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

Did You Hear The One About Scorpio

Avengers #72

Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciller: Sal Buscema
Inker: Sam Grainger
Letterer: Sam Rosen

Featured Issue: Avengers #72

Plot Summary

As Captain America makes his way across the roof of Avengers Mansion, he collides with another man running along the roof. To Cap’s surprise, it’s his former sidekick, Rick Jones. While Rick is initially terse with Cap, things calm when Cap explains that the “Cap” who recently treated Rick poorly was in fact Red Skull in disguise. Reunited, the pair enter the mansion so that they may attend a meeting, called at Cap’s behest.

Encountering the other Avengers, Cap and his teammates gather around their meeting table as Cap calls the meeting to order. Noting their missing members and their reasons for not being present, Cap goes on to say that several top New York City officials have gone missing. Not only that, but S.H.I.E.L.D. has gotten involved and will provide the Avengers with a briefing. Almost on cue, and interrupting Vision, the video transceiver alerts the Avengers to an incoming message from Dum Dum Dugan, the right hand man of Director Nick Fury. Dugan informs the heroes that the city officials have been abducted by a man named Scorpio. Fighting off tears, Dugan further tells the Avengers that he is making the call because Nick Fury has been murdered by Bulls-eye while attending a concert.

Shocked by the news, the Avengers attempt to regain control of the situation but are interrupted by Rick Jones. As he explains, he was on Nick Fury’s roof, looking to discuss with the spymaster the potential of becoming his sidekick. When Rick made his way inside through an open window, he encounters Scorpio. The surprised villain unleashes an energy blast on Rick. Unbeknownst to Scorpio, and the Avengers for that matter, Rick has become connected to the Kree hero Captain Marvel. As he struggles to get up, Marvel convinces Rick to give him a chance at Scorpio. By slamming together two golden bands on his wrists, Rick switches atoms with Captain Marvel, releasing the hero from the Negative Zone and sending Rick in his place. Captain Marvel quickly pursues Scorpio and even manages to get the upper hand for a moment. But when Scorpio turns on Captain Marvel and releases another blast from the Key to the Zodiac, Marvel is laid low.

As Rick finishes his story, of course leaving out his personal connection to Captain Marvel, he presents the Avengers with a list of three city officials that was dropped by Scorpio. The Avengers are shocked to discover that the list matches exactly. Just as Cap is about to press for more answers from Rick, he is cutoff by a voice coming from the display screen. Suddenly the faces of the three missing men appear on the screen. Almost as unannounced, the faces begin to dissolve into a single face, that of Scorpio. Without warning and on Scoprio’s command, the Avengers’ view screen explodes in a massive fireball, an impressive attempt to rid the world of the heroes.

When the Avengers awaken, they find themselves imprisoned by Scorpio, unable to move or speak. As Scorpio gloats over his prisoners, he reveals his co-conspirators, the criminal cartel Zodiac. It becomes clear that Scorpio has undertaken all his actions in order to be welcomed back into Zodiac. While Scorpio is distracted, Yellowjacket uses his control over ants to free the Avengers, send the insects into the controls for the device holding the Avengers captive.

As the Avengers take on the various members of Zodiac, they are stunned to find that Scorpio is none other than Nick Fury. Although they have tons of questions, they must first deal with the threat at hand. Meanwhile, Rick and Captain Marvel discuss the what must be done and they agree that Rick must do what he feels is best.

The Avengers and Fury make quick work of the Zodiac, until Ares inflicts the Key to the Zodiac on the heroes, With the plan rapidly unraveling, the members of Zodiac flee, covering their escape route with an impenetrable substance to prevent the Avengers from pursuit. With the situation under control, Nick Fury explains that he impersonated Scorpio in order to flush out Zodiac. What he tells the assembled heroes is that, much to his surprise and shame, the real Scorpio was in fact Fury’s own brother.

Avengers

Captain America
Goliath
Vision
Wasp
Yellowjacket

Villains

Scorpio
Zodiac