‘Some folks say hanging’s too good for a traitor!’ a voice calls out. ‘But it was just right for Wonder Man - that second rater!’ another voice declares, as Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man hangs from the Hollywood sign, a noose around his neck. Shrouded by darkness, the Night Shift stand around Wonder Man’s dangling body. ‘Yeah, he got what he deserved, Brothers Grimm’ Misfit remarks to the rhyming twins. ‘A necktie party - thrown by the Night Shift!’ Tatterdemalion jokes. ‘And it wasn’t even his Birthday!’ Gypsy Moth points out. ‘From Hollywood clear to Hackensack -’ one of the Brothers Grimm begins, ‘- this’ll make out rep, to New York and b-’ the other says, but before he can finish his joke, Wonder Man swings forward, wraps his legs around the Brothers Grimm and clashes them together. ‘Look out! He ain’t dead!’ Misfit exclaims.
‘That brilliant observation will send you right to the head of the class, Misfit - at the nearest state prison!’ Wonder Man declares as he frees himself from the noose, and drops down amongst the Night Shift. ‘We’ve got to stop him, before he -’ Digger calls out, but Wonder Man punches Misfit hard, knocking him backwards and asks ‘You and whose army, gravedigger?’, while the Brothers Grimm are still dizzy from being slammed together, Dansen Macabre look on, shocked, when suddenly, Wonder Man finds himself flung into the air, ‘Pure physical strength isn’t worth as much as you think it is, Wonder Man - when pitted against the Gypsy Moth’s powers of levitation!’ the young woman called Sybil Dvorak alias the Gypsy Moth announces, before telekinetically slamming Wonder Man into a rock face. ‘See what I mean?’ she asks.
Misfit rushes towards where Wonder Man has fallen, the other members of Night Shift follow him. ‘C’,on you guys - before he gets up! Let’s pile on him and beat the living crud out of him!’ Misfit declares. He Brothers Grimm join in on the attack, as does Tatterdemalion, while Needle prepares his large weapon. Suddenly, ‘CUT!’ a voice booms. ‘Did you hear me, you bunch of Munsters rejects? I said cut!’ Hangman shouts at the Night Shift. One of the crew on the movie set suggests to Hangman that the sound of the body blows is drowning him out. ‘It wasn’t just the bruising, son’ one of the Brothers Grimm declares. ‘We were just having too much fun!’ the other points out, as they get up and walk away from Wonder Man, who sits up, his costume in tatters, he clutches his head and remarks ‘So I noticed’ and tells Misfit that he owes him one of that rabbit punch.
‘No personal vendettas, Williams!’ Hangman orders, reminding Wonder Man that he is not an Avenger on this set, simply the adviser and featured co-star of “The Night Shift Takes Hollywood” - a film by Jason Roland a.k.a. the Hangman!’ Dansen Macabre steps forward, hands on hips, she mockingly addresses Hangman as “Mr Auteur Director, Sir” and demands to speak with him. ‘What is it now, Dansen?’ Hangman demands. Gypsy Moth suggests that Dansen is probably miffed that she didn’t have a line in that scene, before Wonder Man asks Gypsy Moth to come to him and use her powers to repair his costume. ‘Not for the first time, either’ he points out.
Hangman begins to ask Dansen what the problem is, but she interrupts him and declares that not only is the so called “plot” he and Williams came up with is thinner than Misfit’s skin, but she has about as much dialogue as Needle does - and he is a mute. ‘Frankly my dear, your voice and your acting ability aren’t your strongest assets’ Hangman tells Dansen, when suddenly, the young woman called Mona shouts ‘Hey! Watch the hands buddy!’ as Misfit touches her. ‘Why? Use ‘em or lose ‘em, that’s my motto!’ Misfit replies. ‘Well, maybe your kidnapped this whole film crew to make us work on your stupid movie, but nobody touches little Mona anywhere she doesn’t want to be touched!’ Mona warns him. ‘Do I haveta remind you, girl - I’m the Misfit!?’ the deformed villain booms. ‘That goes without saying. You’ve also got the worse breath this side of Clark Gable’s old dentures!’ Mona tells him as Misfit looms over her.
‘Why you little -’ Misfit begins, but Wonder Man steps between him and Mona pushing Misfit back, only the behemoth asks Wonder Man if he is itching for some more. ‘Stop and thank, man!’ Beating up on the help won’t further your goal of becoming the next Lou Ferrigno’ Wonder Man suggests, adding that Mona is right about the breath, though. Tatterdemalion is standing nearby and remarks that he doesn’t smell anything. ‘You wouldn’t! Sheesh!’ Mona mutters. ‘You hear that, Hangman? You gonna stand by and let ‘em badmouth me like that?’ Misfit calls out. Hangman tells Misfit that his mouth is already beyond help, and that Wonder Man is right, so he needs to cut it out. ‘Aww…nuts!’ Misfit mutters. Hangman reminds Simon that the only reason he is not trussed up is his usefulness to his comeback film.
‘Hey, this picture was my idea, remember? It’ll make a super-star out of me, too - provided we can wangle a presidential pardon for the way you crewed it’ Wonder Man replies, to which Hangman reminds him that these people are hostage for as long as they are filming. ‘And if you try to pull anything funny - they won’t be alive to look at that night’s rushes!’ the Hangman warns Wonder Man, asking if he makes himself clear. ‘Crystal’ Wonder Man replies. ‘Good’ Hangman declares, before turning to the crew, and announcing that they are two more scenes to shoot today. ‘So strike the fake Hollywood sign and set up Sunset Strip - before I start using my noose like Von Stroheim did his whip!’ Hangman declares as he cracks his noose like a whip.
Wonder Man tells himself to cool it, that he can’t react to that has-been Tinseltown fruitcake. ‘Just keep telling yourself - these guys’ demon-supplied super powers are a lot more formidable than their brain power. All the same - they know you’d turn against them the second you could do so without endangering anybody - and what’s more, they know that you know that they know’. Simon realizes that, so far, it is a stand-off, but once the film is finished, what then?
Meanwhile, at the Palos Verdes Penninsula, home of the Avengers West Coast Compound, Wonder Man’s teammates have gathered outside. ‘So, everybody ready for the great Wonder Man hunt?’ John Walker a.k.a. USAgent asks. Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, tells him that there is no need to be so flippant. Julia “Spider-Woman” Carpenter and Clint “HAwkeye” Barton hang back from the others, while Miguel Santos a.k.a. the Living Lightning remarks that there is one thing he is still not clear on: ‘If we find Simon with Night Shift and he fights on their side -’ the young hero asks, ‘We use whatever appropriate response will capture him, without hurting him, Lightning’ Iron Man a.k.a. Tony Stark announces.
‘Easy for you to say, since that tin suit makes you the only one of us who could arm-wrestle him. If I spot Williams, I’m giving him to three to give up - then I’m hitting him with everything I can lay my hands on!’ USAgent declares. ‘You’ll do what our chairman says, pal, and like it!’ Hawkeye warns USAgent, adding that the minute this mess is over, he will personally lead the charge to kick USAgent out of the Avengers West. Walker spins around and turns to Hawkeye, asking him who he would replace his muscle with. ‘Far as I’m concerned, we can sign up Mighty Mouse!’ Hawkeye replies. ‘The Wasp maybe? Or you looking to make some points with your estranged wife?’ USAgent suggests, while Iron Man intervenes as they move closer to each other, and tells them to cut it out.
‘I’ll cut out, all right. I’ve got my own ideas about what to do next!’ USAgent declares as he storms away from his teammates. ‘And for just a moment, last night I thought “Jack Daniels” might’ve matured enough to be a team player. Suddenly, a voice from above calls out ‘Don’t feel too bad, Iron Man…we all make mistakes!’ This causes everyone to look up, ‘Oh-no’ Hawkeye whispers when he sees his ex-wife Barbara Morse-Barton a.k.a. Mockingbird on a sky-cycle. ‘Uh…hi, Bobbi’ Hawkeye calls out. Iron Man welcomes Mockingbird and asks her if she is here to help out against Night Shift. Mockingbird reveals that, truthfully, she came to LA for slightly more personal reasons. Mockingbird lands the sky-cycle and explains that she heard about Wonder Man signing a one-picture deal with that bunch of losers, and even though she is based in Detroit, she is still an official reservist for the Avengers West. ‘So as long as I’m here - I’m yours if you want me’ she states, turning to Hawkeye.
‘Why do you look at me when you say that?’ Clint asks, while Iron Man tells Mockingbird that they can use every Avenger they can get, before pointing out that she hasn’t met their new Miguel Santos the Living Lightning, one of their new members. ‘And this is other new member, Spider-Woman’ Hawkeye announces, introducing the two women. ‘My real name’s Julia, Mrs Barton’ Spider-Woman states. ‘Bobbi’ Mockingbird replies matter-of-factly, before asking Spider-Woman if Clint is making her feel welcome. ‘He’s been great. Just last night he helped me follow up a hunch I had about this Night Shift thing!’ Mockingbird replies that she remember Clint telling her that when she called, how he had promised another Avenger to help him with something. Bobbi looks at Clint and smirks.
‘Uh…must’ve been a bad connection’ Hawkeye claims. ‘Right’ Bobbi mutters, while Spider-Woman announces that she is glad Mockingbird is here, since she has to go and see her daughter before she can take part in the search. Clint get on his sky-cycle and tells Wanda to come with him. Wanda climbs on behind her good friend, while Hawkeye adds that Bobbi can follow on her own sky-cycle if she wants to. ‘I’ll do my bit, all right…but Mockingbird doesn’t follow anybody!’ Bobbi exclaims as she gets on her sky-cycle and speeds into the air, overtaking Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch.
Down on the ground, Living Lightning tells Julia that he has to hand it to her, as she handled herself great when Hawkeye’s ex horned in that way. ‘I’m an ex-wife, Miguel. Clint and Bobbi are just separated’ Julia replies, before asking him if Hawkeye has been coming on to her. ‘You must have been the only one who hasn’t noticed, Spider-Woman’ Iron Man states. Julia jokes that her dating instincts must be atrophied from years of marriage and motherhood. Iron Man takes flight, while Living Lightning tells Julia not to worry, as it is like riding a bicycle. ‘It’ll come back to you’ he assures her. ‘You coming, Miguel?’ Iron Man calls back. ‘On my way!’ Miguel exclaims as he shifts to his electrical form and follows Iron Man.
Walking to her quarters, Julia thinks to herself ‘Hawkeye and me? Hard to imagine. But then, I haven’t had much time for me since Larry and I got divorced’. In her quarters, Julia removes her costume, and wonders if it is time she started going out again. ‘But between playing Spider-Woman once in a great while, and wanting to spend time with Rachel…’ Julia thinks to herself, when suddenly, her private telephone rings. She picks the phone up, and on the other end is Stella Houston. ‘You gave me this number when you came about Jason Roland. I’m so glad to hear you escaped from those hoodlums’ Stella tells Spider-Woman, before explaining that she has to see her right away, that it is urgent. ‘I know it’s short notice, but -’ she begins. Spider-Woman tells Stella that she will be there as soon as she can, but has one phone call to make.
‘Julia? Where are you? You should’ve been here by now’ Larry Carpenter snaps down the phone line, adding that Rachel has been waiting for her, and he as somewhere to be. Rachel listens to her father, who then shouts ‘What do you mean you can’t make it?’ Julia tells Larry that she can’t explain just now, but that something has come up - something important. ‘Ever since the court gave me custody, you’ve belly-ached how I don’t cooperate with you about seeing Rachel!’ Larry snarls. Julia assures Larry that she will make it up to him next weekend, but Larry declares that the ski trip is this weekend, and points out that Rachel has been looking forward all week to seeing her. ‘How about considering us for a change?’ Larry asks, suggesting that if Julia had done that a couple of years ago, they might still be married. He then slams the phone down, and Rachel starts crying.
