The Avengers' mission to subdue Normie Osborn--currently harboring the Venom symbiote--has gone off the rails in short order. Conflicts between the old and new Avengers have left them ineffective, a hex from the Scarlet Witch has turned Tony Stark's nameless bodyguard into an unstoppable killing machine, and Normie and Spider-Girl are the only ones left to face him. And you thought you wanted to be a super hero....
As Normie (who really needs to figure out a good superguy name) and Spider-Girl ponder their next move, Stark's bodyguard makes his. "Tony Stark must die!" Flying off in search of Stark, Spider-Girl hits him in the foot with a web and finds herself yanked along for the ride. Normie jumps on the bodyguard and gets in a few licks before the bodyguard blasts him off. Spider-Girl abandons her pursuit to save Normie, and the two regroup with the other Avengers. Setting aside their differences as a backup Mainframe arrives, the group of superheroes set out to stop Stark's bodyguard.
Back at Avengers HQ, Stinger demands to know who this bodyguard is. Stark confesses that he used to be Jim Rhodes. Long after Stark and Rhodes retired, Stark had built a "nanite agenda" designed to supercharge the human body in an effort to revive Scarlet Witch, who had been indisposed for many years. Stark meant to test it on himself, but Jim beat him to it. The nanites gave him enhanced power, but steadily took away his humanity. Now, Stark admits, he can disable the nanites in Rhodes' body, but the procedure might kill him. Realizing that Jim has grown too powerful, Stark realizes that only one person bears the responsibility for taking him down.
While this is happening, and while Agent Weadon's team of reformed supervillains is wondering where the hell Raptor is, Kaine is in an alley in south Brooklyn, fighting a group of Scriers in an attempt to discover what they want with Spider-Girl.
Meanwhile, the new Mainframe is the first Avenger to reach Rhodes. Rhodes accesses his system and shuts him down while the two are hovering high over New York City. The other Avengers plus Spider-Girl and her amazing friends finally corner Rhodes on a rooftop (did anyone bother to catch Mainframe?) and manage to briefly shock him into submission. The fight appears to be over for a brief second, until Rhodes revives and blasts everybody.
Suddenly, Iron Man bursts onto the scene and attacks Rhodes. Attempted to subdue him without resorting to the nanite shutdown procedure, Iron Man is quickly beaten. Spider-Girl knocks Rhodes off the roof, then asks Stark if he has any ideas. He hands her the nanite shutdown device, telling her that it might kill him. Not wanting to risk Jim Rhodes' life, Spider-Girl tries desperately to convince him to stand down. One of Rhodes' blasts hits a wall that crumbles on top of Moose's father, the fireman who was called to the scene earlier. May is distracted long enough for Rhodes to blast her and destroy the device. Stark is furious, but Normie wraps his head with the symbiote. "There must be another way to stop your former associate, and we can only assume it's locked within your egotistical little brain." Before Jim can finish off Spider-Girl, Normie envelopes him with the symbiote, then reaches out to grab a live wire. The resulting shock shuts down Jim Rhodes and gives Normie a serious jolt.
In the aftermath of the fight, Stark criticizes Spider-Girl for not responding to his orders, but thanks her for not killing Rhodes. The former Avengers decide they can best serve as teachers and mentors. J2 mentions that they came to arrest Normie, who reveals that Raptor has taken him into protective custody. The two walk away to rejoin Agent Weadon's team.
Finally in "a hidden temple on another continent," a female Scrier is training against several of her cohorts and kicking their pasty white butts a la Wilson Fisk. A messenger tells her that Kaine has been attacking their American comrades asking questions about Spider-Girl. The woman, called Raza, asks who Spider-Girl is, and the messenger doesn't know. "Assign one of our American brethren to learn of this Spider-Girl. Perhaps she can provide a lever that we can use to destroy Kaine."
Geez, Kaine, nice going! If you hadn't gone after the Scriers and opened your big yap those albino weirdos would have never even heard of Spider-Girl. For someone who's gone his own way for quite some time now, Kaine still has a bit of the ol' Parker luck left in him.
While we're on the subject of bad decisions, why is it that Stark is agonizing about using this nanite shutdown device on Jim Rhodes when all they had to do was give him a good hard zap? If that's all it took to take him down, why didn't Stark try that in the first place? What could have been a cool battle turns into a lot of wasted melodrama ("must I kill my friend?") as a result.
The stage is clearly being set for a Spider-Girl/Scriers showdown in or around issue #100. I would be more excited about that if I gave a rip about the Scriers. Ever since the Clone Saga it's been my opinion that the Scriers really should have been buried away and forgotten somewhere. Not only has the whole mystical bad-guy group thing been done before (remember the Hand?) I find it hard to believe that this was the original intention for the character of Scrier when he was following Judas Traveller around back in the mid-90s somewhere. It's hard to think of a more pointless group of baddies out there right now; seriously, what do these guys ever do besides dress like grim reaper wannabes? Ah, well. Maybe Tom DeFalco will manage to bring something good out of this.
Sucks to be Moose's dad. Something tells me Moose is going to be a little less understanding from here on out.
Overall, what could have been a really good issue suffers from an antagonist who wasn't quite as unstoppable as he thought and a protagonist who worries unnecessarily about having to kill him.
Disappointing. Two and one-half webs.