“City of Wise Fools”
Page 1: Crossfire is leaning against the van and smoking. He’s by some nondescript drain tunnel. Crossfire is in the middle of a report to Mockingbird about their encounter with the Hydra last issue. He says the’ve been sloppy, even for a bunch of press-ganged supervillains, so they should expect reprisals from the cult soon. He realizes Mockingbird hasn’t responded, and that they’re cut off.
Page 2-3: 5 Laser-armed cultists move to surround Mockingbird in her lab. She throws a microscope at the farthest one’s head, and jumps on one of them, pinning his laser gun to the ground as he fires so it hits another one’s legs. 3 down. A bolt goes by the back of her neck. Mockingbird, still crouched over a cultist, throws a telescoping baton at the 4th one as he takes another shot, this one doesn’t get close to her. The last one says he has a message: “Fury knew you were a traitor.” He fires directly at her but Siryn appears in the path and takes the blast. She screams at him and he falls over.
Page 4: Siryn looks over the 5 fallen, noting that they’re all alive. Mockingbird asked how she found the lab. Siryn tells her that you can’t hide your intentions from The Morrigan with a 3rd party cutout. Especially one as dull as Crossfire. Mockingbird says he has his uses. Like maybe brainwashing some of the cultists for their side.
Page 5-6: Mockingbird tells Siryn to go back to the team and tell them to get moving. She has a “new target…” Next panel is Crossfire briefing the team. “New target… In New York.” Bob, Nightshade and Scarecrow start complaining. Every block in New York City has 3 Avengers on it. And while none of them are in the group purely for the money, getting it all eaten up by bail, lawyers and dental work before the job is even done isn’t anybody’s priority.
Page 7: The project they’re invading is an old HYDRA program to create super soldiers with alien parasites. The one they used was a Hive-mind with a very low success & high mortality rate. Bob says he thought they mostly just did it to be scary. But somehow these people found a much more efficient symbiote specimen, one that once allegedly attached itself to Spider-Man. Kraven growls a little.
Page 8: Crossfire manages to talk them into it without any overt threats, and promises this will be low-key break-ins with no profile if things go right. They even have legitimate cover, but that will be risky. He tells them to be careful, without Tiger Shark they’re down on warm bodies. Nightshade corrects him: Tiger Shark wasn’t warm blooded.
Page 9-10: The facility itself is under Manhattan with entrances spread over several blocks. Feral will go into the most publicly accessible one, a research lab at ESU. Feral says she might have a problem blending in. Nightshade hands her an inhaler, explaining that this will do the job. It’s a short-term cosmetic version of what she used to turn Captain America into a werewolf. Kraven is intrigued, and says she should do that again sometime; Capwolf would be excellent game. Nightshade says he’s insane. Scarecrow jokes that he heard it runs in Kraven’s family.
Page 11: On the drive to New York, Bob asks what the plan is if they find it. The last time, their monster lab definitely had a monster in it. Crossfire says retrieve if possible. Destroy if necessary. Full containment either way, no direct contact under any circumstances. Scarecrow is disappointed, he says he wanted to inject it into his blood. Feral says she’s seen these symbiotes, they’re scary, “even for us.” Bob says he’ll be sure to get the story from Spider-Man when they are inevitably caught by him in New York.
Page 12-15: Kraven and Crossfire, Scarecrow and Nightshade and Bob and Siryn are breaking into the entrances, hidden behind service grates or electrical boxes and the like. New York at night. Next 4 pages are 3 simultaneous scenes told horizontally in side-by-side columns. Each starts as Scarecrow, Bob and Crossfire are all hit with different types of darts or shuriken.
A grappling hook wraps around Bob’s feet and reels him upside down to a fire escape, where a man in black combat gear and a red-striped helmet lifts him up by his shirt. Bob begs him “don’t kill me! Don’t kill me!” He says he’s not going to kill Bob. He wants him to “tell all your friends about me.” Bob asks “w-what are you?” “I’m Night-Thrasher.”
Thrasher tells Bob he has his choice of Hospitals: Ravencroft if he cooperates, intensive care if he puts up a fight. He drops Bob off the fire escape and reels him back up again.
Night-thrasher asks him what HYDRA is planning in New York. Bob denies he’s Hydra, but Night Thrasher thinks he’s mocking him and sends him on another trip down & up the grapple. Bob tries to tell him about The Secret Warriors, the Fury cult and even the symbiote they’re looking for, but Siryn flies down and screams at Night Thrasher. He’s in pain, but still standing, which surprises everybody. Siryn guesses his helmet has some shielding, so she shoves him into a wall. He’s still conscious, though, so Siryn grabs Bob and flies away. Night Thrasher groans. “Yeah, you BETTER run. Run the hell out of my city.”
A man in metal-fletched armor with glowing yellow goggles drops from a window, landing his knee in Scarecrow’s back. Scarecrow’s back isn’t broken, but he’s hurt. He screams “What the hell are you!” The man screams back. “What, you can’t read the paper? The hell do I look like, shitbird? I’m the goddamn Nighthawk!”
Scarecrow bends his leg backwards to kick at Nighthawk, but he grabs it and used the leg to bash him against a wall. He calls Scarecrow by his real name, “Laughton” and tells him he started with 206 chanced to explain what he was doing in “My city”, and now he has 204. “I can do this all night, scum.”
He’s interrupted by Nightshade, who fires some kind of organic-looking taser at Scarecrow. She tells Nighthawk she’s a bounty hunter, here to take Scarecrow back to whatever hellhole they’re putting Sub-Goblin supermurderers in this week. She even gives him a business card, and says if he ever wants a hardware upgrade, call her. Nighthawk tells her to take him & go, and “Stay the hell out of my city.”
Kraven looks up to the roof where the dart originated to see the glare of a bright, full moon (we don’t see the moon at all in any of the other’s stories, despite it being the same night). There’s movement in the reflective white, describing the shape of a long cloak and a hand with a club in it. “I am the Moon. I am Vengeance! I am the Knight!” he glides down from the roof on his cape and kicks Kraven in the face.
Kraven reaches for a knife but stops himself. He tells Moon Knight he has a noble and true goal tonight. Moon Knight asks him who he’s working for. Kraven says Mockingbird. Moon Knight punches him and says Mockingbird is dead, then asks who he’s working for again. This time, Kraven prepares to fight, but Crossfire shoots between them. He tells Moon Knight to “let this one go, Marc. Go hunt a werewolf or something. This is company business.” Moon Knight considers for a moment, then tells them they have a half hour. Hurt no-one, and “get the hell out of my city.”
Page 16: Feral, dressed normally and sans fur, walks into a well-lit and mostly empty lobby. A student behind a desk asks if she needs help finding anything. She mentions a vague ‘project’ that needs doing in the lower-floor labs and asks the student if he can let her in, claiming she forgot her I.D. He says “sure” and swipes her through without looking up from his computer. Walking down the hallway she says “that was easy.”
Page 17: When she meets the others, they’re all bruised and grumbling about New York. “Nothing but capes and beatings and ‘stay the hell out of my city’.” Crossfire tells Feral to quit messing around, let’s find this alien monster, steal it or burn it and get a slice in Jersey on the way back home. They really don’t have a plan to find it beyond going door-to-door until something has heavy security. They find it behind a regular door. Steel with a keypad and a Hydra logo on it. Bob starts in on unlocking it with electronic keys. The room inside is clean and empty, no furniture, just a clear cylinder covered in Warning labels with a large power cable running to the wall and a gray ball floating in the middle.
Page 18: Crossfire screws something to the barrel of his wrist gun, and tells Bob and Nightshade to go for incendiaries. Whatever containment it’s in doesn’t look portable, so parameters are to make sure the cult doesn’t get to use it either. Kraven says “wait”. He steps closer to it. Feral puts her hand on his shoulder to stop him, and Crossfire tells him to “listen to the jungle drums”. He pushes forward, and Nightshade aims a dart gun at him. He throws a knife at the power cable before anyone can stop him, and punches through the clear casing, grabbing the gray ball in his hand.
Page 19-20: He starts talking as it flows over him. Saying he is a new kind of predator. His fearful symmetry mirrored in this life form. Kravinoff, the man. Kravinoff, the hunter. He is both. The ooze has coated him in black now. He looks like Spider-Man in the black costume, no symbol only white eyes. It changes as the mane and eyes of his vest form again in the black, now with the Lion’s teeth all across his chest. “We are Kraven. First you die. Then our children. Then we hunt the world!”
Be here in 2 weeks!