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Giant-Size Avengers #4: Review

Jun 1975
Steve Englehart, Don Heck

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Story Name:

... let all men bring together

Review & Comments

4 stars

Giant-Size Avengers #4 Review by (January 29, 2014)
This is the 1st time Space Phantom has been shown working for Immortus, justified by the fact that SP is (the only) inhabitant of Limbo. SP's switching with Mantis should send her to Limbo, and it works here because the box is a simulation of Limbo. (It would make more sense to me to say that the box is an *extension* of Limbo.) In Thor #281-282 it will appear that Space Phantom is as he said in Av#2 an alien of a race like himself. But Avengers Forever will claim that was a trick by Immortus, and the multiple SP's are in fact random beings who got trapped in Limbo. According to the Official Index the Avengers have been appearing continuously in this Giant-Size series and the main Avengers one since Av#127, with the exception of Iron Man popping out for IM#72, Giant-Size Man-Thing #2 and IM#73 between Av#130 and Av#131. They also stick around for the opening scene of Av#137 (#136 is a reprint). But they nip off to do their individual things before the bulk of that issue. This issue also reprints The Ant-Man story from Tales to Astonish #38 and the Black Widow story from Amazing Adventures #1.

The Titanic Three will appear next in Iron Man #74 being arrested by the Vietnamese (for something Crimson Dynamo did in IM#73). That will be the end for the team and for Niven - the Official Handbook will say that the KGB will kill him to give his armour to the next Crimson Dynamo in Champions #7-10. Titanium Man will continue to lumber on probably up to the present day, but there will be some replacement Titanium Men along the way, and some disagreement as to how many and which is who. Radioactive Man will continue to be a stock baddie, but eventually will reform in the Thunderbolts, and later become 1 of China's superheroes. Thor says he's the chairman of the Avengers, and has been since Captain America resigned the post some time ago. The Official Index has listed him in the role since Av#128, so Thor's probably referring to Cap's recent quitting in CA#176 (before Av#127) to become Nomad. The Eldest Cotati plant-being has supposedly reanimated the dead body of Swordsman. This may explain why it's green, but not why it's glowing and ghost-like. Apart from lots of flashbacks Mantis will return with her son in Silver Surfer (1987) #3. But she will also have the distinction of sort-of appearing in other comics universes before then. Englehart's briefly appearing characters Willow in DC's JLA and Lorelei in Eclipse's Scorpio Rose are generally considered to be her.

Dormammu and Umar appear here during the story currently running in Dr Strange (1974) #6-9, also being written by Steve Englehart, between #7 and #8. This subplot with Scarlet Witch doesn't really affect the DS tale, just getting a passing mention in DS#8. Agatha Harkness' attitude here and in Av#134 suggests to me that she let Dormammu possess Scarlet Witch, expecting that Wanda would prove herself capable of winning out. We last saw Dormammu sucked into the Evil Eye in Av#118. But the belief of his worshippers was enough to begin his regeneration. And his sister Umar brought him the the centre of the Earth where the heat would nurture him. (Dormammu also argues that his rebirth means that his oath to Dr Strange in Strange Tales #127 never to attack Earth is now nullified.) Umar was introduced in ST#150. She spends as much time trying to steal her brother's power as she does battling Dr Strange. Which will be a factor in the resolution of the current DS story. Dormammu will continue to appear throughout the Marvel Age, but lately his stature seems to be diminished:- appearing mainly as 1 among many demon lords, and even apparently being killed by Magik in Uncanny X-Men (2013) #5-7. Umar will appear less frequently, usually in conflict with her brother.

This issue is the climax of the Celestial Madonna storyline, somewhat let down by the workmanlike art of Don Heck. John Romita did some alterations to the cover. Once again it's a bit misleading, with Dormammu menacing the dual wedding ceremony. The title obviously connects with '... what time hath put asunder" from #2 to paraphrase "What God has joined together let no man put asunder".


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Giant-Size Avengers #4 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This is the finale of the Celestial Madonna saga, continuing from AVENGERS #135.

But it starts off with the Vision. In Av#135 he watched as Ultron-5 created him using the body of the WWII android Human Torch (and the mind of Wonder Man). The synchro-staff that had guided him through times past then said it would return him to Immortus and the present. But instead Vision found himself alone in the dark.

Now he hears a psychic scream and heads towards a light. And discovers that he's at the centre of the Earth where Dormammu and his sister Umar have imprisoned the Earth Goddess Gaea (in Dr Strange (1974) #7). But they also have Scarlet Witch and Agatha Harkness prisoner. Dormammu is seeking revenge for Wanda defeating him at the end of the Avengers/Defenders War in Av#118.

Wanda has been learning witchcraft from Miss Harkness for several issues. Dormammu explains that she overreached herself, allowing him to possess her in Av#134, and spirit her and Agatha away in Av#135.

Dormammu sends demons to attack Vision. His intangibility saves him for a while, but he is aware that his long journey through time cut him off from the solar radiation which keeps his batteries charged, so to speak. However, now knowing that his body was once that of the Torch, he realises that he can absorb power from the demons' flames, and blast them with his solar beam.

But Dormammu now commands Scarlet Witch to attack her love Vision.

Meanwhile Mantis has returned with Hawkeye, Iron Man and Thor from their travels in time learning the history of the Kree and the Cotati plant-beings. They arrived back in the garden of the Temple of Pama in Viet Nam to be greeted by Mantis' father Libra and the apparent ghost of her lover Swordsman. They were joined by Moondragon, and then Immortus.

But now Immortus nips off into the timestream to find out what's keeping Vision.

'Swordsman' at last starts to explain what all the Kree/Cotati business has to do with Mantis being the Celestial Madonna.

He claims that Mantis has been raised to be the perfect human. But that Moondragon was also brought up with the same intent. In Av#123 we learned that infant Mantis lost her mother and was given by her father to the Priests of Pama to raise. And in Av#135 we were reminded that young Moondragon lost her parents and was raised on Titan in the Shao Lom monastery. In Av#124 we saw that the Priests of Pama were descended from pacifist Kree. Now Swordsman says that the orphaning of Mantis and Moondragon happened on the same day, and the Shao Lom monks were also part of the Kree pacifist sect.

Both girls were put through similar training of body and mind. In Av#135 we learned how the pacifist Kree nurtured the telepathic Cotati. And Mantis recognised the Cotati as some of the plants in the temple garden. It turns out that there were Cotati in the Titan monastery too. And both women have been trained without knowing it to communicate with the plants. In Mantis that is expressed in her empathy. In Moondragon it is her knowledge of genetics and the human mind.

But then the women were set on different paths. While Moondragon remained in the monastery studying, Mantis had her memories of the temple erased and was sent to work as a bar girl in Saigon. In this way she learned about mankind, while Moondragon remained aloof. It is this which makes Mantis the more perfect human, chosen to be the Celestial Madonna.

The ghostly Swordsman then dashes through the story of Mantis that we followed in the past year and a half of Avengers issues:- Working for Monsieur Khruul. Meeting Swordsman. Joining the Avengers with him. Her attraction to Vision. Libra of Zodiac revealing himself to be her father and telling her of her forgotten childhood.

Then the 'ghost' reveals the purpose of it all. 1 of the trees in the garden is the Eldest Cotati. He is the perfect plant. As the perfect human Mantis will marry the tree, which is animating the body of her love Swordsman. She will be the Celestial Madonna and bear a prophesied child.

Meanwhile Hawkeye has dragged Iron Man and Thor away from the revelations to see Crimson Dynamo, Radioactive Man and Titanium Man (the Titanic Three from Av#130 and Iron Man #73) lying beaten and battered. They say that the guy who did it called himself Kang. The Avengers figure he's back for a 3rd attempt at claiming the Madonna as his bride (the previous attempts ending in #2 and #3). They split up to find him. But each of the 3 heroes defeat and capture a Kang!

At the centre of the Earth Scarlet Witch isn't holding back, and it takes all of Vision's powers to defend himself from her enhanced hex attacks. But then she drains all his stored energy, and he sinks to her feet dying and declaring his love for her. Which of course snaps her out of Dormammu's control.

Wanda challenges Dormammu, who tries to reassert his control but fails. This is because the Witch has also freed Agatha Harkness who is a much more accomplished witch, and she is protecting her pupil. Scarlet Witch then cools the lava which Dormammu is standing in, and which he has been using in Dr Strange to fuel his regeneration. Umar sneaks up behind Wanda. But Scarlet Witch has also revived Vision, who knocks Umar out. Dormammu sues for peace, and Wanda gets him to send her, Miss Harkness and Vision to the surface. (Along with some promises like freeing Gaea which he doesn't intend to honour.)

The 3 materialise in Avengers Mansion. Miss Harkness leaves the duo, saying that her work is done and Wanda can continue her studies on her own. Vision tells his love that learning of his previous life as Human Torch has made him more sure of himself. And he asks her to marry him. Wanda says "Yes".

As does Mantis in Viet Nam.

Just then the Avengers arrive with their captive Kangs. But another Kang turns up in his time sphere and abducts Mantis. He has come to this place and time multiple times, the other iterations being diversions. And his time sphere leaves Earth with the Celestial Madonna aboard.

Thor prepares to follow, but he is stopped by the reappearance of Immortus with Vision, Wanda and Miss Harkness. The Master of Limbo directs them to a large box he brought with him in Av#135. He opens it, and Mantis is inside.

The magician then explains his trick. The box originally contained the Space Phantom, an inhabitant of Limbo. When Kang's time sphere appeared the Phantom used his power to swap places with Mantis and assume her appearance. Which Kang is only now discovering for himself.

Immortus then officiates over 2 weddings. Mantis and Swordsman/Cotati become energy beings and zip off into the cosmos and Vision and Wanda go off on honeymoon.

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Don Heck
John Tartaglione
Petra Goldberg
Gil Kane (Cover Penciler)
John Romita (Cover Penciler)
Al Milgrom (Cover Inker)
John Romita (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Charlotte Jetter.
Editor: Len Wein.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Crimson Dynamo
Crimson Dynamo

(Alex Niven)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Kang the Conqueror)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)


Plus: Agatha Harkness, Gaia, Immortus, Libra, Radioactive Man, Space Phantoms, Titanium Man, Umar.

> Giant-Size Avengers: Book info and issue index

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