Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller: Don Heck
Inker: Dick Ayers
Letterer: Art Simek
As our issue opens, The Avengers find themselves being hunted as traitors, unsure of what has happened to cause this unsettling situation. Flashing back however, the answer is soon revealed. Out on a night patrol, The Avengers manage to stop a couple mobsters from robbing a fur shop. By the time morning dawns on the following day however the heads of The Maggia, an organized crime cartel, are already discussing how The Avengers foiled their plans and that the heroes must be dealt with. More than that though is the mobster’s fear of Count Nefaria, leader of The Maggia and the richest nobleman in Europe. Through the use of 3D image projection, one of the crime lords brought before the Count to account for the failings of the previous night. In spite of his loyalty, the mobster is singled out for punishment as The Maggia suffers no failure. As a result, he is banished from the cartel. With the immediate situation addressed, Count Nefaria can now turn his attention to The Avengers.
The Count’s plan begins with moving his entire castle to America. Once it has arrived and been reassembled, Nefaria announces he is hosting a massive charity event and proceeds to invite The Avengers. Being the heroes that they are, The Avengers can’t turn down the invitation and so they arrive early at the event with the Teen Brigade in tow. While Rick Jones and his friends stay outside and wait for the official kickoff, The Avengers are shown inside and each given a separate room in which they can relax and freshen up before the event begins. Little do they know that the odd looking lights in the room are actually affecting their perception of time. As the intensity increases, each Avenger begins to feel time moving slower and slower, until they think time has stopped completely.
Once The Avengers are seemingly frozen, Count Nefaria is free to do as he pleases. The Count however chooses not to dirty his hands personally and instead begins to set his elaborate scheme in motion. Creating 3D duplicates of The Avengers, he quickly sends them to the Pentagon where the duplicates demand that the United States submit to their rule. The duplicates state that they intend to revoke all existing laws and will issue their own as they see fit. Failure to do submit will met with destruction. As soon as the duplicates leave however, they vanish back into the nothingness they were created from. Within minutes the government has decided that they must resist The Avengers and announces their intention to do just that. The military begins a massive mobilization with the intent of hunting down and defeating their erstwhile protectors.
While all of this is going on, Rick Jones and the Teen Brigade are patiently waiting outside Count Nefaria’s castle. As they wait, they eventually become suspicious because the expected crowds for the charity event never materialize. After several hours, the young adventurers decide to investigate what happened to The Avengers and right as they are about to discover what the Count is up to, they are captured by Nefaria’s Maggia henchmen. The Teen Brigade members are quickly and quietly thrown into the castle’s dungeons where they won’t interfere with the plan.
With the public turned against The Avengers and the manhunt well underway, Count Nefaria releases The Avengers, explaining that there has been a mix up and that the charity event will actually occur tomorrow. As they depart the castle however, the team finds themselves beset by automatic weapons fire, followed closely by tanks and airstrikes. Unbeknownst to The Avengers, the Count has discreetly informed the military where they can find the heroes, and they attack in force. Under attack, The Avengers are understandably confused, but instead of lashing out and using the full extent of their offensive capability, they fight defensively, protecting themselves and only causing enough damage to prevent the soldiers from gaining the upper hand. When it becomes obvious that they will be overwhelmed regardless, The Avengers withdraw rather than risk harming their attackers.
As The Avengers regroup in their secret emergency base they discover, much to their horror, that they are wanted for treason. They have no knowledge of the threats that Nefaria’s duplicates made against the government. The team becomes suspicious however when each of them remembers the peculiar effect that the lights had on them. Realizing that these things must be connected, the team rushes back to Nefaria’s castle to investigate.
Deep in the bowels of Nefaria’s castle, the Teen Brigade once again demonstrate their ingenuity as they attempt to contact The Avengers with a handheld ham radio. Unfortunately, Iron Man’s receiver was damaged in the recent fighting and the only person to pick up their transmissions is Count Nefaria himself. Realizing he has underestimated the teens, the Count decides to move them to a special cell in his dungeon. This cell is constructed of bars with small, yellow balls on them. As the Count explains, even the slightest touch from one of these balls will cause the victim to enter a state of permanent suspended animation. The Count then causes the cell to contract, making itself so small that the Teen Brigade members must stand absolutely motionless, or risk being permanently frozen.
Just as the cell walls slide into place, The Avengers arrive outside Count Nefaria’s castle, only to be met by a gaseous form of the same paralytic. In rapid succession, Thor, Giant Man, Wasp and even Iron Man are disabled, leaving only Captain America to rescue the trapped teens. Swinging in through an open window, Cap is just in time to save Rick and the teens and Cap rushes off to confront Nefaria while Rick goes to free the rest of The Avengers. While Cap almost reaches the Count, he is instead captured when he is stunned from behind. All looks dark from Captain America when the recently restored Avengers break through the wall and come to Cap’s aid. Nefaria is quickly captured and turned over the military and The Avengers’ good name is restored. All is looking well until Rick comes in with Wasp lying lifeless in his arms…
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