Comic Browser:


Avengers #33: Review

Oct 2000
Kurt Busiek, George Perez

Story Name:

Tainted love

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Avengers #33 Review by (June 12, 2020)
George Perez did the pencilling  for p1-7, then layouts for the rest finished by Paul Ryan.

Albert Deschesne helped with the lettering again.

It's finally made clear that Grim Reaper and the Maggia (apart from Madame Masque's Las Vegas family) are working for Count Nefaria. So Nefaria was Reaper's boss in #31 when GR called all the Maggia families together and asked them to combine forces. And GR's secondary target was to capture MM.
But presumably the Maggia weren't also working for Nefaria at that time (and holding a pretend gathering just to get MM, as her paranoia would have assumed). Presumably the other families (or some of them) did afterwards accept Nefaria's plan and started gathering ionic stuff for him.

Iron Man restored his secret id in IM/Captain America Annual 1998 by making the whole world forget he was Tony Stark. I don't think the whole world *knew* the secret but too many individuals had found out over the years. But then he relented and told his long-term friends like the original Avengers and Pepper and Happy Hogan.
Madame Masque notes here that he keeps his faceplate in place with the other Avengers. Originally this could have been because Firestar and Justice still weren't in on the secret, and now Triathlon. But this raises the question which other current Avengers don't know. She-Hulk and Warbird weren't on the team when he re-revealed his identity, but Carol Danvers definitely knows her AA-sponsor Tony is IM. On the other hand everybody always refers to him as IM, not Tony, even when Triathlon's not present (but maybe it's just a security habit). He specifically contacted Hawkeye who by then had left for the Thunderbolts. And I strongly suspect Tony also let long-time associate Black Widow know.

The figure in the ruins will be revealed as Masque next issue.

Grim Reaper is next seen in the Av: Ultron Imperative 1-shot.

Benedict will reappear in the IM: Hypervelocity mini-series.

Everyone else bar Jasper Sitwell will head over to Thunderbolts #44, and JS will be waiting for them when they return for next issue.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #33 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This crossover continues from THUNDERBOLTS #43.

This issue has a voiceover by Madame Masque (Whitney Frost) describing the events from her perspective near the end of the issue. She's lost her sanctuary and fallen into the hands of her perceived enemies. They want her to trust them but her paranoia won't let her.

Last issue Grim Reaper and his Steelskulls attacked her secret Maggia base in a butte near Las Vegas. The Avengers opposed them but MM figured it was just a pretence to lure her out, so she sent her robots the Inner Guard to deal with them all. But then her father Count Nefaria joined in with Atlas and Wonder Man in tow, all 3 of them ionic beings.

Now the ionic 3 have sided with Reaper forcing her robots to fight alongside the Avengers. But Whitney still figures everyone but her own forces are conspiring against her, witnessed by the fact that Avenger Wonder Man is on the other 'side' and her 'father' must be a fake because he's dead. So she orders her Guard to kill everyone else.

The Thunderbolt Atlas and Simon Williams are in thrall to Nefaria. Scarlet Witch tries to get through to her lover Simon but has to be saved from him by Triathlon. Nefaria shrugs off attacks from Vision and Warbird as Iron Man tackles Atlas while Goliath, Triathlon and Wasp play with the Steelskull mercenaries and Grim Reaper tears into the robots with his scythe.

Goliath suddenly announces that they're doomed. The last time the team fought Nefaria (Av#164-166 where he gained his superpowers) even Thor couldn't beat him. They only won by a fluke. (The account of what happened to him at the end of that story has been confused by re-tellings. I prefer to think of it that learning his powers were killing him made him lose confidence.) Triathlon can't believe Henry Pym just suggested they give up, but Hank says the Avengers won't quit, they just won't win. Delroy Garrett counters that the only way *to* win is to psych yourself up to believing you *can*. But the scientist says that's not rational. (Whitney still thinks this is part of the plot to make her worried, but she's not convinced by Goliath's wooden delivery.)

Invulnerably confidant Nefaria then takes the time to explain his plan, like a good villain should. He used to be Count Nefaria, head of the European Maggia as his ancestors had been before him. He basked in the respect due him. But then common superheroes dared oppose him and succeed (starting in #13 of our original series). So he arranged to get superpowers himself, as mentioned in the paragraph above, but that led to his death (Iron Man #116). However his powers were ionic like Wonder Man's, and like Simon Williams he was reborn as an ionic being. But unlike WM he needed to feed on the ionic power of others (IM Annual 1999).

