‘Little Scarlet Witch wanted to see some action, huh? LOOK FAST!’ Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man roars in a rage, as he holds Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch down by her throat, his other hand has formed a fist and he is ready to strike her. ‘No, Simon! No!’ Wanda pleads with her friend. ‘Don’t you know me, Simon? It’s Wanda!’
‘I know you, Wanda. I loved you once. Even when you were married to a man with a mockery of my soul. I loved you’ Simon replies. He relaxes the hand around Wanda’s throat as she asks him to let her up now. ‘You want tenderness, Wanda? You want me to just switch off the violence that I just turned against the bad guys?’ Simon asks, his eyes blazing red, his skin darkened. ‘Simon - what’s wrong with you?’ Wanda asks.
‘Wonder Man IS violence! That violence has been released!’ Wonder Man declares. ‘Simon, no!’ Wanda cries, and as more energy crackles around Wonder Man, he tells Wanda that she can’t put it back in the bottle. He then brings his fist down, hard and fast. ‘NO!’ screams Wanda, but Simon doesn’t strike her, his fist punches the rubble behind her.
Simon turns and walks away from Wanda, who sits up and quietly calls out to him. ‘Do you get it now, Wanda? I’m not the man you thought you knew’ Simon tells her, adding ‘I’m not a man at all. The brother of the Grim Reaper. I’m a “living engine of destruction”’.
Wanda starts to get to her feet, and asks Simon to tell her what happened to him, pointing out that she might be able to help him. ‘Help me? Help to quiet the ionic storm that forms in my body? Help me shrivel into weakness and nothingness?’ Simon asks, adding ‘No. I need rage to sustain my power now. And for me, power is life’. He states that he has been reborn in the fire and madness of the ions - there is no way back for him.
Suddenly, Wonder Man is struck by an energy, and he cries out in agony, falling to the ground. Wonder Man looks up and sees Miguel Santos a.k.a. the Living Lightning hovering over him, ‘Not like you to hit from the back, Lightning’ Wonder Man points out. Living Lightning replies that he does what he has to when an Avenger attacks other Avengers.
As Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, John Walker the USAgent and Julia “Spider-Woman” Carpenter rush forward to their teammates, Wonder Man announces that it doesn’t apply, because he is not an Avenger anymore. ‘What?’ the Living Lightning gasps. ‘What do you want, huh? You want me to blast more innocent people with my ions - and mutate them like my friends?’ Wonder Man asks. ‘You want me to create more monsters - like Angkor? You want me to tear up this city - like I tore up this block - and nearly tore up all of you? No, you want a hero Lightning. You want a nice boy. You don’t even want to get close to me’ Wonder Man warns, turning from his now ex-teammates, he strides away from them.
‘Simon, wait -’ Wanda calls out as she joins the others, but Spider-Woman holds her friend back, telling her to let Simon go, that they can’t help him right now. ‘Right now? Kiss him goodbye, sweetie’ USAgent declares. ‘Your Wonder Boy finally took a dive off the deep end’. Living Lightning suggests that it might be good Wonder Man has gone, while a frowning Hawkeye asks ‘Good for who?’ and points out that if Wonder Man is turning this dangerous, he would rather have him in a group than firing away as a loose cannon.
‘Wonder Man! This isn’t the first time I’ve ordered him dead - but I want it to be the last!’ the crime lord Lotus Newmark instructs her operatives Rampage and Splice, while her companion, Andrew, stands nearby. Splice announces that he did some reading on Wonder Man, in the hospital, where he ended up last time they met, and boasts that he knows how to handle him, so he won’t need Rampage.
Rampage points out that they both have their reasons to see Wonder Man die, but that this is just one step in a long-term plan, and that if they don’t work efficiently together, they may only destroy themselves together. ‘No! Splice is right, Lotus! Sending Rampage may draw publicity - and if anyone sees the similarity between his armor and that of Armed Response, we’ll be ruined’ Andrew points out. ‘And just when all the pieces are falling into place’ Andrew adds, motioning to a monitor which depicts a news reporter announcing ‘…as they stop yet another gang assault! Many see the paramilitary Armed Responses as saviors of this terrified city… and already thousands of would-be customers are lighting up the Armed Response switchboard’.
Lotus concedes that, unfortunately, this is one of those rare occasions when Andrew knows better than she. Lotus then asks how she keeps Wonder Man from poking into their operations if she doesn’t kill him. Andrew suggests to Lotus that she can trick Wonder Man out of town - find something he wants, or needs - ‘You won’t need tricks if you use me’ Splice declares, interrupting. Lotus frowns, and tells Splice to have patience, adding that she is sure she will find someone for him to kill. ‘Now, how does one lure away a super hero? Or… an actor?’ Lotus asks, before asking if that is still Wonder Man’s goal - to be a serious actor. Andrew looks concerned as Lotus instructs him to find out what movies they are funding that are out of town.
‘Okay, okay, I’m concentrating… concentrating on me… and the board… on me… and the…’COOL!’ the boy called Spider exclaims when suddenly he creates two doubles of himself in his living room. ‘It’s not just me I can clone. It’s the stuff I’m holding!’ he realizes, seeing that his doubles are both holding skateboards, too. ‘Now where’s that twenty dollar b-’ he begins when suddenly, his hand snaps up, and he drops his skateboard. ‘YOW!’ he calls out, surprised. His sister, Ginger, is standing nearby, her hand glowing, she smiles and remarks that she keeps expecting this “snap” power of hers to wear off, but that it just keeps going. ‘And going… and going… and going…’ Spider mutters.
Ginger adds that it keeps getting stronger all the time, ‘Unless you’re just overacting, little brother’. ‘Right, Ginger! As if anyone related to you can overact?!’ Spider replies, before getting to his feet. He suggests to Ginger that she practice on somebody else before she sets him on fire. ‘Why, Spider! I thought you were the big, tough super hero side-kick!’ Ginger replies. Spider announces that he won’t have to be anybody’s side-kick for long. ‘Watch this!’ he tells Ginger, as he starts to play an air guitar, and creates a clone, who keeps the riff going. He creates another clone who plays the drums, and another who plays air bass. ‘Man, bassists are so boring…’ Spider adds as the clone just stands there, before declaring that he has a whole air band. ‘If I just concentrate a little bit, I can keep every clone doing what he started out doing!’ Spider reveals.
‘Tres cool, mon frere’ Ginger replies, while Spider remarks that he oughta be on Star Search. ‘Crank up my Anthrax CD! I wanna see if -’ he begins, when suddenly, a voice from above exclaims ‘Oh, gross! I hate heavy metal!’ Ginger and Spider look up, confused, where they see Jamie Flores floating over them. ‘Don’t you have any Sir Mixalot?’ Jamie smiles. ‘;What are you -? What are you? I mean - what are you?’ Spider stammers.
Jamie lowers herself and explains that she is dreaming, at least, that is what she thinks she is. ‘I go to sleep, and I come out like this. Pretty cool, huh? I can fly!’ Jamie reveals. Spider waves his hand, which passes through Jamie’s dream form, ‘But how’d you get in here? I mean, are you -’ Spider asks, while Jamie tells him to stop it, as it tickles when someone touches her. ‘Which does make it kind of hard to carry things’ she adds, before explaining that she can sense things, too, like she can feel when something is wrong. ‘Well, I have to find Wonder Man!’ Jamie then reports, to which Spider tells her to forget it, as nobody knows where he is, and that he just fought with his Avenger buddies, and he was acting so freaky, so he just bailed out and came back here.
Jamie reveals that she saw something last night, and that she thinks those Armed Response guys are working with the gangs they are supposed to be fighting. ‘Gin-Gin! This is a side-kick’s dream! We gotta find Wondy we gotta tell him this - and we gotta use our powers to help uncover the truth about Armed Response!’ ‘Our powers?’ Ginger asks, before pointing a finger at her younger brother and telling him that could mean going up against armored, high-tech super-cops, and that they could be killed. ‘That’s incredibly dangerous’ she adds. They look at each other, before both smiling, ‘So let’s do it!’ they exclaim in unison.
Jamie points out that if they are going to use their powers, they are going to need super hero names. ‘I’ve already got mine… call me Dreamer!’ she announces. ‘Yeah! Yeah! That’s great! Super hero names!’ Spider declares, before scratching his head, and muttering that Spider is a totally cool name, but that it doesn’t say anything about his power. ‘They’ll think I stick to walls and shoot lame-butt webs’ he points out, before starting to rattle off some possible names: ‘Cloning…co ying…’, so his sister asks him if he wants some advice from a Hollywood veteran, and tells him to never pick a name without consulting your agent.
Hands on hips, Spider agrees that Neal the Nerd-King will have something to say. ‘Now, where’d I leave that cordless phone this time?’ he wonders. Neal Saroyan leans back on his chair in his office, ‘What an offer! Simon will love it! He’ll jump at it!’ Neal declares, but supposes that Simon will make a fool of himself, and that means a fool of him, too. ‘No, no no. I’ll have to tell him not to take it, but how do I convince him -’ Neal wonders, when suddenly, the phone rings. ‘Hello? Spider Beach? Finally, the brain-dead, pimply little cracking-voiced cretin remembers to call! Put him on!’ Neal declares, before asking Spider what is this hears about him splitting into a bunch of different - ‘A super hero? Of course I can represent another super hero! Of course you need a super-name! What’ve you got?’ Neal asks. ‘WHAT?’ he exclaims. Neal gets up and starts to walk around his office, ‘No! No! Yeah, it sounds great…but erox is a trademark. You can’t use it generically’ Neal explains, suggesting that there has to be something similar. ‘Stat!’ he suddenly suggests. ‘That’s it!’ From now on, you’re Stat!’ Neal informs Spider. ‘What do you mean, what does it mean? Like a photo-stat… what they used to call photo copies’ Neal explains. ‘Hey, come on, I’m not that old you little -’ Neal begins, before sensing a shadow looming over him, he turns around.
‘Uh…I gotta call you back… Stat’ Neal tells Spider, as he greets his visitor: ‘I…I didn’t expect you to drop in! I mean… you must have known I had something big for you’ Neal tells Simon, who remains silent. He claims he was going to tell Simon right away, ‘But I thought you were -’ he begins. Simon tells Neal to drop it, and announces that he just came here to tell him that he won’t need an agent anymore. ‘Acting was a dream. I can’t afford dreams anymore’ Simon declares. ‘What? After what I’ve done for you -’ Neal begins, to which Simon asks ‘What have you done for me, Neal? One garbage action movie after another? Celebrations of brainless violence… with none of the sweet, sour, bitter taste of real violence? Small-souled characters. Characters even less human that me’ Simon declares through clenched teeth. Neal tells Simon that he is ripping his heart out, and points out that he got him roles he could do something with. ‘You know what they say - there are no small roles, only small actors’. Simon reminds Neal how he got him a choice part in the Avengers video game, ‘What was my dialogue? “Okay, go”!’ Wonder Man reminds Neal, who claims that mistakes were made. ‘My assistant was -’ Neal begins, to which Simon reveals that he has gotten fan mail from as far away as Hong Kong making fun of “Okay, go”.
Neal tells Simon to listen to him, and claims that he has been talking him up, and that he has made a deal - Simon’s dream deal. ‘I - I - hoosh, I may regret this, but what else can I do?’ Neal asks, hand on his head. ‘Hokay… I just got a call from Uni-Media / Cine-Faxx about a job. No test, no meeting - a job, Simon. A great job! The role of your life…’ Neal begins. And Simon listens intently as Neal reveals what that job is: ‘Macbeth!’ Meanwhile, numerous news reporters are commenting on the ongoing violence spreading throughout the city, as Armed Response operatives combat gang members and criminals while fires rage. ‘A city wracked by violence like it had never seen. Savage gang violence, turned not against each other or the forgotten poor, but against the bastions of LA’s power and wealth. And then, like avenging angels looking over this City of Angels…they came. Armed Response’.
One reporter states that the response of an angry America, fed up with fear. He introduces himself as Kent Forthward. ‘And tonight’s “LA Eye” will be turned to the group…that some call the future of American security, the next step beyond police’ he announces. Kent continues, asking the audience if they are willing to pay the price of that step, and states that they will take a hard look at that question, after a word from their sponsor. The phone number for Armed Response flashes onto the screen, and the voice-over states that it is not a matter of race or politics, while afterwards, a woman reports that new federal statistics show that the poor and non-white make up a disproportionate number of the victims of crime. The screen flashes to an elderly couple who are being interviewed, as the elderly man claims that they have nothing against anybody, and the woman declares that they only want to protect what is rightfully theirs. Another advert for Armed Response, as the voice over states that there is an army in the streets, their troops increase every day - and they have declared war on the people. ‘It isn’t just a matter of justice’ the voice-over adds, before another woman is interviewed. She declares that, as a Hispanic working mother, she not only fears for the safety of her own children in the streets, but for the children she takes care of in Beverly Hills.
A little girl is shown on screen, and she says that her generation has lost faith in the solutions of their parents, ‘Letting crime run wild isn’t cool!’ she exclaims, while a police officer explains that they do the best they can, but that the resources aren’t there. ‘We need help! We need a new solution!’ he adds, while another advert for Armed Response concludes by stating that it is a matter of survival, and that operators are standing by.
At that moment, Ginger drives down the freeway, with her brother in the passenger seat, and Jamie’s dream form in the back. ‘Okay. Dreamer. Stat. And Snap. Now…shouldn’t we have costumes?’ Jamie asks, after listing their new codenames. ‘Cool. Most totally. But how?’ Spider asks. He wonders where other superheroes get their costumes from. ‘Do they all know how to sew, or what?’ he asks. ‘Oh right. Like I can see Captain America and Thor sitting around arguing about how to stitch up a hem’ Jamie jokes, while Ginger tells them that she used to date a guy at a theatrical costume company, and she bets she could suck a discount out of him. ‘A discount’s great…if you’ve got some money to start with! And last time I looked - we had nada’ Spider remarks, frowning he reminds his sister that he told her she should have kept seeing that guy who could get her onto “Full House”. ‘That jerk couldn’t even have gotten me into his own house. Not as long as his wife was in it’. ‘Wait a minute! Jamie!’ Spider exclaims. ‘Uh-oh’ Jamie utters, before Spider points out that Jamie’s mom is a screenwriter, and that all screenwriters are rich. ‘Wellll…I don’t think so. I mean, I guess we could ask her to loan us -’ Jamie begins, before she screams, and looks worried. ‘Whoa! You’re that afraid to ask you Mom for money?’ Spider asks, telling her that he has to give her some lessons. ‘No! I’m - I’m -’ Jamie utters, before she is pulled skyward out of the convertible car.
‘Jamie!’ Spider calls out after her. ‘Jamie!’ Alex Flores shakes her daughter awake. ‘Mm…? Oh. Mom?’ Jamie asks, sitting up on her bed. Alex asks her daughter what is up with her, pointing out that she is not usually even home this early, let alone taking a nap. ‘You’re not sick, are you?’ Alex enquires. Jamie sits on the edge of the bed and rubs her head, assuring her mother that she is fine, before informing her that Spider and Ginger are coming over. Alex points out that it sounds like Jamie has been having a dream. ‘Or, since Spider was in it, a nightmare?’ she jokes. Jamie gets up and walks out of her room, ‘Mom! It’s not a dream! Not like you mean! It’s what I keep trying to tell you! I was just with them - while I was asleep!’ she snaps. ‘Whatever, whatever’ Alex replies, instructing her daughter to go wash her face, when suddenly, there is a knock at the door.
