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Mighty Avengers #25

Issue Date: July 2009

Story Title: Mighty / Fantastic, part 1: The Baxter Job

Staff: Dan Slott (writer), Stephen Segovia (penciler), Noah Salonga (inker), Jean-Francois Beaulieu (colorist), Dave Lanphear (letterer), Jeannie Scaeffer (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description:
Years ago, Hank Pym marvelled over Bill Foster’s latest creation - a dimensional wave inducer. Today, Hank and his new team of Avengers find themselves becoming increasingly cut off from the outside world since his lab was shunted into a side-dimension. USAgent and Quicksilver depart for a mission in Tibet, while Hank lets his frustrations out regarding how Jocasta is responsible for the current predicament, and so contacts the Fantastic Four, asking for Goliath’s dimensional wave inducer, which was left to the Thing following Goliath’s death, although Hank claims it should have gone to him, but he was replaced by a Skrull at the time. Mr Fantastic can see what an unstable state Hank is in, so refuses to give the device to him. They argue for some time, and Mr Fantastic boasts that he knows more about Pym Particles than Hank does, which causes Hank to challenge Mr Fantastic. Later, Hank explains to his teammates how they are going to invade the Baxter Building to retrieve the dimensional wave inducer, and Stature considers leaving as she is anxious to return to the Young Avengers, the new Vision is too - until Jocasta introduces him to Salvation Two. Amadeus Cho and Stature bond, before the image inducers to disguise everyone are ready, and Hank’s Avengers are ready to take on the Fantastic Four, with Hercules disguised as Red Hulk, he challenges the Thing. Meanwhile, USAgent and Quicksilver arrive in China. After discussing possible ways to get to Tibet, they meet their liaison from GRAMPA, a woman called Ban-Luck, who reveals that GRAMPA has information implicating the Inhumans forming an alliance with communist China, which is why they specifically wanted Quicksilver for this mission.

Full Synopsis:
Flashback, “a couple of years ago”:
Hank Pym’s lab, where Dr Hank Pym a.k.a. Yellowjacket, and his close-friend Dr Bill Foster a.k.a. Goliath are examining a project that Foster has been working on. Hank tells Bill that this is his masterpiece. ‘This is your Nobel Prize in science right here!’ he exclaims as they stand in the middle of the messy lab. Hank jokes that if the machine hums, then they should toss in a Grammy too. Bill replies that he did base it on Hank’s Pym Particle theories, and one day it dawned on him, that if a person can shrink out of this universe and into the Microverse, then what would happen if they altered their vibrational frequency at the exact moment they shunted between dimensions?

‘A dimensional wave inducer’ Hank remarks. ‘Cheap and efficient travel - to any dimension in all of space and time’ Bill tells him. ‘I think I’m in love!’ Hank exclaims, touching the device. ‘Ahem’ a voice exclaims as Janet van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp enters the lab. ‘So? Are you boys gonna spend all day down here…playing with your slide rules?’ Hank barely looks at his ex-wife when he tells her that they will just be another minute. ‘Fine. Hi, Bill’ Jan replies. ‘Hi, Jan’, Bill replies back, before Janet tells Hank not to forget that they have some important matters to discuss.

Hank doesn’t respond, instead he turns to Bill and suggests they open the “bad boy” up. Goliath tells Yellowjacket that it will take a lot more than a “minute”, to which Hank assures him Jan can wait. ‘But this? This device of yours is going to change the world! It’ll open all kinds of doors. Doors we’ve never dreamed of!’

Present:
Hank Pym’s lab, where indeed, all kinds of doors have opened - as the members of Hank’s team of Avengers - Johnny “USAgent” Walker, Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff, the Mighty Hercules, Cassie “Stature” Lang, the new Vision - also called Jonas, Jocasta, and Hank Pym himself - now known as the Wasp - along with Hercules’ side-kick, Amadeus Cho - find themselves stepping through a bizarre set of doors, all leading to the same position, but from different angles - some arriving upside down. ‘PYM?!’ Walker shouts. ‘I know. This does not look good’ Pym replies.

Moments later, the heroes appear on “normal ground”, while Hercules remarks ‘Well, that was vexing’, while Cho asks ‘Since when do most of our “magic doors” go to…well…nowhere?’. Jocasta explains that it is her fault, as she severed their link to Earth. Hank adds that his lab exists in a side dimension, so without that link, its dimensional doorways will fade, revealing that in under two days they will all be gone. ‘So what’s the problem, Doc?’ Walker asks, adding that is plenty of time for Pym to pack up his Bunsen burners and bug out, before announcing that some of them have work to do. ‘If one of you ladies could point out the door to Lhasa…’ the handsome hero’s voice trails off, while Edwin Jarvis approaches the team and asks his companions if they are going to Tibet.

Quicksilver explains that only he and USAgent are going. ‘While you were off making tea, we got an assignment from the Global Reaction Agency. It’s a two-man job. Fate of the world. That kind of stuff’ Johnny adds, while Pym complains that the Avengers are not even part of GRAMPA for ten minutes, and they are already sending dispatches through their only working transdimensional mail slot. Jocasta motions to a doorway, and tells USAgent and Quicksilver that there are currently no doorways to Tibet, but this one is going to Xining, China, and that is as close as they can get them right now. ‘I hope that won’t put you out’ the robotic heroine adds.

‘Not at all’ Pietro tells Jocasta, while thinking to himself that he is not sure how much longer he can stand this, as he is only part of this team to reunite with his sister, except since he joined their ranks, Wanda has remained noticeably absent. ‘As much as it pains me, I must be…patient’ the mutant speedster tells himself. As Walker and Quicksilver depart, Pym tells them that if they do not hear from the rest of the team within two days, it probably means that they cannot bring the two of them back, and chances are they will need to find their own way home. Pietro tells Pym not to worry about them. ‘You incompetent twit’ is what he is really thinking, adding that Pym has more important things to worry about. ‘Idiot’.

Stature turns to Pym, and addressing him as “Uncle Hank” like she usually does, she tells him that, if it is okay, she and the Vision are going to take off as well. ‘We left the Young Avengers hanging, and we really should check in on ‘em’ Cassie explains, before asking for the door to Avengers Mansion. ‘That door? I’m sorry, Cassie, but that’s long gone’ Hank tells her. ‘What? You can’t be serious!’ Stature exclaims, declaring that this is important. ‘Our friends are -’ she begins, while Hank, busy with something on a table, interrupts: ‘No. You know what’s important, Cassie? This lab! This Pym Pocket! This was the first step! The foundation for something so much larger!’

Pym declares that they had all these plans - he and Bill Foster. ‘And I, we were going to - AHH!’ he screams, shoving the equipment off the table in a rage, before exclaiming: ‘Do you have any idea what I was trying to do here. Damn it, Jocasta! You - you ruined it! How could you do such a thing? It’s all worthless now!’ Hank shouts.

In the adjoining room, Jocasta covers her face with a hand. ‘Madame Jocasta?’ Jarvis asks. ‘I heard’ Jocasta mumbles, while Jarvis tells her not to pay any attention, and reminds her that if she hadn’t taken action, Norman Osborn and HAMMER would have control of this lab right now. ‘And then where would we be?’ he asks. ‘I was there. You made the right choice, Ma’am’. Hercules strides into the other room: ‘Henry? A word, please?’ he calls out to Pym.

‘So our “ship” is about to fall off the edge of the map. What of it?’ Hercules asks, reminding Pym that they are heroes - and heroes fear not such petty things. ‘The question now is, what are you going to do about it?’ the Olympian asks. ‘You’re right. There is a solution. I know what to do’ Hank replies, adding that, firstly, he needs to make a call….

The Baxter Building, headquarters of the Fantastic Four: ‘Hank, it’s always good to hear from you, but can we make this quick?’ asks Reed Richards a.k.a. Mr Fantastic. Talking to Hank over the monitor, he tells him that this morning, his daughter Valeria created a new form of artificial canine intelligence, and they are about to dash off and enter it in the cybernetics expo. ‘That’s great, Reed’ Hank replies, before Reed reveals that they then have a meeting to option it to Disney. ‘Nice’ Hank adds, while Reed asks him to forgive his bout of parental pride. ‘Reed, my lab’s about to be destroyed!’ Hank announces, while Reed’s family and teammates also watch the monitor - Susan Storm-Richards a.k.a. the Invisible Woman, Johnny Storm a.k.a. the Human Torch, Ben Grimm a.k.a. the Thing, and Reed’s children - Franklin and Valeria, playing with the new robotic dog.

Equally, in Hank’s lab, Hercules, Jocasta, the new Vision, Stature and Cho have gathered around to watch the conversation. ‘Thanks, Jarvis’ Stature remarks as Jarvis serves her a drink. Hank tells Reed that his lab isn’t going to be so much as “destroyed”, more like stranded in a side-dimension and cut off from Earth. ‘I hate it when that happens’ Reed replies, asking if there is anything he can do to help. ‘Glad you asked’ Hank remarks, telling Reed that he is pretty sure he could fix the problem with the help of a specific device - one that is currently in Reed’s possession: Bill Foster’s dimensional wave inducer.

Reed frowns, ‘Ah, about that…I’m sorry, Hank, but I can’t let you have it’ he replies. ‘What? Reed, I helped Bill Foster build that thing. It’s partly mine!’ Hank snaps back, annoyed. Mr Fantastic reveals that Goliath left it to the Thing in his will. ‘I think it’s best that it stays with the Fantastic Four’ Reed announces. Hank looks troubled, and tells Reed that after Bill died, the device was actually left to him: ‘But I wasn’t on Earth at the time because you - because I’d been replaced by a Skrull. It went to Ben by default’. Hank declares now that he is back, the real him, he would like to have the device. ‘I rather, I really need it. Now’.

‘No’ Reed replies. ‘No? Why the hell not?’ Hank asks. Mr Fantastic points out that the dimensional wave inducer is a powerful device. ‘It’s big science. And I don’t trust you around big science. Not when you’re like this’. ‘Like what?’ Hank retorts. ‘Unstable’ Reed replies, remarking that Hank has been through a lot recently - his Skrull abduction, the deaths of Jan, Bill and Captain America. ‘It’s been a lot for you to take in’. ‘Reed…’ Susan begins, but Reed continues, remarking that, in the past, when Hank has been unstable, he has altered his own bio-chemistry and built killer robots. ‘Ultron was an accident, I never meant -’ Hank begins, but Reed interrupts: ‘What about Salvation One? The robot you attacked the Avengers with? Do you remember that?’ Reed asks.

Pym exclaims that is ancient history, and asks Reed if he wants to talk recent history: ‘Whoa, this’s getting ugly!’ the Thing remarks, while Pym declares that he isn’t the one who built the clone-cyborg hybrid that murdered Bill Foster. ‘And when the God of Chaos returned to destroy all of reality, I wasn’t the guy trapped inside a TV set. No, I was the guy saving Earth!’ Hank exclaims, referring to his battle with Chthon. Hank adds that if there is on reason he should have the inducer, it’s because it is based on his Pym Particles. ‘That may be the case, but we both know…I know more about Pym Particles than you’ Reed replies, causing Cassie to spit her drink out in shock, and Amadeus exclaims ‘Ohhh snap!’.

‘Dr. Richards?’ Pym remarks. ‘Hank?’ Reed asks. ‘It’s on, bitch!’ Hank snaps back, causing the Fantastic Four to look on in horror, before the transmission is terminated. The Human Torch keels over with laughter: ‘Classic! Tell me we got that on tape!’ he exclaims, while the Thing asks Reed what he was thinking. Reed walks away from the others, but Susan follows him, telling her husband to call Pym back right now and apologize. ‘For what?’ Reed asks.

Back in Hank’s lab, the remaining Avengers and Amadeus gather around a meeting table, with a holographic display of the Baxter Building. ‘Ladies. Gentlemen. This is our new target!’ Pym announces, explaining to his allies that, upon any breach, the site goes into complete lockdown - down to a molecular level. ‘From that point on, the only way in - or out - is through a DNA-encoded security key on each member’s uniform’. An image of the Thing appears in a hologram, demonstrating the security key, before two images of robots appear as Hank informs the others that the interior of the building is regularly patrolled by humanoid experimental robots with b-type integrated electronics and recycled Doombots.

