Tag Archives: The Avengers

Days of Thunder– February 1965: The Avengers #13

The Mighty Avengers Trapped In… “The Castle of Count Nefaria”

Rather Exceptional Story by: Stan Lee/ Somewhat Distinctive Art by: Don Heck/ Fairly Compelling Inking by: Dick Ayers/ Moderately Clear Lettering by: Artie Simek

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In the past few months the Avengers have faced threats such as the Mole Man, leader of a race of subterranean monsters and Robo Spidey, an evil robot Spider-Man. This month they are focusing their attention on people stealing fur coats from the back of trucks.

The Avengers have been putting a big dent into the operations of the Maggia, which is a worldwide crime cartel not unlike the Mafia. The leader of the local Maggia operations is a wealthy European noble named Count Nefaria. I know I am profiling but if you meet a man named “Count Nefaria” you can safely assume that he is a supervillain.

Nefaria has a quirky policy of never directly harming his enemies, apparently out of a belief that this insulates him from prosecution. In order to indirectly deal with the Avengers, he pays to have his castle moved brick-by-brick to New Jersey. Once the castle has been relocated, he invites the Avengers to visit his castle for a charity event. Once they arrive, he captures them in time transcender beams and scans their bodies, allowing him to create three dimensional images of the team.

With the Avengers still transcending time, he sends his holographic duplicates to the Pentagon, where they claim that they are taking control of the country. As Fake Giant Man puts it, “Within one hour we shall cancel all existing laws and issue our own!”

The President refuses to be cowed. He mobilizes all available armed forces to combat the Avengers. He also declares martial law for the duration of this State of Emergency. The newspapers tell readers to shoot the Avengers on sight, while posters are posted with the following message: “Wanted! Dead or alive: The Avengers! Warning: They are armed with the most awesome powers known to man!”

Nefaria then releases the Avengers from their transcendance. Upon leaving the castle they are immediately attacked by both the Army and the Air Force. The Avengers are forced to retreat so that they do not harm their military assailants.

They finally figure out that Count Nefaria was up to no good, and they turn the fight to him, eventually tricking him into confessing his duplicity in front of an Army General. It appears that the Count will be deported.  The Avengers reputation is seemingly restored.

First Appearance: Count Nefaria, The Maggia

Days of Thunder – January 1965: Journey Into Mystery with The Mighty Thor #112

The Mighty Thor Battles the Incredible Hulk!

A Stan Lee – Jack Kirby Marvel Masterwork! Inking by Chic Stone * Lettering by S. Rosen

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Thor happens upon an unruly pack of youngsters arguing amongst themselves over who is stronger: the Mighty Thor or the Incredible Hulk. Thor can deduce that this is the topic of debate because they are snarling at each other as if they are about to come to blows while each side brandishes giant wooden signs shaped like the heads of the respective nominees.  It is an amazing tableau.

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Thor sits down with the youths and tells them of the time he battled the Hulk, specifically in the pages of The Avengers #3. Not much of interest happened in that issue, but apparently, between panels, there was a thirteen page fight between Thor and Hulk.

The end result of the fight ends up being inconclusive.

Days of Thunder – November 1964: The Avengers #10

“The Avengers Break Up!”
Story superbly written by: Stan Lee/ Art adorably drawn by: Don Heck/ Inked by darlin’ Dick Ayers/ Lettered by stalwart Sam Rosen

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Once again Zemo, The Enchantress and The Executioner are deliberating on how to destroy the Avengers when the Enchantress receives a mental probe from another time. Using that mental connection as a beacon, Immortus, Master of Time appears before them. Immortus is the ruler of Limbo and he has decided to throw his lot in with this crew as part of his larger goal of conquering the 20th century.

Immortus uses his Time Mastery to attack the Avengers by summoning various historical warriors. He enlists Attila the Hun, Goliath, Merlin the Magician, Hercules, and Paul Bunyan. This time-displaced Merlin is presumably from a point in time prior to when he meets Thor in in Journey Into Mystery #96, although curiously this Merlin has white hair and beard as opposed to the black haired one who tried to get a job working for JFK.

Each hero faces a different foe and Thor fights Hercules. Herc puts up a good fight, but Thor defeats his Greek opposite, who honorably yields when the fight is lost. In this story featuring Thor, Hercules, Paul Bunyan, and Goliath, it has now been established that the world that Thor lives in is a literary universe where several different mythological traditions are all treated as real.

The Avengers are more than a match for the villains even with their expanded historical roster.  When defeat is imminent, The Enchantress casts a spell around her, The Executioner, and Zemo that rewinds time to just before Immortus was about to make contact with their little cabal. She breaks contact with the Master of Time thus preventing this adventure to have happened anywhere but in the minds of the three of villains. Maybe Immortus will remember it too, since he is a time master but we are given no indication that this is the case.

First Appearance: Immortus, Attila the Hun, Goliath, Paul Bunyan

Days of Thunder – October 1964: The Avengers #9

“The Coming of the… Wonder Man!”
Sensationally Written by: Stan Lee/ Superbly Illustrated by Don Heck/ Selectively Inked by: Dick Ayers/ Sufficiently Lettered by Art Simek

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The previous issue of The Avengers had the team fighting a master of Space and Time named Kang the Conquer. It was light on the Asgardian action.

The Enchantress, The Executioner, and Baron Zemo have been trapped between the sixth and seventh dimension ever since Thor trapped them in a space warp (Avengers #7) The Enchantress now uses her sorcery to pull their ship back to Earth.

When they return, the three of them are determined to destroy the Avengers. I’m not sure why.   Zemo hates Captain America, but it almost seems like the Asgardians are simply going along with Zemo because they have nothing better to do while in exile.

These villains  find a guy with a grudge against Tony Stark, give him super powers, and make him pose as a superhero named Wonder Man so he can worm his way into joining the Avengers. Wonder Man discovers he likes being a hero and when the bad guys attack, he double-crosses the bad guys and dies in the ensuing fight, while the bad guys escape.

First Appearance: Wonder Man

Days of Thunder –September 1964: Journey Into Mystery with The Mighty Thor #108

The Mighty Thor! “At The Mercy of Loki, Prince of Evil”
Written by Stan Lee, The Idol of Millions! Illustrated by Jack Kirby, The Toast of the Town! Inked by Chic Stone, The Man of the Hour! Lettered by Art Simek, The Peoples Choice!

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Oh man, so much happens in this issue! It starts with Thor hitting the New York sidewalk with his hammer so hard and so precisely that a truck about to hit a child flies into the air, sailing safely over the child. Of course, this stunt does tons of property damage, but Thor tells a nearby cop that he will reimburse the city, not with his own money but with Tony Stark-provided Avengers money.  Then he flies off, assuming everything is cool.

Later, Thor finds Doctor Strange badly injured after barely winning a fight with some enemy of his named Mordo. Thor calls the hospital and fifteen minutes later, operates on Strange  as Doctor Blake, musing that it is only Thor’s unearthly knowledge that gives Blake the ability to save Doctor Strange through surgery.

It is at this crucial moment that Odin summons Thor to help him battle some unspecified enemy. Blake ignores the Allfather and completes the life-saving operation. Afterward, Strange makes it clear to Blake that his magic services are at the lame doctor’s disposal, should he ever need them.

Upon returning to his office, Blake meets an older man with a walking stick, complaining of leg pain. The man falls to the floor, knocking Blake’s stick out of his hand. Obviously this is a bit of sleight of hand, but well executed. After returning the wrong stick to Blake, the stranger stands up straight and tosses Blake’s cane out the window without even looking. It’s a total badass move.

The stranger is a disguised Loki, who had escaped Asgard while Odin was out fighting whoever it was he tried to get Thor to help him fight. Loki knocks out Jane with some “slumber mist”, punches Blake in the face, and runs away with the sleeping nurse in his arms.

Blake runs down the stairs to find his cane but it is slow painful going because running is not something Blake can actually do. By the time he reaches street level, the cane has vanished. In desperation, Blake telepathically reaches out to Odin but apparently Odin can only be reached by mental link while he is within the halls of Asgard and thus he does not hear Blake’s plea.

When Odin fails to bail out Blake, he immediately visits Doctor Strange to cash in that favor he is owed. Blake asks the sorcerer to help him find his walking stick and Strange uses his magic to do just that.

A vagrant has found the walking stick and is using it as a fishing pole. In a scene that surpasses the Peanut Gambit to become the all-time greatest Thor moment, Doctor Blake starts a fight with a hobo, trying to steal his fishing pole.

He would have lost that fight too, because he is a disabled weakling. but Doctor Strange pretends to be a ghost and scares away the pack of vagrants that Doctor Blake attacked. Once more in possession of his walking stick, Doctor Blake becomes Thor once again.

It is around this time that Odin returns to Asgard victorious. He puts on his Robe of Conquest and mentally contacts Thor. His success has lifted his spirits and he decides to cut that knucklehead son of his a break. However, Thor is pissed off that Odin failed to respond earlier, and he gives his all-powerful, wrathful father the kiss-off. Then the Avengers cameo and he tells them to take a hike also.

Thor is looking for Loki by himself.  All the gods of Asgard emit an aura of free-flowing electrons from their person, which can be detected by another immortal.   Oddly, In this case, it isn’t Thor himself that can detect Loki’s aura, it is his hammer that does the detecting.

It is an odd detail. Combine it with Loki’s special bond with the hammer and with the sixty second rule, and it seems like the real divinity lies not within the person of Thor, but in the hammer. There are interesting connotations at work here, poorly fleshed out and conjecture-heavy as they may be.

At any rate, Loki tries to block the electron-based detection, but Thor eventually finds him. They fight. Thor wins. Loki releases Jane from Limbo, where she had been held. Loki gets ready to fight some more, when an unnamed Asgardian appears through magic mist, grabbing Loki with an arm enchanted by Odin, dragging him back to Asgard. Thor and Odin make up, but even as they do, Thor is tending to Jane’s well-being to the frustration of his father.

First Appearance: slumber mist, The Uru Hammer’s ability to detect the aura of free-flowing electrons emitted by Asgardians

Days of Thunder– August 1964: The Avengers #7

The Mighty Avengers! “Their Darkest Hour!”
Magnificently written by: Stan Lee/ Majestically Illustrated by Jack Kirby Masterfully Inked by Chic Stone/ Meticulously Lettered by: Art Simek

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A lot has happened since we last checked in with the Avengers. The Hulk quit the team. A World War II-era superhero known as Captain America was revived from suspended animation and has joined the team. Iron Man and The Wasp have new costumes.  Ant-Man has developed a second identity as Giant Man, gaining the ability to grow large as well as as small.

The Avengers have fought an assortment of villains in the interim, including The Radio-Active Man, who apparently survived nuking China, and other Lava Men, but not the original Lava Man, who has learned to respect Thor and the surface world, and who is named Molto. They have also fought an old enemy of Captain America’s, a former Nazi named Baron Zemo with a purple woolen mask permanently glued to his face.

This issue starts with Odin exiling the Enchantress and the Executioner to Earth as punishment for attacking Thor a few months back. He seems to not realize or care that their attack was a direct result of his own orders to seduce Doctor Don Blake.  This hardly seems just.

On Earth, the Enchantress casts a spell on Thor temporarily making her will his own. Once he is enchanted, she compels him to drink deep of a special brew. He soon finds himself asleep, beset by horrible visions of his compatriots on the Avengers as horrible monsters, with only valiant Thor able to stop him.

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Thor awakens, convinced that the Avengers are pure evil! Thor fights Giant Man, Iron Man, and nominally the Wasp. He seems more powerful than the three of them combined, but they are likely pulling their punches. When asked for an explanation for his attack, Thor retorts “I shall do my explaining with my avenging hammer!”

Eventually Iron Man uses a blinding light to break the spell.

Meanwhile, the Executioner has been helping Baron Zemo fight Captain America because the Enchantress didn’t want him to harm Thor who she totally has the hots for. Their fight smashes into the existing fight and ultimately, as the three villains try to escape in a rocket, Thor uses his hammer to create an all-consuming space warp. None can say where a space warp will lead to, maybe a different city, maybe a different universe.

First Appearance: a space warp

Days of Thunder – February 1964: Journey Into Mystery #101

The Mighty Thor “The Return of Zarrko, The Tomorrow Man!”

Written by: Stan Lee/ Drawn by: Jack Kirby/ Inked by: G. Bell/ Lettered by S. Rosen

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After last issue, Thor is pissed! Stomping through the streets of New York, oblivious to damage he is causing, he is so angry, he has let the facade of hero drop. “Mortals! How like chattering Monkeys you are!!… Thor has had enough of you! I have lost interest in your puny, petty lives!”

The Avengers arrive, concerned that one of their own is rampaging through the city like a monster, just as Thor smashes a random motorist’s truck with his hammer. Thor yells at them, telling them to go mind their business. Iron Man convinces the others that Thor should be left alone, because I guess if you are an Avenger you get to smash whatever you want with a hammer, and Tony Stark will buy off the victims.

Meanwhile in Asgard, Loki convinces Odin that Thor being pissed, despite being ordered to forget Nurse Foster counts as disobedience. Odin angrily halves Thor’s power and banishes him from Asgard until such time as he gives up all thoughts of Jane.

Having successfully weakened his brother, Loki seeks the Norn Hag, commanding her to show him the Well of Centuries. He uses the Well to restore the memory of Zarrko, The Tomorrow Man.

Renewed, Zarrko uses his future technology to create an unstoppable robot. His plan is to take his powerful robot back to the 20th century, use it to steal weapons so that he can return to the 23rd century and use those weapons to take over the world.

Upon arriving in the past, the giant robot causes a ruckus, eventually attracting the attention of Doctor Don Blake who is just happy to have something to fight. However, with his powers halved, the robot kicks Thor’s butt.

Zarrko tells Thor that unless the thunder god agrees to come to the 23rd century and do Zarrko’s bidding, the robot will raze the 20th century planet of all life. Thor agrees to those terms. Odin, who has been watching from Asgard is disgusted with this act of surrender.

To be continued.

First Appearance: The Norn Hag, The Well of Centuries

Days of Thunder – September 1963: Avengers #1

“The Coming of the Avengers!”

Written by Stan Lee/ Drawn by Jack Kirby/ Inking by Dick Ayers

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The stories of Thor depicted in Journey Into Mystery have stood alone until this point. However, as of the publication of this comic magazine entitled  The Avengers, Thor becomes established as living in a overarching fictional universe shared by other heroic characters prominently featured in other comic periodicals published by what has come to be known as The Marvel Comics Group.

This story features several characters originating from other magazines. Ant-Man and The Wasp are two heroes capable of shrinking to the size of insects. Iron Man is a wealthy arms dealer wearing a transistor-powered suit of armor that secretly powers his crippled heart. The Hulk is mild mannered scientist that regularly transforms into a giant green tragic monster. Rick Jones and the Teen-Brigade are a bunch of teenage radio enthusiasts with affiliations with the Hulk. The Fantastic Four are the greatest superhero team of all time.

Despite the addition of all of these characters, this is essentially a Thor story. It begins when Loki tries to menace Thor by using Hulk as his catspaw. Follow the chain on Loki’s plan: In Asgard, Loki uses his magic to make the Hulk smash some things, which seems like the sort of thing that Hulk routinely does without divine intervention. In the Southwest, the newspaper reports that Hulk is at it again. Rick Jones reads about this in the paper and freaks out. He dispatches his Teen-Brigade to radio the Fantastic Four in New York, in case they haven’t read the paper. Loki diverts the message to Doctor Don Blake’s office radio but somehow it is also heard by Ant-Man, Wasp, and Iron Man, as well as the Fantastic Four. Mr Fantastic blows off the news, but all the other heroes show up.

Thor assumes that this must be the work of Loki because basically everything that happens to him is either the work of Loki or communists, so he heads to Asgard to confront his brother. He fights his way through a gauntlet before confronting Loki, who ambushes him with his troll allies. The trolls are apparently the natural enemies of the gods, and have an unbreakable grip. Thor beats the trolls and Loki runs away but Thor uses his hammer to soak up the strong flow of magnetic currents which apparently is what the Trolls eat, snaring Loki who is apparently magnetic. This probably has something to do with the mental link Loki shares with Thor’s hammer, established in Journey Into Mystery #85

Meanwhile, the Hulk has been hiding in the circus and we the readers are treated to maybe my favorite image that Jack Kirby ever drew:

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The Hulk dressed as a sad clown, juggling a horse, elephant, and seal.
The heroes attack him in the middle of his act, surrounded by circusgoers. The Hulk, totally the wronged party, runs away.

As Hulk and his persecutors continue to fight, Thor returns to Earth with Loki to explain that this is the real bad guy of the story. Loki uses his magic to turn radioactive, but unfortunately for him, he happened to be standing on a trap door, which Ant-Man’s ants spring open, dropping him into a tank for storing radioactive waste.

Almost as an afterthought, the Wasp suggests that they form a team, which they do, Hulk inclusive. They call themselves the Avengers.

First Appearance: Trolls, The Avengers, Mechano