Control Room, WTNH-Channel 8:
While observing the New Warriors on his television screens in a studio, a producer asks Speedball how many villains they are dealing with. Responding via camera, Speedball at first believes that he’s seeing three villains. However, on that moment, Coldheart comes out of her hiding place emptying the trash. That marks four villains in total, and they are all on the FBI’s most wanted list.
The producer confirms that Cobalt Man, Coldheart, Speedfreek and Nitro all broke out of Ryker’s prison three months ago, and all of them have records that go as long as a person’s arm. He mentions that Coldheart fought Spider-Man a couple of times, and Speedfreek –surprisingly enough – almost took down the Hulk! Speedball, however, finds that hard to believe.
Nearby, Microbe starts to sweat, fearing that these villains might be out of their league. He thinks they shouldn’t go into their house. Speedball reminds Microbe about the strong ratings this show will get. This could be the best episode of the entire second season! He reminds Microbe that, for six months now, they have been driving around the Midwest looking for goofballs like these villains to fight, and the best thing they’ve managed to find so far was a bum with a spray can and a wooden leg. This could be the episode that really puts the New Warriors on the map. If they manage to beat these villains, Speedball believes that people are going to stop whining about Nova leaving their team so he could go back into outer space.
When Namorita wants to hear about the plan, Speedball smiles it is for Namorita to spend five more minutes in the makeup chair or else people will see that big, ugly zit on her chin. While Namorita does that, Night Trasher keeps watching the house with his binoculars. Suddenly, he spots that they have been spotted by Coldheart, who quickly runs into her house and warns her comrades about the danger, and to get into their suits. Fast behind, the New Warriors all quickly jump through the house’s window and start the battle.
Speedball quickly takes on Nitro, and jokes about the rather lousy way the villain dresses as he punches the guy in the face. A cameraman warns Speedball he didn’t get his joke on tape well, and asks if he can say it again. Speedball does, and kicks Nitro into his face.
While she’s facing Night Thrasher and Namorita, Coldheart mentions she recognizes them. She has seen the New Warrior’s reality show, and she refuses to be taken in by losers like them. Namorita punches Coldheart into her face, and Night Thrasher kicks her. Microbe manages to get his bacterial beasties to rust Cobalt Man out, and he tells the others that somebody should really take care of Nitro, as he’s an old enemy of Captain Marvel.
Meanwhile Namorita quickly takes to the air, and sees that Nitro was trying to escape. However, she dives at him and pushes Nitro face first into a school bus, which is parked at the side of an elementary school, filled with children. She orders Nitro to get back up onto his feet, and not to try and use some of his stupid explosions, because that’s only going to make her hit him harder. Seemingly subdued, Nitro recognizes Namorita, because she is the cousin of the Sub-Mariner. He sarcastically smiles, and mentions that they aren’t the losers the New Warriors are used to battling. No, they are playing with the big boys now.
As he speaks, Nitro’s eyes start to glow, followed by an immense explosion, which encompasses the whole city block and everything inside it!
In the rubble of the neighborhood, the Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men and other heroes help the firemen clear search for survivors and recover the bodies of the dead. In the middle of the devastation, Iron Man informs Cap that he heard the police got a lead on Nitro, and that the word on the street is that the villain sneaked out of town in the back of a pickup truck. A grim Cap doesn’t think it matters. He mourns about all these children that died in the explosion. The FEMA Chief told him that there could be eight or nine hundred casualties. And they all died because of some stupid reality show.
Iron Man thinks that the New Warriors should have called in their help, and that Speedball should have realized these villains were out of their league. The whole country saw the tape where Speedball said they were trying to improve the show’s ratings.
A fireman calls out to Marvel Girl and Cyclops to come over, because they need some help. Their motion detectors are picking up something twenty feet down below a lot of big rocks, but they don’t have any diggers around. Rachel is ready for it, and the firemen quickly realize they better move out of the way. She telekinetically lifts up tons of rubble, and the firemen find a surviving family, who hid in their cellar. The firemen report to their teammates that they’ve found six more survivors over by the school’s north side, and they need blankets and a defibrillator to take care of the survivors’ wounds.
As the family is led out, Wolverine looks at the Sentinels, which are standing motionless, simply surveying the X-Men. The family’s youngest child, a little boy sees the towering Sentinels and gets scared. However, his mother tells her son not to be scared, because the Sentinels are only their to keep an eye out on the X-Men. They’re the good guys. Still eying the Sentinel, Wolverine angrily shouts at the pilots that they are still following them around, even though they volunteered to help out on this federal emergency. The pilot inside the Sentinel smirks that they are just doing their jobs.
Goliath doesn’t think that this time it’s just mutants the Sentinels are watching. He tells Ms. Marvel that this is the straw that broke the camel’s back, mark his words. Carol isn’t sure about that, but Goliath is confident he’s speaking the truth. After Philly getting bombed, the Hulk trashing Las Vegas… Wolverine saying he was gonna kill the president – this is the start of the witch hunts. He truly believes that people will start coming after them with torches and pitchforks. Carol replies that maybe this time the people might be right. Still sifting through the rubble, Goliath doesn’t know how anyone can justify this.
In the following days…
Appearing on Larry King Live, She-Hulk explains to Larry that a ban on super-heroes is impossible, seeing that over a thousand super-villains live in the world of today. But she does think it’s reasonable when the heroes get the proper training and get required to wear a badge.
At a memorial service for the casualties of Stamford, a priest states that he hopes they can ask the Lord for mercy. Not for the children who perished, but for the super-people whose carelessness caused this tragedy. After the service, as Tony Stark exits the church, a woman calls out his name. To everyone’s surprise, when he turns to her, she spits into his face, calling him a filthy piece of crap. A body guards tries to push the woman back, telling her they’re going to ask her to leave. In tears, she shouts that she won’t be dragged away from her own son’s funeral, and she believes it’s Stark who should be dragged away.
Tony understands that the woman is upset, but defends that the carelessness of the New Warriors had nothing to do with him. The woman disagrees with that. She reminds Stark that he’s the one financing the Avengers, and that he’s been telling kids for years now that they can live outside the law if they’re wearing tights. She shouts that cops have to train and wear badges, and she believes Stark finds that to be too boring. She believes that, with him being a billionaire and having a badass attitude, he can have himself some super-powers and start up a private super-gang.
The guard calls for someone to get the woman out of there. However, she takes off on her own, crying that Stark began this mess with his dirty billions, and that the blood of her dead Damien is on his hands now. In the watching crowd, Jameson smilingly holds his arms around his photographer, Peter Parker, hoping aloud that he’s getting all this.
On another news show, a man claims that he doesn’t want to speak ill of the dead, but says that Speedball was a boy who, by all accounts, couldn’t even name the current president of the United States. He believes that, even though these super-powers may be awesome, they should be tested before they are allowed to act openly in the community.
A night later, things start to turn ugly…
Johnny Storm lands in the city at a nightclub, to meet up with his beautiful date. He apologizes for being late, claiming that he had to stop along the way because he had to rescue some kids out of a burning orphanage. The girl smiles, not knowing if Johnny is telling the truth or trying to get her not to be mad at him for being late. Johnny jokes back that he’s telling the truth, if she swaps “orphans” with “babes” and “burning orphanage” with “signing autographs.”
They walk to the front of the club’s line together and Johnny greets the bouncer, his old friend Chico, and asks the guy how it’s going. Chico informs Johnny that Paris and Lindsay are waiting for him upstairs, and that all the other girls couldn’t believe him when he told them Johnny would be stopping by.
The other people notice how Johnny cut into the line, while they have to wait to get in. When they begin to complain, Johnny smiles to the people that the next time they save the planet from an attacking Galactus, they can borrow his free pass. The people wonder what Johnny is going to do the next time he blows up a school, or when he goes off to kill some kids. Johnny can’t believe his ears. An angry man thinks Johnny has some nerve swaggering around town the way he does, after what happened. If he were him, the man says, he would have been ashamed to come out.
Johnny angrily defends that he’s got nothing to do with Speedball or the New Warriors. Those guys were C-list super-heroes to begin with, tops. Growing even angrier, the crowd start calling names at Johnny, and his date wants to get out of here. Suddenly, someone smashes a bottle on Johnny’s head, and he collapses, unconscious! The crowd begins to riot, and literally starts beating Johnny up!
Not much later, the event is reported on the news channels. One reporter claims that more attacks on several super-heroes have taken place. In related news, the president has been put under pressure and people from Stamford want to know what his proposals are for super-hero reform.
Later, at the Baxter Building…
As the sun sets, a group of heroes have gathered at the Fantastic Four’s headquarters. Dr. Strange asks Reed what they are saying: will he be forced to become a federal employee or face a warrant for his arrest? Reed replies that, actually, Strange is one of the few post-humans the government is hoping to seek a compromise with.
Nearby, speaking to Cage, the Wasp asks about pension plans and annual vacation times. It’s ridiculous. What are they trying to do? Turn them info civil servants? Cage rather believes that the government is looking to close them down. Listening in, Iron Man defends that the government might be just trying to make them more legitimate. He wonders why shouldn’t they be better trained and publicly accountable? Joining in, Patriot recalls that somebody told him they should go on strike if they mess with heroes like this. He proposes the question to the others, wondering if anyone else thinks a strike is a good solution. Reed honestly doesn’t think that someone could seriously advocate a super-hero strike.
Having enough, Cyclops wants to know what the general consensus is. Tony explains that, for as far as he is concerned, Stamford was their wake up call. He thinks that this is what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity. He thinks that becoming public employees makes perfect sense if it helps people to sleep a little easier.
Falcon can’t believe he’s hearing this. He defends that the masks are a tradition. They can’t just let people turn them into super-cops. Yellowjacket thinks that they are lucky that people have tolerated them for as long as they have. Why should they be allowed to hide behind masks? Chiming in, Wolverine explains to Hank that they should wear masks because the world isn’t so nice outside his ivory tower. The Thing agrees with Logan, thinking that Johnny wouldn’t have ended up in the hospital last night if idiots like Hank weren’t trying to give them a bad name.
Having been hanging upside down and out of sight, Spider-Man makes his presence known, much to the surprise of the Black Cat. To Ben’s statement, he asks “who knows?” However, he does think that, if people are trying to force everybody to work for Uncle Sam, a whole lot of people might just hang up their tights. To this, Sue replies that she doesn’t think that having a secret identity is such a big thing. After all, the Fantastic Four have been public since the very beginning, and that has never been a serious concern to them. Spider-Man rejoins that won’t – not until they day he comes home and finds his wife impaled on an octopus arm and the woman who raised him begging for her life.
Nighthawk wonders if anyone else thinks they are just being paranoid here. After all, he adds, this is all just speculation at the moment. Daredevil, standing at the back of the room, disagrees with that statement. He believes that this has been building up for quite some time, and that Stamford was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. This is the end of the way they do business. He can smell it in the air.
The SHIELD Helicarrier, six miles above New York…
Captain America meets up with Commander Hill, who is flanked by two SHIELD officers. Hill explains to Cap that she’s been told that twenty-three friends of Cap’s are meeting at the Baxter Building right now, discussing how the super-people should respond to the president’s big solution. Maria wants to know from Cap if he thinks his friends are going to go for it.
When Cap replies that he doesn’t think that’s for him to judge, Hill replies that she doesn’t want to hear about any of that nonsense. She knows that she and Cap are never going to be as tight as Cap was with Nick Fury, but she is currently still the acting head of SHIELD. She demands that Cap at least respects her badge, if he doesn’t want to respect her.
Cap believes that this plan will split the heroes in the middle, and that the president is going to make the heroes get into a war with themselves. One of the flanking agents wants to know what’s wrong with the super-heroes, and how anyone can argue with super-heroes being properly trained and paid for a living. The second agent asks Cap how many heroes will rebel against this. Cap believes a lot. When Hill wants to know if there will be any majors, Cap says he expects a few people, but mostly heroes who work close to the streets, like Daredevil and Luke Cage.
To this, Hill states, more than asking, that there will be no one he can’t handle. Taken aback at the implication of her question, Cap begs her pardon. He heard, she replies.
Continuing, she explains that the proposal goes to vote into a two weeks’ time and could be law in as little as a month. But they can’t go in half-cooked. She reveals that they are already developing an anti-superhuman response unit at SHIELD, but they need to make sure that the Avengers are on their side and that Cap is leading the group.
Cap tells Hill that she can forget about that. She is asking him to arrest people who risk their lives for America every day of the week. Hill defends that she’s only asking Cap to obey the will of the American people. Cap shouts at Hill not to play politics with him. He believes that super-heroes need to stay above that stuff or Washington starts telling them who the super-villains are. Maria thought that super-villains were people who wear masks and don’t obey the law.
On that moment, lots of SHIELD agents step compartments in the walls. They aim their rifles at Cap and cock their weapons. Cap wants to know if this is the hit squad Hill has been training to take down the heroes. Hill defends that nobody wants a war. The people are just sick of living in the Wild West. Cap defends that masked heroes have been part of this country for as long as anyone can remember. Hill jokes that one can also say that about smallpox, and tells Cap not to act like an idiot. Nobody is saying that he can’t do his job. It’s just time that Cap became legitimate like they are.
Cap orders the soldiers to lower their weapons, but Hill orders them to stand their ground. Captain America is not in command there. Cap orders the soldiers his request again, or else he won’t be responsible for what happens next. To this, Hill warns her men to keep the tranquilizers ready. Cap replies that this is insane. Completely insane! Cap then damns Hill to hell for this, but she then returns the sentiment, damning Cap to hell for making her do it…
By the time Hill gives the order for the tranquilizers, Cap has already launched himself at the soldiers. Grabbing one agent, Cap uses him as a human shield, before going on the offensive. He propels his shield at one soldier, knocking him out, even as he delivers a blow to another’s mid-section. The shield then ricochets and slices through two rifle barrels, while Cap delivers an open-fist blow to another’s face. The Avenger even has time to deliver an elbow to another soldier before the shield ricochets against another and returns to his hand. One of the SHIELD officers attempt to rally the rest of the troops, but Cap simply plows through the soldiers and jumps through the helcarrier’s window and into the open sky below.
Calling on her radio, Hill orders all units to stop Captain America. Soldiers all over the helicarrier open fire with live rounds, but Cap – even in freefall – easily deflects them with his shield.
An approaching jet fighter, designated War-Hawk One by the radio tower, is given clearance to land. The pilot “Roger”s base-command and then asks about the situation with ground crew. Before he can get an answer, Captain America land on the fighter’s cockpit and anchors himself with his shield, which he uses to break through the canopy. When the pilot swears aloud at this, Cap instructs him to just keep flying – and to watch that potty mouth!
Rather than descending into the hangar bay, the pilot continues through for the exit. The ground crew calls for the exit door to be closed but there’s no time, and the jet clears the exit, with Captain America riding it like a surfboard into the night sky.
Watching Cap escape, Hill calls him an idiot. They’re trying to save lives.
Meanwhile, at the Baxter Building…
Interrupting their discussion, Spider-Woman asks if she’s the only one who can see a big, dome-headed guy staring at everybody. Dr. Strange introduces Jessica to the Watcher, and explains to her that he only appears to record moments of great change and enormous upheaval. Uatu’s presence there now, Strange concludes, doesn’t bode well.
An angry mob protests against the super-heroes in front of the White House, and demand justice for Damien, one of the boys who got killed in the explosion. One news pundit tells the other analysts that the fact that the Congress has responded so swiftly just proves what an effective political operator Miriam Sharpe has become. She and the other Stamford reformist have really tapped into America’s quiet discomfort with superhuman misbehavior there. Meanwhile, at the gate of the White House, Miriam Sharpe, mother of Damien, hold a framed picture of her boy, as she stares within.
Inside the White House Cabinet Room, one Cabinet official tells the others of how Captain America landed the jet he stole in a football field - before taking the pilot for a hamburger and fries. He thinks that’s just like Captain America; making sure a two-billion dollar warplane doesn’t get damaged, no matter the danger he is in.
Speaking sarcastically, the president tells his Cabinet secretary that he’s glad he thinks it’s funny. Because he got the impression that the registration plan was controversial enough. He also believes that Cap going underground means that every super-hero who disagrees with their proposal now has a figurehead.
In response, Iron Man replies that this means the other heroes should find a leader of their own. When the president wants to know what Stark is proposing, Stark replies that he can continue pushing his registration just like he planned it. Flanked by Mister Fantastic and Yellowjacket, Iron Man assures the president that he can leave Captain America them.