The Bitter Taste of Defeat

Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller: Don Heck
Inker: Wally Wood
Letterer: Art Simek

Plot Summary

As the Avengers settle into their new lives, Hawkeye takes some time to perform some basic maintenance on the myriad of devices located within Avengers Mansion. As Hawkeye continues his work, Captain America shows up and begins to berate Hawkeye. According to Cap, only Tony Stark is authorized to maintain the equipment, as it is delicate and irreplaceable if damaged. As the conversation continues, tensions flare until Cap and Hawkeye are practically at one another’s throats. The pair is only broken up by Quicksilver’s arrival, but even that isn’t enough to calm the situation and eventually the team decides to sleep on things and maybe they will be better in the morning.

Meanwhile, in the South American jungle where Baron Zemo’s former castle is located, a solitary figure makes his way into the structure. As the only remaining guard, the man has been working to access Zemo’s lab, knowing that it contains the equipment that transformed Simon Williams into Wonder Man. Although he is able to reach the equipment, he is unfortunately clueless as to its operation. Just as the guard is coming to this conclusion, he is observed by Enchantress. The Asgardian sorceress then transports herself to the castle and offers to help the guard achieve his goal. Enchantress then uses Zemo’s equipment and transformers the guard in much the same way Simon Williams was transformed into Wonder Man. With his newfound powers, the guard, whom Enchantress dubs Power Man, agrees to help Enchantress defeat the Avengers.

Back in New York, the Avengers respond to an alert of a monster attacking Midtown put out by the Teen Brigade. When they arrive on scene, they discover they are the only ones there aside from the creature. Hawkeye immediately attempts to use a blast arrow on the creature, but it mysteriously pass right through. Several more attack end in a similar result before the creature seems to just disappear. Shortly thereafter, the police arrive and confront the Avengers. The heroes are confused when the officer informs them that he was responding to calls that the Avengers were running amok in Midtown and that there was no mention of any monster. The team is forced to admit they don’t know what is going on and they are made to pay for the damages they caused. Little do they know that this is just the first of Enchantress’ traps they are about to fall into.

Having returned to the mansion, the Avengers try to figure out what just happened, when they intercept a radio report that some subway tracks have been damaged and that the Avengers are to blame. Immediately Quicksilver rushes off to investigate while the rest of the team follows behind. When he arrives, Quicksilver does indeed find damaged tracks, but before he can ascertain what has happened, he is attacked from behind by Power Man and knocked unconscious. As the rest of the team catches up, they discover that a runaway train is coming down the tracks, towards the damage and the prone Quicksilver. Only the quick application of Hawkeye’s blast arrows is enough to stop the deserted train from total destruction. Of course the blast arrows themselves cause considerable damage, which the Avengers are again blamed for causing. Having now twice been blamed for things outside their control, the Avengers begin to fight amongst themselves and ending each going their separate ways to calm down.

North of New York in Westchester, Power Man hurls a giant stone at a car speeding away from a nearby facility, stopping the car dead in its tracks. With their vehicle stopped, the two guards within begin to flee, but are confronted by Power Man. Right as this is happening, Captain America just so happens to be passing by in a helicopter and seeing the situation, sets down in order to aid the guards. Though he is initially able to slow down Power Man, Captain America is eventually beaten back thanks to a little assistance from Enchantress. It also becomes clear that the guards that Cap was “helping” were in fact thieves in disguise who had stolen plans from the nearby facility. Again, Captain America has fallen for another trap.

After Cap’s recent humiliation, Hawkeye decides to pay Power Man a visit at the mansion he is currently occupying. When he arrives, he is confronted by Power Man who makes rather quick work of the Avengers. At the same time, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are leaving a theater. Quicksilver excuses himself, saying he needs to run an errand and makes his way to the same mansion. Although he is able to evade most of Power Man’s attacks, Quicksilver is eventually stopped when Power Man hits him with the spray from a high pressure water pipe. Finally, Scarlet Witch also makes her way to the mansion, only to be stopped by the police, who have received a call about trespassers at the mansion. This is the final straw, and the next day the mayor and city council declare the Avengers public menaces and obtain a court order disbanding the Avengers.

