Avengers Academy #14

Issue Date: 
July 2011
Story Title: 
Disaster Response

Christos Gage (writer), Sean Chen (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker), Jeromy Cox (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Billy Tan & Leonardo Olea (cover artists), John Denning (assistant editor), Bill Rosemann (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

With the senior Avengers out in the field, a distress call comes through from Paris and the students head out there with Tigra to intervene. They think they’re going to take down Electro, but they soon discover it’s a rouse and they come face to face with the entire Sinister Six. Despite their confidence, they soon discover that they are no match for the experienced villains and, to make matters worse, Doctor Octopus makes off with a fissile power generator using Hank Pym’s dimensional door technology. Having learned a valuable lesson in defeat, the young students are promised by Hank that he will try harder to prepare them for the future.

Full Summary: 

(Infinite Avengers Mansion)
Tigra and the students are watching footage of Giant-Man and Quicksilver helping save people from an erupting volcano, Mount Etna. She says that relief work might just be the most important work that they do. It’s not as flashy as beating up cyborg gorillas but the number of lives saved can be in the tens or even hundreds of thousands. Reptil asks why, in that case, are they watching it on plasma screen instead of helping? They just beat Korvac! A cosmic God! They’re ready for this.
Finesse reckons that they are there for the same reason as Tigra, who was left behind to babysit them. Their powers aren’t terribly effective against lava and ash. Tigra tells her she’s as tactful as ever, but correct. Plus, the Italians might not appreciate the using their national disaster as a teachable moment.
Veil reckons she should just say it. Nobody wants the remedial Avengers flying in on the short Quinjet. Striker thinks ‘special’ Avengers is more like it. Mettle doesn’t find his comment cool and suggests Intern Avengers instead. Reptil asks what’s with them. He reckons Striker’s ego is usually in Charlie Sheen territory and they’ve just defeated Korvac. Hazmat disagrees. They defeated him but it was in their adult bodies from alternative futures. With them in the driver’s seat they managed to get most of them killed.

Jocasta appears and informs Tigra that they’ve had a request for help from the Police Nacionale in Paris. Electro’s assaulted the CNRS headquarters… their science institute. The police director is asking for Dr. Pym’s help, as he knows their dimensional doors can get them there in seconds. Tigra replies that it’ll be tough. Every Avengers squad is in the middle of something. What about Captain Britain? Reptil interrupts and asks what about them? He didn’t mean to eavesdrop but they need this. She’s heard the others. They’re wondering why they should even bother when there are bad guys like Korvac out there. He adds that, if they can get a win today against a guy who gives Spider-Man a tough time, it’ll feel like it was worth the hard stuff… like they got better for it. He reminds her that he’s a class leader and he knows they need a confidence boost.

Tigra admits she didn’t realize they felt like this. Hazmat asks what they’re whispering about and Reptil informs her he was just telling her that they’re ready to take on Electro, right? Striker asks to be let at him. He reckons the guy thinks he invented electrical powers. Tigra admits that they are used to sparring with Striker and his abilities are pretty similar. Plus, they have the advantage in numbers. She asks Jocasta what she thinks. Jocasta replies that she’s run through thirty-two simulations and all result in the successful apprehension of Electro, most with no major injuries.

Over in Italy, Giant-Man calls Tigra and tells her that Jocasta’s patched him in to their conversation. While it’s her call, he thinks it’s vital that the kids do this. Defeating a well-known criminal and freeing hostages could be the turning point where they finally feel like heroes. Tigra has to agree and tells them to be ready in one minute. But, she warns, they should take this guy seriously or they scrub the whole thing. She has Jocasta hook them in to the building’s systems. Jocasta tells her that, once she’s done that, she will scan for hostiles and facilitate civilian evacuation. “Then all that’s left to say,” she replies, “Is Avengers Assemble!

