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Avengers #131: Review

Jan 1975
Steve Englehart, Sal Buscema

Story Name:

A quiet half-hour in Saigon

Review & Comments

Rating:
4.5 stars

Avengers #131 Review by (January 21, 2014)
Irrespective of when the Unliving are culled from, Kang claims that they are all currently dead. However this claim isn't completely true. The Frankenstein Monster isn't dead. He's already been revived in modern times in comics published before this one. It hasn't been stated at this time what happened to HT in 1954, but he has already been found and temporarily reactivated in Fantastic Four Annual #4. And he will eventually be brought back to android life. Midnight and Wonder Man *are* at this time considered dead, but they will both be resurrected later. However Baron Zemo is *genuinely* dead now, and will make appearances later in the afterlife. (But that's hasn't stopped some other characters being later declared alive.) The Ghost is also dead, but unlike the others he was already dead when Kang recruited him.

Midnight was brought up alongside Fu Manchu's son Shang-Chi. He died in Marvel Special Edition #16 when the devil-doctor sent him against his friend. As well as a few flashbacks, Midnight's earlier life will feature in a backup tale in Iron Man Annual #4. Baron Zemo is of course the Nazi whose exploding drone plane caused the (apparent) death of Bucky near the end of WWII. Captain America was instrumental in his death in #15. Wonder Man is the villain turned hero who debuted and appeared to die in #9. Ultron used his brain patterns in the creation of the Vision before #57. And his brother Grim Reaper has been dragging his body around seeking revenge. The android Human Torch is a Golden Age hero who ceased to appear in comics in 1954, which is the time Zemo has brought him from. Kang seems here to want him just because he is an android as Vision is.

Despite the misleading cover blurb this Legion of the Unliving is not made up of characters brought back from the dead as some later versions will be. The 1st version of the Official Avengers Index gives specific panels from which they have been abducted, and they are all before the characters actually die (except for Ghost who was dead already). (When the Legion are sent back at the end of GS Av#3 we see some of them arriving in the panels quoted in the Index.) Later versions of the Official Index are less specific but don't contradict this. Neither do the Marvel Chronology Project nor the Unofficial Appendix to the Marvel Handbook. The Frankenstein Monster has already featured in several Marvel comics including his own series which began with the Mike Ploog-drawn adaptation of the original story. He is taken here from 1898, the year when he was found frozen in the Arctic ice. Next issue it will say that he has been brought forward from that icy grave. However the above sources have him taken from the middle of Frankenstein Monster #12 where he gets frozen again until the middle of the 20th Century, this time in the sea somewhere near the Alps. Possibly his adventures between the 2 frozen states all happened in 1898. The Ghost here is the ghost of the Flying Dutchman taken from within Silver Surfer #9. The Ghost was sent against the Surfer in SS#8-9 by Mephisto. But as the Flying Dutchman he had already appeared in a couple of old Marvel monster mags:- Journey into Mystery #56 and Strange Tales #98.

Immortus here acts as though he doesn't know who Kang and Rama-Tut are. But in GSAv#3 we will learn he is a version of them both from even further along their future history. #269 will say that *a* Kang learned about alternate realities and alternate Kang's after Thor sent him to Limbo in Thor #140. (And he found the skeleton of Immortus whom he recognised from #10) But Avengers Forever #9 will say that that was not *this* Kang. More significantly #269 will say that *that* Kang set about killing all his alternates. So how could Rama-Tut II remember *this* Kang's attempt on the Celestial Madonna? #269 explains that by Immortus giving *that* Kang the memories of all Kangs. But the same issue then spoils that by sending *that* Kang off to die, and having Immortus reveal another Kang he kept hidden in a cupboard who *will* become Rama-Tut II and Immortus. Avengers Forever #9 corrects this slip-up by denying the Kang in the cupboard, and having the Kang full of memories diverge into 2, 1 of which *does* go on to his destiny. But the fact that the future Rama-Tut isn't *this* Kang but only has his memories (among many others) rather negates/dilutes R-T's statements that Kang *will* evolve into him. Immortus at this point *pretends* not to be aware of all this, but he fully comprehends it, and as an inhabitant of Limbo is probably 1 of the few beings who is unique - without alternates. His cameo in #16 suggested he *did* remember/know about what happened in #10.

