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

Heroes For Hire

Avengers #77

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

Featured Issue: Avengers #77

Plot Summary

Much to the surprise and horror of a rapidly assembling crowd, Goliath along with his fellow Avengers begin to make quick work of a building scheduled for demolition. Each member of the team makes use of their powers in an effort to bring the building down in record time. As fear begins to grip the crowd, several wonder if this is what the Avengers are truly about, who out there can stop them. With the final crash of debris the police show up demanding to know what the Avengers are up to. As Goliath begins to explain that the situation isn’t what it appears to be, a well dressed man arrives in his limousine. Introducing himself as Cornelius Van Lunt, the man produces a property deed from his coat and claims that he hired the Avengers to demolish the property which he had just acquired. With the police mollified, Van Lunt sends his lackey Wilkins to pay the Avengers for their work. Although they accept the money, they are displeased to discover that the property had originally been intended for use as a playground, before being acquired by Van Lunt.

Thinking back on how they found themselves in this predicament, Scarlet Witch recalls a late night visit from their patron, Tony Stark. Literally hat-in-hand, Stark informs the Avengers that a man named Van Lunt is making a hostile takeover bid on Stark Industries. As a result, he is being forced to call on all his financial resources and must request the unpaid rent for use of Avengers Mansion, of which Stark is still owner. While it is a rather substantial sum, the Avengers understand Tony’s situation and vow to raise the money in order to help their benefactor. To the surprise of all assembled, Black Panther says that although he would like to help, he is unable to because he has recently taken a job as a teacher. This only makes Stark feel worse about the $2000 a month he has to ask his friends for.

Elsewhere, a motley group of thugs and villains are wrapping up a card game, just in time to be spotted by their employer, the hooded villain Kronos. With several of his “employees” mouthing off, Kronus takes a minute to remind them exactly who is in charge. Once order has been restored Kronus and his gang begin reviewing films of their last heist. Things went according to plan until the arrival of Black Panther. The heist is thrown into total chaos and the villains are only able to escape by gassing Black Panther. Needless to say Kronus is not pleased, especially considering that other Avengers have stopped several of their previous attempts at thievery. In spite of their recent failures, Kronus is confident that his next plan will finally deal with the Avengers.

The next morning a helicopter makes its way through Manhattan trailing a banner which reads “For Hire: The Avengers”. The team find themselves surprised that things have come to this, but in order to help Tony Stark they are willing to go to almost any length. They even go on late night television in order to promote themselves. Soon there are letters pouring in with all sorts of lucrative offers, though none of them meet their high standards. The Avengers continue to dig through the letters until they come across one with an offer from none other than Cornelius Van Lunt. The offer is so generous the Avengers decide they must look into it and agree to meet with Van Lunt. The conversation gets off to a rough start and only gets worse when Van Lunt offers to leave Stark alone if the Avengers agree to work for him for a full week. With their business concluded, the Avengers depart Van Lunt’s office.

At the end of the week, the Avengers have almost finished with their tasks for Van Lunt. Black Panther is off teaching his class of high school students about their African heritage. While he manages to get through to his pupils, he is a bit disappointed when they want to hear about the great black warrior…Falcon. Not far away, Kronus and his gang prepare to put their plan into motion. Their target is a bank in Midtown and Kronus has a special device that should deal with the Avengers and allow their heist to succeed. At the same time, the Avengers make their way to their final task for Van Lunt, fixing up an abandoned tunnel under the East River. Although they feel the job may be a trap, the heroes are true to their word and begin their work. With the Avengers out of sight, a truck pulls up and the supervisor climbs on board. Inside, the man removes his mask and once again dons his hood as Kronus. Taking hold of his special device, Kronus actives the demolition switch and blows up the tunnel.

With the Avengers gone, Kronus and his gang make for their target. Their heist once again goes off without a hitch, at least until Black Panther shows up. While the gang battles Black Panther, they are distracted and caught off guard when the other Avengers, having escaped before the tunnel exploded, attack and quickly disarm the hoodlums. Goliath manages to capture Kronus and Black Panther takes the opportunity to unmask the hooded menace. When the man is revealed as Wilkins, Van Lunt’s flunky, he admits that the whole situation was an elaborate scheme to get even with Van Lunt for driving him out of business years earlier. As the Avengers take Wilkins into custody, Van Lunt offers the Avengers the money they were promised in their contract. The heroes turn down the money because although it would be beneficial, it comes at too high a moral cost.

Avengers

Black Panther
Goliath
Quicksilver
Scarlet Witch
Vision

Villains

Cornelius Van Lunt
Kronus