Acts of Vengeance – the ultimate super-villain team-up continues here… in the apartment of Eric Masterson.
As Hercules listens to a walkman and sings to himself “She drives me craze-eee… and I can’t help myself,” Eric Masterson listens to a television report. It states that amid rumors of a major jailbreak at the Vault, the federal government’s maximum security installation for the incarceration of superhuman criminals, they have confirmed the fact that Avengers Island, the headquarters of Earth’s mightiest heroes, was invaded and destroyed earlier that afternoon by an alleged criminal force…
Removing his walkman for a moment, Hercules mentions to Eric that his expression is most dour, what troubles him? Eric asks him is he for real? An army of super-powered robots sank Avengers Island. They lost everything, including their mansion headquarters. What does he think troubles him? Hercules replies bah, such petty annoyances are the lot of a hero’s life. ‘Tis a pity he was not present to protect the island, instead of young Quasar. Eric tells him not to sell young Quaz short. The kid may be green, but he’s plenty tough.
He then adds that he and Captain America arrived much too late to do any good. They stopped off at Four Freedoms Plaza to ask the Fantastic Four if they could supply them with a temporary base, but that didn’t work out either. He’s worried, something is happening out there. It seems like every super hero and his brother has been attacked in the last twenty-four hours. It almost looks like someone has declared total war on them. But who would do such a thing, and why?
Watching from afar, Loki, smoking a cigar remarks that this is most disturbing. He has completely failed in all of his efforts to locate Thor. He has found his companion Hercules and a human who seems to be associated with the Avengers but that does not solve his immediate problem. Where is the Thunder God? He has arranged a special treat for him and it could prove to be very disruptive to his ultimate goal if he misses it.
At that precise moment, far across the Atlantic, in the British maximum security prison at Crossmoor, one of the guards asks his buddy what his reading is on the recent unpleasantness the Yanks have been experiencing. His buddy asks does he mean the breakouts – a simple matter of poor security and inadequately trained personnel. The first guard replies quite right, that sort of thing would never happen there. The second guard says he should hope not. Taking a look inside the cell they are guarding, the guard points out that Cain Marko, the Juggernaut, supposed to be one of the strongest living beings on the planet, but their little stasis cage keeps him helpless as a new-born babe and…
Just then, the Juggernaut disappears in a sudden flash of light. Checking the cell, one of the guards asks his buddy if he thinks this has anything to do with the Yanks. His buddy replies “better them than us.”
At that exact moment, in Queens, New York, the Juggernaut arrives in the middle of the street. Triumphantly, he calls out this is great. He doesn’t know how he got there, he doesn’t really care. He’s free and that’s all that matters. He assumes he was brought there for a specific purpose, probably to trash someone or something. No problem, the Juggernaut always pays his debts. He’ll just start walking until his target finds him. He ain’t exactly the easiest guy to ignore.
Barely fifteen minutes later, Eric hears the report on the television that a super-powered being, tentatively identified as the mutant known as Juggernaut, is creating a wide path of destruction across the county of Queens. Eric thinks to himself “the Juggernaut?” Groups like X-Factor usually handle mutant menaces like him but this is not time to be territorial.
Looking over at Herc, he sees that he’s lost in his walkman. Maybe he should leave him behind. Millions of dollars of private property have already been destroyed in this war. He’d only add to the toll. Besides, he can travel a lot faster alone. One tap of his enchanted cane on the ground and the mighty Thor stands ready to do battle. Many are the stirring tales he has heard of the one called Juggernaut. ‘Tis said that he is irresistible and unstoppable. The invincible hammer of Thor shall give him a pause. So swears the son of Odin!
As Thor heads off to face the Juggernaut, Loki sees him and laments that it is quite puzzling. Thor has suddenly appeared on his screens. How? Where was he hiding? Still, he supposes he should be thankful that he has apparently taken the bait he has so carefully prepared for him.
However, at that very moment, Hercules is tapped on the shoulder by a little boy named Kevin who asks Harry Cleese how it’s going and where his daddy is. Carrying in the groceries, Ms. Austin apologizes to Mr. Cleese for startling him. They just returned and were wondering where they could find Eric. Mr. Cleese (Hercules) replies that it appears he has gone out. He is certain that it was a matter of small importance. Otherwise, he would have surely taken him.
In Queens, Thor lands in the street in front of Juggernaut and tells him that he must cease his wanton destruction at once. Juggernaut asks oh yeah, says who? He then tells Thor to move it fancy pants; he’s violating his personal space. Thor asks him art he mad? He then introduces himself as Thor, the warrior-prince of Asgard and Avenger of Earth, who confronts him and offers him an opportunity to surrender with honor. Juggernaut tells him not interested and to get out of his way or suffer the consequences. With that, Juggernaut backhands Thor across the city and into a nearby building.
Picking himself up, Thor apologizes to the patrons of the store he crashed into and asks if they are well. The man he helps up replies as well as can be expected but the store owner yells at him that it’s a miracle he didn’t kill somebody. He then asks who’s gonna fix his store. There oughta be laws against creeps like him. Exiting the store, Thor thinks to himself that those people were justifiably upset but he cannot allow them to deter him. Looking around, and not seeing Juggernaut, Thor assumes that he has moved on, ignoring him completely. He must find him…
As the mighty Thunder God takes to the sky, the mutant menace unexpectedly renews his onslaught by tossing a car at him. When he does, Juggernaut tells him not to worry, he hasn’t forgotten him. While the car hurtles towards him, Thor knocks it away. Even though he deplores the meaningless destruction of private property, his options are few. He must aim his blow carefully; time it perfectly so as to create the minimal amount of damage. When the car crashes out of the air and onto a nearby car, a nearby on-looker yells out that it almost hit him. Hearing his complaint, Thor thinks to himself that the poor mortal does not realize that the vehicle struck exactly where he aimed it, the only place it could fall without injuring anyone.
From the street, Juggernaut yells up “nice shot, Blondie. I’m impressed. You’re a regular Don Mattingly with that hammer of yours.” Tossing a bus full of people at Thor, Juggernaut says let’s see how well he fares against that. Shocked by what Juggernaut used in battle against him, Thor tells him that his utter disregard for human life would give e’en a maddened Rock Troll pause. But he shall not falter. By swinging his enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, at lightning speed, the God of Thunder can generate a tornado-force whirlwind entrapping the hurtling bus, sending it safely soaring o’er the surrounding rooftops to yon parking garage. Now, he shall slowly, gently, lower it to a distant roof. Tightly, he must control the wind. The slightest miscalculation would surely mean disaster. When the bus lands safely, one of the on-lookers exclaims that Thor saved the people. Another agrees, but it’s his fault they were in danger.
Before the Son of Odin can celebrate his victory, however, a sudden wave of nausea sweeps over him… Holding onto a nearby wall, Thor thinks to himself that he can barely stand. He then begins to wonder if this unexpected weakness caused by the strain of such intense concentration, or… No, ‘tis another one of those momentary seizures which have been striking him e’er since he returned to Earth. B-but he cannot allow it to o’erwhelm him while the Juggernaut is free.
However, even as the noble Thunder God heroically struggles to regain his strength and continue the battle, anxious eyes observe him. From a nearby window, Richard Rider notices that Thor looks like he’s in a serious world of hurt. He decides to call the others. The time has come for them to act. Without a moment’s hesitation, he patches into a highly classified computer bulletin board. As he does so, he wonders if they are ready, can they really make a difference. Only one way to find out... With that, he types in and types “It’s War, total War!”
Moments later, in the suburban home of Vance Astrovik, an excited young man exclaims at last, he’s finally going to get a chance to prove himself. The message is received with mixed emotions, however, by Angelica Jones. She’s been dreading the call for weeks. She’s afraid to respond but she can’t let the others down.
In the home of Robbie Baldwin, a computer game is interrupted. When one of his friends informs him that his PC just went on the blink, Robbie tells them that’s all for today, he’ll see them later, he’s got to get hopping.
In the college dorm room of Nita Prentiss, Nita is excited that it’s action time.
Just then, in the penthouse apartment of Dwayne Michael Taylor, a man by the name of Chord walks down the hallway. As he does, he thinks to himself “crazy kid.” He’s probably gonna get himself killed. Sure will put a damper on his cushy lifestyle. He’ll probably have to go back to mercenary work. And you just can’t find decent cappuccino in the bush. Entering a gym, Chord thinks to himself that he knew he’d find him there. Dwayne spends most of his life training, preparing.
At that moment, Chord calls up to the young African-American man that school’s out. The signal just came in, consider himself on active duty. As he prepares his descent, Dwayne mentions to Chord that he doesn’t seem very happy. Chord replies that he’s not. Dwayne ain’t ready and neither are the others. Dwayne then asks the older Asian woman present, Tai, what she thinks. Tai states that a blade can only be sharpened to a certain fine edge before it begins to grow dull. Dwayne says right, let’s go.
Meanwhile, struggling forward, summoning every last ounce of his legendary courage and endurance, the Mighty Thor follows Juggernaut into the nearby storage yards of the Long Island Railroad. Holding a boxcar over his head, Juggernaut tells Thor that he’s lookin’ a little wobbly. He guesses he ain’t used to swapping smacks with a guy who can’t be hurt or stopped. Thor states that the son of Odin hath no time for his idle boasts. If a weakness he has, Thor shall find it. Juggernaut says oh yeah? Look who’s bragging now. Juggernaut then tells Blondie that he talks too much. He believes in actions, not words. With that, he tosses the boxcar at
Thor. When he catches it, Thor thinks to himself O-Od’s blood, the weakness grows worse. T-the strength is fleeing from his limbs. The dizziness is swelling in intensity. Putting down the boxcar, Thor holds his hand to his head and states that he b-barely managed to lower it before it slipped from his enfeebled grasp. He m-must gather his remaining strength before Juggernaut senses his helplessness and…
At that moment, Juggernaut rushes towards Thor carrying a boxcar. As he does, he tells Thor that it’s time he faced reality. He’s just too mired in his own macho thing to admit it when he’s outmatched. He’s just too buttheaded to know when to quit. Well, he’s got a flash for him – it’s quitting time. With that, Juggernaut slams the boxcar into Thor, sandwiching him up against the boxcar. Ripping through the wreckage, Juggernaut calls out to Thor and asks him where he, the blasted nuisance, is. He ain’t finished with him. He can’t hide from him in the stupid debris. With a mighty punch, Thor sends Juggernaut flying. As he does, he tells him to still his imprudent tongue. The God of Thunder hath no need to conceal himself from any foe, least of all him.
Freeing himself from the wreckage, Thor sees Juggernaut rising from where he crashed. Juggernaut then tells him nice shot, but it didn’t hurt him. Nothing can! Enraged, Thor exclaims enow. “I say thee enow!” Though he dost possess power beyond comprehension, it must pale before the invincible hammer of Thor. Now shall mighty Mjolnir end his brutal days of cruelty and destruction. Nevermore shall any hapless mortal fall prey to his inhuman power. He strikes for honor, for justice, for the glory of Asgard!
Just then, Thor tosses Mjolnir at the Juggernaut with all of his power. As the hammer hurtles towards him, Juggernaut laughs and tells Thor that his big play is just another washout. His personal force field is already affecting his dumb mallet, slowing it down, killing its momentum. When it hits Juggernaut with very little force, Juggernaut asks Thor if he gets the picture. Nothing can hurt him, nothing. Observing Thor’s hammer turning around, Juggernaut laughs again and mentions that it looks like his hammer’s had enough. It’s returning to his hand, just like it always does. He remembers reading about that. So maybe he’ll just hitch a ride and deliver himself by hammer express. Grabbing hold of the strap attached to the hammer, Juggernaut hurtles with great velocity back towards a shocked Thor. When he collides with him, he knocks Thor through five boxcars and into a nearby building.
For a seemingly eternal moment, silence rules. And then, Juggernaut slowly, casually, shakes free from a veritable mountain of debris, and lumbers forward. Holding a boxcar over his head, Juggernaut tells a beaten Thor that it’s over. He told him nothing could stop him. Too bad he couldn’t say the same. But then, even before the savage villain can hurl his massive missile it explodes with a fiery blast. Looking at the team of six standing over Thor before him, Juggernaut angrily states they melted the boxcar down to molten slag. How? Who are they? The heroes individually introduce themselves as Marvel Boy, Nova, Namorita, Firestar, Speed-Ball, and the Night Thrasher. Night Thrasher states that they are the new players in the war on crime. The new edge justice needs to defeat superhuman scum like him – the New Warriors!
CHIKCHIK Sensors detect danger! Danger! CHIKCHIK Must initiate defense procedure, and release the guardian from coldsleep. CHIKCHIK Revival systems have been activated. Beta Ray Bill will soon awaken from suspended animation. Internal monitors indicate that his recent coldsleep has been severely troubled. Strange, alien faces have been haunting his dreams. Desperate faces which are begging, pleading for salvation. Could this psychic appeal be related to the emergency which now threatens us? CHIKCHIK
Awakening from his slumber, Beta Ray Bill tells his ship Skuttlebutt good morning. Morning is a meaningless designation while one is deep within the cold void of space, Bill. Bill replies he knows, but it seemed like the only appropriate greeting after his long sleep. Proceeding to walk down the hall, Bill remarks that he assumes something is wrong and asks what it is. Long-range scanners have detected a heavily-armed spacecraft within intercept margin.
Bill indicates he did well to awaken him. It is probably nothing, but their duty is to protect the great fleet until they can find a suitable new world to revive the survivors of their race. Cloaking sensors indicate that the intruder has not detected our presence. Bill says good, they can still change their course if it proves to be hostile. Is it wise to investigate this craft? Bill replies probably not, but he could use the exercise.
As he bangs his staff on the ground of the spaceship, Bill adds besides, thanks to Odin, the Lord of Asgard, he possesses the power of the Thunder God himself, the power of Beta Ray Thor. Departing Scuttlebutt, Bill flies into space. He recognizes that the intruder is a great distance away. Yet, but hurling Storm Breaker and holding its unbreakable thong, he can streak through space with the speed of a comet. The survivors of his race were placed in suspended animation when a great cataclysm destroyed their galaxy. He is their guardian. It is his sole responsibility to protect them, and he shall not fail. For an undetermined period of time, Beta Ray Bill rockets across the trackless void of space, until he sees a spaceship.
Inside the spaceship, one of the members of the crew informs Captain Orack that an unidentified object is speeding toward the ship. Preliminary readings indicate a high probability factor of it being a guided missile. Orack informs his follower to raise the defense screens and activate the plasma cannons. His crew replies at once. They have already initiated targeting procedure and the object is locked. Orack tells them excellent and gives the command to fire. When they fire and don’t hit their intended target, the crew is surprised. It’s avoiding their plasma blasts, but that’s impossible. Orack states that it isn’t for a sentient creature. He then gives the order to cease fire. A being such as this may prove to be a very valuable commodity.
Reaching the strange craft, Bill finds the sequence of events to be quite puzzling. The ship has suddenly lowered its defense screens and has opened an airlock to receive him. Entering the ship, Bill wonders why it aborted its attack and decided to welcome him. Just then, the airlock slams shut and Bill is dogpiled by a bunch of Orack’s crew. As they do, the crew states that their prey must be neutralized and securely bound before he is presented to the captain. Fighting back, Bill knocks them away and tells them that if they intended to battle him, they shouldn’t have allowed him to board. Their military advantage was far greater while he was still outside. Standing before him, Orack tells Bill perhaps, they merely wished to observe him at closer quarters. Orack then orders his men to stand back. It is quite obvious that they are no match for this creature. Allow the ship to dispose of him. Bill proceeds to ask the man before him who he is. Orack introduces himself but tells Bill that he may call him master. At that moment, Bill is struck with a blast and falls to the ground in a heap.
Some time later, Bill is shackled along with other prisoners. Orack stands before him and tells him that he just knew that he would soon recover from the psychic blast. Please allow him to welcome him to his new home. This is a slaveship, which is completely powered by psychic energy. As he can well imagine, they are constantly searching for new contributors to their cause. A being of his considerable strength and endurance is quite a find. While Orack talks, Bill sees the prisoners around him and thinks to himself that the slaves surrounding him are the ones who haunted his sleep. As he leaves, Orack states that he would love to stay and chat, but he has just been informed of a rather startling development. A source of considerable energy is approaching them. A space fleet, a virtual storehouse of new slaves…