Appearing in "The Fire at Heaven's Gate!"
Synopsis for "The Fire at Heaven's Gate!"
A medical team arrives at the Defenders’ headquarters to take care of the frozen Angel and Valkyrie, who were poisoned by Manslaughter. Meanwhile, in nearby Elijah, New Mexico, Sheriff Garvin Macken stops at Tex’s Tavern, where some of the locals are discussing the stories that Warren Worthington is harboring mutants at his Aerie. One of the men shows off his own “super power”—being invulnerable to fire—which is why he’s called “Blowtorch Brand.” The Defenders bring Manslaughter into town to turn him over to the Sheriff, who asks if they are empowered to make an arrest or if they read Manslaughter his rights. Suddenly, Tex comes running to tell the Sheriff that Brand is trying to burn down his tavern. Moondragon and Cloud confront Brand, who has set both the tavern and himself ablaze, and Cloud smothers his flames with her cloud-form. The Sheriff takes Brand into custody and receives a phone call from General Argyle Fist to hold onto Manslaughter until his men come from Washington to pick him up. Back at headquarters, Angel discusses the future of the New Defenders with the Beast, pointing out that the group has no security system, medical facility, or legal status. Angel proposes that the team needs a real leader who can take of these things. Back in town, Brand is bailed out of jail by a wealthy factory owner who employs Mexicans illegally to make bootleg designer jeans. There is a rumor that Immigration and the FIC are going to investigate the factory, so the owner hires Brand to burn it down. The Sheriff calls for the Defenders when the factory workers are trapped inside during the fire. Entering the building, the Defenders find that Brand is holding the workers prisoner while the factory burns down. Cloud tries to smother him again, but Brand uses an actual blowtorch against her, which causes her pain. Angel flies her to safety, while Valkyrie disarms Brand, and Iceman creates an ice slide for the workers to escape. When the Sheriff learns that there are two more workers trapped inside, he rushes into the building to rescue them. Angel tries to stop Macken, but Valkyrie holds him back, saying all is as it should be. The Sheriff emerges from the fire with the two workers, but he has inhaled too much smoke and is near death. Valkyrie wraps him up in her cape and vanishes with him. When she returns, the other Defenders are surprised, but she reminds them that a Valkyrie’s job is to escort the souls of worthy mortals to Valhalla.
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