Loners #5

Issue Date: 
October 2007
Story Title: 
Chinks in the Armor

C.B. Cebulski (writer), Karl Moline (artist), Mark Pennington (ink assists), Beth Sotelo (colorist), VC's Rus Wooton (letterer), Jason Pearson (cover artist), Molly Lazer (editor), Tom Brevoort (executive editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Mickey Musashi is struggling to hold Excelsior together and to keep herself from just donning her costume once again and taking to the skies. Having Nekra attack only adds to her problems. Nekra is powerful and takes out Excelsior with ease, only to be stopped before she kills Mickey by a mysterious redhead, Namie. Grateful for the save, Excelsior aren't sure whether to trust her, not knowing her motives for stepping in. Mickey kisses Chris, revealing their relationship, and Phil Urich takes it really badly, storming off. Julie then lets slip that she isn't actually registered, and has to depart, taking Namie with her who Johnny recognizes as being one of the people in the Fujikawa tubes along with Hollow, with her. Julie takes her to a diner where they chat. It becomes clear that the girl has little memory of who she is, how she got there or what her powers are. Elsewhere, Phil begins to crack up, feeling the curse of the Green Goblin descend upon him. His behavior frightens Hollow. Mattie, meanwhile, heads to Johnny's and joins him in his apartment. Johnny heads to the shower, and while he’s in there, Mattie looks for clues in his apartment of Dusk’s whereabouts. Johnny finds her rummaging through his belongings, and Mattie, thinking quickly, tells him she is looking for protection. Johnny has no reason to doubt her and they hit the sack together. Later, everyone turns up for an Excelsior meeting, but Phil has changed. He has a go at Mickey before having a pop at Chris, taking his Darkhawk amulet for himself!

Full Summary: 

Los Angeles, California - Wednesday, September 12:

Mickey Musashi (aka Turbo) posts a letter on her blog. "Life is all about balance." Her parents would have been so proud, seeing her embrace her Asian roots by getting all 'Zen.' Next thing you know, she'll be spouting off about yin and yang. Ever since Mickey was a child, she always found herself flipping back and forth between the two sides of the same coin that is her; trying to respect her Japanese heritage while growing up in America, finding it hard to stay grounded after learning how to fly. She found herself trying to leave a somewhat normal life whilst accepting the responsibilities of being a hero... and dealing with the realities of being just a girl in a costume when all her friends are blessed with powers of their own.
Now, she runs a self-help group for ex-teen heroes when she's not even sure they want help anymore. She feels that sometimes, opening themselves up like this only brought more trouble down around them then they ever bargained for. Mickey recounts how Mattie brought all her MGH issues when joining, which led to all kinds of unwanted costumed antics - exactly what they've been trying to avoid. Mickey made a deal with the MGH dealer's president, Miss Fuyumi Fujikawa, by putting those old Japanese language lessons to good use (another way to make her parents proud). Miss Fujikawa dropped Hollow on their laps, though Mickey is wary of her; she has a hunch about her.
At the same time, Julie unloads about how she's been lying to them the whole time. Mickey has a feeling she still has a few other secrets... and that is why their balance is out of whack.
That's just the group. Mickey reflects on her tense relationship with Chris, and how she feels guilty for dating someone with powers. Mickey feels the urge to put on her old costume, take to the skies and leave all her stress behind for an afternoon in the clouds. It's tempting, but she knows that she can't give in. She is going to keep her feet planted firmly on the ground. Life is all about balance, and Mickey is the only one who has to make sure it's maintained. Otherwise, Excelsior might just spiral out of control...
Holy Trinity Church; Excelsior meeting:

Nekra bursts into the room. Johnny Gallo (aka Ricochet) leaps back, Julie Power (aka Lightspeed) hovers around the ceiling, Mattie Franklin (aka Spider-Woman) unleashes her extra legs and Chris Powell (aka Darkhawk) activates the Darkhawk amulet. Nekra immediately begins to attack the four heroes.
All the while, Mickey stands at the back... thinking. This is what happens when trust is broken. The trust she places in strangers... in her teammates... and even in her loved ones. It always comes crashing down around her.
Mickey yells at Darkhawk to watch out but Nekra has already grabbed Darkhawk, and she uses him as a baseball bat to shoot Lightspeed out the building. Ricochet remembers how he, Darkhawk and Spider-Woman had stopped Nekra last time. Before he and Spider-Woman attack her, Nekra bashes both of them into a wall, leaving only Mickey and Phil, who is holding a pipe. Phil tells Mickey to stand back; Nekra thinks they're helpless - but the joke's on her! Phil laughs as he attacks Nekra, who punches him into a wall. Nekra then walks towards Mickey, the only one still standing. Grabbing her by the throat, Nekra smiles as she says, "No Powers, No Problems!" Just as she squeezes Mickey's throat, Nekra freezes. She looks down to her chest, where she sees a glowing red laser-like blade jammed near her heart. Nekra immediately drops to the ground. Mickey, horrified, sees a figure standing in the distance - someone has saved her.
A girl steps into the room. Her appearance makes her look as young as Julie. Around her wrist is a metallic band, where a glowing red laser-like knife is pointed out. The knife retracts into the band and the girl helps Mickey up. Mickey thanks her and asks who she is, but the girl says that she doesn't know.
At this point, Chris awakens and warns the girl to get away from Mickey, but Mickey defends her by pointing out that she is the one who took down Nekra. She is one of the good guys. Mattie, Julie, Johnny and Phil awaken, just in time to see Chris apologize to Mickey for changing into Darkhawk. Mickey tells him never to worry about her, and she kisses him, exposing their relationship.
Mattie stares at them in disbelief. Johnny is surprised but Julie smugly tells him that she knew. Phil, however, stares in maniacal anger. His eyes clench, and fury sweeps through him. Phil storms out the room. Julie wonder's what is wrong with him, but Mattie believes that it's because he got kicked by Nekra. Johnny yelps in shock - he recognizes the girl who rescued Mickey. He saw her in the Fujikawa lab; she was one of the women in the tubes. Mickey, once again, defends the girl. She also adds that Chris should turn back into Darkhawk; Nekra is still breathing. Johnny insists that the girl was one of the women in the tubes and the girl does not deny it. In fact, she mentions that she remembers seeing Johnny and Julie there, and saw them running away after Julie was attacked. The girl must have... escaped shortly after.
Mickey is now confused. She asks the girl if she escaped or was released. The girl lowers her head and says she can't remember. Mickey asks how the girl found them, and how can she use the energy blade from her wrist. The girl's voice breaks as she reveals she doesn't know. All she did was walk in, see that Mickey was in trouble, and the blade was just there. It's as if part of her memory has been wiped clean. All she knows is her name... Namie.
Namie raises her head and slowly starts weeping as she begs them to help her. Mattie however rolls her eyes and doesn't trust Namie, mainly because she and Nekra's "evil-sounding" names both start's with 'N'. Besides, both of them showing up is a bit too coincidental. And they both seem to connect to the Fujikawa woman that Mickey made a deal with. A deal the rest of them know nothing about.
Mickey tells Mattie to mind her business. Mattie pressures Mickey into telling her about the deal, though Mickey tells her she has to trust her on it. At the same time, police sirens blare through the church. Mattie mentions that they couldn't destroy a church and not expect someone to notice. Darkhawk is glad; S.H.I.E.L.D. can now deal with Nekra. Julie becomes desperate to leave, but Johnny tells her not to worry; they are all registered. Julie becomes flustered... she reminds the group about how she was explaining about her lies and finally coming clean. Julie finally admits she is not registered.
Predictably, the rest of the room explodes with anger. Mickey snaps, Mattie makes a sarcastic remark, but Darkhawk is enraged. They've been harboring a fugitive, and she could have landed all of them in jail. Johnny defends Julie, and advises her to leave immediately. She should also take Namie with her, since none of them are ready to answer any of those questions. Again, Mattie tells the group she does not trust Namie. Mickey isn't sure either, but she did save her life - that counts for something. Darkhawk adds they don't have any other choice. Mickey tells Julie and Namie to leave while they get it sorted out with the cops; the two of them, however, are not of the hook. Julie picks up Namie and leaves... but not before telling Namie she is a lot heavier than she looks.
In-and-Out Burger:

Julie eats a burger while Namie asks if there was any place more private they could wait. Julie does not mean to offend her, but she doesn't know who Namie is and she doesn't exactly trust her - there is no way she is taking her to her apartment or anywhere 'private.' Plus, she was starving. That doesn't mean she can't try and be nice to her. She offers Namie her burger, and asks when the last time Namie ate was. Namie is confused; she doesn't remember ever eating.
Julie, intrigued, asks what the last thing Namie does remember is. Namie reflects on how the last thing she remembered was a woman's smile. Maybe her mother's. Her voice had said "We'll meet again soon enough." And then the lights went out. Next thing she knows, she was in the church basement with them, just in time to save Mickey's life with a power she doesn't know how to use. Julie admits it is all pretty convenient.
Namie raises her metallic wristband and says she has no idea how to turn on the energy blade. Julie advises her not to try too hard... getting stabbed by one Fujikawa escapee (Hollow) in this lifetime's enough for her. Namie breaks down into tears and wonders what the Fujikawa labs did to her. Julie comforts her and assures her they will hook up with the rest of the group and figure things out. She asks if Namie's sure she wouldn't one just one bite of her burger. Namie smiles.
The apartment of Phil Urich:

Phil, having left Excelsior's meeting after seeing Mickey and Chris kiss, is in his bathroom. Phil is breathing heavily, and is clutching the bathroom sink while in a sort of fit. His eyes are red. He tells himself he can fight it... he urges himself not to give in. Another voice, darker speaks... out of Phil's own mouth. The second voice tells him there is nothing left for him. He's lost her. Phil tells himself not to listen to the second voice; Mickey still loves him. The second voice puts Phil down by telling him he is lying to himself. It is finally time to accept the truth. Phil has to admit; he's lost Mickey... and he's losing his mind. Madness truly does come to all those who don the mantle of the Green Goblin. And with that, the second voice calls, "embrace it!" The spirit of the Green Goblin manically laughs as it rushes through Phil, cracking the bathroom mirror. Phil, officially possessed by the spirit, gives a horrific laughter that scares a spying Hollow. Hollow instantly rushes to the living room and crawls up into a ball, in the corner, truly frightened.
The apartment of Johnny Gallo:

Johnny enters his apartment after Mattie. He apologizes for the mess; he doesn't usually bring chicks back to his apartment on such short notice. Mattie, regardless, appreciates him letting her hang. She'll take looking at dirty laundry over sitting LA traffic anytime. Besides, this chick doesn't need short notice to school him on how to rock. She picks up his Guitar Hero. Johnny eagerly accepts the challenge, but tells her he needs to take a shower first - he still has Nekra stink all over him. Johnny tells her he'll be quick. The second Johnny steps into the shower, Mattie gets up to make sure he is occupied. She rushes to his bedroom and looks through all his drawers and mutters about how she knows Johnny is hiding something. It is at this point when Johnny arrives into the room wrapped in a towel. He asks Mattie what she's looking for. Mattie awkwardly searches for an excuse. She tells Johnny she was looking for... protection. She pulls Johnny to the bed, and Johnny asks no further questions
Shortly after:

Mattie sits in Johnny's bathroom, bitterly thinking about how that wasn't her smartest move. A man named Mr. St. Commons calls her phone, and she answers it. She tells him she's in Johnny's apartment, and it's clean. There is no trace of her here. Mattie is sure; she examined every angle and looked under every rock. She assures Mr. St. Commons that Johnny Gallo hasn't had any contact with and doesn't know the whereabouts of his daughter. She apologizes for not finding the answer he was looking for. She hangs up. Staring at her reflection, she wonders what she got herself into. Stepping back out into Johnny's bedroom, she stares at him sleeping and worries about how awkward their situation will be.
The apartment of Mickey Musashi:

Mickey sits on her couch... depressed. Chris, beside her, has his arm around her. Mickey whispers to him about how she almost died today. Chris reminds her that she didn't. She's still alive, here and well. Mickey tells him she is too young to die and Chris asks her why she is dwelling on it; they're super heroes - this stuff happens to them. They shake off near-death experiences and move on. "It's a part of the world we live in," says Chris. Mickey, now angry, shakes him off and repeats, "we." Exactly who are they? The cool kids who still have their powers? "Phil made it pretty clear he isn't a part of 'us,'" Mickey says. Standing up, she asks where exactly does she fit into all this; clearly, she isn't one of them.
Chris is confused. By the time he stands up, he notices that Mickey is crying and Mickey confesses her angst. She was helpless. She stood their while Nekra was squeezing the life out of her and there was nothing she could do. No costume, no powers. End of story, and almost the end of her. Chris asks where all this is coming from; they are, after all, trying their best not to use their powers, to stay out of costume. Mickey asks if he really is trying.
Chris wraps his arms around her and tells her to stop. So she got a little shaken; she'll bounce back. But Mickey bitterly notes how they will bounce back. Fly back. And crawl back. Lucky them. Chris tells her she is the lucky one; she said it herself. Her powers came from her costume. So the costume is Turbo, not her. There were other Turbos before her, right? Mickey has the option of giving away her costume to someone else... she can walk away clean, start living a normal life again. That's a choice she can still make. A choice none of the rest of them have...
but Mickey, disgusted, slaps Chris right across the face and calls him a hypocrite. Jabbing him in the chest, she tells him to take off the amulet. Rubbing his face, Chris is shocked. Mickey tells him to take off the Darkhawk amulet; it isn't melded to his chest. He can choose to take it off. So why doesn't he? Chris tells her she knows he can't. Mickey begins yelling at him; "can't, or won't?" Chris should practice what he preaches. Take off the amulet. Give it all up. Walk away. Fingering the amulet, Chris tells Mickey he can't do it. Darkhawk is a part of who he is. Is that what she wanted to hear? And Mickey reveals that right there is what this is all about. Before she can continue with her tirade, the doorbell rings.
As Mickey walks towards the door, she tells Chris not to think it's over just because everyone else is coming over. Chris tells her that as soon as everyone leaves, he wants to... but Mickey interrupts him, and tells him that their issue is about to become a group discussion. Opening the door, she finds Phil and Hollow. Phil is hiding his eyes, and has a hat lowered over his face. Mickey checks the halls and berates Phil for bringing Hollow in broad daylight. Phil storms into her apartment and tells her that he doesn't care. Some of them aren't afraid to hide what they truly are anymore. Grabbing him, she asks what the hell that is supposed to mean. If he has something to say, he should at least have the stones to say it to her face. Phil agrees, turns, and grabs Mickey by the throat. Phil mocks Mickey, and notes how she gets all fired up now that her boyfriend is here to protect her. His power has her blood pumping up, doesn't it? Mickey throws him off her and asks what the hell is wrong with him. Phil's glasses fall off, revealing his vivid red eyes.
Phil roars at Mickey and tells her that she is the one with the problem. They had a plan! Doesn't she remember? He got her a job at the Times and they were going to change the world. Put their pasts as teen super heroes behind them and start together. Together! They could do more good with their education than with their costumes. Isn't that what she had said? They were perfect for each other. But she couldn't keep her hand out of the cookie jar, could she? She had to go back for a little taste. Phil, breathing heavily, tells her that is why she really wanted to start the group. She needed to surround herself with people with powers to feel better about herself. And poor old normal Phil Urich just wasn't good enough for her, was he?
Mickey tells Phil he's got it all wrong... they were friends, but she never felt that way about him. Phil slams his hand on a table, ordering Mickey not to lie to him. She used him, like she's using them. He loved her, but she led him on, making him believe they were alive when she really wanted to be just like the rest of them. But it's cool. Mickey wants power? Phil knows what to do to have her. He picks up a glass vase of flowers. Chris warns Phil to shut up, but Phil throws the vase at Chris' face, knocking him out.
Mickey screams while Hollow hisses, but Phil knows exactly what to do. He knows that Mickey isn't a "stop and smell the roses" kind of girl. He sees that now. She wants a guy who is willing to take matters into his own hands... and seize power for himself. With that, Phil rips the front of Chris' shirt and steals the Darkhawk amulet. Activating it, Phil stands before Mickey in the Darkhawk armor, laughing the maniacal laugh of a Green Goblin.

Characters Involved: 

Darkhawk, Green Goblin, Lightspeed, Ricochet, Spider-Woman III and Turbo (all Excelsior)



Burger joint's customers

Story Notes: 

(by Fantomex & Sami Dawed):

The cover to issue five is a parody of Some Kind of Wonderful. Darkhawk is Eric Stoltz, Mickey is Lea Thompson and Phil is Mary Stuart Masterson.
Nekra says, "No Powers, No Problems." There is a scene in Runaways (2nd series) #10 when Chase is speaking with Nico and says, "Mo' Powers, Mo' Problems." This appears to be a reference to the Notorious B.I.G. song, "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems," from the album Life After Death (1997).
Mattie says "Namie and Nekra?! I'll take "evil sounding names that start with 'N' please, Alex." This is a reference to the popular quiz show, Jeopardy, whose host since 1984 has been Alex Trebek.
Namie is revealed next issue to be a new Red Ronin model. It is hinted at this issue when Julie says, "You're a lot heavier than you look."

Issue Information: 
Written By: