By Tim Stevens
The following is an excerpted transcript of a group therapy session with Steve Rogers, Brunnhilde (Valkyrie), Eric O'Grady (Ant-Man), Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), Doctor Henry McCoy (Beast), Jake Lockley (Moon Knight) and James Rhodes (War Machine). Final team member Richard Rider (Nova) is off planet and thus unavailable for this session.
VALKYRIE: No, no, no. You are still pronouncing it wrong. Brun-
TIM STEVENS: Maybe I can just call you Valkyrie?
V: If it will cease your butchering of my name, then so be it.
TS: Good, great. So, as I was explaining, Captain Rogers here arranged this because he thought this setting would be a good place for you all to
STEVE ROGERS: That's right. And I want to thank you all for doing this...both coming here and joining the team. The world is a scary place right now and Osborn did a lot to make it worse. We are going to change that, together.
TS: For our first session, I do not really have a question or theme in place. I thought instead we would just start with what it feels like to be here and to be a part of a team like this.
Long pause. Everyone shifts in their seat and avoids eye contact.
TS: This is a safe place. Everything said is confidential and the sooner you start to trust each other here, the more effective you will be in the field.
MOON KNIGHT: I don't like you.
ANT-MAN: Aw, man, no. I've been here before and he's a decent guy.
MK: He might be, but I don't trust people in his...profession.
TS: Right, yes. I heard you had an unfortunate encounter when you were invited to register.
MK: That wasn't me.
TS: But I thought...
MK: That was Spector. I'm not like that anymore.
TS: Spector? Right, yes, Marc Spector...one of your other aliases.
TS: And what do you mean when you say "identities?"
MK: I mean identities.
TS: Yes, thank you Doctor McCoy.
MK: I gave my answer.
TS: Well...okay. Perhaps as the group progresses you'll be more willing to share.
AM: I'm ready to share!
TS: Alright then, Eric, go ahead.
AM: This is just...crazy. I can't believe I'm here. It's such an honor. And dropping the "I'm an Avenger" line at bars is so going to-
SR: You can't tell people you're an Avenger.
AM: What? But the ladies will-
SR (slightly annoyed): I'm serious Eric. This is covert, we don't get to brag.
AM (quietly): I was serious, too...
BLACK WIDOW: No you are not. You are never serious.
AM: Hey, I'm not the one who was playing dress up the last time we were on a team together.
BW: It was hardl-
AM: By the way, I liked you blonde, but red is way more your color. I guess I could go without cruising on women if you'd bunk with me.
AM winks, V springs out of her chair.
TS (holding his hands between them): Okay, okay. Everyone please sit back down and take a moment to relax. This is a place to express our feelings, no matter their nature, but we cannot have any physical threats or attacks here, am I clear?
AM (slightly louder): I was just complimenting her.
TS: Be that as it may, Eric, can you see why Valkyrie did not care for what you said? Or why Natasha might not have liked it either?
AM (looking down): I guess...
TS: Good. Natasha and Valkyrie, can you understand that Eric did not mean to be insulting with what he said? Is his acknowledgement of being wrong enough for you or do you think he has to perform an overcorrection for the group.
V: I think he should be made to pay homage to Odin and wrap a rope 'round his neck until-
BW: No, Valkyrie, it is fine. He's hardly the first to lose his manners around me.
WM: Are we really doing this? I'm sorry Steve, you know I respect you and I'd follow you anywhere, but I did not sign up for some sort of corporate lesson on sexual harassment.
TS: Lieutenant Colonel Rhodes, with all due respect, this is a process. I can understand your frustration and I am sure you are not the only one who is frustrated, but group work takes time.
WM (more or less ignoring TS): Steve?
TS: Please, Captain, the group would love to hear from you.
SR: I am worried. I am worried about the world, about the damage that Osborn did...about where I belong. I've been gone before, "dead" before, but this is the first time I'm not sure I have a place to come back to. Espionage is not a natural fit for me...I've done it, for Nick, with the Invaders, but this seems different. And I'm worried about this team. I think you are all capable of greatness, whether or not you realize it. And I think you are all serious about being on this team, no matter how you act-
AM (whispering to no one in particular) Is he talking about me?
SR: -but I'm still not sure if you can work together. So I ask, am I right to be worried?
TS: What a perfect topic for next week! Fear, worries, and so on. Thank you Captain. Thanks to everyone else.
WM: Wait, hold on. We're done?
TS: 'Fraid so. Time for this session is up.
WM: But Steve just-
MK: I told you I didn't like him.
Doctors Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato will facilitate the next group session on June 30. Their notes will be available for review in the file SECRET AVENGERS #2.
Doctoral Candidate Tim Stevens is a Practicum Trainee at a Federal Correctional Institute and a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant
To find a comic shop near you, call 1-888-comicbook or visit www.comicshoplocator.com
Not a subscriber to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited yet? Join now!
Download episodes of "X-Men: Evolution", "Wolverine and the X-Men", "Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes", and "The Super Hero Squad Show" now on iTunes!
Check out the official Marvel Shop for your favorite Marvel Heroes!