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Avengers #121: Review

Mar 1974
Steve Englehart, John Buscema

Story Name:

Houses Divided Cannot Stand!

Review & Comments

3.5 stars

Avengers #121 Review by (December 3, 2013)
John Buscema returns to pencilling for this issue, and he'll be back for #124-125. This issue continues to interface with Captain America #171. In last issue's comments I left Cap busted out of jail by the guys who framed him, and Falcon looking for him. Cap turns up here to help the Avengers. Then, while the Avengers return to fighting Zodiac, F finds Cap but the bad guys capture them both, leading to CA#172-175 and the Secret Empire. This famously ends with a high government figure committing suicide, and eventually results in Steve Rogers abandoning his Cap role and becoming Nomad. But he'll be back as Cap in #125-126 and Giant-Size #1 before that. Mantis' origin will start to unfurl next issue. I'm not sure that Gemini really *does* owe Taurus his life. He owes him his freedom after being broken out of jail last issue. And Taurus protected him from the effects of Zodiac's Star-Blaster that was going to kill all Manhattanites of the Gemini sign, also last issue. But the Avengers stopped that plot anyway. We've seen Van Lunt and Zodiac as separate Avengers villains before, and learnt of their financial connection in #82. But this is the 1st time we've known that Van Lunt is Taurus, and seemingly always was.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #121 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Atop 1 of the Twin Towers Taurus of Zodiac holds the Avengers at bay by threatening an unconscious Mantis with the crippled but still dangerous giant Star-Blaster. Vision stalls for time by claiming that Mantis is only Swordsman's girlfriend, and so nothing to them. But he's only giving Scarlet Witch a chance to finish off the weapon with a hex.

There follows a general set-to between Avengers and the whole Zodiac gang, including Taurus wielding the hand version of the Star-Blaster, that stopped Thor last issue. Iron Man is the 4th Avenger present. The sides seem evenly matched until Captain America suddenly joins the fight. Aries stops the battle by throwing Mantis off the building.

Vision leaps after her. Mantis awakens and spreads her limbs to slow her fall, as the android uses his limited flight ability to catch her up. He grabs her and then solidifies an arm to slow their fall by gouging a deep crack in the side of the building. But they still hit the ground with a thump.

The other Avengers ignore Zodiac in favour of stopping the damaged building from falling down. The large Star-Blaster is actually the front of a Star-Craft, and the villains choose this moment to escape in it. Thor holds the building up while Iron Man seals the crack.

The Avengers know that Cap is wanted for murder in his own mag. He explains that he was framed, but he was compelled to break off his attempts to prove his innocence when he saw his comrades in trouble. He now leaves them so that they won't be accused of harbouring a fugitive.

Mantis has some internal injuries, and goes into a trance to recover. Her friends take her back to Avengers Mansion where their guest Swordsman is also recovering from injuries. Thor's alter ego Dr Don Blake examines her and discovers that she really is curing herself.

Iron Man asks Swordsman about the mysterious woman, but he can only tell them how he met her. He was working for Monsieur Khruul, a South Vietnamese mobster, and drowning his self-disgust in drink. Mantis tried to convince him he was better than that. After he was wounded in a mob war she nursed him back to health. But he was so self-absorbed he never asked about her own life.

At this point Black Panther returns from Wakanda, where he has been giving Falcon artificial wings in Captain America #169-170. He joins the other Avengers in hunting down Zodiac. But before they go Vision comments to Swordsman how Mantis is almost the perfect woman. Which makes Swordsman think the android might love her.

In their hidden lair the new Aries makes an unsuccessful bid to take the leadership of Zodiac from Taurus by physical combat. But that doesn't stop him as he calls most of the gang for a meeting to foment revolution. He excludes Capricorn and Virgo because they are Taurus' fellow Earth signs, and Gemini because Taurus saved his life. The others agree to help Aries except Libra who, as the balance, prefers to remain neutral.

Aries then contacts Cornelius Van Lunt, Zodiac's financial backer. He didn't drown in #81, but had to go underground when the Avengers exposed his connection to Zodiac in #82. They arrange a meeting in 1 of Van Lunt's warehouses where the conspirators ask him to finance weapons to rival the Star-Blazers Taurus has.

However a sky-patrolling Thor had spotted the Zodiac Star-Craft (by the distinctive Star-Blaster still attached to its front) and followed it here. He has called in the other Avengers and now they break up the meeting.

Van Lunt slips away while the 2 groups clash. Suddenly steel shutters  cover the windows and doors, and Van Lunt appears on a monitor. He lets them all know that he isn't just Zodiac's financier, he's also Taurus! He'd lured the conspirators into a trap, and as a bonus he's got 5 Avengers. The warehouse is actually a rocket ship, which goes rocketing off into space.

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

John Buscema
Don Heck
Petra Goldberg
John Romita (Cover Penciler)
Ron Wilson (Cover Inker)
Letterer: John Costanza.
Editor: Roy Thomas.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Panther
Black Panther

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Sam Wilson)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)


Plus: Zodiac.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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