A-Force (2nd series) #6

Issue Date: 
August 2016
Story Title: 

Kelly Thompson (writer), Ben Caldwell (artist), Scott Hanna (inker), Ian Herring (colorist), Virtual Caligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Manny Mederos (production design), Ben Caldwell (cover artist), 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: 

She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Dazzler, Medusa and Dazzler Thor wake in a local jail cell in Astoria, Oregon, to find themselves powerless. The local sheriff explains that this is the land of the Countess, before Nico, very much under the Countess's control, appears. She-Hulk tries to snap Nico out of the Countess's control, to no avail. Dazzler Thor summons her hammer, but Nico tells her that she is unworthy, and the hammer falls to her feet. Dazzler and the others try to calm an enraged Dazzler Thor down, which is when Dazzler notices some marks on Dazzler Thor's legs and arms, and assumes it is M-Pox. The Countess makes her presnce known, and when Captain Marvel asks her what she wants, the villain tells her she wants it all – her own land with people who adore her. Annoyed with She-Hulk, the Countess tells Nico to give her two words, so Nico utters “Helk smash” and She-Hulk transforms into an enraged version of herself. She breaks through the prison walls, and the others latch on to her as she leaps out into the city. She crashes, and far enough away from Nico's power influence, the heroines find their own powers return, while Singularity pops back into existence. Up on her castle, the Countess explains to Nico that some are not as easy to bring under her control, when Nico asks why she doesn't bring the rest of A-Force into her hold. The Countess waves at her adoring public below as she reveals some of her history back in the other reality. Nico tries to fight the Countess's control, but she is unable to, and as the heroes take down the still enraged She-Hulk, Nico casts a spell on them - “gangster shoes”, and they all find themselves sliding towards the water nearby, where they sink to their doom.

Full Summary: 

Jennifer Walters a.k.a. the She-Hulk snores, and drool trickles out of her mouth. '- not science monkeys!' She-Hulk exclaims in her sleep, when suddenly, she opens her eyes and cover her mouth. 'Huh? Whuzzat?' She-Hulk utters, smirking as she tries to pull her hands away, and realizes they are cuffed. 'Pfft. Handcuffs? Seriously?' She-Hulk mutters. But as she tries to pull her hands apart again, she discovers that she can't break the cuffs. 'What's going on here?' She-Hulk calls out. 'Welcome back to the land of the not asleep... you snore' Medusa of the Inhumans informs her as she sits on a bench nearby, inside a cell, alongside Alison “Dazzler” Blaire, Carol Danvers a.k.a. Captain Marvel and Dazzler Thor of an alternate reality. 'Do not' She-Hulk mutters to Medusa, while Dazzler asks 'What they hell are “science monkeys”?' Dazzler Thor suggests that they might be monkeys that perform science. Captain Marvel sheds the shackles around her wrists, and smiles: 'Here I was wasting my time dreaming about regular monkeys'. The women are inside a local jail cell in Astoria, Oregon.

'What's happening?' She-Hulk enquires. Captain Marvel goes over to her and tells her that they are not sure, and reveals that they have only been awake a minute themselves, but Nico and Singularity are missing, and they have no powers. 'Aw, man' She-Hulk complains. Carol adds that nobody remembers anything since they were on the street looking in the pie shop. She-Hulk goes over to the cell bars, 'Hey, lawman!' she shouts. 'Lawman? What are you, in the old west?' Carol smiles. She-Hulk shushes her, then shouts 'Sherif!' 'There ya go' Carol remarks, while She-Hulk tells the Sheriff that she demands some answers, before asking Carol if she tried these bars already. Carol tells her that she did, and that she thinks they can get out of this, but that it is going to take some time. 'Time we don't have if Nico and Blue are missing' She-Hulk points out. Carol agrees that they are on the same page. She-Hulk watches as the Sheriff lumbers towards them. 'Let's get some answers' she declares. 'Yes, so glad you're awake. She-Hulk will save us all' Medusa scowls as shhe sits on the bench. 'Ignore her. She's very grouchy about this “hair situation” from what I can tell' Captain Marvel points out. 'I can kill you even without my powers' Medusa boasts. 'Sure, sure' Carol replies.

'Sheriff! Why are we being held? What's going on?' She-Hulk enquires. With a strange voice, the Sheriff tells She-Hulk that they are being held because his mistress demands it. 'Yikes' She-Hulk exclaims. With glowing red eyes, the Sheriff announces that these are the lands of his mistress. 'We are her people. The Countess is all things. All hail Countess!' the Sheriff declares. 'Double yikes' She-Hulk adds. Captain Marvel tells the others that she is going to go out on a limb and say the Countess is not dead, as Dazzler Thor predicted. She-Hulk suggests that this looks like some classic mind control, and perhaps more reality manipulation by Countess. 'And she can remove our powers, too?' She-Hulk asks. Captain Marvel reminds her that Singularity and Nico are missing, and if Nico is under Countess's control, then she might have somehow turned off their powers. She-Hulk points out that they don't know anything about Singularity, or how her powers work. 'Maybe cutting off Singularity's powers made her -' Captain Marvel begins. 'What? Winked her out of existence?' She-Hulk asks. Carol tells her that she doesn't know. 'Oh, God' She-Hulk utters, while the possessed Sheriff looks into his coffee cup.

Suddenly, 'Goddess... would be more accurate. The world's but a stage for her and all of us, her adoring public' Nico Minoru announces as she strides towards her locked up associates. 'True' the Sheriff agrees. Nico's eyes are also glowing red, 'Oh, no. Nico... no' She-Hulk utters. The others gather around She-Hulk, all looking concerned as well. She-Hulk stares out at Nico and tells her she can shake this off. 'Maybe I could...but what if I don't even want to?' Nico replies. 'What if Countess is showing all of us everything we've always wanted? Better, showing us how to have it?' Nico asks. She-Hulk tells Nico that she doesn't believe her, that this isn't her. 'Maybe this is the new me' Nico suggests. 'Besides. How would you know? You barely even know me' Nico points out. 'I know plenty' She-Hulk tells her. She-Hulk adds that she knows Nico would never want to hurt Singularity, and asks her where she is, and what she has done to her. 'I – I didn't do anything to her' Nico replies.

'What if you've killed her with this spell, Nico? We don't know how her powers work... she's a sentient pocket dimension, for hell's sake. What if turning her powers off killed her?' She-Hulk calls out. Nico's eyes stop glowing for a second, and she drops her staff as she clutches her head. 'No... I... ung!' Nico exclaims, stepping away from the cell. 'That's it, fight her, Nico. You can do it, I know it' She-Hulk encourages the younger hero. 'No! You shouldn't make Countess mad, She-Hulk' Nico declares, under the Countess's control once again. 'Tell her to come in and say that to my face' She-Hulk snaps. 'What, and you'll give her a stern talking-to from your cell? Don't make me laugh' Nico replies.

Suddenly, Dazzler Thor breaks her cuffs: 'Thou may have turned off my mutant power, small witch, but thy sorcery is no match for Lightbringer. She will come to me always' Dazzler Thor declares, raising her hand, the others look in the direcction she is pointing, 'Oooh, yes' Captain Marvel smiles. 'About time' Medusa mutters, as a streak of light darts past several people outside. Lightbringer is Dazzler Thor's hammer. It streaks past more civilians, and straight towards the jail, slamming against the building.

Nico and the Sheriff turn to the sound of the thundering hammer pounding against the building. 'Dost thou hear that, witch? That is the sound of your doom' Dazzler Thor warns Nico. 'Thou art no match for Lightbringer' she points out. 'Perhaps you're right, Thor... unworthy' Nico declares. Dazzler Thor goes wide-eyed, and Lightbringer falls to the floor in front of the cell before Dazzler Thor can hold it. 'Daaaammmm' Dazzler utters, while the shocked Dazzler Thor asks 'What hast thou done?' Suddenly, she looks very unhappy, and boasts that she will kill Nico. 'I will make thee into tiny pies and devour thee whole!' Captain Marvel and Dazzler pull Dazzler Thor away from the bars, 'Nico, please' She-Hulk calls out. 'You can fight her, I know you can. Think of what she's doing to all these innocent people... what's she's made you do to Singularity... to your friends' Nico stares back at She-Hulk: 'My friends? Who needs friends when I have a goddess? There's such peace in it, Jen. And soon you'll understand it as I do' Nico grins. 'Peace?' She-Hulk asks.

Nico holds her staff up and declares 'No more loss. No more struggle. To never worry about anything ever again. To feel true peace, Jen. To bathe in only her strength and beauty. Her voice the only sound'. Nico continues, announcing that everything flows from Countess, and that to be one with her is to know everything you need to know – who you are, where you belong, to know you never have to run away from anything ever again. 'You will be next. And you will love it just as I do' Nico boasts.

While Captain Marvel, Dazzler and Medusa hold Dazzler Thor down on the floor, She-Hulk asks Nico if Countess is so all-powerful, then where is she. 'Why hasn't she controlled our minds, Nico? Have her come and say this to my face...' She-Hulk begins. Captain Marvel tells Jen to maybe not push it. 'What kind of coward sends her mind-controlled minion to do her dirty work?' She-Hulk asks. 'Jennifer, is this wise?' Medusa enquires. As both Medusa and Captain Marvel have their attention turned to She-Hulk, only Dazzler sees the red marks on Dazzler Thor's legs and arm. 'Your legs... your arm... it's M-Pox!' Dazzler utters, wide-eyed. 'Not now, Alison' Dazzler Thor tells her.

