Marvel Tales: A New Kate Bishop Story by Kelly Thompson
Read a brand-new Hawkeye prose story with art by Stefano Caselli and VC's Joe Sabino!
Celebrated HAWKEYE writer Kelly Thompson has penned an all-new prose story starring the one and only Kate Bishop! Presented alongside new and exclusive art by Stefano Caselli with letters by VC's Joe Sabino, Marvel New Media presents "The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same."
Listen to the story—tune to time stamp 18:51—on the latest episode of This Week in Marvel right here!
“THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME”
A Kate Bishop Story
By Kelly Thompson
My neighbor across the street is trying to kill us all.
Okay, wait. We gotta go back further. Let’s see…where to start?
I broke my leg.
Actually, that’s inaccurate, Ladder Man broke my leg while I was doing super hero stuff during the pandemic. Oh yeah, the pandemic. Context. Stories have to have context. So let’s go further back. This is the last time, I promise.
Nobody ever expected this to happen. I mean, we were all waiting for the apocalypse of course... a zombie one, a nuclear winter one, even a sharknado one…but the one where you have to stay home for months on end by yourself and watch your life and loved ones slip away either metaphorically or literally or both? Yeah, nobody wrote stories about that. You know why? Because it sucks. And it’s boring. And nobody would sign up for it! I would fight a thousand zombie hordes before I’d be trapped in this uncertainty again. But we do what we have to do for the safety of ourselves and others. Even when the ask is huge. Even when the ask is weird.
And I am who I am, so I wanted to do more, I wanted to help. Heck, I needed to help, it might be compulsive, but let’s put a pin in that for now.
Annnnnnyway, while I’m someone with some very particular and impressive skills, I’m not skilled at everything. In fact, I’m bad at a lot.
The masks I tried to sew? They were bad. Very very bad.
The website I tried to build for Ramone to help her surf shop get through the shutdown? She fired me. Do you know how bad a website has to be to get your best friend—who is not paying you—to fire you? Yeah. It was that bad.
I did successfully donate blood, but there’s only so much blood you can donate, and only so many cookies you can eat. Well, okay, you can probably eat infinite cookies, and have a great time doing it, but not if you ever want to fit into your costume again. Like, a form-fitting costume with hip holes is not forgiving, people.
But it turns out—surprise surprise!—that Super Villains are not exactly great at following the rules. In fact, they see nothing but opportunity in times of crisis. So, yeah, Super Villain activity spiked real fast. Just in Venice Beach alone we were lousy with villains making trouble. I put up some personal bests as far as taking down jerks.
But…and here we get to the relevant leg bit. I was fighting Ladder Man and his ridiculous “stepstool minions” three days ago with Johnny and Ramone Watts, who most people know as Fuse and Alloy, brother and sister Super Heroes, who also happen to be two of my absolute favorite people on the planet. But I digress, Ladder Man, in a deeply Super Villain—deeply jerk move—broke my futzing leg. Small sidebar: he didn’t actually set my leg but I saw Doctor Mole at the hospital and that guy is just terrific, anyone that tells you he isn’t the best part of ‘The Mole Men of Los Angeles Reality Show’ is…well, they’re just plain wrong.
So. The Leg. Compound fracture. Healing time: 3 to 6 months. Total disaster.
And there we have it, after a solid little run of feeling like I was actually doing some good, I’m back to being stuck inside…can’t sew masks, can’t build websites, can’t donate blood, can’t donate money (did I mention I’m broke?), and can’t fight Super Villains. In fact, I’m more dependent than ever on the kindness of friends…and sometimes strangers…aka some guy that works in Ramone’s surf shop brought me a burrito today. Best burrito I’ve ever eaten. That man is a hero.
So I’m back to feeling useless. Or So. I. Thought.
Because the neighbor across the street from me is 100% a Super Villain and now I just have to convince Johnny that I’m right. This should go well. It starts when he finds that the floor by the window (and also his favorite jacket) are soaking wet.
“Kate, why is the floor all wet over here…and wait, what happened to my jacket?”
I wheel my seen-better-days wheelchair toward him, slightly sheepish, “Well. It’s a long story.”
“Ten words or less, please.”
“Ice arrow,” I say.
“All right. You can have more than ten words, explain.”
“I discovered that our neighbor across the street is a Super Villain, and in an attempt to expose him and thwart his evil plans I carved an arrow out of ice and shot it into his apartment.”
Johnny stares at me for a long moment, his mouth slightly open. “I have so many questions. Let’s start with why did you need an ice arrow? You have hundreds of arrows laying around, I am literally constantly getting stabbed by them.”
“Well, he’s got that huge window you see—with all those individual panes of glass. And I needed to break one of those panes…but I didn’t want there to be any evidence left behind that I had done that…so the ice arrow melts. Leaves nothing behind. Cool, right?”
