Lo! The Lethal Legion

Avengers #79

Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciller: John Buscema
Inker: Tom Palmer
Letterer: Art Simek

Featured Issue: Avengers #79

Plot Summary

In Avengers Mansion, reserve members Iron Man and Thor arrive, responding to the emergency summons of their fellow Avengers. The pair can only surmise that something major must be happening based on the grim expressions on everyone’s faces. With pleasantries out of the way Captain America declares that the team must stand together or else they will almost certainly fall. Noting that Black Panther is missing, Cap recalls the attack he suffered at the hands of M’Baku and the solo mission on which Black Panther embarked. Based on the available evidence the Avengers are forced to conclude that they face not just one villain but a cabal of such rogues. Before the Avengers can formulate a plan, Scarlet Witch points out that Black Panther has recently begun teaching at a local school and that classes were about to start in a few short minutes. Quickly donning a disguise, Vision volunteers to inform the schools administration that Black Panther’s alias, Luke Charles, will not be in class today. As the synthazoid departs, Iron Man wonders if the villains were having a similar meeting in which the fate of the Avengers was being decided.

Little does Iron Man realize how correct he really is. Though they are meeting in similar fashion, the Lethal Legion fill the room with their contempt for one another. Melodramatically grandstanding in front of the others, Grim Reaper attempts to remind the assembled villains that it was he who was responsible for the formation of their team. Reaper takes things a step too far when he claims credit for the capture of Black Panther and Monica Lynn. M’Baku promptly interrupts Reaper and demands to know why they have yet to kill Black Panther. Grim Reaper responds that it would be much more fitting that all the Avengers die together and proceeds to give orders to the rest of the team in preparation for ambushing the Avengers in their mansion. With this the villains depart.

Almost the moment Grim Reaper leaves the room, the force field imprisoning Black Panther and Monica Lynn disappears. Not waiting for an explanation to the fortuitous event, Black Panther smashes his way out of the restraints and begins to scour the base for a transmitter in order to warn the Avengers of the imminent attack. Managing to contact his teammates, he informs the Avengers of the Prometheus Priority alert. Just as he finishes explaining the situation to the Avengers, Black Panther’s transmission is cut off by Grim Reaper. Unknown to the Avenger, Reaper had set him up and allowed him to escape and contact the Avengers as part of his master plan. While Black Panther lands pummeling blows on Grim Reaper, the deadly villain reveals that he has been training and preparing. To back up his words, Grim Reaper unexpectedly gases Panther and Monica Lynn in to unconsciousness.

At Andrew Jackson High School, Vision arrives to complete his mission. Although he successfully covers for Black Panther in his absence, his visage isn’t quite as convincing as he believed and his chilling, inhuman voice leaves the secretary haunted and flustered.

In the sewers beneath Avengers Mansion Goliath and Scarlet Witch begin their search for the villains they know to be lurking. Unfortunately for them, the pair of Swordsman and Power Man lay in waiting, using a high intensity light beam to blind the heroic duo. Although Power Man is able to take advantage of Goliath’s momentary disability, Scarlet Witch uses Swordsman’s voice to locate him and rain down hex bolts on him. As Goliath regains his sight he is able to turn the tables on Power Man and the villains find themselves on the verge of defeat until Swordsman gases the heroes.

Meanwhile, Captain America and Quicksilver explore the power station. The Avengers suddenly find themselves under attack from M’Baku and the Living Laser. While Cap and M’Baku square off in a rematch of their earlier encounter, the Living Laser attempts to demolish Quicksilver. Unable to keep up with Quicksilver, Living Laser gets lucky when debris from his attacks manages to trip up Quicksilver, removing him from the fight. Meanwhile Cap is overwhelmed when M’Baku uses damaged equipment to shatter the hydraulic generators behind Cap, nearly drowning the star-spangled Avenger.

Returning to their lair, the Lethal Legion imprisons the disabled Avengers within a mammoth hourglass. The hourglass is then slowly filled with a toxic vapor as Grim Reaper watches excitedly, vengeance for the death of his brother so close at hand. As the vapors continue to collect, Power Man returns dragging Vision along with him. The Legionnaires decide to throw him in with the others, hoping he would also die. Along with Vision, Power Man returns with secret files about each of the Avengers. As Grim Reaper reads the files, he discovers that Vision’s brain pattern is based on that of his deceased brother, Wonder Man. Panicking and terrified of losing his brother yet again, Grim Reaper smashes open the hourglass, saving the heroes. As Vision crawls out, gasping for air, M’Baku realizes that Vision is not who he seems to be, but is in fact Power Man. His cover blown, Vision abandons his Power Man disguise and attacks, shattering Swordsman’s sword. Soon the rest of the Avengers join the fight, admitting they were playing along. Black Panther’s use of the Prometheus Priority informed the Avengers that they were walking into traps and as such they were prepared. With the Lethal Legion defeated, Vision stuns the Avengers by announcing his departure from the team. His feelings of alienation and lack of humanity have finally caught up with him and Vision must go and find his place in the universe.

Avengers

Black Panther
Captain America
Goliath
Iron Man
Quicksilver
Scarlet Witch
Thor
Vision

Villains

Grim Reaper
Living Laser
Man-Ape
Power Man
Swordsman

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