Pulse #8

Issue Date: 
May 2005
Story Title: 
Secret War - part 3

Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Michael Lark (artist), Pete Pantazis (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Cory Petit (letterer), Mike Mayhew with Avalon’s Andy Troy (cover art), Jared Osborn (production), Stephanie Moore & Molly Lazer (assistant editors), Andy Schmidt (editor), Joe Robertson (editor in chief), J. Jonah Jameson (publisher), Joe Quesada & Dan Buckley (interns). The Pulse was created by Brian Michael Bendis

Brief Description: 

Jessica dreams about the incident in which her boyfriend, Luke Cage, was seriously injured. She wakes in an aircraft hangar, alongside a strange woman. It turns out she is an agent of Hydra, and her fellow agents are there to persuade Jessica to join them. They point out that Fury is to blame for everything and, if she cooperates with them, then her life will improve dramatically. Jessica listens to the entire proposal, before telling the lead agent she can shove her proposal. As soon as she does so, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents led by Clay Quartermain storm the hangar and kill the Hydra agents. Meanwhile, Ben Urich is contacted by an old S.H.I.E.L.D contact, who wants him to spill the beans on Nick Fury. Ben takes the story to Jonah, who eventually tells him to run with it, and find out what’s going on.

Full Summary: 

(Jessica’s dream)

Jessica Jones and her boyfriend, Luke Cage, return home to find a mysterious woman in their apartment. She is silhouetted against the window, and they don’t know who she is. Jessica’s eyes widen as energy sparks from the stranger. Luke steps in front to her to protect her, and shoves her out of the room as he is caught with an electric bolt. Before either of them can think about reacting to the threat, a massive explosion destroys the building.

(present - an aircraft hangar)

Jessica awakes from her dream, and finds herself on a makeshift mattress, inside an aircraft hangar with a woman sat nearby. Beside her is a table with food and drink. She assures Jessica that her baby is fine, explaining that she’s an empath. She tells Jessica that it’s okay to be scared. Jessica wonders what on Earth’s going on. The woman engages Jessica in small talk but Jessica isn’t having any of it. She asks what she’s doing there, and who the woman is. The stranger speaks to someone on her cell phone, informing them that Jessica’s awake.

She introduces herself as Special Agent Cohen. She was sent there to look after her while she slept. She offers Jessica refreshment, but she isn’t interested, and instead asks for whom she is a special agent. “F.B.I? S.H.I.E.L.D.? C.I.A.?” Agent Cohen informs her that the others will be there in a minute. They’ll update her on everything.

Jessica looks around and asks where Luke is, suddenly remembering everything that’s happened. She also realizes that it’s nighttime, and asks how long she’s been asleep. All day, replies Agent Cohen. She guesses Jessica needed it, and asks when the last time she slept was. Jessica asks where she is. The hangar door slides open and four more agents enter. “You’re with friends,” comes the reply. “Hail Hydra!”

(The Daily Bugle)

Ben Urich calls the office of Alias Investigations but gets Jessica’s answering service. He leaves a message, asking her to call him back at the Bugle. He has no idea where she is, or where Luke is either. He’s been calling everyone he knows about this, but no one is calling back. He’s not sure what that means. He tells her that if she’s home, can she call him and let him know so he can get some sleep. His message is desperate, because he’s as much in the dark as Jessica. Robbie Robertson walks past and asks if he’s heard from her. “Nothing,” he answers. “Let me know,” asks Robbie. With the office to himself, Ben puts the phone down, only to find it ringing again. He picks up the receiver, and on the other end is S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Al McKenzie.

McKenzie warns Ben that, as a major news outlet, the Daily Bugle is monitored. He asks Ben not to say Nick Fury’s name, as it will trigger a digital tap at the S.H.I.E.L.D. mainframe. For the purposes of their conversation, he is referred to as eye patch. Al asks Ben what he’s heard. Ben informs him that something went down at the hospital, something that involved eye patch. He asks Al if there’s something he wants to say to him about it. Al replies that eye patch $%#@ed up really bad.

Ben asks how, and Al informs him that he did something he wasn’t supposed to do and it came back to bite him on the ass. What he did was illegal, and Al suggests that if Ben wants to report it, he can go ahead. Report what? asks Ben. Al isn’t giving much away, but it’s clear that whatever Nick Fury did, S.H.I.E.L.D. appear to want his head on a plate. He tells Al that they don’t know what happened. Al says that he knows that a major city hospital was attacked by a big load of tech-themed terrorists in retaliation for something someone did without the permission of the United States government, or the United Nations. Ben asks if he’s saying Fury attacked someone he wasn’t supposed to and they attacked back. On American soil?

Al says that Ben knows that a lot of super heroes around the city were targeted for execution. Ben replies by asking if that’s what happened to Luke Cage. “See, you do have a story,” replies Al.

Ben is confused, and asks why it’s good to print this. They usually have a blanket ban on them in the name of national security. Al doesn’t answer, but suggests he may call another time. They can do lunch. Ben asks again, but still no answer is forthcoming. He asks if something happened to the patch, and Al asks him not to worry about him. He’s not going to be in a position to do anything to him if he prints this. Clearly, he adds, he can be quoted as ‘an inside source.’ Finally, Ben asks who it was who attacked the hospital. Al tells him he’s not hearing him. It isn’t who… it’s why?

(the aircraft hangar)

The Hydra agents are polite, and Jessica settles down and listens to what they have to say. Another female agent takes over from Agent Cohen, and apologizes for all this. She explains that Jessica fainted on the street, and they couldn’t leave her there with her being pregnant and all. Also, as they discovered the other night, the hospitals aren’t safe either. She asks if Jessica knows what Hydra is. Jessica doesn’t respond to any of her questions. The agent continues regardless, and tells Jessica that they don’t know where Luke Cage is either, but he’s obviously in trouble. However, dead or alive, their agents will find him. They’re already working on it. She says that the reason he can’t be found is because S.H.I.E.L.D scooped him up and he is hiding him. They may very well have taken him off American soil and quietly executed him.

She tells Jessica that she should clarify things. This is all Nick Fury’s fault. Luke Cage is an atomic bomb to Nick Fury. His existence is proof of his secret war. The reason Cage is in trouble is that Nick Fury lied to him, betrayed him and, if Cage somehow survives this betrayal, it’ll be a miracle. The good news here is not that not even the great Nick Fury is going to be able to dance between these raindrops.

(The Daily Bugle)

The rain is pouring outside, as J. Jonah Jameson asks Ben to repeat what he just said. With Robbie in attendance, Ben informs Jonah that Alphonso McKenzie called him out of the blue. A while back, he asked the Bugle to sit on information they had regarding Victor Von Doom and the planned attack on New York City, which they did. Jonah vaguely remembers the incident. Ben explains that McKenzie was the go-between back then; the one he talked to. Jonah points out that it was many years ago, and Ben replies that this is just his point. In return, S.H.I.E.L.D. gave them a story on Tony Stark. Jonah wants to hear more.

Ben says he hasn’t spoken to or seen the guy in what must be seven or eight years, but he calls up like they’re old friends and tells him it’s okay to throw Nick Fury under the bus. Jonah asks what Fury did to deserve this. Ben feels that McKenzie probably thought he already knew. It was something about the attack at the hospital being revenge for something Fury and some other super heroes did. But what? asks Jonah. Ben says he’s told him everything he knows.

As Jonah understands it, McKenzie asked Ben to run a story blaming Fury for something but they don’t know what. As if they do that! Like they just print whatever anyone calls up and tells them! Ben points out that Nick Fury must have done something really bad if his agents, who are trained to do nothing but obey him, now think it’s a good time to go after him. Jonah pauses and thinks about the situation. “And this is the same thing Jessica Jones was in here whining about?” he asks Ben. It is. Jonah asks him to get her in to see him, but Ben explains that she’s missing. Where, asks Jameson. Unfortunately, Ben doesn’t know. Jonah orders Ben to start making calls and peel the onion.

(the aircraft hangar)

The lead Hydra agent continues to try and persuade Jessica that Fury is completely in the wrong. She explains that he unwittingly duped a dozen heroes to follow him halfway around the world in the name of what he thinks is right and good. If Hydra did that, she adds, they’re the bad guys. They’re considered terrorists. What Fury fails to understand is that the only difference between Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D. is that they don’t wrap themselves in a flag. “Which one is terrorism, truly?”

Her rhetoric continues. She says that S.H.I.E.L.D is not the be all and end all of life and liberty. They do not speak for the world. They are bullies with deep pockets; corporate shills of the worst kind, and they will stop them. The reason they’ve brought Jessica there is they would be honored to work with her. She says they respect her, and like them, she doesn’t conform to this post-9/11 corporate logo society. She has powers but doesn’t have to wear the costume. She’s going to have a baby and, if Jessica is with Hydra, they are with her. “Do you understand what this means?” she asks, rhetorically.

It means that if anyone $%#@s with her, two of them will @#$% with them. Every aspect of her life will improve two-fold. They will protect her, respect her and be there for her in any way she needs. If she wants money, they can give it to her. They can set her up with a job or appointment or a lottery win - all on the books and legit. All they need is information from her. A tip here and a tip there. She says that Jessica is in a unique position. She has access to the Daily Bugle, to the Avengers, to Stark and Captain $%#@ing America.

What Jessica has is information, information which Hydra needs to fight this fight. She has information that will save the rest of the clear-thinking world from the tyranny of S.H.I.E.L.D. They want Jessica to join them and would be honored if she does. She adds that there’s no greater feeling in the world than giving your children what you never had.

She asks her fellow agent holding a briefcase to give her its contents. He pulls out two large wads of cash, thousands and thousands of dollars. Jessica’s eyes widen. The agent hands her the cash, and says it’s to start off with. If she wants, they can help her hide it in one of those offshore thingamabobs. Jessica takes the money and looks at it carefully. The agent says time is of the essence. Fury made himself weak. They have to be ready.

Jessica asks to be taken to Luke. The agent replies that they don’t know where he is. “You’re not holding him to get to me?” she asks. The answer is no. Jessica plays with the cash, and tells the agent it’s a really big brick. Yes, smiles the agent. Jessica asks, “Then how am I going to shove it up your ass?” The agent clearly looks shocked.

Suddenly, the roof skylights smash, and four S.H.I.E.L.D agents drop through it using jet packs on their backs. Two attack helicopters back them up as more agents rush the hangar doors. With perfect accuracy, they kill the Hydra agents, leaving Jessica sat there holding a big pile of cash. “Jessica Jones?” says one of the agents. He removes his facemask, and reveals himself to be Agent Clay Quartermain. “You called?” Jessica replies that she called two days ago. Clay says it’s been a busy time. He explains that they’ve been outside for the last half hour. When Hydra moved, they moved.

She asks why they let Hydra kidnap her. Clay tells her they didn’t. She was kidnapped first, and they triangulated her cell marker and found her. They weren’t allowed to swing until the offer was made - Assistant Director’s orders. They wanted to make sure which side she was on. He congratulates Jessica on doing the right thing, and asks for the money. Jessica wants to keep it, but reluctantly hands it back.

Outside, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are securing the site. Jessica asks if they have Luke. Clay replies that they don’t. He’s still missing. She asks what’s going on, and what this ‘secret war’ is all about. “Sorry,” he replies, “You know the rules.”

Characters Involved: 

Jessica Jones

Ben Urich

J. Jonah Jameson

Robbie Robertson

Hydra operatives including Special Agent Cohen

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D including Clay Quartermain

(in Jessica’s dream)

Jessica Jones

Luke Cage

Lucia Von Bardas

Story Notes: 

This is a tie-in with the Secret War series.

Jessica used to go out with Clay Quartermain. Clay first appeared in Strange Tales (1st series) #163. More recently, he has been seen in The Pulse’s preceding series, Alias.

Issue Information: 
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