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THE AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 117 (November 1973) Holocaust
The worldwide conflict between the Avengers and the Defenders continues this time around. It seems this multi-part crossover story was done at a time before such crossover “special events” were going on all the time, so readers from back then must have been blown away by all this.
Synopsis: This issue opens up in the Dark Dimension ruled by Dormammu, the flame-headed villain who – with help from the blinded Loki – manipulated the Defenders into trying to reassemble the scattered fragments of the Evil Eye of Avalon.
Dormammu is raging and ranting in his confusion over why the Avengers are opposing the Defenders in their efforts. The Lord of the Dark Dimension doesn’t know that Loki secretly manipulated the Avengers into becoming involved because he grew suspicious about whether Dormammu would really cure his blindness and share the power of the Evil Eye.
Loki feigns ignorance as he and Dormammu resume monitoring events from the Dark Dimension.
BATTLE FOUR: THE VALKYRIE VERSUS THE SWORDSMAN – The Avenger called the Swordsman has reached the Bolivian jungle in his Quin-Jet to search for his fragment of the Evil Eye of Avalon. The reader gets some character bits as Swordsy contemplates his checkered career on both sides of the law.
His respect for his lady-love Mantis and his gratitude toward her for getting him to go straight and rejoin the Avengers are prominently displayed as is his determination not to let down his fellow Avengers. In the sky over a castle apparently built by a Nazi war criminal who escaped to Bolivia the Quin-Jet is attacked by the Defender called the Valkyrie astride the Black Knight’s winged horse Aragorn.
The Valkyrie uses her massive super-strength and the indestructible sword she appropriated from the incapacitated Black Knight to bring down the Quin-Jet. The Swordsman lands the crippled aircraft just outside the castle and pursues the Valkyrie inside, assuming that must be where the Bolivian fragment of the Eye is being held.
NOTE: And it’s easy to see how Valkyrie’s casual appropriation of the Black Knight’s sword and flying horse added to the mistaken impression that the secret group called the Defenders had villainous motivations. It has a kind of “Guess ya won’t be needing THESE for awhile” feel to it with the Knight trapped in a stone form.
At any rate the new resident of the castle is a George Soros type of bloated rich pig quasi-fugitive with Nazi connections and a vast collection of stolen artwork and relics. The Bolivian fragment sought by Valkyrie and the Swordsman is part of his collection and the two super-beings fight over the item throughout the castle, causing a huge amount of damage, naturally.
In the end the fugitive billionaire shoots the Swordsman from behind when it looks like he’ll get away with the Eye fragment, part of his beloved collection. Valkyrie takes the segment of the Evil Eye and leaves as Bolivian authorities responding to reports of a flying horse and an Avengers Quin-Jet arrive. Those authorities get medical aid for the Swordsman and arrest the Vesco/Soros scumbag.
BATTLE FIVE: CAPTAIN AMERICA VERSUS THE SUB-MARINER – Cap from the Avengers and Subby from the Defenders do battle in Osaka, Japan for their fragment of the Evil Eye of Avalon. The significance of this matchup would have loomed large for Marvel Comics devotees.
Both super-heroes date back to the late 1930s (Sub-Mariner) and early 1940s (Captain America), when Marvel was called Timely Comics instead. Cap and Subby were two of their most successful Golden Age heroes along with the original Human Torch, who was really an android who could Flame On. (When Marvel returned to superheroes in the early 1960s they reused the name the Human Torch for Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four.)
In terms of verisimilitude the in-universe explanation for the two heroes still being healthy and vital was: a) Sub-Mariner (who came BEFORE DC’s Aquaman by the way), as the mutant offspring of a human and an Atlantean, had a much, much longer lifespan than normal human beings, and b) Captain America was in suspended animation in a block of ice for decades. As for the original Human Torch, as an android the possibility of his survival was always floating around.
Getting back to the action, 1973 was part of a several-year run where Captain America’s strength had been increased to about Spider-Man level so he did reasonably well against Sub-Mariner in their fight through the streets and beaches of Osaka despite Namor’s Hulk-level strength.
The clash between Marvel’s two Golden Age superstars was interrupted by the Japanese mutant superhero Sunfire. In 1975 Sunfire would very, VERY briefly join Chris Claremont’s “All-New, All-Different” X-Men team consisting of Wolverine, Storm and others.
Sunfire grabbed the Evil Eye segment for himself, assuming it was a native Japanese relic that the outsiders were stealing. As Cap and Subby pursued Sunfire their side-conversation led Cap to realize the Defenders were actually trying to use the Eye to return the Black Knight to normal and led Namor to realize the Avengers had been duped by Loki into thinking the Defenders were villains.
In the end Sunfire was defeated, then Captain America and the Sub-Mariner decided to call off their own battle to try to determine what was really going on with the Avengers/ Defenders War. With Cap in his Avengers Quin-Jet and Subby flying under his own power they left Osaka to do just that. +++
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