by Joseph Harris and Javier Saltares
The end begins with our heroes doing their best to fight off a demon horde, while Dusk narrates, talking about how they've been through hell and just might come through the fight okay. Unfortunately, Mephisto is watching, and he has other ideas. More horde! Dusk is fighting, but there doesn't seem to be much she can do. The horde is absolutely huge. She realizes that someone has to take charge if they're going to survive, so she puts aside her fear and uses the power that she knows she has. Said power manifests itself as a big freakin' serpent, which goes "shrrrrrrrrpt" on the demons. This is followed by a massive "bleenk" that takes care of most of the horde and leaves Dusk standing in a crater. 'Bout time. While the other Slingers stare in amazement and Dusk looks like a badass, Mephisto still watches. . . .
The ground starts shaking again, and Mephisto pops up, saying that it's possible that he was mistaken about them. A crossroads sign pops up, much to Rico's dismay, and Mephisto offers the very tired kids a choice - a portal that leads directly back to Times Square. Prodigy is all for leaving, as is Ricochet, who even quotes the old "Gauntlet" arcade game, but Hornet knows that they can't just leave the Black Marvel's soul there. Man, some people are just far too good. Hornet takes off towards the giant green gem that the old guy's soul is trapped in, while Rico frets about him and Prodigy and Dusk are still set on leaving. Rico takes off for his friend, while Dusk teleports to a good vantage point and Prodigy agrees that they can't leave.
While Hornet gets beaten up by the horde, he urges Rico to save the Black Marvel. Ricochet is nearly traumatized by the whole thing, but quickly pulls himself together and throws his disc with the intent of ending everything. They all wait and watch in silence as the disc soars towards its mark . . . and harmlessly goes "dinkt" off the side of the crystal. Nice going, Rico. He refuses to give up, and charges towards the massive pillar of land that the crystal's on top of. He freezes, though, when Mephisto pops up behind him, taunting him, saying - literally - that he doesn't have a chance in Hell. Rico's brilliant response is to agree. He takes off the discs and mask, so that he's just Johnny again . . . and he can't hate the Black Marvel anymore.
While the beaten Hornet wonders what's going on, Ricochet talks about how he's glad that, after everything that's happened, that he can still spare a soul. Mephisto agrees with the merit of this, and tells him to choose which soul he will free. Naturally, Rico's confused, until his mother appears among the clouds of smoke. By the way, being dead apparently hasn't been good for her, as she was much more of a hottie in issue #9. But I digress. While Ricochet hesitates, Prodigy pulls him away, saying that it's all lies, which it is. He, too, renounces his hate for the old guy, and in doing so removes the cape. At Mephisto's taunt, Hornet agrees, and takes off the suit's gauntlets, saying that he now knows that he's strong without them.
As for Dusk . . . Mephisto offers her total knowledge of who she is, if she will bargain with him. She knows the others wouldn't stop her, but she also knows that he didn't give her her powers. She refuses, and another whirlwind thing starts up. The green gem thing that the Black Marvel's soul was trapped in breaks apart, and he goes free. As do the Slingers. Mephisto watches them leave, saying that he will always be watching. . . .
Back in Times Square, the Slingers head back up to the billboard that has been their base. They sit and talk for a long time - which, unfortunately, we don't get to listen to. Prodigy leaves to go back to his grandmother, after saying that he's sorry to everyone for the way he's been. He actually calls Johnny by name, which is cool. Dusk is the next to reluctantly leave. She talks about how she's going to start looking for the answers about who she is, now that she's no longer afraid. Hornet asks if he'll ever see her again, and she says that she hopes so just before she disappears. With only the two of them left, Rico talks to Hornet about how they're both still young, and have a lot of living left to do. But, to leave their mark, he has a can of spray paint. After a quick message, they talk about getting a real base if they ever take up the hero thing again, then plan to catch a ride on the roof of a bus to head home.
Finally, Johny breaks the fourth wall, and asks Eddie if he thinks we
readers had a good time too. I don't know if the voice that answers
is Eddie or Joseph Harris, but the answer is the same. The last thing
we see is the mark they left on the corner of the Marvels billboard: