The Man-Ape Always Strikes Twice

Avengers #78

Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciller: Sal Buscema
Inker: Tom Palmer
Letterer: Sam Rosen

Featured Issue: Avengers #78

Plot Summary

On a quiet night Captain America makes his way to the rooftop entrance to Avengers Mansion, responding to a summons by his teammates. Upon his arrival Cap is immediately attacked by M’Baku, the Man-Ape. The mighty warrior quickly overpowers Cap, but in his arrogance he is fooled when Captain America feigns unconsciousness and strikes unexpectedly. Although Cap is no match for M’Baku’s unnatural strength, he has bought enough time for the rest of the Avengers to join the fight. Rushing to Cap’s rescue, Quicksilver and Vision manage to stop Cap from plummeting to his death on the street below. Now facing the combined might of the entire Avengers, M’Baku flee with the help of his former major domo, N’Gamo. As he escapes into the night sky, M’Baku vows to return and destroy the Avengers at a time of his choosing.

Having returned inside the mansion, the Avengers begin to fill Captain America in on their previous encounter with M’Baku. In spite of the beating he inflicted on Cap, Goliath insists that M’Baku is really a small time villain and that he was most likely waiting for Black Panther to show up so that he could finish their duel. Captain America is unfortunately forced to disagree with Goliath’s assessment given that he has a written note, signed by Black Panther, urgently telling Cap to come to the mansion. It is clear that even though M’Baku has never met him, Cap was his intended target that evening. The heroes can only wait for Black Panther to return in the hopes of shedding some light on this mystery.

North of the mansion, in Harlem, Monica Lynn expresses her frustrations at the government’s inability to help those people who are most in need. The former singer has given up her music career in order to take up social work after her close run in with the Sons of the Serpent. As her exasperation reaches its peak, Monica Lynn is surprised to once again see Black Panther. Despite initially sharing some tense words over what Monica perceives as Black Panther’s lack of devotion to the cause, the two quickly reconcile and Black Panther vows to do more and to show that the Avengers can be even better friends to their community. Black Panther soon leaves, telling Monica that he would like to speak again once he has reported in to the Avengers. Unfortunately for Monica she is attacked by M’Baku just after Black Panther’s departure.

In Avengers Mansion Black Panther is stunned when he sees Cap’s note and hears the Avengers’ story. When he last saw M’Baku, he had been crushed beneath a statue. Black Panther can only assume that N’Gamo and some secret herbs are responsible for the villain’s return. As if on cue, the image of M’Baku appears on the Avengers’ monitor demanding to fight Black Panther to the death. If Black Panther should decline M’Baku’s offer, then M’Baku insinuates that he would be forced to harm Monica Lynn, whom he shows to the Avengers so that they are aware it is not a hallow threat. The team prepares to mount a rescue mission when Black Panther demands to face M’Baku alone, saying that he must keep his word to face M’Baku in single combat. As the chief of Wakanda his word is his sacred bond and he is unwilling to break it,  even for one such as the Man-Ape.

Taking a Quinjet to face off against M’Baku, Black Panther arrives at the designated location and finds a massive helicopter waiting for him. Swinging aboard the helicopter, M’Baku attempts to ambush Black Panther but is given away by the sounds of his hiding place sliding open. As the pair fight, Black Panther uses his superior agility to bring the fight to M’Baku. While this works for a while, M’Baku is able to land a single punch that sends Black Panther sprawling. Just as N’Gamo is about to finish off Black Panther with a mace, Black Panther seizes the weapon and uses it to launch N’Gamo at M’Baku, disabling the pair. Using this opportunity, Black Panther scours the aircraft for Monica Lynn, eventually finding her trapped in a small room. On closer inspection however, Black Panther discovers that this Monica is in fact a mannequin. The dummy Monica subsequently explodes, knocking Black Panther unconscious. Having defeated his foe, M’Baku again contacts the Avengers in order to gloat over his victory and threaten the remaining Avengers with capture.

Having arrived at M’Baku’s underground lair, Black Panther and the real Monica Lynn are thrown into a small, dark room. In front of the pair is a mantle with statues of all the Avengers, formed almost like award statues. As he clutches the figure of Black Panther, M’Baku calls out to the others that he, the Man-Ape has drawn first blood. Slowly Black Panther’s begins to see several other figures entering the room. Soon the hero is confronted by the Living Laser, Power Man, Swordsman and Grim Reaper. Declaring their animus towards the Avengers, Grim Reaper calls the assembled group of villains the Lethal Legion.

Avengers

Black Panther
Captain America
Goliath
Quicksilver
Scarlet Witch
Vision

Villains

Man-Ape

One thought on “The Man-Ape Always Strikes Twice”

  1. Another great critique. I agree that this issue is infinitely better than the Scooby-Doo nonsense in the previous one.
    I think Sal Buscema is somewhat of an unsung hero. It’s true that his art can look a bit cartoonish under some inkers, but embellished by Tom Palmer, Buscema’s work is among the best of the era. It’s the economy of the storytelling and the vibrant pace of the narrative that keep you immersed. In fact, I find that I never get bored reading a Sal Buscema comic (the way I do with certain other artists)

    Like

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