New Avengers (1st series) #12

Issue Date: 
December 2005
Story Title: 
Ronin, part two

Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), David Finch (Penciler), Danny Miki (Inker), Frank D’Armata (Colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (Letterer), James Taveras (Production), Molly Lazer and Aubrey Sitterson (Assistant Editors), Andy Schmidt (Associate Editor), Tom Brevoort (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

While some of the Avengers wonder who the mysterious ninja is as they battle a whole army of Hand ninjas, the Silver Samurai discusses what is going on with Viper and Kuroda. Silver Samurai learns that S.H.I.E.L.D. has become corrupt, which is how they were able to secretly imprison him in the Raft. Not only that, but he may have been imprisoned to prevent a reorganization of power in Japan between Clan Yashida and the Hand. He then learns from Viper that Hydra is corrupt itself, with two groups, one led by her – the other corrupt as well. That is why the Hand, her Hydra, and Clan Yashida was banded together under the power of the Silver Samurai to take down S.H.I.E.L.D., Hydra, and their mysterious leaders. When the Samurai asks who is really orchestrating the actions of Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D., Viper refuses to tell him until she is sure she can trust him. Viper then learns that the Hand has engaged the Avengers and calls them back, but Spider-Woman secretly follows after the mysterious ninja reveals that Viper is at Yashida Fortress. Spider-Woman confronts the angry Viper, who yells at Jessica for not reporting to her contact that she and the Avengers were coming to Japan. Hydra gave Jessica her powers back and can take them away. Spider-Woman is owned by Hydra and should remember that. As the other Avengers arrive after Spider-Woman, Viper has Jessica knock her out to protect Jessica’s cover. Cap speaks with Jessica and finds the recent incident with Viper and Jessica strange, as it seems from the Quinjet that the two were talking and Viper didn’t defend herself. Before the incident can be fully discussed, the Silver Samurai returns, ready to battle.

Full Summary: 

Osaka, Japan - 15 minutes ago:
Kenuichio Harada, better known as the Silver Samurai, stands in a ceremonial garb in the courtyard of the Fortress Yashida. Before him are four ninjas of the Hand, as well as a representative from the Clan Yashida, who stands before an ornate chest. The representative welcomes Harada back to where he belongs, as it is a great honor. Jumping to conclusions, Harada tells Kuroda that if he brought him back to Japan just to the Hand can kill him…

Kuroda interrupts and bows before Harada, telling him that he knows there is a strained relationship between Harada’s family and the Hand. However, Kenuichio is misreading the reunion. They have brought him gifts. Kuroda then opens the chest to reveal the armor of the Silver Samurai. Kenuichio takes out his helmet as Kuroda explains that Japan needs the Clan Yashida in place with the Silver Samurai leading. That is why agents of the Hand were sent to fetch him. They had no idea that Kenuichio was in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody until he escaped. Harada takes out his sword and asks Kuroda why Yashida wants him. He doesn’t understand. Suddenly, a familiar voice answers that it is because Harada does not know how the new world works.

Viper, sometimes known as Madame Hydra, enters the courtyard with three Hydra agents. As she approaches Kenuichio, she tells him that S.H.I.E.L.D. is falling apart from within. As much as she wants to kill Nick Fury, one must admire the face that he kept S.H.I.E.L.D. together by sheer force of will. Without him, S.H.I.E.L.D. is rotten. That is how the Silver Samurai was pulled off a private plane, detained, and thrown in the Raft without anyone ever knowing.

Viper takes Kenuichio’s face in her hands and tells him that Hydra – her Hydra – is worse off. Their motto is “cut off one of our heads and two more grow in its place.” Lately, it seems that the two heads go off in separate directions. She is sickened of it. Her dreams and ideals are being twisted by amateurs. Hydra is a group without a purpose and cannot adapt for the future. That is why she is so happy to see the Silver Samurai again. Viper then kisses Kenuichio, who is caught off guard.

Kenuichio pushes Viper away, but she tells him not to be that way. Angrily, Harada tells Viper that he has no idea what is going on or what they want from him.

Suddenly, a Hand ninja interrupts and announces that an intruder has been found in the east wing. Kuroda tells the ninja to take care of it and to bring the intruder here. Concerned, Harada tells Kuroda that they must have followed him from the States. Which heroes followed him?

Osaka, Japan – Now:
Atop Stark Enterprise’s penthouse, the Avengers – Captain America, Luke Cage, Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Spider-Woman, find themselves surrounded by a group of Hand ninjas on their balcony, while a mysterious black and gold clad ninja lies injured at their feet. Spider-Woman asks if anyone who knows Japanese knows what the ninjas are saying. Iron Man tells her that he knows a little and from what he can pick up they are talking about a thousand deaths and their blood running through the streets of Osaka. I knew they were talking about us, quips Spider-Woman.

Spider-Man asks his teammates if anyone else thought being an Avenger sounded a lot cooler in the abstract. Captain America speaks up and tells the ninjas to stand down, as they are trespassing on private property. Spider-Man tells Cap that he was in the middle of a joke. Cage tells Spider-Man that Cap’s line was funnier as the Avengers and Hand ninjas engage in battle. Iron Man immediately grabs Jarvis and flies him away, apologizing to the man, as he didn’t think the fight would come to them. Jarvis tells Tony that it is a part of the job, and then thanks his employer for looking out for him.

As the Avengers battle, Spider-Man announces that he would like to thank their new mystery ninja Avenger for bringing the bad guys to them for a chance to fight. Why, asks Cage. Because we didn’t have to leave the apartment, replies Spider-Man. Cage then realizes that Spider-Man made a good point. After a long flight, adds Spider-Man, it is nice of the ninjas to meet them halfway. Spider-Woman asks Spider-Man if he really doesn’t have a turn off switch for his mouth, but Spider-Man replies that he is only babbling because, when you fight ninjas, they do it all quietly and clearly silences make him uncomfortable. “Clearly,” says Cage as he punches another ninja down.

Iron Man unleashes a blast, but then adds that he really liked this penthouse. Cage thinks that they should take the fight to the roof. Cap offers to ask the Hand for a time out. “Hey!” exclaims Spider-Man, “Cap made a funny.” Iron Man tells his teammates that, if they knew how much this artwork cost, they would be crying. Spider-Man assures Tony that he thinks he is crying. Cap tells Spider-Man that he can be funny. Iron Man then tells everyone to get behind him as he can unleash a concussion blast. Nearby, Cage, who is swamped by ninjas, finds himself precariously close to the edge of the balcony.

The ninjas try to push Cage off, but he instead throws another ninja off, but is pulled off as well and falls off the skyscraper with a whole group of ninjas, much to the horror of the Avengers. The Avengers, however, cannot act to save Cage as they are fighting too many ninjas. Cage falls down from the skyscraper and crashes into a cargo truck. Iron Man volunteers to go get Cage, but a ninja stabs his sword into his shoulder, causing Tony to cry out in pain.

Back at the Fortress Yashida, Kenuichio asks why he was arrested. Viper, however tells him that he was kidnapped. Kuroda adds that he was held against his will. Why, asks Harada again. Kuroda surmises that S.H.I.E.L.D. wanted to use him and if they couldn’t they would have killed him. Why me, reiterates Harada. Viper replies that they took him feared of a conversation like this taking place. The Silver Samurai’s name alone holds control over the entire Japanese underworld. The only thing stopping him is his willingness. From a base the size of the House of Yashida, from his strong arm over the country, they can build a power base against them. The Hand is the fist, Harada and the Yashida Clan are the arm…

You are the brain, asks Kenuichio. We all are, replies Viper. Confused, Harada asks who they would be powering up to fight. Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D., replies Viper. More particularly, they would be fighting the people who really run them. Who is that, asks Harada. Viper pauses, and then tells him that she will reveal the enemy when she knows she can trust Harada again. He isn’t exactly oozing with trustworthiness right now. That is because, replies Harada, he knows the look on her face when she is playing games. Viper retorts that it is the face she has when she knows that she is right. They are here to save him. S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra are both rotting and a new power will rise to replace them.

Suddenly, the Hand agent returns and announces that the intruder fled and they followed. A battle is underway. The intruder came with an assortment of American costumed heroes. The Hand has engaged them. Horrified and pissed, Viper screams at the ninja and asks him who told him to engage the heroes.

Back at Stark Enterprises, Luke Cage stands in an elevator with his shirt in rags. He takes a moment to catch his breath and listens to the elevator music. When the elevator reaches the penthouse, he curls up his fist and, when the doors open, he punches two Hand ninjas, announcing that he is back. Spider-Man asks Cage if he didn’t happen to bring the X-Men with him. He then attacks more ninjas, commenting on how they all smell like a garden of lilacs. When Iron Man asks him if he ever smelled Doctor Doom, Spider-Man exclaims that he has. That man hasn’t washed him cape since the Kree-Skrull War. Annoyed, Cage asks Spider-Man what he is babbling about now. Spider-Man realizes that Cage is right – this fight has been going on too long and he is running out of material. “Then it was worth it,” jokes Luke.

Suddenly, the mysterious ninja leaps back into battle and beats down another ninja. Cap asks Iron Man if he is ok. Iron Man responds that his suit is back on-line and he is ok. If the Avengers can position behind him he can end this with a few concussion blasts. Before any of the Avengers can move, though, one of the ninjas calls out to retreat. Leave no man behind. The ninjas then all jump off the balcony and flee, leaving the Avengers very perplexed.

Cage asks if the ninjas quit. Iron Man tells him that they were told to pull back. They want us to follow, replies Cap. No, says the mysterious ninja. Sure they do, replies Cap. However, the ninja disagrees again, stating that the Hand may have attacked without permission. I hope someone docks their pay, says Spider-Man. Who are you, says Cage to the ninja.

The ninja ignores the question and apologizes for bringing the fight to the Avengers, thinking rather that the Hand lost the trail in the caverns of the city. Cap tells the ninja that he or she was just following orders. The Hand attacked the Avengers. The ninja fought admirably. Who is this, asks Cage again.

Spider-Man suddenly speaks up and asks anyone if they know where Spider-Woman is.

Over Osaka, Spider-Woman flies over to Fortress Yashida and spots Viper alone in the courtyard on her phone. Jessica descends and asks the woman what she is doing there. Surprised, Viper asks Spider-Woman what she is doing here. They had a deal. Jessica begins to speak up, but Viper tells her to shut up. The deal is that Hydra gives Spider-Woman her powers and then they own her. If the Avengers fly anywhere to do anything then Jessica contacts tells her contact and he will tell Viper.

Jessica comes to Osaka, knowing what is at stake, and she tells no one, screams Viper angrily. Calling Spider-Woman a fat pig, Viper tells her that she should kill Jessica on the spot. Spider-Woman defends herself and tells Viper that she had no clue what was going on. She didn’t even know Viper was here. These activities with the Avengers go by so fast.

Viper asks Jessica if she likes her powers. Does she want to go back to her old life? Does she just want to be one of them? Does she really want that? Hydra gave Jessica her powers back, and they can take it away. Now, Jessica should hit her with a venom blast and take her down. When she says so, Jessica should then let her go. Hit you, asks the confused Spider-Woman. What is she talking about? Viper replies that the Avengers are right behind Spider-Woman.

Jessica turns to see the Quinjet landing in the courtyard. Hit me, says Viper one last time. Not hesitating, Spider-Woman unleashes an attack on Viper. Iron Man arrives and compliments Spider-Woman on her nice shooting. He then asks her why she took off like that. Spider-Woman replies that she didn’t want Viper to escape. S.H.I.E.L.D. has been chasing Viper for years. She has had it with her. What did she say, asks Cap. What, questions Spider-Woman. We saw you talking to her, reveals Cap.

As Iron Man picks up the unconscious Viper, Spider-Woman lies and says that Viper said what she always says. She even called her fat. That is when Jessica blasted her. She just stood there and let you, asks the puzzled Cap. Are you kidding me, retorts Jessica. Viper was about to lunge! Cap takes Jessica aside and tells her not to run away again. They work as a team. Spider-Woman apologizes, and admits that this is all new to her. After years as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent one learns to just go off solo.

Iron Man asks Spider-Man to web up Viper’s hands and feet. Confused, Spider-Man asks if they are taking Viper home with them. Iron Man replies that Viper is on the top ten wanted list for Interpol. They might see money for this. I like money, replies Spider-Man. What about the Silver Samurai, asks Spider-Woman.

“Just guessing…” says the concerned Cage, “is that him?”

The Avengers all turn to see Kenuichio Harada, dressed up in his Silver Samurai armor, and sword drawn, ready to attack with a group of Hand ninjas!

Characters Involved: 

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

Mysterious Ninja (Ronin)

Silver Samurai

Various Hand ninjas
Various Hydra agents

Story Notes: 

Ronin was first introduced in interviews and preview art much earlier before this arc. A clue was given to the identity of Ronin, which was that the person already was in a hit movie. This clue would later prove to be untrue, but speculation began to pour out, even mentioning of names of people who did not have a movie yet. Suspects for the identity of Ronin include Elektra, Iron Fist, Shang-Chi, and Stone. Unfortunately, the identity of Ronin was spoiled in the OHMU: Avengers 2005 a few months prior to this arc.

This issue reveals that the employed Spider-Woman has been secretly reporting to is the section of Hydra led by Viper.

This issue affirms that there are three groups at play here, with Hydra splintering into two factions. First, are the mysterious villains who have corrupted S.H.I.E.L.D. and part of Hydra, using them to harbor super-villains as weapons, as well as illegally mine for vibranium. Second is the Yashida-Hand-Hydra alliance (with this Hydra section loyal to Viper), which is grouping to fight against the corrupt part of Hydra, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the mysterious villains. Finally, there are the Avengers, who have absolutely no idea what is going on.

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