New Avengers #19

Issue Date: 
July 2006
Story Title: 
The Collective, part three
Staff: 

Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Mike Deodata, Jr. (Penciler), Joe Pimentel (Inker) Dave Stewart (Colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (Letterer), Tom Valente (Production), Molly Lazer and Aubrey Sitterson (Assistant Editors), Tom Brevoort (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

After learning from Vision that Michael’s powers match those of many mutants de-powered by the Scarlet Witch after the House of M incident, Iron Man tells Vision and Spider-Man to leave S.H.I.E.L.D., as they still do not know who to trust there after recent revelations. Spider-Man and Vision are captured, however, and taken away to have information extracted. In space, Iron Man battles Michael and uses information on the de-powered mutants to create a counter-acting shield to counter Michael’s powers. He then offers a theory to the team that, after the Scarlet Witch de-powered millions of mutants, the energy fields many wielded were let loose and had to go somewhere. They merged into one collective form, where one part of it may have become sentient. Michael Pointer in Alaska may have been a mutant with the ability to absorb energy, and became a host for this energy. The other Avengers reach S.H.I.E.L.D., but Hill’s psi-squad has already extracted all relevant information from Spider-Man and the tech team has taken any info from Vision. The two are released, but not before Captain America and Hill exchange angry words. The Avengers leave, but Iron Man contacts Hill to see what her agents have put together about Michael. An agent orders Iron Man to stop attacking Michael, as they are just helping him adapt and learn his powers. Iron Man reasons that they have to stop Michael, as he could attack the White House, but the agent asks Iron Man why Michael would do that. What if he were heading towards the missing Wanda Maximoff? Upon hearing this, Iron Man and the Sentry let Michael head back to Earth, where he crash-lands into the ruins of Genosha.

Full Summary: 

Earth’s Atmosphere:
Iron Man streaks towards the edges of Earth’s atmosphere in an attempt to catch up with the Sentry, who has taken the immensely powerful Michael Pointer out into space. Spider-Man contacts Iron Man, and asks him what they are going to do with the sudden revelation concerning the energy analysis. Iron Man tells Spider-Man to excuse himself from the room and to listen to him carefully. He then contacts Captain America and tells him to pick up Spider-Man and Vision from the S.H.I.E.L.D. Hellicarrier. On my way, says Captain America. Stressed, Spider-Man tells Tony that they don’t have time. Tony begins to tell Peter that this is more than just Michael, but Spider-Man cuts him off.

The names and energy signatures that they read off the Michael guy – are these what he thinks they are? Magneto, Quicksilver and others, these are the House of M mutants that lost their mutant gene. Iron Man yells at Spider-Man and tells him to get off the ship with Vision. Spider-Man still argues and tells Tony that if these energy readings are correct then –

Iron Man cuts off Spider-Man again and tells him that they can’t trust that room. Spider-Man tells Tony that he is on a secure line, but Tony explains that S.H.I.E.L.D. has a psi-unit. Psychic agents are reading his thoughts right now.

S.H.I.E.L.D. Hellicarrier:
Spider-Man turns to face Director Maria Hill. With her arms folded across her chest, Hill asks Spider-Man what the House of M is. Uh, I have to go, says the worried Spider-Man. Hill, however, coolly asks Spider-Man again what the House of M is. Spider-Man continues to play dumb as he finds himself surrounded by armed S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. You’re under arrest, says Hill.

Spider-Man doesn’t believe Director Hill. He grabs Vision by the arm and tells him that they are leaving. Confused, Vision contests that he thought that they are supposed to help Director Hill. Hill tells Spider-Man that he is making a naïve move, but Spider-Man asks the woman what is wrong with her. There is a glowing maniac with lots of power about to crash on Earth for the second time today, and she is going on a power trip on him. Hill tells Spider-Man that she knows the Avengers know what Michael is and they are not telling her. She is the commander of the world peacekeeping task force, and she doesn’t care who the Avengers think they are, but they are standing in the way of what she needs to do. They have until the count of three.

Vision begins to speak up, but Hill decides to forget to wait till three. She snaps her fingers and tells her troops to take them down.

Spider-Man tells the group that this has been fun, as he leaps onto the ceiling. However, when he looks back down – no one is in the room! However, there is one woman standing, staring up at Peter. “Spider-Man,” says the woman with no her eyes glowing pure white, “you should sleep.”

Spider-Man then falls from the ceiling and hits the ground hard. Hill praises Agent Hook for her psychic illusion. Hook is a bit worried. She was in Spider-Man’s mind and he has been through a lot. Hill should just see his memory cycle. Maybe later, we are in a situation here, replies Director Hill. She tells a few other troops to take Spider-Man to the Box and get the information they need. Oh, uh, says Agent Hook. What, asks the confused Maria Hill. Spider-Man needs to be awake, replies Agent Hook. His unconscious mind makes its own imagery. Now you tell him, replies Director Hill. She then turns to the Vision, who is motionless, and asks if he is shut down.

Yes, replies another agent. Hill then tells him to drive his drives and get anything that references the House of M from it. The agent corrects Hill and tells her that the Vision doesn’t have drives – but Hill gets annoyed and the man stops correcting her.

Director Hill moves over to the computers as Spider-Man and Vision are taken away. An agent tells her that Captain America will be upset. It’s the bed they made, replies Hill. She then looks on the screen and asks if this is Michael. Yes, ma’am, replies the agent. The Sentry threw him into space, but now he is heading right back. Great, says Hill.

Space:
Iron Man contacts Captain America aboard the Quinjet, and tells him that they have trouble, aside from Michael. He just lost contact with Spider-Man and Vision. From S.H.I.E.L.D., asks the confused Captain America. Yes, replies Iron Man. Cap asks Tony if he is actually saying Director Hill is blocking transmissions. Yes, says Iron Man. What is wrong with that woman, asks Captain America in disbelief. She thinks we’re holding out on her, answers Iron Man. Sarcastically, Captain America wonders why she would think that.

Captain America tells Tony that he will have a word with Hill in person. Luke Cage comes up on video and asks if Tony really thinks that this is all the House of M mutants, all wrapped up in one person. Tony explains that he is still working on the analysis, but that is the current theory for now. Captain America asks Iron Man if he sees Michael or the Sentry.

Iron Man looks out into space to see Michael streaking towards him at high speeds, with a corona of fire and energy behind him. I have him, replies Iron Man. He is heading right for me.

Ms. Marvel jumps onto the comm and tells Iron Man to get out of the way. Michael ripped off his armor the last time. I wasn’t ready for him last time, replies Iron Man, as he begins to charge up his armor with some mysterious energy. Here we go, says the blue glowing Iron Man, as Michael streaks towards him. Michael crashes right into Iron Man, unleashing a blast of unimaginable energy, much to the horror of the Avengers watching via video on the Quinjet.

However, as the explosion dies out, the Avengers see Michael being thrown right back where he came from! Zero point energy, replies, who has not budged from his position in space. He tells the team that he is ok. He explains to the team that he was able to deconstruct the primary energy fields Michael is using, based on old files on Magneto and the rest of the known mutants. He then processed an energy field to counteract it. He doesn’t know how many times this trick will work, because he doesn’t have all the data. He also doesn’t know how all the various energy fields are affecting each other. He is telling them this as fast as he can just in case something happens to him.

Suddenly, Michael come to an immediate halt, and turns back to Iron Man. Uh oh, says Tony, as Michael race right back at him.

Suddenly, the Sentry returns and slams into Michael, causing another explosion, which destroys a nearby satellite. One of the Avengers thinks about Michael being all the House of M mutants’ powers in one person, but someone else corrects them. Tony said it was energy fields, not powers. Difference being, asks the other Avenger.

Iron Man explains that certain mutants controlled certain energies, some that aren’t even acknowledged yet in modern science. There may have even been new energies created. When the Scarlet Witch ended the mutant gene unnaturally in a million plus mutants, or however many there were, all that energy had nowhere to go. What if Michael was an energy-absorbing mutant that lived a quiet live in Alaska, unaware that he was a mutant?

