A pretty good tale
Roy Thomas continues two major subplots from the previous issues: the disappearance of the Olympian Gods and the revival of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. John Buscema gets to draw some rather interesting scenes and the first depiction of Typhon in the Marvel Universe. A pretty good tale but with some flaws in characterization.
So what happens:
- In Olympus, Hercules' efforts to locate anyone still around result in a meeting with Typhon. Who quickly proclaims they are the last two Olympians still standing. "And soon, there shall be none save -- Typhon". In other words, two immortals face each other and there can be only one.
We get a brief origin tale of Typhon. Which features him as the last of the Titans who opposed the rule of Zeus. He was defeated by the Storm God in personal combat and exiled thousands of years before. But "days ago", Typhon returned and infiltrated Olympus unseen. Destroying the Temple of the Promethean Flame and sending the Gods into a world "of shadowy mists" and "sinister shadows". He gives Hercules some time to mourn for those banished.
It is rather exciting to see Typhon, the one badass in Greek legends to manage defeating Zeus in single combat. A towering figure in legends. " Typhon's size was such that he out-topped all the mountains and brushed the stars with his head, his hands reaching out, one to the west and the other to the east, and from them projected a hundred dragons' heads." Here he is more of a warrior in armor but still rather impressive.
Thomas downgrades him a bit by calling him a mere Titan. I liked the idea of him banishing all the Olympians. But it is quite curious that Thomas ignores Typhon's reasons to personally hate Hercules. In legends, Hercules managed to slay most of the offspring of Typhon. No mention of it here.
- In the Avengers Mansion, Hank Pym is on monitor duty, searching for Magneto. He briefly stops his obsessive search to speak to Hawkeye. Clint is still brooding over the departure of Captain America: "With him gone, maybe there ain't any more Avengers, just three worn-out has-beens, runnin' around in nutty costumes". At that moment, Janet steps inside in her civilian clothes. Hank berates her. But she points that "somebody had to pick up some food"
As explained through out the page, Jarvis has a night off. Hank has forgotten all about eating. Or that his two teammates have to eat as well. She challenges to go fight Magneto with a nearly empty stomach. Hank realizes his blunder has to apologize. he then confides to her about his plans of returning to the Ant-Man identity. Without explaining his reasons for it.
Hank and Janet offer an interesting domestic scene. He obsesses about his leader duties, but neglects even the most obvious necessities. Like eating. While level-headed Janet is fully aware that "an army marches on its stomach". I really enjoy their interactions. On the other hand, Hawkeye obsessing over Cap is getting annoying. He still sound like an infatuated teenager.
- Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, Magneto introduces the Brotherhood to his secret headquarters. An uncharted island which Max himself "raised ... from the very ocean depths". Inside there are giant-sized machinery, "a vast sprawling mechanical complex" which dwarfs the human figures. The machines have been working non-stop for over two years and Magneto claims of having achieved "perpetual motion".
Inside Magneto offers a new sales pitch to Pietro. Who is clearly torn between his loyalty to the Avengers and his lack of trust for humanity in general. He can't the "scorn" which humans reserve from those different from themselves. Me. Eisenhardt that this is the key to earning the young man's loyalty. He, insincerely, proclaims his new goals. To have this island declared a refuge for all mutants. A place where they can freely come and pursue their individual destinies. He wants to petition the United Nations about that and Pietro agrees. As he finds nothing wrong with such sentiments.
I have to say I'm impressed by Buscema's rendition of what seems to be Kirbytech. Thomas finds time to re-establish Magneto as a figure capable of creating advanced technology. A particularly nice touch is the notion of perpetual motion. This was something of a Holy Grail for real scientists of the 19th century. They sought to built machines who could produce work without the input of energy. Naturally, no such machine could work as it would violate the laws of Thermodynamics. I like the idea of Magneto achieving the impossible. Makes him sound truly superhuman.
Another interesting notion is having Magneto quit with the threats. For once using some charm and putting on a show for his would-be followers. Less of a mad tyrant, more of a politician. That is an improvement.
- The Brotherhood arrives at the United Nations Headquarters. Where Magneto seeks to speak to the gathered representatives of almost every independent state on the planet. The guards try to stop him. But he easily disarms them. Paying special attention to not actually harming them. Wishing to convince Pietro of his good intentions. Then makes his offer to the delegates. An end to the strife between Homo sapiens and Homo superior. In exchange for a new sovereign nation for mutants alone. But with a permanent place in the Security Council and "full veto rights".
Naturally, the delegates seem ready to riot. For good reason. Since 1946, there were only five permanent members of the Security Council: the Republic of China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. And only these five had veto rights. Magneto is asking for wide influence over international relations. He is quite aware that his proposal and its wording is unacceptable. He is counting on Pietro misreading the reactions as unreasonable hatred for mutants.
This a key issue for mutant-human relations and treats readers to more than the usual street-lever fights over the matter. Nice work. Its better that this is treated in a high-profile book like the "Avengers". By the way, later writers would return to the idea of a sovereign nation for mutants. Magneto would get a much-delayed positive response to his request in "X-Men" vol. 2 #87 (May, 1999).
- Magneto is about to attack the screaming delegates who have rejected his offer. When Hawkeye arrives. Treating Magneto to a kick in the face and slamming Toad into a wall. Arguably Clint's finest moments in quite a while. A recovering Magneto notices the guards aiming their pistols at him. He magnetically takes over their weapons and pulls the triggers. Manipulating the trajectory of a bullet to graze Wanda's temple. Taking her out without actually hurting her.
As intended, Pietro perceives the scene as humans hating them enough to target his sister for death. Magneto further convinces him that an approaching Goliath is trying to sneak attack him. Feeling betrayed, Quicksilver retaliates. Knocking out Hank with a fist to the face. He also takes care of Hawkeye by running head first into Clint's stomach. The Brotherhood then depart with an unconscious Wanda. The Wasp tries reasoning with Pietro. But Max knocks her out with a mere fountain pen.
A great scene where Magneto manipulates the perceptions of Pietro to great effect. Pietro was always over-protective of his sister. Seeing her hurt makes him berserk. He now perceives all humanity as enemies and the Avengers as traitors. Magneto has finally managed to recruit his former protege. Key moments for the characterizations of both men. There is a flaw though.
Throughout the issue, Wanda is mostly silent. Getting only four speech balloons in 20 pages. And ends the issue as a victim to get some drama out of Pietro. Another example for the "Women in Refrigerators" list. Leaves quite a bitter taste.
Anyway, the Brotherhood departs the pages of the Avengers for a while. All four members were next seen in "X-Men" vol. 1 #43 (April, 1968). Pietro and Wanda depart the ranks of the Avengers for a while. They would not return to the regular roster until "Avengers" vol. 1 #75-76 (April-May, 1970).
- The defeated Avengers are left in their gloom. But each for different reasons. Janet is worried about Wanda and hopes her friend will recover in time. Hank Pym hopes than nobody noticed him not growing at any point in that battle. He has recently discovered that changing to giant-size puts too much strain to his body. He can still safely turn into Ant-Man. But not to Goliath and his giant days may be over for good. Hawkeye is still moping over Cap's departure. But he has finally noticed there are only three of them left. And doesn't like their chances. "We may just be thru!"