Julia starts crying also, ‘Oh, Rache, honey…please forgive me’ she thinks to herself, at least relieved that Rachel knows she is really Spider-Woman. ‘What am I saying? Who I “really” am is Julia Carpenter. Spider-Woman’s just this costume I put on and take off’ Julia tells herself as she puts her mask back on. But, as she leaves her quarters, she wonders ‘Or is it’ and tells herself that she will have to think about that - long and hard.
A beach, several miles south of Malibu, ‘This is fantastic! This guy’s the greatest “demon” yet!’ the director, Mr Waite calls out ‘Yes, Mr Waite’ one of the crew remarks, while the director tells the demon who lunges across the beach to keep chasing Felicia, and that when he passes the pier, they will remote activate his tail, and it will whip right around the stanchion. Felicia Fawn clad only in a bikini looks back, as the demon closes in on her, while one of the crew points out that instead of the tail pulling him up short, he brought down the whole pier. Indeed, the pier starts to crumble down onto the beach, as someone mutters. ‘First half our crew gets shanghaied by those Night Shift goons - and now this!’
The man inside the demon suit wraps his body around Felicia as the pier crumbles over them, while one of the crew suggests that they get out the spatulas, because nobody could have lived through that. Suddenly, ‘Ta-daaa!’ sings the “demon” as he leaps from the rubble with Felicia in his arms. One of the crew tells Mr Waite that they are both alive. Mr Waite calls her Cindy and tells her that he may light a candle or two himself, once he is sure they got the whole thing on film. ‘Nice bit of covering Felicia - and USAgent!’ Mr Waite declares as Walker removes the demon mask. ‘We can work that into the picture’ Mr Waite explains. ‘Yeah? Well, one more stunt like that and I’m through!’ a furious Felicia exclaims. USAgent tells her not to blame the director, as the pier had a weak spot. ‘Whoever rigged that tail forgot that guys like me are a lot stronger than normal people’ USAgent points out.
Felicia turns to USAgent and replies ‘I don’t blame him, you masked ape! I blame you!’ to which Walker looks shocked and asks her how she figures that. Mr Waite tells Felicia not to waste her time trying to reason with an Avenger, and adds that what matters is USAgent was terrific. ‘Meaning I survived, right?’ Walker asks. Mr Waite announces that the best thing that ever happened to this picture was when Wonder Man took a powder and USAgent volunteered to finish his role. He adds that there is one more location shot and then they are finished. ‘Great! I’ll go get fixed up’ USAgent replies, while Felicia asks Mr Waite if that “Neanderthal” is really any good. ‘Worst actor since John Gilbert turned out to be a soprano’ Mr Waite replies quietly as USAgent walks away. He adds that compared to this, his next film will be a snap, even though he will be working with Sean. ‘Penn or Young?’ Felicia asks. ‘Both!’ Mr Waite tells her.
A news announcer reports that yesterday on “Show-Biz News”, Night Shift and Wonder Man invaded their studios to announce they were filming a movie all on their own. She reveals that today, Simon Williams’ place in the ill-starred “Demon that Devourted Hollywood” has been taken by his fellow Avenger, USAgent’.
The Night Shift are gathered around a television set when they learn of this, ‘Huh?’ Misfit asks, while Wonder Man starts to say ‘Why, that back-stabbing -’, to which Gypsy Moth tells Wonder Man that he should know by now, Hollywood is where people stab you in the front. Hangman tells everyone not to worry, as the red-white-and-black Avenger’s newfound career is going to last about as long as this television set, which he throws his noose around, and yanks it from the table, slamming it against Wonder Man’s powerful body, where is smashes to pieces. Wonder Man asks Hangman ‘Aren’t you letting the fact that you’re the star of “Demon”’s original footage warp your judgment, Hangman? We’ve got a movie of our own to worry about, remember?’ he points out.
Dansen tells Hangman that Wonder Nan has a point, and that is what they all think. ‘What is this? A palace rebellion?’ Hangman asks, before deciding that they will kill two birds with one stone, by kidnaping the director of “Demon” and forcing him to co-direct their film. ‘What do you say to that, Williams?’ Hangman remarks, holding his noose overhead. ‘Er…anytime you’re ready, JR!’ Wonder Man calls out, nervously.
While in the nation’s second largest city, and one of its more distinctive domiciles, ‘What do you mean I can’t see him?’ Iron Man asks. ‘Is the doctor in, Wong, or isn’t he?’ Iron Man enquires, adding that he doesn’t want to have to pull rank here, but that he hasn‘t got all night. Wong, manservant of Dr Strange, tells Iron Man that he is truly sorry, but that his master left word that he was not to disturb him under any circumstances. ‘Then I’ll relieve you of all responsibility, by disturbing him myself’ Iron Man declares, as he walks past Wong. ‘Let’s see - his sanctum sanctorum’s right here, isn’t it?’ Iron Man remarks. Wong pleads with Iron Man to stop, ‘You have no idea of what might be happening beyond that door! Wong calls out.
‘Dr Strange? I’m coming in’ Iron Man announces as he opens the door, only to find Dr Stephen Strange battling several spirits that float around the room. ‘Iron Man? In Oshtur’s name - stop those ectoplasms, before they escape from this chamber!’ Dr Strange declares. Iron Man starts firing his repulsor rays at the spirits, but it doesn’t do any good, ‘Then I have no choice!’ Dr Strange decides, as he casts a spell, which sends the ghosts back from where they came. ‘Amazing! You never laid a glove on those…whatever-they-weres…but they’re being spun off somewhere! Like multi-colored water going down a drain!’ Iron Man remarks.
Dr Strange lands on the floor and explains that it was an action he was forced to take much against his will. Iron Man asks what they were, and Strange explains that is what he was trying to find out when he was interrupted. ‘A thousand pardons, master, I -’ Wong calls out, while Iron Man explains that it was his fault. Strange tells him that he knows, while Iron Man assures him that he doesn’t like to disturb Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, but that Satannish is more up his alley than the Avengers’. ‘Did you say, Satannish?’ Dr Strange asks. ‘I thought that might get your attention’ Iron Man replies, while Dr strange tells him that he hates to be rude, but that he can only give him two minutes to explain. ‘I can do it in one’ Iron Man replies, and, in one minute, Dr Strange remarks that from what Iron Man has told him, Satannish is acting just as peculiar as Iron Man thinks that he is.
Strange explains that over the eons, Satannish has become addicted to gorging on many souls, so he doesn’t know why he would give Night Shift new powers in trade for a mere three Avengers. ‘This bears investigating’ Strange decides. Iron Man asks Strange if he will go back with him, but Dr Strange tells him that he has to pursue those ectoplasmic entities that he released just now. A portal opens, and Strange dives into it, adding that according to the Book of the Vishanti, there is no dimension where he found them. ‘Innocuous as they seemed, such a multiversal displacement could endanger their entire Astral Plane - every bit as much as Satannish’ Dr Strange explains, assuring Iron Man that he will join them as soon as he can. ‘Hold it -’ Dr Strange calls out, but he vanishes. Iron Man turns to Wong and tells him that if he lives to be a hundred, he will never figure out Dr Strange. ‘Do you have any idea what in blazes he was talking about?’ Iron Man asks. Wong just frowns and tells Iron Man to come with him, and he will show him out.
Overlooking Hollywood at the summit of Mount Lee, ‘Okay - fire away!’ USAgent calls out from underneath the demon costume. One of the crew informs USAgent that the director isn’t ready yet, while someone else explains that “Action News” is, although they add that this won’t go out live like the interview will. ‘Could you flex those pros ethic muscles one more time, Avenger?’ the reporter from “Action News” asks. ‘What do you mean “prosthetic”?’ USAgent replies, while down below the cliff, the director, Mr Waite, is taking part in an interview, where the reporter, Cara, asks him if this is the last shot of the picture. Mr Waite confirms that it is, seven troubled-plagued years after shooting began. ‘First star Jason Roland vanished…now Night Shift kdinaped our whole first technical crew…’ his voice trails off.
‘…not to mention your new star, Wonder Man, who seems to have gone over to the enemy’ Cara points out. Waite explains that they suspect he is being brainwashed, a la Patty Hearst. ‘Who?’ Cara asks. Sorry, before your time’ Waite tells her, before remarking that with USAgent stepping in for his fellow Avenger, they decided to make this a location shot like they had always wanted to. ‘I suppose all the publicity won’t hurt the Box Office…’ Cara suggests. Mr Waite explains that their main concern is getting Simon and the crew back safe and sound. ‘I swear I’d chuck in the whole picture if it would help to -’ Mr Waite begins, before turning his attention to USAgent, telling him to watch his tail around the Hollywood sign. ‘If you demolish it like you did that pier, we’ll all be lynched - and I don’t mean by David!’ he calls out.
Back up on the side of the hill, USAgent turns to Felicia and tells her that Waite is getting a little antsy, to which Felicia replies ‘You think I’m not? All these delays kept me out of a new series on Cable!’, before Waite calls out to them ‘All right - let’s do this!’, so Felicia gets in place, clinging to the “demon’s” leg to stop herself from falling off the gill. ‘You reach down and grab -’ Mr Waite begins to explain, when suddenly, there is a blinding light - and Wonder Man, strung up y Hangman’s noose, is dropped down near USAgent. ‘Williams!?’ USAgent shouts when he sees his teammate. ‘He’s dead! They’ve hung him from the sign!’ Felicia gasps. But USAgent reports that he is just old cold, and explains that it isn’t his real neck, just a flesh colored harness. ‘But either way, that means -’ USAgent begins as he takes the demon costume off, revealing his regular costume underneath, ‘- the Night Shift is back!’ Walker ads as the powered-up team rush towards him.
‘Nothing sneaks past you, does it, big fella?’ Gypsy Moth calls out as she hovers overhead. Hangman reports that they learned all they could from Wonder Man, and that they knew he would betray them first chance he got. ‘The last shot of “The Demon that Devoured Hollywood” - is about to become one of the first shots of “The Night Shift Takes Hollywood” - and the first TV or movie camera jockey who stops shooting will have a movie dedicated to him!’ Hangman threatens, turning to one of the camera men.
At that moment, Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch have stopped near a television screen in a shop window, which is showing live coverage of Night Shift’s attack, and the Hangman’s threat. Hawkeye calls out to Mockingbird and Living Lightning and tells them to get down and take a look at this.
‘You cruddy hoods! I’ll ream the whole bunch of yoooooo -’ USAgent calls out as he leaps towards Needle, Misfit, Tatterdemalion, one of the Bothers Grimm and Tick Tock - who uses his newfound powers to stop USAgent mid-air, as Misfit points out. ‘Not stopped - only slowed to a flying crawl - so you’d best handle him in the next new seconds’ Tick-Tock calls out. The Brothers Grimm lunge at USAgent, with one remarking that is plenty of time, since they are this strong, while the other adds that it took just three bi-planes to down King Kong.
‘And it’ll take one Misfit to waste this loser!’ Misfit boasts as he slams his fist into USAgent’s face. Tatterdemalion points out that he is still conscious, merely moving at snail speed, and lashes out with his scarf, which cracks against Walker’s back. Digger suggests that his special alloy shovel might provide the final nudge over the edge to dreamland, and slams his shovel against USAgent’s head. Hangman picks USAgent up by his head and announces ‘Almost, dear Digger. But really, I should thank you…for that leaves the Hangman the privilege of delivering the coup de grace!’ as he slams his fist into USAgent’s face.
Living Lightning and Mockingbird set down by Hawkeye and Wanda, where the Night Shift offers a challenge to the five remaining members of the Avengers West Coast. ‘Whatever it is - we accept’ the Scarlet Witch tells her teammates, while the Hangman holds up the motionless bodies of Wonder Man and USAgent and tells the Avengers West Coast that they are challenged in a battle royal with Night Shift, which will become the wide-screen mind-staggering popcorn-selling climax of their major motion picture. ‘TV camera crews are most definitely invited to attend. For if their costumed comrades fail to show up - they can still film the funerals of Wonder Man and the USAgent!’ Hangman declares, while Misfit adds that if the Avengers West d show up, then they just need Digger to scoop out a bigger grave!