Using the dimensional doors, the team arrives in Paris instantly. Mettle asks if Pym has doors to every lab in the world. Tigra informs him it’s only the top two thousand. She asks Jocasta if she copies. Jocasta informs her that it appears Electro shorted out the door release controls as well as all fail-safes, sealing the building. Fortunately, it’s only a simple matter to reroute the systems. All exit doors are now open. And, judging from the trail of disabled security cameras, Electro is two levels down in a sector that’s isolated due to the use of hazardous materials.

Tigra reckons hazardous materials is bad but fewer hostages is good. Is she sure he’s alone? Jocasta replies that she detects no unauthorized personnel around the building. Tigra gives the go ahead. She asks Jocasta to focus on the evacuation, Mettle to take point and Striker to try and use his powers to pinpoint Electro. Striker asks if she means like a disturbance in the force? He’s never done that but he’ll try. Unfortunately, before he can even start, Tigra is zapped with a powerful electrical blast. Electro boasts that it’s easy if you practice. Striker led him there like a beacon.

He blasts Striker but the youngster responds with his own blast to render it harmless. He is, however, surprised to see Electro still standing. Electro replies that Ali called it a ‘rope-a-dope.’ He gave off a little lightshow to trick Striker into giving him everything he’s got. He absorbed that energy making him a lot more powerful. He then punches Striker in the face. “And you’re dead weight.” Mettle rushes towards him and Finesse hurls her Billy club, but it bounces off something like an unseen force field. Mettle prepares to smash it, but he is thrown backwards with force. Electro grins as a mist envelops the room. He asks if they think they invented the idea of teams. The Rhino appears, followed by Mysterio, Sandman and Dr. Octopus when the mist disperses. Reptil sees the danger and asks Jocasta for backup. It’s not just Electro. It’s all of them… the Sinister Six!

Mysterio doesn’t want any visitors and uses his power to disrupt the comms. Finesse reckons it’s the same tech he used to cloak the team from the security systems. Reptil warns them to look out as his gas can affect minds. Veil takes to the air and neutralizes any hallucinogens and Mettle smacks Mysterio with the quip, “Avengers Academy say no to drugs.” Sandman responds by forming his hand into a hammer and smashing Mettle. Mysterio orders the team to kill the Avengers but Rhino replies that he doesn’t murder children, not even to soothe his ego. Sandman laughs and says he might just let them go if they promise to smack him round again.

Doc Ock says that, dead or alive, they’re inconsequential. He asks the others to just keep them from interfering with his work. He’ll be handling hazardous materials. Hazmat powers up and replies, “Damn right you will. Start with this!” She blasts Sandman, but he swamps her with soft sand, informing her that getting zapped by radiation is how he got his powers in the first place. They don’t bother him none. Striker tells him that he happens to know Spider-Man’s favorite way to beat him is by zapping him with electricity and turning him into glass. As he approaches, the Rhino charges past and knocks him flying, reminding him that Spider-Man knows better than to announce his intentions. “Point taken,” remarks Reptil before turning into a Stegosaurus and crushing Rhino and the Sandman against the wall. “Surprise,” he adds. “I can change into full-size dinosaurs now.”

Meanwhile, Mysterio asks Veil if she thinks he’s capable of controlling gas. He surrounds her with a mist which disorientates her, and Mettle tries making a lame joke before punching him hard. Mysterio grabs his helmet and utters, “Never work with animals or kids…” Reptil calls for the Avengers to pull themselves together. If they work as a team, they can do this. He asks Finesse to get Mysterio and for Veil to knock out Electro. “Rhino’s mine,” adds Reptil as he charges Rhino in his stegosaurus form.

Striker finally gets to use his electricity against Sandman, fusing his arm. Mettle then asks to role-play. He asks Sandman to be the china shop. He’ll be the bull. Reptil has other ideas. He asks Ken and Jenny to get Dock Ock. Without him they’re just a bunch of leg-breakers. Tigra informs them that she’s just got word that the Academy teachers are back at headquarters. They need to open a dimensional door and get them over to help them. Hazmat tells her they can handle this, but Tigra cries, “Now!” Mettle informs her that he has the portal receptor but Jocasta’s going to have to activate it from the other end. Mysterio’s blocking them from talking to her, so Tigra kicks Mysterio, smashing his helmet. She says he’s not blocking it any more. He can call it in.

