Marvel Team-Up (3rd series) #20

Issue Date: 
July 2006
Story Title: 
Freedom Ring, part one of five

Robert Kirkman (writer), Andy Kuhn (penciler), Studio F’s Marte Gracia (colorist), VC’s Rus Wooton (letterer), Aubrey Sitterson (editor), Tom Brevoort (consulting editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

After recovering the cosmic ring from the Ringmaster’s severed finger, Captain America heads off to place it in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. However, en route he is attacked by a M.O.D.O.C. squad and, during the fight, the ring is lost. The next morning, it is picked up by a young guy named Curtis, who doesn’t realize it has amazing powers. Later, at his apartment, he thinks about doing some exercise, but what he really wishes for is an ice cream sundae. Astonishingly, one appears on his lap. He is startled and runs from the room. He walks back in, gingerly, and finds the sundae missing. He calls his friend Troy to come over, and shouts at a nosy neighbor listening in on their conversation. Troy arrives later and is treated to a display of the ring’s powers, now Curtis has figured out how it works. One of the side effects that Curtis has found is that it only operates to a radius of fifteen feet. If he ventures farther away than that, then whatever he has created just disappears. They both find it really cool, and have some fun before falling asleep. The next morning, they head to the diner again and Curtis is asked out by the waiter. Curtis agrees to the date. Meanwhile, in Tokyo, Titannus continues regenerating, watched over by two scientists. One of them is certain that, if some implants they have given the alien don’t work, he will kill certainly them all.

Full Summary: 

(New York City)

Captain America picks up the Ringmaster’s severed finger, and tells the others that he’ll make sure that the ring fashioned from a piece of cosmic cube ends up in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. Carrying it in a holster bag, he dashes across rooftops. As he leaps from one to the next, he is attacked by an unseen force. He is thrown off his feet and just manages to prevent himself from falling off the building. The cosmic ring drops out of a hole that’s been ripped into the bag, and Captain America drops safely to the ground.

When he gets there, he is faced with a group of soldiers and recognizes them as being a M.O.D.O.C. squad. They are military operatives designed only for combat; enhanced soldiers linked telepathically to a hive-mind fighting program. They were created by A.I.M., and Cap knows they’re bad news. He is forced into a tough scrap, and forgets about his current objective, namely the ring. The soldiers aren’t after the ring, but Cap doesn’t know that just yet. Out of his vision, the ring tumbles away from them towards a small diner on the corner of Bleeker and Elizabeth Streets.

(the next morning)

At the Happy Sunrise Diner, Curtis arrives to find his friends, Daphne, Megan, Philip and Troy already there. He takes a seat and they chitchat about elliptical trainers and maple syrup, before the waiter asks Curtis if he’s ready to order. Curtis hands him back the menu, smiles, and tells him he’s in the diner just about every morning and orders the same thing. The waiter returns his smile and replies that he’ll try harder tomorrow. Curtis calls him back as he walks away and asks if he minds him using his own maple syrup. He replies that he can bring his own pancakes for all he cares. He adds that his name’s Jeffrey as he walks off. Curtis’ friends sense Jeffrey has a thing for him. Later, as they leave the diner, Curtis notices the cosmic ring on the ground and picks it up. He slides it onto his finger, not knowing what he has stumbled upon.

(later that day)

Curtis is relaxing at home, looking at his elliptical trainer. He reckons he should actually use it at some point, but that’s not what he wants right now. What he’d like is an ice cream sundae. To his astonishment, as the ring glows on his finger, a sundae appears on his lap. It startles him and he leaps from his sofa and runs from his apartment. Once at a safe distance, he stops, turns and gingerly returns to the room. The sundae has now vanished. He calms down and gives Troy a call. He explains what just happened, asking him to come over as soon as he can. He isn’t joking. As he speaks, he shouts at a neighbor who is nosily listening to his conversation.

(at that very moment)

The S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier hangs high above New York City. On board, Captain America is receiving some treatment for injuries to his back, courtesy of the M.O.D.O.C. team. Acting Director Maria Hill looks at the shredded bag, and tells him that she doesn’t expect this kind of thing, especially from him. Cap knows this, but he hadn’t realized his belt was damaged until after the fight. He doesn’t even know at which point he lost the ring. The fight stretched over a large area. Maria hopes that the ring, which could have been found by anyone, is found by one of the good guys.

(later, at Curtis’ apartment)

Troy arrives, and Curtis runs through the story again. Troy asks him to grab his coat. He’s taking him to the hospital. Curtis grins, and asks him to hold out his hands. Troy does so, and Curtis conjures a chocolate cake into them. Curtis asks if he’d prefer a roast chicken. A roast chicken promptly appears on top of the cake. He holds his hand up and informs Troy that it’s the ring. It’s magical or something. Troy wonders whether he’s just a late-blooming mutant, but Curtis replies that most of the mutants are gone now. Anyway, he’s had time to practice with the ring while he waited for Troy to come over. When he wears it he has powers. When he takes it off, they’re gone.

Curtis continues to explain that he can not only create food; he can summon gold chains, top hats, scuba gear… he even had a big statue of himself before Troy arrived. Troy munches on some cake. It’s good, but he asks what happened to it all. Curtis replies that he can make things disappear just as easily as he can make them appear. The cake vanishes, much to Troy’s dismay. Curtis adds that there is a downside. He asks Troy to keep his eyes focused on an overly large toilet in the room and then leaves. The toilet vanishes into thin air. Curtis comes back in and says that he’s got a fifteen-foot radius around himself where the powers work. Outside of that, it disappears.

Troy suggests that he could make some money, buy stuff and be gone with the merchandise before the people even noticed. Curtis winks, and replies that he could do that if he had no concept of right and wrong. Troy figures this would bring up some tricky ethical issues. Curtis then creates a long beard for himself, and Troy asks for an afro. “This is so cool!”

(the next morning)

The apartment is filled with all kinds of nonsense. A chicken suit, inflatable dinosaur, space helmet, beach ball and piles of cash are just some of the things Curtis has conjured up using the cosmic ring. Troy pulls the chicken suit mask off and asks what time it is, before realizing where he is, and how he’s dressed. Curtis wakes and everything disappears. He thinks to himself that he’s had the stupidest dream, but knows it was real. Troy asks if he could turn his clothes into clean ones. Curtis replies that he could, but he would run the risk of being naked if he got more than fifteen feet away from him. Troy corrects him, saying all that would happen is that the clothes would get dirty again. Curtis reckons he’s got the ring figured out, and Troy pops into the closet to borrow a shirt. Curtis asks him to keep the ring stuff between themselves for the time being. He doesn’t want to freak anyone out. Troy understands.

(later, at the Happy Sunrise diner)
After pancakes with Curtis’ special maple syrup, the friends once again go their separate ways, but Curtis notices that someone didn’t pitch in on the tip. Daphne throws in some cash and Jeffrey the waiter wanders over. He hopes he isn’t getting the wrong signals, but he asks Curtis if he’d like to go out with him later in the week; dinner, a movie, a coffee or whatever. Curtis happily agrees to the date. Why not?

(a secret bunker deep under Tokyo)

Two scientists are watching over the regeneration of Titannus’ body. They can’t believe that the brain has almost reconstructed entirely. One asks if the implants survived the process. Are they still intact? His partner informs him that they are. Everything’s running smoothly. He has some trepidation for when the subject’s head is completely re-formed, though, and he hopes the implants work. When his colleague asks what he means, he replies that, if the implants malfunction in any way, and if they cannot control him even for a second, he is certain that Titannus will kill them all with very little effort.

Characters Involved: 

Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine (all Avengers)


M.O.D.O.C. Squad


Daphne Mendoza




Diners, Jeffrey the waiter and a waitress

Curtis’ neighbor

S.H.I.E.L.D. acting director Maria Hill

S.H.I.E.L.D. medic



Story Notes: 

The run-up to this story can be found in Marvel Team-Up (3rd series) #7-10, at the end of which, the Punisher shot the Ringmaster’s finger off.

A.I.M. stands for Advanced Idea Mechanics.

Issue Information: 
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