Vision says the fight with the Titanic Three last issue only happened yesterday, but the Official Index has Iron Man slipping home to the US for IM#72 and back to Saigon for another round with the Three in IM#73 since last issue. Nomad's adventure involved the Serpent Crown and Hugh Jones of Roxxon, and these will both play a large part in this series starting in #141. Steve Rogers won't keep his word to rejoin the team soon. In fact he'll become Captain America again before joining up in the aforementioned #141, after a brief cameo in #137 delaying his return. Captain Marvel and Rick Jones are still on the Moon, or even further out in space, in their own mag. The hooded figure is again Libra of Zodiac. The ghost of Swordsman will be explained in Giant-Size Av#4.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #131 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This issue switches between 2 separate strands, following the Avengers and Kang. I'll disentangle them.

The Avengers (Hawkeye, Iron Man, Thor and Vision) are still in Saigon helping Mantis to sort out her past. But no-one remembers her there as a youngster, only in her recent occupation as a bar girl. Against that there is Libra's version of her upbringing from #123, and Kang's prediction in Giant-Size #2 that she will be the Celestial Madonna.

The cast's musing over a mugger Mantis has just apprehended is interrupted by the arrival of Nomad, the new identity of Steve Rogers. He's just concluded his 1st adventure in Captain America #180-181, which ended in the Pacific. So he popped over here to see the gang before going home to chase down the 2 members of the Serpent Squad (Cobra and Viper) who escaped the final battle. He promises to rejoin the team after he's dealt with them.

Hawkeye contacts Jarvis, who tells him that Scarlet Witch is still spending all her time with Miss Harkness learning witchcraft, and there's still no word from Captain Marvel or Rick Jones.

Mantis apologises to Vision for coming on to him in previous issues. She must now prepare herself for her prophesied new role.  But Vision finds himself confused by feelings for her (conflicting with his love for Wanda). He goes for advice to Iron Man (as a confidante of playboy Tony Stark), but doesn't get any.

As Mantis ponders her fate she briefly senses someone watching, who we see is the hooded figure from last issue. Then she sees what appears to be the ghost of her dead love Swordsman, until it vanishes away.

Then Jarvis contacts Hawkeye to relay a message to Nomad about the Serpent Squad in Los Angeles. And Steve Rogers exits to CA#182.

In the other strand, Kang and Rama-Tut are where we left them in GSAv#2, at each other's throats in Kang's time sphere falling through a time vortex. Kang the Conqueror cannot believe that he is destined to become Rama-Tut the man of peace. Suddenly they are whisked away to the throne room of Immortus, Master of Limbo, who hasn't been seen since his initial appearance in #10 (apart from a threatening cameo at the end of #16).

Kang introduces himself and claims he would soon have defeated his enemy Rama-Tut without Immortus' interference. Tut is unconscious, and Immortus imprisons him in a transparent tube. Kang swears to become even more ruthless to avoid turning into Tut. And Immortus plans to use him as a pawn.

Immortus suggests to Kang that they combine forces against the Avengers. Kang laughs and says he's already watched Immortus defeated by the team in #10. But Enchantress used magic to rewind time so that whole affair never happened - and so Immortus won't remember it. But it gives Kang an idea. Immortus called forth heroes from the past to fight the Avengers in #10, but only mortals. But Kang will use Immortus' machinery to bring super-powered characters from the past. Moreover they will be characters who are now dead, to strike terror as a Legion of the Unliving.

He fetches the Frankenstein Monster from 1898, the Ghost from Silver Surfer #8-9 and the martial-artist Midnight from Marvel Special Edition #16. Closer to home is Captain America's foe Baron Zemo. And especially for the Vision he chooses Wonder Man from #9, the source of his brain pattern, and the android Human Torch from 1954.

Kang is about to send his Legion against the Avengers when Immortus suggests instead they bring the heroes to face their foes in his labyrinthine Limbo castle. Kang accepts the idea but dismisses its author by imprisoning Immortus in one of his own transparent tubes.

Then Kang transports the 5 Avengers to separate parts of the castle, and uses a Limbo public address system to tell them where they are, who he is, and to prepare for battle.


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Sal Buscema
Joe Staton
Phil Rachelson
Gil Kane (Cover Penciler)
Frank Giacoia (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski.
Editor: Roy Thomas.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Hawkeye
Hawkeye

(Clint Barton)
Human Torch
Human Torch

(Jim Hammond)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Kang
Kang

(Kang the Conqueror)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)

Plus: Baron Zemo, Frankenstein Monster, Ghost (Flying Dutchman), Immortus, Jarvis (Edwin Jarvis), Libra, Midnight, Nomad (Steve Rogers), Rama-Tut.