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Avengers #128: Review

Oct 1974
Steve Englehart, Joe Staton

Story Name:

Bewitched, bothered and dead

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers #128 Review by (January 13, 2014)
Wanda muses that Vision has hardly spoken to her since their argument over Mantis in #126. That must have been a long mutual sulk because Giant-Size Av#1 and Captain America #176 have separately occurred in the gap between then and last issue. Necrodamus' debut in Defenders #1 was, as here, written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Sal Buscema. He won't make his way back to Earth for revenge on Scarlet Witch until Marvel Team-Up #130. We haven't seen Kang in these pages since #69-71. Since then he fought the Hulk in Hu#135 and the Avengers with Spider-Man, Human Torch and the Inhumans in MTU#9-11. This is what the Mantis story has been building up to, as next issue the Celestial Madonna saga kicks off. Kang will be here for most of this story - #129, Giant-Size Av#2, #131-132, GSAv#3 and then popping back for the conclusion in GSAv#4.

This issue claims Steve Englehart is again colouring as well as writing. The credits say Sal Buscema art, Joe Staton embellishment. According to the Grand Comics Database Sal did breakdowns and Joe did pencil finishes as well as inks. At this time Staton was in the early years of his long run as artist (and sometimes writer) on E-Man. The beginning of this issue makes it seem as though the Fantastic Four arrive at Avengers Mansion with the Avengers in their quinjet, and pick up the Fantasti-Car there to return home to the Baxter Building. But last issue the FF were in Attilan when the Avengers arrived, having got there under their own steam. This is just a plot device to allow Agatha Harkness to conveniently decide to stay at the Mansion. Franklin Richards was brought out of his coma in FF#150 and drained of his dangerous psychic power, both of which had afflicted him since FF#141. But Agatha had been his governess since long before that in FF#94. It is true that Agatha's house was destroyed in FF#134, and she was abducted by Annihilus into the negative Zone between then and FF#140-141. But it isn't explained where she lived between those issues and #127/FF#150/this issue. Sue Richards went with Franklin to her sister's in that period, supposedly without Miss Harkness.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #128 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The Avengers and the extended Fantastic Four family return to Avengers Mansion from the wedding of Crystal and Quicksilver in #127/FF#150, when they are menaced by lightning bolts. Thor is unable to quell this storm, but Franklin Richards' governess Agatha Harkness stops it with witchcraft.

On top of that Agatha surprises the assembled teams by declaring that Franklin no longer needs her, since he was cured in FF#150. She says that she'll stay with Scarlet Witch, to teach her to be a real witch. And Wanda surprises herself by accepting. The FF fly off in the Fantasti-Car and leave her to it.

Agatha also claims that the lighting was a mystical attack on herself. And a glowing-eyed figure watches from an alley, swearing to have the souls of Agatha and Wanda before the night is over.

Miss Harkness accepts a room in the Mansion, because her house at Whisper Hill was destroyed in FF#134. Her cat familiar Ebony pops out of nowhere to join her too. Vision wants to talk to Wanda privately (to convince her that he loves her and not Mantis). But Agatha insists that Wanda must stay with her until dawn.

The witch magically seals off the room so no other Avengers will know what happens therein. And the villain materialises within. He is Necrodamus, and his aim is as it was in Defenders #1 to turn his deformed body into a big, strong one. This time he will get that body in exchange for capturing the soul of Agatha Harkness for an undisclosed master. The villain claims that the stars are right tonight to give him the power to defeat her. And he transforms into the body he has been promised.

Ebony also transforms, into a huge black panther, but Necrodamus hurls him aside and he reverts to his slumped cat form. The witch tells the Witch not to use her hex power needlessly because it will drain her and leave her defenceless. But then Miss Harkness too is easily defeated, leaving Wanda alone.

Scarlet Witch uses her hex to blind Necrodanus with a bedsheet, then karate chops him. But he rips free and swats her aside. A 2nd hex bombards him with bricks from the fireplace, followed by a roundhouse kick to the head. But again he flings her back. Now a 3rd hex hits him with a framed picture off the wall, and she falls exhausted to the floor.

Necrodamus threatens to open the casket he brought with him, which will capture the souls of Wanda and Agatha. But then Ebony stares into Scarlet Witch's eyes and she summons up the resolve to cast a 4th hex in a row, something she's never managed before. The casket shatters and a horde of souls pour out, dragging the villain with them as they flee. Wanda feels herself also being taken away by the swarm. But a huge black paw drags her back by the cloak.

All is now calm, and Agatha Harkness strokes her cat. Scarlet Witch realises that Agatha was never really defeated, but had let things progress to show Wanda that she was more powerful than she realised.

Oblivious to all this, Mantis finally admits to Swordsman that she doesn't love him anymore, and her heart belongs to Vision. Swordsman goes berserk as she leaves him, slashing wildly with his sword until Iron Man and Thor restrain him.

Mantis then approaches the brooding android, ostensibly to ask his advice about the dilemma of her past. She remembers growing up an orphan on the streets of Saigon. But in #123 Libra claimed to be her father and said she was brought up by the Priests of Pama. And when she visited their temple in #124 she knew things about it that she couldn't have. So now she suspects her memories have been tampered with. Vision says he's in a similar boat, because he froze in battle in #118 and #122 and doesn't know why. (Perhaps even more significantly he should mention his programming by Ultron.)

Mantis tells Vision how alike they are, and professes her love for him. But the android knocks her back, saying he loves only Wanda.

But then they hear a commotion outside. All the Avengers rush out to find bystanders gasping at the appearance of a star glowing over the Mansion. And Kang the Conqueror appears out of some smoke, claiming that the star signals that the time is ripe for his conquest.


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Joe Staton
Joe Staton
Steve Englehart
Gil Kane (Cover Penciler)
John Romita (Cover Inker)
Layouts: Sal Buscema. Letterer: Tom Orzechowski.
Editor: Roy Thomas.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Human Torch
Human Torch

(Johnny Storm)
Invisible Woman
Invisible Woman

(Sue Storm)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Kang
Kang

(Kang the Conqueror)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
Thing
Thing

(Ben Grimm)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)

Plus: Agatha Harkness, Franklin Richards.