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

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The Old Order Changeth

Avengers #16

Writer: Stan Lee
Art: Dick Ayers
Layouts: Jack Kirby
Letterer: Art Simek

Plot Summary

Returning the action to New York after last issue’s dramatic climax, The Avengers, minus Captain America, find themselves facing off against The Masters of Evil. As the heroes close in on their prey, The Masters threaten to mettle out massive harm on the innocent citizens of New York unless The Avengers let them go. While The Avengers know this is a ploy to allow their foes to escape, they cannot risk so many non-combatants. Instead, Iron Man tells Thor to execute Plan D, which creates a space warp to transport The Avengers and The Masters to a dimension where they will be safe to fight without the risk of collateral damage. Having been trapped in a space warp before, Enchantress and Executioner recognize what is happening and swiftly manage to escape the warp, while Melter and Black Knight are not as fortunate. With the odds now in their favor and the threat to bystanders removed, The Avengers quickly subdue the remaining villains and return to their home dimension.

Meanwhile in the South American jungle, Captain America finishes putting his foe, Baron Zemo, to rest. Although Zemo’s followers offer Cap the opportunity to replace Zemo, Cap declines, only wishing to return to New York. As Rick and Cap make their way to the only remaining plane, they are ambushed by the remains of Zemo’s henchmen. The pair quickly drive the henchmen back, but in the fight, the plane is destroyed forcing Cap and Rick to find another way home.

With things starting to quiet down, Iron Man, Giant Man and Wasp sit down in Avengers Mansion for some much needed down time. Slowly, the conversation turns to the fact that all three Avengers desire some time off from their duties as Avengers. Unfortunately, just as the conversation begins to get serious, the room begins to fill with smoke. The trio rush out, only to find Hawkeye holding Tony Stark’s butler, Jarvis, hostage. Even more shocking than this sight is that Hawkeye declares his desire to join The Avengers. The Iron Man foe goes on to tell the assembled heroes that he never intended to end up on the wrong side of good, and that he has seen the error of his ways and wishes to make amends. After a quick demonstration of his skill and with the support of Iron Man, the rest of The Avengers present agree to allow Hawkeye to join the team.

Now that they have begun recruiting new members, The Avengers send an invitation to Namor, The Sub-Mariner. The only stipulation given is that Namor must give up his desire for conquest. While this is a term that Namor cannot agree to, he tells The Avengers that their offer has done him honor.

Far from the oceans, in a Swiss ski chalet, Pietro Maximoff returns to his sister Wanda bear a newspaper. The former Brotherhood of Evil Mutants members quickly read that The Avengers are entertaining new members. The pair agree that this is the opportunity to change their lives that they have been waiting for and Pietro quickly pens a letter to the chairman of The Avengers.

Back in New York, the available Avengers hold a press conference introducing Hawkeye as their newest member. The ever vigilant press corps picks up on the fact that Iron Man referred to Hawkeye as a replacement, forcing Iron Man to quickly redirect the question toward that of the currently “missing” Avengers. As the press conference wraps up Iron Man and Hawkeye exchange pleasantries and Hawkeye expresses how much he had been hoping to fight alongside the Avengers, and now is disappointed that he won’t be able to.

While their teammates are safe and comfortable back in New York, Cap and Rick are forging their way through the South American jungle, avoiding crocs, fighting snakes and even saving a man from a jaguar attack. And as luck would have it, their new friend is just the person to escort them out of the jungle and return the pair to civilization.

As Cap and Rick begin their voyage, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are just about to complete theirs as they arrive in New York. The duo are met by Tony Stark who escorts them to Avengers Mansion. Pietro of course can’t help himself and takes the opportunity to show off a bit by racing the car back to the house and beating it there. Once they arrive, Wanda and Pietro are shown in, while Tony Stark takes a minute to change into his Iron Man suit.

Cap and Rick finally make it back to New York and when they arrive at Avengers Mansion, they find it swarming with people and reporters. Not wanting to deal with the crowd, Cap uses his rental car as a spring board and launches himself into the mansion. Making his way to the meeting room, Cap is greeted by his overjoyed teammates who welcome him home. The homecoming is bittersweet as Iron Man, Giant Man and Wasp quickly reveal that they are planning to take a leave of absence and that Cap will now be in charge of the new team. Iron Man then goes out and addresses the waiting crowd, telling them that Cap will be the leader of a newly revised Avengers lineup, and that they will be out momentarily.

As Iron Man prepares to leave the mansion for a final time, he leaves the new team with a final mission; go find Hulk. With the loss of Giant Man, Thor and Hulk, the team is severely lacking in brute strength, and this is something Hulk can help provide. And as the new team meets the waiting crowd, Giant Man, Iron Man and Wasp all say a parting few words to one another before going their separate ways.

Avengers

Ant-Man
Captain America
Iron Man
Thor
Wasp

Villains

Black Knight
Enchantress
Executioner
Melter
Masters of Evil