Dank, dark lair:
Lights fall upon the battered and broken figures of the Vulture and the Grim Reaper, both chained together to a metal column. The beaten and bloody villain Vulture tells the S.H.I.E.L.D. troops before him that the lunatic broke his nose. Aren’t these S.H.I.E.L.D. idiots before him supposed to be hunting him down?
The sergeant of the S.H.I.E.L.D., Unit Five, is contacted by the Hellicarrier and asked if he has found more bad guys. The sergeant confirms and adds that, downstairs, the Trapster is chained to the sink in the men’s room. How many criminals do Vulture and Grim Reaper take him up to? Eight of nine?
S.H.I.E.L.D. Hellicarrier – Six miles above New York City:
Director Maria Hill, sitting in her command center as she receives some coffee, tells the sergeant that it brings him to fifteen. As she looks at footage and bio-data on the villains, she explains that he has capture fifteen super-criminals in seventy-two hours. However, the numbers do not add up. There is no way that Captain America took down all these criminals, as it is physically impossible.
“Meaning?” asks the puzzled sergeant. Meaning, states Hill, that this is their nightmare scenario. She doesn’t think he is alone anymore.
Some Time Later:
It takes little time for the nation’s largest newspapers to spread the news. The Registration Act has passed! The president promises action against Captain America! Captain America goes into hiding! Millionaire Tony Stark backs the Super Hero Reform!
At a press conference, Miriam Sharpe, mother of one of the Stamford school children victims, Damien, tells the reporters that she is disappointed in Captain America’s choice in the registration matter, but she couldn’t be happier about Iron Man joining her cause. However, there are still seven days before the Act is law, so Captain America has time to change his mind.
New York City:
A massive Doom Bot lies in ruins on the streets of New York, surrounded by cheering citizens of the city who applaud their heroes. Yellowjacket, Mr. Fantastic, She-Hulk, Iron Man and Doc Samson stand over the fallen monstrosity. Iron Man helps Ms. Marvel out of the wreckage and asks his teammates if they hear that. That applause is the sound of people trusting super heroes again. She-Hulk turns to Iron Man, asking if they will technically be super-heroes after the Registration Act. Won’t they just be S.H.I.E.L.D. agents when they are on the federal payroll?
No, says Iron Man. They are super heroes. They fight super criminals and save lives. The only thing that changes is that the kids, amateurs, and sociopaths are being weeded out of their ranks. The feline Tigra, leaps upon the Doom Bot to speak to Iron Man, and critically asks him what category Captain America falls into. The others look at Iron Man, who tells Tigra that Captain America is wrong this time. She needs to trust him on that.
Night falls over New York City. In the Baxter Building, the Thing spends time with his godchildren, Franklin and Valeria Richards.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the building, Reed Richards takes long strides as he busily walks back to his work. His wife, Sue, approaches him and asks him how his project is coming along. Ecstatic, Reed tells Sue that it is a dream. Tony’s big plan for the super hero community is the most exciting thing he has ever worked on. He wasn’t kidding when he said he would revolutionize the super hero community. He hasn’t’ been this excited since the time he first saw a black hole.
As Reed goes back to his work, Sue tells him that she would be excited too if the plan didn’t mean jail time for half their Christmas card list. Agreed, says Reed, not even looking back up. However, the renegade heroes leave them no choice if they refuse to register. If Sue needs to see the social implications the renegades will cause to ease her mind, she should look at the boards to his right.
Sue walks over to the boards where Reed has done many calculations. Confused, at what she is looking at, Sue asks her husband what he means. Reed explains that it is the exponential curve the number of super-beings is following and the apocalypse that will follow if unlicensed activity isn’t brought under control. Tony’ secret plan is amazing for them all. She should just hear what Tony and Hank Pym are talking about. They are like concept machines. He has never seen people that super-charged.
Sue notices a C.D. on Reed’s desk, with the number 42 written on it, and asks what it means. Reed grabs Sue’s wrist as she tries to pick up the disk, telling her that it is classified information.
Oh, right, says Sue, a bit put off by her husband’s secretiveness.
She then changes the subject and supposes she should head off to the hospital anyway. Reed, who is already back at his work, barely gives thought to Sue’s excuse, and simply tells her to give Johnny all his love. Sue then walks away into the shadows, feeling the coldness.