‘Yo! Jame-baby! You in there? It’s Spider!’ the boy shouts. Jamie turns to her mother and asks her if she gets it now. ‘When I dream my mind leaves my body. It can do things. We’re all different now, Mom. All of us who got blasted by Wonder Man’s ionic rays. We have powers. We’re super heroes’ Jamie declares, while Alex looks concerned. Spider and Ginger enter the Flores’s home, and Spider grins, ‘Aw-right! You are here! All in one piece too, if you know what I mean’ Spider adds, before greeting Alex and telling her that she is looking great, he then enquires if Jamie asked her about the money. “Money?” Alex quotes Spider, turning to her daughter, who sheepishly replies ‘Um, yeah, to rent… clothes’. “Clothes?” Alex asks. ‘Yeah, you know… costumes’ Jamie explains. ‘No, no, no!’ Alex exclaims, telling her daughter that she does not need a costume, that she is not a super hero, but a kid. ‘But you’re one of us too, Mom! Those pictures you made out of your head! You could confuse criminals or something with that’ Jamie points out. ‘All right! Now we’ve got to find out what powers the others have! You know, the one’s at Wondy’s building - the geek with the mowhawk, the guy with the big hair, the old bag, and the hot little babe!’
Spider grins. Alex slaps her forehead and asks ‘Am I the only sane person left on Earth?’, before agreeing that they need to talk to Argus, Aundray, Gloria and Lahoya, so she offers to go there with them, right now, but only to talk them all out of this lunacy. ‘Great! So let’s get going!’ Ginger suggests. Leading the way out of the house to her car, she suggests they hit the costume place on the way, and maybe they will get some costumes free if she tells that jerk she will go out with him again. ‘Dios mio, give me strength’ Alex mumbles.
Shortly, Ginger drives her red convertible out of the driveway, just she and Spider are in it,, while Alex and Jamie go to their car, unaware that Wonder Man is observing his companions from the bushes nearby. Spider exclaims that they should all get these totally bug-freak clashing colors and everything - like the Avengers on acid. ‘No! We’re more like the Fantastic Four, with the cosmic rays and everything! We should all get matching costumes! Surfer jams! Neon green and purple jams!’ Spider decides, changing his mind. But then he realizes that he would be steering the porcelain bus if he saw Gloria in jams. ‘How about string bikinis for Lahoya and Alex and…’ his voice trails off.
‘Alex. Once I was so close to being part of your life. To knowing who you were behind your smart-alec shield’ Simon thinks to himself, frowning. ‘Now I see you across such a gulf. Now I shut down any glimmer of tenderness I might feel for you…because I know what the tenderness might do to me’. Simon takes flight, and thinking of Ginger and Spider, recalls that he once thought having them foisted on him was the worst his life could do to him, but now he wishes he could have known them better, when he thought he was still human. Simon lands on the top of a palm tree, ‘You’d all saw I owe you for what my ions did to you. But what can I give you - except destruction?’ he wonders. ‘What can I give the city?’ Simon asks himself, looking out over the city as the lights start to turn on as the sky darkens. ‘Or humanity?’ Simon decides. He wonders what is left but pretending to be human? He has a chance to play a character doomed by his own violence, to play a tragedy he understands. ‘Let someone else play the hero’ he concludes, while Armed Response operatives move onto the street nearby.
Armed Response operatives are now patrolling a ransacked commercial area, and stand outside houses where a woman pulls her children alongside her. They are all around. And, at the same time, Lotus Newmark lies naked on a massage table, masseurs tending to her, while she speaks over a cordless phone: ‘The pressure is on. The Chief of Police has already backed off his threat to ban Armed Response pending investigation’ she announces. ‘A citizens’ group…a carefully orchestrated citizens’ group, I should say…has petitioned the Mayor to have Armed Response deputized’. She adds that the City Council will vote tomorrow on a plan to consider Armed Response for special city security jobs - and why shouldn’t they?
As most members of the Council are already subscribers to Armed Response’s services. ‘We have this city too afraid not to use Armed Response. We, Andrew, have LA by some very short hairs…and we won’t let go until the city government is just as much under my control as the crime world…and we’re ready to move on to our ultimate goal’.
Lotus then asks about Wonder Man, and frowns at Andrew’s response. ‘He’s thinking about it?’ she snarls. ‘This is everything he’s ever said he wanted! What is he thinking about?’ Lotus asks, adding that for his sake, he had better take this Macbeth job, because they have some employees here, who want to see that his finish is even bloodier than the one Shakespeare wrote for his Scottish King!’
