Comic Browser:


Avengers #178: Review

Dec 1978
Steve Gerber, Carmine Infantino

Story Name:

The martyr perplex

Review & Comments

3.5 stars

Avengers #178 Review by (November 19, 2014)
Then there's another jam session in CA#228-229. It's a story of Cap and the Super-Agents of SHIELD, but Hercules, IM, SW, Thor, Wasp and Vision are also there in cameos. Cap tells the Avengers he's heading out of town in #229, leading into a crossover with Hulk in CA#230 and Hu#232 and further Cap adventures in #231-236 involving the Grand Director (1950's Cap). This includes 1 of the 'deaths' of Sharon Carter and a guest app by Daredevil. In Av#179 we will learn that he's still away on this mission. Meanwhile Beast helps Spider-Man fight Killer Shrike and the Modular Man in MTU#90, which takes place before MTU#87 (guest-starring Black Panther) and #88 (with a cameo by W&YJ). I also place round here the final arc of Captain Marvel's series #58-62, where the inhabitants of Titan face the legacy of dead Thanos, which continues in Marvel Spotlight (1997) #1-2. Note that Hawkeye, Ms Marvel and Quicksilver make no appearances in this section, joining Jocasta, Moondragon and the Guardians of the Galaxy who are complete absentees between #177 and #181.

As with my comments on #177 and An#8, I shall endeavour to place adventures between this and #179 for of *all* the characters that occupy #177&181. For Beast, Wasp and Wonder Man this is defined by the OI. For others there is ambiguity and 1 end of the range or both. Cap isn't in #179-180. Black Panther, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Vision and Yellowjacket are there but not here. Other characters aren't in either place. To help guide the placements there are some issues featuring multiple characters. For instance there's Daredevil #155-158 where Beast and Cap join Black Widow and Hercules to help DD against Death-Stalker. Meanwhile Iron man drops in on the Fantastic Four in FF#202 followed by Captain Marvel and Thing meeting some characters from FF#90-91 in Marvel Two-In-One #45. Somewhere around here Thor, in his #279, remembers a tale set after his #170, and Wonder Man battles the Griffin in Marvel Team-Up #78. And definitely placed here, SHIELD hire Wasp and Yellowjacket to shrink Godzilla in his #17. Because they are joined by Cap, IM, Scarlet Witch, Thor and Vision for the monster's finale in #23-24.

This is the 1st of 3 probable fill-in issues, but accepted as being in sequence. They have equally fill-in creators, this 1 by Steve Gerber and Carmine Infantino. These 3 issues plus Annual #8 are placed by the Official Index between #177 (the end of the Korvac Saga) and #181 (choosing a new lineup). All the many heroes from #177 are present in #181. The Annual was clearly written to fit here because it includes guests Black Panther, Hawkeye, Ms Marvel and Quicksilver from the bookend issues. This issue only includes 4 of the current regular lineup. And anyway is really a Beast solo tale with only cameos by other Avengers. (But the fact that Roger Stern is editor and Jim Shooter is listed as editor-in-chief suggests that if it *is* a fill-in it was written very recently.) Manipulator will return in Captain America #242 trying his tricks on Cap. There he will turn out (to his own surprise) to be a robot. And in CA#247 its body will be seen in Machinesmith's lab, indicating that it was 1 of the many creations of that villain. The gaunt guy won't be in these apps, so we'll never find out why he approaches the agents at the end.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #178 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This strange issue starts with Beast's night out in a nightclub being ruined by a bigot. After he leaves he is accosted in the rain by a gaunt figure in tatters who claims to represent Hank's wounded soul. Then a lightning bolt reduces him to soot. The disturbed hero races back to Avengers Mansion where he tells Wasp and Wonder Man (on duty at the time) what's just happened.

Over the following week Beast can't concentrate, earning him a reprimand from Captain America.

Later he tells the story again to his date Winnie at another nightclub. He thinks the apparition was telling him to get more connected with normal human beings. Winnie suggests he can start by getting her something she needs.

But then we shift to a literally 2-faced villain calling himself Manipulator telling some mob bosses that this is all a demonstration of how he can get heroes like the Avengers to do their dirty work for them. Winnie will persuade Beast to steal a black box from the apartment the bad guys are now in. They watch through a 1-way mirror as Henry McCoy does indeed enter an adjoining room and grab the box.

But Manipulator traps Beast in a cage, and then the villains confront him. Manipulator claims that Beast is the bad guy here. Hank counters that he was retrieving the stolen life's work of a man for his daughter. And he opens the box to prove it.

But a light beam from the box floods his mind with images from his past. And in a hypnotic trance Beast sings and dances at Manipulator's command. The villain claims that the hero will remain under his control, even after the effects of the light beam have worn off.

The mob bosses readily pay Manipulator for his future services. But he hits them with a beam from his eye, and starts them dancing, as FBI(?) agents enter. They are satisfied with Manipulator's demonstration.

Manipulator leaves. The agents take the memory stimulator in the black box, and call the police to arrest the mobbies. Beast recovers his senses and leaves the dancing mobsters before the cops arrive.

But on their way out the agents are accosted by the gaunt man in tatters.

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Carmine Infantino
Rudy Nebres
Nel Yomtov
John Buscema (Cover Penciler)
Frank Giacoia (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Joe Rosen.
Editor: Roger Stern.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank McCoy)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Manipulator (Robot).

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

Share This Page