The Castle of Count Nefaria

episode-15

Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller: Don Heck
Inker: Dick Ayers
Letterer: Art Simek

Plot Summary

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…

Avengers

Ant-Man
Captain America
Iron Man
Thor
Wasp

Villains

Count Nefaria

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This Hostage Earth

Avengers 12

Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller: Don Heck
Inker: Dick Ayers
Letterer: Sam Rosen

Plot Summary

Once again hard at work in their lab, Giant Man and Wasp receive an urgent call from Giant Man’s ant allies. However, when Giant Man attempts to decipher the message, he is unable due to the panicked nature of the communication. Believing this to be a sign of great peril, Giant Man immediately summons his fellow Avengers to an emergency meeting.

Upon their arrival, The Avengers are unamused by Giant Man’s assertions. Thor in particular receives the explanation poorly. When Giant Man explains that the disturbances might be caused by Mole Man, Thor quickly shoots the idea down since The Avengers know that Mole Man was destroyed by the Fantastic Four. When it becomes clear to Giant Man that his teammates will not aid him, he tells them off and decides to proceed on his own. The rest of The Avengers depart so as to avoid coming to blows with Giant Man.

Little do The Avengers know exactly how right Giant Man really is, for at that exact moment, Mole Man is working tirelessly to put his evil plan into motion, literally. Mole Man has constructed a device that is slowly speeding up the Earth’s rotation. Eventually this increased rotation will cause massive destruction, at which point Mole Man will stop the Earth all together, destroying everything on the surface and leaving if free for conquest.

Back at the lab, Giant Man prepares to investigate the source of the ant distress call, but Wasp refuses to join him. Hank attempts to physically block her way, but eventually relents and goes off alone. Shortly after reaching the ant hill in question, Giant Man, in his diminutive Ant-Man size, falls victim to a collapse of the ant hill. Ant-Man is only saved by the quick application of his size changing abilities. When Giant Man reaches the bottom he finds a massive fence made of light bars blocking his path. When he attempts to break through the barrier, Giant Man unknowingly sets off an alarm, causing Mole Man and his moloids to attack. Though he is the superior fighter, Giant Man is eventually surrounded and stunned from behind, allowing Mole Man to take him prisoner.

As Mole Man’s machine is allowed to continue unchecked, the rest of the world begins to notice its effects. Buildings and bridges begin to tremble as the Earth slowly but steadily turns faster and faster. As these effects become more widely known, The Avengers, minus Giant Man, assemble to discuss their options. Realizing that Giant Man was right, the team is now determined to locate their comrade and join in his efforts. Instead of blindly travelling beneath the surface however, Wasp decides to use Tony Stark’s image projector in an attempt to ascertain Giant Man’s whereabouts. When she stumbles on the same light fence that Giant Man found, Mole Man decides it is time to take the offensive to The Avengers.

Just as the Avengers are formulating a plan to journey below the surface, a train loaded with moloids attacks Avengers Mansion. With some effort The Avengers are able to drive the moloids back and force them into a retreat. With the immediate threat eliminated, The Avengers set to their task of modifying an automated fox hole digger invented by Tony Stark. While Iron Man, Thor and Wasp begin work, Captain America and Rick Jones go to a Stark warehouse to obtained the last required parts. As the pair approaches, they discover several mobsters taking advantage of the current crisis to perform a little robbery. With Rick’s help, Cap makes quick work of the criminals and the pair returns to the rest of the team, parts in hard.

While The Avengers are finishing their work, Mole Man has a surprise guest, Red Ghost. Red Ghost suggests that the two villains might combine their abilities in order to finally finish off The Avengers and rule the world. Just as the pair finish their conversation though, The Avengers arrive at the light fence. Making their way into Mole Man’s lair, The Avengers find themselves confronted by Red Ghost and his ray gun. The team is saved thanks to Iron Man quickly deflecting the blast and then disabling Red Ghost with his Sound Blaster. Meanwhile, Wasp is off searching for Giant Man, whom she finds imprisoned in a beam that prevents him from changing size. Once freed however, Giant Man begins to wreck havoc on the moloids.

The Avengers continue their relentless assault on Mole Man and Red Ghost, eventually driving them back to Mole Man’s control center. With his moloids routed and nowhere else left to go, Mole Man place is final card and threatens to destroy the Earth that instant. Even as Mole Man blusters away Ant-Man disables his machine from within, causing it to fail just as Mole Man is prepared to make good on his threat. With powerful attacks from Iron Man and Thor, Mole Man’s device and subterranean base are both destroyed and The Avengers return to the surface. The story ends with Red Ghost and Mole Man arguing about whom is to blame for the failure of their plan.

Avengers

Ant-Man
Captain America
Iron Man
Thor
Wasp

Villains

Mole Man
Red Ghost