an answer.
The Shroud announces that he doesn't believe he has ever been more honored, and that a few years ago, he is sure his answer would have been “yes”, but he has spent many months building a false reputation as an outlaw, the better to strike at the gangs from within – and it has worked quite well for him. He believes that if he were to become an Avenger, neither of them would benefit – so he must say no! Darkness billows around the Shroud as he tells the Avengers that he will keep in touch, and that they can always reach him through the Cats Jazz Club. 'Shroud? He, wait!' Hawkeye calls out, but gets no answer. Mockingbird tells Hawkeye to save his breath, while Wonder Man declares that now they have straightened out that, he wants to know why the Vision called him here. 'Why...you want to know why?' Hawkeye asks. He sighs, and tells everyone to take a seat and he will start again from the top! 'That's the spirit, fearless leader! Just remember, it can only get better from here!' Mockingbird smiles.
Hawkeye, Iron Man II, Mockingbird, Tigra, Wonder Man (all West Coast Avengers)
Carol, Freddy, Sean and other film cast and crew
The establishment of a second Avengers team based on the West Coast was proposed by the Vision in Avengers (1st series) #243.
Hawkeye contacted the Avengers Mansion and spoke to the Wasp in Avengers (1st series) #246.
Tigra briefly served with the Avengers in Avengers (1st series) #211-216.
Jim Rhodes became Iron Man II in Iron Man (1st series) #169.
Tigra and the Shroud met in Spider-Woman (1st series) #50.
Hawkeye broke into Avengers Mansion in the classic Avengers (1st series) #16.