And nearby, Splice examines one of his blades and remarks that he hopes Wonder Man skips that job, he really does. Rampage tells him to take it easy, pointing out that even if they don’t get their Wonder Man rematch, in this town, there are bound to be other heroes to test themselves against! Indeed, inside the apartment of Gloria Angel, Ginger sits on the sofa with Gloria, while Alex sits across from them on a chair. Aspiring filmmaker Argus LaVecchio leans against the wall, as dancer Aundrey Phelps sits on the arm of Gloria’s sofa, and Jamie and Spider stand with Lahoya Scripps, who exclaims ‘A super hero! Me! Little Lahoya Scripps from Phoenix - a real super hero!’ Spider smiles and boasts that they will be a team and blow those dorky New Warriors outta the water. ‘That’s almost better than being a Laker-Girl!’ Lahoya adds, while Aundrey points out that they have everything a super team needs - and referring to himself adds that they even have their token black guy.
‘Dear, dear, dear. I never thought of myself as a hero. Except when I played opposite Fred MacMurray in that Forest Ranger picture’ the elderly Gloria tells everyone, adding that she was a bit younger then. ‘Dear Lord…’ Alex mutters. Gloria asks what sort of super name would be right for someone who can move through time? “Timedrifter?” she suggests, but Jamie asks ‘What kind of stupid name is that?’ Gloria suggests something reminiscent of Hollywood, and offers “Dream-Maker”, but Jamie tells her that it is too close to her name, “Dreamer”. “Golden Ager”?’ Gloria offers, before deciding that it sounds too old for her. “Screen Queen” she then contemplates, but Aundrey remarks that it sounds like some of his old flames. Lahoya wonders what will be good for her, announcing that she has her strength and agility, so she will be “Stair-Master”. ‘That’s a name for a super heroine?’ Ginger frowns. ‘Well, at least when people hear it they’ll know I’ve got a great butt!’ Lahoya boasts. ‘True, and once they’ve figured that out…who’ll even notice if you’ve got a brain?’ Ginger grins.
Gloria announces that she will be Glamour Girl, informing everyone that she originally came to Hollywood as a beauty pageant winner, and so “Glamour Girl” is who she shall be. ‘You haven’t reminded me of that for at least two weeks!’ Aundrey remarks. ‘So, what am I, Writer-Girl?’ Alex asks. ‘Jeez, Mom. Do something with your…your mental images’ Jamie suggests to her mother. ‘How about the Vision?’ Alex suggests. ‘Taken. Try movie words’ Spider tells her. ‘Like what? Pay Off? Set-Piece? Take? Gross? Turn-Around? Back-End? Paradigm?’ Alex rattles off. ‘Paradigm! I like it! How do you spell it?’ Spider asks.
‘This is insane!’ Alex shouts. She gets to her feet and moves to the door, announcing that she came here to talk about how they can cure themselves of these ionic problems, and see if Simon was here, so they could force him to deal with this. ‘But all you’re doing is fantasizing!’ Argus agrees, and points out ‘So what if we have “powers”? What can we do?’ he asks, while Aundrey asks if this city needs another ionic super hero, let alone eight of them.
Jamie tells everyone that they have to find the truth behind Armed Response, they have to help. ‘No! This isn’t a game, Jamie! And I won’t play any -’ Alex angrily tells her daughter, when suddenly, they turn. ‘Oh’ Alex utters as Wonder Man, wearing a long coat walks past them in the corridor outside Gloria’s apartment. ‘It’s about time you got here, Simon! You have to talk some sense into these people’ Alex declares.
“About time”, Alex? No. to late’ Simon replies, casually look at her. Simon announces that he is an immortal, an energy-being and a dead man. ‘It was fun playing human. My greatest role. But it’s too late to tell you what to do. I’ve got no business messing with your very short - but very real - lives’. ‘Wondy! What are you pulling here?’ Spider asks as he and the others go into the corridor. Simon tells his companions not to worry, that he won’t leave them with nothing. ‘Here. A genuine Hollywood souvenir’ he announces, tossing his Wonder Man costume at Alex. ‘Someday it’ll be collectible’ Simon calls out as he takes flight. ‘Simon?’ Alex calls after him. Gloria, Ginger and the others all look shocked and stare at the costume or the sky as Alex utters ‘Wonder Man?’