Fearless Defenders #12

Issue Date: 
February 2014
Story Title: 

Cullen Bunn (writer), Will Sliney (artist), Veronica Gandini (cover artist), Virtual Caligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Mark Brooks (cover artist), Ellie Pyle (editor), Tom Breevort (executive editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)un

Brief Description: 

Dani Moonstar, Misty Knight and Clea arrive in Los Angeles where they convince a red-haired woman to assist them on their next mission. Along with Annabelle Riggs, Elsa Bloodstone, Ren Kimura and Hippolyta they soon make their way through a temple, where they know that they are going to find trouble. Elsa warns Annabelle to make sure Valkyrie is ready to take over her body when the time arises, but Annabelle explains that Valkyrie isn't talking to her at the moment, as she figured out she was lied to. Annabelle recalls how her resurrection as Valkyrie's host body did not come without a price, as she was instructed to counterbalance Valkyrie's fury and help her serve the will of Asgardia – and when Valkyrie found this memory in Annabelle's mind, she was not happy. The heroes soon come across a chamber where Caroline Le Fay and her associate Mr Raven, along with the Doom Maidens are gathered around a podium of glowing energy. Caroline is certain that their message will be received, which is when the Fearless Defenders strike, taking out the henchmen first, before setting their sights on the Doom Maidens. Annabelle needs Valkyrie to take over her body now, but as she reaches out to her, Valkyrie points out that she is becoming less like herself, and more who Annabelle is. Annabelle reminds Valkyrie about the oath she swore, and adds that if anything happens to the others, she will never let Valkyrie out again. Valkyrie realizes Annabelle is in particular referring to Ren Kimura, and tells Annabelle that she likes her, too. Valkyrie then takes over Annabelle's body, and joins the battle. Hippolyta takes Mr Raven out, while Caroline rushes to the podium where the energy rises even stronger than before. She steps into it, and is seemingly destroyed. The heroes decide that the energy appears to be reaching for something. The red-haired woman suddenly transforms – she is Nova. She absorbs all of the energy and wonders if she just saved the world. The heroes gather together in celebration. Caroline Le Fay arrives in a dark place, where she learns that the secondary ritual was a success – her mother, Morgan Le Fay has returned, and together, they have much work to do!

Full Summary: 

Los Angeles, California, inside a fashion store a woman with red hair is browsing through a catalogue when suddenly, someone calls out to her: 'Hello, hero' they exclaim. 'Huh?' the woman asks. 'Are you for hire?' Misty Knight enquires as she stands with her teammates Clea and Dani Moonstar, all Defenders. Shoppers look on in awe, while the red haired woman goes wide-eyed, 'Hero?' she asks. 'I think you've got the wrong person. I'm just Frances -' she begins. 'Don't get me wrong. You were tough to find and, honestly, not my first pick' Misty tells Frances, explaining that they are running out of time and that the Defenders need someone with her skills. 'So, I'll ask again... are you for hire?'

'Of course, I hope you understand that when I say “for hire” what I really mean is... are you “willing to volunteer for this suicide mission?' Misty declares sometime later inside the depths of a temple.  Henchmen lay scattered on the ground outside the temple, while inside, the Fearless Defenders make their way through a narrow corridor. Dr Annabelle Riggs leads the way, her flashlight held out in front of her, while Clea helps to lighten the dark path with a mystical glow, which also illuminates the images sketched into the walls surrounding them. Elsa Bloodstone holds a gun at the ready, and Moonstar has prepared her bow and arrow. Ren Kimura walks next to Clea, while Misty and Frances are behind her, and Hippolyta a.k.a. Warrior Woman brings up the rear. 'I still don't know what exactly you want from me. Nobody believes me when I say this, but... I'm not a fighter' Frances declares.

'Perhaps not. But our enemies have hatched a vile plan and... should they succeed... we'll need you' Hippolyta tells her. Misty assures her not to worry about the ass-kicking department, as they have that covered. 'Speaking of which – have you figured out what we might be up against?' she asks Dr Annabelle Riggs, who is kneeling before one of the walls and looking at some of the drawings. 'Uh... at first glance I'd say... something awful'. Annabelle then announces that, as near as she can tell, this place is an ancient temple dedicated to some sort of demigod, and that this entity, which is supposed to dwell within, is meant to call out to something even more terrible that is lost in another realm. 'Just make sure Valkyrie is ready to join us when the fighting starts' Elsa Bloodstone snaps at Annabelle, who replies 'I hope... but your guess is as good as mine. She's not talking to me right now'. Ren walks over to Annabelle and asks 'She's stll mad at you?' 'Wouldn't you be?' Annabelle replies, adding that a lot of people think Valkyrie's just a bruiser, that she's as dumb as a box of rocks. 'But she's clever and experienced and intuitive. Of course she'd figured out she'd been lied to. When Val brought me back...she knew there would be costs. She didn't care. She didn't realize that there were other parties who were interested in what was happening'.


