Issue Date: September 2011
Story Title: Fear Itself, chapter 2: A God-awful small affair
Staff: Christos Gage (writer), Tom Raney (penciler), Andrew Hennessy (inker), Jeromy Cox (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Billy Tan & Leonardo Olea (cover artists), John Denning (assistant editor), Bill Rosemann (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
In Dubai, old enemies Giant-Man and the Absorbing Man fight at giant-size over the city. Creel is tougher than ever before but Hank doesn’t give up the fight. Meanwhile, Titania battles with Justice and manages to overcome him. Fortunately, Quicksilver arrives before she can kill him and distracts her long enough for him to get to safety. Hank then has the idea to get the two villains away from them so he can get back to his students in Washington. He creates a doorway out of three skyscrapers and has Jocasta open a dimensional portal between them. The two villains are sucked through it, but Hank is too tired to continue to the capital and collapses into the sea. Meanwhile, over in Washington, the students are on civilian duty. Veil spots a little girl whose mom is trapped inside a building. Veil uses some of the skills she’s learned at the academy to keep the mom calm and manages to get her free of the collapsing building. Unfortunately, one of Sin’s robots kills her as soon as she and her daughter are reunited. Veil is furious and, in her fury, she kills the robot’s pilot.
Giant-Man and the Absorbing Man, both at giant-size, are going at it hammer and tongs. Overhead, Justice and Titania duke it out whilst Quicksilver uses his speed to try and get civilians to safety. Creel taunts Hank Pym, daring him to send him back to the dimension where gods live, because that’s where he belongs now. “I am a God!”
Titania is furious with Justice and she slams him to the ground, only for him to erect a protective forcefield to try and keep her at bay. She asks what he’s done to her lover, exclaiming that their love is epic. It began before time. Even when the false all-father Odin erased them from memory, it still burned as only a deity’s can. She hammers the forcefield which wobbles Justice’s resolve, adding that they are now reborn to spread the Serpent’s gospel of terror. Yet, the mortal within her lover rises to the fore. His speech and his manners all changed when he laid eyes on him!
Justice replies that last time he fought Giant-Man he reduced Creel to a blubbering mess. “Sacrilege!” she snaps back at him. “Fear is our weapon! Not our weakness!” Another blow actually manages to break through the forcefield, leaving Justice totally vulnerable. She raises her hammer high above her head and tells him he should have seen Greithoth eons ago. He was magnificent and he shall be again when she sanctifies their passion with his blood
Just as she is about to strike, Quicksilver arrives and runs around her in a circle incredibly quickly. He notes that she is from the same race as Thor, possessing the bodies of these criminals. He wishes to see if those bodies can breathe when he replaces her air with a vacuum. She smashes the ground beneath her, sending a shockwave out which topples Pietro. She assures him that their bodies do not need to breathe and soon, neither will his.
Meanwhile, Giant-Man tells Creel that whether he’s a god or a devil, he doesn’t care. Because of him, his students are fighting a war alone. All he is to Hank is someone he has to smash through to get to them. He lifts Creel above his head but then realizes that something’s wrong. Creel smiles. He then informs Hank that he’s absorbed his powers and will just keep on growing and Hank can’t drop him without crushing half the city. He tells him he’s not just tougher like this… he’s smarter.
He then manages to wriggle free and knocks Giant-Man off-balance. He informs him that he has a hammer like Thor’s He wraps his chain around him which pins the hammer to Hank’s chest. “Which means no one but me can hold it up.” Hank drops to the ground, helpless. Hank gets around the problem by shrinking down to Ant-Man size and slipping through the links. He then talks himself into pulling himself together. He reckons a smarter Absorbing Man is still just a notch above imbecile. He should make him focus on him and maybe he’ll forget about levelling the whole city.
His thoughts are cut short when he hears a series of massive crashes. He looks round and realizes that Creel has demolished an entire building. Hank figures the loss of life will be in the thousands. Creel gloats that just by having Hank Pym there helps him win. Hank knows that he’s right. Every second this goes on is mass murder. He needs to take him away from people, but because of his scale how can he possibly do that?
The Absorbing Man stands there with his arms outstretched looking skywards. He states that this is what it was like in the Serpent’s day - giants fighting in the sky whilst soft humans cowered in caves, feeding the Serpent with fear. Watching him, Hank gets an idea. Remembering that he saw Quicksilver evacuate a nearby skyscraper, he hopes it holds together and he can goad Creel into charging him. He yanks the top half of the burning building from the lower half and places it across two other buildings. Sure enough, the Absorbing Man charges at him as he stands on the other side.
As soon as he reaches the building, Hank calls Jocasta and asks her to activate a dimensional door. The three buildings act as a gate and a door is opened to another icy dimension. Creel realizes what’s going on and struggles against the suction created by the portal. As Titania hammers Quicksilver, Hank reckons that the power of the wind sucking him in at that altitude is like explosive decompression. He’s confident it will work. However, Creel reaches back into this dimension and asks Titania to give him some sugar. She smiles and tells him that he is still magnificent. She takes to the air as Hank wonders what’s going on. Titania flies towards Creel and smashes her hammer against his. The shockwave knocks Giant-Man and the buildings over, but as he falls he sees them both disappear through the portal. He reckons it’ll give them some time but they’ll be back. His thoughts turn to the students, but he is so weakened by his efforts that he collapses and falls into the sea, lying flat on his back unconscious.
(Washington D. C.)
Meanwhile, the students are under attack by Sin and her tech legion. They are on civilian evacuation duty, trying to get people to safety whilst the senior Avengers fight the battle. Veil notices a little girl all alone standing in the line of fire. She calls her to get away from there but then sees the wall collapse behind her. She hurries over and grabs her, turning to mist as the bricks tumble down. Luckily the girl isn’t hurt. Veil materializes and assures her that she’s one of the good guys and that she has to get her out of there. She asks where her mom is. The girl points back inside the crumbling building. “Will you get her?” she asks. Veil looks at the devastation and doesn’t really know what to say. She thinks for a moment before telling her that she will try.
Maddie turns into mist again and wonders why Giant-Man never taught them what to say in situations like this. Also, she wonders, why isn’t he there? She heads into the building, floating around in the darkness and thanks goodness when she finds the girl’s mother lying injured in the rubble. She asks if she can talk to her. The woman struggles to speak so Veil informs her that she has some ammonium carbonate, otherwise known as smelling salts. She apologizes but says she can’t get her out of there alone. Taking a whiff of the salts the woman sits up and shouts her daughter’s name. “Katie! My daughter… she was… I tried to throw her out…”
Veil tries to calm her down and informs her that her daughter is outside. The woman crosses her arms over her chest and says it hurts when she breathes. Veil tells her she’s probably broken some ribs. She asks her not to speak. The place isn’t stable. She explains that she was going to go for help but there’s no time. She has to get her out right now. The woman holds her arms, struggling as they move. Veil tells her that she knows it hurts but she has to do it… for Katie.
They soon come to the edge of the building and Veil offers reassuring words to keep Katie’s mom moving forward. She finds a large slab of concrete and thinks they’re almost there. Unfortunately, she needs to see what’s on the other side first. As she turns into mist, the mom asks her not to leave her, but Maddie tells her she’ll just be a second. After a quick recon she floats back inside and materializes. She informs the mom that it’s okay but they have to move fast. The support beam and the doorway are holding each other up but they’re starting to slip. She’s sorry, but she needs her.
The mom places her hands against the slab but she is frightened and says that she can’t do it. Veil tells her that she can. She should think of her daughter waiting on the other side for her. The mom renews her efforts and between them they manage to push the slab out of the way creating a small gap. The mom crawls through but as soon as she’s on the other side the whole thing crumbles. Luckily, Veil transforms and slots out safely as Katie is reunited with her mom.
Their joy is cut short, however, when one of the Nazi robots approaches and shoots the mom several times through the torso and hip. She falls and Katie is shocked. “Mommy?” she asks. Veil is equally shocked but her surprise turns quickly to anger. She transforms into mist and attacks the robot’s pilot. She gets inside his lungs, which causes him to gasp for breath, and stays there long enough until his heart stops beating. She then transforms back into her human form and lands next to Katie. The little girl looks up at her and Maddie is lost for words.
A medic then rushes towards them asking if the mom is hurt and if Maddie needs him to take Katie. Veil turns away and asks him to take her away, explaining that her mom is dead and she is in shock. “Get her somewhere safe.” As Katie is carried away, she looks back at Maddie who can only say, “I’m sorry,” before bursting into tears.
Finesse, Mettle, Reptil, Striker and Veil (all students)
Giant-Man, Justice, Quicksilver (all teachers)
Absorbing Man (Greithoth)
Washington civilians including Katie and her mom
Hazmat doesn’t appear in this story.
Issue Summary written by: Fantomex