Avengers

Captain America
Hawkeye
Quicksilver
Scarlet Witch

Villains

Enchantress
Power Man

Vengeance Is Ours

Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller: Don Heck
Inker: Wally Wood
Letterer: Art Simek

Plot Summary

Picking up from last issue, Captain America plummets to his death. Thankfully, Cap’s teammates aren’t so keen on his imminent death and Quicksilver, with the aid of a hastily acquired television antenna, manages to create an updraft which slows Cap’s decent. Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch join in the rescue effort by freeing Cap from his bondage and providing a beam for him to land on. Now out of immediate danger, Quicksilver provides Cap with his shield and the mighty Avengers swing into action to bring Swordsman in for his crimes. Just as the team manages to corner him, Swordsman begins to disappear right before their eyes. More astonishingly it soon becomes clear that even Swordsman has no idea what is happening to him. Before they can do anything, Swordsman is gone and the blame begins to fly among the Avengers. Hawkeye is certain that had Cap not told the team to hold back from attacking then Swordsman would not have evaded capture. As the accusations spread, tempers flare hotter and hotter.

Meanwhile, Swordsman finds himself in an unfamiliar location and drawn in by a pair of doors that seem to open all on their own. Within he finds the source of his mysterious transportation, the Mandarin. As the Mandarin explains, he desires for Swordsman to aid him in destroying his nemesis, Iron Man. Although Iron Man has left the Avengers, Mandarin suspects that he will one day return. With this in mind, Swordsman’s mission is to infiltrate the Avengers so that when the time is right, Iron Man and the Avengers can be destroyed from within. Although Swordsman is no fan of the Avengers, he attempts to tell Mandarin that he is not interested, that he works for no man. Instead, Mandarin uses the technology of his rings to take Swordsman’s sword and then stun him into unconsciousness.

Having returned to Avengers Mansion, the team decides to lay all of their grievances in the open. As Hawkeye gives Cap a piece of his mind, Quicksilver decides to involve himself, leading to confrontation between himself and Hawkeye. As a test of skill, Hawkeye suggests that he fire an arrow at the calendar on the wall while Quicksilver races the arrow and attempts to pull a page off the calendar before the arrow strikes it. Although the race is a close one, Quicksilver’s speed wins out.

Back at the Mandarin’s secret headquarters Swordsman wakes up to find his “host” standing before him with Swordsman’s sword in hand. While Swordsman was unconscious, Mandarin made some modifications to his sword, giving it various new abilities, such as projecting lighting, flame, or even a disintegration ray. Armed with his enhanced signature weapon, Swordsman is escorted to yet another room filled with all manner of technological wonders. In this chamber, the Mandarin creates an image that looks and sounds just like Iron Man, but under his complete control. The villainous pair then send this image directly to Avengers Mansion to deliver a message to the heroes. In the guise of Iron Man, Mandarin informs the Avengers that it was him who sent Swordsman to join the team. Although the majority of the team is less than willing to accept Swordsman, Captain America takes Iron Man at his word. Iron Man’s parting words are of scorn to Hawkeye, reminding him that he too was accepted on the Avengers, despite also having a questionable background. With their ruse in place, Mandarin transports Swordsman to a location near Avengers Mansion where he can transit the remaining distance on foot.

Though Captain America welcomes Swordsman to the team, he makes sure to keep a close eye on him, as do the rest of the Avengers. In spite of their constant vigilance, Swordsman still manages to plant a powerful explosive within the mansion, waiting for the day that Iron Man returns to the team. That evening however, Swordsman is woken up in the middle of the night by an image of the Mandarin telling him to leave the mansion because he has changed his mind. Instead of waiting for Iron Man to return to the team, he will set off the explosive and use the deaths of the Avengers to draw Iron Man home, where Mandarin and Swordsman can trap him. Swordsman is significantly bothered by this sudden change in plans and decides to remove the device. Ironically, Swordsman is caught by Cap and Hawkeye while he is removing the device. With his cover blown Swordsman must fight his way out of the mansion, which is always easier said than done. Eventually, and with the help of a hex turned askew from Scarlet Witch, Swordsman gains his freedom, though his efforts have earned him the ire of the Avengers and the full-fledged hate of the Mandarin.

Avengers

Captain America
Hawkeye
Quicksilver
Scarlet Witch

Villains

Swordsman
Mandarin