Annabelle stands before the All-Mother, who announces that there is dangerous, costly magic at work here, that the embrace of death is too oft escaped in Annabelle's world, but there is always a price to pay. 'Do you wish to live again, Annabelle Riggs?' they ask. 'Uh...sure' Annabelle responds. The All-Mother informs Annabelle that Valkyrie requires guidance, that the rage within her must be tempered, and so, too, must her willfulness, as she continues to stretch the limits of their patience. 'We tasked her with finding the Shield Maidens. Instead she recruits... Defenders'. Annabelle enquires as to what the difference is, to which the All-Mother informs her that if she wishes to return to the land of the living, she will guide Valkyrie, she will counterbalance the fury and give her a greater connection to the people of Midgard. 'And you will help her serve the will of Asgardia'.


'The thing is... I agree with Val. Shield Maidens are all well and good. But, first and foremost, the world needs Defenders' Annabelle announces. 'Now more than ever...' she adds, as the heroes come to a cavern, where the Doom Maidens are gathered alongside Caroline Le Fay, her associate Mr Raven, and several henchmen. They all stand around a platform where green energy rises in some sort of stasis field. Mr Raven informs Caroline Le Fay that the output on this thing is off the charts – more than twice what they anticipated. He adds that it seems that there is some sort of secondary energy signature. 'I can't -' he begins, but Caroline interrupts him. 'Excellent!' she declares, announcing that the additional yield means they will reach the finish line all the sooner. She declares that the message will be received, as the beacon is alive. 'And so what if it is alive?' Zheng Bao Yu asks, boasting that the most basic of her father's alchemies could have conjured something far more terrible. 'No offense to your father... but if he was capable of something like this, he would have done it before he was killed' Caroline tells Zheng Bao Yu. She states that with what they do today, they are tapping on the door, that this is their cosmic call, their message – and the wording is clear: “Come and get it”.

Two henchmen turn in shock as a voice calls out 'This is good! It sounds like you're already expecting company!' Hippolyta slams her fist into one of the henchmen and points out that a few more guests shouldn't be too much of an inconvenience. Misty, Dani, Elsa and Ren also engage the henchmen, while Clea starts to cast a spell, and Annabelle and Frances hang back at the edge of the cavern. 'You know what they say about honor and thieves, right?' Misty asks as she punches one of the henchmen with her bionic arm. Ren's razor-sharp ribbons twirl around another of the henchmen, while Misty reveals that the Enchantress, Ruby Thursday and Quicksand, once they figured out that Le Fay had scraped them off, were all more than happy to flip on her. 'They told us where you'd be. Told us who you'd have with you. They even told us what you were trying to do' Dani declares as she fires an arrow. 'Which was more than we needed' Clea points out, while Elsa loads her gun, ready to fire.

The Defenders then engage the Doom Maidens around the strange energy. Misty Knight takes on Zheng Bao Yu, while Ren extends her ribbons towards Mindblast, who diverts them with a psychic attack. Moonstar dodges a blast of energy from Shriek, while Elsa finds herself snared by Anaconda. Warrior Woman slams into Titania, and Clea casts an energy dragon to counter the one that Aradnea has conjured. 'Your little band of bad girls has been twisting the knife every change you get. The Defenders are more than happy for a chance to twist back!' Misty declares. 'You've heard of Hawkeye, right? The Avenger? Yeah... I won a few of his arrows in a bet' Moonstar announces as she fires an arrow, which sets of an electrical charge that shocks several of the Doom Maidens. 'C'mon, Val. Where are you?' Annabelle utters.

Suddenly: 'What do you want, Annabelle? I thought I was clear. I thought I told you that I needed some time' Valkyrie calls out as she and Annabelle converse on hillside, trees to one side of them, cliffs to the other. Valkyrie reminds Annabelle that they share a body, and that sooner or later she must have known that she would see what was in her mind, that she would sense the bargain that Annabelle made with the All-Mother. 'If you wanted to talk, you should have done so sooner' Valkyrie suggests. Annabelle ignores the comments, and asks Valkyrie if she has any idea of what is going on out there, or has she retreated so far that she is not even aware? 'You don't want to talk? Fine! I don't need you to talk! I need you to fight!' Annabelle knows that Valkyrie is angry and feels betrayed, she tells her they can work on that later. 'But this – right now – isn't about us!' Annabelle declares. 'There is no us' Valkyrie replies, pointing out that from the moment the All-mothers leashed her to Annabelle like a wild hound to its master, she has been becoming less who she was – and more like who Annabelle is.

Valkyrie continues, assuring Annabelle that she was more than willing to sacrifice everything to bring her back, but that to give away so much, for one who forces her to bend her knee – it hurts. 'Don't you understand? You swore an oath to serve Asgard... to protect Earth by reforming the Shield Maidens. But you did it in your own way. What makes you think I can't do the same?' Annabelle asks. She tells Valkyrie not to worry that she is becoming more like her. 'But maybe I'm becoming more like you' Annabelle suggests. She tells Valkyrie that if she doesn't help, if anyone on this team gets hurt, then she is a piss-poor excuse for a Valkyrie. 'And if that happens, I swear I'll never let you out again!' Annabelle goes wide-eyed, and Valkyrie smiles at her, telling her that it is all right, she understands. 'I like her, too'. 'You... you do?' Annabelle asks. 'Wait. When you say you like her, what do you -' Annabelle begins. 'Later, Annabelle. For now...' Valkyrie begins.

An instant later, Valkyrie appears in place of Annabelle, raising her sword overhead, she stands with the Defenders, 'Have at thee, Doom Maidens!' Valkyrie shouts. 'This is your day of reckoning! You've hitched your little red wagon to the wrong mare!' she shouts, while quietly adding 'See... Annabelle... that sounded like you'. Ren extends her ribbons to knock Scorpia back, while Annabelle calls out to Le Fay, warning her that her Doom Maidens are finished, and now it is her gturn. 'Truer words, my dear. Truer words' Caroline remarks as she emerges from the shadows. She announces that this experiment, or at least her part in it, is over. 'Mr Raven...if you don't mind...buy me a few moments' Caroline asks. 'Ma'am' Mr Raven replies as he loads his gun. 'Oh, please!' Hippolyta mutters as she removes a disc from her headpiece and throws it at Mr Raven, hitting him in the head and knocking hiim out. 'Thanks, Amazon' Valkyrie smiles.


'Stand down, hag. I will beat an old woman if I must' Valkyrie warns Caroline, who steps towards the thick energy rising from the platform. 'As you wish, Shield Maiden. I surrender. As I said...there's nothing more for me to do' Caroline replies. She declares that she has stirred the petri dish, struck the match – and now everything burns. 'Everything' Caroline utters as she steps onto the platform and seemingly disappears within the swirling energies. 'Wait -' Valkyrie calls out, but gets no response. 'Did she just off herself rather than face us?' Misty Knight asks. 'Because, if so, that's going on my resume' she declares. Valkyrie disappears and Annabelle takes her place, 'Don't worry about Caroline, at least...not while the pit is still active' she explains. Black bubbles appear in the energy, 'It's still... uh... belching that stuff up' Annabelle points out. 'Gross' Misty tells her. 'And if we don't stop it?' Misty asks as she looks at the energy. Annabelle tells her that she doesn't think it will stop itself, that it is like a beckoning hand, reaching for something, and sooner or later, it will find it and call it down to Earth.

'You need to trust in my interrogation skills. The Enchantress gave us a heads-up about this, too' Misty replies, before turning to Frances and remarking 'Frankie – you're up. Suddenly, Frances transforms into Nova – for she is Frankie Raye, the former Herald of Galactus who can manipulate cosmic energy like play-doh. 'This is why you wanted me here? So I could siphon off all this energy?' Frankie Raye asks. She flies around the energy. 'I mean...way to make a girl feel like a glutton... but... piece of cake!' The green and blue energy with the black bubbles is sucked towards Nova – until it is nothing more. 'Did... did I just save the world?' Frankie asks, as she drops down next to the Fearless Defenders, the most fabulous fighting team of them all. 'You get used to it' Annabelle tells her, and they all smile.

Elsewhere, there is darkness, as a voice calls out 'The drifting chaos. You failed to make contact'. Caroline Le Fay's image emerges in the darkness, and a hand reaches out to her. 'But your enemies never suspected the true nature of your summoning. The secondary ritual was a success. I have returned'. Caroline Le Fay crouches beside her mother, while goblins stand nearby. 'Rise up, daughter. Take your rightful place by my side. So much work' declares Morgan Le Fay!

Characters Involved: 

Clea, Elsa Bloodstone, Misty Knight, Dani Moonstar, Ren Kimura, Valkyrie, Warrior Woman (all Fearless Defenders)

Dr Annabelle Riggs



Morgan Le Fay

Caroline Le Fay

Mr Raven

Anaconda, Aradnea, Echidna, Mindblast, Scorpia, Shriek, Titania II, Zheng Bao Yu (all Doom Maidens)



In Flashback

Annabelle Riggs

Freyja, Gaea, Idunn

Story Notes: 

Final issue of Fearless Defenders.

Valkyrie, under the influence of rage, killed Annabelle Riggs in Fearless Defenders #6. With Clea's help, Valkyrie resurrected Annabelle in #7-8, resulting in Annabelle now acting as a human host to Valkyrie.

Frankie Raye in her Frances Hyatt incarnation last appeared in Heralds #1-5.

Written By: