by Joseph Harris and ChrisCross
It was a dark and stormy night. (hey, look at the first panel if you don't believe me.) The narration is from Ricochet, as he ponders what he's going to say to someone. We cut to a hospital, where the Black Marvel, out of costume of course, is in his bed and looking uncomfortable....okay, he's in a world of hurt. Some...thing asks him if he's in any pain as it walks through the curtains, mocking him by calling him a hero. Though the old guy says that the doctor was just there, the thing - it's got red, clawed hands, by the way - tells him that it's all going to be over soon. Said red thing then sucks the costumed soul out of the former Black Marvel's body. He dies.
Outside the hospital, Ricochet arrives, riding on the roof of an ambulance. He's still pondering, deciding what he wants to say to the Black Marvel. As he walks through the hospital, he thinks about how he hates the former hero, but said old guy was the only one who ever believed in him. Rico has a lot of questions, which remain unanswered when a nurse in forms him that the old guy died earlier that day. Ricochet's expression is priceless.
Back in wonderful New York, a tour bus is going through Times Square, with the guide talking about the great heroes that populate the city and directing everyone's attention to the billboard overhead. Naturally, Ricochet is there behind the billboard, pacing. He feels that this place is the closest he has to home. Hornet and Dusk show up, apparently early. There's a first. While they're less than thrilled at Rico's mood, Hornet offers him a nicely wrapped present. Inside the box is...new discs, complete with two strange-looking lights! Ricochet is at first less than thrilled, then wonders what's up with them when one starts beeping. Hornet knocks him back as the disc goes "kwa-foom." Dusk comments on how he should be surprised, and Rico fires back with his own surprise - his visit to the Black Marvel and the news of his death. Before they even have time to absorb this, Ricochet talks about getting something from Hornet's room, and Prodigy shows up on the edge of the building. He comments that they "must be hard to kill," and Dusk makes a sarcastic comment back. Unfortunately, the red thing that took the old man's soul is watching them on some kind of hell-o-vision, and sends a servant after them....
Just as Ricochet makes an attepmt to start the team to talking, the red thing comments on their potential for amusement, and Captain America's eyes light up on the billboard. Hornet and Prodigy realize something just happened, and Ricochet's danger sense is going off big time.... The demonic Cap flicks Ricochet off of the billboard as other evil images of the heroes come off. This is going to hurt their publicity. Rico makes sarcastic comments about the place they chose to meet at while Hornet flies him away, and they try to figure out just what is happening. Naturally, a few flying discs do nothing to the evil Captain, and Rico pounds on Hornet's helmet to get him to go faster. Unfortunatley, a toss of the famous shield sends them both to the ground, and they fly through a window while the tour guy tries to improvise. As Thing, Spider-Man, Mr. Fantastic, Beast, Human Torch and Captain America start to close in, the tour guide freaks out and bails.
Rico and Hornet, on the street, try to figure out what to do as the evil Human Torch starts burning stuff up. Hornet tries to attack him, but it does absolutely nothing. Prodigy, also on the street, makes a heroic declaration and promptly gets himself caught by the evil Mr. Fantastic. But, he's got the cape, as he says, and he breaks loose, only to get snagged by the evil Thing. This man picked a bad night to return. Ricochet, his danger-sense flaring all over the place, just barely dodges a mess of webbing from the evil Spider-Man. The only one still up by the billboard is the delightfully dark Dusk, who gets snagged by an evil red hand as she tries to teleport away. As she cries for help, Rico tosses two exploding discs at Spider-Man, who catches them and gets his hand blown off. This gives Ricochet the perfect opportunity to...get shot at with lasers and be plucked out of his jump by the evil Silver Surfer. Nice going, Rico. I hope you keep that promise for no more super-heroics. Hornet and Prodigy, captured by the Human Torch and the Thing, get pulled into the void that is the billboard, followed shortly by Ricochet. Oops.
The team spins through a meaningless void, and lands in what looks like the middle of a red desert with some truly evil-looking cactus thingies. Dusk points out what looks like some sort of huge green gem, with an image of the Black Marvel inside it. Uh-oh. As Ricochet questions where they are, a big evil guy - the one who stone the old guy's soul and has been watching the team, of course - tells them that they're in Mephisto's Realm and collapses the floor beneath them. Going down....