West Coast Avengers (1st series) #3

Issue Date: 
November 1984
Story Title: 
Taking Care of Business!

Roger Stern (writer), Bob Hall (penciler), Brett Breeding (inker), Rick Parker (letterer), Julianna Ferriter (colorist), Mark Gruenwald (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

The West Coast Avengers are tending to the unusual snowfall that has covered Southern California, clearing paths so that people can go about their business as usual, although Wonder Man appears distracted, still annoyed that the Blank continues to elude him. Mockingbird breaks up a group of looters who are robbing an electronics store, and Tigra assists her, rounding up those looters who try to escape. Afterwards, the team regroups at the Hollywood sign, where Hawkeye proposes they meet up for a barbecue later, and they all agree, before Wonder Man flies away from them. Hawkeye leaves on his sky-cycle, and Mockingbird offers to take Tigra with her in the Quinjet, but Tigra claims that Iron Man has offered to take her. When just the two of them are left alone, Tigra thanks Iron Man for covering for her, and confides in him that she is having trouble feeling useless compared to their teammates. Iron Man then reveals to her that he feels the same – and informs her that he is not Tony Stark. In the Santa Monica Mountains, Graviton has set up home in a mansion, and after recalling what happened to himself following defeat at Thor's hands, he meets with the Blank and they discuss his planned take over of the crime syndicates of the West Coast. He demonstrates his control over gravity against the Blank, and warns his new ally to get used to what they are planning, and tells him not to worry about the Avengers – as they will never see them coming. Wonder Man goes for a walk along the private beach that runs beneath the cliffs of the Palos Verdes Compound. Tigra calls out to him, and he joins her on the rocks. He details his history to her, from his death, to his resurrection and joining the Avengers, and his failed acting career. Tigra then briefly gives Wonder Man an account of her origins, and uses a trinket from the Cat People to project herself as how she used to look as human, before telling Wonder Man not to be so hard on himself about the whole Blank incident. She suggests that they do some detective work. Shortly, Wonder Man and Tigra arrive at the Cat's Jazz Club, where two of its employees have been beaten and the club ransacked. The employees are cautious about giving any information to Wonder Man and Tigra, before the Shroud, the owner of the club, arrives and tells his staff that it is okay to do so. They know it is gang related, and Wonder Man wants to make it up to the Shroud for breaking his ribs earlier, so agree to help investigate, undercover so no gang can link the Shroud to the Avengers. Shortly, the Shroud and the disguised Wonder Man enter a fancy establishment where a party is taking place, while Tigra observes from the window. Wonder Man and the Shroud start asking questions, before the Blank appears. The Shroud questions him about his club being ransacked, and the Blank tells him it is part of the consolidation of the mobs of the West Coast. Wonder Man lunges at the Blank, but he and the Shroud find themselves unable to move – as if gravity was holding them down. During the tussle, Wonder Man's disguise comes loose, and the Blank recognizes him. Tigra bursts into the room and attacks the Blank, before Graviton makes his presence known. Wonder Man rushes towards him, before Graviton drops him through the floorboards. He then captures Tigra, the Shroud and the Blank, frustrated with the Blank's ineptness. Wonder Man returns, and fights Graviton, until Graviton flings Tigra, the Shroud and the Blank out into the Pacific Ocean. At the Palos Verdes Compound, Hawkeye has his barbeque underway, and wonders where Tigra and Wonder Man are. Mockingbird tells him that they can handle themselves, unaware that Graviton is currently drowning Wonder Man in his pool at the mansion in the Santa Monica mountains!


Full Summary: 

The sun shines down over Southern California, but for the past week, it seems that the whole world has been in the grip of some unusual weather, and members of the new West Coast division of the mighty Avengers have their hands full seeing that things return to something resembling normal. Iron Man carries a car with a woman in it through the air, above the snow-covered ground, which Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man is currently trying to move with a large piece of metal, turning himself into a makeshift snowplow. 'That's the stuff, Wonder Man! At this rate, we'll have the Santa Monica Freeway cleared in no time!' Iron Man calls out, assuring Wonder Man that he will give him a hand as soon as he has the last of these cars moved. 'Wonder Man? Hey, you reading me?' Iron Man calls out through the communicator when he gets no response. 'Loud and clear, Iron Man. No need to hurry on my account... I never get tired!' Wonder Man replies.

Iron Man continues to fly the car through the air, deciding that he has never been so glad to see the sun in his life – and while there is a time and a place for snow, Los Angeles in the summer isn't it. Iron Man knows that this weather has done some strange things to people's heads, and that it seems like it has gotten to Wonder Man, too, as he is so quiet lately. Scantily clad people speed down makeshift ski fields below Iron man as he decides that he is probably worrying about nothing, and that “weird” is a way of life for lots of folks around these parts.

Halfway across greater Los Angeles, an alarm sounds within a Radio Shack store, as several looters make their way out a large broken window with stolen goods. 'Come on, let's get outta here!' one of them exclaims. 'The cops are snowbound just like everybody else! Who's gonna give us any grief!?' one of the others calls out. 'Well, for starters, me!' Bobbi Morse-Barton a.k.a. Mockingbird exclaims as she drops down among the looters. 'Huh? Who the heck are you supposed to be?' one of them asks. 'That's Mockingbird... I saw her picture in the paper last week. She's an Avenger!' one of the other looters explains. 'So what? We outnumber her six to one!' a blond man grins, warning Mockingbird to step aside, otherwise they will have to take those sticks away from her. 'Oh, that's okay. You can have them!' Mockingbird exclaims as she throws one at one of the looters, while slamming her other stave into the blond man's face, knocking him back. 'She flattened rick and Boz like they were nothing! Run!' another looter calls out.

But, just around the corner, Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye descends on his sky-cycle, blocking the other looters from escaping. 'Let's see those hands, nice and high gents!' Hawkeye calls out. 'Cripes, another one!' one of the looters mutters. 'Hawkeye's the name! The arresting officer will want to know!' Hawkeye jokes as he fires several arrows, which pin three of the looters to a nearby wall. 'Yow!' the remaining looter gasps as he drops the television he was carrying, and runs towards a car, 'Jason... get the car started! Hurry!' he calls out to the driver. 'Where's the others?' the driver asks. 'They're where we're gonna wind up, if you don't get us outta here fast!' the remaining looter shouts. The driver asks if it's as bad as it sounds. 'Worse! Will you move it!' the looter exclaims. The driver starts to put his foot on the accelerator, but is surprised that he isn't getting any traction.

'Oh, no' the looter utters, looking out the back window of the car. 'Holy cats!' the driver shouts as he gets out of the car and sees Greer Grant Nelson a.k.a. Tigra, wearing boots and leg warmers to accompany her tiny bathing suit, holding onto the car bumper. 'It's nice of you to say so, but I'm really not that religious' Tigra jokes, before telling the driver that he should never floorboard the gas on wet snow. The driver begins to run, so Tigra leaps over the car and lands in front of him, asking him where he thinks he is going. 'You...you are some kinda cat!' the driver utters. 'A cat-lady, if you please' Tigra corrects him, before pointing out that her didn't answer her question. 'Where do you think you're going?' she asks him again. 'Uh...jail?' the man replies, holding his hands above his head. 'Good guess! And how about you? I notice you didn't even try to run!' Tigra remarks to the remaining looter, who sits on the edge of the car, as Tigra carries the driver over her shoulder. 'What's the use? Just take me away. I wanna serve my time and forget this ever happened!' the looter mutters.

By midday, the West Coast Avengers regroups under the shadow of a well-known landmark, the Hollywood sign. Mockingbird declares that it is incredible, there is not a trace of snow left to be found, as if it were all whisked back to wherever it came from. Hawkeye tells his team that whatever happened to it, they can all be proud of the job they did over the past week. 'You put in a lot of long hours and saved thousands of lives' he smiles, suggesting that they have earned a little time to unwind, which is why he proposes they host their first annual Avengers barbecue, commencing tonight at sunset back at the Compound. 'Oh, that sounds like fun!' Tigra grins, and Iron Man smiles as he tells the others that he can get behind that. 'If we can keep Hawk from scorching the steaks, it should be a blast!' Mockingbird jokes, before turning to the back of the group, where the silent Wonder Man frowns. 'You can make it tonight, can't you?' she asks him. 'Tonight? Oh, sure. I'll be there' Wonder Man replies before his jet pack blasts him into the air. 'See you later' he calls out to his teammates.

The others watch Wonder Man disappear, and Hawkeye wonders what his problem is. 'Don't tell me that he' still upset about that Blank character getting away from us... that was a couple of weeks ago!' he thinks to himself, before deciding that Wonder Man probably has some personal matters to take care of.

Hawkeye gets onto his sky-cycle and suggests he get moving and pick up some steaks. He then asks Mockingbird to make her famous guacamole salad. Bobbi tells him that she would be glad to, before turning to Tigra and asking her if she wants to hit the farmer's market with her. 'Some other time' Tigra replies, telling Bobbi not to let her hold her back, as Iron Man has promised her a lift. 'I have?' Iron man thinks to himself. Mockingbird then departs in a Quinjet, headed towards West LA, leaving Tigra and Iron Man at the Hollywood sign. Tigra apologizes to Iron Man for that white lie, but she has something she wants to talk with him about in private. 'What's on your mind, lady?' Iron Man asks.

Tigra tells Iron Man that she's worried about Wonder Man, that she thinks something is bothering him, and she thought that since he has known him longer than the rest of them, he might be able to get him to talk. 'Uh... not really, Tigra. I hardly know the man' Iron Man replies. They walk side by side down the hill, as Tigra asks him what he means. She calls Iron Man “Tony” and reminds him that he has fought alongside Wonder Man dozens of times. 'Tony – oh, you think I'm Tony Stark!' Iron Man realizes. 'Well, of course! Don't be coy...you know that I learned your identity when we fought the Molecule Man!' Tigra reminds him. Iron Man suddenly informs Tigra that Tony Stark has not worn this tin suit for months, as he had some personal problems, so turned it over to him. 'As to who I am...well, “Iron Man” will do for now. But as you can see, I'm most definitely not Tony Stark!' Iron Man remarks as he removes his glove and reveals his dark skin. Wide-eyed, Tigra apologizes and assures Iron Man that she didn't know. Putting his glove back on, Iron Man tells Tigra that not many do. He offers to talk to Wonder Man, but suggests that if it was him, he would open up a lot faster to a face that was prettier.

Meanwhile, not too far away, in the Santa Monica Mountains, a long figure gazes out over the vast metropolitan sprawl. 'It would appear that our unseasonable weather is over. Good!' the villain known as Graviton thinks to himself as he stands on a balcony. He tells himself that the unnatural snow provided convenient cover for quietly taking control of this estate, but that he prefers starting his empire in a warmer climate – which will make the victory all the more satisfying. 'Victory... the very sound of the word is sweet' Graviton thinks to himself, as his memory wanders back, causing his blood to boil as he thinks of how he was defeated by Thor and exiled to the interdimensional void. For months, he drifted in a state of suspended animation. He fears that he would still be there, if it weren't for a sudden influx of an energy released by a bizarre construct passing though the void, and while he didn't know what it was, it's power restored his consciousness, so he was able to home in on the charging field that was used by the criminal Blank, and then return to Earth.

