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AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 126 (August 1974) All the Sights and Sounds of Death
AVENGERS ROSTER: Thor (Donald Blake, MD), Iron Man (Tony Stark), Captain America (Steve Rogers), The Scarlet Witch (Wanda), The Black Panther (Prince T’Challa), The Vision (not applicable), The Swordsman (Jacques Duquesne) and MANTIS (Mantis Brandt).
ALL THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF DEATH
Synopsis: The exact amount of time between the last installment’s conclusion of the Thanos War and the beginning of this installment is another of those things that obsessive fans debate as they try to establish a timeline of Avengers stories.
In any event this issue starts out at Avengers Mansion in New York City. Inside, Mantis is watching her romantic partner the Swordsman battle some robots in the Avengers’ Training Room. The Swordsman is trying to show off for her because he is still smarting with insecurity over the way Mantis and the Vision seem to be growing more and more attracted to each other.
The various energy blasts from the Swordsman’s high-tech sword finish off the two remaining robots he’s fighting but Mantis still seems distracted. As they kiss it is obvious her thoughts are already turning toward the Vision.
The Vision himself is pondering his growing fears that his android brain may be malfunctioning. His panic attacks in Dormammu’s quicksand and Taurus’ pool combined with Ant-Man’s mysterious discovery in the Vision’s brain during the Kree-Skrull War all continue to hang in the air.
Meanwhile, the Vision’s romantic partner the Scarlet Witch, is still torn with her own fears that the Vision may leave her for Mantis. (Two women fighting over him? The Vision really IS fully functional.) Wanda ponders her recent arguments with the Vision and how he always makes the arguments out to be HER fault.
She views Mantis as being above-it-all, like the aloof and logical Vision himself is. The Scarlet Witch even admits to herself that she feels outclassed compared to the enigmatic Mantis. Instead of crying or anything like that, Wanda resolves to fight to hold onto the Vision.
Elsewhere in the mansion, Thor and Iron Man are having a heart-to-heart talk with Captain America. Cap is considering quitting being a superhero because of the stunning developments in his own comic book, developments that are irrelevant to this story. Tempers flare as Cap snaps at Thor for trying to talk him out of quitting but Iron Man plays peacemaker.
Meanwhile the Black Panther, alone in his quarters, contemplates his most recent communiques from his kingdom, Wakanda. His people keep imploring him to return to his homeland to deal more efficiently with the ongoing rebellion against his rule, as detailed in his own comic book at the time.
The Black Panther’s ruminations are interrupted by an official state visit to Avengers Mansion by Ambassador Ronald Pershing, from Marvel Comics’ fictional country called Rudyarda.
NOTE: Rudyarda – sometimes called Rudyardia – was a fictional stand-in for South Africa. See the rhythmic similarity between Rudyarda/ Rudyardia and Pretoria, one of South Africa’s major cities?
Back to the story: T’Challa and Ambassador Pershing exchange tense greetings, with Pershing even going so far as to refuse to shake hands with the Black Panther because he finds the touch of a black person distasteful. T’Challa and he rehash how he was arrested and jailed in Rudyarda for his skin color a few years back, until he was rescued by the Fantastic Four.
The Ambassador is making an official appeal for Avengers’ protection at Rudyarda’s embassy. Death threats have been followed up by embassy employees being burned to cinders, hinting at supervillain involvement.
Thor, Iron Man and Captain America are still incommunicado so the Black Panther consults with the Scarlet Witch, the Vision, the Swordsman and Mantis. Despite Pershing’s snootiness about dealing with an android and a couple mutants as well as a black man, the quintet agree to begin an investigation.
The five Avengers leave the mansion, led by the Ambassador as they all head for the official transport he has arranged. A loud sound is heard. Suddenly a crowd of onlookers PLUS the shocked Thor, Cap and Iron Man come running to see the other five Avengers and the Ambassador entrapped within a dome of solid sound generated by the Black Panther’s arch-enemy Klaw.
NOTE: Klaw – aka Ulysses Klaw – has been alluded to in various Marvel Cinematic Universe films, but in his human form, rather than the red solid-sound form he appears in here in this story. When the Black Panther first appeared in the 1960s (BEFORE the real life Black Panthers hate group) it was established that Ulysses Klaw was a Nazi whose unit invaded Wakanda during World War Two.
T’Challa’s father was killed by Klaw, following which the pre-teen T’Challa killed Klaw for revenge … or so it was thought. It turned out that Klaw’s proximity to a vibranium mound when T’Challa struck instead trapped Klaw in a red body made of solid sound. Mastery of sonic energy became the former Nazi’s supervillain power when he resurfaced in the 1960s and fought the Black Panther and the Fantastic Four.
Returning to the story: A “sound hologram” of a giant Klaw towers over the dome in which the Avengers and Pershing are trapped. Klaw’s new supervillain partner, Captain America’s mutant foe Solarr, is standing atop the dome itself.
Thor throws his hammer Mjolnir at the giant Klaw but it just passes through him, as the villain points out it is just an image and that he himself is elsewhere. He lays out his demands: he wants revenge on Rudyarda, where he was jailed and abused for his red skin after the Fantastic Four freed T’Challa.
He plans acts of revenge on Rudyarda, hence his partner Solarr char-broiling some of the gardening staff at the embassy. He wants diplomatic immunity for any and all future crimes, like the kind Doctor Doom, the Sub-Mariner and the Mandarin enjoy.
Klaw plans to get that immunity by having T’Challa abdicate his throne and recognize Klaw as the dictator of Wakanda. If T’Challa continues to refuse, Solarr will kill one of the prisoners in the sound-dome every hour on the hour until he changes his mind.
To drive home that threat, Solarr uses one of his solar blasts on Ambassador Pershing, seemingly killing him. Klaw’s giant hologram disappears, promising that one of the women will be killed next.
The Scarlet Witch uses her hex power to revive the stricken Ambassador. Next the Avengers on BOTH sides of the sound-dome try to destroy it with all their physical and energy-related powers but to no avail. The Vision cannot even phase through it because of its vibratory nature and there is no digging under the bubble either, because it settles and adjusts its borders to conform to any outline.
Wanda tries to shine again by using her hex power on the sound-dome, despite Mantis’ empathic warning not to bother. The Scarlet Witch’s hex power is also useless against Klaw’s dome and the Vision ventures that maybe she should have rested after the strain of reviving Pershing.
The Scarlet Witch, feeling embarrassed in front of her romantic rival Mantis, snaps at the Vision, accusing him of sticking up for the Vietnamese Avenger but only talking to her (Wanda) when she’s wrong about something.
While they argue Ambassador Pershing tries to get the Black Panther to agree to Klaw’s demands and thereby save all their lives. T’Challa refuses and through the sound-bubble he consults with Iron Man, telling him that Klaw MUST have a power-source within a 20-block radius to be able to sustain the sound-dome.
Iron Man, Thor and Captain America head out for some Stark Industries labs on Long Island to get equipment necessary to track down Klaw’s power source and probable hideout.
By the time the trio get back and are separately covering different sections of New York City with the strapped-on Stark equipment there are only 26 minutes left in the hour before Solarr kills one of the women. There are only 18 left by the time Captain America signals Thor and Iron Man that he has a reading just off First Avenue near the U.N. Building.
Thirteen minutes are all that remain by the time Thor and Iron Man have arrived at Cap’s location and the three investigate the site of the reading. It appears to be a deserted suite of rooms but is really a trap of Klaw’s. Horse-sized red panthers made purely of sound attack the three Avengers.
Cap, Thor and I.M. defeat the sound-creatures with just 9 minutes left til Solarr kills either Mantis or the Scarlet Witch. Back at the sound-dome, a panicky Ambassador is telling the Swordsman, Vision, Mantis and the Scarlet Witch that they can’t just stand by and let them all die on the whim of a black man like T’Challa.
The Vision firmly informs Pershing that the Avengers – including the Black Panther – will do their utmost to save his life but he is not helping in any way with his raving. Next, the Vision tells Wanda that he wants to speak with T’Challa, who must be feeling a terribly lonely burden.
The Scarlet Witch refuses to let him, insisting that he should talk to HER instead. She reminds the Vision that she may get killed by Solarr within minutes and she doesn’t want to face death without knowing the truth about him and Mantis.
Vision tells Wanda that there is nothing to “know” about him and Mantis. He insists he was as shocked as everyone else at the Swordsman accusing him of trying to steal Mantis from him during the Thanos War. He also states he is amazed at Wanda’s outburst right now.
The Scarlet Witch isn’t buying it, reminding Vizh that he is not as cool and collected as he pretends. She reminds him he has felt emotions with HER, so why not with Mantis. The argument goes on for awhile until the Vision – in a move that would cause any real-world woman to throw something at him – tells Wanda that she is obviously in no mood to listen, but only to talk. He suggests they postpone this argument until that mood passes.
Before the Scarlet Witch can kick him in his synthetic balls Thor, Cap and Iron Man arrive on the scene and tell the captive Avengers that they found no sign of Klaw’s equipment, just his artificially created panthers.
At that news the Black Panther states that since Klaw and his power source MUST be nearby the only other possible answer is that he is in the sound-dome WITH the other captives, disguised as the real-life Ambassador Pershing. Exposed, Klaw attacks T’Challa with the sound-blasts from the sonic horn he wears to replace his lost real arm.
The Black Panther dodges attacks from Klaw AND Solarr from above, then crushes “the Ambassador’s” briefcase, which is really Klaw’s hidden power source. With his power gone, Klaw is defeated as is Solarr. (Klaw only pretended to be struck down by his partner Solarr earlier. And his own personal force-field was immune to Wanda’s hex powers so he suffered no harm, but knew he had to pretend to “recover” to avoid suspicion.)
The Black Panther takes advantage of his tour-de-force performance to heed his peoples’ plea to return home until the rebellion is over. He requests a leave of absence from the Avengers to deal with Wakanda’s problems and it is granted.
As the Avengers all return to the mansion for a farewell dinner for T’Challa, Cap shockingly decides that he, too, will give in to his disillusionment and he is going to quit being Captain America. +++
I’LL COVER THE NEXT ISSUE SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK FOR UPDATES.
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