Following a villainous altercation gone wrong, Fred Myers, a.k.a. Boomerang, sees an opportunity to get the law off his back for good by declaring himself a newly reformed superhero! But going straight isn’t easy when you still owe a debt to the Kingpin of crime himself, Wilson Fisk!
Or when you just… don’t really want to.
Splash panel. An industrial park in the early evening.
Also, a standoff! At center stage we see HYDRO-MAN, beefed up well beyond normal human size in his solid water form, and THE SPOT, preparing for battle.
In the foreground, with their backs to us, stand Melissa Gold, SONGBIRD; Abner Jenkins, MACH-VII; and Clint Barton, HAWKEYE. Mach-VII’s suit chirps out a message.
SUIT: Alert. Criminal Activity Detected.
HAWKEYE: You don’t say?
MACH-VII: Yeah, I’ve been meaning to fix the lag on this thing.
HYDRO-MAN splashes forward, and SPOT throws out some spots, as the team of heroes split up to take them on.
MACH-VII: Hawkeye, you and Songbird take the Spot. Hydro-Man’s mine.
VOICE (OFF-PANEL): And what about me?
MACH-VII turns around to see none other than the spherically-helmeted 8-BALL!
8-BALL: Sorry, Mach-VII.
8-BALL: Looks like you found yourself… behind the 8-ball!
8-BALL jabs MACH-VII in the chest with his special pool cue, sending the hero flying. He crashes into a wall off in the distance.
SOUND EFFECT: *WHAM!!*
MACH-VII lies on the ground, recovering from his impact. 8-BALL looms over him, gloating. In the background, HAWKEYE briefly freezes one of HYDRO-MAN’S arms with an ice arrow, and SONGBIRD screams a sonic attack at SPOT, who simply allows it to dissipate into one of his spots, where it echoes harmlessly through Spotworld.
As all this goes on, Mach-VII’s helmet begins to beep.
8-BALL: Now if you don’t mind, my friends and I will be taking those —
SOUND EFFECT: *beep beep!*
SOUND EFFECT: *beep beep!*
8-BALL: What… what’s that?
MACH-VII: I’m sorry, I just — hang on.
MACH-VII stands up and turns his back to 8-BALL as he checks something on his helmet display.
8-BALL: Oh. Um… okay.
HAWKEYE shoots an arrow at the SPOT, its trail of action lines disappearing into a spot on his chest. It promptly reappears from a spot on Spot’s palm, now aimed at SONGBIRD. She dodges it, but seems more concerned by MACH-VII’S apparent distraction than the battle itself. Mach-VII tries to shrug it off.
SONGBIRD: What is it?
MACH-VII: Hm? Oh. Nothing. It’s nothing.
MACH-VII: Keep on fighting.
Medium shot of SONGBIRD and MACH-VII, both of them essentially ignoring the battle for the purpose of this conversation. Behind them, a spot opens beneath HAWKEYE’S feet, and he drops into it.
SONGBIRD: It’s Fred again, isn’t it?
SONGBIRD: Abner. Honey. You’ve got to stop obsessing over him like this. It’s not healthy
MACH-VII: I’m not obsessed. I just… I know that he’s lying to me.
MACH-VII: And that bothers me more than it should.
Medium shot. SONGBIRD makes a shield of solid sound for HYDRO-MAN to splash against. In the background, HAWKEYE falls out of one spot, ten feet off the ground, and straight into another.
HAWKEYE: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa —
SONGBIRD: You’ve mentored dozens of villains. Several of whom have tried to kill you after the fact.
SONGBIRD: But no one else has gotten under your skin like this.
SONGBIRD: What if Fred really means it this time? You of all people should know the value of a second chance.
Medium shot of MACH-VII punching away 8-BALL. In the background, HAWKEYE makes another loop from one spot into the next. The SPOT has ceased to fight and simply watches this, holding his stomach with laughter.
MACH-VII: Fred got his second chance. And a third, for that matter.
MACH-VII: He wasted both.
HAWKEYE: — aaaaaaaaaaaa —
HYDRO-MAN momentarily stops fighting to join the conversation.
HYDRO-MAN: Wait, Fred? Like Fred Myers? Boomerang?
HYDRO-MAN: Man, **** that guy.
MACH-VII: See? Morrie gets it. A bit harsh, maybe, but he gets it.
MACH-VII: I’m sorry, babe. I know myself, and I just won’t be able to relax until I check this out.
Extreme close-up of HAWKEYE’S bow, loosing an arrow.
SOUND EFFECT: *swit!*
Extreme close-up. The arrow, trailing a cable, lodges in a wall.
SOUND EFFECT: *chunk!*
Extreme close-up. The cable tenses.
SOUND EFFECT: *twaaaang!*
With a jolt, HAWKEYE ceases his infinite fall. The cable, which is secured to the wall at one end, travels down into the spot on the ground, and then reemerges from the upper one, where Hawkeye hangs suspended from it.
HAWKEYE: Look, not to be a stick in the mud…
HAWKEYE: But we’re kind of in the middle of a fight here.
HAWKEYE, still hanging, kicks the SPOT in the face, knocking him into a corner.
HAWKEYE: Or, y’know… I am.
Wide shot. MACH-VII, rolling his eyes, shoots a taser at HYDRO-MAN, electrocuting him and by extension, 8-BALL, who stands in the puddle at Hydro-Man’s feet. 8-Ball’s pool cue goes flying.
MACH-VII: Ugh. Fine.
INSERT: Extreme close up of Mach-VII’s hand snatching the pool cue out of midair.
Close-up. Head-on shot of MACH-VII as he pulls back the cue.
MACH-VII: Eight ball, corner pocket.
Wide shot. MACH-VII hits 8-BALL right in his helmet, sending him flying. He disappears into one of the spots.
SOUND EFFECT: *WHAM!*
SOUND EFFECT: *foont!*
MACH-VII shifts his attention to the SPOT, launching several missiles from his wrist into a particularly large spot on the villain’s stomach.
Small panel, close-up. SPOT looks down at where the missiles entered him.
Wide shot. The missiles emerge from numerous other spots on SPOT’S back, colliding with the walls all around him and detonating.
Dust and smoke fill the frame, the former coming from the pile of rubble over the SPOT, and the latter coming from MACH-VII’s rocket boots as he takes off for the skies. HYDRO-MAN lies on the ground unconscious. HAWKEYE still hangs from his cable. Mach-VII calls over his shoulder to SONGBIRD.
MACH-VII: I’ll be home for dinner!
CAPTION: So yeah…
Through fisheye lens of a peephole, we see the distorted shape of MACH-VII waiting outside Boomerang’s door. At the bottom of the page is the issue’s title:
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE…
CAPTION: This guy, right?
CAPTION: Okay, okay. I know I’ve complained about him enough already.
CAPTION: But I’ll just add one final observation:
Half-page panel. A reverse shot of the apartment’s interior, which is to say almost from the peephole’s POV. In the extreme foreground, BOOMERANG (sans costume) stands at the closed door. Behind him are gathered four fellow supervillains: SANDMAN, OVERDRIVE, ROCKET RACER, and BIG WHEEL (also sans costume). In the center of the room is an easel, displaying plans for the group’s planned burglary of the Baxter Building.
CAPTION: He really knows how to show up at the wrong time.
Small, tucked in the corner, almost an insert. BOOMERANG, in close-up, makes a frantic sweeping gesture, indicating the group should scatter.
Half-page panel, same framing as Panel 1. BOOMERANG kneels to untie the knot on the doorknob, while behind him the rest of the team runs and hides. SANDMAN takes sand form and flows into a heating vent in the wall. OVERDRIVE grabs the easel and runs into the bathroom. ROCKET RACER takes his board and actually jumps out the window. BIG WHEEL stands frozen in the middle of the room, frantically looking back and forth.
MACH-VII, viewed in profile, waits in the stairwell. He knocks again.
SOUND EFFECT: *knock knock!*
MACH-VII: Fred? You in there?