Graviton decides that it was surely fate that led him to this most hedonistic of world cities, for too long he has been without the creature comforts which a man of his power deserves. His thoughts are suddenly disturbed by the arrival of the Blank, who steps out onto the balcony. 'What is it?' Graviton asks, to which the Blank informs him that his orders have been carried out – the messages are being delivered. 'Excellent! By this time tomorrow I shall... eh? What is it, Blank? You seem nervous?' Graviton remarks. 'Nervous? Who... me?' the Blank, cigarette in hand, replies, before admitting that he is a little antsy about starting something this big with those Avengers in town. Graviton reminds Blank that he told him not to concern himself with them, and boasts that he has dealt with the Avengers before. 'Yeah, and got your head handed to you, from what I hear!' Blank retorts. 'You... hear... wrong!' Graviton shouts.

Graviton admits that his first defeat was due to his own inexperience, and exclaims that his control over the forces of gravity had the Avengers as helpless as the Blank is, as he uses his power to slam the Blank to the balcony, 'Lemme up! I feel like I weigh...a ton!' the Blank exclaims, as Graviton levitates the Blank out over the forest surrounding the house and exclaims that even the mighty Thor had to rely upon trickery to beat him. 'Were he here, I could send him flying off into space as easily as this!' Graviton boasts. 'Space? Oh no!' the Blank utters, while Graviton explains that gravity is the fundamental force of the universe, and as the master of that force, his power is limitless. 'If I wish – I can even switch of your protective force field!' Graviton reveals, as he does just that, the Blank suddenly reverts to his human appearance. 'Okay, so you can handle anything the Avengers dish out! But I'm not used to working this way!' Blank explains, informing Graviton that everything he ever came by, he came by the sneaky way.

Sneaky?” Graviton quotes. 'This from a man who robbed a bank in broad daylight?' he asks. 'I did that as the Blank! Nobody knew it was me!' the Blank explains. Graviton supposes that there is something to be said fro caution. He lowers the Blank back onto the balcony and boasts that with his level of power, he thinks the Blank can agree that they are being more than cautious enough. 'Sure, whatever you say!' the Blank replies. 'Your confidence overwhelms me' Graviton mutters as he switches the Blank's power source on. 'Sorry, but like I said, this is a whole new game for me! Without my blank-out field, I'm just another shmoe!' the Blank exclaims. Graviton suggests to the Blank that he get used to their “game” and to do it quickly, as his plans call for speed as well as stealth! Graviton announces that by the time the Avengers learn that he is back on Earth, it will be too late for them to raise as much as their voices against him!

A few hours later, on the private beach of the Avengers' Palos Verdes Compound, Wonder Man walks along the beach, as a voice calls out to him, 'A pebble for your thoughts, big man? Sorry, but I'm all out of pennies'. A small pebble falls down from the cliff that overlooks the beach, and lands in front of Wonder Man, who looks up and sees Tigra perched on the cliff. He asks her how long she has been there. 'Long enough to watch you wear a small trench in the beach' Tigra replies, before asking Simon if he has a lot on his mind. 'Well, I...' Wonder Man's voice trails off, to which Tigra exclaims 'Me, too!' and asks him if he wants to compare notes. Simon climbs up the cliffside and tells Tigra that he doesn't know if he should burden her with his worries. Tigra smiles and tells him not to be silly, after all, what are teammates for. 'I'll tell you my deep dark secrets...if you tell me yours!' Tigra offers. Simon replies trhat there is not much to tell, and admmits that mostly he has been wondering if he did the right thing in joining Wonder Man's new Avengers team – and that he sometimes wonder if he ever did anything right where the Avengers are concerned.

Memories flash though Simon's mind as he informs Tigra that he received his powers from a group of the Avengers' enemies who used him against the original team when he discovered that they intended to kill the Avengers, he turned the tables on them – at the cost of his own life, or so it seemed. But, a few years later, he came back from the “dead” more powerful than ever – it seems that his death had actually been a dormant stage of his body's adjustment to his increased strength and stamina – and the Avengers welcomed him back to their ranks – only, that taste of death had done things to him, and he was uneasy with the role of super hero, and so, when the opportunity arose, he stepped down from the active roster to see if he could make a name for himself as Simon Williams, as acting was an old love of his, and the Olympian Avenger Hercules promised to introduce him to some producers he had met in his travels.

Wonder Man tells Tigra that Hercules' contacts didn't work out, and for a while he worked as hired muscle for a couple of scientific research groups, but that didn't work out, either. Tigra can tell by the tone of Simon's voice that he doesn't want to talk  about that period at all, and as waves crash against the cliff they sit on, Tigra asks Simon what brought him to California. More memories flood Simon's mind as he tells Tigra that it was a very strange series of events – a former agent got him a gig on David Letterman's show, along with some other Avengers, where they were attacked by some boy genius, and while the show was pre-empted in New York, it did screen in California, and a director out here saw it, liked the way he handled himself, and cabled him to come out and work for him as a stuntman, so he has been here ever since. Simon explains that it is in the past month that he has doubled for some of the biggest stars in the business, and while it is not “King Lair”, it is acting of a sort.

Simon tells Tigra that he is good at it, and it has been good for him – there is nothing quite like surviving certain death day after day for building confidence. He admits that he was so confident that he took Hawkeye up on his offer to join the West Coast Avengers – he really wanted to do things right this time – but right off the bat, he let the Blank get away from him. 'Some Avenger' Simon mutters. Tigra tells Simon  that she knows how he feels, and reveals that her first hitch with the Avengers was a disaster. Tigra stands up and admits that she isn't sure why she joined the new team, but she knows she doesn't want this to be one more thing she blundered into in her life. 'What do you mean?' Simon asks. Tigra suddenly leaps backwards off the cliff, down onto the beach below and tells Simon that so much of her life has been just one darned thing after another – everything from becoming Tigra to signing up with the Avengers seems to have happened to her by accident. She adds that she made plenty of decisions along the way, but she has never really felt in control – not now, and certainly not in her pre-furry days. Suddenly, Tigra appears as a normal looking woman with dark hair.

'What? You've turned normal! Uh, I didn't mean that the way it sounded' Simon calls out as he slides down the side of the cliff. 'But how -?' Simon starts to ask. Tigra tells him that it is okay, that she knows what he meant. Tigra explains that it is all just an illusion, that she is still her, but that the amulet on her bikini top lets her look like her old pre-Tigra self – a parting gift from the Cat People. 'Cat People?' Simon asks, perplexed. Tigra explains that they were a hidden race that had evolved from cats, and they transformed her into Tigra in order to save her life. She adds that they are all gone now, over a year ago. Tigra takes her hand off the amulet and realizes this has been the first time she has used it, and supposes that she is more comfortable as Tigra.

Tigra looks at Simon and tells him that at any rate, this is her now, and she is a lot less easy about being an Avenger than he is, as she still doesn't know if she is ready. 'You must be kidding!' Simon replies, telling Tigra that she was terrific during the snow emergency. Tigra places her arm around Simon as they walk along the beach, and she tells him that he was, too, that they couldn't have done it without him. 'Thanks for saying so...but that doesn't help ind the Blank' Simon remarks. Tigra realizes that Simon isn't going to feel right until they catch the Blank, and Simon supposes that is right. He begins to wonder if he shouldn't dwell on  that one little failure, but Tigra knows that he will, and tells him to come on. 'Where are we going?' Simon asks as they head up the long staircase back up to the top of the cliff. 'To see a man about filling in the blank!' Tigra jokes.

Later, on Sunset Boulevard, Wonder Man and Tigra, wearing a long overcoat and wide-brimmed hat, pull up outside the Cat's Jazz Club, and Simon asks if this is the place where the Shroud said they could reach him. 'The very same!' Tigra replies as they enter the club. 'If there's anyone who might have a lead on our man, it's...oh, my!' Tigra gasps. 'What happened here!?' Simon calls out as they stare in shock at the club which looks like it has been ransacked. A man sits on a chair, his arm in a sling, while a woman with a black eye stands next to him. 'Nothing much, m'man. Just a bit of impromptu urban renewal' the man replies, telling Wonder Man and Tigra that they will excuse him for not getting up, as he has had a rough day. 'What do you want?' the woman asks. Somewhat hesitantly, Simon announces that they wanted to find the Shroud. 'Never heard of him!' the blonde woman with the black eye snaps, before telling Wonder Man and Tigra that if it is trouble that they want, they already gave. The other man calls the woman Mouse and tells her to take it easy, suggesting that maybe these people just want to talk.

Tigra removes her hat and tells him that is right, before she introduces Wonder Man and herself as Avengers. She asks Mouse and the man who did this to them, and what they can do to help. Tigra goes over to check on the man's arm and he tells her that he doesn't know that they need help – they just had themselves a little business dispute. 'Business must be rough' Tigra remarks. Wonder Man brings a seat over for Mouse and suggests to her that she has a seat, too. Mouse thanks him and starts to say that there is really nothing to tell, when suddenly, a figure emerges from the shadows – 'It's all right, Mouse! These people are friends! You can tell them anything you'd tell me!' the Shroud announces as he materializes. The Shroud apologizes for his trip to San Francisco keeping him away so long, and asks who is responsible for this. 'That's a good question, boss! We were hit by a half-dozen muscle boys from the Galeno Gang...only they're not working for Galeno anymore!' Mouse announces, rubbing her head. She recalls that they knocked her around and said it was a message from their new boss – that anyone who wanted to “do business” in town, had to do it with them!

Tigra picks up a phone and tells Mouse that if she can identify the men who did this, then they should call the police, but the Shroud tells her that the other gangs in LA believe him to be a crime lord and that he intends to maintain that fiction as long as it is to his own advantage. The Shroud states that the Galeno boys should be easy to track down no matter who they are working for – that he will find them and settle accounts on his own. Wonder Man puts a hand on the Shroud's shoulder and tells him that he won't be alone, that he will help him. 'Thank you, Wonder Man, but -' the Shroud begins, to which Wonder Man tells him that he still owes him for cracking his ribs a week back. The Shroud assures Wonder Man that he appreciates his offer, but explains that he doesn't want the Galenos to suspect that he associates with the Avengers. 'Don't worry. We can take care of that!' Simon replies.

As the skies over LA start to show streaks of scarlet, the upper crust of the city's low life gets down to some serious partying at what was on e the home of one “Lucky Max” Galeno. 'Lenny! Didn't anyone tell you that disco died?' a woman calls out to Lenny, a man in a white suit as he dances among other party goers. An older man presses up against a blonde woman and tells her that he has lots of great contacts at the studios – all the studios. 'No, really, I was all psyched to get into group, when suddenly, I thought...' a woman begins, as suddenly the room fills with a black substance. 'What's with the smoke?' a man asks, while a woman tells him that it isn't smoke, it's more like some kinda black fog. The crowd goes deathly still as one end of the room fills with the impenetrable gloom, and then, from out of the heart of the darkness stride two defiant figures – the Shroud, and Wonder Man, disguised with a blonde wig and a brown jacket. 'Don't stop the music on my account, children! I just want to talk to your leader!' the Shroud announces.

Outside, Tigra hangs by her feet from a ledge and looks into the room, grateful that the Shroud and Wonder Man let her tag along, but she wishes Simon had let her call the other Avengers about this, only he was so adamant about helping the Shroud on his own, and it did get his mind off the Blank. Back inside, a man in a blue suit approaches the Shroud and tells him that he hopes he isn't mad about that little fracas at the Jazz Club, and while they didn't want to do it, they had their orders. The disguised Wonder Man lifts the man in the blue suit up into the air and tells him that the Shroud doesn't want to talk to him – he wants to talk to his boss. Suddenly, a door to another room opens, 'You wanna talk to somebody... you talk to me!' a voice calls out. The Shroud and Wonder Man turn to see a gray figure standing in the doorway, and through the window, Tigra realizes that it is the Blank. She looks over to Wonder Man and realizes that he sees the Blank, too, but doesn't look any more surprised than the rest of the crowd. 'What an actor!' she thinks to herself.

Cigarette in hand, the Blank steps out into the larger room, 'So you're the Shroud, huh? Well they call me the Blank! So what can I do for you?' he asks. 'You know why I'm here. I don't like having my people beaten' the Shroud declares. The Blank folds his arms and explains that with the change in management here, they had to establish their credentials. 'Credentials? For what?' the Shroud asks. 'Uh... for the consolidation of all the West Coast mobs!' the Blank explains. 'Under your leadership? Hah!' the Shroud laughs, before asking Simon to teach him a lesson. 'With pleasure!' Simon responds as he drops the man in the blue suit and leaps across the room towards the Blank – but suddenly, Simon comes to a half mid-air. 'Sorry, pally. But you're not teaching nothing to nobody!' the Blank exclaims. The Shroud looks on, surprised, he wonders if his senses have gone haywire – surely Wonder Man can't be frozen in mid-air. As the Shroud tries to spring to his friend's air, he discovers that he can't move his feet. He feels like his feet weigh tons, and tells himself that this is insane. 'Blank! What are you -' the Shroud calls out, as Simon is suddenly spun around mid-air. 'Nothing to worry about, Shroud! I won't hurt your muscle boy much...I'm just taking him for a little spin!' the Blank laughs, as Simon is hurled across the room towards the Shroud, falling on him. 'See? He's good as new!' the Blank exclaims, while Simon tells the Shroud to look out.

'So help me, Blank. If this man has been seriously hurt -' Simon begins as he clenches his fist, while the Blank notices that Simon's wig has come loose. 'You... you're no ordinary muscle! You're that Wonder Man guy!' he exclaims, just as Tigra bursts through the window, 'You have more than him to worry about, Little Boy Gray!' she snarls. 'Huh?' the Blank replies, confused. Tigra lands on the Blank and introduces herself, warning the Blank that if he takes on one Avenger, he takes on them all. 'She's got me! Somebody do something!' the Blank pleads as he tries to shake Tigra off of his back. 'Must I do everything for you, Blank?' a voice from behind some doors calls out. 'Help me...please!' the Blank exclaims, before the doors are flung open, and Graviton reveals himself. 'Very well!' Graviton mutters, before instructing everyone to put their guns away, as they won't be needed. 'And who are you supposed to be?' Tigra scowls, not willing to release the Blank. Wonder Man runs forward and tells Tigra to get back, as this is Graviton, one of the most dangerous men the Avengers ever fought.

'Nice of you to acknowledge that, Wonder Man' Graviton replies, but points out that it is sad Wonder Man can't heed his own warning. 'Oh, yes...I know. You're one of the most powerful beings on the face of the Earth. But mere strength is useless against the crushing power of my localized gravity field!' Graviton boasts as he causes wonder Man to drop to the ground, then fall through the floor. 'So falls the Wonder Man! So will fall anyone who dares oppose Graviton!' the villain grins. 'Anyone, Graviton? How well can you fight that which you cannot see?' the Shroud asks, as darkness begins to surround Graviton, until Graviton warns the Shroud that his darkness won't protect him, as his mastery over gravity is complete – he can set this whole room spinning as easily as he did Wonder Man. Sofas, people and other objects begin to float around the room at Graviton's command, then he slams them all to the ground.

Graviton notices that the darkness has begun to retreat, and while his new-found followers are somewhat the worse for wear, their momentary loss of equilibrium is a small sacrifice. 'Boss, help!' a voice calls out, and Graviton looks over to see a corner of the room still cloaked in darkness. 'Boss, please do something! They've got me!' the Blank pleads. Graviton decides that the Blank is rapidly becoming an embarrassment to him, and decides that he can see how well the Shroud can control the dark when pinned to a wall. Graviton aims his gravity-altering powers towards the darkness, clearing it, and slamming the Shroud, Tigra and the Blank to a wall. 'Ah-hah! Not very well at all it would seem!' Graviton realizes. But, as Graviton moves towards the figures pinned to the wall, 'You're... not... beating me that easily!' Wonder Man shouts as he bursts up through the floorboards.

Graviton turns to Wonder Man, finding it remarkable that even though Wonder Man  is under the effects of his intensified gravity field, he continues to resist. Graviton blocks Wonder Man with a column of gravitic energy, escaping his grasp. 'You are persistent, aren't you?' Graviton remarks, hurling Wonder Man across the room, he declares that they will have to do something about that, but for the time being, a small dose of anti-gravity should keep him from annoying him further. 'Hey, Grav! Lemme down, will ya?' the Blank asks, still pinned against the wall. Graviton frowns and tells the Blank to shut up, announcing that he must come up with a suitable punishment for their guests. 'Well, what about me? Why do I have to stay stuck to the wall while you do that? I'm supposed to be your partner, right?' the Blank calls out.

Graviton tells the Blank that he is wrong, very wrong – at best, he was a go-between, a figurehead in his plans to organize California's criminal element. 'Did you say... “were”?' the Blank asks. 'I did indeed! There is no room in my organization for whiners, Blank!' Graviton declares as he suddenly hurls Tigra, the Shroud and the Blank through a window, and out into the late afternoon skies – where, in mere moments, thanks to the gravitic energy, they are far out of sight, and out of land, as plummet into the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

Miles away, at the Avengers Compound, Hawkeye stands over a barbecue, while Iron Man sits on a balustrade nearby. Hawkeye announces that the charcoals are just about right. He tells Iron Man that this is going to be a night to remember, that he can taste those steaks already. 'Yeah, Hawk...me, too' Iron man replies, while wondering how he is going to eat through the helmet, and wonders if he should ditch it – he is among friends, after all. Mockingbird approaches Hawkeye and Iron Man and suggests that they hold off on the steaks for a few more minutes, as Tigra and Wonder Man haven't shown, and she can't raise either of them on their radio transceivers. She adds that she hopes they haven't run into any trouble. Iron Man suggests that if anything was wrong, they would have activated their emergency signal beacons. 'Uh-huh. If they had the chance' Mockingbird replies. Hawkeye points out that Tigra is one tough lady, and that Wonder Man is up there in Thor's league. 'What could possibly threaten him?' Hawkeye asks.

At that moment, in the Santa Monica Mountains, Graviton stands over a swimming pool with two scantily clad women and tells them that sending the other three out to sea was a rash move on his part. He blasts some gravitic energy into the pool and states that revenge is much more satisfying when you can actually witness your enemy's demise, and adds that it is fortunate that they still have Wonder Man around – for now. He bursts into laughter, as Wonder Man is trapped under the pool water, pinned there by Graviton's energy... and running out of air!



Characters Involved: 

Hawkeye, Iron Man II, Mockingbird, Tigra, Wonder Man (all West Coast Avengers)



The Blank




Boz, Rick and other looters

Mouse and unnamed man

Lenny and other partygoers

In Graviton's memory:


The Blank

In Wonder Man's memory:

Beast, Captain America, Falcon, Giant Man, Hercules, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Wasp, Wonder Man (all Avengers)

Story Notes: 

The unusual weather has been caused by events taking place in Thor (1st series) #349-353.

Tigra learned Tony Stark was Iron Man in Avengers (1st series) #216.

Graviton was defeated by Thor in Thor (1st series) #324. The influx of energy in the void was thanks to the Beyonder during the Secret Wars limited series, and Graviton was freed from the void thanks to the Blank last issue.

Graviton fought the Avengers in Avengers (1st series) #158-159.

Wonder Man was killed in his first appearance, Avengers (1st series) #9, and returned to life in Avengers (1st series) #151. He left the Avengers in Avengers (1st series) #211.

Greer became Tigra in Giant-Sized Creatures #1.

Wonder Man cracked the Shroud's ribs in West Coast Avengers (1st series) #1.

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