Hazmat asks Jocasta to activate Mettle’s doorway. Reptil gloats that the Sucky Six are about to get some Avengers Assembling, but he then notices a portal appear and asks if it’s Doc Ock’s stuff. Doc Ock then appears and uses one of his metallic arms to smack Mettle. He thanks them, but he needed a door activating before he could hijack the signal. He informs Rhino that he’s disconnected the fissile power generator, so if he would be so kind… Reptil calls for him to stop, but Electro wants to have the last word. He tells him he’s had enough out of him and blasts him at close range. Reptil goes down hard, his body spasming uncontrollably. Veil and Striker rush to his aid with Striker pointing out that his heart could stop.

Whilst this is going on, the Sinister Six continue their mission. Rhino uses his strength to push the generator as Doc Ock points out that Pym’s dimensional technology is remarkable. It’s a pity he can’t risk using it regularly but, given his familiarity with it, that would be an invitation for him to tamper with his plans. And his plans are far too important to take that risk. For today, transporting this bulky device across the world, instantly and untraceably… there’s nothing better.

Finesse can’t believe that he tricked them. She hurls her Billy club at him but he catches it with his mechanical arms. He admits that it’s hardly his finest hour, outwitting a bunch of children but, like them, he has something to prove. Some rivals of his recently abducted what they considered the ‘smartest men in the world’ Richards? he supposes. Banner in some fields perhaps, but Henry Pym over him? He reckons he could outwit Pym at every turn and he has. He gave him every opportunity to ferret out his deception. Instead, he leapt and capered like a puppet on his strings. He drew him away by orchestrating a simple volcanic eruption, distracted his idiot colleagues with similar histrionics and developed the means to override his own technology. All he needed to do was to draw them there with an ersatz distress call, ostensibly from the French police director.

Tigra then punches Finesse from behind and reveals himself to be the chameleon. “We’re the Sinister Six,” he informs her. “The Avengers need to teach you math.” Tigra pushes herself up from the floor and finds this impossible. He moved like Tigra and sounded like her. Even her microexpressions. She’s even smaller than him. Chameleon punches her again and tells her that, unlike her, he’s a professional.

With Finesse and Reptil both down, Doc Ock calls time on their humiliation. He asks Chameleon if the charges have been set. He replies that they have and the countdown has been initiated. He then helps Mysterio up and apologizes for breaking his helmet. He asks if he’s hurt, to which Mysterio replies that he was just acting. They then depart, with Sandman saying the Avengers ought to pay them as they just took the kids to school.

Once they’ve gone, Giant-Man, Quicksilver and Jocasta appear having re-established control over the dimensional doors. Jocasta informs Pietro that she’s detecting multiple explosive charges. Defusing them is too dangerous so they need the building evacuated. “Consider it done,” replies Pietro as he rushes off. He soon returns having found Tigra unconscious but breathing. She was hidden behind some machinery but the rest of the building’s empty. Hank notes that both Tigra and Reptil are both badly burned. They should get them to the med-bay. Jocasta counts down to detonation and the Avengers enter the dimensional door just a second before the entire building goes up in flames after a series of explosions.

(15 minutes later)
Hank returns to Paris and is taken to task by the real police director. He tells Hank he was fooled by a criminal posing as him. How? He’s supposed to have the world’s most advanced technology. Hank explains that the Chameleon mimicked his voice well enough to fool their voiceprint recognition software. He points out that the amount of valuable, irreplaceable work destroyed and the man hours wasted, not to mention the money wasted is immense and he blames Pym for this. Deception or no, what was he thinking by sending children to help out? Hank admits that their faculty was occupied, dealing with a volcanic eruption, but the director says, in that case, he should have made his dimensional doors available to others… other adults with the necessary experience.
He adds that he realizes that mocking France is a jolly pastime for Americans, but his city is not a classroom! Frankly, him sending children into combat borders on the criminally negligent. “Lives have been destroyed because of you, sir!” he barks. He asks Pym to remove himself from his country. Neither he nor his associates are welcome there.

