Friday

OMU: Scarlet Witch -- Part Four

The Scarlet Witch finally finds some stability over the next twelve months of her life, serving as a core member of the Avengers the entire time. She also accepts that her romantic feelings for the Vision are real, despite him being an artificial man created in a laboratory, and pursues a relationship with him. The Vision, for his part, is reluctant to acknowledge that he is capable of human intimacy, but Wanda refuses to be pushed away. Her relationship with her twin brother, Quicksilver, however, slowly dissolves before he finally quits the team and promptly disappears. Adding to Wanda’s troubles is her teammate Hawkeye (a.k.a. Goliath), who subjects her to routine sexual harassment. Given the asinine behavior of the two flesh-and-blood men closest to her, it’s no wonder that the Scarlet Witch finds the android Vision’s reserved demeanor so appealing.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Here, then, is the fourth installment of… The True History of the Scarlet Witch!


January 1965 – The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are summoned to a meeting of the Avengers by Captain America and his new partner, the Falcon. The Vision, Goliath, Thor, Iron Man, and the Black Panther also attend. Cap reports that a childhood friend of the Falcon had been kidnapped by a voodoo cult in New Orleans, and when he was rescued, he kept muttering a set of coordinates in the Pacific Ocean. The team agrees to help investigate, though the Black Panther announces that he must return to Wakanda now that his regent has died. Pietro reminds the others that he, Wanda, and the Vision will need to remain behind on monitor duty as a favor to Mister Fantastic, who asked them to keep watch over the Baxter Building while the Fantastic Four are vacationing in Las Vegas. After the Black Panther has left, Captain America, the Falcon, Goliath, Thor, and Iron Man board a Quinjet and take off. Several hours later, the five heroes return, but none of them can remember what happened to them or where they left their aircraft. Wanda finds it all to be very mysterious.

A few days later, Wanda is reading in bed a little after midnight when the Vision calls her and Pietro to action. The Fantastic Four have been arrested as public menaces and are spending the night in jail, and someone has broken into the Baxter Building and set off the intruder alarms. The three Avengers race to the scene and find the Kree-born superhero Captain Marvel opening the portal to the Negative Zone. Before they can stop him, Captain Marvel pulls Rick Jones out of the other dimension, but he is followed close behind by Annihilus, who is intent on conquering the earth. Annihilus shrugs off Wanda and Pietro’s attacks, but the Vision manages to drive him back into the Negative Zone. The Avengers seal the portal, only to find that Captain Marvel has stolen their Quinjet and fled. The Vision realizes that Captain Marvel has absorbed dangerous levels of Negative Zone radiation, so the three Avengers take Rick and set off in pursuit. After picking up another Quinjet at Avengers Mansion, the quartet flies to Miami, Florida, as Rick believes Mar-Vell will attempt to hijack a spaceship at Cape Kennedy. They are able to apprehend Mar-Vell and take him to the base hospital there, where an old associate of Hank Pym’s is able to siphon off the deadly radiation with help from the Vision. The process causes the synthezoid to lose consciousness for a few hours, and Wanda worries about him until he revives shortly after dawn.

Suddenly, Kree Sentry 459 crashes through the wall, announcing that Ronan the Accuser has ordered him to execute Mar-Vell as a traitor to the Kree. Wanda casts a hex that makes the infirmary ceiling collapse onto the large robot, but to no effect. The Sentry overcomes both Quicksilver and the Vision and grabs Mar-Vell, informing the earthlings that “Plan Atavus” will soon deal with them, then teleports away with his prisoner. The base security chief, Carol Danvers, then arrives on the scene and demands to know what’s going on. After the Avengers explain, Danvers reveals that Captain Marvel has saved her life in the past and she hopes the Avengers will be able to rescue him. Thus, the three heroes take Rick back to Avengers Mansion to begin the search. During the flight, Rick tells the others what he knows of Captain Marvel’s history and of how he sided with the human race against his own warlike people. When the Quinjet lands at their headquarters, though, they find a pre-recorded message from Goliath saying he’s gone to Alaska to help Yellowjacket and the Wasp deal with an emergency there. With no time to lose, the quartet returns to their Quinjet and flies to Alaska, where they rendezvous with the Wasp on an ice-breaker ship in the Arctic Ocean.

The Wasp informs her erstwhile teammates that they’ve discovered a tall tower on the ice, surrounded by a circle of primeval jungle. An energy beam emitted from the top of the tower sweeps around, increasing the size of the jungle with each rotation. Both Yellowjacket and Goliath have disappeared into the jungle, so the four Avengers go in to investigate, accompanied by Rick. They are soon attacked by Sentry 459 and a hypnotized Goliath, and in the course of the battle, both the Scarlet Witch and the Vision are knocked out and captured. Wanda regains consciousness inside the tower, finding herself bound with energy shackles that neutralize her mutant powers. The Vision is likewise held captive next to her, and as he revives, Wanda, overcome with emotion, leans over to kiss him. However, he turns away at the last moment, asserting that he’s merely an artificial copy of a man. Wanda is devastated, more by the Vision’s negative self-image than by his rejection of her affection, but their captor, Ronan the Accuser, merely laughs at them. Ronan turns his attention back to his other prisoner, Captain Marvel, and explains that his devolution ray has already turned Yellowjacket into a caveman and will eventually revert all life on earth to amoebas. Ronan is about to turn his ray on the Scarlet Witch when Quicksilver and Rick come to the rescue. Freed from their bonds, Wanda, Vision, and Mar-Vell are ready to fight, but Ronan, learning the Skrulls have launched a full-scale attack on the Kree Empire, teleports away. With Plan Atavus abandoned, the tower begins to collapse, but Sentry 459, lacking explicit instructions, can only remain at his post while the Avengers evacuate. The jungle quickly succumbs to the Arctic environment as Yellowjacket and three technicians from a nearby government research outpost revert to their normal forms. After the tower breaks through the ice and disappears into the ocean, Yellowjacket tenders his formal resignation from the Avengers, feeling that he’s of little use to the team. The Wasp reluctantly resigns as well, so the Avengers fly them and the technicians back to their main research base. Not wanting to cause a general panic, the Avengers swear the technicians to secrecy before returning to New York.

Back at Avengers Mansion, Wanda and the Vision do not speak of their near-kiss, as she realizes that he is not ready to move forward with their relationship. She decides to take things slowly and to try to help the Vision come to see himself as a worthwhile person in his own right. Despite the synthezoid’s self-doubts, Wanda sees how easily he has assumed a leadership role in their recent adventures, even being elected to serve as team chairman, and is determined to draw the Vision out of his shell. Some days later, they are watching television news coverage of a racially-charged crisis in San Francisco when Thor interrupts to announce that he must deal with the situation alone. Quicksilver, Cap, and Goliath agree with Wanda and the Vision to let the thunder god handle it, even though he refuses to fully explain himself.

Following the inauguration of President Morris N. Richardson, the government forms an Alien Activities Commission, headed by conservative politician H. Warren Craddock, after the three technicians from Alaska go public with the Kree plot to conquer the earth. The Avengers are shocked when Craddock announces that public hearings will be held on the matter, and that he has an extensive list of known alien spies at large in America—even implying that Captain Marvel may be one of them. Mar-Vell and Rick then arrive at the mansion to consult with the Avengers as to the best course of action. All too familiar with persecution, Wanda and Pietro advise Mar-Vell not to turn himself in, and the Vision concurs that this could be the start of a witch hunt that will grow to encompass mutants and androids as well. They notice that a crowd of protestors is gathering outside the mansion, demanding that the Avengers turn over Captain Marvel to the authorities, but their attention is drawn to a helicopter plummeting toward the roof. Realizing that the pilot is Carol Danvers, Mar-Vell tries to rescue her but fails. The Vision manages to catch the helicopter as it crashes, minimizing the damage, and Wanda and Pietro help pull Danvers from the wreckage. Wanda fears the Vision has been hurt, but he phases out of the burning wreck and coldly insists that he’s fine. Wanda is upset by his brusque manner, but he merely tells her she’s being too emotional and goes inside. Pietro confronts the Vision about his treatment of Wanda, but the synthezoid ignores him. Wanda makes excuses for the Vision, but, frustrated and heartbroken, she is preoccupied the rest of the day as Mar-Vell and Danvers go to hide out at an upstate farm and the team receives a summons to appear before Craddock’s commission in the morning.

The next day, the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Vision, Goliath, and Rick Jones head to the New York County Courthouse to testify before the Alien Activities Commission. The streets are lined with protestors accusing the Avengers of selling out the human race to the Kree invaders, and Wanda is disturbed and frightened by the atmosphere of paranoia. In the courtroom, they see the Fantastic Four have also been called to testify. Craddock’s opening statement plays up the lurking threat of alien infiltration, increasing Wanda’s anxiety. After the three technicians have described their ordeal in Alaska at the hands of Ronan, Mister Fantastic is called to the stand to discuss his team’s recent encounters with the Kree, which he does in dry, scientific terms. The Thing testifies next and proves himself unwilling to give Wanda and the other new Avengers the benefit of the doubt since they helped Captain Marvel evade capture by S.H.I.E.L.D. Having considered the Fantastic Four to be friends and allies, Wanda is stung by their lack of support. Her spirits lift when the Vision addresses the committee and makes an impassioned plea for justice, but Craddock dismisses his sentiments as the empty words of a pre-programmed robot. Wanda is furious, but then Rick suddenly bolts from the room, causing a ruckus. Craddock abruptly adjourns the hearing until tomorrow, so the Avengers return to their headquarters, again harassed by protestors on the way.

When they arrive, the four heroes are shocked to find Avengers Mansion has been ransacked by an angry mob. The butler, Edwin Jarvis, reports that a couple of agitators stirred the crowd into a frenzy, and when they stormed the building, he felt it necessary to deactivate the security devices to prevent anyone from getting hurt. Seeing the damage done to her home, Wanda is irritated with the servant, feeling he’s failed in his duty to protect their sanctuary. However, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man suddenly appear and castigate the new Avengers for shielding Captain Marvel from government investigation. Accusing the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Vision, and Goliath of disgracing the name of the Avengers, Captain America disbands the team. Wanda is stunned, and her heart sinks when the Vision insists that, under the team’s by-laws, they have no recourse. After the senior members have left, the disgraced quartet decides to rendezvous with Mar-Vell and Danvers at the upstate farm. Wanda uses her credit card to pay for a car rental and they soon arrive at the property, located outside the small town of King’s Crossing, NY.

On their way up to the farmhouse, the four heroes are attacked by a trio of cows that suddenly transform into doppelgängers of Mister Fantastic, the Thing, and the Human Torch. Quicksilver is knocked out when “the Thing” weirdly stretches his arm to punch him. Wanda casts a hex that ruptures a water main, thus extinguishing the flames of “the Human Torch,” but “Mister Fantastic” wraps her up in his elongated arms and squeezes. Within a few seconds, the Scarlet Witch lapses into unconsciousness.

February 1965 – When she comes to, Wanda finds herself imprisoned in a stasis tube alongside Pietro and Mar-Vell on what appears to be a Skrull spaceship. Unable to speak or move, she remembers her similar plight on Ixar’s starship a little over a year ago and is filled with dread. The Super-Skrull is ranting at Captain Marvel, revealing that the Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man who disbanded the Avengers were Skrull impostors, which at least gives Wanda hope that her teammates will come to their rescue. However, the Super-Skrull decides that the mutant twins have outlived their usefulness, and he is about to kill them when he is summoned to the bridge. Wanda experiences strange sensations as the ship jumps through hyperspace and comes in for a rough landing on the Skrull Throneworld in the Andromeda Galaxy. The three prisoners are soon transported to the palace of Emperor Dorrek, supreme leader of the Skrulls. Seeing that the emperor’s daughter, Princess Anelle, wants their prisoners treated mercifully, Wanda is inspired to echo Mar-Vell’s spirit of resistance. Unfortunately, Dorrek believes that while the terms of the “Convention of Fornax” prevent him from torturing a man of the Kree, its protections do not extend to savages from Earth. Thus, Wanda and Pietro are dumped into an enclosed gladiatorial arena to face a large, hungry monster.

Using teamwork, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver quickly put the monster on the defensive. However, Pietro’s speeding around generates wind gusts that send four small, pink-furred critters flying around the enclosure. Whenever they strike a hard surface, the critters spawn full-sized duplicates of themselves, quickly filling up the available space and threatening to smother Wanda and Pietro. Amused, Emperor Dorrek releases them from the arena, and Princess Anelle informs the twins that Mar-Vell has saved them by agreeing to give the Skrulls the secret of “omni-wave” technology. Wanda despairs, thinking they may now be responsible for the deaths of millions of the Skrulls’ enemies. Intending to keep them as hostages, Dorrek has Wanda and Pietro placed back into stasis tubes and rendered unconscious.

Sometime later, Wanda and Pietro are revived and released from their stasis tubes as Captain Marvel battles the Skrulls. He informs the twins that the Avengers are on their way to rescue them, and Wanda’s spirits soar. She and Pietro join in the fight, taking on a horde of Dorrek’s palace guards, but soon find themselves hopelessly outnumbered. Having attempted to use the omni-wave projector he was building to contact Rick Jones and the Avengers, Mar-Vell destroys it, declaring it is too dangerous to fall into the wrong hands. Wanda and Pietro brace themselves for the next wave of enemy troops, when suddenly a coruscating light emerges from Mar-Vell’s head and sweeps through the palace, rendering him and all the Skrulls immobile and insensate. Though unnerved by the eerie silence, Wanda and Pietro deduce that Mar-Vell is somehow a conduit for the mysterious energy rather than its source, but they are confused as to why they are unaffected by it. Without warning, Wanda, Pietro, and Mar-Vell are teleported to the planet Hala in the Kree Galaxy, where they are reunited with the Vision, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man. Wanda is relieved, but worries when she spots Rick unconscious on the floor of the vast chamber, in which Ronan the Accuser and numerous Kree soldiers stand frozen in place. Then, on a large viewscreen she sees a mammoth, gelatinous head with tentacles sprouting from its scalp. The weird visage introduces itself as the Supreme Intelligence, ruler of the Kree Empire. It explains that Rick has stopped the Kree-Skrull War by awakening his latent psychic powers, but now needs Captain Marvel to merge with him to keep him from dying. Mar-Vell agrees to lend Rick his life-force and, to Wanda’s astonishment, phases into Rick’s body. The boy awakens, groggy and confused, his psychic powers suppressed once more. The Supreme Intelligence then teleports the Avengers back to Earth, assuring them that the crisis has ended.

The Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, the Vision, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and Rick Jones materialize outside Avengers Mansion, where Nick Fury is waiting for them with H. Warren Craddock, now a broken man. Fury explains that the “Craddock” who hounded them was a Skrull in disguise—the fourth member of the squad that impersonated the Fantastic Four three years ago—but the alien reverted to its true form while giving a speech and was beaten to death by an angry mob. S.H.I.E.L.D. soon located the real Craddock, who has cleared the Avengers of any wrongdoing and disbanded the Alien Activities Commission. Rick confirms that the “Carol Danvers” who came to Avengers Mansion was actually the Super-Skrull; the real Danvers is still in Florida. Fury then notices that Goliath has not materialized with the rest of the team, and the Avengers fear he was lost in the Andromeda Galaxy during their battle with the Skrull Imperial Armada. Later, after dinner, the Vision informs Wanda that he had phased inside the Super-Skrull’s ship after it launched with her and Pietro on board, but he was powerless to rescue them. He chose to exit the ship to report back to the Avengers before it left the earth’s atmosphere. Wanda assures him that he made the right decision, and takes his anxiety about having made such a choice as clear evidence that he cares about what she thinks of him.

A week later, the Avengers meet to continue discussing strategies for discovering the fate of Goliath. Thor announces that he will return to Asgard and consult with his father, Odin. Iron Man adds that he will see what he can find using the resources at Stark Industries. The Vision adjourns the meeting, and the Avengers go their separate ways. Wanting to catch up on the news, Captain America turns on the television. Wanda is disturbed by a report about a gang of rabble-rousers called the Warhawks, who have incited a crowd to violence against a Chinese delegation staying at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Thus, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver join Cap in going to investigate, and Rick decides to tag along. When they arrive, the heroes try to protect the hotel from the mob, but as soon as the Warhawks’ hooded pipers start to play their martial tunes, Wanda blacks out. When she regains her senses, Wanda is confused, with only a vague awareness of having been fighting Thor on behalf of the Warhawks. Thor explains that the leader of the Warhawks was really Ares, the Greek god of war, and his pipers were satyrs whose music overwhelmed the Avengers with a lust for death and destruction. Wanda finds the thought chilling, but is distracted when Hawkeye turns up, having abandoned the Goliath identity and returned to archery. Deferring questions about how he made it back to Earth, Hawkeye reveals that he has found Hercules suffering from amnesia and prophesying about the end of the world.

Back at Avengers Mansion, Hawkeye explains that he was teleported home to Earth at the same time as his teammates, but his one-man fighter-craft crash-landed in Yugoslavia. Having used up all of Hank Pym’s growth serum, he fell in with the traveling carnival where he discovered the amnesiac Hercules, and it took them about a week to make it back to the United States. While her teammates attempt to restore Hercules’ memories, Wanda decides to go lie down, but Hawkeye follows her and makes clumsier-than-usual sexual advances. Feeling overtired, Wanda snaps at him for being too self-absorbed, but he doesn’t get the message. She is further frustrated when the Vision comes along and clearly misinterprets the nature of their intimate conversation. Before she can explain, though, Pietro intercepts Wanda and confronts her about her feelings for their synthezoid teammate. He suspects that she has fallen in love with the artificial man and feels duty-bound as her brother to put a stop to such foolishness. He reminds her of the vow he once made to their parents that he would always protect her. Wanda admits that Pietro’s suspicions are correct, but before they can pursue the matter, two of Ares’ henchmen appear in a cloud of smoke, intent on kidnapping Hercules. The immortal warriors, Kratos and Bia, quickly take out Quicksilver, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man and shrug off Wanda’s hex spheres. She is knocked out for a few minutes and awakens in the Vision’s arms to learn that their foes succeeded in abducting Hercules. Hawkeye blames the Vision for their failure, and Rick Jones concurs. Wanda is infuriated, but becomes even angrier when the Vision admits he dropped out of the fight to be with her even though he knew she was not seriously injured. Embarrassed, Wanda moves away from the Vision and goes to stand by her brother while the team decides what to do next.

The next day, receiving an urgent summons from the Black Knight, the Avengers race to meet him at Garrett Castle in England. Still angry with the Vision, Wanda elects to fly with the Black Panther and Hawkeye in their Quinjet. When they arrive, they join Quicksilver, the Vision, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man, and the Wasp. Wanda is startled when the Hulk shows up and Cap persuades the green goliath to stay and help out. The Black Knight then escorts the team into the depths of the castle, where he lights a ceremonial brazier. Suddenly, the ghost of the original Black Knight, Sir Percy of Scandia, appears and reveals how Ares came to possess the Ebony Blade and team up with the Enchantress to conquer three worlds: Earth, Olympus, and Asgard. Suddenly, the Swordsman swings down from the rafters, claiming his Avengers membership and demanding to help stop Ares. Wanda is not inclined to trust their old adversary, but Thor accepts him into their ranks for this mission. Choosing Iron Man, Hulk, Black Knight, and the Vision to accompany him, Thor spins his enchanted hammer, generating a space-time vortex to carry them to Olympus. The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver join the others in investigating a series of anomalous atmospheric disturbances in London, where they find a horde of demons pouring through a dimensional portal—the first wave of Ares’ shock troops. After a fierce battle, the Avengers manage to drive the demons back through their portal, and then Thor and his squad emerge, having rescued Hercules and defeated the villains. Thor and Hercules then seal the portal by destabilizing its energy matrix, causing it to collapse, though it requires Hercules to remain in Olympus on the other side. As Thor deals with an exasperated police constable, Wanda notices that Captain America allows the Swordsman to slip away into the crowd—his reward for meritorious service during the fight. The Avengers then return to New York, but Wanda’s relationship with the Vision remains strained as she tries to work out her feelings under Pietro’s disapproving eye.

March 1965 – Wanda and Pietro celebrate their fifteenth birthday with a party at the mansion. They continue to claim they’ve lost track of how old they are, not wanting the Avengers to think of them as children. Having seen how the older members treat Rick Jones, who is nearly 20, Wanda is determined to be taken seriously after everything she has experienced over the last three years. She is glad her teammates are content to call the twins teenagers and leave it at that. Later in the month, Wanda becomes depressed and anxious, though she can’t account for it. A subtle aura of doom and gloom seems to settle over Avengers Mansion for a few weeks, and she notices her teammates are similarly affected. Only talking with the Vision makes her feel better, and Wanda soon forgives him for his poor judgement last month.

April–August 1965 – The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver spend the next several months training in the mansion’s combat-simulation facilities and attending routine team meetings. And unlike Pietro, who has no patience for such things, Wanda continues to pursue a general education. She also carefully manages her Avengers stipend income, remembering the difficult time she and Pietro had last summer when they were living with the Toad as fugitives. Still, she does occasionally indulge her taste for nice clothes and the performing arts, and does what she can to spend time with the Vision without drawing her brother’s ire. She notices as Pietro becomes increasingly misanthropic, especially in response to the anti-mutant rhetoric coming from President Richardson’s White House. Pietro speaks often of returning to Europe, though Wanda refuses to consider it, insisting that their place is with the Avengers.

September 1965 – Wanda is delighted when Thor brings several fellow Asgardians to stay at Avengers Mansion after being banished from Asgard for arguing with Odin. She is amused by the Warriors Three—the dashing swordsman Fandral, whom she recognizes as a roguish ladies’ man; the taciturn Hogun the Grim, the epitome of the strong, silent type; and the amazingly obese Volstagg, whose opinion of himself could not be higher. She is impressed by the intimidating shieldmaiden Hildegarde and dazzled by Balder the Brave, the most beautiful man she’s ever met. Wanda is especially happy to meet Thor’s lover, Sif, whom she can’t help but admire immediately. As Sif has come to Earth without a change of clothes, Wanda offers to lend her some outfits, though Sif is considerably taller than she is. Thor also brings two alien friends: Tana Nile, a Rigellian colonizer with a stiff, imperious attitude, and Silas Grant, the last survivor of the planet Blackworld who dresses like an old sea captain. Wanda greatly enjoys listening to the Asgardians’ colorful tales of their legendary realm, though she worries about Thor, who seems disheartened by his exile.

October 1965 – The Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Captain America, and Hawkeye join the Vision, Thor, and Iron Man at Stark Industries for the unveiling of an advanced computer system called Nimrod. The company is hosting a media event where the computer challenges a garrulous Soviet chess champion. However, the chess-master, Comrade Sporadnik, collapses during the tournament and is rushed to the hospital, where Dr. Donald Blake determines that he has been poisoned. The Avengers track down the assassin—a balding middle-aged man—but he escapes by phasing through the floor. Suddenly, the heroes receive a vision that reveals that the assassin is an ordinary accountant named Leonard Tippit, who was recently granted superhuman powers by the omnipotent alien known as the Watcher. Tippit was charged with preventing a future nuclear holocaust by murdering five innocent people whose yet-unborn children would be responsible for the catastrophe. As the images fade, Thor assures his teammates that the Watcher is, in fact, real. Even so, the Avengers are unwilling to stand by while people are murdered. They split up, and the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver speed to England, hoping to protect a middle-aged woman named Eliza Willis. When Tippit materializes, he quickly defeats Pietro and hits Willis with an energy blast that puts her in a coma. However, as Tippit starts to teleport away, Wanda casts a hex sphere around him. Tippit’s powers go haywire and the feedback knocks him out, allowing the two Avengers to load him into their Quinjet. After dropping Willis off at the nearest hospital, the twins rendezvous with their teammates at Stark Industries. Still unconscious, Tippit is strapped into the machine Iron Man has built to siphon off their foe’s superhuman energies. As the device is activated, Tippit revives. Suddenly, the Watcher materializes in the room and reveals that it was Tippit, not his victims, who was a threat to the earth, and the murder scheme was just a ruse to force Tippit to travel the world and exhaust himself. The Avengers are angry at having been manipulated, but Tippit agrees to sacrifice himself to save the world. Before disappearing again, the Watcher assures the Avengers that the five victims will awaken tomorrow with no memory of their ordeal.

The Avengers head immediately to the New York County Courthouse, where the Hulk is being put on trial. The Hulk’s lawyer, Matt Murdock, calls Iron Man to the stand, but most of his testimony is stricken after the prosecutor objects to the Avengers’ presence. The judge agrees that the Avengers’ testimony has no bearing on the case. As such, the team returns to their headquarters. Some hours later, they learn that Mister Fantastic inadvertently enabled the Hulk to escape while trying to change him back into Bruce Banner. Wanda is surprised that Reed Richards could be so careless.

The next day, Wanda goes to the team’s communications room to relieve Hawkeye on monitor duty. She is fed up with his sexual harassment, so when he forces a kiss on her after insisting that he wants to be the father of her children, Wanda finally admits that she has fallen in love with the Vision. Hawkeye is thunderstruck by this revelation and walks off without any of his customary snide remarks. She goes to talk to the Vision about it, but he seems more distant and formal than ever. Confused and frustrated, Wanda decides to turn up the heat on her android teammate during the Avengers’ meeting later that evening. After doing her hair up in an elaborate style, Wanda dons a slinky red mini-dress with tall leather boots and a fur-trimmed jacket. Joining the others, she announces her intent to skip the meeting and take a moonlit stroll through Central Park instead. Pietro objects, but Wanda dismisses his concerns and leaves the building. Crossing the street into the park, she is annoyed that Hawkeye, Thor, and Iron Man were clearly titillated by her sexy outfit but the Vision seemed oblivious to her charms. Lost in thought, she is caught unawares when one of the mutant-hunting robots called Sentinels suddenly appears and grabs her. Wanda’s hex spheres prove useless, as the Sentinels are already familiar with her mutant powers and have devised countermeasures. The Vision and Quicksilver lead the other Avengers into the park to rescue her, but they are unable to prevent the robot from carrying her through a space-warp to its secret base. Though Wanda makes a valiant effort to fight off her captors and escape, the Sentinels overwhelm her. She is collared and shackled to a large device in a windowless laboratory.

Several hours later, the robots’ partially melted leader, Number 2, enters the laboratory and outlines their plan to siphon off Wanda’s mutant energies to power a weapon that will cause solar flares to sterilize the earth—their final solution to the mutant problem. Wanda is horrified, but hope is rekindled when an intruder alarm heralds the arrival of the Avengers. After Number 2 has left to deal with the intruders, Wanda struggles to free herself but to no avail. Finally, the Vision phases into the laboratory and releases her from her shackles. They race through the installation to rejoin their teammates, only to find Number 2 blasting Captain America, Hawkeye, Thor, and Iron Man with death rays. Wanda casts a hex sphere that disables the robot’s armaments. Suddenly, Larry Trask, the son of the man who created the Sentinels, appears with a mutant-detecting device that is causing him, Wanda, and Number 2 to glow. Registering their leader as a mutant, the other Sentinels open fire on Number 2, melting him down into slag. The robots then power down, and one of them falls over and crushes Trask to death. As they leave the complex, Wanda informs her teammates who the dead man was and asks whether Quicksilver is with them. They reveal that her brother angrily quit the team after her abduction, saying he would rescue her on his own. However, they haven’t heard from him since. After making sure that no one else is in the Sentinels’ underground base, Thor and Iron Man seal it up like a tomb. Wanda is surprised to find they are in the Australian Outback. With their Quinjet destroyed by the Sentinels, it takes the Avengers a couple of days to get home to New York.

The Scarlet Witch then goes to the home of Judge Robert Chalmers, whom the twins met a year ago, to inform him of Larry Trask’s death. Chalmers reveals that it was Quicksilver who took Trask to Australia in hopes of rescuing Wanda, and she realizes her brother has disappeared without a trace. Beside herself with worry, Wanda camps out in the Avengers’ communications room, searching for any possible clues to Pietro’s whereabouts. Growing concerned about her obsessive behavior, Hawkeye and Iron Man try to convince Wanda to get some rest, but she responds with a temper tantrum. Returning to the monitors, Wanda soon comes across a report from Tierra del Fuego about three Chilean scientists being kidnapped by a group of “strange men” who appeared out of nowhere and vanished without a trace. She convinces the Vision, Hawkeye, Iron Man, the Black Panther, Thor, and Sif to help her check it out as a possible lead. The Avengers’ investigation leads them to the Savage Land, where they are attacked by the Savage Land Mutates—Amphibius, Barbarus, Brainchild, Equilibrius, Gaza, Lorelei, and Lupo—former Swamp Men who were artificially mutated by Magneto. During the fight, the Avengers are nearly defeated when Hawkeye, Thor, Iron Man, and the Black Panther become entranced by Lorelei’s siren song, but the Vision proves to be immune to the effect and knocks her out, freeing the others. Rather than feeling triumphant, though, the Vision takes it as evidence that he is not truly capable of sexual arousal and is merely a machine in the form of a man. Wanda is heartbroken and withdraws into herself as the team frees the Chilean scientists and hikes out of the Savage Land. Magneto’s mutates are turned over to the Chilean authorities to face kidnapping charges, but Wanda is no closer to finding her lost brother.

When the team arrives back at Avengers Mansion, Jarvis informs Wanda that he recorded a news broadcast for her about a man who mysteriously disappeared. While she is watching it, Thor and Sif depart to take care of some personal business. Wanda decides to investigate this latest lead immediately, even though they just got back, and Hawkeye, Iron Man, and the Black Panther agree to join her. The Vision, however, is off brooding about something and ignores them. Irritated, Wanda leads the others into the communications room to show them the report, but the console shorts out as soon as she cues up the tape. Iron Man checks the system and is baffled to see that it appears to have been extensively rewired. Fandral, who has been hanging out there the whole time, insists that he saw no one sabotage the console. After Iron Man completes his repairs, the four Avengers leave to check out the disappearance, but it proves to be another dead end. Later, Thor reports that he and Spider-Man rewired the console while battling a group of Asgardian Trolls who had stopped time with a magic crystal.

A couple of days later, the Avengers receive a call from the United Nations requesting help guarding a “mermaid” who caused an international incident between the United States and the Soviet Union. Thor agrees to attend to the matter. Then, the Falcon comes to the mansion to report that a Captain America impostor is on the loose and he needs to borrow a Quinjet to reach the real Cap, who is vacationing in the Bahamas. However, the impostor has already infiltrated the mansion and fooled the Vision into giving him access to the communications room. Having thus learned the real Cap’s location, the impostor leaves before the Avengers can apprehend him. The Falcon sets off at once in one of the Quinjets. He returns it a day or two later, saying Captain America defeated the impostor after a pitched battle in Miami, Florida. Later, Thor’s alien friends, Tana Nile and Silas Grant, move out of Avengers Mansion and get a small apartment together. Despite these distractions, the Scarlet Witch continues to search for clues to Quicksilver’s disappearance, without success.

On Halloween, Wanda leads Hawkeye, Iron Man, and the Black Panther to Manhattan’s East Village to investigate yet another mysterious disappearance. However, they are tricked into fighting each other by the Space Phantom, whom Wanda remembers reading about in the Avengers’ files. While the Avengers are distracted by the Space Phantom’s boasting about his elaborate revenge scheme, the Grim Reaper sneaks up and hits them with a paralysis beam. The four heroes are taken back to the villains’ lair and imprisoned in an anti-gravity field. Wanda is shocked when the Grim Reaper suggests that the Vision is working with them against the Avengers. She struggles to free herself from the anti-gravity trap, but to no avail.

November 1965 – Some hours later, the Vision and Captain America enter the chamber and free the four trapped Avengers. The team then goes on the offensive against the Space Phantom and a horde of HYDRA agents under his command. The Grim Reaper turns on his partners-in-crime when the Space Phantom orders the death of the Vision along with the other heroes. Then, realizing the Avengers are likely to be recaptured by the Space Phantom’s alien technology, the Vision sends the Scarlet With back to their headquarters to alert Rick Jones that Captain Marvel may be needed to rescue them. She hurries back to the mansion and passes on the message, then runs around the block so that when the Space Phantom’s airship arrives to recapture her, the villains will think her mission failed. Wanda, Rick, and Jarvis are quickly taken prisoner and delivered to the Space Phantom’s lair. However, as the Vision had anticipated, when the Space Phantom attempts to assume Rick’s form, the lad’s dual-existence with Captain Marvel causes the villain’s powers to go haywire, stranding him in the Limbo dimension where he resides. The Avengers make short work of the leaderless HYDRA goons, prompting the Grim Reaper to surrender when his electronic scythe runs out of power. The Avengers then turn their foes over to the police and head home.

Back at Avengers Mansion, the team finds Thor, who had returned from Rutland, Vermont, that morning and was concerned about their abrupt disappearance. Wanda is offended by the others’ lighthearted banter, though, and reminds them angrily that Quicksilver is still missing. The Vision goes to comfort her, inadvertently revealing to their teammates that they have fallen in love with each other. Startled, the rest of the Avengers withdraw to give the couple some privacy. The Vision then explains that he was never really in league with the villains; the Grim Reaper had approached him three weeks ago with an offer to use the Space Phantom’s technology to transfer the synthezoid’s mind into Captain America’s body, enabling him to become fully human. Intrigued that the Grim Reaper considered him a brother because his brain patterns were based on the villain’s actual brother, the late Simon Williams, the Vision decided to play along until he could devise a plan to foil the evil scheme. Wanda is glad to have her faith in the Vision reaffirmed, and he pledges to focus his efforts on locating her missing brother.

For the rest of the month, the Scarlet Witch and the Vision search for clues to Quicksilver’s disappearance and follow up every possible lead. During the search, Wanda is horrified to learn that Hank and Janet Pym have apparently died in a fire at their home in Southampton. To her great relief, they turn up alive and well the next day. The Avengers offer to reinstate the Pyms as active members, but they decline, saying they prefer their private life in the suburbs. Wanda begins to wonder if she and the Vision could ever enjoy such domestic bliss.

December 1965 – At Avengers Mansion, Wanda and the Vision chat with Iron Man about their unusual romance. Though Wanda had suggested he adopt the name “Simon,” the Vision insists that it is unnecessary, since he has finally come to terms with his identity issues. Iron Man notes that the Vision’s attitude has brightened considerably since their encounter with Lorelei in the Savage Land, and Wanda admits that her relationship with the Vision has made all the difference in her dealing with her brother’s disappearance. However, Hawkeye continues to act like a jerk around Wanda and the Vision, apparently feeling jilted. He finally storms out in a huff and disappears. A couple of days later, the Avengers receive an oddly worded letter from Hawkeye informing them that he has accepted a business opportunity with a corporate tycoon known as Champion. Her teammates take the letter at face value, but Wanda feels there’s something not quite right about it.

Over the next couple of weeks, things quiet down around Avengers Mansion, especially after Thor and his friends all return to Asgard. As such, the team’s Fourth Annual Christmas Charity Benefit is smaller than usual, with the Scarlet Witch and the Vision joined only by Captain America, Iron Man, and the Black Panther.

A few days later, Thor returns as Wanda calls a late-night emergency meeting to explain why she thinks Hawkeye’s letter is a forgery. They agree to investigate and track their erstwhile teammate to a remote location in the Mojave Desert, where they find Hawkeye has been tied to a large bomb by Champion, who intends to destroy California with a series of earthquakes. The Avengers overcome Champion’s force-field-generating armor and his squad of masked henchmen to free Hawkeye, who then saves the day with an act of astonishing marksmanship. As the Vision and Iron Man set about dismantling Champion’s string of bombs, though, Hawkeye insists that he’s determined to make it on his own and officially resigns from the team. Having tired of Hawkeye’s abrasive personality and inappropriate comments, Wanda is not sorry to leave him behind when the Avengers board their Quinjet and fly back to New York. Instead, she renews her determination to find out what happened to Quicksilver and to rescue or avenge him if necessary.


Notes:

January 1965 – The Scarlet Witch’s adventures continue in Avengers #88 and following. Her teammates’ memories of their mission to the Pacific Ocean are erased by the insectoid creature Psyklop when he teleports them back to New York City. Thor interrupts the Avengers’ viewing of the national news in the Inhumans story in Amazing Adventures #8. For more on President Morris N. Richardson, see OMU: POTUS – Part Three. The town of King’s Crossing, NY, is identified in Fantastic Four Annual #17.

February 1965 – Avengers #99 contains the first direct reference to Wanda and Pietro’s parents, when Pietro mentions having made an oath to them to always take care of Wanda. In this case, he means their adoptive parents, Django and Marya Maximoff.

