Loners #4

Issue Date: 
September 2007
Story Title: 
What You Don’t Know…

C.B. Cebulski (writer), Karl Moline (artist), Beth Sotelo (colorist), VC's Rus Wooton (letterer), Jason Pearson (cover artist), Kate Levin (production), Molly Lazer & Bill Rosemann (editors), Tom Brevoort (executive editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Julie Power is anxious about some of the decisions that she's made of late. She feels like she has let her parents down by using her powers in Los Angeles, which she promised not to do. She heads out for a burger with Johnny and they discuss Mattie, Phil and Mickey and Hollow, who recently injured Julie, though she recovered quickly. The pair of them visits Marvel's movie studios where Julie has an audition. She fails the test and proceeds to rant and rave about the director. Another movie director, Mark Lowell, overhears her and is impressed with how she looks and her honesty. Their discussion turns to how he might use people with powers in a movie. Lowell can't believe his luck, two superheroes offering to use their powers on set - a move which could save him a fortune on special effects. They both sign up and are soon on the set of a movie whereby Julie plays Black Cat and Johnny plays Iron Fist. They run through a fight scene and Lowell loves what he sees. Julie is overjoyed and calls her sister, Katie, letting slip a few white lies as she assures her that she isn't using her powers. Later, while she dresses, Lowell interrupts her and makes sexual advances. Julie is appalled and lashes out at him, informing him that she's underage for starters. Lowell is shocked, and Julie quits. She attends the next Excelsior meeting and reintroduces the real Julie, the one who isn't all Hollywood and who will no longer lie to them. Unfortunately, the meeting is interrupted by the return of Nekra!

Full Summary: 

(Los Angeles, California)

Julie Power (aka Lightspeed) recounts what happened previously in a letter. She describes her parents as being so cool; how many other parents would let their seventeen year-old daughter move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career? Ever since they were kids, she's worked hard to earn their trust. The last thing she wants to do is let her parents down ... but right now, she feels guilty; as if her parents would be disappointed with some of the decisions she made. For one, she promised them that she wouldn't use her powers down LA - one of the reasons why her parents were willing to let her join Excelsior.
Julie explains that she left the hospital because she felt uncomfortable, and she describes how she feels on edge because of the secret deal Mickey (aka Turbo) made with Miss Fujikawa. Julie feels she needs to take some time away from Excelsior. She's got a few auditions coming up, which is good, and will help take her mind off things. She hopes her parents would be proud of her gigs. Julie ends her letter by writing about how she has to go practice her lines ... keeping up an act really is hard work.
A diner – noon:

Julie Power and Johnny Gallo (aka Ricochet) sit in a diner eating lunch. While talking, Julie notes how many secrets she holds back - the typical secrets for all super heroes; about their origins, headquarters and even who they really are. Secrets and lies. At the same time, Johnny exclaims that he never knew Julie had an affinity for burgers. Smiling, she informs him that she's Julie Power: Burger Connoisseur. She suggests he try a Japanese burger - a Mos C. Johnny's surprise grows larger; she goes to Japan just for burgers? She tells him those were one of the perks of the power of flight. He asks her how she stays so skinny, and she tells him it's her alien metabolism - then says she's kidding; she exercises a lot. But, she does add that she doesn't really know everything her alien powers do to her. Johnny adds that he knows she has super healing, especially after Hollow's attack. He apologizes again. She tells him not to worry. Sometimes she feels she’s better off not knowing a lot about her powers.
Getting ready to leave, Julie asks Johnny what he thinks about Phil (aka Green Goblin)'s new friend (aka Hollow). Johnny substitutes the word 'friend with 'freak' - Hollow practically shish-kabobbed Julie. Julie however, understands how Hollow felt ... she was scared, and she had lashed out. Johnny, however, still remains furious with Hollow's behavior. What if she does it again? Julie tells him that Phil has the situation under control, but Johnny remarks that Hollow is more on a leash. It creeps him out the way she follows him around.

The two of them walk outside to Johnny's car, where he suggests that they should call S.H.I.E.L.D. Julie is uncomfortable with the idea. Hollow was just broken out of an MGH lab, and now she'll be switched to a government one? Mattie (aka Spider-Woman) is looking into the idea, and Mickey seems to remember something about Hollow from her New Warriors days. Driving off, Johnny says that he still doesn't trust Mattie. Julie assures him that Mattie is just guarded. After what she went through ... and speaking of hidden agendas, Julie remembers something. She asks Johnny if he noticed any lovey-dovey vibe between Mickey and Chris (aka Darkhawk). They're totally doing it. Johnny laughs at the idea; Chris would never hook up with goody-goody Mickey. Julie is adamant; she tells Johnny that Chris is definitely doing it with Mickey. She says, "She's like, smoking hot! I'd totally --" A shocked Johnny interrupts and asks what she'd "totally" do. Julie abruptly changes the subject.
Julie advises that Johnny to put on his game face. She is nervous for what the two of them are about to do. Johnny tells her she's the one who wanted to do this; he's just here for support. She tells him she doesn't do well under pressure. He replies that this is coming from the girl who practically fought every bad guy on the planet. Julie, however, doesn't feel ready... battling super villains are easy. What she is about to do isn't. Johnny comforts Julie by telling her that she hasn't really kept her dreams secret ... "So let's make them come true!" he says, as he drives the two of them into the Marvel Studios district.
Phil Urich's apartment - the exact same time:

As Phil washes the dishes, he looks over at a sleeping Hollow. Speaking to her sleeping form, he remembers how the one word she ever said was 'like' after she kissed him. Phil smiles as he remembers the kiss. One simple word, one simple action ... but too many questions. Phil pauses while washing a dish. In its reflection he sees his Green Goblin spirit and a monstrous Hollow kissing. Phil panics, and smashes all the dishes to the floor, waking a shocked Hollow. She looks over at a miserable Phil, walks over to him, and comforts him with a one-armed hug.
Elsewhere, at Marvel Studios:

Julie reflects on how, even though there are times when they do tell the truth (when they open up and say what they really want), that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of other secrets kept bottled up inside. There are secrets that can hurt people if they ever come out. Sometimes, they get wrapped up in secrets that aren't their own. Sometimes, they worry about what other people may be hiding from them. They hope that by uncovering the secrets of others, they'll find out something about themselves ... even if they aren't ready to face the truth. And sometimes, the truth hurts ... Julie, having been rejected from the 'Civil War' film, storms out the studio. "Take some acting lessons?! Who does that guy think he is?" Johnny hurries after her, reminding her that he is the hottest director in Hollywood - his new flick set an opening record. Julie calls it a piece of crap - the film was 75% CGI. As Julie bursts into a rage about her rejection, she is interrupted by Mark Lowell, a hardcore action film director.
Lowell apologizes for interrupting, but tells Julie that he is impressed with her honesty. Johnny butts in, telling Lowell that he loves his films. Lowell modestly acknowledges Johnny's compliment, but tells him that he is jealous of the director that rejected Julie - the other director can use CGI green screens and expensive stuntmen. Julie becomes intrigued with Lowell's mention of stuntmen. Lowell tells her that most stuntmen come from Hong Kong, and are really expensive. Julie asks if he'd like to use people with powers. Like ex-super heroes. She turns on a light layer of her rainbow and hovers in front of a shocked Lowell. He asks if Johnny is also a super hero; Johnny nods. Lowell asks if they'd sign waivers, work for scale and start today. Julie eagerly agrees. Lowell finally asks if Julie is registered. Julie thinks about how sometimes, the lies sting more ... and she slowly tells him that she is.
A beaming Lowell hires them immediately as his two new stuntmen. Although Julie is excited, Johnny pulls her aside. He asks her if she's sure she wants to do this. As members of Excelsior, they are not supposed to use their powers. Julie tells him that if using her powers gets her a foot up in her acting career, that's a chance she is willing to take. She tells Johnny that the point of Excelsior is to not put on their costumes and fight crime; that doesn't mean she can't use her power. Johnny reminds her how the rest of the group freaked when she jumped off the Hyatt building a couple weeks back - and she wasn't in costume or fighting crime. Excelsior is trying to put their pasts behind them... and that's what Julie is doing. Shoving Johnny aside, she accepts Lowell's job offer.
The Griffith Observatory:

Standing by the James Dean memorial are Mickey and Chris. Chris begs Mickey for another chance. He knows that he screwed up when he became Darkhawk again, but they did do it for the right reason. Mickey is adamant with Chris. She is still furious for what he kept from the group. Does he think his good intentions justify his powers?

Chris tells her they sometimes do, and maybe that's why she's pissed. After all... she was the one who suggested they put their costumes back on after chasing the Runaways. Mickey angrily replies that that was a group trip, not a date. Chris finally figures what's making Mickey so snappish; she is jealous that he busted Nekra with Mattie. Mickey admits that she is, partly. Chris reminds Mickey that Johnny was there with them. Mickey, now more sullen, tells him that she wasn't there at first. Mickey is mainly depressed about how Mattie shook her 'tight little butt' out of the meeting, and how Chris ran after her like a love-sick puppy. Now Chris is pissed.
He tells her that she should know him better than that. Mickey holds his hand and tells him she trusts him; it's just that Mattie rubs her the wrong way. She tells Chris that she's just jealous because there's another girl in the group. A confused Chris asks about Julie; how come Mattie isn't jealous when Chris hangs with her? A smiling Mickey tells him that Julie is just not into... "Not into what?" Chris asks. Mickey abruptly tells him Julie isn't into the dating scene. She's too focused on her career. Chris tells Mickey that he couldn't care less what she's into; right now, he's only focused on her. After kissing her and making up, Chris begins flirting with her, and she responds. Chris drags her away from the memorial and says he wants to see her 'tight little butt' in spandex.
Elsewhere, at Marvel Studios:

Julie and Johnny get ready for their film. Julie, dressed as Black Cat, adjusts her wig while Johnny puts on his Iron Fist mask. Mark Lowell, the director, asks if they are ready. Once Julie says ready, willing, and able, Lowell calls, "action!" Julie runs away from Johnny. Immediately, Julie does impossibly high tricks. Lowell was right to hire her as a stunt actress. Johnny himself compliments her while they pretend to fight. He apologizes for punching her so hard. Julie tells him that if he thinks that was hard, then he should tell her how his landing is. She promptly throws him into a wall. Crashing into it, he tells her, "Sure... but you first." He gives her a kick, sending Julie flying over the edge of the building. Julie falls to the very bottom, where she catches herself in her rainbow-like lights. Lowell calls cut, and most of the crew workers go to congratulate Julie's spectacular work.
Lowell himself is happy with all the money he is saving. Julie attempts to pull herself away in order to call her family and tell them her good news, but Lowell manages to pull her aside to tell her that she and Johnny are going to be stars in the town. As a giddy Julie flies off in a swirl of rainbow colors, Johnny calls the person he was suppose to meet today - Mattie. He tells her that something came up and he can't meet her. Mattie, elsewhere, tells him not to worry. She'll see him at the meeting later. As she hangs up, she looks at a news article on her laptop: "Costumed Casualty After Manhattan Massacre" - Murdered Hero Was E.S.U .student. An annoyed Mattie wonders how she'll ever get to the bottom of the story if she can't get a minute alone with Johnny...
Julie flies into the sky, calling her younger sister, Katie. Katie instantly becomes suspicious of Julie using her powers (she hears Julie flying), but Julie lies to her and tells her she is just driving with the window open. Julie lands by the Hollywood sign to continue her call. Katie believes the lie, and happily congratulates Julie on her new gig. Katie becomes gleeful over the fact that only she knows - Jack Power will be so pissed! Katie tells Julie that she'll tell mom and dad, but Julie stops her by saying that her parents don't really need to know just yet. Katie wonders why. They don't need to sign a permission slip, do they? Julie avoids the question by saying it happened so fast, they didn't get around to the paperwork. Katie tells Julie that she thinks she is letting the whole 'dumb blonde act' go to her head. Julie used to be the smart one, the responsible one. Katie ends the conversation by asking if Julie should start acting like her older sister again, but Julie wonders... it's pretty hard to keep all your secrets straight when you live in the city of lies.
Meanwhile, Johnny speaks with Lowell. He asks Johnny if Julie does this often, disappearing like that. "Not usually," he replies. He asks Johnny to ensure it only happens when he yells Action from now on. He says that he can't believe Julie. Chasing rainbows is the last thing he needs today. Johnny gets on the phone to Mattie who is on the computer. He tells her that something's come up. Mattie is fine with it, and asks rhetorically what Julie did this time. She wishes him luck and returns to the screen. On it is the headline - 'Costumed Casualty After Manhattan Massacre. Murdered hero was ESU student.' Mattie wonders how she's ever going to get to the bottom of this if she can't get a minute alone with that idiot.
Marvel Studios – later:

Julie returns to the set and is getting dressed in her trailer. As someone knocks on the door, she tells them to hold on one sec. Regardless, director Mark Lowell enters, smiling, before Julie is done dressing. He tells her that he thought he saw her arrive.
Julie apologizes for rushing off earlier; she simply appreciated the chance. Lowell tells her not to worry; there are better ways she can show her appreciation. He pulls her hair aside and asks if he can dive into 'the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.' Julie is stricken, but Lowell tells her that she should have expected this in the film business. Julie smacks his hand away, but he advances upon her and tells her that her 'assets' caught his eye. Lowell assumes that Julie arrived in to the Studios acting all innocent, willing to do anything to get into show biz. He has the power to make it happen.
As he wraps his arms around her waist, an enraged Julie lets out a sarcastic remark: he's got the power? In an explosion of rainbow color, Julie blasts Lowell out the trailer and remarks about how that wasn't the kind of 'thrust' she was expecting. Lowell, in a fit of anger, lands upon the ground and tells her that she can't do it - there are laws to protect them from 'powered freaks.' He's calling the cops. Julie doesn't mind. Maybe the cops can also explain the laws that protect minors like Julie from predators like him. Lowell is stunned; she is underage? Julie tells him that she is seventeen. A shocked Lowell tells her that he didn't know... he could have sworn with the way she looks, talks, and her powers... It is now that Julie realizes. Lowell had assumed that the act Julie put on was the real her. Hard to believe that it took a dirtbag director like him to finally make her realize... it is time to drop the act.
Sunset Boulevard – later:

Julie stands on the top of the Hyatt building. The last time she stood up there, she had said she was tired of living a lie. Looking over the edge, she feels like she is still tired of living lies. Putting her foot over the edge, she reflects on how she jumped off in order to be free. But, that was then and this is now. Julie steps back from the edge and realizes that it's time to take a step back, and keep her feet on the ground for a while. To see what it's like living without the lies.
Excelsior meeting – later:

In the basement of the Holy Trinity Church, Phil, Mattie, Johnny, Chris, and Mickey watch as it is Julie's turn to speak. Julie used to always joke about having powers, but she sees now that it's no laughing matter. Mutants manifest later in life, as if nature is controlling their evolution. Waiting for them to be ready, to be mature enough to handle the responsibility. However, when Julie was ten, an alien gave her those powers. It was much too young to handle the burden... but the responsibility was forced upon her. She had to deal with it. She takes out a picture of herself, Katie, Alex, and Jack all around one another. They all had to deal with it. Julie smiles as she remembers how no one would have guessed that they were already Power Pack at that age by looking. That's because it is a decision they made about their powers... they chose to keep it a secret.
Somehow, even at that age, they had the sense to know that they couldn't tell anyone about what had happened to them. They just knew it had to be a secret; their secret. Looking back, Julie is surprised that they managed to keep it under wraps for as long as they did. She could fly, and she hadn't told anyone. It was if a dream had come true; the world had to know she could fly... but they kept it a secret. Since they became good at keeping secrets, they also became good at lying... too good. when lying becomes second nature, the person it becomes easiest to lie to is yourself, and eventually you start living your own lies. Julie tells them that is what she's been doing the whole time she was here... lying to them all. She came to Los Angeles to get rid of her past; she thought it would be fun to create a new image. And just like that, Hollywood-Julie was born. That is the Julie that joined the group. Not the real Julie. Stepping back, Julie reintroduces herself to Excelsior. Not Hollywood-Julie... the real Julie Power.
Not for the first time, Julie notes how all super heroes have secrets. Even ex-super heroes. And while keeping them can get them in a lot of trouble... making them public can make matters even worse. With that, a voice from behind the door tells them it was convenient for them to list their meetings online. Not tracking them down means she has a lot more energy... to kill them! And with that, Nekra bursts into the room!

Characters Involved: 

Darkhawk, Green Goblin, Lightspeed, Ricochet, Spider-Woman III and Turbo (all Excelsior)
Mark Lowell and studio staff
in photograph:

Alex Power, Jack Power, Julie Power and Katie Power (all Power Pack)

Story Notes: 

(by Fantomex & Sami Dawed)

This cover is a reference to the John Hughes, Pretty in Pink, starring Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy and James Spader. Julie is Molly Ringwald, Mickey is Andrew McCarthy and Mattie is Jon Cryer (seen at the time of writing these notes in the sitcom, Two and a Half Men)
MOS (Mountain Ocean Sun) is a Japanese fast-food chain. MOS-C is one of its trading names.
The Marvel Studios gate has statues of Captain America, Spider-Man and Wolverine on top of it.
Black Cat (Felicia Hardy) is a recurring character in the Spider-Man books. Iron Fist (Daniel Rand) is often seen teamed up with Luke Cage, Daredevil and the New Avengers.
There is a mistake in this issue. When the director, Lowell, congratulates Julie, he says that she and Chris are going to be stars. Lowell means Julie and Johnny are going to be famous. Chris wasn't even there.
Excelsior went after the runaways in Runaways (2nd series) #1 - 6.
Julie is a member of Power Pack, a team of child superheroes and the children of James and Margaret Power.

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