Tales of Suspense (1st series) #101

Issue Date: 
March 2018
Story Title: 
Red Ledger, part 2: Disaster Tourism

Matthew Rosenberg (writer), Travel Foreman (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Andrea Sorrentino (cover artist), Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz & Marte Gracia (variant cover artists), Carlos Lao (graphic designer),  Alanna Smith (editor), Tom Brevoort (executive editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Bucky and Hawkeye survive an explosion at the US Embassy in Chernaya, and gather themselves, taking some time out to assess the situation in their search for who they think is the Black Widow, somehow alive, and hunting Hydra agents. They have a clandestine meeting with former SHIELD agent Skids, who tells them that she has seen the Black Widow's body, before giving them a cryptic clue. As Skids drives away, her car suddenly explodes, then plummets into the Hudson River. Hawkeye feels terrible that they may have gotten Skids killed, and worries that Bucky seems in denial that the Black Widow is back. The wreck of Skids' car is pulled from the river, but no body s found. Hawkeye sees a woman watching on the shore, and he and Bucky give chase, following her back up onto the bridge, where she causes a car accident, and escapes in the chaos. Hawkeye and Bucky scope out a mansion in Westchester which Skids gave them a heads up about. Hawkeye is adamant that Natasha Romanoff is back, and Bucky decides that, as much as he doesn't like Hawkeye, the two of them work well together. They take out some Hydra agents and enter the mansion, where they find someone dressed like the Black Widow – they apprehend her, and are shocked to discover Yelena Belova, the second Black Widow, impersonating Natasha. She panics when she sees Bucky, and in Russian, pleads for him not to kill her.

Full Summary: 

The US Embassy, Dovbrotel, Chernaya, where Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye and Bucky Barnes the Winter Soldier are blasted from the building by a huge explosion. As he plummets to the ground, Bucky thinks that there are three things you need to survive an explosion – the first is reflexes, which is not something you can learn – you either have it or you don't. You need to move at the speed of thought. The second is knowledge, as it is not usually the flames or shrapnel that kills you, it is air pressure – it bursts eardrums, tears ligaments, ruptures bowels and collapses lungs – you don't want that. You need to protect your head, go limp, don't clench – and exhale. As his bionic arm lands against the ground, buffering the impact of his fall, Bucky decides that the third thing you need is the most important, though – it's luck. Pure luck – and he has a lot of that.

Several of Hawkeye's arrows fall around Bucky, who thinks to himself that no one can count on pure luck to help them survive – except for this idiot, as Hawkeye lands on top of him.

'Well, that sucked. You okay there, Bucky?' Hawkeye asks. Bucky doesn't answer, so Hawkeye suggests they get off the street before the police ask them a bunch of questions in a language they don't speak. 'I hate Hawkeye' Bucky decides.

As they take a rest on a rooftop, Bucky looks out over the city and decides that it is not good to be standing still for long, although they do need to catch their breath and get their bearings. Hawkeye holds a sandwich in one hand and remarks that it is a nice view, if you can ignore the whole civil war that just started. 'You bring all your dates up here?' he asks Bucky, who replies that they need to look for the quickest way out of the city. 'I bet you say that to all the girls' Hawkeye jokes, while looking at the sandwich, and asking 'What is this, anyway?' Bucky tells him it is hurka, a traditional dish, and that he will need his strength. 'I bet this is what Man-Thing tastes like' Clint mutters as he pulls a face at the hurka. He then raises is overhead, 'Five bucks if I can hit that tank driver down there' Hawkeye jokes, before asking Bucky if they are going to talk about the fact that Natasha is not dead. 'She's dead, Clint. We both know that' Bucky replies. Clint throws the hurka and tells Bucky 'You owe me five bucks' and asks him why he is like this. 'Charming?' Bucky replies. 'The brooding tough-guy shtick. Why are you the way you are?' Hawkeye enquires.

Bucky explains that he was trained as a child to be a killer, and sent off to do battle with evil itself – he was blown up, frozen, brainwashed and forced to kill for his enemies while almost everyone he cared about grew old, forgot him and died – that probably has something to do with it. 'Why are you?' Bucky then asks. 'Mostly for attention' Hakweye tells him, before admitting that they don't know Natasha is alive. 'But something brought you out here, and I don't think you'd travel halfway across the world to protect a bunch of ex-Hydra bigwigs. So what is it?'

Bucky tells Clint that he cared about Natasha, and now, someone wants people to think she is back – so he wants to know why. 'Why do you believe it's her?' Bucky asks. 'Cuz people like Nat don't just die. I believe the world doesn't let stuff like that happen' Clint replies. Bucky wishes he believed that, and suggests to Clint that they go talk to someone who might know what the hell is going on. He then hurls his own hurka down to the street below, where it lands on a soldier's head.

A parking garage, in Washington Heights, New York. 'Wake up' Bucky tells Clint, who is laying on a concrete slab. 'I'm awake, I'm awake' Clint mutters. 'You were snoring' Bucky tells him. Clint jokes that he does that when he is awake, before asking Bucky if he ever sleeps. 'No' Bucky replies, while thinking to himself that spies always want to make everything so needlessly clandestine. Hawkeye asks Bucky if this all seems unnecessarily “spy-ish” to him, but Bucky tells him it doesn't, and as a pastel yellow car pulls up beside them, Bucky tells Clint 'Let me do the talking'. 'No problem' Clint replies. 'Hello boys' a young blonde woman remarks as she gets out of the car. 'Hello, Agent – hey! I know you from somewhere!' Clint exclaims. 'Yes, Clint. I'm Agent Blevins. We met a long time -' the young woman starts to say, before Clint interrupts her: 'Boom-Boom! You're Boom-Boom! From the New Mutants, right?' Agent Blevins sighs and tells him that Boom-Boom was her teammate, while she was known as Skids – but now people call her Agent Blevins or Sally. 'You look great, Skids' Clint exclaims.

Bucky steps forward and informs Agent Blevins that they have been looking into the murders of some high-ranking former Hydra operatives. 'We were hoping you all might have some leads we could follow' Bucky adds. Sally folds her arms and replies 'There's not “you all,” Barnes. SHIELD is done'. Hawkeye steps forward and tells Skids that obviously the spy games aren't completely out of her system here – and he bets she knows a whole buncha folks still larping it up as superspies. Sally reveals that maybe there are a few agents out there who still want to see Hydra guys get kicked in the teeth, but that they don't have any leads, either. She adds that whoever is doing these hits is good. 'Good in a way we don't ever see anymore. Like... oh' Skids remarks, before stopping herself. 'What?' Clint asks her. 'The two of you. I get it' Sally tells them, pointing her fingers at both of them. 'Get what?' Bucky enquires. 'You boys and your crushes. You think it's her' Sally points out.

'No. That's idiotic. He thinks it is, though' Bucky replies, motioning to Clint. Sally tells Clint and Bucky that she hates to be this person, but she has seen the body. Bucky tells Sally that he just wants to find out what's happening. Sally shrugs her shoulders and tells Clint and Bucky that she doesn't have any answers for them. 'Maybe their side knows more' she suggests. As she starts to get back into her pastel yellow car Sally tells Bucky and Clint that if any of them were still keeping tabs on Hydra, they would be seeing a lot of their guys going even deeper underground – especially after the funeral incident. 'But this guy didn't run. He just beefed up his security. Ask him who's killing his friends. And boys? You didn't get this from me' Sally adds, as she passes something out the window to Bucky, before winding her car window up and driving out of the parking garage.

'I get why you always make this stuff so clandestine. It's fun as hell' Clint smiles at Bucky, who thinks to himself 'It is', while telling Clint to shut up, before asking him what that was all about – when Agent Blevins mentioned the “funeral incident”. 'I have no idea' Clint replies, frowning. Bucky then asks Clint if anything about that exchange bothered him. 'I would've liked to ask her why they thought it was okay to name a super hero team “The New Mutants” Why?' Clint replies. 'No reason Bucky tells him, while thinking to himself that he felt like Sally was nervous talking to them, like she thought someone might be watching – but nobody could have known we were meeting here, Bucky tells himself. Suddenly, the pastel yellow car can be seen in the distance – and it explodes on a bridge. 'NO!' Bucky thinks, watching as the flaming car spirals out of control and drives over the edge of the bridge, plummeting to the water below. 'Looks like somebody knew' Bucky realizes.

Shortly, at the shore of the water under the bridge, Clint and Bucky watch as rescue workers pull the remains of the pastel yellow car out of the river. 'You want to say it, or should I?' Clint asks. 'Stop' Bucky tells him. 'Okay. I will. I don't think Nat's on our team anymore' Clint declares, but Bucky points out that Natasha wouldn't do this. 'Maybe before. But something has -' Clint begins, to which Bucky interrupts him and reminds him that they don't even know what happened. 'What does that mean?' Clint asks. 'No body yet!' one of the rescue divers calls out, as Bucky reminds Clint that things aren't always what they seem. 'Oh, good to know. Because it seems to me like we got a woman killed for talking with us. And it seems like a woman both of us dated killed her' Clint tells Bucky, adding that it seems like he doesn't give a #$%& about the first part, and is in denial about the second. 'But I'm sure that can't be right' Clint adds.

They watch as the car is lowered onto the icy shore, and Bucky points out that they don't know if this was done by the same killer they are chasing. He adds that former SHIELD agents and former super heroes make a lot of enemies. 'Hell, we don't even know that Sally is dead' Bucky points out. 'That's a good point, Nancy Drew. We just watched her blow up, fall thousands of feet and then sink into the bottom of the freezing Hudson River. She's probably fine' Clint replies. Bucky tells Clint that he will believe Sally is dead when they find a body. Suddenly, a diver emerges from the river and shouts 'Get the ME on site. We got a body down here!' '$%&$' Bucky thinks to himself. 'So if you're right -' Bucky begins. 'Bucky' Clint interrupts him. '- if Natasha was somehow -' Bucky continues, so Clint interrupts him again. 'What?' Bucky asks. 'Be cool. 5 o'clock' Clint whispers as he sees someone who is standing on the other side of the police line, near civilians and reporters. Bucky spins around, and Clint covers his face, cringing.

'That was you “being cool?” How'd you ever get the drop on anyone, man?' Clint asks Bucky as they give chase to the woman, who turns and runs. Bucky tells Clint that he assumed someone had a weapon. 'Scuse us! Avengers business!' Clint calls out as he passes the police line, where the reporters turn and watch the woman who is running from them. 'You thought someone was about to shoot at you any my response was “be cool”?' Clint replies. 'Yes' Bucky tells him. 'Fair enough' Clint mutters, while the woman up ahead leaps onto a tall fence, and starts to climb over it. 'Wait, you can't actually believe that's -' Bucky begins. 'Something about the way she was standing' Clint explains. 'That's it?' Bucky asks, surprised. 'And she can do that' Clint add as the woman begins scaling the large rails that the bridge is built on.

Bucky and Clint follow her up, as Bucky thinks that Clint has gone through all of this hoping Natasha was alive, wishing for it – so he is seeing things that aren't there. The woman reaches a horizontal railing and climbs onto the bridge itself. Bucky decides that whoever this woman is, it can't be Natasha. Bucky gets close to her, but the hooded woman leaps into traffic, dodging the cars, she runs alongside them. 'Well...' Bucky begins to wonder. Clint then calls out 'Natasha! Stop!' while Bucky pulls out a gun, Clint grabs him, causing him to fire into the air. 'What the hell are you doing?' Clint asks. 'It's an impostor!' Bucky shouts, to which Clint asks him if he is mad. 'You can't just shoot her. That's Nat -' Clint begins, but the woman turns around and opens fire on the heroes. 'My bad!' Clint exclaims, while one of the bullets blows out the wheel of a car, causing it to spin out of control, and another car crashes into it.

Clint tells Bucky to check on the people in the lead car, but Bucky ignores him and jumps onto the car, climbs onto the roof of the car and aims his gun – but the mysterious woman is nowhere to be seen. 'We've got injured civilians here!' Clint calls out as he opens the door to one of the cars, telling the woman in the car that she will be fine. 'You can't lose me, whoever you... are' Bucky remarks as he turns to see a truck drive past him – with the mystery woman clinging to the back of it. Bucky just watches as the truck drives on. 'Hey! We almost got these people killed here!' Clint tells Bucky, asking him if he is going to start a gun fight in the middle of a busy highway. 'I think you know some mysterious killer is impersonating Nat, but c'mon, man!' Clint exclaims. 'Dammit, Natasha' Bucky thinks to himself.

At night, in Westchester, New York, Clint and Bucky are on a rooftop and look out to a large mansion, surrounded by a moat. 'How many people do you know who'd be able to lose us?' Clint asks. 'It's been hours. Stop' Bucky replies. 'And she just happens to be at the scene? And runs from us for no reason?' Clint asks. 'Please stop' Bucky tells Clint, who asks 'And she's got long red hair?' to which Bucky offers to pay Clint $10,000 for him to stop. Clint goes silent, then picks his nose and declares 'I'm just saying. It's her'. Bucky looks through some binoculars and tells Clint that Skids – Sally – was right. Whoever lives here certainly likes their security – he can see one in a car, two on foot patrols and at least two in the house. 'And two on the roof. But why do we think this Hydra #$%& is going to want to speak with us?' Clint asks as he stretches. 'Because we aren't the people trying to kill him' Bucky points out.

Clint tells Bucky that he has a theory guys like this get along better with the people trying to kill them – he calls it the Nick Fury principle. 'Well, I'm fine being either' Bucky replies, before asking Clint how many people he said were on the roof. 'Two – oh... I still love watching her work' Clint remarks as he looks over to the roof and sees the woman they think is Natasha drop down behind the agents and take them off – but Bucky notices that her movements are off. Clint and Bucky climb down the side of the wall, lowering themselves down by clinging to ropes, as Bucky suggests to Clint that if they take their time, they don't have to worry about accidentally saving a Hydra guy's life. 'I'm kidding. Mostly' Bucky adds. A car screeches towards them, 'I got the car!' Clint shouts as he opens fire on the car, bringing it to a stop. 'I got the driver!' Bucky exclaims as he rushes over to the car, jumping onto the hood, he dodges bullets fires at him by the Hydra agent, then smashes his bionic arm through the window and punches the agent in the face. 'I guess we aren't going the stealth route. Probably should have discussed that' Clint remarks.

Clint and Bucky scale the brick wall into the Hydra mansion grounds as Clint tells Bucky that Natasha knows they are here now, so they need to move. 'I hate working with other people' Bucky thinks to himself. 'Left' Clint remarks as he drops down onto the other side of the wall. Bucky admits to himself that Clint is good – very good as Clint shoots the agent on the left, while Bucky punches the other man out. 'Geez, man. I let mine keep his teeth, at least' Clint jokes, while Bucky decides that Clint is so annoying, but it's not like he doesn't respect him – but he thinks that Clint is always taking the easy way, not that he thinks Clint is too soft, either – he is tough, it's just the constant jokes, the hipster pretentiousness and the serial lack of commitment. Bucky punches holes into a column, creating a ladder up onto a balcony, while Clint fires an arrow at an agent nearby. They climb up onto the balcony, then burst into a room where a man and a woman are in bed together. They are surprised, and the man reaches for a gun, 'What's going -' he shouts, before Bucky knocks him on the head.

Bucky thinks to himself that Clint could be one of the best – but instead he was the leader of the Malibu Beach Avengers, or whatever. 'Actually, maybe it is that I don't respect him' Bucky realizes, before warning Clint to stay down, as a woman in a black costume with red hair opens fire at them. 'Natasha, stop!' Bucky calls out as he ducks for cover. The mystery woman turns and runs, and Bucky gets a shot in and strikes her in the leg. She hobbles down a flight of steps, while Clint lunges at her, 'Take it easy, Nat!' Clint exclaims as he pushes her to the ground – only for her red wig to fall off, revealing a woman with short blonde hair, who looks very angry. Bucky is surprised, too, and Clint goes wide-eyed: 'Yelena? No! It can't be!' Clint gasps. He helps her to her feet, and she spits in his face, muttering something in Russian.

Bucky knows that Yelena Belova was the second Black Widow, Natasha's replacement after she joined SHIELD. Yelena looks at Bucky and panics. He wonders why she is doing this, as Yelena knows Clint. Yelena drops to the ground and tries to crawl away as she utters something else in Russian. 'I don't understand. What's she saying?' Clint asks. They both frown as Bucky announces “I'm sorry I failed you. Don't kill me, Winter Soldier.”

Characters Involved: 

Winter Soldier


Black Widow Red Room Clone / Natalia Romanova
Black Widow II Red Room Clone I / “Yelena Belova”
Black Widow II Red Room Clone II / “Yelena Belova”

Rescue crew
Hydra agents

Story Notes: 

Black Widow was killed in Secret Empire #7.

A hurka is a Hungarian sausage made of chitterlings.

Skids' most recent appearance was a cameo as a prison in New Tian during the “Secret Empire” storyline. Prior to that she was seen in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #487-491 where it was revealed she was an undercover SHIELD agent.

It's unknown what Skids had been doing between Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #491 and “Secret Empire” as SHIELD was replaced by HAMMER, and her status was never mentioned. This issue seems to imply that Skids had at least worked on other SHIELD assignments.

As revealed in future issues of this series, the Natasha Romanoff clone was seen on the bridge, while the first Yelena Belova clone was the woman in the Hydra base, and the second Yelena Belova clone was in the car that exploded on the bridge and plummeted into the Hudson River.

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