#6 - What is Sinister about these Six?
“By Zeus's beard!!” Hercules is hit with force by two of Dr. Octopus's arms, as outside of Avengers Mansion the Sinister Six clash with the four Avengers currently available.
“We must take the offensive!” the Black Knight shouts, while protecting his body from Electro's blasts with his Shield of the Night “They're pressing on us!”
“I've put the Lizard on ice for awhile! But it's hard to do the same with the Sandman clone!” Iceman reports “Where is Photon? She's supposed to be in charge!”
“No matter what, these felons won't best the Scion of Olympus and his friends!” Hercules grabs one of the telescopic arms and, while he knows he can't break the adamantium-reinforced tool, he uses his still formidable strength to whip Octopus and make him collide with the evil Sandman, that was distracted by Iceman's attacks.
“Really good team-up there!” Bobby Drake smiles, as he looks around to figure out where their powerful deputy leader might be.
“We must find a way to deal with Electro, he's their strongest member!” the Black Knight keeps stopping Electro's barrage of bolts, but in doing this he leaves himself open to an unexpected attack from above: the Vulture uses his claws to slash at Dane's back, making him cry for the pain, then he gets away too fast for Iceman to retaliate.
While Hercules struggles against Octopus's mechanical limbs and the mad Sandman clone, Iceman erects an ice dome to cover the injured Black Knight and himself. Electro, though, has aimed his bolts toward another target: the ice-encased Lizard. The heat generated by his bolts is enough to weaken the ice and set free his scaled comrade, still shaking from the cold, a notorious setback for reptiles of any sort.
“Thanks, Iceman, for the save” Dane tries to isolate the pain in his mind to concentrate on the current battle “But I think I can ask a friend to take care of the Vulture from now on. Stryder! To me!”
At his master's command, the beautiful pegasus that is a portent coming from Avalon itself, appears whining and flying with anger at the villain who wounded the Knight ... and the beast's exceptional maneuverability in air is something that can worry even the skilled Vulture.
“Woof!” Hercules is suddenly caught off guard as the Sandman's fist explodes in his face, filling his throat with sand and cutting his breath for a moment. Disoriented he is grabbed by Octopus's four arms, that stretch him in a spread-eagle position, while their adamantium thwarts every attempt the strong Olympian can exert to break them!
“I hope you can stand and swing that sword of yours, BK!” Iceman shouts “'cause Electro, Sandman and Lizard are forming on us ... and Herc really needs a breather!”
“I can manage ... but I still can't see what happened to Photon and how did she disappear as soon as the battle started ...” the champion of Avalon answers.
Were his senses more keen he would notice the cowering form of Photon in one corner of the garden as she trembles and shakes ... apparently alone ...
Hidden behind his illusions and practically undetectable by anyone, Mysterio grins, thinking how he has disposed of the Avengers' most powerful member and current leader ... something that will be dutifully noted after the Sinister Six win this battle ...
What Mysterio can't imagine is that the horrors he's creating into Photon's mind with his hallucinogenic gas are prompting her to an unpredictable use of her abilities, that actually reach someplace else ...
... in a realm of chaos, light and energy, a stirring is suddenly felt in the ensuing confusion ... a sign of coherence and self-awareness. The first after so long a time, for the being in question.
Answering a silent call from a fellow energy-wielder, the globe of energy starts pulsating ... his coherence increasing with each passing moment ... until he can free himself again and return to his native world, escaping the prison of this light dimension.
“Jennifer! The Mansion is under attack by the Sinister Six!” Janet Van Dyne says, after having been contacted on the comm-card by Peggy Carter “The evil Sandman is with them! We must go and capture him!”
“I must ask for a suspension of the hearing!” She-Hulk is upset, knowing how bureaucracy can be so boring even in such cases “If we can prove with evidence that another Sandman is attacking the Avengers right now, not even Gyrich's best speeches will prevent us from clearing you, Baker!”
“I MUST come with you! I want to confront this imposter!” the Sandman states.
“No! I can't ask for that ... and your being here while the battle takes place elsewhere is your best option right now! I'm going to speak to the judge and Gyrich's lawyers, Jan!” Jennifer stands, raising her hand to get the judge's attention.
“Just be quick about this, Jenn” the Wasp murmurs “I don't want for my Avengers to get in trouble before their official debut!”
Outside of Avengers Mansion
“No way, scale-face!” Iceman says, as his body suddenly grows ice spikes, setting off the attacking Lizard “Don't think your claws can bother me so much ... I'm well used to claws and such, you know, having lived with Wolverine around for so long!”
“Let's see, then, how you can cope with some heavy hitting!” the evil Sandman charges onto Iceman, his body a hardened mass of sand.
“Especially if the whole move was a setup for this!” Electro laughs, blasting Iceman with his electrical powers.
The young mutant is overwhelmed with pain, even in his ice form. Dane Whitman sees how the whole team is almost subdued at this point, with Iceman down, Hercules a captive of Octopus and Photon unaccounted for, so he puts aside the pain on his back, glancing only for a moment upward, just to be sure that Stryder is keeping the Vulture busy enough to let him try the craziest stunt ever. And then he's off ... throwing his shield at Electro, square in the face!
Then it's just a fast sequence of moves, the result of so many hours spent in training not just his swordsmanship, but also his athletic skills, to confuse those that might limit the Black Knight's abilities to just one of the many fields he's learned into. He jumps upward, escaping a clumsy charge from Lizard, he slashes with no restraint at the evil Sandman, knowing he can't really harm him, and then pirouettes away as an enraged Electro is already concentrating his bolts on him.
That's what the Black Knight was expecting, actually the very goal for which he sacrificed his only cover to draw the attention of Electro away from Iceman, and the trap works perfectly as the angry villain showers the twisting and turning Black Knight with his power, leading eventually to what the Avenger meant to happen: that a stray bolt from Electro, aimed at his foe, would actually hit Dr. Octopus!
“Well done! And now that overgrown dynamo is mine!” the Iceman staggers to his feet, after the Sinister Six realize how the Black Knight outmaneuvered them all into a reversal of their apparent advantage, Bobby Drake concentrates as dozens of icy duplicates of his form suddenly appear, rounding up a surprised Electro and piling up on him “Let's see how he fares against multiple targets!”
“By the Beard of my Father! This indignity ends now!” Hercules himself takes advantage of the Black Knight's strategy, even though he can't break the adamantium coils he can still exerts his considerable strength on a hurting Octopus forcing him to loosen his grip. Then the Scion of Olympus picks up the villain, tossing him at the Sandman! Jumping soon afterward onto the Lizard, that was trying to blindside the Black Knight.
Dane Whitman dives to get his Shield back while Iceman keeps Electro under pressure and Hercules smashes the Lizard into the ground. Then the Avengers' swordsman signals for Hercules to form onto Doc Ock and Sandman, casting an upward glance to check again on the battle going on between the Vulture and his flying horse.
In the heat of the battle no-one remembers about Photon, still trapped in the illusions carefully orchestrated by Mysterio.
Darkness is all around her.
A terrible reminder of that other time, when she was trapped inside the Darkforce Dimension ... where Blackout exiled her under Moonstone's command. * She wandered at the speed of light for a seemingly endless period of time before she could spot a faint light that helped her out. But she's not been this lucky this time.
(* I'm sure you all remember when the Masters of Evil took over Avengers Mansion in AVENGERS # 273-277, Alex)
Monica Rambeau is afraid she might be trapped without any chance of escaping this time. She struggles to clear her mind, knowing that something MUST be wrong. She can't remember Blackout working with the Sinister Six ... so she can't understand how they could have used once again the darkforce trick.
Towering over her trembling body, Mysterio is amused, concealed from everyone's sight.
Photon, in her mind's eye, sees herself flaring with a sudden burst of light, to illuminate the darkness she's in ... only to see it spread for miles in every direction without a sign of variation in that pitch black world. Despair is overwhelming her, but the inner fire that's helped overcome the strangest odds is still burning, unquenchable, inside of her.
Mysterio is amazed by her resistance, she should be delirious by now, he knows, and yet she's still struggling. More hallucinating gas is pumped in her vicinity to help darken her mind, but at that exact moment a tiny voice is heard in Mysterio's proximity:
“You're going to stop torturing her now ... or ...”
Sands fly everywhere as Hercules batters the Sandman clone with his fists, rage fuelling his body. At the same time the Lizard is pressing once again the Black Knight, now fatigued by the previous stunt and weakened by the blood loss from the wounds on his back.
Dr. Octopus exploits the numeric advantage by wrapping once again Hercules in his constricting coils, trying to suffocate him, but the Olympian's powerful arms resist the adamantium tentacles' grip. The Iceman duplicates have imprisoned Electro in a pyramid of ice that the mutant is constantly renewing while the villain melts away the ice.
“Your meat issssss ssso warm and sssssweet!” the Lizard has cornered the Black Knight, ready to strangle him. Dane tries to call for Stryder, but in vain, since the Vulture is blocking the pegasus from helping his master. Then a familiar and mocking voice is heard, as a finger taps on the Lizard's shoulder, a green finger, as green as the scales on his body ...
“There are too many green-skinned folks standing in this street. So guess who's gonna end up NOT standing in a moment, scaleface?”
“Empty!” Mike O'Brien is not happy, entering the house he tracked down, with the help of the Black Widow, as Octopus's base.
“Perfect!” Natasha smiles, taking Mike off guard.
“What's perfect? We failed with this lead!” Mike replies.
“No, we didn't ... We have the time to prepare a hearty welcome, instead ...” Tasha grins.
Wasp's bio-stings hit Mysterio so hard he's not only stunned, but also propelled with violence onto the nearby wall, knocking him out cold.
“Your gas is very good on human beings” Janet comments, while regaining her normal size and trying to help Monica “But ants and wasps can easily see through your disguise ... they react differently to that. And they pointed me on your location”
On the other side of the battlefield, She-Hulk enjoys herself putting Lizard to sleep for a long while.
“Thanks, Shulkie! That was getting very close to uncomfortable!” Dane smiles, massaging his throat, carrying the marks of the Lizard's constricting fingers.
“Do you have some advice on what we could do to stop Electro and Octopus?” she asks “They seem to be the biggest problems”
“I have one for Electro ...” Dane replies as they both see Hercules thrashing the Sandman for real, and grappling two of Octopus's arms.
“Good! Then go and get Jan's help on him!” Photon suddenly darts past them toward Octopus “She-Hulk! I need you to get a hold of the remaining two arms. I think I know how we can serve Octopus a big surprise!”
“On it!” Jennifer smiles, jumping forward and grabbing the swinging tentacles. Struggling, she and Hercules manage to block Octopus, then Photon bombards him with microwaves, heating up the metal of his excess arms ... and signaling for Iceman to accomplish his part of the plan she briefed him with at the speed of light.
Meanwhile Black Knight is drawing again Electro's blasts, distracting the villain as the Wasp brings him a device he asked her to retrieve from the Avengers' labs.
“I have it in place, Dane! Do what you must!” Jan shouts, before darting upward to take care of the Vulture once and for all.
Hardening himself for what's to come, Dane Whitman uses his control on the Shield of Night to absorb the electricity he's being bombarded with, storing it inside and absorbing it even more. The Shield shines as if it was on the point of melting, but its magical material resists to the onslaught ... until Electro realizes that the Black Knight is actually willing his Shield to absorb even more!
Electro tries to break the contact, but it's too late, with a grin the Avenger closes the circuit, touching with the Sword of Light the strange device he asked the Wasp to retrieve ... discharging into it the electricity that the Shield of Night is absorbing ... and demanding more and more of it ... draining Electro ... until he slumps to the floor unconscious, under the satisfied stare of his opponent.
“Do not let him slip!” She-Hulk shouts as she and Hercules keep restraining Octopus while Photon bombards him with heat and Iceman with frost.
“The Lion of Olympus won't let this base villain escape!”
“Good! The extreme temperatures we're setting around the tentacles must be disrupting the unbreakable structure of the adamantium!” Photon says.
“Now I must finish this, by lowering the temperature to absolute zero all of a sudden!” Iceman exerts his power to their limits, as Octopus writhes in pain, feeling his arms being weakened ...
“And to top it all, I'll use high energy lasers on the junctures of the tentacles, that are the weakest spots!” Photon says “Now, Herc and Jenn! Pull!!”
Using their enormous strength, the Olympian and the Jade Giantess bring the assaulted metal to its breaking point, usually too hard to attain, but possible under the orchestrated assault of Iceman and Photon. With a terrible cry Octopus feels his arms being broken! So he decides to dislodge the outer portions of his tentacles, freeing himself from the Avengers' grip and using the four shorter arms to gain escape, while Hercules and She-Hulk secure the portion of tentacles they were left with.
“We must follow him!” She-Hulk shouts, but Janet's voice stops her.
“No ... he's getting his due in any case, I tell you!” she grins, while landing with Stryder carrying an unconscious Vulture.
“Mysterio managed to slip away!” Photon notices, with a hint of resentment, as she was hoping to see him pay for the horrors he put her through.
“But we have managed to capture Electro, Lizard, Vulture and the fake Sandman!” Wasp comments “And you all worked pretty well as a team, even when outnumbered. I think this Avengers squad will do fine!”
“I'll help you get to the infirmary, friend Dane!” Hercules offers his arm to the injured swordsman.
“And I'll have to go back to the court and delight myself with Gyrich's face when we free the real Sandman!” She-Hulk comments.
“Are you really sure we can let Octopus go?” Iceman asks.
“I am” the Wasp answers, as the reporters start to gather around her.
Dr. Octopus enters his base, enraged for the humiliating defeat, only to find Mike O'Brien waiting for him.
“I'm going to ask this only once. I hope you will be so smart as to do this the soft way. Just surrender and I promise I want let her take you down!” Mike says, grinning.
“What? Are you really threatening ...?”
“You lost your chance!” a female voice says from the shadows “Octopuses are not the only animals with eight arms, you know? Spiders have eight arms, too!”
The villain can't really say what hits him first, if the realization he was hopeless, or the Widow's bite, square in his face, but the result is just the same, as he's sent to oblivion ... and then to jail!
Days later, After the Sandman has been cleared and he has officially joined.
“I can't believe this is happening now!” Dane Whtiman rushes into the comm-center, as the alarms are all on, warning an omega-level distress call from Genosha.
“Agreed! We don't even know what's happened to Wasp, Thor and Hercules, yet!” * Photon is already there, while She-Hulk, Sandman and Iceman arrive just minutes later.
(* but you know if you've read THOR # 1, Alex)
“Come here immediately, Avengers!” the voice on the blank screen is that of Avenger reservist Quicksilver “My sister Wanda is ready to kill Magneto and to condemn the whole island of Genosha with her actions! I don't know if this damaged equipment is really broadcasting, but if you can hear me, just get here as soon as you can!” *
(* for the whole tale just check AVENGERS: VISION QUEST ls # 1-2, Alex)
“Wanda vs. Magneto? This is terrible!” Iceman comments “Especially thinking about the fact we might be needed there to actually save Magneto from her!”
“I hope Sif can bring the Wasp back soon!” Dane shakes his head, worried about what might have happened to Crystal and the fact Pietro didn't mention her at all.
“We're here!” Janet Van Dyne is tired from her ordeal against Surtur at Thor's side, as she, the Lady Sif and Jane Foster appear in a teleportation flash.
“Pietro needs us in Genosha! It's Wanda!” Monica briefly summarizes.
“God! Not now that Hercules is dying!” Janet gasps, evaluating what chances they have and if they should call for help from the West Coast.
“If it's a god you need, with a strong arm and the ability to get you there immediately, you have found it, Avengers!” Sif suddenly speaks “My beloved Thor is apparently busy elsewhere and I will certainly be honored to help his longtime friends!”
“We thank you for your kind offer, Sif! Can you transport us there with your powers?” Wasp asks.
“I certainly can!” Sif unsheathes her sword and starts spinning it around herself, drawing intricate patterns in the air. In a few seconds the Avengers are gone ... toward another dreaded experience.
Next: Go on and check AVENGERS: VISION QUEST # ls 2 to know what happened in Genosha and why Pietro asked the Avengers' help, then rejoin us in AVENGERS # 7 as Jan leads the Avengers against two different sets of foes to protect Magneto! The prelude to the "Apocalypse War" starts here!!! And be sure to read THOR # 2, as well, to know more about Hercules and his fate!
A-MailRe: Avengers # 4
Hello there. It's my coffee break and I had time at last to read avengers 4.
GREAT ISSUE. Lot of charachterisation( your Vision is top noch :p)
Concerning Vance (who is one of my favorite character be it either as the new warrior or the guardian from the future), I have seen you mentioned a hoverchair. I hope he is not paralyzed or something like that... And the move to california seems as if he will be a part of the west coast avengers...seems normal to me seeing where he moves...
Thanks for your words, Framcois. About the Vision, I hope you're following his adventures in the AVENGERS: VISION QUEST mini. About Vance, I think that reading AVENGERS WEST COAST # 2-3 will give you all the answers you need. Keep writing!
Re: Avengers # 5
I finally got around to reading Avengers #5 and I can't wait for 6 to come out. I like the new team you're forming, even though I have always been opposed to the tradition of new Avengers writers coming in and changing the team in it's (almost) enirety. In fact, if I'm seeing this correctly there is not a single member you kept. Hmm... anyway, as I was saying I always liked the Avengers under Photon and am looking forward to seeing them go up against the sinister six.
Thanks, Alvaro. I hope # 6 was up to your expectations, even though it came out later than it was meant to. As for the roster ... well, you might have just seen the prelude to a new change in this very issue's last scene!
I wish also to thank all the others who wrote about AVENGERS, like Johnatan, Des, Brandi, Christopher, Dominic. Next time I hope I have more time to run your comments in the letters page!! But they have been greatly appreciated :)