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Overview

(Los Angeles, California)

Johnny Gallo (Ricochet) recounts what happened previously in an email to a dead friend (a former member of the Slingers, Eddie). For most of the email, he mentions how he, Spider-Woman and Darkhawk fought Nekra and a couple of MGH dealers, and how the three of them are hiding the fact that they used their powers from the rest of Excelsior. He feels guilty for lying to the group. He mentions that writing letters to a dead friend may be therapeutic, but it doesn't give him the advice he needs. Johnny ends the e-mail by saying he misses him.

(Los Angeles, California - night)

Johnny is in his apartment - images of Los Angeles, the City of Angels fly through his mind. Southland, Hollywood, the Hills. Forget dreams, Los Angeles is the city of fantasy. It's not about "What's Now!" It's about "What's Next?" Johnny feels LA is the place where people come to live the lives of their idols: "The Young and the Senseless". LA is a culture that breeds a certain mentality ... it's about discovering what's hot and finding it faster than anyone else. It's a way of life even reflected in the names of the movies they make: Heat. Speed. Boiling Point. And for someone like Johnny Gallo, a young, single guy who's all about being one step ahead of the game ... it's perfect. Slamming down upon his Guitar Hero guitar, Johnny roars "Thank you, Los Angeles!!" Fast and furious - that's how he rolls!

Or at least ... that's how he used to roll.

(Johnny's apartment, later)

Johnny, in his shirt and underwear, stands around his bare apartment and sighs, slowly lowering the guitar. Nowadays, things are a little different for him. Johnny is a mutant, who has decided not to use his powers anymore. He's got superhuman agility with amazing reflexes, and a handy-dandy "danger sense" that's suppose to warn him of ... danger. He picks up a flat, gold disc inscribed with an "R" - one of his Ricochet discs. He picks up his Ricochet costume, but slowly lowers it, after remembering how he was a teenage superhero, and how he and Excelsior had abandoned their powers after realizing how much problems came with their powers. While surfing the internet, he clicks upon a news story online - about Nekra. Apparently, Nekra was transferred to S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. Authorities are still searching for the heroes who stopped her. Johnny reads on, all the while thinking of what type of help he could be doing, if only he hadn't abandoned his power. He thinks about how they justify their actions by telling themselves that they sometimes need to put the costumes back on for the Greator Good. But, bitterly, he realizes the truth: sometimes, their inner demons get the better of them. Sometimes, their powers become an addiction. That's why they attend the meetings, and say what they think they want to hear ... just to make it easier to look at themselves in the mirror when the masks come off. He looks at the back of the Ricochet disk, and sees his solemn reflection staring back. He decides to attend these meetings, for the right reasons ...

(Molly's Irish Pub - the next morning)

Johnny sits with Mattie (Spider-Woman) and Chris (Darkhawk). Chris asks him what's so important that can't wait until after the meeting. Before Johnny answers, Mattie points out Johnny has a crush on the cute readhead owner of the pub. Chris laughs at this, although Johnny remains solemn. Johnny tells the other two he plans to tell the rest of Excelsior about how he, Mattie and Chris stopped Nekra. Predictably, the other two are outraged, though Johnny feels he wants to bring them into the loop. Chris, however, says they did promise Mattie they'd give her time to dig deeper into the MGH operations. Johnny counteracts by saying they shouldn't wait; they have information, and they should act upon it. Mattie, however points out it is criminal information.

Johnny becomes agitated, and explains that since the three of them stopped Nekra and the MGH operations, they're probably closing up their operations to relocate. Johnny wonders if what they read in their lab was true; not only are they paying top dollar to doners for DNA to make this drug, but they may also be holding others hostage and taking it by force. Chris feels the whole operation may be a trap to lure heroes in, but Mattie begs Johnny not to tell - she wants him to lay off for a couple more days while she researches ways to stop the dealers. Johnny finally gives in, and sarcastically apologizes - he says he mistook her for someone who cared. Rolling his eyes at her, he remarks sardonically that she even had him fooled with that MGH 'sob story' of hers.

Mattie snaps. Holding Johnny angrily by his shirt, she growls about how he wakes up feeling self-righteous and how he feels he has the right to judge her. While Chris holds Mattie back from a shocked Johnny, she continues with her tirade, saying that Johnny isn't fooling anyone. She knows exactly what this is all about. She says she knows the only reason Johnny really wants to tell the group about how they stopped big, bad Nekra is because he thinks Julie will be impressed enough to jump into bed with him. Backing off, she tells Johnny if he wants to really tell the group, fine; but at least when he does it, he does it because he believes in it - not because he's looking for a little action. She then storms out the pub. Chris gives Johnny an odd look, and asks if what Mattie said was actually true. Johnny doesn't answer the question, but asks Chris about what he thinks. Chris suggests they continue to keep the secret to themselves, and give Mattie the time she needs. But, even after Chris leaves, Johnny stares at his reflection in the Ricochet disc, wondering if it's really a good deed.

(The Holy Trinity Church - later that evening)

Excelsior sit around in a circle, silently. Chris, Mattie and Johnny are awkwardly staring off in different directions. Phil (Green Goblin) notices, and remarks about how "talkative" they are. Standing up, Phil decides to talk about Nekra and the 'mystery heroes' that stopped her. Chris, Mattie and Johnny's heads snap up, immediatley thinking that Phil has figured it out, but it turns out he hasn't. Given the situation in New York for the past few months (the Civil War) it makes sense that heroes and villains have moved to Los Angeles. While this is also a concern, it can be an opportunity as well - not only is this an opportunity to test Excelsior's main mission, but to also help other young heroes join them in putting their powered pasts behind them. They've accepted a pledge and made a promise that helped their transition into a more normal life. Phil ponders about how there may be others who want to get out of the superhero game, and start afresh. That's why he wants them to join their "family". Phil then turns to Johnny and reminds him that this week, it's his turn to talk about his past. Johnny gets up, and re-introduces himself. Instead of talking about his past, he wants to talk about something along the lines of what Phil said. Johnny says he has a confession to make; Mattie and Chris, are tense, hoping that Johnny won't expose them.

Johnny reveals that he hates his life. He apologizes for saying it, but he feels that he doesn't think he's cut out for a so-called 'normal life.' He thought that was what he wanted, but now he's not sure. Does hiding who he is makes himself a better person? Johnny slowly informs the group that he never told them the real reason why he came out to LA.

(flashback)

Sighing, he reveals that back in New York, he got a friend of his killed. Memories immediately start running through his mind. Back when he used to run with the Slingers, his best friend was Eddie McDonough, who went by the name Hornet. He was the one who made him his throwing Ricochet discs. Even after the Slingers broke up, Eddie and Johnny still used to hang out, in and out of costume. As time went on though, both started to put their masks on for different reasons. Eddie loved being a hero. He felt it was their responsibility to continue in the work they started as the Slingers. Fighting crime, taking down bad guys, protecting the innocent ... Eddie was Hornet for the right reasons. Johnny, on the other hand, would fight crime and feel good knocking out a thug's teeth ... to save the damsel in distress. He loved the spotlight; his name on the news, the fame, and other benefits (him sleeping with the girls he saved). But after he started to lose some of the fame, he felt there was no point in putting the costume back on.

Eddie had done his best to try and motivate Johnny into going back into saving lives - Hornet and Ricochet, slinging again. He never took him up on the offer. Then one night, Eddie called Johnny and practically begged him for his help. He'd gotten wind of something big that would put both of them back on the map. Johnny, however, laughed and told him they'd be better off burning the map. He wished him luck and hung up, not knowing that would be the last thing he ever said to him. Eddie died a few hours later. He got killed going up against a threat he knew he couldn't handle (Wolverine)... but that was Eddie. He lived to protect the innocent. He died because Johnny turned his back on him.

(present)

Johnny lifts the Ricochet throwing disc Eddie had given him, and whispers his apology. The rest of Excelsior stare at the floor in silence. Johnny tells them he wanted to get away from the guilt and start fresh, and put his past behind him. When he hooked up with Excelsior, he couldn't believe his luck - he found other people whose lives were screwed up by their powers just as much as his was. And when they did put their costumes on (when Excelsior stopped Ultron) he felt happy. He thought he was doing Eddie proud. Johnny reveals that he loathes the fact they are hiding in a basement, denying who they are - he feels it is their responsibility to make the world a better place. Angry, he storms out the room. Although Mickey (Turbo) wants to stop him, Julie (Lightspeed) prevents her, reminding her that she jumped of a roof last week. Sometimes, you've got to fall a little on your own before you can pick yourself back up.

(Johnny's apartment - later that night)

Johnny sits in his dark apartment, morose. He stares around the room, where his Ricochet discs and outfits are lying upon the ground. Looking at the computer screen, he remembers about Nekra and the MGH dealer's operation. Finally, he makes his decision. Donning the outfit, he decides to go and stop them. He decides he does need some help, so he calls Mattie who rejects his call because she is still annoyed with him. He calls Chris, who also rejects the call because he is on a date ... with Mickey. As Chris picks up Mickey from her home, she asks if he's heard from Johnny. Chris looks down at the call he just rejected, and says he hasn't heard from him. He feels Johnny needs some time to himself.

Elsewhere, however, Ricochet stands outside the MGH dealer's new base of operations and realizes he's alone. Bitterly, he realizes this is how Hornet felt when he rejected him. Sneaking into the grounds, he secretly gloats about how Chris was wrong about it being a trap. But upon sneaking into the silent lab, he feels Chris may have been right. Johnny walks around the lab, and notices experimental pods all lined up with unconcious women in the water. Horrified, he stares as a pod with a scratches on it, but someone from behind him calls "I knew you'd come ... partner!"

Ricochet turns around and sees a woman carrying swords. The enraged lady attacks Ricochet in revenge, but a confused Ricochet attempts to defend himself. He tells her she must have mistaken him for someone else, but she reveals she came to LA after hearing he lived here. Ricochet finally gets it; she is Delilah, the crazy assassin that teamed up with ... the first Ricochet. He tells her he is the second Ricochet to wear this costume, a new an improved one - like Ricochet 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Delilah doesn't believe him, and Ricochet knows she only hears what she wants to hear. Taking out a Ricochet disc, he realizes that being a super hero is a lot like living in LA - it's not about "What's Now!", but about "What's Next?" It's about anticipating your opponent's moves before they even make them, and that's how your always one step ahead of the game. Ricochet throws the disc, and it crashes through the pod with the scratches. Delilah, confused, doesn't notice Ricochet behind her - he promptly knocks her out. At the same time, stepping out of the crashed experimental pod is the frightening mutant formerly known as Penence, of Generation X, now known as Hollow. Hollow flexes her long claws, glaring at Ricochet. Shocked, Ricochet steps back and realizes that their way of life can be reflected in the names of certain movies as well. Like Psycho. In Cold Blood. And even Death Wish.

Notes

  • The cover to this issue is an homage to the movie poster, Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
  • Young and the Restless are referenced Guitar Hero. The films Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, Heat, Speed, Boiling Point, Psycho, In Cold Blood and Death Wish.
  • Hornet's death happened when a possessed Wolverine went on a rampage in Wolverine (3rd series) #23, part of the "Enemy of the State" storyline.

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Lost a bit of momentum 0

This is where Loners has hit a snag. There is no question that either C.B. Cebulski is a living breathing Marvel Encyclopedia, or he does proper research on the characters he's writing (unlike some other writers). That should be a good thing, except for the fact that he is also smart enough to realize that most people are not going to know the origins of these obscure characters... so he has to explain a lot in this issue... way to much to the point that it's kinda boring.The concept for this se...

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