When Strikes The Squadron Sinister

Avengers #70

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

Featured Issue: Avengers #70

Plot Summary

Our issue opens with Kang the Conqueror eschewing his feast in order to concentrate on the upcoming battle between the Avengers and the chosen champions of the Grandmaster. Leaving his banquet hall, Kang questions the Avengers about the progress of the battle, but the Avengers divulge that Grandmaster will not speak with them as they are only pawns in his game with Kang. After finally being confronted by Kang regarding the delay, Grandmaster reveals that he is using the computers on his home planet to create suitable opponents for the Avengers. Secretly though, Kang’s soldiers take position in an effort to assassinate Grandmaster, but the attempt is thwarted by a mere thought from Grandmaster. Shocked by this sudden turn of events, Kang agrees with Black Panther that the strategy was flawed and that he will not make the same mistake twice.

Turning to Kang’s time-scanner, the Avengers, Kang and Grandmaster watch their teammates Captain America, Goliath, and Thor back in the 20th century. The trio is soon joined by the newly restored Iron Man (Tony Stark having recovered after the events of last issue). Just as the Avengers get done catching Iron Man up on the details of their mission, the Squadron Sinister again appears before the quartet of heroes. The Squadron members admit that they are in fact not present, but that the Avengers are only seeing their astral images. As such, the Squadron Sinister decides to fill in the Avengers on their origin, since there is no risk to the Squadron. Being the master of time and space that he is, Grandmaster reached back and altered the lives of four Earth men in order for them to become the super powered villains Nighthawk, Hyperion, Dr. Spectrum, and Whizzer. As they finish, the four figures dissolve into images of four famous locations on Earth, the Statue of Liberty, Taj Mahal, Big Ben and the Sphinx, implying that a member of the Squadron Sinister is located at each. With that, Iron Man sets off for the Taj Mahal while Thor uses the powers of Mjolnir to transport the other Avengers to their battles.

Up first is Captain America, facing off at the most fitting of locations, the Statue of Liberty. As he evaluates the situation, Captain America notices a figure watching from the statue’s crown, but fails to notice the snare set on the ground and Cap is caught in it as he moves forward to investigate the figure. Battered against the figure, Cap is knocked unconscious. When he comes to, the Avengers finds himself the prisoner of Nighthawk. Even more astonishing than his imprisonment, is the fact that the pair in flying in Nighthawk’s aircraft, carrying the Statue of Liberty in tow. When Nighthawk threatens to destroy the statue if Cap does anything to interfere with the Grandmaster’s plans, Cap reacts immediate and destroys the detonator with his shield. In a last ditch effort to destroy the statue, Nighthawk leaves the aircraft and attempts to release the statue in midair. Again Captain America’s quick thinking saves the day as he attacks Nighthawk and manages to turn the tables on when Nighthawk tries to kill Cap with an explosive capsule. In the 40th century, Kang points out that one of the Grandmaster’s champions has already fallen.

Next to fight is Iron Man, facing off against Dr. Spectrum and his sentient power prism. Saved from an initial blast by his new armor, Iron Man quickly takes to the offensive only to find that his attacks are useless against Spectrum’s defenses. Thinking quickly, Iron Man catches on to something Dr. Spectrum said and bathes Spectrum and his prism in ultraviolet light. Drained of his power, Dr. Spectrum collapses to the ground and another of Grandmaster’s champions is defeated.

In Egypt, Thor arrives but finds no enemy. Only when the ground begins to quake and Hyperion explodes from beneath him does Thor realize that he has fallen victim to a trap. After narrowly avoiding the ambush, Thor confronts Hyperion only to find that Mjolnir bounces off the most powerful member of the Squadron Sinister. Struck low by a blast of Hyperion’s atomic vision, Thor is forced back on the defensive and must use Mjolnir to block the incoming attack. Finally given a moment to think, Thor hurls Mjolnir at Hyperion, who, in his overconfidence allows Thor a free shot. Instead of ineffectually bouncing off Hyperion again, Mjolnir instead encircles Hyperion and traps him within a bubble of glazed sand.