Since then he's been building his new life. He tried breeding ionic beings in the Savage Land (#28-31 of the current Captain America series) but gave that up and instead captured WM as he left Beast (after the Avengers Two: WM&B mini-series). Draining some of Simon's ionic power made him his slave, and Neffie sent him to bring Atlas into the fold (TBolts#42 in this crossover story arc).

At this point the hologram of Madame Masque's head which has been directing her robots tells the Avengers to get out of the way as Beta Cannons stick out of the butte and pummel her 'father'. But after minutes of pounding energy the Count is still standing with a smirk on his face. Whitney tells him she now believes he *is* her father but that she has much worse in store because she's had years to prepare for his possible return. Luchino Nefaria just demands respect from his child, and tells *her* that he intends to take back all that was his - the Maggia and herself.

Inside the base Whitney's bio-duplicate who calls herself Masque tries to persuade her to help the Avengers defeat the foe. But MM doesn't trust her because *she* joined the enemy team (until MM's main robot Benedict retrieved her in Av#399). MM now tells that tentacled android to activate the Nefaria Protocols. He rushes back into the base to obey but Nefaria orders his 2 ionic minions to reduce the place to rubble. They immediately abandon fighting Avengers and dive through the rocky butte. It starts falling apart and Whitney has to order her staff to abandon the place.

As the dust settles Nefaria hears underground escape shuttles taking folks to safety. He figures the most powerful of them must contain his daughter and digs his fist into the ground to rip the roof off a tunnel and extract Whitney from her craft. But Iron Man rockets into him and makes him drop his prize. And he calls his teammates to pile on while Triathlon uses his superspeed to take her away. The super-Count throws them all off and sends Atlas and Wonder Man after her, but Vision stops them by dropping on both of them at super-density. Neffie takes his frustration out by punching the synthezoid. Then he picks up his 2 ionic minions and flies off.

Grim Reaper tries to sneak away in the flying craft that brought him and his Steelskulls (finally confirming what has never actually been said before that he was working for the Count). But Warbird was waiting inside and punches his light out. And his 'Skulls are all laid out and Madame Masque's robots are all in bits.

Which brings us to the position Whitney Frost has been narrating from. She's a guest in Avengers Mansion and the team are trying to persuade her to share the Nefaria Protocols with them so they can *all* bring her father down. Shackled GR gloats that MM doesn't *have* any weapon that can stop the boss. And when Nefaria gets into the position of power he's aiming for then he himself will soon be freed.

Wasp takes the villain away, Iron Man stays to keep talking to Madame Masque, and the others go to figure out a way to get Wonder Man back.

Whitney calls Tony Stark by name, so he unmasks. She of course doesn't take *her* mask off and reveal her scarred features. Tony says he made the world forget his secret id (Iron Man & Captain America Annual 1998), but Whitney says her base was shielded against such mental manipulations, and just in case she has her memories recorded each night as backup. Tony says he remembers her as a vibrant woman (when they were lovers), and asks what changed her. She also remembers that era which ended when Tony killed her father (as she sees it) (IM#166). But her father obviously didn't die, so Tony didn't really betray her then. At last she begins to trust him, and he escorts her to join the others.

At the moment Goliath, Scarlet Witch and Wasp an talking to SHIELD Agent Jasper Sitwell by video. He's explaining that recently the Maggia have been stealing hi-tech components. Pym reckons they're supplying Nefaria to build something. There's an awkward moment when Whitney walks in, because she and Jasper had a thing too. Now a bit of her paranoia resurfaces as she thinks this is another ploy to get behind her guard.

Just then Warbird calls in to say that she, Triathlon and Vision have discovered that Count Nefaria's New Jersey castle has been pulled up by the foundations and taken away. And then Black Widow calls with Hawkeye's Thunderbolts to confirm that Nefaria and the Maggia are building something (as they discovered in TBolts#43) - an enormous ionic bomb that will irradiate the whole world. Whitney Frost's mind is in a whirl, but finally she agrees to recreate the Nefaria Protocols for the Avengers.

And back in Nevada somebody stumbles from the ruins.

The Avengers and Thunderbolts will finally get together in THUNDERBOLTS #44, then they all return here for the finale next issue.

George Perez
Al Vey
Tom Smith
George Perez (Cover Penciler)
George Perez (Cover Inker)
Tom Smith (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Richard Starkings.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: Bob Harras.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Atlas, Benedict, Goliath (Hank Pym), Grim Reaper (Eric Williams), Jasper Sitwell, Masque, Triathlon, Warbird (Carol Danvers).

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

Share This Page