New Avengers (2nd series) #31

Issue Date: 
December 2012
Story Title: 

Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Michael Gaydos (artist), Rain Beredo (color art), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters & production), Brandon Peterson (cover artist), Jake Thomas (assistant editor), Tom Brevoort with Lauren Sankovitch (editors), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

In New Orleans, Daimon Hellstrom is wondering what’s going on with the Astral Plane. He calls Dr. Strange to ask his advice but gets the Avengers’ answer machine. Victoria Hand turns up unexpectedly. When Daimon tries to explain what’s going on she blindsides him, stabbing him with some kind of magical energy blade. She then heads over to Jennifer Kale’s place and takes her out as well. Over at the mansion, the team discusses the news that Luke and Jessica are leaving the mansion and how this affects the future of the New Avengers. Luke is outside putting boxes into a moving van when Victoria Hand turns up. Luke hasn’t seen her in a while but she explains that she’s been working for Captain America. As they chat, FBI Agent Jeff Colt turns up wanting her for questioning. Maria Hill, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., also appears and warns Colt that this no longer has anything to do with him. As they discuss what should happen, Victoria begins to convulse and then passes out. As Carol Danvers picks her up to take her inside, she begins to smile as the possession transfers from Victoria’s body to hers.

Full Summary: 

(New Orleans)
Daimon Hellstrom is in his darkened room, looking at some unusual goings on. Above a pentagram on his floor with a candle on each point, a small glowing image bubbles away. He wonders what the hell he is looking at. Calling the Avengers’ answering machine, Hellstrom says that he realizes that Dr. Strange is busy beating up mutants for trying to make the world a better place but, when he’s done, he was wondering if he could get him to take a look at some funky surges coming out of the Astral Plane. He knows Strange has always been a more controlled sort of sorcerer but these surges seem violent. Without a Sorcerer Supreme in this dimension, he doesn’t like these kind of magic anomalies.

He hears a knock at the door and uses the fire incantation of illumination to see who is on the other side. He sees that it is Victoria Hand and he opens the door to her, as they know each other from the mansion. Daimon asks what she’s doing there. She informs him that Captain America sent her on official Avengers business and asks if she can come in. Daimon asks her not to mind the mess as she enters and Victoria quips, “I’ve seen worse. No, wait. No. I haven’t.” She informs him that Cap wants to know if he’s witnessed anything out of the ordinary. “Like heroes fighting heroes on the local news,” he replies.” Oh, wait. You said out of the ordinary.” Victoria asks if he’s noticed anything arcane. They were the words he used. Something out of sync, perhaps. There have been some intel reports out of S.H.I.E.L.D. that suggest something is up.

Daimon says that he has, actually, and asks where Captain America is. She informs him that he has his hands full but he feels that this is important. Suspicious, Hellstrom says that he is surprised that he sent her. Offended, she thanks him for his time and begins to leave, only for Hellstrom to give in, grab her arm and tell her that he has seen something unusual. He asks her to stand back before bringing the strange image forth. He explains that it is a map of the Astral Plane. It’s a phantom plane of existence parallel to ours. You have to be a hard-core badass magic man to bounce back and forth inside it… and someone is. Someone is really ripping into it.

When Victoria asks what he’s saying, Daimon replies that he’s @&*$@ with their dimension through use of another. This is dangerous stuff. He’s a high-level mage doing whatever the hell. These dimensions, he explains, are held apart by nothing but a membrane. Standing behind him and creating some kind of magical white/blue sword from nothing, she asks who could do this. Hellstrom explains that he was calling Dr. Strange to see if he had any clue when she came knocking. “So you don’t know,” she replies. He turns just in time to see her thrust the blade into his chest. The energy blade goes in and energy spews from his mouth. “It was me,” snarls Victoria as energy lights up the sky outside his apartment.

(Avengers Mansion)
The team is seated around the table, eating. Luke and Jessica have informed everyone that they are leaving and need to sell the place. Jessica asks if anyone’s interested. Iron Fist offers five dollars - a four hundred percent profit. Daredevil seems disappointed that Luke dragged him into the Avengers and now he’s leaving. Wolverine tells Jessica that the place is a fine place to raise a kid. He grew up somewhere just like it and he turned out fine. Captain Marvel appears and she asks what’s going on. Spider-Man informs her that Luke and Jessica are leaving the Avengers, and selling him the mansion for the top bid of thirteen dollars. Cash. Carol is shocked. She tells Luke that this is his team. If he’s done, is this it for the New Avengers?

Jennifer Kale is defenestrated from her apartment, landing hard on a car parked below. She looks up to see Victoria Hand standing at the shattered window. She tells Jennifer that she should be honored. Very few people in this dimension are standing in her way. Jennifer flies back up and as she shoves Victoria backwards, she asks who she is… really? She calls her a coward and asks her to show themselves; to give up the body they’re molesting or she’ll pull them out of it. Victoria responds by punching Jennifer in the face. She then summons the white energy sword once again and thrusts to into her body. Jennifer, severely wounded, asks weakly who she is. Victoria looks into her eyes and Jennifer appears to see the truth. She gasps, “No,” before Victoria takes her out once and for all. When she hears a knock on the door she magically disappears leaving Jennifer’s body behind.

Surrounded by statues of Avengers past and present, Dr. Strange and Iron Fist sit facing each other, meditating. Danny says he can’t believe that Luke is up and leaving. They are all there because of him. Dr. Strange asks him to focus. They’re supposed to be meditating. Danny can’t seem to concentrate. He wonders if they maybe should disband. They’re all busy on other teams anyway and without Luke, what kind of team will it be? Strange tries to remind him to concentrate, but Danny continues to say that in the old days they would have made this decision together. “You and I?” asks Strange. Danny says it would have been he and Luke. But, he adds, things change. All of a sudden everything is turned around and Luke is a father and a husband, whilst he is… he is just the same. Though his costume is better.

Strange tells him that he and Luke will be friends for life. Danny replies that he knows this and he knows that change is inevitable. Strange tells him that they have to support their friends as they journey forth and know that they will cherish the moments they were lucky to have shared. Danny pauses a moment before saying that he is going to buy himself a Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4. Strange tells him it’s a great idea. Danny asks if he wants one. “Yes,” replies Dr. Strange.

(back at the mansion)
As Carol Danvers cuddles baby Danielle, Jessica sorts some of Luke’s clothes out. She tells Carol that everybody hates her. Carol assures her that nobody hates her. Jessica reminds her that she is the wife who’s making her husband do what she says instead of what he wants. She’s suddenly that. Carol believes that she’s quite the opposite. She’s a better friends and partner than most. She let him figure that out all by himself. Though he took his sweet time getting there, she offers her congratulations that she has a man who has the ability to figure out what the big-boy, right thing to do is. A guy like that is few and far between. ”Lord is this baby cute,” she adds.

Jessica asks what she’s dressed as. Carol replies that it’s the new her. She hopes Jessica likes it because she loves it. “I actually do love it,” replies Jessica. Carol informs her that she’s going by Captain Marvel now. She knows that Jessica always hated “Ms. Marvel.” Jessica says she just didn’t care for the name. It seemed slight. “Whatever… Jewel,” replies Carol. Jessica asks for her baby but Carol doesn’t want to give her back. She thinks she loves the baby. She admits that she was standoffish before, but now she sees it. Jessica tells her that she feels the team is going to disband. Carol reckons it’s up to Captain America. Jessica’s job is to keep her baby safe. Jessica admits that she feels torn and twisted about the whole thing. She thinks Luke will start resenting her.

Carol tells her straight that Luke knew her when she was at her worst and didn’t even blink about starting a life with her. She was there. She’s known Jessica at her darkest hour and when she sees what she’s building with Luke… this is where life is taking her and it’s kind of a damn miracle. Who knows what will happen tomorrow, she sighs. But, for now, Jessica must follow her instincts and her instincts are telling her that this baby shouldn’t be living anywhere near them. Jessica looks at her and tells her she’s a damn good friend. She doesn’t want to go a long time without talking. Carol asks her to focus on one neurosis at a time. “I can multitask,” quips Jessica, looking out the window at her husband below.

Luke is carrying boxes to a moving truck when Victoria Hand approaches him. She asks what’s going on. Luke asks where she’s been. She replies that Captain America had her working on something. Someone moving out? she asks. He informs her that it’s him, Jessica and Danielle. Victoria says she thought this was his house, but Luke replies that they’re going to try something else now. Victoria asks if he’s told Captain America yet. Luke looks at her and says he was respecting her and trying not to go over her head; her being the official Avengers liaison and all. She asks if he’s moving out without talking to anybody about it. Luke tells her she doesn’t get to vote. He just wanted to give her a heads up. Victoria assures him that he doesn’t have to be on the team. Luke says he knows that, but it’s best to close the chapter. He’s not saying he isn’t going to help out, but he has to prioritize. He knows it sounds weird coming out of his mouth.

As they talk, a guy shows up in an FBI truck and introduces himself as Jeff Colt. Luke asks what’s going on. Colt asks Victoria if she is indeed Victoria Hand. When she says yes, he tells her that she’s going to have to go with him. “What the hell?” asks Luke. Colt tells him it’s official FBI business, but Luke informs him that he’s on official Avengers property so why doesn’t he just tell them what’s going on. Carol comes outside and asks the same question. Agent Colt informs them that Ms. Hand is wanted for questioning. He’s in charge of a multiple law enforcement organization task force put together to deal with a very serious situation. They don’t want any confrontation with the Avengers.

Daredevil also appears and informs them that they have to explain what it is for. It’s the law. Colt proceeds to inform them that she is wanted for questioning in the disappearance of a Miss Jennifer Kale. Dr. Strange is surprised to hear this, but before he can enquire further, Maria Hill, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. appears, descending to the ground using a jetpack. She tells Colt that the FBI were told to stand down so they can investigate this matter internally. Colt stands his ground and replies that he was told by his superiors to bring her in for questioning. Hill says he will stand down or she will detain him and his men. Does he want to spend the rest of his career trying to figure out what happened today? Colt tells her to take it up with his superior, but Maria Hill reminds him that she is his superior… on every conceivable level.

As the pair of them argue, the Avengers think about going back into the house, but Victoria suddenly says, “Do you see? I don’t know what this is.” Carol looks back at her and sees Victoria begin to convulse. She screams, asking what they’re doing and how did she get there. Agent Colt asks her to calm down as Victoria collapses. The Avengers stand over her wondering what on Earth just happened. Carol picks up Victoria but, as she walks, she suddenly begins to smile until she has a broad grin on her face.

Characters Involved: 

Luke Cage, Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers), Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Ion Fist, Mockingbird, Spider-Man, Thing, Wolverine (all Avengers)

Victoria Hand
Son of Satan
Jessica and Danielle Cage

Jennifer Kale
Jeff Colt
Maria Hill
Squirrel Girl

Story Notes: 

In the first panel, Daimon Hellstrom calls himself Daimon Hellstorm, an editing error. Hellstorm is one of his aliases.

The Aventador was unveiled in 2011, replacing the Murciélago. It has a top speed of nearly 220 mph and costs around $250,000 new.

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