(Infinite Avengers Mansion Med-Bay)
Both Tigra and Reptil are sleeping as machines monitor their vital signs. Jocasta explains to Hank that both have third-degree burns. Reptil also experienced ventricular fibrillation but Striker was able to correct it. Hank replies that they’ll treat the burns with the University of Pittsburg’s stem cell process. He wants Reptil’s heart monitored around the clock. He can’t believe he let this happen. He knew Octavius was insane but all this to prove he’s smarter than him? The freak played them like violins and made them look like morons.
Watching the news, Veil tells Striker that the Sinister Six have been around almost as long as they’ve been alive. They did their best but this isn’t their fault. Striker motions to the screen and thinks the court of public opinion disagrees. The news reporter tells her viewers that it seems clear that, had veteran Avengers been on the scene, events would have unfolded quite differently. So, the question must be asked: by sending in inexperienced trainees into the field, are the Avengers gambling with human lives? Their latest poll shows a decided drop in support for Avengers Academy.

Quicksilver is also watching and is blasé about the report. He notes that they’ve turned on them. Shocking! Next thing they’ll know the sun will rise in the morning. He says this happens constantly. One day they love you and the next they want your head. They should ignore it. Striker tells him it’s easy for him to say. Everyone’s always hated him but he’s trying to build a career. “Then perhaps you should develop a talent,” replies Pietro. Hank tells them that’s enough. He is in charge of Avengers Academy and he takes full responsibility for what happened. But, as for the media, he believes Quicksilver is right. This comes with the territory. They are there to learn to do the right thing regardless of external pressures.

He takes Tigra gently by the arm and apologizes, but she tells him to stop. It’s her fault. Reptil then says it’s not. It’s his. He’s the one who wanted this so bad. He talked Tigra into it. He thought that just because they beat Korvac it meant they were ready and they just weren’t. Their adult selves beat Korvac with the experience they’ll have in their thirties. They had no business going up against the Sinister Six. Not the way they are now, anyway.

Hank says he’s right, and that’s why this is his fault. He wishes they could stay off the front lines for years, train slowly and let things sink in. But, he’s afraid that he doesn’t have that luxury. He explains to the assembled students that there will come times when every adult hero on the planet isn’t enough, when the survival of the world, of the universe, requires every hand on deck. It’s his job to get them ready for that moment and clearly, he hasn’t. They have no idea how hard this life can get and how high the price is for simple survival. He hopes they never have to find out. But, because they have powers, because of what’s been done to them and who they are… they will.

He adds that the best he can do is try his best to give them the tools to survive and he’s failed at that. So, they’ll try harder. Combat drills before and school strategy sessions after. There’ll be weekend classes from now on as well. He says he’s sorry for not preparing them for today and hopes he can spare them tomorrow.

Characters Involved: 

Finesse, Hazmat, Mettle, Reptil, Striker and Veil (all students)
Giant-Man, Jocasta, Quicksilver and Tigra (all teachers)

Aid Worker
French Police Director, police and bystanders

Chameleon, Dr. Octopus, Electro, Mysterio, Rhino and Sandman (all Sinister Six)

(on screen)
Giant-Man, Quicksilver (both teachers)
News reporter

Story Notes: 

The students defeated Korvac in Avengers Academy #12.

Charile Sheen is an American actor, as well known now for his misdemeanors as for his acting career. He has starred in Platoon, War Street and Young Guns as well as television shows Spin City and Two and a Half Men.

CNRS stands for Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique.

‘A disturbance in the force’ comes from the Star Wars series of movies.

Mohammad Ali’s classic “rope-a-dope” was seen in action in his fight against George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle.” He took Foreman’s punishment all the way through, wearing him out, before punching him to the floor in the eighth round.

The Sinister Six first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. Members over the various incarnations include the Vulture, the Green Goblin, Hobgoblin, Venom and Kraven the Hunter.

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