(Ryker’s Island maximum security penitentiary)
Inside the prison’s maximum-maximum security installation, as Spider-Woman, Hawkeye and several S.H.I.E.L.D. agents look on, Daisy Johnson meets with the guy in charge. She offers her name, asking how Norman Osborn managed to walk out of a prison. He replies that he doesn’t know. “You don’t know?” she replies. He replies that he doesn’t know who the hell she is! Daisy informs him that she is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and his superior officer on every conceivable level. She explains that Captain America asked her to come down and investigate exactly what happened here.
The guy asks if she knows who he is. She says she does. He is John Walker, the warden of the most dangerous prison in the world. One-time Captain America, one-time USAgent and one-time Super Patriot. The country owes him a great debt and, if they ever throw him a parade, she’ll be right there, in front, lifting her top. But, right now she wants him to do everything in his power to help her find the answers to the questions she’s been tasked to answer. He says that it’s all in his report. “You were drugged?” she asks. He tells her someone spiked his tea. He woke up in his office and it had all gone down. “The security cameras?” she asks. He replies that they were pulled offline but he doesn’t know by whom.
She tells him this looks bad, but Walker already knows what it looks like. It looks like the place is staffed with a bunch of spectacularly crappy guards. Or, he adds, with a handful of Osborn sympathizers. Or, with a bunch of easily-bought chumps who overpowered the Avengers! He reminds her he escaped on the Avengers’ watch. He knows exactly what’s going on here. He’s been set up to take a fall and he ain’t going down that easily. Daisy says there are fourteen guards missing. “And five dead,” replies Walker. Daisy wants to see all their files.
Watching, Jessica Drew asks Clint Barton who she is and why she’s here. Clint informs her that she’s one of Fury’s. Cap wanted fresh eyes on this. The Avengers were here when Osborn disappeared so they’re not fresh eyes. Jessica asks if she’s really an agent. “Level 10,” he replies. Jessica can’t believe it. She’s fourteen years old. “Level 10,” he grins. She says she’s only level 7. Clint tells her she’s a ten to him. Jessica can’t help but smirk at his cheekiness.
Supporters of the Avengers are camped outside the mansion and television crews eagerly await any news from inside. They have unconfirmed reports that Steve Rogers is meeting with the Avengers to settle on who will be on the team. Guests on the talk shows are split. One woman blames Steve for trying to use this as a distraction and another guy reckons he and the Avengers should lay low after the recent attacks on Washington, the Skrull invasion and who knows what else. But, they do have their supporters and they can’t wait for some news.
Inside, Cap looks at a photograph of the Avengers from earlier days, which includes the Vision, the Wasp and the Scarlet Witch - all long gone. Tony admits that he called the media, explaining that he feels the world needs something to focus on and the guy wearing the flag who swore to protect them picking the best of the best is a pretty good show. Steve, munching on a sandwich, says he should have told him first, but Tony replies that he’d say no, so why would he do that? Cap tells him they should leave Luke Cage’s team alone and focus on their own team. They’re the sanctioned authority. They don’t have Thor and they don’t have Bucky. He pauses to think about them a moment and Tony asks what they need. Steve really doesn’t know. Luke’s team watch television as Cap returns to the photograph with Tony. “We need some old friends,” says Tony.
The Black Panther leaps as an explosion throws him into the air. He instinctively hurls his Billy club at his opponent, a giant robot. It sticks in its eye socket but doesn’t slow it down. It looks at him and raises its hand. T’Challa sees a glowing circle and fears the worst but, out of nowhere, a shield smashes the robot in the neck and decapitates it. T‘Challa is surprised to see Cap. He asks what brings him downtown. Cap replies that he was looking for him but didn’t think it would be this easy. He asks what’s going on. T’Challa informs him that Madripoor arms dealers are trying to make a trade. He stopped it and they got mad. He’s got it under control.
T’Challa asks if he was really looking for him. Cap comes right out with it and says he wants him back with the Avengers. He scratches the back of his head, thinking about it for a second, but tells him he doesn’t think he can. In a pinch he’ll always come when called, but he’s just not there at the moment. He has things to do in the Kitchen. They move off and Cap suggests he do both, but T’Challa reiterates that he just isn’t there. Why him all of a sudden? Cap explains that they lost Thor and Bucky. He thought they needed some friendly faces. “I’m a friendly face?” asks T’Challa, surprised. They must be in bad shape if he’s a friendly face. He adds that they don’t need a friendly face - they need firepower. Cap reckons that’s not easy to find. “You need my wife,” he replies.
