“The Monstrous Master Plan of the Mandarin!”
Stan Lee lovingly lords over a Roy Thomas – Don Heck landmark of literary luminescence! Inked by George Bell! Lettered by Artie Simek!
Since we last checked in with the Avengers, Black Widow, a former red spy and girlfriend of Hawkeye, has informally joined the team, as has Hercules, who has been banished to Earth for a period of one year. Also, the Wasp has inherited a fortune, The Scarlett Witch and and Quicksilver have gotten power boosts, and The Enchantress has fallen in love with Hercules.
This issue’s story is a sprawling superhero epic where Thor and Iron Man pitch in to help the Avengers fight a veritable army of supervillains: the Enchantress, the Executioner, the Living Laser, Power Man, the Swordsman, and Ultimo, led by a Yellow Peril mastermind named the Mandarin.
There are a bunch of fights on different fronts. There is a great bit where Thor dives for his hammer as his sixty-second window closes, turns into Blake mid-air, smashes into the ground, rolls, grabs his stick and, stamps it to the ground in one fluid motion.
The story culminates in a showdown on the Mandarin’s secret privately-owned space station, powered by a four-foot-tall diamond. There is a fight that ends with the Mandarin being sucked out into the vacuum of space. Afterward the Avengers decide to blow up the space station, despite noting that it might have been “the stepping-stone to the stars.” As they rocket home, Thor and Iron Man agree that they need to make an effort to involve themselves with the Avengers more often.