BOOMERANG (OFF-PANEL): Just a minute!
We’re looking over MACH-VII’s shoulder. BOOMERANG opens the door just enough to squeeze his head through.
MACH-VII (OFF-PANEL): Fred.
BOOMERANG: To what do I owe the pleasure?
Medium shot of MACH-VII, from behind, pushing the door farther open.
MACH-VII: Oh, just a routine check-in.
Inside the apartment. BOOMERANG has no choice but to step back as MACH-VII makes his way through the door. His unwieldy wings knock against the already damaged door frame, knocking loose even more drywall.
SOUND EFFECT: *thwunk*
MACH-VII: I don’t suppose there’s any particular reason you passed by the Baxter Building twice in the last two —
MACH-VII: W —
Close-up. BOOMERANG looks over his shoulder to see what caught MACH-VII’s attention…
…And his face falls, displaying barely contained rage.
Boomerang and Mach-VII’s POV. In the middle of the room stands BIG WHEEL, holding a potted plant in front of his face but otherwise completely visible.
Close-up of BOOMERANG, still looking over his shoulder, eyes closed and sighing.
BOOMERANG walks over to BIG WHEEL.
BOOMERANG: Hey, bud! Any luck?
Extreme close-up of the top half of BOOMERANG’s face, peering into the base of the potted plant.
BOOMERANG: Nope, not in there.
BOOMERANG pats BIG WHEEL on the back. Boomerang grins, but Big Wheel looks visibly ashamed.
BOOMERANG: Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll find them. Big Wheel, big keys, am I right?
BOOMERANG: Did you say hi to Abner?
BIG WHEEL: Hi, Abner.
Two-shot of BOOMERANG and MACH-VII. Boomerang smiles pleasantly, Mach-VII is stone-faced.
MACH-VII: What’s he doing here?
BOOMERANG: What, I can’t have friends over?
MACH-VII: Not when they’re villains, you can’t.
Medium shot. BOOMERANG gestures at BIG WHEEL behind him.
BOOMERANG: Former villains, thank you.
BOOMERANG: And I’ll have you know he’s my sponsor.
Two-shot of BOOMERANG and MACH-VII.
MACH-VII: I’m your sponsor.
BOOMERANG: God, really? Shouldn’t I have a say in that?
Medium shot of MACH-VII.
MACH-VII: The last time you made a social call to a Vil-Anon member, it was Mirage. And he turned up dead the next day.
BOOMERANG points coyly at MACH-VII, winking.
BOOMERANG: Or did he?
MACH-VII: He definitely did.
BOOMERANG points coyly at MACH-VII again.
BOOMERANG: Or did he?
Wide shot. MACH-VII beckons to BIG WHEEL with one hand and points out the door with the other.
MACH-VII: C’mon, Jackson. Out. Fred’s off-limits.
MACH-VII stands sternly in the doorway as BIG WHEEL sullenly makes his way out.
Behind Mach-VII’s back, BOOMERANG makes the ‘call me’ gesture.
BIG WHEEL, ducking under MACH-VII’s wings, makes the ‘OK’ gesture and winks.
MACH-VII turns back to BOOMERANG, arms crossed. His wings hit the wall again.
SOUND EFFECT: *thwunk*
MACH-VII: The Baxter Building.
Medium shot of BOOMERANG shrugging.
BOOMERANG: It’s on the way to my favorite pizza place.
Two-shot of BOOMERANG and MACH-VII.
MACH-VII: You expect me to believe that?
BOOMERANG: They’re the only ones who’ll put Vegemite on a slice.
BOOMERANG: And even then, I’ve got to bring my own.
CAPTION: That’s actually true. Stingy bastards.
Medium shot of BOOMERANG.
BOOMERANG: Panucci’s on Lexington. Ask them yourself.
BOOMERANG: They call me Dundee.
BOOMERANG: Which I don’t think is racist.
BOOMERANG: But it still doesn’t feel great.
MACH-VII hands BOOMERANG a business card.
MACH-VII: But I’m watching you, Fred.
Reverse shot of BOOMERANG standing in the doorway. He grins, winks, and salutes with the card.
BOOMERANG: I’m counting on it.
Out in the stairwell, the door shuts in MACH-VII’s face.
SOUND EFFECT: *Clack!*
Inside, BOOMERANG leans back against the door, grimacing.
BOOMERANG checks the peephole one more time to be safe.
He angrily slaps Overdrive’s helmet off the table near the door. It rolls a few feet.
SOUND EFFECT: *thwack!*
SOUND EFFECT: *clunk clunk*
The other members of the group emerge from their hiding places: OVERDRIVE comes out of the bathroom, ROCKET RACER climbs back in the window, and sand flows out of the AC vent onto the floor.
OVERDRIVE: What’s the problem? I think he bought it.
Wide shot of the group. SANDMAN materializes back into his human form.
BOOMERANG: He saw Wheele.
BOOMERANG: He’s probably got Reed Richards on the phone right now, telling him to sound the alarm if he comes within three blocks of the place.
ROCKET RACER shrugs.
ROCKET RACER: So? It’s Big Wheel.
ROCKET RACER: If you ask me, we’re better off than we were ten minutes ago.
Medium shot of SANDMAN.
SANDMAN: Wheele was our ticket into the Baxter Building.
SANDMAN: Without him, we have to do it the hard way.
Close-up of an indignant ROCKET RACER.
ROCKET RACER: So we do it the hard way!
ROCKET RACER: I’m telling you, I can hack the elevator.
Wide group shot.
SANDMAN: Nobody’s saying you can’t.
BOOMERANG: I might.
BOOMERANG: Or I might not. I don’t know. We literally just met.
BOOMERANG, turning to Sandman, points backwards over his shoulder with his thumb.
BOOMERANG: I mean, I realize I’m the last person who should get hung up on somebody’s references, but honestly, Flint, who is this guy?
Close-up of SANDMAN.
SANDMAN: He’s good. That’s all you need to know.
BOOMERANG considers this. Needing someone to give a second opinion, he looks to OVERDRIVE for confirmation. Overdrive only offers a slight shrug.
BOOMERANG: Okay. Fine. It’s all you… Rocket Racer.
ROCKET RACER: Bob is fine.
BOOMERANG: Bob, then.
BOOMERANG addresses ROCKET RACER, arms crossed. Rocket Racer rubs the back of his head.
BOOMERANG: We still have to actually get you to an access point.
BOOMERANG: And I don’t suppose you’re on the guest list. You and the Torch old skating buddies, by any chance?
ROCKET RACER: Not exactly.
Close-up of SANDMAN.
SANDMAN: Wouldn’t matter if he was. Nobody gets into those top floors except the Fantastic Four.
SANDMAN: Maybe Spider-Man.
Close-up of BOOMERANG as he considers this. He rubs his chin, eyes pointed down at the carpet.
Suddenly his eyes widen.
BOOMERANG raises his head, and one finger.
BOOMERANG: Hold on.
BOOMERANG: I’ve got an idea.
Same framing. BOOMERANG doesn’t move, the only difference is OVERDRIVE leaning in from off-panel.
BOOMERANG: But it’s a bad one.
OVERDRIVE: So, business as usual.
BOOMERANG: Ignoring that.
Close-up of BOOMERANG from below. He leans in conspiratorially. Between two fingers he holds up Mach-VII’s business card.
BOOMERANG: We’ve got four former supervillians in this room.
BOOMERANG: One of us has to know their way around a sewing machine, right?
The next morning. Abner Jenkins’ office. MACH-VII sits at a desk in the center of the room. He has no helmet on, but at this point it’s safe to say he is insistent on wearing at least the suit at all times. Behind him are numerous busts wearing the masks or cowls of supervillains, as well as a few odd displays. One such display is a small metal cube, while another pedestal shows off an urn.
Mach-VII’s phone chirps out a message.
INTERCOM: Mr. Jenkins? There’s a Fred Myers here to see you.
Close-up. MACH-VII grimaces, resting his head in his hands.
MACH-VII: Send him in, I guess.
BOOMERANG slides in through the door, waving sheepishly.
BOOMERANG takes a seat across the desk from MACH-VII.
MACH-VII: The pizza place checked out, if that’s why you’re here.
BOOMERANG: Told you it would.
CAPTION: Oh, thank God.
BOOMERANG: But no, it isn’t.
MACH-VII: Do I dare ask why, then?
Close-up of BOOMERANG, leaning in.
BOOMERANG: I think the two of us need to talk things out.
Close-up. MACH-VII laughs bitterly.
MACH-VII: Okay, very funny.
MACH-VII: Melissa called you. Is that what happened?
Close-up of BOOMERANG, confused.
Suddenly he gets it.
BOOMERANG: Oh! Screaming Mimi!
MACH-VII (OFF-PANEL): It’s Songbird now.
BOOMERANG: You two are still together, huh? Good for you.
Two shot of the pair, on either side of the desk.
BOOMERANG: No. This was my idea. But hey, great minds, I guess.
MACH-VII: You don’t have to sell me, Fred. I’m listening.
Wide shot, showing both BOOMERANG (from behind) and MACH-VII, as well as the ceiling.
Behind the desk, SAND begins to emerge from a vent on said ceiling.
BOOMERANG: I don’t like you, Abner. There’s no point lying about that anymore.
BOOMERANG: And I can tell you don’t like me.
MACH-VII: I don’t —
MACH-VII: Okay, fine.
Close-up. The SAND coming out of the vent slips around the grating and then reforms into a sand screwdriver, which begins working to loosen the screws.
BOOMERANG (OFF-PANEL): But the longer we dwell on the past, the harder it’s gonna be for us to move on.
Two-shot of MACH-VII and BOOMERANG sniping at each other across the desk.
MACH-VII: Dwell on the past? You drugged me and left me for dead!
BOOMERANG: And you left me to rot in prison!
Medium shot. BOOMERANG counts off on his fingers.
BOOMERANG: You hired me a terrible lawyer who lost the case on purpose —
CAPTION: And who it just now occurs to me I should probably stop employing…
BOOMERANG: You got Shocker of all people to break me out, through an exit where hired goons were waiting to shoot us to death —
MACH-VII leans back, pinching the bridge of his nose. Behind him, the vent cover is completely removed and is gingerly being pulled up into the hole it was covering.
MACH-VII: For the last time, Fred, I only did all that to keep the Kingpin from coming after the rest of us.
MACH-VII: It was for the good of the Syndicate!
Close-up of BOOMERANG, showing no hostility at all.
BOOMERANG: What? No.
BOOMERANG: I’m not mad about any of that. I completely understand it, actually.
BOOMERANG: I’m just listing all terrible things we’ve done to each other.
Wide shot. A SAND ARM stretches down out of the vent and into the room.
BOOMERANG: Because that’s my point! We were villains then. We did terrible things! I don’t hold it against you, I can promise you that.
MACH-VII: You just said you don’t like me.
BOOMERANG: Yeah, but that’s because of who you are as a person. Totally different.
BOOMERANG: Bottom line: whatever it is you think I did last year, it’s behind you — er, me — now.
BOOMERANG: Also I didn’t do it in the first place.
MACH-VII leans back in his chair thoughtfully.
MACH-VII: Do you remember Leila Davis?
BOOMERANG: Oh my God. How could I forget?
Close-up of BOOMERANG.
BOOMERANG: She dated me for six months as part of an elaborate revenge scheme against you, over something you didn’t even realize you did.
BOOMERANG: I respect the hell out of that woman.
MACH-VII begins to turn around. BOOMERANG reaches out to stop him.
MACH-VII: Take a look at this.
Close-up. The SAND ARM, its business finished, pulls the vent into place behind it.
Close-up of BOOMERANG, looking awkward.
BOOMERANG: Sorry, I just had her mixed up with someone else for a second.
BOOMERANG: Go ahead.
MACH-VII hands BOOMERANG the metal cube. It’s purple and green, looking like a car fresh from a compactor.
BOOMERANG: What is this? Part of Leila’s Hardshell getup?
BOOMERANG: Heavier than it looks.
Close-up of MACH-VII.
MACH-VII: That is Leila.
MACH-VII: She joined the Redeemers a few years ago. As the new Beetle, ironically enough.
MACH-VII: She hadn’t even been on the team a month before Graviton crushed her to death, the way you or I would crush a ball of tin foil.
BOOMERANG recoils in disgust, dropping the cube.
SOUND EFFECT: *clunk!*
BOOMERANG, frozen in place with hands up and shoulders hunched, looks at MACH-VII in horror.
BOOMERANG: And you just… have that.
BOOMERANG: In your office.
MACH-VII gestures behind him at the busts and displays.
MACH-VII: That’s why I have all of this.
MACH-VII: To remind me of their sacrifices.
A better look at some of the masks and displays. They include Swordsman, Headsman, Mirage, Charcoal (in the urn), Meteorite, and more.
MACH-VII (OFF-PANEL): To remind me of all the people who gave their lives trying to find redemption for their past sins…
MACH-VII (OFF-PANEL): …and how lucky I am that it hasn’t happened to me.
MACH-VII leans in, hands folded.
MACH-VII: See, Fred, the people who treat this like a game?
MACH-VII: Like I’m still pretty sure you’re doing?
MACH-VII: They don’t come out of this unscathed.
Close-up of the cube.
MACH-VII (OFF-PANEL): They don’t come out of it at all.
Close-up on BOOMERANG, looking shaken.
He looks down, seemingly snapping himself out of it…
And turns back to Mach-VII, a smile on his face.
BOOMERANG: Well thank goodness it’s that, because I was really starting to worry it was some sort of sex thing.
BOOMERANG rises from the chair, shaking hands with MACH-VII.
BOOMERANG: Abe, you’ve certainly given me a lot to think about.
BOOMERANG: But here’s hoping we never see each other again.
MACH-VII: You know you still have to check in with me every two weeks.
BOOMERANG: Aside from that.
BOOMERANG exits the office.
CAPTION: And there you have it.
MACH-VII looks off to the side, with a half smile as if to say “that’s our Fred.”
CAPTION: Candy from a baby.
Wide shot as MACH-VII swivels around in his chair, his wings knocking over everything on his desk.
SOUND EFFECT: *clack!*
SOUND EFFECT: *clunk clunk!*
SOUND EFFECT: *shatter*
Close up of MACH-VII, still smiling.
Same close up, but something has caught his attention.
He looks intently at Mirage’s cowl. Something about the horizontal stitching strikes him as being off.
He looks (and bends) down, reaching for a pinch of the small granules he sees scattered on the carpet.
He rubs his fingers together, the grains of sand dropping from his fingertips as he does so. The other hand holds his chin.
(If the letterer can position these two word boxes/bubbles so that they appear to be spoken simultaneously, they get a raise.)
CAPTION: Candy from a baby.
MACH-VII: Son of a *****.
An extreme wide shot of Manhattan Correctional Facility, a sign in the foreground identifying it as such. MACH-VII rockets through the sky towards it.
MACH-VII goes through security, his arms held out in a cross pose as a GUARD waves the metal detecting wand along the outer edge of his suit. He looks at the guard apologetically.
SOUND EFFECT: *wooooEEEEEEEeeeEEEEEEEeeeee!*
MACH-VII: I mean…
MACH-VII enters the visitors’ room, approaching the phone bank and glass windows.
He sits down in one of the booths, putting the phone receiver to his ear.
MACH-VII: I’ll make this quick.
MACH-VII: I’m willing to get you that deal you asked for.
VOICE (OFF-PANEL): Okay… and the catch?
Extreme close-up of MACH-VII.
MACH-VII: You’ll have to tell me everything you know about Fred Myers.
MACH-VII’s face is reflected in the glass, through which we see the grinning inmate on the other side.
It’s HERMAN SCHULTZ, the SHOCKER.
SHOCKER: I thought you’d never ask.
Next time: The Octavian Job!