'She is no coward and I am no minion!' Nico exclaims. 'I think that's exactly what you both are. I think your “goddess” is afraid of us. Why else are we in here instead of by your side? Why else would she be afraid to show her face?' She-Hulk asks.

Suddenly, a voice calls out 'I am never afraid to show my face, She-Hulk... for it is glory and magnificence!' the Countess boasts as she strides past some civilians who have gathered in the station. 'It is glory and magnificence' they utter repeatedly. 'Eh. It's all right' She-Hulk mumbles. The Countess tells her that soon she will feel different, to which the unimpressed She-Hulk asks 'You think? If you're so all-powerful, then tell me... why aren't we part of your little entourage already?' She-Hulk frowns. Carol goes over to She-Hulk and asks her if she thinks the Countess is at her limit. She-Hulk tells Carol that she does, to which Carol points out that this could blow up in their faces. 'I know' She-Hulk replies.

Carol asks the Countess if she even knows what she wants. 'I want everything, Captain. I want everything' the Countess grins. 'Well... that's broad. Can we narrow it down?' Carol asks. 'That's the problem, isn't it?' the Countess declares. 'You people all have such narrow little minds. I come from a place where barons rule wondrous lands'. The Countess adds that now she is here, she sees how she can finally have her own lands, her own people, as far as the eye can see – and they will bow down to her in love of her – in devotion to only her. While Carol keeps the Countess busy, She-Hulk whispers to Nico 'Just a word, Nico, a word to get our powers back, that's all it takes. I know you have it in you to fight her on a word'. But Nico struggles to reply '...I can't...'. The Countess then sighs: 'All this whispering, all these worthless traitorous words. Let's just get everything out in the open, shall we?' the Countess asks, examining her fingernails. Nico closes her eyes as the Countess puts an arm around her shoulder and tells her to give She-Hulk a word – she deserves that much. 'In fact.. .give her two'.

'Hulk... smash' Nico declares. '...no' She-Hulk utters. 'Oh!' Dazzler gasps, while Medusa swears. She-Hulk's body starts to bulge, her clothes tear, as her form starts to increase. 'You have... to... RUUUNNNNNN!' She-Hulk shouts, before slamming a fist into the cell wall. 'Run where?' Medusa asks. 'HULK SMASH!' She-Hulk booms as she turns and lunges for her associates. Dazzler is knocked into the air, while Medusa tellls the others to split up. 'No much room to split! Up, down or otherwise!' Carol points out, before She-Hulk suddenly tears the jail cell bars open – 'SMASH!' she shouts as she tosses the bars towards the others. 'We're not gonna last two minutes!' Dazzler calls out to Carol, who tells her that she is working on it. 'Get off my hair, Thor!' Medusa snarls when she realizes Dazzler Thor is on her hair – an instant later, the cell bars are flung at Medusa, narrowly missing her face. 'I am so quitting this team' the unimpressed Medusa mutters. Then, with the heroines attached to the cell bars, which She-Hulk is carrying, she bursts through the wall, and towards some civilians. 'Well, the good news is... we're out of jail' Dazzler points out.

'We have got to shut her down. In this state, she'll tear the town apart' Captain Marvel declares. But Dazzler tells her that without their powers, she doesn't know what they can do against a freaking crazy Hulk, without dying horribly. 'No choice, Alison. We disable She-Hulk and protect the civilians at all costs' Carol replies. 'Suggestions?' Medusa asks. Carol reports that she has a slightly bad idea, and asks everyone to pull hard right. 'You desire we “steer” her into the wall like an animal?' Medusa asks. 'Carol, she is gonna kill you so hard' Dazzler exclaims. 'Verily. None will want to be thee, Captain' Dazzler Thor agrees. Carol tells them all that she knows, but to do it. They all pull to the right, and She-Hulk notices that they are doing something. 'And on my mark...jump!' Carol tells the others as they leap from the cell bars that are around She-Hulk's arm, and She-Hulk crashes over.

'Hey, guys, my Dazzler Sense is tingling... I think our powers are coming back online!' Dazzler exclaims, before telling Medusa, whose hair starts rising around her, that her hair is looking way better. 'You remain hilarious, Alison' Medusa tells her. Dazzler then asks how they are supposed to fight She-Hulk, Nico and Countess even with their powers. 'We're down three...and two of them have switched sides' she adds. Dazzler Thor's hammer returns to her, and Medusa points out that the “unworthy Thor” spell has worn off, suggesting that Nico may have hit her breaking point. Carol suggests that both may have happened, as Jen baited Countess into making Nico do another spell, betting that Nico was spread to thin. 'I'd say it worked, though the price is pretty high'. Suddenly, there is a POP, and Singularity appears. 'Friends!' she shouts as she leaps into Carol's arms. 'It was dark and lonely. But now I am back!' Singularity declares. Carol tells her that it is good to have her back, and just in time to even up some odds. Medusa tells the others that they should make a run at Countess while She-Hulk is unconscious – at least they will only be fighting two of them then. 

'But what happens if she wakes up?' Carol asks. 'Yes, Doom only knows what She-Hulk would do to the townspeople while we are elsewhere' Dazzler Thor remarks. Medusa frowns and asks Carol what she would suggest. 'Carol? Why is Jennifer so very very big and very very angry?' a wide-eyed Singularity asks as she points behind the others – She-Hulk has woken. 'Hi angry Jen! Your muscles are very pretty!' Singularity calls out.

Up on a balcony overlooking the town, Countess and Nico watch the fight below, as dust billows into the air. 'Dammit. I liked that building. I had big plans for it' Countess mutters. The balcony is attached to Countess's tower, as Nico reminds the Countess that it was she who set her loose on the town. 'Yes, well. I was ticked off. Maybe I didn't think it through' the Countess replies, before warning Nico not to question her. Nico apologizes, and Countess tells her that she forgives her. 'Though it looks as though they have gotten their powers back' the Countess points out, asking Nico if she is working against her. 'No, Mistress. It's too many spells...some are fading. You are asking too much' Nico explains. The Countess puts a hand on Nico's neck and tells her that she wants to believe her. 'I would never deceive you' Nico adds as she drops to her knees. 'And why is that?' Countess asks. 'I... I worship you' Nico tells her. 'Good girl' the Countess smiles.

Nico gets back onto her feet and asks the Countess why she doesn't just bring them inside like the rest of them. 'Once they understand how beautiful it is, how peaceful it can be, then you need no longer worry' Nico points out. But Countess tells Nico that some are harder to hold onto than others. 'With you, for example, it's like trying to hold a tiger by the tail. You are a powerful weapon to have by my side, but I pay a price for holding you'. The Countess adds that trying to hold seven tigers by the tail all at once may be too much. 'If I reach too far too fast then I risk losing it all. I must be smart'. Countess raises her arms and tells Nico that she comes from a world that refused to see her magnificence, that never really understood her, and that she has waited her whole life to have this – a place worthy of her to rule, a place to call her own – a place where she can be appreciated... and adored. Civilians down on the street below raise their arms and look up at the Countess, who tells Nico that she will not let her friends take this from her. 'As much as I would like to add them to my collection, I'm afraid I cannot risk it'. She decides that they will have to get rid of them permanently. 'You know what to do' she tells Nico, who struggles, her voice returning to normal as she fights the Countess's control. 'Mistress, no... please don't make me do this'.

The Countess doesn't look at Nico as she tells her to stop fighting. 'You're giving me a headache'. She offers to help Nico, suggesting they think of something together, and that they will make it so beautiful for the others. 'No' Nico tells her. 'There. Do you see the thought I put inside your head? So bright and shining and exquisite?' Countess asks. Nico closes her eyes, 'Please, don't... I can't'. Angrily, the Countess tells her to stop fussing and to do it now. Nico opens her eyes: 'Gangster's shoes' she utters. 'So beautiful' Countess utters.

Back down below, Medusa's hair is wrapped around She-Hulk, who growls, 'KILL YOU!' she shouts. 'I am losing her!' Medusa calls out. Carol brushes off some rubble that is tossed towards her, 'Dazzler, I said get those civilians out of here!' Carol calls out, but the civilians grab at her. 'They won't listen! They're all annoying and mind-controlled!' Dazzler calls back, adding that they keep hitting her. 'Blue! Teleportation assist, stat!' Dazzler exclaims, and an instant later, the civilians attacking her vanish. She-Hulk is then knocked back by Lightbringer, which Dazzler Thor directs right at She-Hulk's face. The heroines gather around the fallen She-Hulk, and Captain Marvel congratulates Thor on a good job. She then instructs Singularity to teleport She-Hulk somewhere remote where she can't hurt anyone, and with luck the distance will kill the mind control. 'If not, then she'll at least be away from civilians'.

Suddenly, Medusa announces that something is happening to her feet. Medusa iis then flung into the air. She calls out too Carol, but Carol soon follows, then the others. 'It is the witch!' Dazzler Thor exclaims. 'Can't grab -' Carol mutters as she tries to hold onto something. Singularity is the first to plummet into the water as the others fall past the dock. Singularity teleports back out of the water, but falls straight back in. Slowly, Singularity, Medusa, She-Hulk, Dazzler Thor, Dazzler and Captain Marvel sink to the depths...where they remain, unable to swim to safety, they are planted lifelessly at the sea floor....

Characters Involved: 

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



Story Notes: 

The M-Pox is caused by the Inhuman Terrigen Mists which are proving lethal to all mutants.

Written By: