Issue(s): Avengers #145, Avengers #146
The Serpent Crown saga in Avengers was taking its toll on George Perez, so these two issues, originally intended for Giant-Size Avengers #5, were run as fill-ins. To show you how last minute the switch was, here's the checklist that was printed in Avengers #145, still acting like it was going to be the next installment of the Serpent Crown saga.
The story is about an assassin called the Assassin who is hired to assassinate the Avengers.
It's said that the Assassin was hired by "several of their old enemies". We don't learn who. But they had access to an impressive array of film footage (see References below).
The story starts off with the replacement Captain Americas just getting out of control.
Actually, those guys, seemingly involved in a mundane break-in, are actually working for the Assassin, who tags Cap with a nerve gas while he is distracted.
The Cap-goons are also unknowingly poisoned via their masks. Instead of killing Cap immediately, the poison is slow-acting. The purpose of this is to draw out the other Avengers. Donald Blake is recruited to look at Cap (IM and Thor have known each other's IDs since at least Avengers #113)...
...and Iron Man pulls out a Thor LMD that he's been working on to stand in for him. In a classic demonstration of priorities, Captain America's mask is not removed during surgery.
Iron Man and Hawkeye are subsequently drugged with poisoned coffee, and the Vision is tagged with a scrambler device, so they have trouble fighting off another wave of the Assassin's goons (also in poisoned masks).
But Tony Stark's synthetic heart protects him from the poison, and Hawkeye just vomits it out...
...so they're able to rally and fight the Assassin.
The Assassin turns out to be a woman...
...but with her mask off her own goons don't recognize her and they shoot her down. They subsequently die thanks to the fact that she poisoned their masks.
Even the Assassin's agent, who turns out to be her father, kills himself after killing his son / her brother/
The Assassin looks a hecuva lot like the X-Cutioner...
...and knowing that guy used a hodge-podge of (granted, x-villain) equipment, i thought maybe he wound up with this suit, but as far as i can see online that doesn't seem to be the case.
A more than tolerable fill-in.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: A caption in issue #146 offers a No Prize to anyone who can tell Marvel "where this two-part tale falls in the Avengers' continuity". The Marvel Index places it after the conclusion of the Serpent Crown saga in Avengers #149. The MCP places it between Cap #192-193 and Thor #236-237. I'm breaking with MCP's placement of Iron Man in this story since he still has his nose here; so i'm going with between IM #81-82 instead of #87-88. The introductory scene showing the Assassin taking her assignment takes place a year earlier. Bill Foster and Reed Richards are mentioned as working remotely on the problem of Cap's poisoning; i've included them as Characters Appearing.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBeast, Bill Foster, Captain America, Falcon, Hawkeye, Henry Pym, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Vision, Wasp
This is one of my favourite avengers stories ever. Here is the spanish cover, July 1976. http://www.universomarvel.com/fichas/esp/portadas/venv222.jpg
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | May 14, 2013 4:37 AM
The No-Prize offer was made because at the time nobody could fit in the Avengers line-up here with the main book.
When this story was previewed in FOOM, Tony Isabella referred to the Assassin as a "he".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 17, 2013 3:38 PM
One of my all time favorite covers! Rated #80 in Wizard Magazine's Top 100 Covers of All Time (Issue 127).
Posted by: MOCK! | February 16, 2014 2:40 PM
#146 that is....
Posted by: MOCK! | February 16, 2014 2:41 PM
Posted by: MOCK! | February 16, 2014 2:42 PM
Ugh, this cover was just another bad one during this era. My favorite during this time was Avengers #141, but they were all just blah after that one. This was the beginning of my loss of interest in Marvel Comics. The last Avengers that I kept was #148. Things seemed to be changing a lot. Artists, stories, dialogue.
Posted by: Mike | July 23, 2014 11:52 PM
Yeah, I think a C is pretty generous here. I bought this in the late 80's, trying to collect the whole Avengers / Squadron crossover (two of my favorite groups) and was so disappointed that they stuck these two issues in the middle of the storyline. The art, especially, was so disappointing, surrounded as it was by Perez's work. Just terrible.
Bad fill-in's are the worst thing for OCD collectors, because you feel the need to get them but you don't really want them.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 14, 2015 9:19 AM
These two issues were supposed to be another Giant-Size issue, but when the format was discontinued, they were stuck with this story. It was then split into two parts and Keith Pollard drew the set-up for the second part and they became, essentially, two fill-in issues.
Posted by: Bill | March 14, 2015 7:17 PM
Darn! Somehow I skipped past the very top of the page and fnord covered everything I just posted. Now I look dumb. Nothing to see here; please disperse :)
Posted by: Bill | March 14, 2015 7:18 PM
Your comment did connect for me the fact that Keith Pollard drew those 3 pages specifically because issue #146 needed an intro/recap that wouldn't have been in the Giant-Size issue, so it did have some value!
Posted by: fnord12 | March 14, 2015 8:18 PM
Just for curiosity, here's what the Frenc-Canadian version of the cover looks like: https://comictrip.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/les-vengeurs-no-7677/
Posted by: Steve Requin | April 12, 2015 4:15 PM
This one is pretty morbid.
Posted by: david banes | May 10, 2016 1:46 AM
Tha cover of #145 looks more modern to me and I liked it very much. However the story was a little weak: for a top class assassin the gal seems to make some bad mistakes.
Posted by: jti88 . | February 2, 2017 8:06 AM
I didn't realize the cover to Avengers 145 had been paid homage to (ripped off?) so often: http://ilovecomiccovers.blogspot.ca/2011/08/new-mutants-87-homages.html
Posted by: Mark Black | February 2, 2017 11:54 AM
I know it's fashionable here to mock Gil Kane's quirks (especially the up nose shots) but he was one of the all time great cover designers, up there with The King.
On the other hand, I'd hasten to point out that many of these examples are Liefeld swiping HIMSELF!
Picasso said, "To imitate others is necessary but to imitate oneself is pathetic!"
Posted by: Ubersicht | February 2, 2017 12:57 PM
Jim Lee paid tribute to Kane's cover in mid-2015
Posted by: Shar | February 4, 2017 6:11 PM
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