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Psych Ward

Psych Ward: The Ultimates

In the wake of Ultimatum, those left alive struggle with their grief

By Tim Stevens

The following is an excerpted transcript of a group therapy session with Tony Stark (Iron Man), Steve Rogers (Captain America), Barbara Denton-Norris (Valkyrie), and Clint Barton (Hawkeye) focusing on grief management.

HAWKEYE: -my whole family. Dead. So why should I care if I die? Or anyone else does. Besides, Cap and Valkyrie told me there's an afterlife and they saw it. So...whatever. Can't be worse than here.

TIM STEVENS: And that provides you some comfort then? The idea that you may see your family again after you die?

HE: Comfort? Nah. I just don't care one way or another.

TS: Really? You've never thought about hurting yourself, about ending your own life, to be with them?

HE: What? No. I'm a soldier. If I die, I die with dignity.

TS: Have you thought much about that? About dying as a soldier?

HE: I mean...no. Not much. Everybody does, right? Guys?

VALKYRIE: Of course. It is a warrior's way. It is how my beloved Thor departed from here and how I will too.

TS: Mmm hmm. And does that appeal to you both.

V: Yes. Not now, but eventually. Yes. It is honorable.

TS: And you, Hawkeye?

HE: Me...I don't think about it at all. I'm here now. Next week, tomorrow, three hours from now...who cares? What happens, happens.

TS: So the increasingly unsafe behaviors? The unnecessary risks? The change in appearance? All just...coincidences of no significance?

HE: Look...think whatever you want. I don't care.

IRON MAN (checking his watch): Yes, I think you made your point. Something about not caring. When is this over? I have a figure skater and a curler waiting for me back home.

TS: I'm sorry?

Iron Man
IM: Oh, don't be. I know curling doesn't seem like a "sexy" sport on its face. But there's something about a woman on ice with a broom, you know?

TS: Be that as it may-wait...have you been drinking?

IM: Oh, most definitely.

TS: At nine in the morning?

IM: I...guess. In fairness to me though, it is really more of a "drinking still" thing than a "just recently started thing."

TS: Going forward, everyone here will attend this group sober. Understood?

IM: Sure, sure. I'm not planning on coming back, so that's fine with me.

V: What difference does it make if Tony drinks? Heroes should celebrate with mead and spirits. In Asgard, champions would always raise glass to commemorate victory.

TS: Uh-huh. About that, actually. Prior to Thor's passing, you and he were together. And, whereas you initially appeared to be but an in-shape woman with an interest in being a hero, you were suddenly a super-powered warrior astride a winged horse. What happened?

V: I don't understand....

TS: To put it another way: does Thor's passing affect your abilities in any way? Are you worried that it might.


TS: It's okay to be scared. Someone you loved was killed and it not only means you are without him, but that you may not be able to do what you once did.

V: That's not true!

TS: But you are still worried that it might be, aren't you?

V: I...perhaps.

TS: And you, Captain, sir? You haven't had an opportunity to speak yet.


TS: Just fine? I thought someone said earlier you were in a relationship with Janet Pym, the Wasp. Did her death affect you in any way?

CA: What do you think?

TS: I think it must have.

Captain America
CA: I'm not going to weep like a child if that's what you are looking for. Maybe that creep Pym would.

TS: I'm sorry.

CA: Pym. He was a monster to her when they were married and then...the city goes all pear-shaped and where is he? The Blob ate her. Ate her! And where was he? He could not even be a man for her when she needed him most!

TS: So you're angry?

CA: Of course I am!

TS: Because Pym wasn't there?

CA: Yes!

TS: You feel like she let him down...that he could have saved her if he was a better man?

CA: Son, are you sure you know what you are doing?

TS: I'd like to think so. But Pym was a creep, as you said. You, from what I've been told, beat him severely on one occasion and argued against him having any involvement with the Ultimates. So would you have expected him to be able to help her under any circumstances?

The Ultimates
CA: The meatball couldn't cut it.

TS: Exactly. You already thought he was a failure. And plenty of people were not there that day...plenty of people failed to save her. So why does Pym make you so angry when they don't?

CA (throws hand up, starts to stand): I told Fury this was a waste of our time!

TS: I'm sure you did. Before you leave though, let me ask you if it's possible that your failure to be there is what is making you so mad.

CA (turning back to the counselor): What did you just say to me?

TS: Sir, with all respect. Since you've come back, you have fought the Hulk to standstill, ended an alien invasion, and managed to beat a giant Hank Pym. Everyone looks to you as almost perfect and you know it. And you like it. But the one time you needed to be perfect, for someone you really cared about, you couldn't. You weren't there and she died.

CA: I WAS DEAD! I couldn't save her because I was dead! Pym was there!

TS: I know that. But I don't think you believe it. I think you feel responsible and you are lashing out at Py-

CA (moving towards the door): The only person I'm going to "lash out at" is you, fancy. I will bury you if I see you again

The New Ultimates
TS: No, you won't. Look, you are all very intimidating. Any of you could knock out all of my teeth without breaking a sweat. Even you probably could, Tony, with or without you armor. But, here, in this room, that does not matter. There will be no threats towards me or anyone else. You leave here before I say it is okay, I will tell Fury and he will put you in a deep dark hole.

IM: Now wait a-

TS: The fact is he wants a team to give people hope and before you guys can do that, you need to find hope yourselves. This, here, is to make sure that out there you can hold it together and remember the tragedies of the day of the flood without being overwhelmed by it.

HE: And we can't do that without you?

TS: From what I've seen here today? No. No you can't. You are all capable people but you've all been crushed by this. Until you can admit that, until you can confront that, you can't be heroes. And I think you know that. So, next week, we're going to try this all again. Now that you realize you can't bluff, drink, or threaten your way out of this, I hope it will be more productive.

Tim Stevens is a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant and Doctoral Intern at a college counseling center currently pursuing his Psy D. who has had experience working with those dealing with great losses from violent events.

Doctors Jeph Loeb and Frank Cho will observe the New Ultimates in the field on March 3. Please refer to file ULTIMATE COMICS NEW ULTIMATES #1 for their findings.


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Whoa. I thought I had problems. But they are less stable than I thought.


Great doc can't wait for the next check up


I have to say, I really like the psych ward columns that Marvels web site publishes, the Ultimates profile was a really good read. Next "session" has to be with some of the cast from Avengers:The Initiative (Trauma would be a good character profile, Diamondback as well, to say that Diamondback has a lot of issues, and is deeply troubled would be an understatement ) I think Tim Stevens could make that work.