Daily Bugle: BR> Robbie looks at J. Jonah Jameson and tells him that he just received word that Tony Stark is having a huge press conference tomorrow morning. Ben Urich is in, but Peter Parker is out of town. Who should they send in Parker’s place?
Jameson doesn’t reply, so Robertson questioningly calls his name. Jonah apologizes, as he is miles away. He is just thinking about how tonight, at midnight, everything the Bugle has campaigned will officially be law. There will be no more masks or secret identities. The clowns work for S.H.I.E.L.D. or they go to jail. Robbie asks Jameson if he thinks all the heroes will really sign up. As Jameson looks out his window to see Spider-Man swing by, he replies no, he doesn’t think so. Just the smart ones.
Tony Stark’s Penthouse – 11:40 PM:
Tony Stark and Happy Hogan sit anxiously awaiting midnight. Happy tells Tony that there are only twenty more minutes to go. He heard from S.H.I.E.L.D. that they are looking at thirty-eight signatures already. Isn’t that what he predicted? Pretty much, says the worried Tony. Is there any word from Captain America? Only that he is putting together his own team, replies Happy. He will see this fight to the finish.
Tony throws his head back and stares at the ceiling, hoping to God that they are doing the right thing.
The lights blazing at Time Square suddenly shift as a new message appears on the famous giant screens. The Registration Act is law!
24 Hours Later:
The Young Avenger known as Patriot leaps across rooftops as he tries to evade his attackers. Spotlights shine down on him from war choppers as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents begin to the hunt for renegade heroes. Patriot runs as fast as he can, but the toll of the chase begins to wear his body.
Aboard the chopper, the agent reports to base, stating that an unregistered minor tried to foil a bank robbery in costume. He then identifies the vigilante as Patriot from the Young Avengers. He is currently in pursuit. The agent, Fox-Trot Four, is then given permission by Air Command to use tranquilizers and minimum force. The choppers waste no time in attacking Patriot with projectiles intending to stun the hero.
However, Patriot is unaffected by the attack! Aboard the chopper, the pilot is annoyed to find the target is bullet proof. His colleague then complains about how the info-base was supposed to be updated by people.
Reaching the end of nearby rooftops, Patriot finds that the next closest building is not only too high, but too far away! However, this distance problem is no problem for him, as thanks to his powers he leaps off the rooftop and easily traverses the distance in a single leap. He then crashes through the glass frame of the building across from him.
Inside the building, Patriot tells his teammates in the Young Avengers that they have to get out right now. S.H.I.E.L.D. caught him breaking up a mugging and now they are after him. It seems like these guys are not messing around. However, before Patriot can make a move, the chopper shoots in a canister that dispenses green gas everywhere. Oh boy, says Patriot.
The entire floor of the building then explodes.
Inside the chopper, one agent asks the other if he is sure the kid was indestructible. He’ll be fine, replies the other. Besides, he is more worried about the office block. Command said property damage was to be kept to a minimum or its head-rolling time.
Soon, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents round up and detain Hulkling, Kate Bishop, Stature, Wiccan, Patriot and Vision of the Young Avengers. As they are marched onto an armored truck, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents tell them to look at all the damage done. This is what happens when they try to act like some bad vigilante like Captain America.
Daredevil, or perhaps a man dressed like Daredevil, watches the video of the Young Avengers being detained. He asks Luke Cage if they should get a group together to free the kids. Cage, however, tells his companion that Captain America and Falcon are already undercover on the scene. Cocky Wilson even told him to get the coffee ready.
New York City:
The armored truck, escorted by the NYPD, drives away. As a blonde man with glasses drives, his companion tells him that this is what is he talking about. These kids are what…sixteen or seventeen? They are out in public laughing in regular people’s faces while wearing pantyhose. It isn’t like they are banning them. No one is stopping them. Heck, they are even offering to pay these vigilantes. However, these freaks don’t get a buzz off of being legit. They like the feeling of being in a mask. That is how they get off. They will need one cold shower when they see the pen the Registration side is building for them. Has the other man heard of that place? Number Forty-Two?
Frank in Supplies told him that they aren’t even allowed to look at the blueprints without special goggles. The agent’s companion, annoyed, speaks up and says that he should tell him something. He talks too much!
The undercover Captain America then knocks the other man out of the speeding vehicle!
The man crashes into the road, causing the police cruisers to swerve out of the way and flip over and crash themselves!
In the back of the truck, another S.H.I.E.L.D. agent reveals himself as an undercover Falcon, who breaks Wiccan free and tells him that he needs him to use one of his teleportation spells now. Yes, says a nervous Wiccan.
Outside, S.H.I.E.L.D. calls all units in the area of the George Washington Bridge and tells them that they suspect a hijacking of a S.H.I.E.L.D. bus. A roadblock is quickly set up as cruisers stop on the bridge and a helicopter drops a barricade.
Cap calls back to Falcon that cops are already blocking the road. Annoyed, Falcon tells Wiccan to hurry up with the “freakin’ spell.” Wiccan concentrates hardly as he chants that he wants to be somewhere else.
Outside, S.H.I.E.L.D. realizes that the hijackers will kill themselves. They order the cops to fall back, but to keep up the barricade. Suddenly, magical energies manifest around the armored bus as Wiccan’s powers kick in. Right as the bus is about to crash into the barricade and officers; it vanishes, leaving behind only residual energy.
In a secret complex, somewhere, the bus rematerializes and comes to a screeching halt. The sudden stop throws all its occupants around. The Young Avengers regroup as the back of the truck opens and they step out. Oh, my God, says Stature as she looks around. Where are they? P>
Congratulations, children, says the enigmatic Cable, you just joined the Resistance. Daredevil helps the Young Avengers out as they look around the massive complex to see Goliath, Hercules, Cloak, Luke Cage, Night Nurse and Dr. Jane Foster!
As Captain America frees Stature, she asks him what this place is. Cap explains that it is a S.H.I.E.L.D. safe house, number twenty-three. It is one of twenty-eight such safe houses and only known to a thirty-third degree S.H.I.E.L.D. officer. How many thirty-third degree officers are there, asks Hulking as Daredevil unlocks his bindings.
Just Nick Fury, replies Captain America. Daredevil explains that Fury is underground now and can only be contacted via scrambler-phone. However, he said they could use this place for as long as they need. He is already working on their new secret identifications.
Why do they need new identifications, asks Patriot. Cable smiles and tells the naïve hero that their old ones are compromised. They are going to need somewhere to hide when they aren’t kicking butt and taking names. Captain America takes off his glasses and tells the heroes that they are living here for the duration of the crisis. Iron Man’s crew is planning something huge and they have to fight back from here.
Suddenly, Dagger calls from a nearby computer screen, which shows an image of Tony Stark’s press conference, and tells everyone that they should see this.
Tony Stark stands before a large group of reporters and tells them that he does not have to introduce Miriam Sharpe. She, if they recall, lost her son in the Stamford tragedy, which kick-started his passion for the federal employment of all super-heroes.
Cyclops, Emma Frost, Beast, and Colossus of the X-Men watch the news conference eagerly; just as Wolverine comes in, wishing to know what the fuss is about.
Tony Stark then motions to his left as Spider-Man, in his regular red and blue uniform, swings into stage. Tony is sure Spider-Man needs no introduction.
New York City:
Sue Richards sits at the bed of the battered Johnny Storm. She watches the television and mutters that she hopes Tony knows what he is doing.
Spider-Man takes the podium and tells the reporters that, as they know, he has guarded his secret identity well over the years. It was only after a long talk with his wife and his family that he decided to take the following step. The Registration Act gives heroes a choice. They can follow Captain America’s trend with heroes completely unchecked, or they can go legitimate and earn back a part of the public’s trust.
Wasp, Thing, She-Hulk, and Yellowjacket watch the conference from their headquarters, as Aunt May and Mary Jane watch from Avengers Tower. At the Daily Bugle, Miss Grant tries speaking to Jameson as he watches the conference, but he stops her and tells her that if she even thinks about asking him what he wants for breakfast, she is fired.
Spider-Man tells the reporters that he doesn’t wear a mask because he is ashamed of what he does. He is proud of who he is and right now he is going to prove it.
“My name is Peter Parker, and I’ve been Spider-Man sine I was fifteen years old,” says Spider-Man, as he takes off his mask and reveals his face to the entire world.
Miss Grant, Robbie, and several other Bugle employees rush to Jameson’s side as he collapses behind his desk.
“Any questions?” says the smiling Peter as he faces the world, mask in hand.