(Avengers Mansion, back courtyard, later)
Storm descends amidst a circle of blowing leafs. “You rang?” she smiles. Cap salutes her and asks how she would feel about joining the Avengers. She asks if her husband put him up to this. Cap admits that he did. She jokes that he’d do anything to keep her in New York. “Who can blame him?” grins Luke Cage. Jessica grabs Danielle from him, annoyed at his flirtation. Ororo agrees, but says she’d have to move things around.
Tony Stark then appears and informs Cap that he has someone he might just want to talk to. He then reveals the Vision to a sea of smiling faces. Cap is shocked. Tony tells him that he was on the scrap heap but he’s been working on him in his spare time. He explains that the Vision is the most advanced macrotech-organism that exists on the planet so it was a really big challenge. But, he kept trying. He just didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to get his hopes up. A week ago he hit the right button or lever or something and he started healing himself. He spent the last couple of nights rebooting his A.I and hey presto… the Vision.
The Vision tells Cap it’s good to see him again. It’s good to see them all. He apologizes if his sudden appearance is startling and if he doesn’t seem as moved as all of them, but to him it feels like he only saw them yesterday. Obviously he’s happy to see them all and happy to see Avengers Mansion standing. Spidey jokes that he doesn’t remember him talking this much. Vision adds that he has been briefed on all current events and recent Avenger history and it seems they’ve been rather busy. He’s caught up to speed and he’d like to… to… He looks across the grass and sees Red Hulk standing there eating from a bowl. Tony whispers to him, “Oh yes. There’s a Red Hulk now.”
Clint asks if it’s really him. He says hello to Clint and his old friend Jarvis. He explains that he is eager to get back to the business of the Avengers. As he speaks, Cap looks over and sees Daisy Johnson standing there. He wanders over to her as the others watch him. Luke wonders what’s going on, but Jessica reckons it’s clearly none of their business. Wolverine says hi to Ororo and asks if she’s here now. “I suppose,” she replies. Spider-Woman reckons something’s going down.
Cap asks Daisy what she’s found out. She replies that fourteen agents escaped with Osborn. “Of their own free will?” he asks. She explains that she spoke to an Agent Carso who says he was bitching in the lunchroom a few weeks back about his pay situation. One of the other agents, Nathan Embry, asked him if he was in it for the money or because he believed in the cause. She says Carso was angry, so he said “the money.” Embry then approached him about a “gathering of sorts.” Carso asked him what kind of gathering but they never got back to him. Embry was one of the agents assigned to Osborn and now he, along with Osborn, is missing.
Daisy informs Cap that she’s been to the homes of every missing agent assigned to the Raft that day and there is sufficient evidence that they were all H.A.M.M.E.R. and Osborn loyalists. One, she adds, even had a secret shrine. Cap isn’t happy, but Daisy says that the agents were vetted, ranked and placed. This means they can’t trust anyone. They’re surrounded. H.A.M.M.E.R. is everywhere.
Reporters receive word that the announcement is only minutes way. Inside, Victoria Hand introduces herself to those who don’t know her and explains that they have a full courtyard of press and a crazy crowd situation. She’d prefer no questions but says it’s Cap’s call. Watching, Spidey asks Wolverine if he’s going out there. “Hell no,” he replies. Spidey asks if they’re still on the team. Wolverine says they have their mutant and spider-person. “I feel used,” sighs Spidey.
In the main room, Red Hulk asks Iron Man if this is really the best place for him. Stark tells him it’s part of the gig and people are going to have to learn to love him. The Protector admits he doesn’t have a speech prepared but Stark is happy for him to keep quiet and just try to smile, if at all possible. Cap asks Daisy Johnson what code name Nick Fury gave her. “Um, Quake, sir,” she replies. He tells her she’s stepping up. She’s on the team. He asks her to fall in as he leads them outside, with Spider-Woman asking if she even has powers.
Cap engages the crowd and introduces the newest incarnation of Avengers. A million questions come back from the assembled reporters but the most important comes from Norman Osborn, who approaches them through the crowd. Reporters aim their microphones his way as he states that his name is Norman Osborn and he was ousted from his post as head of the Avengers and detained in a federal prison without trial. He is there to rectify the situation.