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Avengers #108: Review

Feb 1973
Steve Englehart, Don Heck

Story Name:

Check ... and mate

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers #108 Review by (August 20, 2013)
Last of 3 parts, each with a different penciller. (4 pencillers counting George Tuska's flashback sequences in the 1st 2 parts.) This time Don Heck returns to the Avengers for a short run. Avengers Forever #8 says that this Space Phantom *is* the one from #2. Immortus has sent him to show Vision that he doesn't need a human body to be human. This is all part of a scheme to keep Scarlet Witch from having children by marrying her off to Vision in Giant-Size Avengers #4. The part of SP's story last issue about being trapped in Limbo temporarily after #2 isn't true. He just went home to Limbo to continue working for Immortus. However Immortus sometimes gave the Phantoms cover stories and made them believe them. Eg the one in #2 believed he was an alien invader. This one could have been made to *believe* he was the original escaped from Limbo. Only this issue shows Space Phantom currently leading Hydra troops. In the last 2 issues Hydra was only seen in the flashbacks. But at least it suggests that most of his story must be true. Immortus must have sent him on this mission quite a while ago. But the dialogue suggests that this is only a limited part of Hydra that SP has under his hypnotic control. Indeed it is usually considered that Hydra broke into factions after Baron Strucker 'died' in Strange Tales #158. Grim Reaper will return in #160 after his real brother Wonder Man returns to life in #151. He will continue to bedevil both Vision and Wonder Man on-and-off after that. A Space Phantom (possibly not this one) will appear next in Giant-Size Avengers #4, where Immortus uses one to impersonate Scarlet Witch. This will be the 1st clue that the Phantoms actually work for the mysterious time-lord.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #108 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Grim Reaper and the Space Phantom have captured Black Panther, Hawkeye, Iron Man and Scarlet Witch as part of their plan to destroy the Avengers. Now Reaper has persuaded his 'brother' Vision to join them in return for having his mind transferred into the body of Captain America, whom the Phantom has long been preparing for the process.

After killing the Avengers present, the villains will pursue other Avengers not currently in New York (including current member Thor who's in Vermont in Thor #207). Reaper bemoans the fact that Ant-Man and Wasp have escaped their revenge by (apparently) dying in Marvel Feature #6. But 1st Space Phantom must go to find and capture Cap.

When they're alone Reaper castigates Vision for making Phantom suspicious of him by not sounding enthusiastic, even though he himself had explained that Vision's voice was robotically neutral. But he's interrupted when the much-sought-after Captain turns out to be right here, and attacks him. What's more Vision helps subdue Reaper.

It appears that when Vision agreed to Reaper's plan at the end of last issue it was only because he saw Cap in the shadows behind Reaper signalling for Vision to play along.

Steve Rogers explains how he'd been here before, but Space Phantom had hidden the memory away deep in his mind. (Vision actually knew this already 'cos Reaper told him last issue.) (Up until now of course we didn't actually know that the Hydra base Cap was investigating last issue was the place where the villains were holding the captive Avengers.)

The heroic duo quickly locate and free said captives. Only to be confronted by Reaper, Phantom (as Supreme Hydra) and the hordes of Hydra. SP hadn't trusted Vision enough so he'd stayed to see what would happen.

The Phantom decides to kill the Vision, now he no longer needs to keep Grim Reaper sweet (he's got out of him all the knowledge of Avengers he needs). But Reaper cuts through SP's gun with his scythe. A Hydra trooper tries to shoot Reaper, but Vision takes the blast for him.

Cue a general melee, until Space Phantom orders his men out of the room and triggers ultra-sonic shock waves that down Reaper and all the Avengers except the android Vision. But he forces Vision to surrender by threatening to kill Reaper (the brother of Wonder Man on whom Vision's mind is modelled). The the returning Hydra goons imprison Vision in a cage specially designed to hold him even when intangible.

It is only then that SP notices Scarlet Witch had slipped away during the fight. He reckons correctly she'll head for Avengers Mansion, and follows her in a flying craft. When he catches up with her she turns and fires a hex bolt at the plane. But a tractor beam pulls her into the ship and holds her fast.

Phantom continues on the the Mansion to tie up any loose ends. He stun-blasts Jarvis and Rick Jones and brings them back to his lair. The Avengers are all back in an anti-gravity cage, but SP leaves Jarvis and Rick free as he gloats.

SP knows he can't kill Thor. He'll have to console himself with the anguish and guilt the Asgardian god will feel when he learns that the other Avengers died while he wasn't there to help them.

Rick makes a dash something, but a Hydra agent blasts him. Space Phantom decides it will be ironic to press the button that will kill the Avengers while in Rick's form. So he tries to imitate him and send him to Limbo. But this releases Captain Marvel from the Negative Zone.

Marvel releases the Avengers, and they all mop up the Hydra troops.

Then CM explains how it was all CA's plan. He (and Vision) learned in #106 that Rick and CM had resumed their Negative Zone swap system. CA sent Wanda to tell Rick what was happening. When SP caught up with her she had in fact just come back out of the Mansion so he wouldn't know she'd got there successfully. Rick switched off the Mansion's alarms so SP could capture him easily. And at the last second he drew SP's attention to himself hoping the Phantom would try to send him to Limbo.

It was all a gamble that SP wouldn't be able to imitate someone who was 2 people in 1. It triggered the swap of RJ (nifty initials!) and CM, and SP has been thrown back into Limbo again.

Now Grim Reaper surrenders because his scythe is out of power. And the Avengers return to the mansion to find Thor back from Vermont.

But Wanda is upset because the whole adventure had started out with them trying to find her missing brother Pietro/Quicksilver. They're still no nearer finding out what happened to him. Vision tells her that he discovered today that he had to protect Grim Reaper, who isn't really his brother. But it proved he did have human feelings. And he holds Wanda to comfort her.


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Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:
Page #1from Avengers #108
Page 1

Page #2from Avengers #108
Page 2

Page #3from Avengers #108
Page 3


Don Heck
Dave Cockrum
Petra Goldberg
Rich Buckler (Cover Penciler)
Rich Buckler (Cover Inker)
Letterer: John Costanza.
Editor: Roy Thomas.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Panther
Black Panther

(T'Challa)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Hawkeye
Hawkeye

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)

Plus: Grim Reaper, Jarvis (Edwin Jarvis), Space Phantoms.