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Avengers #72: Review

Jan 1970
Roy Thomas, Sal Buscema

Story Name:

Did You Hear the One about Scorpio?

Review & Comments

5 stars

Avengers #72 Review by (November 25, 2011)
When this issue was published it was quite reasonable to have the Fury brothers still active although adult in WWII. As modern Marvel time was increasingly separated from the 40's, Nick Fury was given long-life by the Infinity Formula (in Marvel Spotlight #31). It has been suggested that the Zodiac Key kept Jake Fury young. The Fury 1-shot shows that Jake had the key while Iron Man had his bulky golden armour, but hadn't yet tapped its potential. Maybe he and the key had been together for a long time, but Nick doesn't ever comment on how young his brother seems. It is unclear how ex-Howling Commandos Dum-Dum Dugan and Gabe Jones will remain active so long either, though Fury may have given them the Formula too. Jimmy Woo, an agent in the 1950's Yellow Claw comics, will also become problematical as time goes by. But he has been depicted as ageing, and then being rejuvenated in Agents of Atlas. Continuing my obsession with Wasp's costumes, she's got another new one here. She'll be back in the John Buscema standard issue from next time. I really liked this issue when it came out. My favourite aspect of the Marvel Universe is its interconnections (as you may have guessed), and this comic tied in lots of SHIELD and Rick Jones stuff. But I feel that Zodiac and Scorpio went mainly downhill after this. Cap will miss out the next 2 issues, but he'll be back for a visit in #75. The 2-parter in #73-74 will feature the returned Black Panther and the Sons of the Serpent from #32-33 with new leaders. Frank Giacoia will pencil next issue, and then John Buscema will return.

Scorpio tried to kill Nick with the Zodiac Key in SHIELD #1 and #5. There was no mention of the Zodiac cartel. But now it seems that killing Nick was his mission for Zodiac, and Aries lent him the Key. But West Coast Avengers #27 will claim that the Key belonged to Scorpio. While it has also been suggested that the Key passed with leadership of the Zodiac cartel with the progression of astrological signs. This is the 1st version of Zodiac to be unveiled. The team will appear again several times, both as a whole and as individual members. The next appearance will be by Taurus in #80-81. The most significant member after Scorpio is Libra, who will turn out to be the father of Mantis and play a significant role in Avengers Forever. Some members of Zodiac will be killed and replaced. Completely different Zodiac teams will arise, like the android one mentioned earlier. Secret Warriors #25 (again) even proposes an earlier spy version which included both Fury brothers, with Jake as Scorpio that time too. That incarnation's Taurus was Cornelius Van Lunt, who we will meet in #77, and who will turn out to be Taurus of the current Zodiac too. Daredevil #73 will reveal that the Zodiac Key comes from the Ankh dimension, while issues like Defenders #49 will impute some sentience to it.

SHIELD #15 was the last in the original series. The Bulls-Eye who 'killed' Fury there isn't the same as Bullseye the foe of Daredevil and Punisher. SHIELD has been seen using Life Model Decoys since Strange Tales #135. LMDs are android duplicates which believe they are the real thing. According to Secret Warriors #25-26 by Jonathan Hickman, Nick and Jake Fury discovered the original ancient LMD, which keen-eyed readers may have spotted was the duplicate Leonardo da Vinci created in the later #2 of vol 2 of Hickman's current historical SHIELD comic. (I love that series.) The title of this issue follows a theme from Jim Steranko's SHIELD #1 (Who is Scorpio?) and #5 (Whatever happened to Scorpio?). And Sal Buscema produces a Steranko-like opening page. Steranko had mentioned that Fury had a brother back in ST#159. SHIELD #5 ended without Fury saying who Scorpio was, just that he knew him. This was before Nick's brother was given the name Jake in the WWII Sgt Fury #68-69. Now the connection is made between the two. Of course Jake isn't really dead, but he will commit suicide in Defenders #50 after leading an otherwise-android Zodiac team. However he will be resurrected as an LMD himself to lead another android Zodiac, before being stranded in another dimension in West Coast Avengers #28. (I've missed out a few other people who took on the role of Scorpio.) The aforementioned SW#26 will throw all this up in the air when it reveals Jake is still alive as an undercover SHIELD agent. The Scorpio Jake was one of the first SHIELD LMDs, which went mad and ran off to become Scorpio.

Iron Man is possibly still recovering from Tony Stark's heart attack as depicted in #69 and IM#18-19. This would mean his appearance as Iron Man in #70-71 hasn't happened yet (due to time travel). The only published event that could be occupying Thor at this time would be his battle with Kronin Krask in Thor #172. Black Panther has been in Wakanda since #66. But that didn't stop him participating in #68-71. And he will return to the fold next issue.

Rick Jones started Marvel life as Hulk's companion, and moved with him into the Avengers in #1. But he stayed with the Avengers when Hulk quit in #2, and tagged on to Captain America when he was revived in #4. Cap trained him to fight, but Rick left the Avengers in #17 to rejoin Hulk in the concurrent Tales to Astonish #69. He hung around with Hulk until Hulk #106 and CA#110, where he switched allegiance again. In CA#110-118 Rick wore the Bucky costume, which brings us to the events mentioned in this issue. In CA#116 Red Skull swapped bodies with Cap, and rejected Rick. Disillusioned Rick discarded the Bucky uniform in CA#118. In Captain Marvel #17 he became bonded to Mar-Vell. Mar-Vell is now trapped in the Negative Zone, and can only come to Earth when Rick swaps places with him using the Nega-Bands on his wrists. Rick will continue to spend most of his life as a sidekick. After Captain Marvel will come another spell with Hulk, then Rom the Spaceknight. After that Rick will rejoin Hulk again, but with a more independent lifestyle. But then he will be stuck in the old symbiotic relationship with a different Captain Marvel. But as I write he is now back in Hulk's world, but with his own superhuman alter ego A-Bomb.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #72 Synopsis by Rob Johnson

Captain America runs into Rick Jones outside Avengers Mansion. Cap has called a meeting of the Avengers and coincidentally Rick has something he wants to tell them.

Cap explains to Rick that it wasn't himself who turned on his young partner the last time they met in CA#116, but Red Skull in disguise.

Cap convenes the meeting and offers Iron Man and Thor's apologies for not attending, plus Black Panther's who is still in Wakanda.

Cap tells the assembled Avengers that SHIELD wants them to investigate the disappearance of 3 top New York officials. Dum-Dum Dugan (with Gabe Jones and Jimmy Woo in the background) contacts them to add that the sign of Scorpio (a baddie from SHIELD #1 and #5) was found in their apartments. And that Nick Fury, head of SHIELD, is dead, killed by Bulls-Eye in SHIELD #15.

After that video-conference, Rick interrupts to explain why he is here, which will be relevant. He tells them that, after being rejected by 'Cap', he went to Fury's apartment an hour ago, looking for a job in SHIELD. But he found Scorpio there, who temporarily knocked him out, but dropped a list of the 3 missing men.

Rick doesn't tell the Avengers of his recently acquired symbiosis with Captain Marvel. He just says Marvel popped up and fought Scorpio until blasted by the Zodiac Key.

Then Scorpio appears on their viewscreen and informs them that this has all been an elaborate plot to gather them together. He then blasts them unconscious with the Zodiac Key (through the viewscreen!). They wake up in stasis in his secret HQ.

Scorpio introduces them to 11 other costumed criminals, each embodying a sign of the zodiac. They are an international crime cartel called Zodiac led by Aries. Scorpio has captured the Avengers (as many as he could) to make up for the failure of his last 2 missions. He now returns the Zodiac Key to Aries.

Scorpio explains that Zodiac are intent on world domination, at least of the criminal element, and want to kill the Avengers to impress prospective subordinates.

The Avengers are immobile in the stasis field. But Wasp and Yellowjacket have combined mental powers to send ants to disrupt Scorpio's machinery. the heroes break free and attack the villains. To be joined by Scorpio who whips off his mask to reveal himself as Nick Fury.

The heroes are winning until Aries starts to use the Zodiac Key on them. But Rick, who has resisted swapping places with Mar-Vell to assert his independence, grabs Aries' arm and diverts his shot to blow a hole in the wall. Through which Zodiac escape.

Fury tells the Avengers about the ending of SHIELD #5 where he discovered the identity of Scorpio, who was presumed dead at the end of that issue. It is only here that he reveals that Scorpio was his brother Jake. He claims that since then he has been moonlighting part-time as Scorpio to infiltrate Zodiac. While he was in Scorpio-mode an LMD took his place at SHIELD. And it was this LMD that was shot in SHIELD #15, which only Dugan knows about.

Fury engineered the current situation to get the whole Zodiac cartel in the grasp of the Avengers. If Wasp and Yellowjacket hadn't freed them he would have done it himself. Unfortunately Zodiac got away.

Cap praises Rick for saving them from the Zodiac Key, and asks him to return as his partner. But Rick turns the offer down because Mar-Vell needs him.

Sal Buscema
Sam Grainger
Sal Buscema (Cover Penciler)
Sam Grainger (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)


(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Gabe Jones (Gabriel Jones), Goliath (Clint Barton), Jimmy Woo, Taurus (Cornelius Van Lunt), Zodiac.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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