A-Force (2nd series) #5

Issue Date: 
July 2016
Story Title: 

Kelly Thompson (writer), Ben Caldwell (artist), Ian Herring (colorist), Virtual Caligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Manny Mederos (production design), Ben Caldwell (cover artist), Kris Anka & Matt Wilson; Meghan Hetrick; Colleen Doran (variant cover artisits), Alanna Smith (assistant editor), Katie Kubert (editor), Tom Brevoort (executive editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

In Oregon, Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, Medusa, Singularity, Dazzler and Nico Minoru, observe an extremely large dragon battling someone over the dock of a smallish town. They think it might be Thor who is fighting the dragon, when suddenly, she falls towards them – it's not Thor, but a Dazzler Thor from an alternate reality. She identifies the heroes as the rebellion A-Force and places them under arrest. The heroes ignore her, and start to battle the dragon. Singularity and Nico are assigned to evacuate the locals, and they start to do so. After the dragon seemingly vanishes, Dazzler Thor tells A-Force that she is no dragon, but the Countess, a being who can bend the fabric of reality. Dazzler Thor resumes her arrest of A-Force, but they talk her down, and she joins them for refreshments. She-Hulk and Dazzler Thor enjoy each other's company and drink a lot of alcohol, while Dazzler Thor realizes that this can't be her world. Captain Marvel offers A-Force's help in tracking down the Countess. Dazzler leaves to go outside, and Dazzler Thor soon joins her. They have a chat, then Dazzler shows Dazzler Thor something on her skin, and informs her that she is dying, but that she hasn't told the others. She explains that it is due to the Terrigen Mists that are killing mutants. Dazzler Thor gives her word not to tell the others. They regroup, save for Nico, and walk past the Happy Pie store, where it becomes known that Singularity has never eaten pie before. Nico is down the street, where the woman called the Countess puts her under her spell, and vows that they will make this world into her new home. Nico then puts A-Force under a sleeping spell.

Full Summary: 

Astoria, Oregon, where Carol Danvers a.k.a. Captain Marvel, Medusa, Nico Minoru, Jennifer Walters a.k.a. She-Hulk, the mysterious Singularity and Alison “Dazzler” Blaire – who sports a new casual look – survey their surroundings as they stand in a clearing within a forest. 'Hoo-boy. I know Oregon has some impressive wildlife but I'm guessing that thing is not local fauna' She-Hulk remarks as she looks out of the forest at something that has caught her eye. The others see it, too, and Medusa states 'Jennifer, that thing is not local to anything but fantasy novels'. Carol hovers over the others and asks Singularity if when she said that the “light in her mind-head” was “too bright”, whether she meant “too big”. 'That thing is definitely big' Carol declares. 'It is both!' Singularity exclaims, throwing her hands into the air. Dazzler lowers the pink glasses she now sports to the tip of her nose and asks if anyone else suddenly misses Antimatter's whole “you are ants, give me the dark one that burns” shtick. 'Me' Carol replies. 'Me' Nico agrees, raising her hand. Nico also sports a new look, while She-Hulk smiles and breaks a tree branch in half, announcing 'Not me. I wanna fight it. Hell, one that size has been on my bucket list a while...'

The large creature the heroines look upon is a massive serpent-like monster that hovers in the air, part of its form wrapped around a bridge, while some of its body is hanging over the shore to the North Pacific Ocean, and the buildings on the shoreline. She-Hulk instructs Dazzler to go for the eyes, while she, Medusa and Captain Marvel do some bodywork. She-Hulk tells Nico to get creative, and for Singularity to do 'Whatever it is you do'.

Suddenly, She-Hulk thinks she sees someone fighting the creature. 'Is that... Thor?' she asks. 'I don't think so' Nico, who has witch powers including a gauntlet “witch arm” remarks, while Singularity, the sweetest sentient pocket universe you will ever meet remains silent. She-Hulk squints as she tries to see who is fighting the creature, while Captain Marvel, who has a boatload of powers including strength, and flight, along with being the current “boss of space” doesn't say anything. 'Yeah, outfit's wrong' Dazzler, a sometime X-Man and sometime pop star, with full-time ability to transmute sound into light suggests. 'Hair, too' Medusa points out, as the Queen of the Inhumans runs a hand through her own prehensile super-strong hair.

'It is a Thor! There are many where I come from! Very pretty!' Singularity announces as she puts an arm across Nico's head, before pulling away, she narrows her eyes and admits that some are mean. She-Hulk tells the others that she isn't sure a bunch of Thors is the greatest idea. 'I dunno, sounds hot to me' Nico calls out. 'Word' Dazzler agrees as they bump their fists together. 'They do the will of Doom!' Singularity calls out as she pops up behind She-Hulk. 'Now I'm sure it's a bad idea' She-Hulk mutters. 'Word' Captain Marvel agrees as she and Medusa look over at Dazzler and Nico. Suddenly, Medusa informs the others that they are about to find out exactly who it is – 'Incoming!' she exclaims, as the mystery fighting figure plummets towards them. 'Move!' She-Hulk calls out as everyone dodges the new arrival. They then gather around her, 'Ouch' Dazzler remarks. 'She okay?' Nico calls out. 'That is not Thor' Medusa points out, hands on hips. 'But clearly a Thor. Hammer and all' Captain Marvel remarks as she moves in closer to the mystery woman. She-Hulk tells everyone to give the woman room, while Singularity declares 'Still alive!'

She-Hulk asks Nico if she can hit the dragon with that “be still” thing she did to Antimatter, but Nico replies that it doesn't work that way – she can't use the same spell twice. 'Okay. Something else then. Something to slow it down or make it tiny – it's getting too close to the town, and I see some houses on the edge of the hillside...' She-Hulk's voice trails off, 'Sure, sure' Nico mutters, when suddenly a voice calls out 'Thou will not touch her...', and the heroines turn to see the mystery woman standing before them. She wears a suit of armor that leaves her thigs and shoulders bare, a winged headpiece, and has a large starburst on the armor across her chest. '...the Countess be mine alone to vanquish' the woman declares.

'Holy crap. It's a Dazzler Thor!' Nico gasps. 'Omigod, this is cool...' she adds quietly. 'Alison! Pretty! So shiny!' Singularity exclaims wide-eyed, while this world's Dazzler is speechless. The Dazzler Thor removes her headpiece and examines the women gathered before her. 'I know you. You be She-Hulk and the A-Force of the domain Arcadia' she declares.

Dazzler Thor then points her hammer at the heroines and tells them that how they came to be here she does not know, but the last the Thors heard, Arcadia had turned traitor to Lord Doom. She then informs them that they are under arrest by order of Lord Doom. 'I'd like to see you try' She-Hulk replies casually, putting a hand on the hammer. 'You dare!?' Dazzler Thor asks. 'I do' She-Hulk tells her. 'Uh... Jen?' Nico calls out. 'What?' She-Hulk snaps, before turning to see the large dragon's face, right above them. 'Oh. This conversation will have to wait' She-Hulk tells Dazzler Thor. 'Good call' Nico remarks. 'Aye' Dazzler Thor agrees, before she smacks the dragon with her hammer, and She-Hulk lunges towards it with the broken stick. 'Well met, She-Hulk. I approve!' Dazzler Thor declares. 'Ditto' She-Hulk replies as the dragon plummets backwards, landing in the water, making a hissing noise as it falls backwards.

'Did she just hiss at me?' She-Hulk asks as she and the others move forwards. 'I believed she did' Carol confirms. 'Yes, let us make her pay' Medusa suggests, while Dazzler Thor announces that she likes the bloodthirst of the redhead. 'Your team has spirit, She-Hulk, even if you are traitors' Dazzler Thor remarks. 'Omigod stop calling us traitors, shiny Thor' Nico calls out. The heroines reach the dragon, and She-Hulk attacks its face, instructing Nico and Singularity to get the civilians out of harm's way, while everyone else is to go with her. 'Did I just get demoted to b-team?' Nico asks. 'Nico!' She-Hulk snaps. 'Yeah, yeah. On it' Nico mumbles.

An instant later, Nico and Singularity have teleported to a nearby house, where a family is out the front. 'Hello' Nico greets them. 'Uh... hi?' the father responds. Nico informs them that they are going to get them out of here, and asks if anyone else is inside. The father announces that it is just them. 'Lady, my friend Jessie is still at her house with her Gramma, though!' the little boy calls out. Nico instructs Singularity to get the family to safety while she goes gets “Jessie and Gramma”.

Nico rushes across a field towards the forest, she finds herself having to duck as the dragon roars and breathes fire towards her. Nico looks up, and casts a spell: 'Spring is sprung' she utters, as the flames that were flickering towards Captain Marvel and Dazzler Thor turn into flowers, surprising the Thor. 'Definitely easier on the complexion than fire' Captain Marvel remarks. 'You're welcome!' Nico calls out, as the heroines continue to strike at the dragon.

She-Hulk tries to get underneath the dragon, but she loses her footing. 'Yikes!' she calls out, falling backwards, until 'I have you, Jennifer!' a voice calls out, and Medusa extends her hair, wrapping it around She-Hulk's wrist and bringing She-Hulk back up into the battle. 'Medusa -' She-Hulk begins. 'No, Jennifer' Medusa interrupts. 'You don't even know what I'm gonna say!' She-Hulk retorts. 'You want me to throw you at it' Medusa declares. She-Hulk, still wrapped in Medusa's hair, replies 'Yes! It's gonna be awesome!' Medusa remarks that She-Hulk may regret this, but She-Hulk grins, and tells her to do it. So, Medusa forces her hair forward, hurling She-Hulk towards the dragon, and the smiling She-Hulk slams her fists into the dragon, knocking it into the water.

An instant later, She-Hulk looks up from where she has landed on the dock, 'Huh. That was unexpected. Glorious, but unexpected. I hit it so hard it... disappeared?' she asks. 'Did it explode?' Captain Marvel asks as she and Dazzler Thor rush towards She-Hulk. 'Nah. I'd be a Jackson Pollock painting of dragon guts if it did, right?' She-Hulk replies. 'Barf. Yes, probably' Captain Marvel responds.

She-Hulk gets to her feet and dusts herself off as Nico teleports a family onto the dock. 'Was that you?' She-Hulk enquires. 'Nope. Busy evacuating civilians' Nico replies. 'Huh. So much for dragons of a certain size ranking high on my bucket list. That was cake' She-Hulk declares. 'Jen, you got splintered bits of wharf in your...yikes!' Carol tells her friend. 'She is no mere dragon' Dazzler Thor informs the others. 'Preeeetty sure that was a dragon' She-Hulk replies. Dazzler Thor announces that she is called Countess, and that they have not defeated her, merely slowed her down. Dazzler Thor explains that Countess likely regroups, or retreats to recover her strength so she may attack again when they least expect.

Medusa asks if Countess is a shapeshifter of some kind, but Dazzler Thor reveals that the Countess bends the very fabric of reality. 'Ah, man. I hate reality warpers' Nico mutters. 'Worst' Dazzler agrees, sticking her tongue out. Singularity has returned to the ground as Dazzler Thor raises her hammer and informs the heroines that there must be no more delays. 'We must see to your arrest for crimes against Lord Doom'. 'Seriously?' She-Hulk asks. 'How are we not past that? Brothers...er, sisters-in-arms, and everything. C'mon' she tells Dazzler Thor. 'What's with the Lord Doom stuff?' Nico asks. 'Sounds positvely dreadful' Medusa replies. She-Hulk tells Dazzler Thor that she hates to break it to her, but that she is clearly no longer in her world, wherever that is. Carol calmly suggests to Dazzler Thor that they go somewhere and talk this out. She-Hulk adds that if there is really a chance this Countess thing is going to show up again, then they can't leave. 'Yes. This town is still vulnerable. Countess will not be so easily defeated' Dazzler Thor states. Carol proposes that they stay somewhere close, get something to eat in town and come up with a plan. 'Agreed?' she asks.

Dazzler admits that she could do with sustenance. 'Your proposal is acceptable, Captain of Marvel's. Dazzler Thor declares, before she goes silent, then glances sideways as she asks 'Do they have ale in this village?' 'Sure' someone tells her. Dazzler Thor raises her arms into the air and exclaims 'Onward to this magnificent village of which you speak!' Medusa and Captain Marvel lead the way, while She-Hulk carries Singularity on her back, asking her if she is tired. Singularity yawns and tells Jennifer that teleporting makes her tired now. 'You think what we did to Antimatter weakened your powers?' She-Hulk enquires. 'I do not know about sciences like friend Tempest' Singularity responds. She-Hulk tells her that they will ask someone, to which Singularity agrees, in her usual response of 'Oh. Kay'. Nico and Dazzler walk behind the others, and Nico asks Dazzler if it is weird. 'It seems like it would be soooo weird' she declares. 'Weird doesn't even begin to cover it, Nico' Dazzler replies.

Several ales and sodas later, the women sit around a table in a relatively busy bar, except for Singularity who is asleep, resting on the table. Nico, Dazzler and Dazzler Thor are examining the menus, with Dazzler and Nico talking quietly to each other behind their menus, 'Are you ever even gonna talk to her? You haven't said a word' Nico asks Dazzler, who tells Nico to shut up, otherwise she will be wearing that coke of hers.

'Serving wench, pray tell me of this sandwich of reuben!' Dazzler Thor demands of the waitress who stands nearby, dressed in viking attire. 'Um it's just, like... a classic reuben' the unimpressed waitress responds. 'Very well. Bring me three, fair maid. Also the “viking fries”, the salads made of side and much more ale' Dazzler Thor instructs her. 'Mmm'kay' the waitress responds.

She-Hulk tosses her empty mug behind her back and announces that she will take the same. 'Eating for twelve... better be a great tip' the waitress mutters. Dazzler Thor and She-Hulk then clink their glasses of ale together. 'I like the way you order' She-Hulk tells her, while Dazzler Thor smiles and remarks that perhaps she has misjudged She-Hulk.

Forty-eight minutes later, many, many more empty glasses are set out on the table, and Dazzler Thor laughs as she exclaims 'And when the battle was ended he was still a duck!?' Arms around Dazzler Thor, She-Hulk replies 'Yes!' to which Dazzler Thor tells her that is a most excellent tale. Dazzler Thor then hangs her head and announces that she thinks that A-Force might be right – that this cannot be her world. 'But if it is not, then were shall I go? I am without a world...without a home' she points out. She-Hulk signals for the waitress and tells Dazzler Thor not to go all dark on them, that it is going to be all right. 'Will it, She-Hulk?' Dazzler Thor enquires as she knocks back some more of her ale. 'Will it, She-Hulk?' Dazzler Thor asks, pointing out that she finds herself unstuck rom her world, swept up in Countess's reality-bending wake as they fought, falling through time, space, dimensions and Lord Doom only knows what else. Nico looks over to see that Dazzler has left the table, while Singularity continues to sleep. Captain Marvel suggests to Dazzler Thor that, if she likes, when this is over, they take her to Asgard. 'You're a Thor and I'm sure the Asgardians would welcome you'.

Dazzler Thor extends a hand to Carol and tells her that she would like that. 'To see more Thors would ease my mind greatly. But only after we are certain we have vanquished the Countess and ensured the safety of this town'. Carol agrees, and tells Dazzler Thor that when they finish here, they will do some reconnaissance, perhaps Nico could whip up something magic-y to track down Countess. 'Huh? Oh, yeah...sure, Cap' Nico replies, glancing towards the empty chair where Dazzler once sat.

Shortly, Dazzler Thor goes outside, and finds Dazzler leaning against the outside of the bar. '...do I diisturb you?' Dazzler Thor enquires. 'That depends. Do you mean “are you interruoting my silent brooding?” or do you mean “does your very existence disturb me”?' Dazzler replies. 'I suppose either' Dazzler Thor smiles. 'Then, yes to both I suppose, but join me anyway' Dazzler tels her. 'Very well' Dazzler Thor agrees. Dazzler points out that they are not very similar, to which her double asks 'Are we not? Aye. I suppose being Thor has a way of dominating life'. They both look up to the stars, and Dazzler Thor confesses that this world is superior in one way for certain. 'We have no stars in our sky' she reveals. 'Really? What happened to them?' Dazzler asks. 'Well, one of them became this' Dazzler Thor announces, holding out her hammer. 'That was a star?' Dazzler asks, surprised. Dazzler Thor explains that Doom plucked her from the sky. 'Just for me'. Or, at least, that is the story she was told, admitting that her doubts have grown since she has come here. 'I call her Light Bringer' Dazzler Thor reveals. 'Heh' Dazzler laughs. 'You do not approve' Dazzler Thor states. 'On the contrary. I think I might have called her the same... if she were mine' Dazzler confesses.

Dazzler Thor suggests to her doppelganger that perhaps she will have her own one day. 'I don't think that's in the cards. But thanks for the confidence' Dazzler replies as they walk down towards the water. Dazzler Thor asks Alison to forgive the imposition, but points out that she seems melancholy. 'Is it because of these cards that decide things for you?' Dazzler Thor enquires.

'Huh. I haven't told anyone...I guess it makes sense I would confide in a strange alternate reality version of myself. 'Cause my life is like that' Dazzler remarks. Dazzler Thor announces that she does not follow, before Dazzler raises her t-shirt, revealing her stomach and announces that she is dying. Dazzler Thor is speechless for a moment, as she looks at the markings on Dazzler's stomach and asks her how painful this is for her. 'Plenty' Dazzler reveals, before Dazzler Thor asks her how this did occur. Dazzler announces that it is the Terrigen Mists, that it is a whole thing here, apparently creating Inhumans kills mutants, sterilizes them, too, as an extra kick in the gut. 'Big plot twist, huh' Dazzler declares, adding that, lately, she doesn't stay dead, so maybe it will be the same with this. They look across the street as Dazzler's associates leave the bar, and Dazzler tells Dazzler Thor that she hasn't told the team, so she would prefer she didn't say anything to them. 'You have my word' Dazzler Thor assures her, before they walk over to the others.

'What is happy pie?' Singularity asks as she peers through the window of a store called the Happy Pie. 'All pie is happy pie' She-Hulk declares, while Carol asks Singularity if she has never had pie. 'No pie' Singularity replies. 'Even I agree that is a tragedy' Medusa admits, before looking through the window at a woman who works at the store and suggests 'Perhaps this “Steph” woman will let us in to sample her pies'. 'Yes, please!' Singularity calls out. She-Hulk looks over at both Dazzlers and asks them to come help convince the innocent baker to give them pie. 'PIE! PIE! PIE!' Singularity shouts over and over. As they approach the others, Dazzler Thor assures Alison that she will keep her secret, but tells her that she should confide in her friends. 'We'll see. For now... pie' Alison replies. Carol looks around and asks 'Where's Nico? Nico, come have some pie!' she calls out. 'I do enjoy pie' Dazzler Thor admits. 'Favorite kind?' Alison asks her, and they both announce 'Blueberry'.

Nearby, Nico finds someone reach out and grab her shoulder, and with a strange voice, the figure behind her declares 'You are underestimated in your time, young Nico Minoru. Let's change that, shall we?' The woman steps into view. Dark hair with a greenish-gray costume with a skull pattern on her chest, she introduces herself as Countess and tells Nico that she can see right inside her – all the way through. Nico's eyes are red and blank as she has fallen under the control of the Countess. 'You don't belong with them and you know it' the Countess tells Nico as she wraps her arms around her. 'It's only a matter of time until everything blows up, until you blow up'. The Countess declares that it is in Nico's bones, in her blood – betrayal and worse. 'You've put up a valiant fight but it's time to let it all wash over you'. The Countess grins and tells Nico to let it in and become what she is – what she has always meant to be. 'Time to take over the world' the Countess declares. They start to levitate off the ground, 'Say yes' Countess whispers into Nico's ear, and the enthralled Nico utters 'Yes'

'Good girl. Now look upon what we have already begun to do together. Your power and mine together is unstoppable' Countess tells Nico, as they gaze out over the city. The Countess boasts that they are going to make this world into her new home, a land for her to rule, to shape in her image. 'Isn't it beautiful?' the Countess asks as the city suddenly appears in a demonic form. 'Yes. Beautiful' Nico agrees. 'And what about them? What do they look like to you?' Countess asks as Nico aims her staff below – and then they descend upon A-Force and Dazzler Thor, their limp bodies strewn across the pie shop floor, several pies lay around them. 'Sleeping beauties' Nico replies, as the Countess grins and tells Nico that they are going to have such fun together.

Characters Involved: 

Captain Marvel VI, Dazzler, Medusa, Nico Minoru, She-Hulk, Singularity (all A-Force)
Dazzler Thor



Written By: