Ultimates 2 #10

Issue Date: 
March 2006
Story Title: 
The Axis of Evil

Mark Millar (writer), Bryan Hitch (pencils), Paul Neary & Bryan Hitch (inks), Laura Martin (colors), VC’s Cory Petit (letters), Omar Otieku (production), Nicole Wiley Boose (assistant editor), John Barber (associate editor), Ralph Macchio (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Joe Simon & Jack Kirby (creators of Captain America)

Brief Description: 

Two months ago in the Middle East, the Ultimates, the Reserves and Captain Britain and his companions rescued citizens. One of those people, a young man named Abdul, hated that the Ultimates were able to kick them out of their homes like this and transport them away on their trucks. One of the elder men saw a shiny possibility in Abdul’s future, explaining that he knew men who could make him stronger so they could fight back. A month later in France, Abdul is revealed to be the first man after Steve Rogers to survive the super-soldier serum. His body got a lot stronger and he becomes the leader of a team called the Liberators, who are ready to strike back at America. Today, New York City and most other U.S. cities lay in ruins. The Liberators have defeated the Ultimates and destroyed their headquarters. They imprison Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Betty and Nick Fury, who has lost an arm. They also manage to bring down the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. Hurricane is ordered to find the president but he’s nowhere to be found, not even at the White House. Hank Pym’s Ultron robots are used to keep the citizens in check, and to “uphold the peace.” At Tony Stark’s penthouse, Tony stares in disbelieve at the dead body of his butler Jarvis. Natasha has revealed to him she’s a traitor. Tony stalls a little, and eventually knocks her out. He now knows everything he needed to know about the Liberators and is ready to fight back. At an unknown location, Hawkeye is confronted by the man responsible for the death of his wife and kids: Captain Dragomir Branislav. Hawkeye and Dragomir first fought each other ten years ago, and Clint humiliated Dragomir with defeat and left him with the scar over his right eye. Clint eventually manages to free himself using his fingernails, killing Dragomir and all of the terrorists in the room. Noticing that he’s still being watched, he spots a camera and tells the people watching to run. Back at the Triskelion, the Schizoid Man and some troops walk to Captain America’s cell. However, they also find the Wasp there, who freed Cap from his holding machine five minutes ago. Janet is captured but, a battle-ready Cap warns the terrorists to get away from his girlfriend!

Full Summary: 

The Middle East, two months ago…

Captain America, the other Ultimates, the Reserves and Captain Britain and his companions have just liberated a large group of people. As the heroes and soldiers round the people up on trucks to drive them into safety, a boy named Abdul has doubts and stares in disbelief in front of him. His friend, Labeeb, asks what Abdul’s doing, fearing the Americans will shoot him when there are no cameras around. He reminds that they’re promising food and beds if they get on these trucks, and believes antagonizing the super-soldiers will only get him killed. Abdul doesn’t care. It’s not fair. They shouldn’t be able to kick them out of their homes like this. He wonders why nobody’s standing up to these Ultimates.

Labeeb, as he helps more people on the trucks, says it’s because bullets just bounce off the heroes’ heads. He wants Abdul to stop talking like this or they’ll both get killed. An elder man helps Abdul on the truck, telling the boy to look at the Ultimates: they’re walking around with their chests puffed out. He wonders if they really think they bring peace to this region. He asks what kind of hypocrites would close down their nuclear program when the Americans themselves have enough bombs to destroy the world a hundred times over?

The old man says that Abdul strikes him as a young man who could do a lot of damage to these “infidels.” Labeeb warns the old man to stay away from his cousin. He’s only seventeen years old and too sickly to be involved in his crazy plans. The man claims that he hears stories of men who might make Abdul stronger.

France, one month ago…

A meeting is taking place. The chairman stands behind a big screen, where he shows photos of the members of his team. He explains that their principal task force has been codenamed the Liberators. The members are civilian and military volunteers who have excelled in the Super-Terror trials. The pictures he shows now are their Chinese contingent – Chang Lam and Alex Su, who are soon to be known as the Abomination and the Crimson Dynamo. The Abomination has the strength of the Hulk, but complete control of his genius intellect. The Crimson Dynamo has been fused with his titanium V-R war-suit and can fight either independently or using the fifty giant-sized duplicates they designed for him.

Next, he shows pictures of Hurricane and the Swarm. Hurricane is from North Korea and Swarm from Syria. Hurricane is a speedster and the Swarm has the ability to make insects do whatever she commands. The power’s not as useless at it sounds – you can imagine a million bees descending on a target or ten billion bugs rolling across a battlefield?

Perun is, for all intents and purposes, a soviet Thor… and the Schizoid Man has been augmented with stem cells stolen from the replicating mutant, James Madrox. He asks the people present if they’ve seen the video footage of the Schizoid Men where he stops a riot single-handedly. It’s really quite remarkable. A general mentions they know about the Schizoid Man. They gave Chairman the Schizoid Man. Instead, they want to talk about Abdul Al-Rahman. He understands there has been some progress made.

Chairman confirms them, and shows the men a picture of Abdul behind him. He admits they’ve made substantial progress. They’ve found the first man since Captain Steve Rogers responsive to the super-soldier serum. He shows them images of the experiment, where Abdul gets the serum placed into his body. Proudly, Chairman announces that the Middle East has its own Captain America now, and their Liberators have a leader.

Their other great stride has been the foot soldiers they’ve created. Unfortunately, their power suits eat the men’s bodies up within a month, but flight and class three-level strength means they’ll be enormously effective in the initial strike. Seizing control of America’s power bases is obviously their main concern, and the most vulnerable member of the Ultimates has already been targeted for security information. He promises America will go down one month from today… noon Eastern Standard Time.

New York City, today…

Lots of warships fly over a heavily destroyed city. Below, the Liberators ask their associate, Doctor Hank Pym, what he thinks about all this. Pym, wearing his Ant-Man helmet, wants to know why the Colonel didn’t inform about this. Why didn’t he say they were planning something on this scale? The colonel admits it’s because they had to be sure they could trust Hank. They had orders from their president and prime ministers. The element of surprise was essential for a strike like this. He asks Hank if he’s happy how his androids turned out.

Hank isn’t sure what the colonel is talking about. He shows Hank the multiple Ultron robots they created, who are now all over the city holding all the people in check. He asks Hank if he thinks the Ultron units will help keep the peace. Hank’s confident that they will. The colonel is glad to hear that, because priority now is keeping casualties to a minimum. He declares that the American people shouldn’t suffer for the crimes of their government. Swarm suggests that maybe they should give the people free elections now. She understands there’s been some contention over the legitimacy of America’s current Caesar.

When the colonel asks Loki if he knows where the guy is, Loki states there’s no sign of him in the White House, but the foot soldiers are searching the place top to bottom. The colonel orders Hurricane to go to the White House as well, and she leaves immediately. She runs to Washington, where she bypasses some of the foot soldiers and destroys lots of property in her wake. Once inside the White House, the colonel contacts her, asking if she’s had any luck. Hurricane explains she already triple-checked everything but hasn’t found anything. She wants to ask around.

She threatens one of the employees demanding she tells him where his boss is. The frieghtened man tells Hurricane she can go to hell. She orders some of the foot soldiers to find Air Force One.

Back at Manhattan, the colonel orders Abomination and Dynamo that he wants them to bring the X-Men and the Fantastic Four to Washington. Schizoid Man has to take a search party and dig the drugged-up Captain America from his cell beneath the Triskelion. Loki playfully sticks his tongue out, joking this is the moment they’ve all been waiting for: the public executions.

At the remains of the Triskelion, some troops and doctors have found the unconscious bodies of Wanda, Betty and Nick Fury. Fury’s in a bad state, and one of the doctors, Ashraff, explains he has cauterized the wound where Fury lost his arm, but he hardly sees the point if he’s only getting executed. One of the foot soldiers reminds Ashraff that Fury’s the head of SHIELD. He’s the Supreme Commander of America’s intelligence agencies, and surely the colonel isn’t going to die off-camera.

The soldiers report that Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and their media relations woman have all been accounted for, but they still don’t have any word one Codename Wasp. Another soldier doesn’t care about a woman who can make herself smaller and weaker. They just need to hurry up and lock these people inside the restraining units. They will leave for Washington in twenty minutes.

Tony Stark’s Penthouse Apartment:

Jarvis lies dead on the ground. Tony stares at him in disbelief, with Natasha standing behind him; pointing a gun at his head. Natasha asks Tony to stop blubbering about Jarvis. She reminds him that the butler was an irritating old queen who walked through the wrong door at the wrong time. These things happen. Tony still can’t believe Natasha would betray the Ultimates like this. Natasha grins, telling Tony he can’t be serious about that: she’s a Russian spy. She mocks she can see why Tony would think she’d be the last person to betray America’s premiere defense force.

Tony wants to know how much Natasha get paid for this. Natasha admits the Liberators didn’t pay her anything. Those idiots were only interested in containing America’s overly ambitious foreign policy. Her reward was a chance to cripple the country that crippled hers and turned Mother Russia into a bankrupt nation of hookers and gangsters. But she had her own little plan, too. She wonders if Fury really never see how much money Tony drained from their military contracts, with all those rocket men and carrier fleets and all that lovely Ultimates merchandise.

They descend some stairs, and Natasha says there’s a hundred billion dollars in those offshore accounts and she doesn’t see why it should die with Tony, not when her banker in Switzerland could do something clever with it. Tony asks if that’s the only reason he’s still alive, so he can help her make a funds transfer. Natasha denies that, claiming it’s because she finds cancer-ridden drunks who smell of chemotherapy drugs attractive. She tells Stark to move along, as she doesn’t have all day. Resigned to his situation, Tony closes his eyes, and apologizes to Natasha. She doesn’t understand what he has to be sorry about. Tony presses a button on the wine bottle he holds, and suddenly Natasha screams in pain!

Almost collapsing, Natasha demands to know what Tony’s doing to her. Tony explains it’s the nanites in her head. They’re in her brain and her bloodstream and they allow Natasha to control that armor he gave her, but she can guess who controls them. He jokes that five thousand failed relationships can make a man a little cynical. Natasha begs Tony to let her help. Tony doesn’t see with the point: provide him with information about their attackers? He asks Natasha what she thinks he has been doing for the last twenty minutes. He has just downloaded everything he needs to know from her brains into his. He smashes the wine bottle against Natasha’s head, causing her to fall down unconscious.

Tony jokes that billionaires don’t get rich by being stupid. The security staff and Happy arrive, asking Tony if he’s okay. Happy is shocked to see Natasha on the ground like this. Tony confirms it’s her. He just brain-damaged his fiancée and, as much as this has been one of his more interesting break-ups, there’s simply no time to explain. He needs his pills, he needs a drink and he needs the security guys to get him downstairs to the old engineering shop. They enter an elevator and descend, with Tony declaring they’ve got work to do.

Location unknown…

A scientists asks Hawkeye if he remembers the guy standing next to him. Not getting an answer, the scientist claims it’s no big deal, as the guy sure remembers Clint. He re-introduces him to Captain Dragomir Branislav and says the horrific scar he sports over his right eye is a souvenir from their last encounter in Croatia. Colonel Al-Rahman has kindly offered the Captain a chance to play with him before they go on television for the public executions. The colonel’s only specification was that Dragomir leaves Clint conscious and with one functioning eye so he can see what is happening to his friends before his time comes. Still, the scientist mocks, that leaves them an enormous amount of latitude. He asks Dragomir if he agrees with that.

Dragomir just stares furiously stares at the chained Hawkeye, not responding the scientist. The scientist repeats himself. Dragomir reveals to Hawkeye that he has been waiting almost ten years for this moment. He just worries he cannot stop once he gets started. Unnoticed by both men, Clint moves his finger. He manages to touch his fingernail and throws something against Dragomir’s neck, killing him instantly. Hawkeye also throws something at a guarding terrorists, killing them as well.

The scientist is stunned and wants to know what’s going on. Hawkeye explains to the doc that he shouldn’t have left his fingernails intact. He takes out another of his fingernails, threatening the doc just to be smart and to get him out of the chair before he throws the nail between the doc’s eyeballs. The scientist gets scared, realizing Hawkeye will kill him if he does that. With furious red eyes, Clint promises he’ll kill the scientist too if he doesn’t. The doc does as told.

Above in the observation deck, more men watch what happened with Hawkeye and are stunned. They alert all units that Hawkeye has escaped and to do something. All of the terrorists move into action, holding their guns ready.

Clint, now free, stares at the scientist, who asks what happens now. Clint breaks the scientist’s neck and says he can take a guess. Dragomir, still barely alive, tries to take a shot at Hawkeye but he uses his elbow to knock him down. Clint angrily grabs the guy by his throat and demands to know if it was he in his house together with Romanov, and if it was he who killed his wife. Dragomir sarcastically grins he would have done far worse if there had been time. Hawkeye calls him names and eventually breaks Dragomir’s neck, finally killing him.

The other soldiers barge into the room and quickly surround Hawkeye. Their leader orders to open fire on the hero, and warns if the guy even touches their guns, they’ll be dead. Clint calls them all idiots… they’re dead already. The guys at the observation deck panic when they hear all of their men scream from the horror and pain they endure. Suddenly, their video cameras get turned off, causing them to go “blind.” But one of them manages to quickly reactivate it, only to find Hawkeye the sole survivor of the massacre, triumphantly holding two shotguns in his hands. When Clint notices one of the cameras in the room, he warns the people watching to better run and hide.

At the ruins of the Triskelion…

The Schizoid Man and some troops arrive at the cells below. One of the troops asks Schizoid if he saw Thor back there. Thor was so deep in prayer the trooper doesn’t think Thor even realized they were there. Schizoid Man tells his partners to forget about Thor. He calls him useless without his belt and hammer. The colonel’s main priority was Captain America, and the others will come back for Thor. One of the troops believes that Thor was praying to his father for help. Schizoid Man laughs that not even Jesus, Muhammad and Buddha combined could save these people now.

They find Captain America’s cell and open it, where they find an unconscious Cap trapped in a machine. Schizoid Man takes pity on Cap: he’s drugged up and imprisoned by his own people. One of the troops panics when he reads something weird on his scanner. He’s picking up two meta-human signals. There’s someone else in here with Cap. Schizoid Man realizes it must be the Wasp. Turning around, he can see the tiny Janet trying to fly away. He quickly grabs her in the palm of his hand, and smiles he’s glad to meet her. He tries to crush her, but Janet manages to roll out of his hands and fall on the floor, but has to grow back to her normal size now.

Janet feels the pain a bit, but Schizoid Man tells her to shut up, not understanding how someone so pathetic as her could even get a place on this team. He grabs Janet by her throat, wondering if this is what she does: sneak around and trying to find a real super hero to come to her rescue? One of the troops asks Schizoid to wait, as he wants to record this on his camera-phone. He wants a picture of this to show his friends back home. Schizoid Man apologizes to Janet for spoiling her plans, but she’s afraid things don’t always go to plan in real life. Janet asks the Schizoid Man what he’s talking about: she released Cap from that machine five minutes ago!

The Schizoid Man and the troops sacredly turn their backs around, and notice a released Captain America! Steve, holding his fists ready, warns his foes to “get the hell away from my girlfriend.

Characters Involved: 

Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Wasp (all Ultimates)

Abomination, Black Widow, Colonel Abdul Al-Rahman, Crimson Dynamo, Hank Pym, Hurricane, Loki, Perun, Schizoid Man (all Liberators)

Ultron robots

Nick Fury

Jarvis (dead butler of Tony Stark)

Happy Hogan

Stark security staff (all unnamed)

Captain Dragomir Branislav

Various Manhattan residents (all unnamed)

Various White House staff (all unnamed)

Scientist holding Hawkeye captive and terrorists (unnamed)

Two months ago:

Captain America, Iron Man (all Ultimates)

Giant Men (all Reserves)

Captain Britain, France, Italy, Spain and others

Abdul Al-Rahman

Middle East citizens (Labeeb and unnamed others)

One month ago:

As images on video screen:

Abomination, Colonel Abdul Al-Rahman, Crimson Dynamo, Hurricane, Perun, Schizoid Man (all Liberators)

Mister Chairman & people present at the introduction meeting of the Liberators (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

James Madrox is of course the Multiple Man, a member of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants team. This issue reveals that part of his stem cells have been used to give the Schizoid Man his duplicating powers.

Issue Information: 
Written By: