A-Force (2nd series) #9

Issue Date: 
November 2016
Story Title: 

Kelly Thompson (writer), Paulo Siqueira (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), Virtual Caligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Manny Mederos (production design), Paulo Siqueira & Rachelle Rosenberg (cover artists), Cosplay by Crystal Melton & Photo by Judith Stephens (cosplay variant cover artists), Alanna Smith (assistant editor), Katie Kubert (editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Captain Marvel and Medusa confront Nico in Ouray, determined to prevent Ulysses' vision of Nico killing Alice Michaels from coming true. Nico tries to tell them that something awful is happening, and that the people in the town need their help, Captain Marvel offers to help, but Nico would still have to go into custody. Medusa captures Nico with her hair, but Dazzler and Singularity arrive on scene, and another argument follows, ending only when Elsa Bloodstone holds her gun to the heroines. Upset, Singularity teleports everyone into the air above Ouray and shows them what has befallen the town below. She reminds them that they are supposed to be friends, and that this town needs heroes. She threatens to put them all in her “insides” if they can't get along. So, the team splits into two, with Captain Marvel, Nico and Elsa going to find Alice Michaels, and Dazzler, Medusa and Singularity doing what they can to protect the remaining civilians from the bug monsters. Left alone, this gives Medusa and Dazzler to air their issues with each other – namely Dazzler's M-Pox infection. They end their conversation with some reconciliation, before they are confronted by a large bug monster. Captain Marvel and Nico deliberate further about what Nico might do according to Ulysses' vision, while Elsa finds a way into the mine shaft where they suspect Alice might be. Entering the mine, they are confronted by a large bug monster, which is capable of speaking telepathically to Nico, and the monster reveals itself as Alice. Nico explains to Captain Marvel and Elsa that Alice is different than the other bugs somehow, and Alice reveals that she woke up like this one day and took off, because she didn't know how to explain this, but since then, everyone in town has been getting infected, changing, but different to her, and she can hear them in her head – it is driving her mad. Captain Marvel and Nico debate the issue, and Nico worries that she might not be able to cast a spell that can permanently revert everyone back to normal. Alice tells the heroines that there is only one solution – Nico has to kill her. Nico doesn't want to, but to complicate matters, Elsa has started to transform into one of the bug monsters and has grabbed Captain Marvel in one of her pincers!

Full Summary: 

The home of Janine and Albert Michaels in Ouray, Colorado, where Carol Danvers a.k.a. Captain Marvel and Medusa, Queen of the Inhumans, have just arrived. Carol tells Nico Minoru that she cannot leave and not to do anything to her. 'Let's just talk this out nice and easy' Carol suggests, calmly. 'Carol, you want to arrest me because some Inhuman crackpot named Ulysses says I'm going to kill a woman I've never met? What about this is “nice and easy”?' Nico responds. Carol tells Nico that she doesn't want this to go like last time, with Nico running off. She asks if they can talk like adults, like teammates. Nico doesn't respond.

Elsa Bloodstone enters the room and turns to Janine Michaels: 'You couldn't give a girl a $%&# head's up that Captain bloody Marvel is in the kitchen, Janine?' 'You want me to rat out Captain Marvel, Elsa? Gimme a break' Janine responds. Elsa throws her arms into the air and declares that this is bollocks, as she walks out of the room.

Carol tells Nico that the fact the girl Ulysses said she would kill is here somewhere in this town has to be shaking her to her core. 'I know you don't want to murder anyone' Carol adds. Nico closes her eyes and utters 'This... this is insane. I haven't done anything, Carol'.

With her eyes closed, Nico doesn't notice Medusa's long hair rise up behind her. 'I know. But let's just get you out of here before anything does happen' Carol replies. Nico remarks that something awful is already happening here, and that they can't just leave these people, as they need help. 'I know. Maybe you should leave and we'll stay and help' Carol offers. 'But I'd leave in custody?' Nico asks. '...yes' Carol confirms, to which Nico tells her 'No way'. Suddenly, Medusa grabs Nico with her hair. 'You b-' Nico begins, before Medusa's tresses wrap around her mouth, preventing her from speaking. 'Medusa! What are you doing?' Carol asks.

