Avengers #460 "Peer Pressure"
- Avengers #460
Writer: Josh Greer
Editors: Hoang Thai & JM
Holder of Factoids: Kenn Beck
Webmaster & EIC: Liam Gibbs
Avengers Mansion: The Quarters of Eric Williams
I couldnt believe it was her when I turned to see who else was in the
room. I dont know why -- after everything shed put us through, not just
Simon and I, but the whole team, I shouldnt have -- but I almost felt
relieved that it was only her. Only Catherine. Only my little sister.
Only one of the laundry list that was the Avengers most wanted. A woman
that had dedicated herself to killing me as punishment for a lost family
fortune. A woman that hated me, and Simon, and everything we stood for.
Yet, somehow, I felt relieved. I couldnt say a word.
No hello for family, dear Eric? she said. Her voice was almost a hiss
when she spoke to me. I didnt know why she was here, or even how she got
in, but I wasnt entirely sure it was bad either.
You...you shouldnt be here, Catherine, was all I could manage. Even
that was shaky, at best. Growing up, Catherine and I might not have seen
eye to eye on everything, but compared to Simon, shed been a godsend.
Simon and I, as children, never hit it off. Never behaved like brothers.
Schoolmates, maybe. Friends by association. But never siblings. That was
a problem Catherine and I never had. We had our fights, like any brother
and sister would, but they were always quickly forgiven and forgotten. At
least, thats how it was when we were children.
But something changed when we got older. It was an unusual chain of
events, to say the least. Simon embezzling the family fortune -- or
taking the blame for it, at least. Then getting his powers from the late
Heinrich Zemo. Then dying. Then coming back to life and joining the
Avengers. Then my imbalance kicked into high gear and I became the Grim
Reaper. I found out I had another brother of sorts in the Vision, and
tried to kill both he and Simon. Then I died. And came back as a zombie.
And died again. And came back again. Then they found my imbalance, and I
was cured, and became an Avenger myself. (1)
Somewhere along that point, after Simon died the first or second time,
Catherine had a bit of a meltdown of her own. The one negative thing I
always said about her when we were growing up was that she was spoiled.
Daddys little girl, with all the perks therein. Everything she ever
wanted was handed to her on a silver platter. And she loved it. She got
used to it. And when Mom and Dad died, and all the money was gone, she
got angry. She put together some half-cocked plan to kill me and get her
revenge, but then Simon came back again. Thats when Catherine Williams
ended, and the Crimson Cowl began.
Why not? she asked. Cant I visit my own brother in prison?
Im not in jail, Catherine, I replied, trying to get a grip on the
stream of memories and thoughts running through my head. I already heard
the alarm announcement. I knew the team would be there in a minute or
two. I just had to keep her there long enough.
Of course you are, she replied, glancing around the room.
No, Catherine...this is my home.
I would hate to be the one to disappoint you, dear brother, but this
is as much a prison as the Vault or Rykers ever was. she answered. For
a second, she actually made sense. But that second quickly passed.
Youre out of your mind.
Common trait, wouldnt you say?
What do you want, Cowl, I answered. She was talking in circles. Just
like Ultron used to. And Nekra. And...father. It was starting to annoy
To break you out, of course.
I already told you, this is my home.
Is it really? she answered. The gleam in her eye wasnt hiding
anything. She was up to something, but I couldnt think clearly. Her
sudden appearance had me off my game. My head was clouded with memories
of everything she and Simon and I had been through. All the super-fights.
The money. The insanity. Is that why youve been rummaging this
cell...oh, Im sorry, your room for a half-hour looking for that tiny,
little, orange pill bottle of yours?
If I find it, Ill give you one, I answered with a smirk. You could
use a fistful.
Oh, Im perfectly sane, I assure you, she said with the same smirk. A
grin we both inherited from Dad. And so are you.
Catherine, I...I need to take my medication. If I dont, Ill--
Go crazy? Hurt someone? Or maybe act like yourself for once?
I was going to say Wind up like you.
Oh....that hurts, Eric. And after all Ive gone through just to help
Help me with what?
Be yourself. Help you regain your freedom. Help you let the Grim
Reaper live again!
Youre crazier than I am, Cat.
Think, Eric. Just think, she said, her tone sounded almost like
someone begging. It frightened me more than her normal tone did. The tone
I was used to hearing death threats from. Youve fought your whole life
for the family to be whole again, havent you? For Simon and even
that....robot...to work with you, rather than trying to stop you, right?
And thats happened, Catherine. Now youre the one on the outside of
Thats only what they want you to think, she snapped back. Theyre
responsible for this, Eric. Those...heroes. Responsible for tearing our
family apart. Responsible for making you into something youre so clearly
She was talking in circles again. I wanted to scream at her. Tell her
to get the hell out of my room, out of the mansion. I wanted to grab her
by the shoulders and throw her into the hall and hope maybe Marko would
step on her on his way through the Mansion and put us all out of our
misery. But something stopped me. Something in the back of my head that I
couldnt quite put a finger on. Something that continued to whisper to me
that maybe she was right.
Nothing to say, Eric?
I dont like repeating myself.
Good. Then just listen. Who was it that you thought stole your brother
away from you, Eric? That killed him when they could have saved him?
The Avengers. But--
Shhh. Just listen. And who was it that put his mind into
And who built Ultron?
And who was it that killed you? That left you in that zombie state for
Ultron to take advantage of?
The Avengers. Do you have a point?
And when you came back, who was it that called you crazy? Who was it
that forced you onto this....medication?
Dont you see, Eric? Everything youve done....every time youve tried
to bring us all together again, even that robot--
Vision. His name was Vision.
Even Vision, she answered, almost visibly shuddering to spit out his
name. It was the Avengers that stopped you. That stopped the Grim
Reaper! She stopped then as I glared at her. For a moment, she looked
confused, but she shook it off. Oh, poor, dear Eric. You cant see it,
See what? How completely insane youve gotten?
See that all this time....theyve beaten you down, and beaten you
down....and now, dear brother, they control you. I couldnt listen to
her anymore. I turned away, but she wrapped that damned cloak around me
and held me in place. Theyve turned Simon against us, Eric. They let
him die. They broke his spirit, and controlled him until he couldnt even
tell they had him anymore. And now.....now theyve done it to you, too.
Now theyve beaten you and broken you....and own you.
You...youre out of your mind, I said...but it was difficult to say.
The whisper in the back of my mind was getting louder. All the times I
tried to prove my love for my brother, whether I thought of Simon or
Vision as my true brother, it had always been the Avengers that stood
against me. Every time. Theyd defeated me at every turn. Beaten me no
matter who I aligned myself with. Every time. And now the medication...
No. No, they wouldnt do that. They wouldnt treat me that way. They
were my friends now. My family now. They wouldnt do that to me.
Cant you see, Eric? she said, pulling down the scarlet cowl that
gave her her name and staring at me with those soft, violet eyes. Cant
you see what theyve done to you? To our family? To Simon? I...I had to
take your pills, so you could see it. So you would listen. They treat you
like soldiers, Eric. Like little toy soldiers, thrown to the enemy as
fodder. Theyre hoping youll get hurt. That youll die. That something
will happen so they never have to deal with our family again. Cant you
Eric, who---you, Simon said, as the others hit the doorway , quickly
barging through and spilling into the Grim Reaper's room. Turning, Eric
Williams eyed his brother. Catherine quickly pulled her cowl back into
play, Eric doing the same. As his hand shifted into the long, sharp
scythe most were more used to seeing, he couldn't help but smile.
"Hello, Simon. Tell me," he continued, raising his arm and stepping
towards his brother. "Would you rather be first, or last?"
"What are you talking about?" Simon replied, his brain reeling at the
coldness he thought he saw in his brother's eye.
"To die, Simon. You're all going to die."
The Grim Reaper was back. And it was time for a reckoning.
[To Be Continued....]
1. The all-time briefest recap of the Williams family tree that started
to unfold for us waaaay back in RMUs Avengers #9.