New Avengers (1st series) #14

Issue Date: 
February 2006
Story Title: 

Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Frank Cho (Penciler), Jason Keith (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: 

Captain America confronts Spider-Woman on her treachery privately over breakfast. Jessica is worried that this will be the end of her life, but tells Cap her story anyways. He knows her life as a hero, but one day her powers stopped working and she became an ordinary person living a mundane life. One day, a Hydra agent known as Connely attacked her and offered her powers back as long as she rejoins S.H.I.E.L.D. and acts as a double agent. Knowing Connely would kill her if she said no, Jessica agreed and contacted Nick Fury, who confronted her securely and urged her to accept the offer as he will feed her limited info until S.H.I.E.L.D. can analyze the Hydra cell and take it down. Jessica then underwent the seventeen-month process to regain her powers, which were better than before, as she could now fly. However, her life was then characterized by constantly lying and double crossing. She began to accustom to this life until the Secret War, which ended with Fury going underground and cutting all ties with Jessica, leaving her trapped with Hydra. Since he was the only one in S.H.I.E.L.D. who knew of her activities, she could not reveal her problem to Director Hill. However, Hill remanded her to lower end activities since she was a Fury loyalist. That is why Jessica was working at the Raft the day the new Avengers formed. However, when Cap offered her membership by going to S.H.I.E.L.D. first, Hydra found out and forced her to join. Jessica, however, suspects that Hydra is being controlled by another group, which is also controlling S.H.I.E.L.D. Cap brings in the other Avengers, who were listening the whole time, and Wolverine tells the group that he doesn’t believe Jessica is giving the whole story. The group demands to know where Fury is, but she denies any knowledge. Then, Fury calls and appears on her phone via hologram, telling the Avengers not to punish Jessica and that with the Avengers back he has a base to attack the true villains from. However, the heroes have a bigger problem at the moment. Iron Man then checks the news and discovers that reporters are swarming the Tower because of the Sentry’s Watchtower materializing on the roof. It is time for the Avengers to go public, whether they want to or not.

Full Summary: 

At the Daily Bugle, reporter Kat Farrell receives a phone call from her mother. While her fellow employees do their usual rush around routine, and J. Jonah Jameson flips out at yet another employee, Kat tells her mom that she doesn’t know what she is talking about and she should slow down. As television monitors all around the office show reports of Sentinels landing at the Xavier Institute, Kat tells her mother to stop as she is at work right now. Yes, she called Kat while at work. Stressed, Kat tells her mom that unless she has a news-breaking story to report, Kat has to go. She has to go because she has no story. Again.

Kat puts down her purse as her mother tells her to look out the window? Which window? Her mother’s window? What? Kat tells herself that her mother is insane as the lady urges her daughter to look out the window right now. What does she mean by “a building lit up.” It’s probably fireworks, argues Kat. Kat walks over to the window and tells her that she is looking out right now. Buildings don’t just light up… up…

Kat lowers the phone as she stares up with a smile at Stark Tower, which now has a giant black tower, with a glowing orb, on its roof. As the other employees of the Daily Bugle rush to the window, a jet streaks towards Stark Tower.

Sometime later, in the tower, Cap stands with Jessica at the kitchen and tells her that he asked her a question. Jessica looks down at her cereal bowl and avoids his question, but he repeats it: “Who is she working for?” Scared, Jessica asks Captain America if there is any way that she can just ask him to trust her. After what happened last night, questions Cap. Jessica looks away, ashamed. Cap asks Jessica what Madame Hydra has over her. Remorseful, Jessica reveals that Viper is only part of it. Angered, Cap demands to know who is a part of this mess.

Jessica rubs her head and tells Cap that this conversation isn’t fair to him. Her genetics is causing her to pelt him with pheromones and she cannot help it. She is nervous and pelting pheromones at him to make him attracted to her. Steve folds his arms and stoically tells her that he will try to control himself. He then asks Jessica how long this has been going on. A while, replies Jessica. Cap demands that she tells him everything. Jessica stops to think for a moment, but that angers Cap, who thinks that she is sitting there trying to think of a lie. Jessica, however, insists that she isn’t. She is just trying to imagine a scenario in which she tells him what happened and she doesn’t end up dead afterwards.

Cap sits and tells her that he isn’t going to hurt her. Jessica tells him that she knows that, but he should know that he has already done enough. Confused, Cap asks her what he could have done. You made me an Avenger, says Jessica bluntly. Cap looks at her intrigued.

Jessica tells Cap that once upon a time she used to be a superhero. Captain America already knows her history. She has that special something that made her a good super hero. She had a messed up childhood. It was her awful father that poked around with her genetics and gave her powers in the first place. What did she do with her powers? She became a Hydra agent by the time she was 17. Luckily Nick Fury saw behind the craziness and recognized that she was just a crazy girl. Thanks to him she became an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and then led a normal life… or as normal as one can be with super powers and Morgan Le Fey up your nose. As crazy as it was, though, she wouldn’t have changed a second of it – except for the part where her powers fizzled out.

Her powers would work intermittently. Eventually she was de-powered and became a typical human. She did what a normal person would do all day everyday. She would sit there and think of all the missed opportunities she had because she no longer had powers. She should have been an Avenger in the past, but she supposes now that it isn’t the point. She had a big “L” tattooed on her head, for loser. It was because of this tattoo that Hydra, or rather one agent of Hydra, came for her one day. He attacked her in her house to prove a point.

While she was on the floor, the blond-haired man named Connely held her Spider-Woman uniform and told her that he is a fan of the old Spider-Woman. He thinks that she deserves a second chance. She deserves powers and this costume and anything else. More over, though, she needs a purpose. He is willing to give her all of that. He can get her powers back. He tosses the costume on Jessica, who doesn’t understand any of this and asks him what he wants.

Jessica tells Cap that Hydra offered to give her powers back as long as she got her S.H.I.E.L.D. status reinstated. Double agent, says Cap.

Connely smiled and told Jessica that she is Hydra. It is in her blood. Instead of living this meaningless life now she could cause world changes. She could be a shadow warrior for the corporate system that has kidnapped society. She could put her costume back on and be in the middle of the changes that shape the world.

Jessica tells Cap that there was one thing, though – and he knows it is true. An offer by Hydra like this isn’t something one can pass. You either say yes, or you die. That is what Connely was offering. She was a weak little person and they saw that. They pounced on her. She had no choice but to call Fury.

Sometime later she met with Fury on a bridge privately. He told her to do it. She was shocked, but he told her to get her powers back. He will put her to work and will tell her what to feed to Hydra and she will tell him what they tell her. Jessica is disgusted with the idea, but Fury thinks it is a good idea. Jessica, however, doesn’t think good is something that could end up killing her. Fury reasons that Hydra will kill her either way. They cannot stop that. She might as well as do something good in the meantime. Jessica looks over her shoulder and tells Fury that they are watching. Fury is pleased, as it proves that she did come to him. However, Hydra cannot hear them as he has a gadget that is blocking anyone from eavesdropping. Jessica wants to scream, so Fury tells her to, as Hydra cannot hear her.

Fury then explains how the process will work. He will feed her enough info to keep her safe and for Hydra not to be suspicious. When the time is right, S.H.I.E.L.D. will squash the cell in one swoop. Afterwards, he will get her back as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., where she belongs. Disappointed, Jessica admits that she thought Fury was gong to help her get plastic surgery and a ticket to Alaska.

Fury tells Jessica to smile as Hydra is watching. He then reminds her of the time he saved her from Hydra and she promised to repay him. Jessica jokes that it is good that Fury isn’t holding that over her head. Fury tells her that no one will know about this except them too. That is how it has to be done, so there won’t be any leaks. At least she will get her powers back. Did Hydra happen to explain how they will do that?

Sometime later, Jessica underwent the process of getting her powers back, which left her butt naked on a surgery table surrounded by tons of Hydra doctors. The lead doctor told Jessica that over time the genetic tampering done by her father worked themselves out. Her body healed itself. It took a few months but they were able to isolate and rejuvenate a sample of her genetic tissue and close it. It will take time, but she will get her powers back. He must tell her, though, that her father’s work was decades ahead of its time. She is an inspired scientific achievement. She should be proud. Hail Hydra.

As the gas worked itself on Jessica, she began to cry.

Jessica tells Cap that she wanted her powers back badly. That is where she got screwed in her head. She wanted her powers back. She needed her powers back. She was not doing this for peace and freedom, or for any right reason. She was and is selfish. Cap asks her how long the procedure took. Seventeen months, says Jessica. Give or take a few months. However, when it was over, she got her powers back and then some. Every part of her was better than it was before. She can actually fly now – not glide – but fly! The only problem was that now every single second of her life was defined on her ability to lie and double-cross.

She would tell Nick intelligence, such as when Hydra had a splinter group setting up a camp in Iraq to help Saddam Abed Dasam. Fury knew that, but didn’t know that Dasam had the Scorpio Key. Likewise, she would meet with Connely and tells him that S.H.I.E.L.D. had a caterpillar file called God’s Eye, which is a defense initiative.

Just when Jessica had stopped crying herself to sleep every night – just when she got used to the idea of not knowing which side of her mouth she was talking out of and trying to keep track of all her lies every minute of the day – Cap and the others had their damn Secret War.

In the fallout of the Secret War, Fury contacted Jessica late at night as he was leaving a hospital. She awoke to find out that he was going to go off grid, maybe for good. He made a serious tactical error a year ago in Latveria and it has come to bite him in the butt. She is going to hear a lot about him the next few days and most of it is true. He apologizes to her and tells her that they are at the end of the line. Jessica, worried, asked Fury what he did. He told her that she would hear about it soon enough. He made enemies out of everyone. He will go underground. Jessica then asked what she would do. Fury tells her that S.H.I.E.L.D. will probably ask her to find him and kill him. It is up to her. He knows this is bad for her. She should know that he would never have done this to her on purpose. He then hangs up on her, leaving Jessica to scream his name over the phone.

Jessica tells Cap that no one else at S.H.I.E.L.D. knew of her dealings with Hydra. That made her a traitor and a double agent. Could she trust her new bosses in S.H.I.E.L.D. After the Savage Land debacle, obviously not. The good news was that, being a Fury loyalist, she was pulled out of the field. She received crap assignments like escorting Matt Murdock through the Raft prison. That is what she was doing there that “fateful” day the new Avengers were born. This was a good thing, because she had no intelligence to give to Hydra – until they decided to kill her or ask her to do something really heinous. Cap realizes that this is when he made her an Avenger. Exactly, replies Jessica.

Cap then goes on and states that he went to her bosses first. Exactly, stresses Jessica. Cap continues and states that Jessica had to take the offer because Hydra found out about the offer before she did. Jessica states that she could not have turned it down. To Hydra, there would have been no conceivable reason for her not to be an Avenger. Cap turned her into the juiciest double agent ever. She still doesn’t even know who “they” are. Cap asks Jessica what she means. Jessica replies that Hydra isn’t behind this. She thinks something is over them. Someone is behind them. Lately, she thinks that same entity is behind S.H.I.E.L.D. Before she can figure out how to play this game or find out who she can trust, they run off to the Savage Land and they find out how corrupt S.H.I.E.L.D. is and then they are in Japan with Madame Hydra.

Jessica begins to cry as she thinks of how she had Madame Hydra and she let her go. That was something she could not, nor should not have done. That was something she would never have done. Not to mention that she almost killed him. She would have killed herself if he died.

Cap gets up and asks Jessica her where Fury is. Jessica crosses her arms and tells him that she doesn’t know. Cap then looks behind her and asks his teammates if they believe her. A surprised Jessica looks behind to see Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Iron Man and the Sentry. Wolverine tells Cap that she doesn’t smell like she is lying, but she is an agent. She is trained to hold together in a situation like this. Tony checks his armor and admits that Jessica’s heart and brain wave patterns are normal. Spider-Man tells the group that he believes her and Cage informs Jessica that if Fury screwed her over then she should join the club. They have shirts, says Spider-Man. Sentry looks down and says that he will go with the group, as it is not his place to say.

Wolverine walks up to Jessica and recalls how he has known her for a long time. He fought alongside her. They have a history. He thinks that she is telling the truth. Jessica thanks her friend. Wolverine then tells her to tell the rest of the story. What rest, asks Jessica. Logan tells Jessica that she knows where Fury is. She is still working for him from underground. Jessica denies this, but Wolverine tells her that there is no way she would listen to Viper’s crap unless something huge was to happen. Cap tells Jessica that she is an Avenger now. She cannot have anymore secrets. She could have avoided last night had she been truthful from the beginning. They can figure this out.

Suddenly, Jessica’s phone rings, but she does not answer. Cap makes her answer. Jessica answers and speaks to someone, stating that he didn’t want anyone to know. She then puts the phone on the table and tells Cap that it is for him.

A hologram of Fury’s head appears and greets the Avengers. He tells the group not to be hard on Jessica, as she is in an impossible situation. He knows that they all think he is the worst person ever, but they should not take it out on her. There is a lot of work to do and he has a serious handicap. With the Avengers cooking again, he has a base to fight back from. Cage curses Fury out, but Cap intervenes and asks if Fury was listening the whole time. Jessica admits that Fury was, and then apologizes.

Cap asks Fury where he is, but Fury tells him that the Avengers have a bigger fish to fry. They should turn on the television. Iron Man checks his armor, as Fury tells the group to smile.

Soon, thee Avengers watch multiple live feeds of reporters outside Stark Tower reporting on the Sentry’s Watchtower on the roof. Some reporters think that it is an invasion by Galactus. Others believe that it is the work of mutant terrorists. Some think Tony Stark is lying about not being Iron Man. One reporter claims that there are rumors of an Avengers Quinjet on the roof, while another confirms that model/actress Mary Jane Watson has been seen entering and leaving the building.

Iron Man states that they should have taken care of this before Japan. He tells Jarvis to all Martha in his New York office. She needs to slap together a press conference for four o’clock so this news hits the six o’clock news. He tells his teammates that it is time the world met the new Avengers.

“Yeah,” says Cage, “This’ll go well.”

“Can’t we just go back to being beat up by ninjas?” asks Spider-Man.

Characters Involved: 

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

Nick Fury

Kat Farrell
J. Jonah Jameson
Various Bugle Employees

Jessica’s Story:
Various agents of Hydra

Nick Fury

Story Notes: 

The Sentry’s Watchtower materialized at the end of New Avengers #10. Considering that the events of the House of M, the adventure in Japan, and various guest star roles in other titles have happened in between issue 10 and this one, it is odd that reporters and civilians notice the tower just now.

The shots of Sentinels on television at the Daily Bugle are from Decimation: House of M – The Day After.

Spider-Woman was a popular super-hero back in the 1970s, though, like many heroes of that era, disappeared into comic limbo for years. However, just like many of the heroes of that same era, she has made a comeback, with this issue stating the unfortunate events as to how this happened. The X-Men’s Siryn made her debut as a villain of Spider-Woman’s in her initial series.

The Secret War occurred in Secret War #1-5.

The Raft prison break, formation of the Avengers, adventure in the Savage Land, and the reader’s awareness that Jessica had multiple allegiances occurred in New Avengers #1-6.

In no doubt a humorous insert by the artist, one of the augments given to Jessica by Hydra seems to be breast implants.

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