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Avengers #115: Review

Sep 1973
Steve Englehart, Bob Brown

Story Name:

Below us the battle

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers #115 Review by (September 9, 2013)
Loki was blinded and fellover the cliff at Rutland, Vermont. It doesn't say here but Dormammu was also last seen there in the Defenders story in Marvel Feature #2. The Evil Eye was only previously seen in Fantastic Four #54 in the possession of Prester John. It supposedly self-destructed there. After the Avengers/Defenders War it will make several more appearances, some of them filling in its prior history. The 1st chapter of the Avengers/Defenders War will be at the end of Defenders #8. Then the story will alternate through #116-117 and Defenders #9-10 culminating in #118, with postscripts in Defenders #11 and the beginning of #119. I've added links between the issues, but they only work in the Iron Man Library.

This issue features another 1-off bunch of foes, and is basically a setup for the Avengers/Defenders War. Dane Whitman took over the name Black Knight in #48 after his wicked uncle Nathan Garrett died fighting Iron Man in Tales of Suspense #73. In Marvel Super-Heroes #17 he learnt he inherited the mantle from the 1st (Arthurian) Black Knight Sir Percy of Scandia. he has helped the Avengers on several occasions, and was made an on-call team member in #71. He met the Defenders in #4 of their mag, but was turned to stone by the Enchantress. That was when Dr Strange put Garrett Castle under a protective spell. The Defenders took the Black Knight statue back to New York with them to Strange's house, and Valkyrie adopted BK's winged horse Aragorn. Vision describes Scarlet Witch's hex power as magic here, but I don't believe it was considered such at the time. She will later *add* magic to her repertoire, trained by Agatha Harkness. And even later Kurt Busiek will retroactively claim that her hex *was* magic all along.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #115 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The Avengers arrive in England by quinjet only to be confronted by an agent of the British arm of SHIELD who don't want to let the criminal Swordsman in the country. But he reluctantly accepts the Avengers' assurances.

The quinjet lands at Garrett Castle, ancestral home of the British Avenger Black Knight. It turns out that the team tried to contact Dane Whitman between #110 and Daredevil #99 when the reduced ranks were seeking help against Magneto. They hadn't been worried then because he was often away on his own adventures. But it concerns them that he hasn't got back to them since.

The Avengers find an invisible barrier around the castle, which resists Thor's hammer, Swordsman's sword-blasts and Vision's intangibility. Scarlet Witch's hex has a little temporary effect, which suggests the barrier is magical. Mantis uses her empathic power to discover that the barrier was erected by Dr Strange (in Defenders #4). Black Panther recalls that Strange and Knight helped the Avengers in #61. But they don't know whether this act was friendly, nor how to get past the barrier.

Suddenly they are attacked by Troglodytes who burst from concealed tunnels in the ground. Black Panther, Mantis, Scarlet Witch and Swordsman are taken by surprise and knocked out. Captain America, Iron Man and Thor are subdued by gas.

The gas saps all their wills, and they are taken bound before the Troglodyte king Skol. He says he saw costumed surface-dwellers take Black Knight away and create the invisible barrier. He thinks the Avengers are the same people and wants them to take the barrier down.

It seems that several hundred years ago the King's knights oppressed his people, and the ancestors of this lot found refuge underground. They've been living her ever since, scavenging for food. One of their best sources was Garrett castle, but now they can't get in because the magic barrier extends underground as well as over.

Thor tries to explain that they didn't create the wall and can't destroy it. But Skol doesn't believe them, and has them all thrown still bound into a pit where they are menaced by a giant albino scorpion.

But they are now out of reach of the will-sapping gas. Thor breaks free, Vision ghosts through his bonds and Mantis flexes out of hers. The 2 males injure the beast, but it thrashes about and picks up still-bound Wanda in a huge claw. But Mantis kills it with one perfectly-placed blow.

The Troglodytes above douse the light-giving torches. The Trogs are used to the dark, but all the Avengers bar Panther can't see. Panther's training (and mystic herbs) allow him to see in the dark. He gets Thor to untie him and the others. He leads his fellow-Avengers to form a defensive wall in front of a tunnel where he expects their foes to emerge. Then he himself heads up the tunnel.

In the narrow confines Panther is able to take the Troglodytes on 1-at-a-time. When he defeats Skol the king surrenders.

Later the Avengers tell the authorities about the underground people. They are given medical attention and brought out to new life on the surface. The team leave, intent on discovering what Dr Strange and his friends have done with their ally Black Knight.

The last section of this issue is given its own title:- Prologue: Alliance most foul. It's a lead-in to the Avengers/Defenders War.

Blinded Loki falls off a cliff at the end of Thor #207. Just before he hits the ground he is teleported away by Dormammu to his Dark Dimension. After some mutual posturing, Dormammu explains how Dr Strange made him vow in Strange Tales #127 never to invade Earth's dimension. But he has discovered the Evil Eye which will allow him to bring Earth's dimension into his own, allowing him to conquer it without breaking his word.

Loki counters that the Evil Eye was destroyed in Fantastic Four #54. But Dormammu says that it was merely shattered into 6 pieces. Dormammu isn't allowed to go to Earth to find them, and Loki is now blind. But between them they can trick Dr Strange and his Defenders into collecting the components for them.

This Prologue leads to Chapter 1 in DEFENDERS (1972) #8


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Bob Brown
Mike Esposito
Stan Goldberg
John Romita (Cover Penciler)
Mike Esposito (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Jean Simek.
Editor: Roy Thomas.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Panther
Black Panther

(T'Challa)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Loki
Loki

(Loki Laufeyson)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)

Plus: Defenders.