“You learned this from a movie.” He says it. It’s not a question. I want to deny it but he knows me too well. Of course I learned it from a movie. He sighs, “I still don’t understand why it’s wet in here.”
“Well, carving an ice arrow is harder than you might think. A lot of trial and error.”
“Is that why you have eleventy billion Band-Aids on your hands?”
I forgot about the Band-Aids. I raise my hand, “Well, if you must know, some of them are from when I burned myself while making a grilled cheese sandwich earlier.”
“Okay, so you broke into this man’s house?”
I scrunch up my nose, “I feel like it’s more of a grey area than a clear break-in, but sure,” I shrug and shove a pair of binoculars at him, “Do me a favor though and take a good look.” Johnny raises the binoculars to his face and scans the villain’s apartment. A moment later he gasps and in excitement I do as well. “Did you see it!?”
He looks down at me, the binoculars still in his hands, “He has a whole huge closet full of …GASP!...toilet paper! DUN DUN DUN!” My smile fades. Johnny teases me, “Hoarding valuable supplies might make him a terrible member of his community, but I’m not sure it qualifies him as a Super Villain.”
I roll my eyes, “That’s not what you’re looking for dum-dum. Look again. To the left of the closet.”
Johnny scans again with the binoculars; I bump him, pushing the view left, “Left, I said!” After a long pause I can tell he’s found it, so I start babbling, “He’s got one of those creepy ‘Super Villain bulletin boards’ full of his plans—look there’s news articles, schematics, and notes all over…he’s even got little red strings connecting things!”
Johnny lowers the binoculars again, slowly this time. He looks over at me, expressionless and gesturing to the wall beside us, “You mean one of those crazy bulletin boards like this one of yours?”
I follow his gaze to my bulletin board and roll my eyes again, “Uh. That is clearly a crazy super hero bulletin board, not Super Villain. The differences are subtle but important.” His phone pings violently a few times and I try hard to talk over it, “For example my board has a bunch of low level thugs that I’m trying to tie to a bigger fish…whereas his board has the schematics of a local hospital, an insane number of articles on the pandemic, and--”
“Uh-huh,” he says unconvincingly while handing me back the binoculars, “Tell me this, Kate, if it’s really an evil bulletin board, why would he have it out in plain view…and with his shades wide open?”
I sit back in the chair, pleased with myself, “Well, you see, the bulletin board wasn’t visible. I saw just a peek of it last night when he was home looking at it…but then he covered it up with that drape when he left,” I gesture vaguely at the window and Fuse squints his eyes in that direction again. “And then this afternoon, after breaking the window pane with my first ice arrow, I used the second ice arrow to cut the cord to the drape. See how it’s fallen to the ground?”
Johnny squints at the apartment again, still not convinced. “So, you broke this man’s window and then wrecked some of his property because you saw the faintest hint of a Super Villain plan and--”
I interrupt him, waving my hands, “It doesn’t matter why I did it, I was right!”
Johnny glances down at his phone a finger raised that I should wait a moment. I huff out an impatient breath. When he’s done he looks at me. It’s a look full of kindness and compassion, but I can tell he doesn’t believe me. “Maybe he’s just a doctor, Kate.”
I frown deeply. “What doctor has a villain board, let alone schematics of his hospital?”
Johnny smiles at me as his phone keeps pinging, “We can talk more about this later but don’t do anything, okay?” He kisses me on the forehead and walks away from me.
“Wait! You’re leaving?” I roll after him, sliiiightly desperate.
Johnny turns back to me, “Kate. I know you’re going stir crazy in here, but you need to channel yourself in another direction, you already wrecked this guy’s window, don’t push it. It’s too easy for your imagination to run wild with this, but you gotta reign it in before you do something you can’t take back,” Johnny glances at his phone again, “I have to go deal with this horrible thing in Malibu, but I’ll be back soon, I promise.”
I sigh, defeated. And jealous that he gets to leave and deal with something horrible. I wish I could go deal with something horrible.
After the door closes I turn back to the apartment across the street, staring at his crazy villain board through my binoculars. “Guess I’ll just deal with something horrible from here,” I say to myself dramatically.
Four hours and six pop-tarts later I’m struggling to stay awake at my post by the window when my phone pings, jolting me back to full consciousness. A text from Johnny, sent…45 minutes ago!
JOHNNY: Maybe you’re right. It IS weird that a doctor would have schematics of his hospital. I’ll swing by his place on my way home and feel him out a bit. *heart emoji*
“Ahhhhh!” I scream and reach clumsily for the binoculars, which promptly fall off my lap, with my phone. As I reach for them, the light clicks on across the street. My villain is home. I click off my only light and stare. Johnny might need the binoculars, but my eyesight is as good as it gets, I’m a futzing Hawkeye after all. But my eyes are best when I’m holding a bow, so I raise it and nock an arrow for good measure.
Tracking my villain across his apartment feels so right…and also a little bit wrong. What if I am wrong?
My villain looks with a wrinkled brow at his bulletin board, now naked and exposed in his apartment. He moves to the fallen drape and picks it up, confused. He crouches down and touches his carpet—probably still a bit wet from my second melted ice arrow. The crease in his brow deepens and his eyes narrow. He finally clocks the broken windowpane. He comes to the window and examines it. And then he just looks out the window. Directly at my apartment. But it’s dark here and I don’t move. It’s not my first day.
He squints his eyes and it feels like he’s looking right through me. I don’t even breathe. He eventually turns his head and I exhale lightly. But I can’t help but gasp when I see him open his front door to reveal Johnny. Handsome and kind and just trying to do the right thing. A smile in his eyes since his mask covers the one surely on his mouth. Due to the mask I can’t read Johnny’s lips, a skill the other Hawkeye, Clint Barton, has taught me, but I imagine it’s something adorable and heroic, as is Johnny’s way.
The villain gestures him inside and it’s all I can do not to scream. Johnny, being the polite, and very strong guy that he is, goes inside, unafraid and trusting. Before he can even get all the way inside the villain slams a comically huge vase over his head. Johnny is down. I curse his kindness. He could have walked in there made of futzing vibranium…but he probably didn’t want to scare the guy, so he went in made of stupid, highly vulnerable, bones and blood.
Well, my villain has picked the wrong guy to hit from behind with a heavy object. As the villain rifles around in a cabinet (probably looking for something evil), I don’t even hesitate to fire my already nocked arrow. It slams into the fabric of his dress shirt and pins his shirt to the cabinet with a satisfying THWACK. He yells and I can hear it from here thanks to the broken window. He spins wildly trying to see who’s attacking him while also trying to wrench himself free of the cabinet.
As I nock another arrow he manages to spin out of his shirt. Now free, he moves as fast as he can to get away from the windows. I fire my second arrow. It’s not for him.
This arrow crashes violently through not just glass but some of the wood that holds the panes together. It’s a catastrophic structure failure and leaves a gaping open hole to his apartment. My villain looks up from under the arms he was using to protect himself, which is when I release my third arrow. It sails into his apartment almost happily and when it hits some of his cabinetry with a sharp ping it explodes into a hail of lights, temporarily blinding him.
My villain scrambles to his feet and I fire the fourth arrow. It hits him right in the chest. As intended. Safety Foam arrow has a harmless tip and then explodes into a sticky ..well…”safety foam” that—without help—he’ll still be struggling to get out of in three days. I watch for long seconds as my villain struggles and cusses and Johnny remains passed out on his floor. But Johnny is bleeding pretty badly. I pull another arrow and fire it across the street into the wall of the building. I anchor the other end in my apartment.
I grab my phone, re-secure my mask and with a considerable amount of effort heft myself, broken leg and all, out of my apartment window and onto the secured cabling line. Fortunately the villain’s apartment is slightly lower than mine, so with some painful but efficient scooching, I’m able to use my bow and slide down the line straight into my villain’s apartment. I bump up against his building with an impressive but painful thud and sort of half-toss myself off the line and into the apartment. I clear most of the glass. Ouch.
I crawl across the floor as my villain cusses at me and squirms. “Oh, just shut up!” I finally say as I inch past him in his slightly crunchy and slightly sticky safety foam prison. I get to Johnny and yank a towel down off the counter and press it to his bleeding head. He groans, I think, appreciatively.
I lay down next to Johnny, exhausted but pleased. I keep the towel pressed to his head and pull out my mobile phone and dial my very good friend that doesn’t think I’m annoying at all, Detective Rivera.
“Bishop. The world is in extreme crisis, make it fast.”
“I need you to come here…and bring an ambulance, I airdropped you my location.”
There’s a long pause, “This is across the street from your apartment. What have you done?”
“Saved the day, as per usual. I’m making a citizen’s arrest…or an off-duty Super Hero arrest—whatever, you can decide what the paperwork situation is—annnnyway, I am arresting this villain across the street from me that not only hit Johnny with a very heavy vase but also has detailed plans in his apartment about blowing up the hospital…apparently as a way of…” I roll my eyes and raise my voice, “…stopping the virus…is that right, sir?” My villain bangs his head lightly on the floor. He hates me.
Rivera sighs deeply on the other end, “Ambulance is on its way, Bishop. Walk me through the whole thing.”
“Well, you see, Rivera, it all began with this idea I had about ice arrows…”
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