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AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 132 (February 1975) Kang War Two
AVENGERS ROSTER: Thor, Iron Man, The Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, The Vision and MANTIS
We rejoin our heroes right where we left off last time around. Kang the Conqueror launched his second attempt to take the Celestial Madonna – Mantis – so that their offspring can provide him with control over all time and space.
Kang double-crossed his newfound ally Immortus, another old foe of the Avengers from years earlier. Using Immortus’ technology Kang then plucked six supervillains out of the time-stream just a nano-second before their violent deaths. He brought them to Immortus’ realm of Limbo, which exists outside of the time-stream.
Those six villains formed Kang’s Legion of the Unliving. Their motive for serving him: if they don’t help him kill the Avengers then Kang will simply transport them back to the moment he plucked them from and they’ll die.
Do what he commands and he’ll let them live, with no repercussions to the time-stream because of the control of time and space that Kang will have thanks to his and Mantis’ offspring.
Kang imprisoned Immortus next to his future self Rama Tut II, then hit the Avengers with one of Immortus’ teleportation rays. That ray abducted our heroes and deposited them in scattered, random locations in the endless catacombs and tunnels beneath Immortus’ castle.
Kang announced himself to the Avengers over the broadcast system in typically melodramatic and operatic fashion:
KANG: Hear me, Avengers! You have defied my will for the final time! Here, lost and alone in the Labyrinth of Limbo, you will die at my direction and at the hands of the most relentless terrors you have ever faced!
So saying, Kang led his Legion of the Unliving into the catacombs to find Mantis and kill the other Avengers.
KANG WAR TWO
Synopsis: Kang, Baron Zemo, the Ghost (should be the Ghost Mariner), Midnight, the Original Android Version of the Human Torch and Wonder Man march swiftly through the dark maze of stone tunnels and corridors.
In the rear, the final member of the Legion of the Unliving moves more sluggishly and falls behind.
That final member: the Frankenstein Monster, whose mere presence in the story nearly ruins it – at least to me. He’s only included because Marvel was publishing a Frankenstein Monster comic book at the time and they were hoping to pump up sales by hyping that book here in the more widely read Avengers comic book.
I mentioned last time around it should have been the Glob or any other Hulk villain who was supposedly dead at the time. The Glob’s slow mind and sluggish movements would meet the story’s needs as well as the Frankenstein Monster’s would.
And the Glob would keep with Marvel’s own in-universe rules since he would have enough strength to fight Thor. The Frankenstein Monster had nowhere near enough strength to last against Thor but we’ll get a stupid Thor vs Frank battle anway.
Back to the story: Frankenstein/ Should Be The Glob lags so far behind Kang and the rest that he loses sight of them and wanders the halls on his own. Nearby Thor has been using his hammer Mjolnir to try to smash the stone walls but the unearthly makeup of the stones withstands his assault with just a few cracks showing.
Frank/ The Glob comes across Thor and the two fight. Thor realizes how simple-minded the creature is and lets it go, hoping that following it in its wanderings will lead him to Kang.
Back in Vietnam, from where the Avengers were abducted, crowds of people have gathered around the area where our heroes suddenly vanished. Vietnamese police are on the scene as well. Also on hand is the Hooded One who is dressed in the robes of the supposedly extinct Priests of Pama.
He’s been spying on the Avengers – especially Mantis – in the previous two installments and is now investigating the scene of the disappearance. The capital citauthorities try to arrest him, thinking his odd outfit means he’s a supervillain and might have been in on the Avengers’ disappearance.
The Hooded One uses Pama Martial Arts like the kind Mantis uses and escapes into the night. In a back alley the Hooded One meets up with the glowing Green Swordsman that Mantis caught a glimpse of last time.
It becomes apparent that the Hooded One somehow summoned that Green Swordsman and that ghostly figure calms the Hooded One’s worries that something may yet go wrong with Mantis’ fulfillment as the Celestial Madonna.
(Spoiler to avoid confusion: It’s NOT really the Swordsman back from the dead – this green form is a disguise we learn later, a disguise to keep the figure’s TRUE identity secret just in case Kang ever observed the figure during his frequent time traveling back and forth to monitor our time period.)
Back in the Labyrinth of Limbo the Avengers continue to roam the corridors, wondering if they’ll find each other before they run into Kang and the “relentless” terrors he threatened them with. Kang and his Legionnaires continue stalking the hallways and tunnels, too.
Baron Zemo draws Kang’s attention to the fact that Frank/ The Glob got left behind. Kang is unconcerned since it should be able to handle itself against any Avenger. In fact Kang decides to dispatch Midnight, the dead step-brother of Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu, off on his own since Kang recruited him to bring Mantis to him alive.
After Midnight leaves, Kang and the others encounter the Vision. The Original Human (Android) Torch and Wonder Man attack him. The clash is appropriately unsettling for the Vision since these two – plus the others he sees with Kang – should be dead.
Even worse for the Vision – as Kang planned – is the fact that Wonder Man’s brain patterns were used by Ultron as the basis for his (The Vision’s) artificial intelligence just as Hank Pym’s brain patterns were used for Ultron’s. This has the Vision’s mind reeling, consumed as he already is with worry over the panic attacks and deja vu traumas he’s been suffering lately.
Baron Zemo and the Ghost Mariner join Wonder Man and the Human Torch in attacking the Vision who – unencumbered by machismo – retreats, turning intangible and passing through the solid walls of the Labyrinth of Limbo. The Ghost can likewise become intangible, and since he has power enough to rival the Silver Surfer he pursues the Vision to kill him.
Kang, Baron Zemo, Wonder Man and the Human Torch android continue trekking through the maze of dark hallways. Some time later we join Mantis as she wanders the Labyrinth. Her mutant empathic powers sense no one at all, making her uneasy and increasing her fear over where Kang might have taken her and her fellow Avengers.
Midnight encounters her and attacks. Mantis does well against him but she’s not used to facing a foe who is also highly skilled in Martial Arts disciplines. Midnight explains how Kang “recruited” him and his teammates and explains his motivation.
Mantis, like the Vision, sees no need for false pride and runs, hoping to lose Midnight in the maze of hallways and thus avoid any risk of him capturing her for Kang. Midnight pursues her.
Elsewhere, Iron Man and Hawkeye happen upon each other and decide to stick together to seek out the other Avengers. They soon cross paths with Kang and company. Kang orders the four Legionnaires who are with him to attack Hawkeye and Iron Man and the fact that they should all be dead has the unnerving effect on them that Kang hoped for.
Hawkeye battles Baron Zemo who uses his electric ray-blaster against the bowman. Iron Man has his hands full with Wonder Man and the Android version of the Torch. Iron Man realizes its a hopeless situation since – even if they prevail against the Unliving Legion, Kang himself stands ready and fresh to attack them after they’ve worn themselves out.
Iron Man tells Hawkeye to run and he’ll try to hold the villains off and join him later if he can. A furious Hawkeye reluctantly obeys and runs off. Before Iron Man can join him, Kang blasts the armored Avenger, setting him up to be killed by Wonder Man and the Human Torch.
Kang’s instruments detect no pulse or breathing or heartbeat and – as the cover of this issue warned – Iron Man really IS dead. But we’re in Limbo, remember, with lots of time travel elements in the story, so it’s no spoiler to say it won’t be permanent.
While Kang exults in the death of another Avenger (remember, he killed the Swordsman a few installments back), elsewhere in the Labyrinth the fleeing Mantis comes across the Ghost Mariner. The Ghost tells her she has nothing to fear from him since Kang has ordered that the Celestial Madonna is NOT to be harmed.
He says he will continue his pursuit of the Vision and passes intangibly through another wall. The Ghost Mariner catches up with the Vision and the two fight. At one point the Vision even tries his patented bit of plunging his intangible arm into the Ghost’s chest and partially solidifying it.
To the Vision’s shock it has no effect whatsoever on the Ghost, who was already dead when Mephisto released him from Hell to battle the Silver Surfer. The Ghost ghoulishly taunts the stunned Vision that HE has no such protection from HIM.
The Ghost Mariner plunges his arm into the Vision and partially solidifies it. The Vision is in agony but tries to harden his body to its ultimate diamond-hard density. It is all to no avail, however, and he falls to the floor with an unearthly scream.
That horrific scream attracted Mantis’ attention. She follows it to its source and discovers the Vision’s prone body. Her empathic powers tell her that he is moments from dying. +++
I’LL COVER THE NEXT ISSUE SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK FOR UPDATES.
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