Four Against The Minotaur

Avengers #17

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

Plot Summary

This issue opens with the historic first meeting of the new Avengers. After the departure of Iron Man, Giant Man and Wasp, the team has added Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver with Captain America serving as the team’s leader. As their leader, Cap takes some time to size up his new recruits. While Hawkeye and Quicksilver both feel that they will be running the team in short order, Cap manages to put a quick end to that line of thinking, telling Hawkeye to get with the program, whether he likes it or not. Cap also reminds the team of Iron Man’s last piece of advice before departing; find Hulk.

Just as The Avengers are discussing Hulk, word goes out by radio and by newspaper of their intention to bring him back within The Avengers fold. Little do the heroes know that Hulk is on an adventure of his own, fighting The Leader, another victim of gamma radiation who has been gifted with extreme intelligence.

Before departing on their mission, Cap decides to run his teammates through their paces in the “play room”, a training site within Avengers Mansion which can simulate any threat The Avengers might encounter in the field. While Hawkeye gets off to a quick start he is nearly taken down when his overconfidence gets the better of him. Only thanks to the speed of Quicksilver is Hawkeye saved. The exercise isn’t quite over yet as Quicksilver soon discovers that the rays which were once intended for Hawkeye are now trained on him. Hawkeye though is quick to repay his debt and disables the controls to the trainer before Quicksilver is harmed. The team is just about to take a breather when a giant, emerald hued robot smashes its way into Avengers Mansion. The machine has come to deliver a message, but The Avengers are wary and rush to disable to invader. With the threat neutralized, the robot’s message continues to play, telling The Avengers that Hulk can be found in the desert. Cap quickly assumes that the team should begin their search in the New Mexico desert that Hulk so often frequented.

Little could do the Avengers suspect that they are secretly being watched by none other than Mole Man. Knowing that The Avengers have lost several key members, he believes they are vulnerable and intends to take full advantage of the situation by pitting the heroes against the Minotaur.

Arriving in the New Mexico desert, The Avengers quickly survey the scene, but can find no trace of Hulk. Unbeknownst to them, Hulk is actually less than a mile away, locked in a life and death struggle with The Leader. Just as The Avengers are about to expand their search area, the ground beneath their feet gives way, thanks to a special trap door activated by Mole Man. Thinking at superhuman speeds, Cap tells Hawkeye to use one of his arrows to deploy a rope for the team to cling to before they all plummet to their deaths. Hawkeye acts without hesitation and the team is once again saved.

Upon reaching the bottom of the chasm, The Avengers find a tunnel system and Quicksilver speeds ahead to scout the way. The speedster is gone mere moments when he comes blazing back to the rest of the group, unable to believe what he has just seen. As the team rounds the corner, they come face to face with the Minotaur! Immediately the team springs into action but find to their horror that their attacks seem to have no effect on the monster. Hawkeye is nearly killed when the Minotaur counterattacks after being hit by Hawkeye’s blast arrow. If not for the quick warning of Scarlet Witch, the beast would have surely gotten him. As the team flees before the Minotaur, they are separated when the creature causes a cave in.

As Quicksilver attempts to rejoin his colleagues, he is suddenly attacked by moloids. While he makes quick work of them, Quicksilver is unprepared for them to use a gas gun and is subdued by the noxious fumes. When he regains consciousness, the speedster finds himself the prisoner of Mole Man, who demands to know the secret behind Quicksilver’s incredible speed.

Trapped on the opposite side of the collapsed tunnel, the remaining Avengers must face the Minotaur without one of the own. But being the master strategist that he is, Cap quickly devises a new plan. Using Hawkeye’s flare arrow to blind the Minotaur, Cap then baits the creature into attacking him, but quickly dodges out of the way. Once the Minotaur’s horns are buried in the rock, Cap has Scarlet Witch use her hex powers to cause even more rock to crash down on the Minotaur, preventing it from pulling itself free. As The Avengers go forth to recover their missing teammate, Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch remark that even if the Minotaur is able to free itself, death will certainly follow close behind.

Because Quicksilver refuses to tell Mole Man the secret of his mutant powers, Mole Man is left no choice but to torture Quicksilver into revealing this information. Luckily for Quicksilver, his fellow Avengers arrive on scene and rescue him, destroying the malicious device he was strapped into. As the situation deteriorates, it becomes clear to Mole Man that he can’t win this fight and so instead of continuing to fight, he instead transports The Avengers back to the surface so that he might escape once again. As The Avengers realize that they were able to defeat this latest threat without the help of Hulk, it is revealed that Bruce Banner has been killed as a result of Hulk’s battle with The Leader.

Avengers

Captain America
Hawkeye
Quicksilver
Scarlet Witch

Villains

Mole Man

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