The New York City Court:
Jennifer Walters, aka the She-Hulk in her day job as lawyer, is holding her closing statement to the jury. They live in a crazy world, she begins. A world of costumed heroes, costumed villains, mutants, Inhumans… and everyday science fiction comes closer to science fact. And every day corruption and a lack of accountability seem to be choking them all to death. But it is at these times that they as a people must never forget the values they are sworn to uphold.
Her client Jonathan Powers is not guilty. He did nothing wrong. Yes, he once lived a criminal lifestyle - and a flamboyant one at that… but he has served his time for any and all offenses.
And now what the federal prosecutor would like them to do is punish him for things he did not do. He did not rob, steal, threaten or do anything to anyone or anything. What the federal prosecutor would like the jury to do is send him to prison for talking. He was “talking shop” with former acquaintances, or so he thought. Instead, Powers was talking to an undercover federal agent and a paid informant, who were actively seeking to entrap her client.
Entrapment. A trap. And if they set a trap and they come up with nothing, then this is what happens. They have to answer for the time and money spent. So they dug in and tried to wrap a case around her client, hoping that his past public flamboyancy could make a fine show for the court.
But now, the show is over and they know he did nothing. He “talked shop.” He talked about the “good old days,” wondering what he would do differently. He did not plan a heist, a kidnapping or a murder. He just talked. And that is why she is so adamant in her defense of him. Because they as a society have to be very careful about punishing people for thought. This is still the land of the free. And that means freedom of thought.
They don’t have to like her client. She is frankly not that crazy about him. But they can’t arrest someone because they don’t like what he thinks about. They can’t punish someone for a crime they did not commit. They have to allow for rehabilitation, for someone to pay his debt to society. They have to allow for freedom of thought. Because if they don’t, they are not a free people. Her statement over, she thanks the jury.
Colonel James Rhodes aka War Machine orders a group of armed criminals to surrender. Latveria is under US government protection until a preliminary democratic government can be implemented. He orders the people to drop their weapons and reluctantly they obey.
Later, in the White House situation room, the US president praises Rhodey’s class. He continues that Rhodes is probably wondering why he called him here. How about he become his new secretary of defense?
What became of his old one? Rhodey asks. He’s not him, he is told. He is not a larger-than- life symbol of the American ideal. And he thinks Rhodey could do the job in his sleep.
Rhodey did not expect this. The president replies he can top this. Because he is actually offering him the job as secretary of defense as first step on the way to this job. He means his job? Rhodey asks. For the party, for the country, the president agrees and hands him a cup of coffee.
Eventually one of the “superheroes” is going to run for president, he explains. One day Rhodes’ little buddy Tony Stark is going to wake up and decide he should be president. And he’s going to run around the country and buy his way in. He knows he’s Rhodes’ pal… he would much rather it be him. He’s served this country. He’s served the world. He knows the armor is special, but every pro athlete has got to hang it up eventually and plan his second act. Take it from him: this is a pretty good second act. And it’s his, if he wants it.
Ohio State University:
A young man, Ulysses Cain, works his courage up to talking to a pretty fellow student, Michelle, who is surrounded by her friends. She isn’t really all that interested in Ulysses. Can he believe that is happening? She points at the sky. The Terrigen cloud is here. They wonder how crazy it would be if one of them were an Inhuman.
After the cloud passes by, the youngsters find two cocoons, containing Michelle and Ulysses.
The Triskelion, headquarters of the Ultimates:
Captain Marvel checks in, asking for her team’s status. She is told she has a visitor in the communications room. It is Doc Samson. Carol asks what he is doing here and he reminds her she called him. Three weeks ago, she retorts. She thought he up and died! He did. He’s better now, he deadpans.
He tells her she looks fantastic. It turns out you don’t need sleep, Carol jokes, as she sinks down, clearly exhausted. Everything okay? Sampson asks. Things are never okay for them, she admits.
He questions her about the Ultimates’ mission statement to proactively prevent disasters before they happen. She dodges first, then begins to explain. Her cousin has a couple of kids, really great kids, but a day doesn’t pass by they don’t almost accidentally kill each other. She is constantly on guard, and Carol thought that is their lives. They have had so many almost disasters, near misses people never hear about. And she thought what if they try to stop these disasters before they happen.
How’s that going? he asks. They have their moments, she replies unenthusiastically. Then she asks what he’s been up to. He still has his practice. He’s trying to balance his life as a psychiatrist and a superhero.
Carol begins musing about a balanced life and realizes he meant a civilian life. Does she miss it? he presses. Wait a minute - is he “Doc Samsoning” her? she asks. Just trying to see how she is, Leonard assures her. She accuses him of being sent here. She has a lot going on and people want to know how she is doing.
She tries not to be angry, then asks him if he isn’t concerned. About the disaster they may not nearly miss. It’s all she thinks about. Samson warns her the illusion of control will eat her alive. She just wishes there was one thing that would— Protect them from all comers? he asks. He suggests that maybe they are it. That maybe that’s why they are the way they are. What if one day they aren’t enough? Carol fears. So far, so good, he points out.
The SHIELD heli-carrier, currently a thousand feet above New Jersey:
She-Hulk jumps aboard, to be greeted by Commander Maria Hill. Hill surprisingly asks how she is doing and then adds, because of the Jester thing. She-Hulk is surprised about this conversation and asks what she can do for her. The jester, Jonathan Powers, Hill repeats. Jennifer admits she is upset she lost the case. But it is really hard to get a jury to see beyond the fact that someone once dressed up like a playing card character and robbed banks. So she’s okay? Hill asks. She’s lost cases before and he is in jail again, Jen continues, but she is going to appeal the holy hell out of this.
Hill interrupts that the Jester is dead. Two other prisoners attacked him. He fought back and a guard shot him. He was innocent, Jen repeats. He went to jail before he did anything wrong. He was a repeat offender, Hill points out, sure he would have done it again. They always do. Jen just stares.
Ohio State University:
The youngsters are being interviewed and talk about Michelle, not even knowing Ulysses’ name. However, it is his cocoon that opens and he steps out, seemingly unchanged. He is met by a barrage of questions. Before he can say anything, the other cocoon cracks open and Michelle flies out screeching, now a winged, demonic creature.
Ulysses’ eyes turn red. He looks around and sees only devastation. A destroyed New York around him and he wonders what happened.