It began when a young man named Henrique Manuel Gallante, recovering from repeated bouts of dependencies on drugs, released the anger, frustration and darkness inside his lonely, twisted soul. What Gallante didn’t know when he did this was that he is a mutant, born with the ability to tap and control the energies of another plane of reality known as the Darkforce Dimension. And that power, abused as it has been, has resulted in the drowning of Manhattan in a tidal wave of Darkforce energy. Outside the Smythers Clinic, several heroes have gathered to put an end to the madness. While Gallante, calling himself the Darkling, stands on a tower of Darkforce energy, Firestar a.k.a. Angelica Jones and Robbie “Speedball” Baldwin of the New Warriors do their best to maintain composure under such pressure.
Accompanying them is their ally Chris “Darkhawk” Powell, and newcomer to the business of heroics, Turbo. More experienced heroes - Peter Parker the Amazing Spider-Man, Ben Grimm of the Fantastic Four and the Inhuman Avenger called Crystal are with them. ’Funky. Something like this is just gonna kill property values on the island’ Speedball jokes. ’Try telling that to the punk responsible!’ the Thing mutters, to which Speedball declares that for someone who calls himself the Darkling, he sure knows how to light up the Big Apple!
From atop his high tower, Darkling heard Speedball’s comment and tells him that he is wrong, that there is not enough light at all. ’Just a lifetime of garbage - of abuse - of neglect! Why shouldn’t I let it all out? Why shouldn’t I wash all of you in the same dark waters I’ve been drowning in my whole life?’
Taking to the air, Firestar tells Spider-Man, who swings along beside her on his webbing, that she doesn’t know whether they should feel sorry for Darkling or not. Spider-Man tells Firestar that all those “-pathy” words are politically correct nowadays, but that you can only take it so far. ‘And how far is that, Spidey, considering all the pain and anguish Darkling has caused so far?’ Darkhawk enquires. Leaping over a street lamp post, Spider-Man tells Darkhawk that since Darkling just wrecked the best bagel and lox place on the Upper East Side, this has gone far enough.
‘As long as your priorities are in the right place’ Firestar tells Spider-Man as she flies underneath the lamp post, while adding that she could end this right now. Down below, at street level, Crystal keeps the Darkforce-possessed civilians at bay with a burst of elemental energy, and reminds Firestar that she could, but that her microwave powers, used on a such a level, could irradiate everyone across the city. Turbo takes to the air and remarks ‘Mrs Crystal’s got a point’ and mutters ‘Like I’m not scared enough without worrying about a two-headed Turbo Jr!’ ‘Like you really need to worry about that, Turbo!’ Speedball tells his new companion, to which the Thing, as he sets up a barrier of cars, to keep the possessed civilians away, announces that Turbo has a cockeyed, backwards point.
The Thing elaborates, announcing that they have spent so much time trying not to hurt their friends and the civilians possessed by the Darkforce that “saran wrap” kid is spewing out, that just letting Firestar fry them all kinda puts their noble effort to waste. ‘I mean, the only options we really have at this point - are talking some sense into this kid - or beating some sense into him’. Suddenly, ‘Either way, Thing - you get what you want, don’t you!’ Darkling exclaims as his now massive form moves down and picks the Thing up off the car he was standing on. ‘He’s lifting Mr Grimm like tissue paper’ Turbo exclaims as he hovers nearby. His face distorted, Darkling boasts that he will wipe his noise as if the Thing were tissue paper. ‘It’s how I been treated - like I’ve got disposable feelings, refusable pain!’ Darkling declares.
Darkling tosses the Thing aside. ‘Mr Grimm!’ Turbo cries out as he flies after him. ‘Look out below!’ the Thing warns everyone as he falls head-first into a pile of cars. ‘What a revolting development this is’ the Thing mutters to himself, while the large wall of cars begins to topple over. Speedball tries to prop them up with kinetic balls of energy, and alerts Crystal to the danger. Furious, Crystal combines her power of elemental winds with that of Speedball’s kinetic field, which she hopes will be enough to keep the vehicles from toppling on the possessed civilians.
‘You called it, Crys!’ Speedball exclaims as he leaps into action, while remarking that knowing how to use his power sure is more fun than bouncing around like a complete feeb. ‘You still kind of do that anyway, Speed’ Darkhawk tells him. ‘Jaggin’ on me, Duckbill? Now I know you’re getting too comfortable hanging around with Warriors!’ Speedball replies, before suggesting they just stop this guy and save the city taxpayers from some massive expenses. ‘AS if this city doesn’t deserve the damage being done to it!’ Darkling shouts as he forces Speedball backwards. ‘As if it shouldn’t pay for how hard it treats us - how cold it makes us feel - how alone we are in it!’ Darkling booms. Firestar flies up towards the now massive Darkling and tells him that the city doesn’t do that, it’s them who do it to the city. ‘We do it to each other!’ she exclaims, assuring Darkling that they want to help him, want to stop this cycle of pain. Darkling shouts out in agony as Firestar’s microwave energy strikes him. ‘Nice way of showing it - by hurting me!’ he tells her. ‘What kind of hypocrite are you? You attacked the city - its people - our friends!’ Angelica tells him, adding that he made them fight each other for no reason, and now he has the nerve to blame this on them.
‘YOU’RE the villain here!’ an enraged Angelica exclaims. ‘Villain? Me? I’m just giving back what’s been given to me!’ Darkling replies. ‘All the hate, loneliness and anger - now I have the power to give it all back!’ Darkling booms as he spits out streams of Darkforce energy from his body, that wrap themselves around Firestar, Speedball and Darkhawk.
Trapped half a mile in the air, on the Darling’s Darkforce spire is the Master of the Mystic Arts, Dr Stephen Strange, hears what transpires below him, and instinctively reacts, releasing the all-seeing Eye of Agamotto from its housing in his chest amulet, so that the Eye can traverse the city streets, subconsciously seeking out the residents who have a personal link to the youthful members of the New Warriors. One such resident lives in an the isolated penthouse of the Ambrose Building, Andrew Chord, the New Warriors’ pilot, strategist and tutor, who is now recovering from a paralyzing self-inflicted gun shot wound. Walking aided by support beams, Chord tells himself to push it harder, that just because the city is flushing down the toilet, doesn’t mean he can skip his rehab.
Suddenly, ‘How was this junk able to work it’s way through the security system?’ Chord shouts as the Darkforce begins to seep around him. Suddenly, ‘Geez-Louise, Chord - you really been out of the $%$#@ merc business for a while, huh?’ Sprocket shouts as she leaps at Chord and knocks him free from the Darkforce, while telling him to analyze less and act more. Sprocket helps Chord up, and Chord thanks her for the save, while suggesting that she might be right - that turning into a businessman and a wet-nurse to kid super heroes has softened him up a bit. ‘But tell me this - you can’t fight this slop - and I can’t negotiate with it - so how do we stop it?’ he asks.
‘Beats the living crud outta me!’ Sprocket replies, before nervously suggesting that maybe they don’t stop it. Chord tells her them to move out and save herself, to which Sprocket swears at him and exclaims ‘After all we been through?’, and holding him up, declares that they will go down together because she will be needing a good poker partner when they both end up in H-E-double hockey sticks. The Eye of Agamotto leaves, having seen what it needed to see - an act of compassion among all the madness.
The Eye moves onwards, towards Chinatown, where safe inside one of the buildings, a young man and a young woman stand in the shadows of a room. ‘Kimeiko - I think you’re wrong for planning this!’ the young woman exclaims. Kimeiko calls her Hnang and tells her that she doesn’t understand, that their honor has been spit upon by this man. ‘Your HONOR?’ Hnang exclaims, declaring that the poison memories, this sickening gang Kimeiko calls his family attacked this person, so he attacked back. ‘You’re just mad because he won’ Hnang declares. Kimeiko tells her that it goes deeper than that, and turning from her, adds that she doesn’t understand. Hnang puts a hand on Kimeiko’s shoulder and pulls him backwards her, so they embrace. Kimeiko declares ‘You don’t know what the Mems mean to me…why I need them…and why I can’t let this Night Thrasher guy get away with what he did to us’. The Eye leaves, having seen what it needed to see. A cold, lonely heart which does not allow love to penetrate its self-imposed walls.
The Eye of Agamotto moves onwards, towards Greenwich Village, and the apartment building where Maddie Naylor and her son, Robbie “Speedball” Baldwin now live. Inside, several of the residents have been overtaken by the Darkforce, and they cry out for help as the blankness controls them. ‘Mr Wilburn - Mrs Jokobs?’ a young man calls out as he enters the corridor. ‘Carlton - help us!’ one of them exclaims. ‘But how?’ the boy asks, shouting that he cannot do this alone. He moves down the corridor to Madelyne Naylor’s apartment and calls out to her and Robbie, asking if they are home - when suddenly, a wall collapses, and forces him to the floor. Carlton struggles under the rubble, and once again calls out to Madelyne and Robbie. ‘Is anyone in here?’ he enquires. Lying a few inches away in the rubble is a book, and Carlton takes hold of it and sees that it is a scrap book. Opening it, he sees a photo of Speedball. The Eye leaves, having what it needed to see - a young man named Calrtdon LaFroyge who has found the means to release the courage and altruism he knows lie located within him.
The Eye moves onward, towards the Lower Manhattan abandoned factory Crash-Pad of the New Warriors, where Rich “Nova” Rider helps up Tandy Bowen a.k.a. Dagger, asking her if she is sure about this. Dagger replies that she is as sure as she can be about anything after being clocked by someone as strong as Rage. Tandy adds that she was lucky she was moving as Rage swung, or else he would have snapped her spine in two. Dagger realizes that she is avoiding Nova’s question, and asks him what else he proposes they do. She remarks that her light powres may be the only thing which can cancel out the Darkforce energy’s hold on the city. ‘Even if it kills you to do it?’ Nova asks, picking Dagger up into his arms.
Dagger replies that they don’t have much choice, to which Nova remarks that they never do. Dagger suggests they just do it before she chickens out, so Nova takes to the air, speeding upwards, and points out that the Darkforce energy seems to really be kicking it Uptown. Dagger suggests that is where all the possessed people probably are. ‘And that’s where we go’ Dagger declares, adding that what she swore earlier to Cloak gets done - one way or another, the fight between the darkness and the light ends tonight! With that, Nova continues to fly towards the Darkforce spire.
The Eye leaves, having seen what it needed to see. The heroic hearts of two young people who refuse to give up. And it returns to the towering mass of darkness, to find it’s master, Dr Strange, still sheathed in the Darkforce cocoon. The Eye’s piercing light bathes Dr Strange, the Darkforce energy begins to dissolve under its glare, until suddenly, Darkling notices the eye, and rises up on a wave of Darkforce towards it. ‘Little eye - do you see what I see - do you see me in control now?’ Darkling asks. ‘Do you see what I’ve been able to do? I have all of them fighting my fights for me’ he declares. ‘Fights between the good and the bad. The dark and the light’ Darkling remarks, before boasting that he is not so crazy now, now if he can use the super heroes the dark could over to fight those it couldn’t, and tells the Eye to look below.
Indeed, at that moment the Thing smacks back the possessed New Warrior Elvin Haliday a.k.a. Rage. ‘Kid, don’t make me have ta pulverize ya!’ the Thing exclaims, adding that he doesn’t usually like beating on the good guys, much less the kid good guys, and suggests that Rage could shout out some nasty curses or something to get him juiced up. Rage offers no response other than to kick the Thing hard in the chest, knocking him back. ‘Yeah - well, that’ll do -’ the Thing mutters. ‘Hello - is there a doctor in the house? Guess not’ Darkling jokes, while telling the Eye of Agamotto that not even its light is enough to get rid of all the dark.
Turning to Dr Strange, Darkling declares that it is better to just let the darkness wash over everything, as it is more comfortable than fighting it. ‘No - that’s just giving up! And we’re not going to do that!’ Darkhawk exclaims as he flits about in the air, staying out of reach from the possessed Warren “Archangel” Worthington, while quietly asking if anyone can give him a hand. ‘Sorry, Darkhawk, all hands are full right now!’ Firestar shouts as she fires a burst of energy at the possessed Shroud, while assuring everyone that she is holding back so that she doesn’t hurt him.
Turbo declares that some of them cannot sympathize, as he is giving it all he has to stay alive. With that, he is knocked upwards through the air, as the possessed New Warrior called Namorita smacks him hard. ‘Doesn’t Namorita realize I’m practically a teammate at this point?’ the eager young Turbo remarks. Suddenly, Namorita bursts through a large brick wall, breaking a chunk of it, which she then hurls towards a scared Turbo. ‘Guess not’ Turbo utters, gape-jawed, he is frozen in fear, and puts his hands up to his face, ‘I’m gonna die. I’m gonna die’ he utters over and over, when suddenly, hovering in mid-air, he finds the chunk of brick wall suddenly pulled backwards - thanks to Spider-Man. Spider-Man announces that he has a personal rule against letting a rookie super hero idie, at least until he’s been thoroughly abused in print by the “Daily Bugle”. Turning around, Spider-Man sees the possessed Eternal called Sersi, who attacks him by causing a crate to open in the ground. Spider-Man manages to dodge the crater, and reminds Sersi that he is sort of an Avenger, too.
Speedball dodges an attack from his possessed teammate, Silhouette, and asks if somebody can tell him how she is able to move around without her leg braces. ‘I mean, unless this Darkforce energy isn’t possessing them, so much as being used to manipulate them - and Darkling is just pulling their stings by yanking on the energy covering them. ‘That sorta makes sense, doesn’t it?’ Speedball asks as he dodges another lunge from Silhouette. ‘Too much sense’ Firestar calls out, pointing out that means their friends may still be conscious and alert even as they are being forced to fight. Angelica adds that is horrible, to be so incapable of controlling your own movements, and announces that she cannot let this go on.
Soaring higher into the air, Firestar declares that no matter how dangerous, since her microwaves are the only things which seem to disrupt the Darkling’s control of the Darkforce, she is going to have to pour it on. In spectacular display, releasing surge after surge of microwave energy. Darkling screams and coils backwards as the energies from within Firestar torrent over him, as the specific energy wavelength that Firestar transmits slices through Darkling’s psionic control of the Darkforce, and across the city, is hold is severed, long enough for those he was using to regain control of their bodies, if not their dark passions.
‘Where is he? I’m going to -’ Namorita calls out, free from Darkling’s hold. Spider-Man goes over to her and tells her to take it easy, not to push herself too hard. Darkling looks at his hand, returned to his normal form, he wonders why the darkness won’t come to him. Speedball goes over to Rage and asks him if he is okay, while Firestar drops down beside Silhouette, once again unable to walk, and remarks that she doesn’t think her powers will sever his control permanently. ‘They won’t, Firestar -’ Silhouette replies. ‘- but maybe this will!’ Namorita exclaims as she flies over and punches Darkling hard in the face, causing him to keel backwards. Darkhawk and Firestar help Silhouette up as she tells Namorita that is not the answer, as force is what has been used on him his entire life. ‘We have to show him why that isn’t the way to deal with life’s problems’ Silhouette explains.
The Darkforce begins to creep up Darkling’s body, and he announces that it is coming back, because it knows what he knows - it knows what it will take to beat all of them down. Namorita frowns and clenches her fists, declaring ‘This piece of crud doesn’t deserve the benefit of doubt from us!’. Silhouette turns to Namorita and asks ‘Who are you to tell me that? He made me walk again! I could feel my legs moving but I had no control over them! Do you have any idea at all how hard that was?’ she asks, tears pouring down her face. Namorita frowns and folds her arms across her chest, giving Silhouette a weak apology, before asking how she proposes they make Darkling see the light.
‘Maybe the only way to do that -’ Nova begins as he arrives on scene. ‘- is to blind him with it!’ Dagger declares as she leaps from Nova’s arms and thrusts her light power straight into Darkling’s head. Dagger somersaults onto the ground and remarks ‘If that doesn’t take the fight out of him, nothing will’ before going over to her partner, Tyrone Johnson a.k.a. Cloak. ‘Are you okay -’ Tandy asks him. Cloak replies that he is alive. ‘None of you understands!’ Darkling calls out, crying, he shouts ‘I NEED it!’, exclaiming that the darkness is the only thing that has ever cared, ever held on to him, ever let him hold it back. ‘There are better things to hold on to, Henrique. There’s love - and hope -’ Silhouette calls out. ‘Those things don’t exist’ Darkling replies as he falls on his face, overcome by sorrow.
‘Henrique Manuel Gallante - we have all endeavoured to tell you how wrong an assumption that is!’ Dr Strange proclaims as he hovers overhead, and suggests that Darling might be better served if they showed him, through the sights and sounds, words and deeds that the all-seeing Eye of Agamotto has accessed throughout the city during the course of this evening. ‘Look, Henrique - look at what this city and it’s people have to offer during a time of darkness - look and see the light!’ Dr Strange declares as he releases the Eye of Agamotto, and it shines down on Henrique, who holds himself as he sees the fear he caused, the anger and hatred he fomented, the frustration and confusion he unleashed.
But more - he also sees the love - the selflessness, the compassion, the altruism, the caring. The slightest glimmer of hope which exists - that maybe, just maybe, some of that light, can pierce his charred husk of a soul and illuminate him - and for once in his life, protect him from the dark. Crying, Henrique looks up, and utters ‘Why. Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that people cared? He asks. Silhouette is helped over to him, and tells him that he has to be lucky enough to find the ones that do. She rests beside him on the ground, and wraps her arms around him, telling Henrique that when he finds these people, he should be smart enough not to turn them away when they try to help. ‘That’s what friends - family - are for’ Silhouette declares.
But suddenly, Henrique pulls away from her, ‘NO!’ he shouts, declaring that the only friends that ever cared talked to him from inside of a freebase pipe. ‘The only family I ever knew turned their backs on me when I needed them!’ he adds, standing up, the Darkforce begins to sweep over his body once more, and he admits that he was wrong to do this, to the city - to all of them. ‘And I don’t know if I can fix this’ he adds, while Silhouette tells him to not even try, as the city can scrub itself clean. ‘Let the scars in our souls heal for themselves!’ she tells him.
The Darkforce spirals around Henrique, who announces that he has to find out why, and take all the darkness back. The Darkforce swirls and swirls around him as he absorbs it from all over the city. Transformed back into Darkling, Henrique announces that he has to take it away from here, and find out why it is such a strong part of him, and why the light isn’t. Darkling assures everyone that he will leave them with something, something he didn’t have before tonight - control - more knowledge of how the darkness works inside of them, control over how to use that darkness, and after seeing his mistakes, an understanding of how to use that darkness right.
‘What about you?’ Silhouette calls out. Darkling announces that he is leaving, leaving all of this. ‘The only way I’m ever going to find out about the light inside of me - is by learning to live with the dark’ Henrique announces, before he and the Darkforce energy sweeps off into the night. The Black Knight, recovered from his possession, walks over to Nova, while Crystal holds the Human Torch, her ex-boyfriend of the Fantastic Four, who remains motionless following his possession. ‘The madness is over. The city is safe again’ Crystal announces. Rage rubs his bruised face, while Speedball smiles and replies ‘You kidding? This is Manhattan we’re talking about y’know!’
Helping Silhouette to her feet again, along with Firestar, Darkhawk remarks ‘Overall, a pretty lousy night, huh?’. Silhouette replies that she doesn’t know about that, and remarks that if Gallante did one thing by showing them the darkness inside and around all of them, he also served to show them the light as well. ‘At the least - at the very least - we can all walk away with that much - can’t we?’, and with that, Silhouette smiles.