Force Works #2

Issue Date: 
August 1994
Story Title: 

Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), Tom Tenney (penciler), Rey Garcia (inker), Jack Morelli (letterer), Joe Rosas (colorist), Mike Marts (assistant editor), Nelson Yomtov (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Iron Man returns to Works HQ, where Plato reveals to him that the Scarlet Witch, USAgent and Spider-Woman are all missing, while Wonder Man is presumed dead. The Black Widow contacts Iron Man and reveals the Kree terrorists are being taken to the Vault, while Century teleports to the Works HQ, and cryptically reveals he is here to help, despite apparently being responsible for the Scatter kidnapping the rest of Force Works. Iron Man agrees to let Century help him, and they teleport through to the Scatter reality. There, the Scarlet Witch, USAgent and Spider-Woman gather themselves, before meeting the Last, a group of remaining natives of this planet, who reveal that they are kept here as the Scatter’s larder. The Scatter attack, and Force Works do what they can to save themselves and the Last, while the Scarlet Witch discovers that the Scatter are made up of carnivorous insects. Force Works begin to get overwhelmed, when Iron Man and Century arrive just in time to turn the tide. USAgent is suspicious of Century, but Century leads them to a device in the Scatter’s control room, which he taps into to teleport himself and Force Works back to Earth. At Works HQ, the Recorder arrives, informing Plato, who is fielding calls from various people who want to talk to Force Works, that he is here to document Force Works’ adventures. Force Works and Century arrive back at Works HQ safely, only for Century to reveal that he detected that the Scatter are going to make their way to Earth - and use it as their next feasting ground.

Full Summary: 

Ventura, where the Hex Craft swings over the Ventura Hills, headed for the gleaming automated structure that was until recently a Stark Enterprises research and development lab. Now however it is the headquarters of the world’s newest super human team - Force Works! However, it is not the happiest of home-comings, as overhead, the Californian skies blaze with a ruddy ionic discharge, legacy of a massive explosion that has just occurred in orbital space. At the controls of the Hex Craft, is Tony “Iron Man” Stark, the founding inspiration of this team, and he is plagued with doubts and fears, and is stricken with grief as he realizes that he may be the only member of Force Works left alive.

Inside the Hex Craft, Iron Man contacts Plato, informing the computer program that he is bringing the Hex Craft into the hangar. ‘Trajectory confirmed’ Plato replies, before Tony asks him to begin a diagnostic search, committing all available systems to it. ‘I want to know the status and location of each of the other team members!’ Tony announces, while Plato replies that the search is underway.

Shortly, in the high-tech Works HQ communication hub, Plato informs Iron Man that the search is inconclusive, explaining that the Scarlet Witch, USAgent and Spider-Woman have either had their locator tags vaporized, or they are no longer In this continuum. Plato explains that, given Wonder Man’s last known position, It is almost certain he perished in the orbital explosion. ‘I’m sorry, Anthony’ Plato tells Iron Man, who exclaims that he cannot accept this. ‘We’ve been functioning for less than six hours! We haven’t even formally inaugurated the team yet…and they’re all dead or missing!’ Iron Man shouts, asking Plato if there is any chance - any at all - that they have missed something.

Plato replies that the Scarlet Witch, USAgent and Spider-Woman were ensnared by the creatures and dragged through some kind of transdimensional warp, while he is still trying to make sense of the warp’s energy profile. ‘As for Wonder Man, I fear there can be no other conclusion than that he is -’ Plato begins, before receiving an incoming transmission from the Avengers, and he puts it on screen. ‘Black Widow. What’s the situation there at Palos Verdes? And how are you?’ Tony asks Natasha Romanova, leader of the Avengers. The Black Widow replies that she will live, and informs Tony that the West Coast Compound is a mess, but the area is secure, and a team from the Vault has arrived to take the Kree terrorists into custody.

The Black Widow informs Iron Man that they also have the Recorder and the alien called Century, and that the Vision has suggested they also be confined to the Vault. With the android Vision standing nearby, the Black Widow tells Tony that she cannot believe what is happening here today. ‘If there’s anything the Avengers can do to assist you…’ her voice trails off, as Tony thanks her, but explains that this is his problem. ‘I was responsible for getting the others into this. And after breaking with the Avengers, I can’t go running back to you at the first sign of a crisis’ he adds.

The Black Widow replies that she understands, but warns Tony to be careful of his bride. ‘You know where we are, so…’ she begins, before exclaiming that Century has just vanished. Indeed, the mysterious alien, once standing nearby, suddenly disappears, and the Vision states that it was some kind of teleport, while the Black Widow suddenly sees on her monitor Century materialize behind Iron Man: ‘He’s there! Behind you!’ Natasha exclaims. ‘Indeed…’ Tony begins, before turning to face Century, and asking Plato to run a scan of their visitor. ‘Ill get back to you’ Tony tells Natasha, who is cut off before she gets to finish what she was about to say.

Iron Man remarks that Century recognized those creatures that took his teammates: ‘The Scatter, you called them’ he adds, before remarking ‘I hope you’re feeling a little more forthcoming now’. ‘Forthcoming? No. I feel perplexed. I feel lost / alienated / despised. I feel empty’ Century replies oddly. Plato informs Iron Man that his initial probe results are as follows: ‘Century is an extra-terrestrial in origin. Clothing and physical makeup contain component elements that have no corresponding match in available data’. Plato adds that the preliminary scans show physiology significantly different than any human or non-human known form, and scans suggests however that it has been surgically altered. ‘Further study will be needed to confirm this’ Plato adds.

Plato explains that Century entered Works HQ through a teleportation gateway similar to the one used to abduct the Force Works team members. ‘Further study will -’ Plato begins, before Iron Man shouts ‘Enough!’ and orders Plato to keep scanning, while he will review the findings later. Iron Man turns to the grey-skinned alien and asks Century to tell his side of the story. ‘I am Century. I have told you as much. I journey. I navigate the spaces between dimensions’ the alien replies, before revealing that his staff, parallax, enables him to sunder the fabric of dimensional space, manipulate co-ordinates and open doorways from one reality to another.

‘And these Scatter? They do the same thing? Did they learn the trick from you? Or are you one of them?’ Iron Man demands to know, before shouting that he hasn’t got time to waste. ‘Where did they take my friends?’ he shouts. Century replies that he is empty / ignorant / lost, and asks Iron Man to forgive him, as he has been travelling for so long that his memory has become eroded. ‘I believe / suspect / imagine that I encountered the Scatter a long time ago. That is how I know their name and their evil’ Century adds, explaining that he has sought Iron Man out to help him. ‘Help me? You’ll have to do more than help me, friend. You’ll have to impress me. How do you think you’re going to do that?’ Iron Man shouts.

Century replies that he cannot answer with confidence, but that he does know where the Scatter are. Century explains that parallax observed the Scatter departure gate and has discerned their transfer co-ordinates. ‘I can navigate passage for us both to the Scatter reality’ Century reveals. ‘I have no idea what I’m getting myself into, but if there’s a hope of seeing the others again…’ Tony begins, his voice trailing off as he tells Plato to keep an eye on the place, and telling Century that it is time to go. Century raises his staff above his head and tells Iron Man to stay close and not to make any sudden moves.

‘As I spin parallax, it cuts open the substance of space, revealing a pathway. The traces of energy describe the co-ordinates we must follow’ Century explains as colors light up the room, and Century explains that in a moment they will be drawn through the warp. Century warns Iron Man that he may find the process unnerving, but Tony exclaims that he is ready. Century moans, and explains that he is not accustomed to the additional strain of teleporting a companion. ‘I only hope the -’ he begins, before he and Iron Man are sucked through the portal. ‘Bon voyage, Anthony…’ Plato exclaims as he watches them go.

Elsewhere, Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch feels like she is being torn apart. ‘God’s sake please….are you…? Spider-Woman? Agent? Please -’ she thinks to herself, before regaining consciousness. ‘Ohhh…we’ve arrived I take it’ Wanda remarks, rubbing her head. Wanda asks her teammates Julia “Spider-Woman” Carpenter, and Johnny “USAgent” Walker if they are okay. Walker asks Wanda to give him a minute to clear his head, and he will start pounding an explanation out of the ugly aliens.

But while the three super heroes gather themselves from where they are lying strewn amongst bones and rubble, USAgent suddenly notices the bizarre aliens walking away. ‘You psychos aren’t going anywhere unless you tell us why you’ve dragged us to this hellhole!’ Walker calls after them, but they don’t respond. ‘Maybe you want a taste of this hard-light photon shield! Hey! Come here!’ he shouts as his gauntlets on his stunning new costume create his new photon shield. Wanda taps Walker on the shoulder and tells him to ease off. ‘We don’t know where here is’ she tells him.

‘Yeah - but why were we taken if they’re going to ignore us?’ USAgent asks, while Spider-Woman remarks that she has a nasty hunch they are going to find out soon enough, before suggesting that they follow the Scatter. The Scarlet Witch tells her friends that they should just keep their guard up, before gazing around the sprawling area, and remarking that the place is so ruined and so desolate. ‘One thing’s for sure…we’re a long way from home, my friends’. USAgent turns to the Scarlet Witch and tells her that just before they were snatched back at Palos Verdes, it looked like Wonder Man “brought it”. ‘I just wanted to say…’ he begins, before Wanda tells him ‘Later, Agent…’ and announces that the creatures are descending into some sort of burrow.

‘Guys! We’ve got company!’ Spider-Woman exclaims as a group of aliens appear on a ridge above them. ‘Strange. Stay your weapons. They are not Scatter’ one of the aliens tells his others. ‘They speak out language. But how?’ Wanda asks, while one of the aliens explains that they are of this place. ‘We are The Last’, and asks ‘What manner of alien are you?’. The Scarlet Witch explains that they call themselves Force Works, and that they were brought here against their will. ‘We want only to return home. Can you help us to escape this place?’ she asks. ‘Escape? There is none’ the alien replies.

Shortly, Force Works have accompanied the Last to some ruins, and one of the aliens explains that the ruins house their people. ‘You are welcome here - though it is hardly welcoming’ he remarks as all around, the aliens are huddled for warmth, and appear aimless. The alien explains that the Scatter came from the darkness to feed, and have all but eaten their world. ‘We are all that remain - the final stock in the Scatter’s larder’. ‘But you’re not caged in’ someone points out, to which the alien declares that there is nowhere to run. ‘They come for us when they want to feed’.

USAgent asks where the Scatter are from, to which the apparent leader of the Last replies ‘Who knows? They followed their harbinger to our world. It is he who leads them to new feasts. He is a bloodhound. They call him Century’. Wanda and Walker look at each other anxiously. ‘Century?’ Wanda asks. ‘What? He’s still on Earth!’ Walker declares, while Spider-Woman, standing near one of the female aliens exclaims that they have to get back to Earth, as Iron Man could be in danger.

Suddenly, one of the Last is struck down by the Scatter, who stand overhead. ‘What was it he said? They come when they want to feed!’ Wanda remarks. ‘Then I’m going to spoil their appetite! Shield - ignite!’ USAgent exclaims. One of the Scatter looms over one of the Last, who screams as the Scatter prepares to kill him - only for Wanda to intervene: ‘Away from him, monster!’ Wanda exclaims, blasting the Scatter with a hex-bolt, the Scatter is knocked backwards, and the resulting action shocks Wanda, as countless creatures emerge from the Scatter’s body: ‘Grubs, like putrid spiders or maggots…spilling from the creature’s carcass’, Wanda exclaims.

The Scarlet Witch turns to her teammates and informs them that the Scatter aren’t life forms, but a hosts for colonies of carnivorous insects. USAgent tells Wanda and Julia not to let the Scatter touch them, as their talons inject the bugs under your skin and eat you from the inside out. ‘I’ve seen it happen to two poor saps already!’ Walker declares. ‘Don’t touch them? But that child!’ Julia exclaims as she sees one of the Scatter approach one of the child Last. Julia proceeds to throw a psionic web at the Scatter and when it latches onto the creature, she pulls it back - only to receive a psionic backlash through the psychic web. The Scatter says something in its native language, while looming over Julia, who clutches her head and utters ‘Please…get…get out of my mind!’

Suddenly, ‘Back off, slug!’ Iron Man shouts as he and Century arrive on scene. Tony congratulates Century on bringing them here dead on target, while he fires a repulsor blast at the Scatter who was about to attack Spider-Woman. ‘Iron Man!’ Wanda exclaims. ‘The cavalry’s arrived, gang! Let’s roll!’ Walker declares. ‘Welcome to hell, you two. We could use a hand here!’ Wanda remarks as the five begin battling the Scatter. Iron Man tells everyone to cut a path straight through the Scatter. ‘I hear that, Shell-Head!’ USAgent replies, while Century lashes out at them with his staff, telling Iron Man that he can transport the five of them away from here, but not unaided, as they must reach the Scatter’s transmuter chamber, as its power will augment his.

However, Century suddenly finds a photon-shield smacked in his face, while USAgent tells him to hold it. ‘This could be a trap’ he declares, informing Century that the locals told them it was Century who led the Scatter here. ‘Did I? Then perhaps you should not trust me’ Century replies solemnly, while Wanda tells Johnny that his caution is ill-timed, as Century is their only way out of here. ‘Listen, Witch -’ Walker snaps back, but Wanda interrupts, declaring that they have to trust Century. ‘So, are you coming?’ she asks Walker.

Back on Earth, at Works HQ, Plato remarks that Nick Fury, the Vision, Captain America - the whole world - seem to want to talk to Force Works, but that he is no closer to ascertaining their whereabouts. ‘The traces of Century’s warp-gate are too complex even for me’ Plato remarks, when, suddenly, he is greeted by the Recorder: ‘Salutations’ the Recorder states. Plato turns to the strange being and remarks that his sense-net did not register him. The Recorder explains that he removed himself from the Avengers’ care, as he wishes to monitor Force Works. The Recorder remarks that Force Works offers recordable experiences on a level hitherto un-accessed by his kind. ‘I look forward to chronicling their endeavors…’ the Recorder states. ‘Just what we needed…a robotic Dan Rather’ Plato mutters.

Back on the strange planet, Iron Man flies over his teammates and Century while the Scatter are following them. ‘Move it! The Scatter have regrouped and they’re on our heels!’ Tony shouts, while Walker warns Century that, for his sake, he better know what he is doing. Century explains that the transmuter chamber is just ahead, while Iron Man tells Walker to take the point and clear them a path to the chamber. ‘You got it!’ Walker replies, while Iron Man turns around and exclaims that he will take care of the ones behind them, and blasts the Scatter with energy beams. ‘Man, that feels good!’ Tony exclaims.

Inside the chamber, Walker tells Century that it is time to put his money where his mouth is, and holds a couple of the Scatter at bay, ready to release his photon shield at them, while Century tells everyone to get on the transmute platform. ’Move it! Move it! Do as he says!’ Tony orders, and once everyone is on, Century raises parallax over his head and tells everyone to stay close and make no sudden moves - before they are engulfed in rays of color, and vanish.

An undetermined time later, inside Works HQ, Force Works and Century are sprawled on the floor, and Wanda remarks that she wouldn’t want to make a habit out of that, before asking if everybody is all right. Iron Man orders Plato to make a full update, past-time, and bio-scan them all as a safety measure. ‘Right away, Anthony. Welcome back’ Plato replies, while Wanda notices that Century is hurt, and asks him if the strain of transporting them all was too much for him. Century replies that he detected machinery in the chamber, readying to open a dimensional gulf for the Scatter’s invading swarm. ‘They are coming here, Scarlet Witch. This world is their next feast!’ Century exclaims. A worried Wanda turns to Iron Man, and tells him that it is not over yet….

Characters Involved: 

Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman II, USAgent (all Force Works)



Recorder II

Black Widow II, Vision (both Avengers)

Kree warriors

The Scatter

The Last, aliens

Story Notes: 

Wonder Man was killed in Force Works #1.

Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, USAgent and Spider-Woman II parted ways with the Avengers in the classic Avengers West Coast #102.

Dan Rather is well known for being the news anchor on CBS Evening News.

Issue Information: 
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