Iron Man then tells the team to hold on, as he shoots some repulsor rays at Michael to help Sentry. He then continues his theory for Michael’s origins. This could just be the energies combined into something completely new. It was a collective that had nowhere to go, and the energies crashed onto this random guy. However, maybe one or more of the energy fields was sentient, and now without a host it took control of all the other energies. Luke Cage cuts off Iron Man and asks if he means this energy is living. Just keeps getting better, says Wolverine. It’s a possibility, says Iron Man, as he and Sentry throw Michael through the nearby satellite. Perhaps the collective became sentient when it merged. Perhaps it is a new life form.

Tony is hit by energy from Michael, cutting him off. Worried, Cage tells the team that they should go to space, but Captain America tells him now. They just reached S.H.I.E.L.D.

S.H.I.E.L.D. Hellicarrier:
The vile villains known as Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, Doctor Octopus, Vulture, Electro and Sandman attack!

Suddenly, an unmasked Peter Parker wakes up in terror, in a sweat. Peter finds himself restrained and lying with his head on a table. A voice apologizes to him, addressing him by his real name. One of her agents put that image in his head. They needed him awake and they didn’t have time for subtlety. Peter looks up to see Director Maria Hill sitting with him in the mostly dark room. House of M, says Hill, once again.

Peter tells Hill that she is out of her mind. Unimpressed, Hill tells Spider-Man that he should realize that, when the Superhuman Registration Act is passed, they will all be probably working for her. Peter reasons with Hill, and tells her that there is a big glowing guy killing things. They have to worry about him right now. House of M, demands Hill.

Up above, Captain America and the Avengers exit the Quinjet, to find themselves amongst many armed S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Captain America demands to know where Spider-Man and Vision are. Dum Dum Dugan approaches Cap and tells him that he has to respect Hill. She is in charge. Angered, Cap demands to know where his teammates are. Sorry, says Dugan, but it is Hill’s call. Spider-Woman tells Dugan that she is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and has full Hellicarrier clearance, but Dugan tells them to all calm down and let her do what she is doing. Let her do what, asks Cage. Dugan tells the team that he knows it seems hard to see it right now, but Hill has the best intentions in the world.

Avengers assemble, yells Captain America.

The Box:
Spider-Man uses every muscle in his body to attempt to free himself from his bonds, but to no avail. Hill gets up and tells Peter not to pop a blood vessel, for they are done. She tosses him back his mask as his restraints open. What, asks the confused Parker. Hill looks at a handheld device and tells Peter that she didn’t expect him to tell her anything. She knows how his type are tight with secrets, hence the masks. She just needed him awake and distracted long enough so the psychic team next door could pick what they need from his brain. They just called and said that they have what they need. Peter is free to go.

Enraged, Peter yells at Hill for unmasking him and stealing information from his head. We’re under attack, says Hill. I have no time for games.

Suddenly, Luke Cage breaks off the door with one punch!

Composed, Director Hill leaves through the opening, just in time for Captain America to yell at her and tell her that this is unacceptable. I was just thinking the same thing, says Hill. Now I’m going to have your job, yells Captain America. Hill contacts the bridge and tells them to have the command heads from all tech fields ready in the briefing room. Captain America threatens to call the president, but Hill gives him her headpiece and tells him to call the president himself. He is waiting to hear from her. Maybe he can take a minute away from drafting the Registration Act to take Cap’s call.

When Cap falls silent, Hill puts her headpiece back on and tells him that they are in the middle of a crisis. Help or don’t help. She then contacts the bridge and asks if Michael has touched back on Earth yet. She finds out that he hasn’t, and tells Capt that at least some Avengers know where they are needed.

Above:
The Avengers, along with the rebooted Vision, march towards the Quinjet. Iron Man contacts the team, and Vision responds, telling Tony that they are all present and leaving S.H.I.E.L.D. Where is Spider-Man, asks Tony. Right here, replies Spidey. He will explain what happened later. Vision, however, tells Tony that he believes his drives were hacked. Tony realizes that S.H.I.E.L.D. took all the Michael and House of M info, and Spider-Man confirms. Tony tells the two not to worry about it, as it is his fault. He had no idea this was going to happen. Some futurist, jokes Spider-Man.

Briefing Room:
Iron Man contacts Director Hill and asks her what she and her people have put together regarding the House of M analysis. Oh, now you want our analysis, says the irreverent Hill. No, now we are dealing with the problem, retorts Tony. Hill tells Stark that they are running the analyses. How is he holding out there? Can they see a visual?

Iron Man displays a visual of Sentry and Michael fighting it out in space. The fight is lasting this long because Michael has no experience with his powers and is lashing out blindly. This is no power one man can weald with only an hour’s experience. Sentry is just trying to keep Michael off Earth, so if S.H.I.E.L.D. has any medals around, Bob has earned it. Hill asks where Sentry is trying to go, and what does he want.

Space:
Iron Man blasts Michael in the back with another attack, and tells Hill that he will be sure to ask the man as the questions as soon as he gets the foe into a place, where, you know, a person can hear sound. Suddenly, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent gets onto the comm and tells Iron Man to stop engaging Michael with physical contact. When Iron Man asks why, as he continues to fight Michael, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent explains that they can’t stop him so stop trying. Every time they attack and put Michael into a new situation, he adapts. He walked until they threw him into the sky, and now he can fly! They have a better chance at reasoning with him or containing him if we can figure out where he is trying to go and what he is trying to do.

As the Sentry attacks Michael, Tony asks the agent what if Michael is going to blow up the White House. Incredulously, the agent asks Tony why in the world Michael would do that. What if he is taking them to Wanda Maximoff?!

Iron Man stops dead in his tracks.

Tony then swoops around and grabs Sentry, flying off at top speeds away from Michael.

Michael watches the two fly away, and once he realizes the fight is over, turns his attention back to Earth, streaking towards his target.

Iron Man contacts S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers, telling them that Michael is back en route and he is moving fast.

S.H.I.E.L.D.:
An agent tells Iron Man that they are tracking Michael. Hill orders someone to lock on the destination. She then puts the president on the line.

Quinjet:
Cap calls out to Tony, who tells the team that he is redirecting the Quinjet to Michael directly. Where, asks Cap.

Space:
Iron Man and Sentry swoop back into Earth’s atmosphere as the final coordinates come into Iron Man’s armor.

S.H.I.E.L.D.:
Uh-oh, says an agent. He is flying directly for it.

Oh my god, mutters Director Hill.

Earth’s Atmosphere:
Where are we, asks the Sentry, as he and Iron Man are low enough to process where they are. Oh, no, says Iron Man, as Michael crash-lands.

Finale Destination:
The smoke and dust clears, as Michael kneels in the crater he made in the ruins of Genosha.

Characters Involved: 

Luke Cage, Captain America, Iron Man I, Sentry, Spider-Man I, Spider-Woman I, Wolverine (Avengers)

Ms. Marvel I (former Avenger)
Vision II (Young Avenger)

Director Maria Hill
Agent Dum Dum Dugan, Agent Hook
Various S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents

Michael Pointer

Story Notes: 

Several names on the list of de-powered mutants in this issue that were not in last issue include: Mesmero, Skywalker, Spike III and Sunfire.

Director Hill learned about the House of M event in New Avengers #16, but failed to learn any details from Tony Stark.

At the end of House of M #7, the Scarlet Witch used her powers to end mutant kind, which resulted in 90-95% of all mutants to lose their powers. At the end of House of M #8 and the beginning of X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1, a force of energy was seen in space, which we now know to be the missing mutant energy fields.

For more information on the Superhuman Registration Act, see Amazing Spider-Man (1st Series) #529-531, which take place before this arc, and New Avengers: Illuminati.

The team still does not know who to trust in S.H.I.E.L.D. after New Avengers #6 and 11-13, in which they discovered that a mysterious shadow organization is controlling parts of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra to illegally mine for Vibranium and stockpiling super-villains in secret.

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