New Avengers (2nd series) #34

Issue Date: 
January 2013
Story Title: 

Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Mike Deodato (artist), Rain Beredo (color artist), Chuck BB, Farel Dalrymple, Ming Doyle, Lucy Knisley, becky Cloonan, Yves Bigerel (jam artists), Mike Deodato and Rain Beredo (cover art), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters & production), 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: 

Daniel Drumm uses his magic skills to take possession of the Avengers in turn and use them against Dr. Strange who has issued a challenge against him. Dr. Strange uses a variety of spells to defeat several of them but is caught by Captain Marvel and winded. As Daniel then uses Avenger to fight Avenger, Dr. Strange slips away and learns some of Daimon Hellstrom’s dark magic before returning to the fray. Luke Cage arrives to help out but is also possessed by Drumm. However, Dr. Strange informs Daniel that he’s figured out what he is doing. He captures the possessed Luke Cage in the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak and Daniel realizes that he is now unable to switch bodies as he could before. Strange informs him that he figured out that Daniel was using dark magic, which is something that he would never do as sorcerer supreme. However, he is no longer sorcerer supreme, so he used Daniel’s own powers against him. With little fanfare, he destroys Daniel’s spirit, seemingly erasing him from existence. With Luke now himself, the Avengers pick themselves up, relieved that this is all over. The Ancient One then makes himself known. He is with Daimon Hellstrom, who is alive and well after all. The Ancient One congratulate Strange on being able to control the dark arts and he hands him back the Eye of Agamotto and cape, announcing him as this dimension’s sorcerer supreme once more. Luke and Jessica then say their farewells and Luke sells Tony Stark the mansion back for five dollars. They then head off with Squirrel Girl to their new life, with Luke informing his wife that he will be concentrating on the Heroes for Hire business.

Full Summary: 

Daniel Drumm is using the Avengers to fight each other by taking possession of each of them in quick succession. Dr. Strange levitates nearby and tells Daniel to accept his challenge and unhand the Avengers. This is between the two of them. Captain America calls for Strange to get out of there. Daniel speaks through each of the Avengers, one by one. He tells Dr. Strange that this is between everything Strange can do and everything he can do. He asks if Strange even understands what it means to challenge him. He controls his friends, his world. Anyone around him is a weapon for him to punish him with. If they try and run away he can stop them with the speed of thought. This is what he does. If Strange fights him… he fights someone he loves. He adds that he waited until the time was right, for the moment he was sure that Strange wasn’t ready for it. He made sure no other sorcerers could stand in his way.

He asks if Strange thinks if by coming here and confronting him puts a stop to this. Because of Strange, his brother is dead and he offers him a sorcerer’s challenge? With all the Avengers lined up before Dr. Strange, Daniel says, “Challenge accepted.” Strange readies himself and brings forth the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak. “By the Vishanti,” he sighs. “I wish I knew a spell that would shut your mouth.” He envelops the Avengers within the bands and asks Daniel to listen to him. He explains that he did not kill his brother. He had nothing but respect for him and Daniel. Speaking through Thor, Daniel replies “No! You killed him. You set him up to fail.” Daniel uses Thor to create a lightning strike which hits the ground next to the Avengers, splitting them apart. Strange’s spell disappears and Daniel uses the Red Hulk to intimidate Strange.

As Dr. Strange lies on the ground, Daniel tells him that Strange made Jericho the sorcerer supreme in order to see him fail, thereby making it look like he’s the master sorcerer. He let him die. He adds that Strange tries not to hurt his friends whilst he doesn’t care what happens to them, whether they live or die. He has the Red Hulk charge at him and orders him to get up. Strange is then forced to go on the offensive against the Avengers without hurting them, but stopping them from being able to participate in Daniel’s nefarious plot. He assaults the Red Hulk mentally, forcing him to drop him. When Spider-Man swings by, he uses his magic to manipulate a tree’s branches to grab him tightly.

When facing down Ben Grimm he looks into his eyes and makes him see the truth about what’s going on. Ben stands down and Dr. Strange moves on to Captain America. Cap batters him with his shield but Strange exhales something out of his mouth which almost puts Cap to sleep. With Thor he appears to create a visual image of something that Thor fears to slow him down whilst Captain Marvel actually manages to get through with a solid punch after blasting him.

Battered, Strange then sees Thor and the Thing standing above him, once more under Daniel’s control. Daniel taunts him, thanking him for going out of his way to make this moment almost worth everything his family has been put through. Strange replies that this will not bring his brother back. Daniel tells him he’s tried bringing his brother back from the nether realms but couldn’t find him. He asks Strange if he knows what he had to do just to get to this moment. He had to battle his way through the darkest dimensions just to make it back here. “Do you think this came to me lightly?” he asks. Does he think him some mindless criminal? He is there to end him.

Meanwhile, Daimon Hellstrom speaks with someone in the dimension of light. He asks him if he can get this straight. He’s not going to help Dr. Strange? Doesn’t he realize that when the crazier of the Brothers Voodoo kills Strange and the rest of these Avengers and once he gets a taste for blood, all hell is going to break loose in their dimension. Isn’t he going to lift a finger to stop this? He then pauses and wonders if this is all a test. “Everything is,” replies his companion.

Back on the ground, the Vision tells Daniel Drumm to unhand the doctor. Captain Marvel sees him and tells him to run, but the Vision says no. This will stop. He orders Daniel to unhand the Avengers and retreat. Daniel leaves the Red Hulk’s body and asks if that’s all he has. The Vision informs him that he is an artificial organism and cannot be possessed. He has no soul and therefore Daniel has no power over him. Drumm possesses Captain Marvel and has her pick up Iron Man by his legs. “Fine,” he replies. “The old-fashioned way then.” The Vision quickly turns and punches Iron Man, ordering Daniel Drumm to go back where he came from and hope that the Avengers never find it. Daniel possesses Ben Grimm and has him grab Daredevil by the head. The Vision tells him that he doesn’t want to do that, but Daniel replies that he doesn’t want anything that has happened in his life. Daniel then takes control of Thor and has him smash Captain America with the back of his fist which draws blood. Ben comes to and is confused about the whole thing.

Dr. Strange then informs Daniel that he’s figured it out. As he controls Ben again who tries to smash the Vision only for his hand to go straight through his phased body, Daniel asks, “Figured out what?”

At that moment, Luke Cage arrives and punches Dr. Strange, believing he is the one possessed. He then punches Ben, telling him that he’s punching a guy in the face who he genuinely likes… and he doesn’t like a lot of people. Daredevil calls for Luke to run as the Vision grabs Thor and hurls him as far from the scene as possible. He figures they may be better off with the big guns off the table. Luke, already now possessed by Daniel, then punches the Vision. He tells him it was a nice try but assures him that space means nothing to him.

He stands and looks around in search of Dr. Strange, telling him that he’s gone to a lot of trouble bringing all the players together. He can’t leave now. He then notices him lying on the floor and asks him what he’s done. He doesn’t have the power!

In the dimension of light, Hellstrom watches events and smiles. “Oh yeah. He’s got it.”

Luke grabs Dr. Strange and Daniel asks what he’s done. Strange looks up and replies that he just had to stop by a friend’s house and look something up. He then circles Luke in the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak and Daniel realizes that for some reason he cannot leave Luke’s body. The Vision asks Strange if he should grab him, but the doctor tells him he has this.

Creating a pentagram beneath Luke’s body, Dr. Strange explains that at first he thought Daniel murdered the other sorcerers because they might warn him about him before he was ready to surprise him. Using several spells one after the other and in conjunction with each other, Dr. Strange adds that he thought Daniel had done it because he wanted to pin their murders on him, which he almost did. But then it occurred to him that he got rid of them because they were using dark magics - magics he would never use.

“Badass!” exclaims Daimon Hellstrom watching.

Strange informs Daniel that using the dark arts is something he would never do when he was sorcerer supreme. Except… he is not the sorcerer supreme, and Daniel hurt and killed his friends, used them as puppets and made him mad. “Any last words? he asks.

Using the Zhadana spell of astral form destruction from the Scrolls of Damnation, Strange adds, “Never mind,” before destroying Daniel Drumm’s spirit and forcing him from Luke’s body.

Luke drops to his knees, now himself once more. The rest of the Avengers get to their feet, their bodies and their costumes battered and torn. Captain America asks if everyone is all right. “No,” says Luke, exhausted.

In the dimension of light, Daimon Hellstrom points at his companion and tells him that’s why this plane of existence needs a sorcerer supreme. “We agree,” comes the reply. Daimon asks him, in that case, to do something about it.

Dr. Strange looks around and apologizes to the Avengers for having to be a part of that. Luke tells him he didn’t do this and that he always blames himself for what some asshat does. Strange tells him he knows, but he’s sorry. “You’re still apologizing,” says Hawkeye. Spider-Woman asks if the bad guy is gone now, just to be sure. “For good,” replies Dr. Strange. As Thor congratulates him, a bright light appears in the sky and everyone turns to look toward it. Standing there with his arms folded is the Ancient One and his companion, Daimon Hellstrom. He tells Dr. Strange that it’s good to see him in person again.

Strange informs everyone that it is his teacher, the man who taught him everything he knows. “Not everything,” replies the Ancient One. He believes Strange has learned much since he first came to him. When Strange was his student, he would never have been able to control the dark arts without succumbing to them. He taught himself to vanquish a foe who used his friends as weapons and did it without hurting them. He protects the realm even though it is no longer his duty. He adds that he knows that he relinquished his role as sorcerer supreme because he thought he did not deserve it anymore, yet he continued to act as her to anyone and everyone and asked for nothing in return. Because of this, he bequeaths to him once again the All-Seeing Eye of Agamotto. He pulls out the amulet and the red cape it’s attached to and uses magic to place it on Dr. Strange’s body. “For you are the sorcerer supreme once more.”

The Ancient One then wishes Dr. Strange well and asks him to choose wisely. He knows he will. Daimon Hellstrom asks him to put his stuff back where he found it. He’s not dead. “You’re not?” asks Strange. Hellstrom replies that he’s the Son of Satan. A feeb like Voodoo can’t kill him. As he and the Ancient One fade away, he asks Strange to wait for his next look. “It’s going to…”

Once he’s disappeared, Spidey says he believes he was going to say ‘rock.’ Maria Hill reckons this is going to need an insane amount of paperwork. Strange wouldn’t happen to have a spell for that would he? Strange apologizes, but no. Maria asks her agents to secure the perimeter as Thor returns, telling the Vision that he was truly heroic. Iron Man turns to everyone standing outside the gates and informs everyone that although he hates to be that guy, could everyone who isn’t an Avenger get the hell off their lawn now?

A statue of Victoria Hand is placed in the grounds of Avengers Mansion. “Godspeed Victoria Hand,” says Thor. “I liked her,” adds Daredevil. Even Spidey admits that when Strange got rid of Daniel Drumm she would magically come back to life or something. Strange informs them that sadly, that is not how it works. Luke then arrives with Jessica. Mockingbird tells them they look different. Jessica replies that this is how she actually looks when she’s slept eight hours in a row. Luke asks Tony Stark if he happens to have five dollars on him. “You need $5?” asks Iron Fist. Tony hands it over and Luke grabs it, congratulating him that he just bought back Avengers Mansion.
Jessica gives Spider-Man a hug and informs them all that they are going to raise their baby where evil spirits and Nazi robots don’t knock on your front door every half hour. “So you’re leaving New York entirely?” quips Spidey. Luke informs Cap and Thor that if they need him they can call, but they should make sure they really need him. Mockingbird can’t believe that all this is for real. Luke tells them he loves them but they love the baby more. “As it should be,” replies Thor.

Luke says so long but Tony points out that he sold Luke the mansion for one dollar. Luke tells him he turned a profit on the deal. He thought Tony of all people would appreciate that. They depart the mansion and meet up with Squirrel Girl who asks how they took it. “They took it,” replies Luke. Jessica asks Doreen to keep moving before Galactus comes and tries to eat the damn house. Luke turns one last time and recalls some of the things that have happened whilst he’s been an Avenger. He recalls Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers, the Skrull invasion, Cap and Iron Man on opposing sides of the Civil War, Mockingbird’s ‘death’ and the invasion by Sin and her Nazi robots. These memories are mixed with happier times chatting around the dinner table with his fellow Avengers and cuddling up to Jessica.

Doreen wishes to say something and asks them to shut her up if need be. She says it occurs to her that Luke went from being in jail to being an Avenger to being a husband and a father; Jessica too. She’s not exactly what their life was like before all of this, but she gets a sense that it wasn’t something they like to talk about. “Ya think?” replies Jessica. Doreen adds that it seem that both of them should be very proud of themselves. Jessica tells her that it was nice of her to say. It’s about the nicest thing anyone’s said to her since kindergarten. “Do I get a raise?” asks Doreen. Jessica quips that it wasn’t that nice. Doreen asks if she’s still getting paid to be the nanny. Jessica tells her they’ll figure it out.

Jessica asks Luke how exactly they will be making money. He tells her that it’s no problem. Who’s she talking to? He is the co-owner of the most lucrative super hero-for-hire business in the tri-state area. “You’re bringing back Heroes for Hire?” she asks. Luke informs her that he’s not only bringing it back but he has a whole new way to play it. Jessica asks if that’s it. Aren’t they going to discuss it? “We just did,” he replies. He reminds her that he was Heroes for Hire before they even met and he will be… Jessica warns him not to finish that sentence. “Come on. I love you,” he replies. She tells him to shut up. “I do,” he adds. She tells him she knows as they disappear into their new life.

Characters Involved: 

Black Widow, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, Iron Fist, Iron Man, Mockingbird, Red Hulk, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Thing, Thor, Vision (all Avengers)

Daniel Drumm
Maria Hill
Agents and police officers

The Ancient One
Daimon Hellstrom

Luke Cage
Jessica Cage
Squirrel Girl

(in flashback/memories)
Luke Cage, Captain America, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Mockingbird, Power Woman, Spider-Man, Thing, Wolverine (all Avengers)

Victoria Hand
Danielle Cage
Squirrel Girl
Black Panther

Norman Osborn (Iron patriot) and his Dark Avengers
The Hood and his army
Sin’s Nazi Robots

Skrulls including Veranke

Story Notes: 

Luke was sold Avengers Mansion for a dollar back in New Avengers (2nd series) #1.

This double-sized issue is the last in the series. It would return with a third series starring the Illuminati in 2013, which includes Beast and Namor.

Written By: