STATE of The UNION!
The New Defenders drop Mad Dog and the Mutant Force off at SHIELD headquarters. When they ask Nick Fury about Cloud, Seraph, and Harridan, he has no knowledge of them and realizes that the “SHIELD agents” who picked them up must have worked for the Secret Empire. This means that, despite Fury’s best efforts, the Empire has managed to infiltrate SHIELD. As the Defenders head for home, both Angel and Iceman find their thoughts directed towards Moondragon. Back at SHIELD headquarters, a power failure leads to the escape of a specimen from Level L, where SHIELD scientists had been working to develop new super humans that would be loyal to the government. Meanwhile, the Defenders have a meeting to decide on a team leader, with both Valkyrie and Beast nominating themselves. An argument ensues, causing the Angel to fly off in a huff. Angel winds up running into the escapee from Level L—a gigantic man with childlike intellect called Leviathan—as do the rest of the Defenders when they go after Angel. Using teamwork, the Defenders manage to render Leviathan, and Fury arrives to take him back into SHIELD custody—only to find out that Mad Dog and the Mutant Force have escaped while this was going on.