Issue(s): Avengers #274
Not that being aware helps him once the monstrously powerful Mr. Hyde gets involved.
I'm going to include a scan of this page just because i really love the interactions between the Masters of Evil as well as the Buscema/Palmer figures.
The Masters next use a voice simulator to mimic the Wasp's voice, tricking Captain Marvel into the Mansion without warning. She's quickly captured by Blackout and thrust into the Dark Dimension.
Things begin to possibly not go according to Baron Zemo's plan when Captain America shows up at the Wasp's estate in New Jersey. After his battle with Whirlwind in his own book, he tried to contact the Wasp, since she has a history with the villain. But the Masters responded to that with the Wasp voice simulator and told Cap that she wasn't interested. Cap found that suspicious, so he headed to the Wasp's home to talk to her personally (lucky that he went to her home instead of the Mansion).
The Wasp therefore heads to the Mansion to investigate.
She also finds Jarvis and the Black Knight, but doesn't make an attempt to rescue them yet.
We next see Hercules getting dropped off in front of the Mansion, loaded with drugged booze. His companion's name is Tanya Sealy, which is the given civilian name of Black Mamba in the 1983 Marvel Handbook (i don't think her name had previously been stated in the comics, so this was a little easter egg for diligent readers). Cap and the Wasp divert Hercules.
Unfortunately, the friction between the Wasp and Hercules that we've been seeing for many issues comes back to bite them hard here, as Herc angrily and drunkenly refuses to follow any plan and instead stomps off to the Mansion.
Hercules at least has enough sense to try to avoid the ambush and enter through a wall, where he encounters Tiger Shark.
Meanwhile, Cap and the Wasp are forced to try to provide back-up, and they are attacked by the Mansion's defenses, rigged up by the Fixer.
The Wasp manages to get away, but Captain America is captured.
And with Cap captured, Baron Zemo has Blackout encase the Mansion in Darkforce energy.
That leaves a drugged Hercules alone vs. the Masters of Evil.
A lot of the damage is done by Goliath, who i like to emphasize is not just as strong as Henry Pym or Bill Foster as Giant Man. He's also got the ionic powers given to him by the original Baron Zemo's equipment and restored by Dr. Malus, so he's essentially Wonder Man + Giant Man. Really powerful all on his own. But the Masters have power in reserve here. Moonstone is busy trying to regain control of Blackout, who is concentrating on keeping the Mansion sealed. But Baron Zemo, Fixer, and Yellowjacket could all have added to the fight, if necessary, and really, that's true of Moonstone too. So Hercules really was doomed.
Hercules is assumed to be dead, and so Zemo has him pushed out of the Darkforce shield.
With the current team of Avengers basically defeated, Zemo takes some time to gloat.
We've had cliffhanger endings with the Avengers defeated or characters thought dead before, but the stakes here feel higher and the depths of defeat feel lower. As they're being captured, Cap tells the Wasp to "get help", signalling that this isn't a situation where the characters are just going to have a quick reversal next issue and clean things up. This team of Avengers was defeated, full stop.
Another really great thing about this storyline is that it's building on development that Roger Stern has been doing his whole series. Not the villains specifically, although the situation with Moonstone and Blackout has its roots in Stern's early issues. But a good percentage of the Avengers' defeat was due to internal problems. The Black Knight's fixation on the Wasp and her obliviousness to it. Hercules' inability to take orders from the Wasp and her stubbornness in getting back in his face about it instead of finding another way to deal with him. It sounds like i am putting a lot of this on the Wasp, and she is the team leader. We'll look at this failure from the Wasp's perspective next issue. But of course the Black Knight and Hercules deserve the blame for their own actions, and it's also worth noting that the Avengers are down a member because Cap invited the mercurial Sub-Mariner onto the team, and Namor has characteristically taken leave to pursue personal interests. The point is there's been a lot of build up on the character side of this series, and that's paying off (or coming due) here, which is a nice additional layer on top of Zemo's strategy and the Masters' overwhelming power.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Masters of Evil use the Wasp voice simulator to send the West Coast Avengers on a wild goose chase in Indonesia so they technically appear behind the scenes in this issue and next appear in West Coast Avengers #16. Captain America #324 takes place before this issue, and Amazing Spider-Man #283 takes place between this issue and next. The Fixer says that the Fantastic Four "are still out of the country", with a footnote for FF #297. That creates an impossibility. FF #296-298 are the issues that bring the Thing back to the team, and the Thing is on the team in the Comet Man series, which has to take place before Hulk #324. And Hulk #324 is referenced in West Coast Avengers annual #1, which has to take place before the Masters of Evil storyline since the Mansion is still standing, Hercules is still conscious, etc.. And if that's too roundabout, there's also the fact that in FF #296 it's said that Franklin is still staying at Avengers Mansion. Now, you could choose to ignore the footnote in the WCA annual instead of the one here and push the Hulk issues past this story and figure that the timing for Franklin was just really tight, but it's arbitrary, and the reference in the WCA annual is more authoritative (it even includes a picture of the Hulk on the slab from #324), while here it could be chalked up to bad info on the Fixer's part.
Crossover: Avengers: Under Siege
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
Great fight. Even though he falls at the end, Hercules really has his moments. It really shows Goliath is a big threat, the equal to all the other strong goons.
Hyde comes across as a real scary villain and possibly someone who could take on a Thor or a Hercules. It's a long time since he was a Daredevil villain.
Between Secret Wars and this storyline, I always held the Wrecking Crew in high regard even though in reality, they aren't "Grade A" villains.
I like how Fixer panics when the Avengers attack, and Zemo calms him down by projecting authority and giving immediate orders. It really shows how a lot of these villains have inferiority complexes. Zemo does an excellent job keeping everyone in line.
Posted by: Chris | February 17, 2014 3:37 PM
No reason to use the Black Mamba here rather than an anonymous call girl, other than it's just all kids of continuity awesome.
Showing how Zemo has so much trouble keeping the villains in line, shows why no one has gotten together big groups of villains to ambush heroes. (Which is what the "Acts of Vengence" should have been.)
Posted by: kveto from prague | February 17, 2014 4:06 PM
This arc is the Greatest Avengers story, bar none.
A quick aside, as it happened in the previous issue but I always thought, in retrospect, Goliath pointing out that "Hyde's only angry because I stopped him from ripping off his (Jarvis's) arms and legs" was a nice little easter egg leading to his later rehabilitation to a member of the Thunderbolts (although Stern didn't intend that). One could think Goliath was the kind of bad guy who didn't mind messing dudes up, but thought twice about picking on helpless old guys. I have known some criminal types who actually don't think it's very tough or good for their credibility to act in such a manner.
Goodness, Roger Stern is the BEST and criminally underrated. Mr Ford, you did a fantastic job reminding us of WHY, and how he led up to things. I am now more upset that Grunewald pushed him off the book for petty reasons.
This issue and storyline had stakes. I remember as a little kid being really inspired by Cap's defiant dialogue after being kicked in the face, and kind of strangely half-rooting for Zemo and not knowing why, he seemed kind of noble and misguided. But aren't a lot of them??
Posted by: George Gordon | March 1, 2014 1:30 AM
What impressed me the most was how competent Stern made Zemo look. Gruenwald's Zemo was a glorified crybaby, and even Englehart, who created the character, did not make him look too mature or too competent.
Roger Stern, though, makes him into a true professional.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | March 1, 2014 8:25 AM
What a GREAT year to finally be earning some weekly bucks working all summer for my parents! I had not found Avengers locally until #273; I can only echo how the DVD-ROM allowed me to see Stern's confluence of personalities setting up this most epic of Avengers arcs. In execution, I think I never saw better super-hero comics. Zemo's competence fascinated me; I often wondered why villains couldn't be more organized and calculating! Rationally, super-villains are NOT stable enough personalities to build into a team past a reliable strike force (ah, but thanks to Busiek, Zemo will try anyway with Thunderbolts!), but if Secret Wars had been this intricately balanced, I think it'd be remembered as A-Class, too. I always felt strong writing made up for moderately-competent art, but you've really got the best of both worlds here; if I didn't speak English, I suspect I'd understand these stories---and find them VERY exciting!
Posted by: Cecil Disharoon | July 5, 2014 3:08 AM
"which is a nice additional layer on top of Zemo's strategy and the Masters' overwhelming power."
Or you could say that Zemo knew all these issues were going on and that's why he picked this time to attack them.
Posted by: clyde | June 2, 2015 4:05 PM
A great issue, with great art. One of my favs is one you didn't include - the panel of Cap leaping from a helicopter, landing on Jan's diving board and during a midair flip before landing by her pool. Just magnificent storytelling (would Hercules survive was a question hanging in the air for a month) and art. I don't think, in all my years of collecting comics, there was a period where I so desperately wanted a month to go by so I could get the next issue.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 7, 2015 6:14 PM
Mr. Hyde has never been more wicked looking than he looks here in Buscema's and Palmer's renderings!
Posted by: Holt | November 14, 2017 8:32 PM
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