Despite the fact that I was still not buying AVENGERS at this time, I did continue to pick up MARVEL TRIPLE ACTION, the AVENGERS reprint title, whenever it would show up at my 7-11 comic book headquarters. This reflects the fact that, even from an early age, I had a preference for the comics of the 1960. I liked the comics of the 1970s, but it was the stories and books from the 60s that really captured my attention. That’s some strange coloring on this cover, but it does the job of focusing the viewer’s attention on Quicksilver and the stricken Scarlet Witch. (Magneto wasn’t an important enough character at this time that anybody especially cared whether you could recognize him here or not.)
This was a relatively rare issue that John Buscema not only penciled but inked himself as well. John would go through periods where he’d want to ink his own work because he was always dissatisfied with the caliber of inkers he usually got–only to become bored with the process while doing it since it required him to effectively draw the same thing twice. This patter would repeat itself throughout John’s career–but I think this reprinted AVENGERS issue may have been the first time that Marvel fans got to experience John inking John.
This story opened with a four-page sequence in which Hercules, having returned home to Mount Olympus, finds the place deserted save for the wicked Typhon, last of the Titans, who has returned to do away with Zeus and his offspring as well as the rest of the Olympian Gods. I have to confess, I was bored by this sequence as a reader. It felt too much like an issue of CONAN, a series which never grabbed me as a kid in the slightest. It probably also didn’t help that the reproduction in this reprint is a bit muddy, so Buscema’s delicate lines tend to clump up a bit, giving everything a murky quality to it. John excelled at drawing situations such as these, but that didn’t mean that I longed to read about them.
Meanwhile, having failed to locate the missing Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch last issue, the remaining three Avengers are feeling pretty down in the dumps. Wanda and Pietro have been spirited away by Magneto and the Toad, who want them to rejoin their Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The two Avengers want no part of their former master, but he pours on the guile, convincing them that the human race will never accept them because of their mutant heritage. To prove his peaceful intent, Magneto takes his troop to the United Nations, where he arranges to address the world. The Avengers see live television coverage of this going on and race for the UN building, naturally.
This Magneto isn’t a Holocaust survivor or a man fighting for his people. His thought balloons reveal clearly that he’s a Hitler-like madman obsessed with his own superiority. But one thing he does have in common with his later incarnation is that here, for the first time, he demands the creation of a separate nation for mutants. The UN countries aren’t having any of it from this terrorist who has previously threatened the world, and they shout down his demands. As you’d expect, this causes Magneto to lash out at the crowd of diplomats–but the Avengers show up at this point to intercept the attack and to take Magneto and his guys on.
But Magneto has his eyes on another prize, and in the middle of the melee, he uses his powers to divert the gunshot of a UN guard, causing the bullet to strike the Scarlet Witch in the head. Wanda falls, stricken, and Quicksilver loses his cool. He’d been portrayed recently as feeling most bitterly the fear and scorn of regular humanity, and this event tips him over the edge back into Magneto’s camp. Magneto is only too happy to stoke these fires and cause Avenger to battle Avenger.
It’s a straight-up rout here, as Goliath quietly discovers that his growing powers are failing him. So he, Hawkeye and the Wasp are no match for Magneto, the Toad and a fired-up Quicksilver, and the heroes are swiftly trounced. Magneto, though, chooses to withdraw at this point, and Quicksilver is only too happy to get his sister the medical attention that she needs. The bullet that grazed her skull appears to have given her partial amnesia, that great coincidental condition sung of in countless crappy sitcom stories of the period. So once again, the trio of Avengers wrap up the story feeling despondent.
For the wrap-up, we cut back to Mount Olympus once more for an additional 4 pages, as Hercules contends with Typhon. Ultimately, the Titan exiles Herc to the same world of mists and shadow to which he’d sentenced the rest of the Olympians. So with Hercules out of the way, Typhon sits upon the throne at last, and the issue is To Be Continued. I was no more enthralled by these wrap-up pages than I was with the opening, but it wouldn’t be enough to put me off of picking up the following issue in a month’s time.