Hank reveals that there is a rooftop access point that is primarily used for the Fantastic Four’s pogo plane - a long-range vehicle that doubles as an escape pod. ‘Is that how you’re planning to make your exit?’ Jonas asks. ‘No’ Hank replies, though revealing that getting the Fantastic Four to use it is part of his plan. Hank calls out to Jarvis, asking him if he could help with the next part of his presentation. ‘Of course, Master Pym…anything to be of service!’ Jarvis replies as he enters the light - causing Cassie to scream: ‘Ahh! Jarvis? He’s still a Skrull!’ she exclaims. ‘Smite him!’ Hercules booms.

Everyone moves towards the Jarvis Skrull, but Hank tells everyone to stand down. ‘Herc, no smiting’ he adds, before telling Edwin that he thinks they have made their point, and asks him to turn the image inducer off. ‘Thank you, Sir. Green was never my color’ Jarvis replies. ‘Image inducer. Right’ Cho mumbles. Jarvis returns to his true form, explaining that the image inducer is a device which creates holographic disguises, and tells his companions that they will all be outfitted with them shortly. The new Vision replies that there is no need for him, as his circuitry already contains an image inducer. ‘As does mine’ Jocasta remarks as the two of them shift into their disguises. ‘True. But I’ve made some improvements. These models also emit a special signal’ Hank reveals, holding up the new image inducers.

Hank informs everyone that after the Skrull invasion, Reed created a more sensitive Skrull detection system, but that it has a basic flaw - it assumes no one would want to be detected as a Skrull. Hank tells everyone that he will see them in a few hours, as he needs to manufacture more of them for the assault. ‘Hours? Dude, I could whip up three image inducers during commercials!’ Cho boasts. ‘They’re not just for you. They’re for my army!’ Hank exclaims. ‘Army? What army?’ Hercules asks.

Meanwhile, in Xining, China, Walker and Quicksilver stand in the city. ‘Great magic doorway, Pym. This the best he can do? We’re days away by train. Half a day by air...and you’re dressed like Captain America in the middle of communist China!’ Quicksilver points out. ‘Yeah. There is that’ USAgent agrees, before Quicksilver decides that Walker looks like a bad Chinese knockoff of Captain America. ‘So maybe we’re fine’ he points out. ‘Stow it, Maximoff’ Walker tells him, before suggesting that Quicksilver could run them there. ‘Just put me on your back and -’ Walker begins, before Quicksilver asks him if he is insane. ‘You weigh over 300 pounds!’ Pietro points out. Walker motions to a pedal cart and suggests he could commandeer one of them. ‘Then you could -’ he begins, but again Quicksilver interrupts: ‘Not in a million years, you muscle-bound -’. ‘Wait. We’re being watched!’ USAgent reveals.

‘Up there!’ Walker exclaims, motioning to where someone is moving towards them. Walker throws his shield, but misses by an inch. ‘Hm. Already bored’ Quicksilver mutters as the assailant throws something at Walker, which slices along his glove. ‘What say we cut to the chase?’ Quicksilver exclaims as he speeds up the side of a building and grabs the assailant, who laughs, and exclaims ‘That was most impressive! Pietro Maximoff, the mutant speedster. We must do that again sometime!’ a woman with long black hair, clad in black with red and yellow markings on her costume. ‘I know who I am, girl. Who are you?’ Pietro asks.

The Chinese woman introduces herself as Ban-Luck, an international agent of GRAMPA: ‘The Global Reaction Agency for -’ she begins, but USAgent interrupts: ‘Mysterious paranormal activity. We know. We signed up yesterday’, before asking Ban-Luck what the meaning of this is, as he pulls her throwing device from his glove. Ban-Luck replies that she is their contact here in Asia, to which Walker tells her that she has a funny way of showing it. ‘Sorry. Reflex’ Ban-Luck replies, before asking Walker if she could have her weapon back - ‘Aw. You broke my heart!’ she exclaims, before telling the Avengers that if they will follow her, she has arranged some transportation for her.

‘One second’ Walker tells Ban-Luck, informing her that they are still a little fuzzy on the details for this mission. Ban-Luck replies that according to their spy satellites, they believe the Inhumans are forming an alliance with communist China. ‘If this happens, it could tip the global balance of power. We have to get to the bottom of this’ Ban-Luck remarks, explaining that is why they sent for Quicksilver, telling him that as of yesterday, he became their top specialist on the Inhumans of Attilan. ‘Unless you have a problem with that?’ she asks. ‘No…not at all’ Pietro replies.

Back in Pym’s lab, Jonas and Cassie walk through a corridor lined with caged animals, while Jonas remarks that he is unsure as to why they are about to engage the Fantastic Four. ‘For Hercules, it’s a matter of honor. For Cho, it’s a chance to take on authority. But in the end…it all comes down to preserving Pym’s laboratory. And this is an astonishing place’ Jonas remarks. ‘You’re wondering if it’s worth it. Me too’ Cassie declares. ‘I’m sorry to hear that’ Jocasta tells the Young Avengers as she overhears the two.

‘Oh! Jocasta, we didn’t see you there!’ Cassie exclaims. Jocasta asks the Young Avengers to come with her, as there is something she wants to show them. Entering another part of the lab, the Young Avengers are confronted with a rather large mass of machinery. ‘Whoa! What is that?’ Cassie asks. The new Vision exclaims that this is indescribable. ‘Most of my sensors are based on 40th century technology…and there’s science here I cannot being to comprehend!’ Jonas adds, turning to Jocasta.

Jocasta replies that, since his return to Earth, the construction of this machine has been Hank’s driving passion. ‘It can’t exist in our native dimension, only here in PymSpace. This is his masterpiece’ Jocasta exclaims. The Vision exclaims that it is beautiful and that they must protect it at all costs. ‘I knew you’d understand’ Jocasta replies, before Jonas asks if it has a name. ‘Salvation Two’ Jocasta reveals, while Stature leaves the room, unseen by either robot.

‘Wonderful. Now they’ve got Jonas on board’ Cassie thinks to herself as she makes her way through the lab, realizing that yet again she is the only one who has not drunk the kool-aid. ‘So, what now?’ she asks herself. Suddenly, Amadeus exclaims ‘You could always bolt and go back to your precious Young Avengers. That is what you’re thinking, isn’t it?’ Cho asks. ‘What’re you talking about?’ Cassie asks. Holding the Ant-Man helmet that he has been wearing of late, Amadeus tells Cassie that she is not dumb. ‘You have to have figured it out by now’ he remarks. ‘We’re going after the FF. The FF are in New York. The Young Avengers are in New York. As soon as the mission starts, what’s to stop you from running out on us?’ Cho asks.

Cassie replies that it is isn’t just that, and tells Cho that this feels wrong. ‘The Fantastic Four, they’re not just heroes. To me, they’re family. My Dad was in the Fantastic Four’ she reveals. ‘He was part of the world’s greatest super hero team. A lot of people forget that. But he was’. ‘Cass, about your Dad…’ Cho begins, holding the helmet up, he explains that the reason he was looking for her was to make sure that she is okay with this. Cho remarks that he has been wearing the helmet a lot, and if the plan works, he will have to wear it tomorrow as well. ‘Are you cool with that?’ he asks. ‘Totally. Hey, I’ve met the current Ant-Man. And that guy’s a tool’ Cassie remarks, telling Cho that she is happy someone like him is wearing the old Ant-Man helmet, because he is somebody she actually likes, which causes Cho to smile.

Soon, Amadeus whistles as he enters the workspace where Hank is tinkering with the image inducers, a clock tells him that he has just under six hours remaining. ‘What are you so happy about?’ Hank asks Amadeus. ‘Nothing’ the youngster replies. ‘I could do with that kind of nothing’ Hank tells him, remarking that he is on the clock and that he is about to brain-to-brain against the smartest man in the world. ‘Correction, Doc. I’ll be there too. Thanks to this helmet, we’ll be linked up’ Cho remarks, telling Pym ‘My brain’s got your brain’s back. And who’s Richards have in his think tank? Johnny Storm? C’mon. We’ve got ‘em beat!’

Pym smiles and thanks Amadeus, who yawns as he exclaims ‘Enough with this interminable waiting, Pym!’. Hercules adds that he, the Prince of Power craves battle - excitement - labors. ‘Fine. The wait’s over. Shut up’ Pym exclaims, throwing the inducer to Hercules.

Soon, on Yancy Street, inside the Grimm Youth Centre, the Thing is coaching some kids, ‘I wanna see some clobberin’!’ he tells them as the work out using punching bags. ‘That’s the stuff! Just remember, you gotta pound anything here on Yancy Street…you come in here and hit the bags for a while’. Suddenly, another youth approaches the Thing, ‘Mr Grimm! Mr Grimm! Get over here! You gotta see this!’ The Thing tells the kid that if one of his pals is hanging around with a water balloon - but the child replies ‘No, man. It’s your guys in the Fantastic Four…I think they need you!’ the kid exclaims.

The Thing goes outside, and sees the FF flare signal in the sky, and the pogo plane taking off without him. ‘Something’s going down at the Baxter Building!’ Ben remarks, making his way over there, he tells his teammates to hang on, as he is coming (not that they can hear him), when, suddenly, a voice booms: ‘You aren’t going anywhere!’ - it’s the Red Hulk, who steps in front of the Thing. ‘Aw, no! Not you - The Hulk?’ Thing exclaims, annoyed. ‘Or Red Hulk. Or Rulk. Or whatever you‘re calling yourself’. ‘Don’t worry about it. After today they’ll just call me that guy who killed the Thing!’ the Red Hulk replies.

‘You wanna fight? Fine by me! I’ve been dyin’ for a rematch with you, you big walking tomato!’ the Thing replies. ‘Oh, you’ll be dying, all right!’ the Red Hulk retorts. ‘Enough talk! It’s clobbering time!’ the Thing booms as the two behemoths rush toward each other, the Thing of course unaware that his opponent is actually Hercules in disguise. Hercules tells himself that the ruse is working, that Grimm is more than distracted - in fact, he is hell-bent on destruction. ‘Your plan is succeeding, Pym - assuming any of us lives through it!’ Hercules thinks to himself, inches away from clashing with the Thing….

Characters:
Hercules, Jocasta, Quicksilver, Stature, USAgent, Vision III, Wasp II (all Mighty Avengers)
Edwin Jarvis
Amadeus Cho

Human Torch II, Invisible Woman, Mister Fantastic, Thing (all Fantastic Four)
Franklin Richards
Valeria Richards

Ban-Luck (Agent of GRAMPA)

Civilians

In Flashback:
Wasp & Yellowjacket (both Avengers)
Goliath IV

Notes:
Jocasta severed the link from Pym’s lab to Earth in Mighty Avengers #24.

The Mighty Avengers joined the Global Reaction Agency (GRAMPA) in Mighty Avengers #24.

Bill Foster was killed in Civil War #4.

The Wasp died in Secret Invasion #8.

Captain America was murdered in Captain America (4th series) #25.

First appearance of Ban-Luck.

The Mighty Avengers joined GRAMPA in Mighty Avengers #24.

Stature’s father - Ant-Man II - hung around a lot with the Fantastic Four, first as their security consultant, and later active as Ant-Man II when Reed was believed dead, but his status as an official member is somewhat dubious.

The current, and third, Ant-Man is Eric O’Grady. Stature met him when they were both stationed at Camp Hammond as part of the Initiative. [Avengers: The Initiative #8]

Mighty Avengers #26 concludes this battle with the Fantastic Four, in which the Mighty Avengers finally take possession of the dimensional wave inducer, and Jocasta merges with Salvation Two, to become the team’s new HQ.

Issue Summary written by: Daytripper (Steven Bishop)


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