'I am not getting thrown into a wall or letting Nico teleport away again, Carol' Medusa announces. 'Medusa, that's not... she was listening to me. We were working it out!' Carol insists, but Medusa tells her that it is not a risk they can take. 'This is for her own good. You said so yourself'.

Suddenly, Allison “Dazzler” Blaire and the mysterious Singularity enter the house. 'Wow. With friends like you guys, who needs enemies, huh?' Dazzler asks, before warning Medusa to drop Nico, while Singularity cries out to her friend. 'Or what, Dazzler? Your light blasts cannot even begin to harm my hair' Medusa declares. With a finger pointed at Medusa, Dazzler explains that she isn't aiming for Medusa's hair, but thinking more of blinding her – probably not permanently. Elsa returns with a large sandwich and mutters 'Bloody hell. Every time I leave a room, the %&$# super hero count doubles'. She throws her sandwich away and raises her rifle: 'Hands in the air, everyone!' she shouts, adding that she was seriously looking forward to that sandwich.

Carol pinches the bridge of her nose and declares that this is absurd. She tells everyone to stand down. 'Including -' she begins, unsure of who Elsa is. 'Elsa Bloodstone' Elsa exlaims. 'Elsa Bloodstone' Carol adds. 'Yeah, no $%&# way' Elsa snaps back.

 Mr and Mrs Michaels stare on at the carry-ons of the heroines, while Singularity turns away from the others. Dazzler tells Carol that this is not the army, and they are not her team. 'You can't just say that... it's not like saying magic words' she points out. 'No' Singularity utters, while Medusa warns Dazzler that if she keeps pushing this, then she, too, will be arrested. 'She's not getting arrested' Carol announces. 'No' Singularity utters again, closing her eyes. 'NO!' she shouts, opening her eyes, she teleports herself, Carol, Medusa, Dazzler, Nico and Elsa out of the house, and into the night sky, somewhere over the town of Ouray.

'Everyone will be quiet. No more fighting now' Singularity tells the others, energy extending out of her body around them. 'Oh, what the fresh new hell is this %&$#?' Elsa asks, wide-eyed. Singularity motions down to the town below, some of which lies in ruin, fires blazing from several buildings, others are demolished. 'Look at what is happening here. Look what is happening to you' Singularity tells the others. She reminds them that they are a team, friends, heroes, and that it is time they saved the day. 'Or I put you all in my insides until you can get along' Singularity warns the others. 'Insides? Good God, what are you people into?' Elsa exclaims.

Ten minutes later, back inside the home of Janine and Albert Michaels (not Singularity's “insides”), Carol stands before the other women and announces that it is settled: team one is going to the last location on Elsa's list to search for Alice, and if she is actually somehow behind all of this, then maybe she can help them put a stop to it, while team two will stay here and protect the civilians from further attacks by bug...things. Carol turns to Nico and asks her again to consider staying behind with team two. 'Not so long as Medusa is on team two' Nico replies, adding that she doesn't think being in Alice's home is much better. Carol sighs and tells Nico that she is with her and Elsa. Carol turns to Alison and Medusa and points out that leaves them together on the ground with Singularity to help protect the townsfolk. 'Any blinding or hair cocoon shenanigans and Blue here has my permission to teleport you both to Siberia and leave you there' Carol warns them. Medusa scowls, while Dazzler looks away. 'Right, Blue?' Carol asks, touching Singlaurity's hair. 'Right' Singularity agrees.

Carol opens the front door and suggests they go be heroes, or something vaguely in that general direction. 'My kind of call to arms' Elsa remarks as she follows Carol out the door. Nico walks after them, and stops next to Medusa and whispers to her: 'Truce or not, Medusa – do that to me again and you'll be getting a magical buzz cut' Nico threatens her. Janine ushers her husband towards the kitchen and offers to get the ladies something to drink. 'Lemonade? Yup. Lemonade it is!' she exclaims. Medusa hangs her head and remarks that she should have quit this team two missions ago. Yeah? Well, why didn't you?' Dazzler asks. Medusa falls silent. 'Don't even bother. I'll tell you why. It's because this team is a chance for you to get away from it all. A chance for you to not be a queen or “leader of the Inhumans” or “former wife of Black Bolt” blah blah blah' Dazzler declares. She tells Medusa that it is a chance to shed her skin and be someone else for a little while. 'Maybe just you, just Medusa, sans all the damn baggage'.

'Are you certain you are talking about just me, Alison? It sounds like you are talking about yourself' Medusa responds. 'Maybe I am' Dazzler admits as she looks out the window. 'Alison...you blame me for your M-Pox and for what happened to Dazzler-Thor' Medusa declares. 'No. Of course not...' Dazzler replies, turning to Medusa, she hangs her head: 'Maybe' she admits, adding that she knows it is not Medusa's fault, logically, she knows that, but that it is hard to separate sometimes. 'I've been so angry for so long. And I can't even catch a breath' Dazzler closes her eyes as she explains that as soon as she starts to feel some lightness creeping back in, some of her old seld – wham. She gets hit with something worse. 'And Dazzler-Thor...' Alison begins. 'She was something special' Medusa tells her. 'Yeah, she was' Dazzler agrees, explaining that she reminded her of herself, but also of someone completely different. 'Like an old me that never actually existed, y'know? 'Dazzler adds, realizing that makes no sense, but points out that Medusa has seen enough weird crap to know what she is saying.

'Yes I have. And I do understand' Medusa agrees, adding that Alison has had no time to grieve for Dazzler-Thor, or even for herself. 'But you must make time for this. And you and I mist make peace. For the sake of everyone' Medusa points out. She tells Dazzler that if she could do anything to help her, she would. 'I would move mountains' Medusa claims. 'I know' Dazzler replies. Singularity looks happy, as Medusa and Dazzler embrace, and both apologize. 'Carol's still wrong about this, though' Dazzler whispers. 'Heh. Let us not push it' Medusa suggests. 'Finally! Hugs!' Singularity exclaims gleefully. Suddenly, a loud crash is heard, and Janine Michaels can be heard crying 'Oh no, Albert! Noooo!' before she screams. Singularity goes wide-eyed, as a large green bug-monstet steps out from the kitchen and confronts the three women.

Meanwhile, on a cliff nestled amidst some forest, Captain Marvel and Nico have come to a stop. 'So, explain to me how – as super heroes – we justify arresting people who haven't actually done anything yet?' Nico asks. Carol pauses, before replying that she doesn't know what to tell Nico, and adds that as much as she hates to admmit it, the reality is, she can't save everyone. She adds that she has to make tough calls every day, and that if there is someone like Ulysses who can help make those calls more accurate, more precise, then that is huge. Carol explains that she has to take the path that saves the most lives, that helps the most people, that does the most good, even if it hurts – even if it kills people she loves. 'Being a hero is always about sacrifice. It always has been and it always will be'. Nico tells Carol that she agrees, but points out that what Carol is describing his basically an “end justifies the means” philosophy. 'I don't think it's that simple, Nico' Carol declares.

'But it is. You're saying that if ruining my life...killing me, locking me up, whatever, if that saves lives, then it's worth it to you. How is that not means justified by ends?' Nico responds. Carol is unable to answer, and just stands over Nico with her arms folded as the younger woman tells her 'How you get there always matters. In some ways, it's all that separates us from the maniacal villains we're constantly trying to stop. We're...you're on the slipperiest of slopes'. Carol puts a hand on Nico's shoulder and asks her if she thinks she wanted it this way. 'You think I'm doing this just for Alice? No way – we can save you both'. Carol adds that Nico is no murderer – not on her watch. 'Or myabe I am. But that's not for you to decide. You can't fight the future, Carol. You think you're seeing more clearly than ever, but really, you've got blinders on'.

Suddenly, Elsa Bloodstone's head pops down from a tree overhanging the others. 'Hey, so there's %$&# definitely something in there' she reports. 'Ah! And we think it's Alice because...?' Carol asks. 'She used to work as a summer tour guide up here. Knows her way around' Elsa reports. 'All right. Then let's go' Nico suggests. Soon, Elsa is climbing up a steep cliff face while Carol and Nico look up from below. 'Tell me again why I'm crawling up the face of this cliff British-ninja-warrior style while one of you can fly and the other is made of magic?' Elsa asks, annoyed. Carol explains that if there is a chance they are going to run into Alice out here, she wants to be with Nico. 'You said there's only room for one to go in through the upper shaftway. So we'll take the other entrance, try to push her toward you, cut her off'. Carol's explanation causes Elsa to roll her eyes: 'Right, right. So absolute $%&# nonsense. Gotcha' she replies. Watching Elsa climb, Carol decides that she is kinda of growing on her. 'I know, but the cussing, I mean, my God. Does she have to cuss so much?' Nico asks. '%^&# yes' Elsa calls back.

Shortly: 'There's the main shaftway' Carol calls out as she flies towards an old wooden building at the edge of the mine shaft. 'I see it' Nico replies as she levitates alongside Carol. But stepping into the mine shaft, Nico exclaims 'Crap. It's a total horror movie waiting to happen in here'. Carol agrees, and asks Nico if she can do anything to give them some light. 'Nightlight' Nico declares, causing her staff to radiate a pink glow. 'Do you hear that?' Nico asks, holding her staff out ahead of her as they walk down the mine shaft, and a rustling noise can be heard ahead, along with a strange chittering noise. 'Get down!' Carol shouts as she fires a blast of energy down through the tunnel. '%$&#! Bloody hell, Captain!' Elsa shouts as she leaps over the energy, which destroys part of her trenchcoat. 'Sorry' Carol replies, before asking Elsa if she couldn't have said something, let them know she was dropping down like some kind of weird spider? 'I thought we were being sneaky' Elsa responds.

Suddenly, there is a rumbling, and Elsa tells Carol that it might not have been the best idea to shoot a bloody photon blast in a rickety, old, abandoned %^#& mine. 'You guys should get out of here' Nico tells Carol and Elsa. 'Nico?' Carol asks, when suddenly, Nico utters 'Gogogogogogo – monarchs' and the mine shaft is filled with pink monarch butterflies. They flitter through the tunnel, as Nico runs down it, purused by the chittering monster bug. Nico reaches Carol and Elsa at the edge of the mine shaft: 'Oh, thank God you're all right' Carol tells Nico, before seeing something behind Nico – and the green monster bug closes in on her. '...Nico, get out of the way!' Carol shouts. Nico leaps to safety, as Carol and Elsa fire energy blasts at the monster, but it just moves closer to them. 'Hit it again!' Carol declares, while Elsa warns the others not to let it stab them, or they will change. The creature opens its mouth and a green gunky bile is spewed across Elsa and Carol.

Nico raises her staff and starts to cast another spell, but the monster knocks it away from her with its pincer. Nico falls backwards The monster looms over here, 'N-NO!' Nico screams, raising an arm across her face as the monster makes strange noises at her. Suddenly, Nico hears a voice: 'Stop squirming, Nico. I'm not gonna hurt you' the voice calls out. 'Huh?' Nico asks. She looks up at the monster, and asks if it is talking inside her head. 'God, I hope so. It's really hard to get people to listen over all the screaming' the monster replies. 'I'll bet' Nico agrees, before asking the monster if it can tell her what is going on here. 'Do I look like I know?' the monster asks. 'Fair point. But you are Alice, right?' Nico enquires. 'I was... am... I dunno, yes. I once was called Alice, feels like a lifetime ago, though' Alice the monster bug replies, to which Nico tells herf that it was only a few days, not even a week. 'Feels longer' Alice replies, before Nico motions to Elsa and Carol who are stuck in the bile mess, and asks if she can get her friends down. 'Yeah, but if they attack be again I'm going to do something even grosser to them' Alice warns her.

'Can't imagine what that would be' Nico mutters as she collects her staff. 'I heard that' Alice declares, before warning Nico that the others probably can't breathe in there, so she should hurry. 'Crap' Nico mutters, before casting the spell: 'Goo be gone', and the bile covering Carol and Elsa explodes as pink energy directed from Nico's staff makes contact with the bile. Carol and Elsa fall to the shaft ground, gasping for breath. Carol mutters that she has had some disgusting things happen to her in her day, but that is top ten – easy. 'I have to &%$# kill someone immediately' Elsa declares. Carol and Elsa get up, and Carol sees Nico with the monster bug, tells her to get away from it. 'No, she's communicating with me. I can hear her in my head' Nico replies. Nico then asks Alice if she is different from these things somehow. 'I made them' Alice reveals. 'Tell her she's an $%#&' Elsa mutters. 'You what?' Nico gasps, wide-eyed.

Motioning out through a broken wall at the town below, some of it still in flames, Alice explains that she didn't mean to, she just woke up one day like this, and took off. 'Because, I mean...how do you explain this?' she asks. 'Sure, sure. It's an awkward conversation, no doubt' Nico agrees. 'Awkward. Pfft. It's impossible' Alice declares, revealing that she came up here to get away from everyone, but that she must have infected someone on the way up here somehow, and before she knew it, the town was changing. 'They're like me, but not the same' she adds, explaining that she can hear them in her head, chattering away, almost human, almost bug-things, trapped somewhere in between. 'It's maddening' Alice declares.

Nico looks over at Elsa and sees she has raised her gun. 'Put the gun down' Nico tells her. 'No &%$# way' Elsa retorts. 'You don't want to kill her' Nico points out. 'No, I definitely %#$& want to kill her' Elsa exclaims, before Nico informs her that it  is Alice, the woman Elsa was hired to find. Elsa lowers her weapon and utters expletive after expletive. She then starts stamping her foot on the railway line running through the mine shaft, more expletives pouring out of her mouth. 'Is this going to go on for a while?' Carol asks. 'Yes. Ignore her' Nico siggests. 'Done' Carol decides, before turning to Nico and pointing out that since they know what they are dealing with, she asks if there is a spell Nico can do to revert the townspeople to humans again – perhaps even revert Alice. But Nico isn't sure – she thinks she can probably change them back, but that is a big spell, and there are so many of them, it might not be permanent. 'Also, because we don't know how or why they changed in the first place, they might just get exposed again and change back'. Nico suggests.

Carol turns to Alice the monster bug and asks her if she tried communicating with the others. 'I mean, you're their queen... or something. Surely you can control them' Carol points out. Alice tells Carol that she tried that – she tried everything and nothing works. This aggrevates Alice, who thrashes her pincers about. Carol tells her to calm down. 'I'm guessing from her reaction, that was a “no”' Carol realizes. 'Definitely a no' Nico agrees. Carol announces that they will figure this out somehow, and tells everyone to remain calm. Alice states that they don't need to figure it out – as she figured it out as soon as she saw what Nico can do. 'The others...couldn't hurt me...this body, it's just too powerful for mere physical assaults. But you, Nico...' Alice's voice trails off. 'No. Don't say it. Please' Nico utters. '...I need you to kill me' Alice announces.

Nico turns away and declares that she can't do it. 'Cap... Cap, what do I do? Maybe you were right about all of this... I... I don't know what to do. She wants me to – Carol?!' Nico asks, hoping for some guidance – but Carol is no longer standing beside her – Elsa Bloodstone has transformed into one of the monster bugs and holds Carol between one of her pincers! 'Elsa! No!' the frightened Nico declares....

Characters Involved: 

Captain Marvel VI, Dazzler, Medusa, Nico Minoru, Singularity (all A-Force)
Elsa Bloodstone

Janine & Albert Michaels
Alice Michaels the monster


Story Notes: 

This issue ties into the Civil War II event.

Written By: