‘Thor?’ gasps Sam Wilson a.k.a. the Falcon at the sudden arrival of his former Avengers teammate. Thor’s mighty hammer unleashes a massive blast of lightning, and over a dozen super being stand in the pouring rain. It’s raining. HARD. The mysterious Daredevil, Nathan “Cable” Summers of the X-Men and a possible horrible future and the beautiful Tandy Bowen a.k.a. Dagger stand close to Thor, and the Falcon asks him what he is doing. Thor seems to ignore the Falcon and everyone else until Dagger asks him where he has been – as everyone thought he was dead. ‘No, Dagger…that would be you!’ Thor exclaims, hurling his mighty hammer amidst the four heroes, sending them toppling.
Drenched, Dagger pulls herself up from the ground, exclaiming that something is wrong, that they have to get out of here – ‘This is really, really wrong!’ Thor’s hammer is returned to him, and the Asgardian calls everyone ‘Wretches’ and tells them that they are not going anywhere. With that, he slams his hammer onto the ground, sending concrete flying upwards, and toppling Luke Cage and the Young Avengers – Hulkling, the new Hawkeye, the new Patriot and Cassie “Stature” Lang.
Nearby, inside a badly damaged building, protected from the rain but not each other, the iconic heroes Captain America a.k.a. Steve Rogers and Iron Man a.k.a. Tony Stark, long-time friends separated by a very big difference of opinion stand, ready to face off against each other again. Iron Man tells Cap to not get up, as he doesn’t want to hit him again, what with Cap’s jaw practically hanging off and all. Tony tells Steven to surrender and he will get him medical attention from the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents outside.
Uniform torn, battered and bruised, Captain America gets to his feet and exclaims ‘You really think I’m going down to some pampered punk like you?’ Iron Man radios to his allies, telling them to activate their audio-ports…’This is going to hurt!’ he exclaims letting loose some sonic power in his armor, Captain America screams. The glass behind him shatters, and outside, Captain America’s allies fall to the ground, clutching their heads.
Protected, Susan Storm-Richards a.k.a. the Invisible Woman declares that this is horrible, that she can’t even look. Her husband, Reed Richards a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic assures Sue that he doesn’t like it either, and points out that this way there is no broken bones. Reed turns to Thor and tells him to stand down, as the S.H.I.E.L.D. clean up squad can handle things from here.
Back in the building, Iron Man admits that Captain America is tough, as this sonic frequency puts the human brain in shut-down – but Captain America is still trying to get up. Preparing a repulsor ray, Iron Man apologizes to Cap, but assures him that he will try to make it quick. ‘Just close your eyes and you’ll wake up in out super hero detention center…’
But before Iron Man can act, his armor’s alarm system alerts him to a non-human attack, and at that very moment Olympian Hercules busts into the building carrying a tanker of some sort – which explodes, sending Captain America flying into open space, and switches off Iron Man’s sonic attack.
The anti-registration-act super heroes get to their feet and engage the pro-registration-act super heroes in battle once more. Bill Foster a.k.a. Goliath increases his mass to take on his old friend, and the man he got his powers from, Henry Pym a.k.a. Yellowjacket. Daredevil smashes Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man, while the Vision blasts his “brother” Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man and the Hulkling takes on Ben Grimm, alias “Thing”.
Suddenly, the ground opens up and Hercules bursts through, holding Iron Man above his head and shouting for the Falcon to see to Captain America, as they need to get him out of here. The Falcon speeds towards his former crime-fighting partner, exclaiming that he is halfway there, and swooping down and gathering Cap before concrete lands on him. Sam calls out to Cable, telling him that he wants him to interface his mind with Cloak’s and activate a teleport, calling out to everyone else to gather round and hitch a ride home.
On the roof of a building, several S.H.I.E.L.D. agents open fire on Goliath. ‘You’re kidding, right?’ Bill mutters before throwing a truck at them, then turning to Thor he exclaims ‘Get ready for the shortest comeback in history, Thor!’ But before Goliath can act on his words, Thor mumbles ‘I don’t think so’ and sends a powerful blast of lightning straight through Goliath’s stomach – and out the other side.
‘My God…’ Dagger whispers as she and the other heroes watch the giant Bill Foster fall to the ground. ‘Thor just killed Goliath!’ Tandy exclaims as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents swarm over his oversized form. Falcon orders his allies to fall back and regroup, that they have to get out of here or they are all going down. ‘You are all going down!’ Thor shouts, more lightning bursting from his hammer ready to pour down on Captain America and his allies – until it gets blocked by a force field. An invisible force field.
‘Huh?’ exclaims Daredevil as he and the other anti-registration heroes wonder what is going on. ‘Get out of here! NOW!’ shouts the Invisible Woman, her powers protecting those she has at some point called friends. Patriot asks about their wounded and downed, exclaiming that they cannot leave them behind. Cable is tending to the unconscious Cloak and tells Patriot that he is welcome to stay if it makes him feel better, and ordering everyone else to fall in tight, as they are only going to get one shot at this. ‘Susan. Thank you’ The Falcon remarks, before he, Captain America and the others are all teleported away thanks to Cable and Cloak.
Mr. Fantastic looks at a very angry Thor and exclaims ‘Shut down code “Richard Wagner Eighteen-Thirteen to Eighteen Thirty-Three”’. Thor then stands motionless. ‘What the Hell happened, Reed?’ Yellowjacket shouts furiously. ‘I thought you gave him some kind of directives! You said he’d be just like the old Thor would!’ Mr. Fantastic ignores Pym, and calls out to his wife, telling her that she has got to believe – Susan turns back as she walks away and interrupts her husband, ‘Don’t even speak to me. Don’t say a damn word!’ she exclaims.
Ms. Marvel, Wonder Man, She-Hulk, Tigra, Radioactive Man, Doc Samson, Spider-Man and Iron Man all stand around Goliath’s body, and Spider-Man exclaims ‘I thought you said you knew what you were doing, Tony! I thought we were doing this so no one else got hurt!’
Nearby, the Watcher…watches.
Soon, at Avengers Tower, medical personnel tend to the wound pro-registration-act heroes, while Mr. Fantastic examines “Thor”. Spider-Man, Yellowjacket and his partner Janet Van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp stand and watch. Peter asks Henry if he is all right, to which Pym replies that he is not okay, for he just watched a new superhuman that he helped create blow a hole through one of his oldest friends. ‘Do you really think I’m so remote – so detached – that this wouldn’t have some kind of impact on me?
Jan turns to Peter and apologizes for Hank’s outburst, but Peter tells Janet that it is okay, and that to be honest everyone is a little freaked out. ‘This isn’t exactly what any of us signed up for’. Wide-eyed, Hank exclaims that he still cannot believe that they cloned a god. He asks Janet and Peter if they knew Tony had been holding onto that strand of Thor’s hair since the first meeting of the Avengers. ‘What kind of a man combs his furniture for hair follicles and skin cells?’ Pym asks. ‘A guy with a lot of foresight, I guess’ Jan replies.
Pym remarks that he cannot understand why their Thor-clone killed a man – ‘Is he missing a conscience?’ Hank asks if they need to fuse him with a Donald Blake, or a Jake Olsen to have him function properly. Peter looks at the emotionless Thor-clone staring back at him, and rather frightened, Spider-Man turns to Yellowjacket and asks him if he ever wonders if they picked the right side.
Meanwhile…at the “Secret Avengers” Headquarters the lovely Dr. Jane Foster and other medical personnel tend to Captain America and the others who have just returned from battle. The heroes who have returned to the “Secret Avengers” headquarters are joined by former Avengers Bonita Juarez a.k.a. the powerful Firebird, Miguel Santos a.k.a. Living Lightning and Triathlon. Monica “Pulsar” Rambeau and the Machine Man, also former Avengers and current members of Nextwave are present, along with the heroic and handsome Kyle Richmond a.k.a. the Defenders’ Nighthawk. Rounding out the new arrivals are former New Warriors (that were not killed in Stamford) Vance “Justice” Astrovik, Silhouette and Debrii.
‘Appeal for amnesty?’ Cap exclaims as Dr. Foster tends to him. ‘Are you insane?’ he asks, pointing out that they just picked up another twenty supporters – and Iron Man’s allies are disappearing by the hour! ‘So what?’ Nighthawk asks, reminding everyone that Goliath is dead and half of their allies have been thrown into this “Number Forty Two” complex, the big S.H.I.E.L.D. penitentiary that Reed Richards was building.
‘And you’re willing to let them get away with that, Kyle?’ Cap asks. Cable comes to Nighthawk’s defense, remarking that the way he sees it, the pro-registration side can do whatever they like now that they have got Thor on their side. Cap informs everyone that it wasn’t Thor, but one of those “Frankenstein’s Monsters” that they have been growing for their super hero army. ‘You really think Thor would have murdered Bill Foster?’
Dagger, and the recovered Cloak, watch on as the Kate Bishop alias the new Hawkeye tells Cap to hold still so she and Jane can finish, when suddenly Nighthawk, Cable and Stature begin to leave the room. Kyle declares that Bill was dead the second he thought he was bigger than the law. Luke Cage suddenly exclaims ‘What you gonna do, Kyle? Pull on those nice little jackboots and smack whoever they tell you to smack? Supper heroes are supposed to be volunteers!’
‘No, we’re supposed to be the good guys, Cage!’ Kyle replies with determination. Kate Bishop turns to Cassie Lang. Cassie looks at her teammate and says that she is sorry, but that she doesn’t want to end up in that super-jail like Wiccan. ‘I want to fight villains – not cops and other super heroes!’ Captain America tells his allies to let the three of them go if their freedom means so little to them, before declaring that it is time they ditched this base for a new one.
Outside, Kyle, Nathan and Cassie are unaware that they are being watched, and Kyle tells Cassie that Captain America is just another old man scared of the future. ‘Won’t be happy until the whole damn team’s dead!’
Later, Goliath’s funeral takes place in New Jersey – where it is raining also. Cranes have lowered Bill Foster’s giant body into an enormous grave. Sheltered by umbrellas, those who have come to pay their respects surround the grave. Happy Hogan remarks to Tony Stark that this is a Hell of s send-off, given the circumstances. Tony reminds his good friend that Goliath was a super hero and saved a lot of lives over the years, which is something that they cannot forget – no matter how bad this gets.
Happy points out that it is a shame no one was able to shrink him down to size, and wonders how much his family had to shell out to pay for the thirty-eight burial plots. Tony replies that Bill’s family didn’t have to pay a thing, he took care of all of that, it was the least he could do….given the circumstances. Happy senses someone approaching them from behind, and seeing who is, he whispers to Stark ‘Heads up, boss!’
Tony turns and sees Miriam Sharpe, one of the super hero registration acts most adamant supporters. Tony greets Miriam, who quickly tells him that she is not here to give him a hard time, as she knows he has lost a lot of support in the super hero community, so she just came by to say her piece: ‘Goliath knew what he was doing. He was breaking a law designed to save people’s lives!’ Miriam points out that if Goliath had gone legitimate then he would still be alive, and tells Tony that this is no more his fault than a cop could be blamed for shooting a punk who pulls a gun on him.
Tony is about to say something else, but Miriam interrupts him again, handing Tony something she wanted to give him – her son Damien’s favorite toy since he was three years old…Tony holds in his hand an Iron Man action figure. ‘Just to remind you why you’re dong this!’ Miriam exclaims. Nearby, Peter Parker stands with his wife, Mary Jane and his loving Aunt May. Susan Storm-Richards and her younger brother Johnny a.k.a. the Human Torch stand together and Reed stands with Doc Samson as he remarks ‘Is it just me or is Peter Parker acting very suspiciously?’
My darling Reed…
I know Johnny’s out of the hospital and the family’s back together again. I know I should be happy, but I’m not. I’m so ASHAMED of you right now, and ashamed of myself for supporting your fascistic plans. I hate what I’ve become, and that’s what I’m joining Cap’s Secret Avengers team.
Please understand: This is not another cry for attention. This is not me trying to distract you from your all-important work.
This is because our hands are soaked in Bill Foster’s BLOOD and you’re so blinded by your graphs and social projections that you can’t even SEE it.
Johnny and I will be working underground from now on, and that’s obviously no place for Franklin and Valeria. That’s why I’ve left them in your care and beg you to give them the time you have so often denied them in the past.
I also didn’t want your last memory of me to be tainted with all the blazing fights we’ve had in recent weeks – hence the oily-fish dinner (good brain-food), the bottle of your favorite claret (an excellent antioxidant) and making love one final time (good for the immune system).
I hope I don’t look like a coward for leaving this way. I hope you don’t think I’m a bad wife or, worse still, a bad mother. I’m doing this for the best reasons and pray that your genius can resolve this thing before one side ends up slaughtering the other.
I love you, Reed. More than anything in the world.
Please fix this.
Susan kisses her children while they sleep. She places the letter on Reed’s beside table, and shields herself from the pouring rain as she takes her suitcases and meets her brother outside by his car. Inside the Baxter Building, a sadden Thing watches his two friends leave.
Later again, at Avengers Tower. Reed, Tony and Jan march past various S.H.I.E.L.D. guards and Tony asks how many of their allies they are losing. ‘More than we can afford’ Reed replies, before adding that a couple of Cap’s people are talking about coming over, but the balance has definitely tipped in the Secret Avengers favor after the tragedy with Goliath. Jan asks if they can bring forward this Fifty State Initiative thing, ‘Wouldn’t these new heroes be able to get things under control again?’ Reed explains that they are still at least a month away from being ready, so they need to move fast and they need people with experience in super human combat.
‘You mean this latest iteration of the Thunderbolt’s you’ve assembled?’ Janet asks. Tony explains that after what went down it is the only course of action left. Reed reminds his allies that the new Thunderbolt’s involvement is strictly temporary, just to capture Captain America’s team, and they will all go back to jail immediately afterwards. Reed adds that each and everyone one of them will be chipped and tagged, and their every movement monitored by microscopic nanobots.
As a door opens revealing the new Thunderbolts to the Wasp, Jan smiles and remarks that they don’t exactly look thrilled about the prospect of teaming up with the Avengers. ‘That’s because they’re not nice people’ Tony remarks as the New Thunderbolts stare back…Venom! Songbird! Taskmaster! Bullseye! Lady Deathstrike! Jack O’Lantern! Jester!