Onslaught Unleashed #4

Issue Date: 
July 2011
Story Title: 
A True Friend

Sean McKeever (writer), Filipe Andrade (artist), Ricardo Tercio (colorist), Dave Lanphear (letterer), Humberto Ramos & Morry Hollowell (cover artists), Randall Miller (production) Lauren Sankovitch (editor), Tom Breevort (executive editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Before Sharon Carter and Ant-Man can fly out of the jungle, the Beast contacts them and informs them that he needs their help, while, in the Project Power sub-basement, Toro finds his former friend, El Dragon, not moving. Above Captain Rogers, the Black Widow, Moon Knight, the Beast, Spider-Girl, Firestar and Gravity are left to face off against Onslaught who has fully materialized on this earth. They attempt to set him on fire, but are unsuccessful. Gravity then tries to fight Onslaught alone, but Onslaught grabs hold of him and starts to reduce him to a blank slate - until Sharon flies the Quincarrier straight towards the gigantic Onslaught - causing Onslaught to drop Gravity. He focuses his attention on Sharon and detects something about the Beast, who is in the lab when a focused EMP blast temporarily disrupts Onslaught’s energy without compromising the facility’s power. Energy surges and when the energy subsides, the heroes realize that they have trapped Onslaught, only to discover that they haven’t - Nomad, whom Onslaught had been “possessing” managed to take control and push herself to the front of their shared form. She tells her friends that she and Onslaught are the same, and that she hopes Gravity understands what she is talking about. Nomad says her parting words to her friends, explaining that Onslaught will take her over once more, and that Gravity must act to save the lives of billions. As Onslaught starts to emerge, Gravity is force to use his power on his friend. At the same time, Captain Rogers goes to find Sharon Carter, and they return to find that Nomad is no more, as her plan for Gravity using his powers against her worked. The Black Widow comforts Spider-Girl, and Captain Rogers leaves to find Toro. He locates him and finds Toro clutching his wounds. He takes Toro to the others, and Toro announces that he will stay with the child soldiers to help fix their brainwashing. The Beast confirms that the pathway between this world and the Negative Zone is no more. The heroes return to the United States, each dealing with the consequences of this tragic adventure. Spider-Girl grieves for Nomad, as doe Captain Rogers. Later, Captain Rogers returns to the site of the recent battle with several other heroes - who are quickly slain by a sudden return of Onslaught - only Captain Rogers wakes up, it was just a dream.

Full Summary: 

Colombia, inside a Quincarrier outside a secret compound in the middle of a dense jungle. ‘Please, Sharon, listen to me. We don’t have time to go for help!’ Eric O’Grady a.k.a. the third Ant-Man tells his teammate Sharon Carter, who, as she prepares to take the Quincarrier up, asks Eric how she can trust anything he says - even if he is tied up to the console in front of her in his miniature form. Eric tells Sharon that Onslaught is not in his head anymore, and if that is the case, it means Onslaught doesn’t need him. ‘Which means -’ Eric begins, as a distorted voice can be heard over the communicator, asking Sharon if she can read him. ‘The radio’s back! Hank? Beast, can you read me?’ Sharon calls out to Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast, who replies over the communicator that he can. Hank adds that he is glad she is unharmed, and tells her that, assuming she has the Ant-Man situation under control, there is something of unequivocal importance for which he has need of her - both of them.

In Project Power’s sub-basement, within the compound, Benny “Toro” Serrao crawls across the floor, wounded, he calls out to his old friend Marcos a.k.a. El Dragon. ‘You’re yourself again. But when you wake you’ll become the Dragon, and you’ll finish me. Do I kill you now, while you’re helpless? Or-’ Benny begins, before there is a loud rumbling, and he looks up, ‘There is a war above us!’ the young hero exclaims.

‘Avengers - press the attack!’ Captain Steve Rogers orders as he, the Beast, Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. the Black Widow, Marc Spector the Moon Knight and several young heroes - Anya Corazon a.k.a. Spider-Girl, Angelica “Firestar” Jones, and Greg Willis a.k.a. Gravity engage the recently returned horror known as Onslaught! Steve, Natasha and the Moon Knight fire their weapons upwards at the massive form of Onslaught that looms over them. ‘Ray guns and lead bullets. I would have given Captain America more credit’ Onslaught announces. ‘We only needed to keep your focus on us, Onslaught’ Steve calls back. ‘Y’know, instead of me!’ Gravity exclaims as he uses his power to lift over one hundred trees up out of the jungle and around Onslaught. ‘Do you actually believe you can blind me with plants?’ Onslaught retorts, as Gravity darts about him. ‘Not actually, no, but close. This, by the way, is for forcing me to hurt my friend!’ Firestar exclaims as she releases a powerful surge of microwave energy towards Onslaught, setting all of the trees and plants around him on fire, the behemoth stumbles backwards.

‘This is loco!’ Spider-Girl exclaims. ‘Would having one of the simplified children’s rifles help you cope?’ Natasha asks, holding a weapon up. ‘Having a nuke might. Maybe’ Spider-Girl responds. Gravity looks over to Firestar and tells her that he thinks it might have worked. ‘NO!’ Onslaught roars, he moves his hand towards Gravity and Firestar. Angelica leaps backwards through the air, telling Gravity to get away, as Gravity leaps onto Onslaught, who boasts that he is made of energy, and that their physical attacks are a joke to him. ‘Like the guys says, Firestar - he’s made of energy’ Gravity calls out. Firestar, the Black Widow and Captain Rogers watch, concerned, while Spider-Girl grins, and Gravity adds ‘Energy has mass. And mass…is the subject to the laws of gravitation’. He starts to use his power on Onslaught, who shouts ‘WHAT?’ Then, Onslaught declares ‘That is enough from you, insect’, and he grabs Gravity in his large hand, trapping the young hero.

‘Gravity! We have to help him somehow!’ Moon Knight calls out. ‘Help…is en route…’ the Beast reports, as everyone watches, concerned for the young hero’s safety. Onslaught pulls Gravity towards his face, and tells him that he is arrogant - like so many of Xavier’s students. ‘I’ll fix that for you. Reduce your mind to the level of those child soldiers’ he announces. ‘A blank slate. A nothing’ Onslaught declares, as Gravity’s eyes roll back in his head and he starts to drool - when suddenly, ‘A - diversion!’ Onslaught declares as he turns to see the Quincarrier speeding towards him. He raises a hand and drops Gravity, so Firestar swoops down to save her friend. ‘And what did you expect to accomplish, Agent Carter?’ Onslaught enquires. ‘Do you really think your psi-defense training can stop me from getting to the truth?’ he asks her. Sharon concentrates hard, as Onslaught asks her what she is hiding in there. ‘Something about…Henry McCoy…’ Onslaught begins. Sharon tells the Beast via communicator that she can’t keep Onslaught out, so it has to be now - and she presses down a button on the controller.

An instant later, a large grid of sorts can be seen emitted from the Quincarrier. There is a lout WHOOOOMMP and Onslaught seemingly vanishes, as the Quincarrier lands in the jungle. ‘What was that?’ Spider-Girl asks as she and the Beast stand near the machine in the lab where Onslaught’s form was earlier contained. The Beast explains that it was a focused EMP blast, which temporarily disrupted Onslaught’s energy without compromising the facility’s power. ‘It’s done! Did you find it, Ant-Man?’ the Beast asks over the communicator. In his tiny form, Ant Man pulls a cable out of a machine, ‘I hear ya, Doc! Almost there!’ Ant-Man reports. ‘This is a temporary measure! We have little time!’ the Beast declares. Holding a bolt to the gap in the machine, Ant-Man mutters that he hopes this works and that it doesn’t kill him in the process. ‘AAHN!’ the Beast exclaims, moving away from the machine, as red energy darts about it. ‘Hold onto something!’ the Beast calls out to the other heroes, as the energy swirls about faster and faster. They grab onto whatever they can, as the energy curses about, before suddenly, it stops, and they fall to the ground of the room where the machine still stands.

‘I’m going after Sharon!’ Captain Rogers declares immediately, leaping to his feet. ‘What in the world just happened?’ Firestar enquires. Ant-Man announces that they trapped the ugly sucker - like in Ghostbusters. ‘This is what you get when you mess with people’s minds, man! Hear me?’ Ant-Man exclaims as he looks into the machine that is now containing Onslaught, where some energy is seen. Ant-Man returns to his regular human size as the Beast informs him that Onslaught may well hear him, but now from inside those tubes. ‘What?’ Ant-Man asks, confused. The Beast reveals that this looks to be pure Negative Zone energy. ‘Onslaught’s connection to the energy wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped’ he adds. ‘So that means…’ Ant-Man begins. ‘If he’s not in the machine, then where is he?’ the Black Widow asks. ‘And where is Nomad?’ she adds. ‘I’m here, Natasha’ a voice calls out. The heroes look up and see Rikki Barnes a.k.a. Nomad hovering above them, blue energy around her, she speaks in a strange voice, and asks them all not to be afraid, as she won’t hurt any of them. ‘Is that…Rikki, is that really you?’ Spider-Girl calls out to her best friend.

‘Yeah, it’s really me. Well, real as I’ve ever been, anyway’ Rikki replies, before asking everyone to listen, announcing that the blast knocked them both for a big old loop, but she was able to get herself back together first. ‘He’ll be here in about a minute’ Rikki adds. ‘How could you know that?’ Spider-Girl enquires. Rikki looks at her best friend and tells her that what Onslaught said about her is true - they are together now. The same. ‘It’s like that entanglement stuff you were telling me about’ Firestar remarks. Gravity looks confused, but Nomad tells him that she hopes he gets it, because he is the one who needs to most of all. ‘Me?’ Gravity asks. Nomad explains that Onslaught is like any animal, faced with dying, he clawed his way back to reality, and now that he is here and safe, he is back to his original agenda - he is going to kill everyone - not just humans, but mutants, too. ‘Before that an happen, you need to do like you did before to Onslaught, but now with me instead. You’ve gotta do it stronger, though, to make sure that virtually every atom -’ Nomad explains, before Gravity interrupts her, declaring that he won’t do it.

‘Gravity -’ Nomad begins, to which Gravity calls out ‘You saw what he tried to make me do, right? I’m not a killer, Nomad’ Gravity points out. Nomad tells him that she knows, but that she also knows that he would not hesitate to sacrifice his own life to save the lives of billions. ‘Me, I did it once before. Now I’ve got the opportunity to do it all over again, and…I’m grateful for it’ Rikki remarks, adding ‘If the roles were reversed, would you want me to talk you outta your choice?’ Gravity hangs his head and declares ‘No, no, I wouldn’t but that’s -’, until Nomad interrupts him, she floats down to him and puts a hand on his shoulder, ‘It’s okay. It’s really okay’ she assures him. Suddenly, Nomad lurches forward. ‘Rikki…’ Spider-Girl calls out, as red energy, signalling Onslaught, emerges from Nomad’s form. Rikki then screams, ‘He’s almost here! We gotta do this now, Gravity! Do it now!’ she shouts. Gravity looks nervous, he holds his hands up to Nomad, ‘I’m…so sorry…’ he utters, as he touches her, using his power.

In the jungle, Steve has found the Quincarrier and shoots the door open. He pulls the remains of the door aside as he rushes in to find Sharon lying on the floor of the aircraft. ‘SHARON!’ Steve calls out. He pulls her off the floor, ‘Did Henry’s plan work? Did we stop Onslaught?’ Sharon asks as she wakes. ‘I don’t know but I’m -’ Steve begins, before suddenly, arms around each other, they turn back to the direction of the compound, where they see energy bursting forth over the treetops. ‘What…is that?’ Sharon asks. Thy make their way towards the compound, past the possessed child soldiers. ‘Those children you were fighting! What -?’ Sharon asks, as Steve tells her that they are not themselves, and adds that he will explain later. Entering the compound, they find the Black Widow hugging Spider-Girl, while Gravity and Firestar are slumped over on the floor, and the Beast stands near the machine. ‘What…what happened here?’ Steve calls out. ‘Steve…she was -’ the Beast begins. Steve interrupts the Beast and hangs his head, announcing that he should look for Toro.

And shortly, ‘Toro’ Steve calls out as he enters the sub-basement and finds Toro slumped against a wall. ‘You say…you say before…you say Nomad is not here. I seen her. She…saves me and then…goes away’ Toro manages to utter, while clutching his stomach wounds. Steve goes over to Toro and remarks that he needs to be treated. ‘I heal’ Toro replies. ‘Good. But still’ Steve points out. Turning to the body lying nearby, Steve asks Toro if that is his “friend”. Toro explains that Nomad would not let him kill, so he made Marcos not become El Dragon. ‘I make him broke’ he adds.

Soon, the child soldiers are all gathered out the front of the compound, as Firestar announces that their minds are shot. ‘Si, Firestar. This is how we all are. We are made this way by Cuchillo, to forget out past. To be warriors’ Toro explains, bandages wrapped around his stomach. Toro adds that he remembers his past, but only he does and he tries to make them remember. ‘Stay here. Help’ he announces. Firestar tells Toro that they will be lucky to have him, and that Nomad would have been proud. The Beast and Moon Knight look at the compound, and Moon Knight suggests that the ought to raze it. The Beast believes that won’t be necessary, as that particular pathway between their world and the Negative Zone is no more. ‘How did you close it?’ Moon Knight enquires. The Beast explains that he didn’t, and that his best hypothesis is that it its closing was a by-product of Gravity’s actions. ‘We most definitely ought to raze this place’ Moon Knight announces again.

Later, as the Quincarrier flies across the ocean, Ant-Man stands near Sharon who is piloting the craft, and tells her that he wished it never happened, but that he hopes she understands. ‘…I couldn’t help myself. I mean really couldn’t help myself. That was the worst ever, feeling trapped and forced like that. I’m sincerely sorry’ he declares. ‘So now you know how it feels when a woman’s taken advantage of, Eric. You can go sit down now’ Sharon replies. She then glances over at Natasha, ‘Too harsh?’ she asks. ‘Ant-Man may be trying to atone for his depraved past, but that doesn’t mean he gets to escape it’ Natasha points out. The Beast and Firestar sit next to each other, as Firestar informs him that Emma Frost invited her to join Utopia. ‘Oh?’ the Beast asks, surprised. ‘Put the minds of two mutants together and you get Onslaught. Now take all those mutant minds, all on the same island… maybe it’s not such a good idea’ Firestar points out.

Spider-Girl sits with her legs pulled up to her stomach and informs Moon Knight that she used to have powers. ‘If I still had them today, maybe I could’ve made a difference’ she points out. Moon Knight tells Spider-Girl that he is not especially well-versed on big, cosmic-scale happenings, but he does know that her being there for her friend had a sizable impact. ‘How do you know that?’ Spider-Girl asks, looking up at Moon Knight. ‘Because I know what it means to have a true friend’ Moon Knight replies. Nearby, in one of the other seats, Gravity stares out the window, in silence, before asking Captain Rogers if he thinks it was true - that Nomad wasn’t ever real. Steve tells the young hero that he has seen all sorts of living things in his time, definitions of “real” that he still can’t quite wrap his head around to this day. ‘She was certainly real to you and I’. They look at each other, and Steve tells Gravity that what is important to remember is that Nomad bravely chose to put everyone else before herself - twice. ‘And in the end… that choice was hers’.

Much later, Captain Rogers, the Black Widow, Moon Knight, Firestar, Gravity and Spider-Girl have returned to the compound in the jungle with several other heroes, including Spider-Man, who mutters ‘Oh, this place doesn’t seem creepy at all’. Captain Rogers tells everyone to stay sharp, for if the Beast’s readings are correct, they will need to move fast. Wolverine remarks to Colossus that there is a problem - he can’t move. ‘Da, Logan. I -’ Colossus begins, when suddenly, they are blasted with two beams of energy - from Iron Man and War Machine’s armor. ‘Wow. This is almost exactly like my dreams’ a voice calls out - ‘NO!’ Captain Rogers shouts, as large spikes suddenly burst from the ground, skewering all of the other heroes. ‘Oh, yes, Steve…I’m glad you weren’t there to stop Gravity. Making it look like he killed us bought us time to truly get out act together… and truly become one!’ Onslaught and Nomad announce as their merged form appears behind Cap, and lifts him into the air.

‘Wake up now, Steve… wake up…’ a voice calls out, and Steve opens his eyes. He is lying in bed next to Sharon. Get gets out of bed and puts some clothes on, walking to the balcony, with a cup of coffee, he stares out over the morning sky, which glows red with the rising of the

Characters Involved: 

Firestar, Gravity, Nomad IV, Spider-Girl, Toro (all Young Allies)
Ant Man III, Beast, Black Widow, Moon Knight, Sharon Carter, Steve Rogers (all Secret Avengers)


El Dragon
Child soldiers

(In Steve Rogers’ dream)
Firestar, Gravity, Spider-Girl (all Young Allies)
Black Widow, Moon Knight, Steve Rogers (all Secret Avengers)
Colossus, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Psylocke, Storm (all X-Men)
Dr. Strange, Iron Man, Mr Fantastic, Spider-Man, War Machine


Story Notes: 

Toro’s past was briefly chronicled in Young Allies #1.

Emma Frost invited Firestar to live on Utopia in Young Allies #6.

Captain Rogers’ dream is similar to the one that Nomad had in Onslaught Unleashed #1.

Rikki Barnes has not made a return since her sacrifice this issue.

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