Lastly we find Goliath in London, preparing to face off against Grandmaster’s final champion. Before he can find his foe however, Goliath is confronted by Avenger’s ally, Black Knight. Although he offers to help Goliath, Black Knight’s assistance is rejected. As Black Knight prepares to depart, the heroes notice that something moving at great speed is travelling around Big Ben. This can be none other than Goliath’s adversary, Whizzer. Although outmatched in size, Whizzer speeds around Goliath, making a near tornado around the supersized hero. Unfortunately for the Avengers, Black Knight decides to intervene and attacks Whizzer with the flat of the Ebony Blade, his mystical ancestral sword. Goliath quickly attempts to step in and stop Black Knight, but the damage is done. With the outside interference from Black Knight, Grandmaster interrupts the game and removes both Avengers and their competitors for a final round. With this, the Black Knight is left alone to swear that he will make amends for his interference, though he is uncertain of how he will do this.

Avengers

Black Panther
Captain America
Goliath
Iron Man
Thor
Vision
Wasp
Yellowjacket

Villains

Kang the Conqueror
Grandmaster
Hyperion
Nighthawk
Dr. Prism
Whizzer

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Let The Game Begin

Avengers #69

Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciller: Sal Buscema
Inker: Sam Grainger
Letterer: Art Simek

Featured Issue: Avengers #69

Plot Summary

Making their way though a Manhattan hospital, the Avengers seek out the room of their ally, Tony Stark. Having been injured battling a Life Model Decoy that attempted to take his place, Iron Man teeters on the brink of death as the Avengers arrive. In hopes of helping their friend, the Thor rushes the best specialist available, Dr. Santini, to the hospital. As the doctor evaluates Mr. Stark, Wasp notices an odd looking figurine hidden beneath the dresser. After a brief investigation, Wasp throws the figure into the garbage can, causing it to grow and allowing it to climb out of the can. The figure then attacks the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents guarding Stark, growing yet again after being shot by the agents. The figure, soon identified as the Growing Man breaks into Stark’s room, kidnapping the industrialist.

The Avengers attack that followed only makes things worse, as it allows the Growing Man to dramatically increase in size. Goliath attempts to pursue but is unable to match Growing Man’s size while also being able to fight and Growing Man is able to escape with Stark. Fortunately for the Avengers, they manage to hitch a ride in the same transportation beam that Growing Man used, pursuing their foe wherever he may go.

Thrust through time and space the Avengers are stunned to find themselves delivered to the feet of their time traveling foe, Kang the Conqueror. When the Avengers refuse to serve Kang, his minions attack, but are quickly defeated. Just as the Avengers are about to turn on Kang himself, they are called to reason by a surprising individual, Black Panther. The Panther informs his teammates that Kang drew him from the past before them and implores Kang to explain his actions and the Avengers to listen.

Heeding Black Panther’s advice, Kang tells the Avengers that in his search for a way to bring backĀ  Ravonna, he was approached by a cosmic being calling himself the Grandmaster. This strange creature offers Kang the power over life and death if he should win in a contest of Grandmaster’s design. Should he lose however, Grandmaster would send the Earth into oblivion. Knowing how powerful the Avengers are, Kang drew them to his future in order that they may serve as his champions, not to just save Ravonna, but also to prevent Grandmaster from wiping out Earth. Faced with this new information, the Avengers agree to help Kang. With the return of Grandmaster, Thor, Goliath and Captain America are transported back to Earth and their own time where they come face to face with the champions of the Grandmaster, the Squadron Sinister.

Avengers

Black Panther
Captain America
Goliath
Thor
Vision
Wasp
Yellowjacket

Villains

Growing Man
Kang the Conqueror
Grandmaster