Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciller: John Buscema
Inker: Tom Palmer
Letterer: Sam Rosen
Featured Issue: Avengers #74
Staring intently at the TV, the Avengers cannot believe what they are hearing. The news announcer informs the audience that the Black Panther has turned to a life of crime and the Avengers take it upon themselves to capture him, less they also be considered criminals. So far his criminal acts to date have all been directed towards those suspected of supporting the Sons of the Serpent. The news anchor states that this must imply Black Panther is African-American and that he is leading a new form of militant. The Avengers contest this assessment as it goes against the character of the man they know, but again the news shows Black Panther actively involved in crimes and fighting back against the police. Concluding the broadcast is a recently received tape from the Supreme Serpent. The villainous leader slanders the Avengers before declaring that the Sons will unmask Black Panther within a few short hours.
In the bowels of the Sons’ submarine Black Panther is forced to watch the broadcast, driving him to further frustration. The Panther is disgusted by the idea of being used to incite civil unrest or even a civil war and declares his intention to obtain his freedom. Adding insult to injury, the news report is followed up by a new episode of the Dan Dunn Show. Dunn immediately begins to provoke Hale by demanding to know what he will do when Black Panther is unmasked to be an African-American. Although Monica Lynne tries to argue that these are the actions of a single man, Dunn vehemently insists that it is a referendum on the cause of all African-Americans. Further, Dunn manages to maneuver Hale into a position that he knows will compromise Hale. Dunn finally provokes Hale to the point where he physically attacks Dunn. Even within the television station’s control room racial tensions are already beginning to flare to a dangerous point. As Black Panther watches, he correctly judges the basics of the Sons’ plan and the precarious position he finds himself in. The Supreme Serpent informs him that soon he will be used to ignite the national powder keg.
The Avengers have taken to the streets in an attempt to hunt down their wayward teammate, dividing in order to cover more ground with their limited time. Vision pass through the ground in order to walk through the sewers while Yellowjacket is swarmed by autograph seeking teens. In order to get back to his work, Yellowjacket is forced to shrink so that he can make his escape. Goliath has a less pleasant experience as he is mocked up passers-by and confronted by a police officer directing traffic. Only Wasp is successful in her mission to find Black Panther, discovering him while robs a jewelry store and assaults the salesman. Wasp takes a moment to inform the rest of the Avengers and then confronts her wayward teammate. As she fights with him, Wasp begins to suspect that this Black Panther is not the real one. Soon she is joined by Goliath who climbs the side of the building in order to reach the scene faster. Although Black Panther manages to avoid Goliath, he encounters the remaining Avengers on the roof and is saved only by the timely arrival of an escape vehicle. On their way out, the aircraft blasts Goliath with gas grenades causing him to fall off the roof, taking large parts of the building with him. Goliath is saved by Vision’s quick thinking and mass shifting.
Back at Avengers Mansion, the team is visited by Monica Lynne. Ms. Lynne arrives just as the Supreme Serpent begins his speech and informs the Avengers about her encounter with Black Panther. The team determines that they have mere minutes to prevent the Supreme Serpent from unmasking Black Panther and starting a national race war. They are able to make it to the abandoned television station just as the Supreme Serpent is finishing his speech. Fighting off several guards, the Avengers and Ms. Lynne make their way into the studio in time to see an imposter Black Panther unmasked. Vision is able to locate the real Black Panther and free him in time to further unmask the imposter as a white man wearing a mask. In the chaos that ensues, the Avengers gain the upper hand and unmask the Supreme Serpent and his lieutenant as none other than Dan Dunn and Montague Hale. The pair admit that they had no other motivation than obtaining power for themselves at any price. As the dust clear on the scene Monica Lynne decides that she will abandon her singing career for one as a leader in the civil rights movement.
Sons of the Serpent