No going back part 3: Stray signals
Date of Publication
Comic Book Synopsis / Plot
We begin in a forest with some weird voices talking about starting a transmission and returning to their queen mother for her nectar. We might think the voices come from some insects until we see a stone tower.
Last issue Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier had to leave his cybernetic arm behind when the Thunderbolts rescued him from SHIELD. Now in their HQ Fixer has built him a replacement, with the TBolts' lightning symbol instead of the Russian star on the shoulder. Bucky finds it lighter, and gyros make his aim steadier. Also when his gun runs out of bullets he gets an automatic reload from within the arm. It has a built-in punch dagger and fire-burst. And it can be removed for upgrades or for special-purpose replacements.
Meanwhile Abner Jenkins/Mach-X has been showing Melissa Gold around the new HQ. Ex-TBolt Songbird helped them on the rescue mission and may be staying because that action has made her an outlaw..
Bucky explains the new team's raison d'etre to her. The original Nick Fury besides being head of SHIELD was also the Man On The Wall, defending Earth against threats from outside (as revealed in Original Sin). Before he died Fury passed the job on to Barnes (OS again). Later Bucky detected that SHIELD were using a Cosmic Cube Kobik (in Avengers Standoff) to imprison supercriminals. When that all fell apart he recruited some ex-TBolt escapees to join him in the MOTW job.
Bucky takes Melissa to another room where Erik Josten/Atlas is working out, and is glad to have his old friend back. Karla Sofen/Moonstone is also there and the women renew their enmity. (They were both together a long time in the team. They vied for leadership. And Moonstone tried to get Songbird killed.)
Bucky also introduces her to Kobik who is in the form of a little girl. Melissa and Kobik bond. Bucky says 1 of their jobs is to keep the 'girl' safe from SHIELD and other folks who want to use her. Erik says that Bucky and Fixer have them well hidden - Winter Soldier has years of experience keeping off the grid. But we see the Ghost (as we saw last issue) lurking in a shadow half-phased into the floor.
Fixer calls them together because he's detected an alien transmission. Everyone suits up for action, and Kobik wheedles her way onto the team. Moonstone has a coughing fit. Mach-X explains that Karla 'died' recently (#2).
The transmission site turns out to be the tower (which I think is a crashed spaceship) in the forest. But the team get trapped by an energised net that even Atlas can't break out of. Their captors are reptilian alien Zn'rx, including 1 in a War Machine-like armour. They are marooned on Earth and are trying to get in touch with their Queen Mother who will undoubtedly destroy all pathetic humans.
Fixer has heard enough and he just turns off the Zn'rx energy net. Then they all fight. Winter Soldier and Mach-X take on the armoured reptile while everyone else deals with the foot soldiers. Moonstone bristles as Songbird gives her a command/advice. Melissa gloats that Karla isn't in charge. Sofen retorts that at least the boss isn't Norman Osborn, and Gold has to agree with that.
The aliens are soon vanquished. The 'Bolts switch off the signal beacon and strip the spaceship of usable technology. They tie up the Zn'rx and leave them for SHIELD to take into custody.
Back at HQ the once more-than-friends Abner and Melissa catch up. Abe apologises for getting Melissa into this mess, but she thinks this is a better gig than she expected - according to SHIELD Bucky and co were terrorists. She'll hang around to see more. Abe thinks things are finally looking up.
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