March 1965 – Towards the end of the month, the Scarlet Witch finds herself dealing with the end of the world—along with everyone else on the disintegrating planet—during Thor #185–188, but luckily Odin erases those events from the timestream, so they never happened. Still, I feel there would be some kind of psychic aftermath that someone like Wanda, attuned to magical energies since birth, would be sensitive to.

September 1965 – Thor brings his entourage to stay at Avengers Mansion in Thor #205, though Wanda remains behind the scenes.

October 1965 – The Avengers make an appearance at the Hulk’s trial in Hulk #153. Quicksilver disappears when he is mortally wounded fighting the Sentinels and is rescued by Crystal and Lockjaw and teleported to the Great Refuge of the Inhumans, as revealed in Fantastic Four #131. Though his recovery is admittedly slow, still Pietro makes no effort to contact his twin sister until next January. Wanda’s meeting with Judge Chalmers happens behind the scenes shortly before Avengers #105. Wanda then has a cameo appearance during the “negative time” effect in Marvel Team-Up #7. She is behind the scenes when the United Nations requests the Avengers’ help with the alien Tamara of the Sisterhood in Sub-Mariner #59, but we see her when the Falcon drops by the mansion to request help in Captain America #154.

November 1965 – The Scarlet Witch stays behind the scenes during the travails of Ant-Man and the Wasp in Marvel Feature #6–10.

December 1965 – This brings us up to Avengers #109.


Jump Back: Secrets of the Scarlet Witch – Part Three

Next Issue: 1966!


Thursday

OMU: Power Man -- Year One

Looking to expand their readership, Marvel introduced Luke Cage in March 1972, inspired by the early blaxploitation films Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and Shaft. The groundbreaking series was initially written by Archie Goodwin with pencils by George Tuska, who was paired with the African-American inker Billy Graham. A relative newcomer, Graham drew most of the Hero for Hire covers and provided pencils on several issues. He would later work on Marvel’s other black superhero, the Black Panther. Unlike King T’Challa of the black utopia Wakanda, Luke Cage inhabited the grimy neighborhoods around Times Square in Manhattan and struggled to make money by selling his super-powered services. And whereas the Black Panther was a member of the Avengers, Luke had little interaction with the wider Marvel Universe, though that would slowly change over time. As the blaxploitation genre faded, Luke moved away from his gritty private detective / mercenary milieu into more typical superhero territory by adopting the codename Power Man.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale). Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Breaking out with… The True History of Luke Cage, Power Man!


September 1964 – Carl Lucas, serving his fifth year of a 20-year sentence in Seagate Prison, is badgered by two other inmates, known as Shades and Comanche, about staging a mass protest when the new warden arrives. Carl is not interested and gets violent when they try to threaten him. Carl is then ordered to meet with the captain of the guard, an abusive racist named Albert “Billy Bob” Rackham, who wants him to become an informer so the protest can be prevented. Carl refuses to cooperate and is sent to solitary confinement, where he is viciously beaten by another guard, William Quirt. However, the new warden, Tyler Stuart, arrives unexpectedly and intervenes. The warden fires Quirt and demotes Rackham, giving Carl hope that his treatment will improve.

Several days later, a medical researcher brought in by the new administration, Dr. Noah Burstein, offers Carl the chance to volunteer for a dangerous experiment, promising that it would improve his chances of being approved for parole. Carl is at first reluctant, but when Rackham threatens to make his life in Seagate a living hell, he gives Burstein his consent. When Carl is brought to his laboratory, set up in a disused section of the prison, Burstein explains that his experiments grew out of a project funded by a Stark Industries grant to develop an electro-biochemical system for stimulating human cell regeneration. Burstein gives Carl an injection, then seals him in a tank filled with a strange chemical brew. However, while the scientist is checking his instruments, Rackham slips into the lab and changes the settings on the control panel, hoping that Carl will be killed. Burstein catches him in the act, but it is too late—Carl undergoes a painful transformation that leaves him with super-strength and impenetrable skin. Smashing free of the tank, Carl sees Rackham has drawn his gun and slaps him down, knocking him out. Worried that he’s killed the guard, Carl punches the wall in frustration and is shocked to find he’s put a hole in the stone without hurting his hand. Seeing his chance for freedom, Carl breaks through the wall and makes a run for it. As he reaches the edge of a cliff, Carl is gunned down by the guards and falls into the water. To his surprise, he is unharmed and, leaving his bullet-riddled shirt behind, lays low until nightfall, then makes good his escape.

The next day, Carl reads in the newspaper that he is believed dead, shot while trying to escape from prison. He procures some clothes, shaves off his mustache, and hits the road.

October 1964–August 1965 – Carl slowly heads north through Georgia and up the Eastern Seaboard, adopting a succession of aliases and working what odd jobs he can get with no identification. Not wanting to draw attention to himself, he avoids using his newfound powers and keeps on the move, never staying anywhere too long or getting too close to anyone. He is driven by his desire for revenge against his former friend and partner-in-crime, Willis Stryker. Carl remembers bitterly how he and Stryker fell into a life of petty crime while growing up in Harlem, though while Stryker found success as a racketeer, Carl grew sickened by the escalating violence and tried to go straight. Getting a job, Carl soon became infatuated with Reva Connors, the sister of a neighborhood acquaintance, only to have Stryker deliberately move in and start dating her. When Stryker was brutally beaten by rival gangsters one night, Reva ran to Carl for help. She revealed that she had been planning to leave Stryker anyway, as his lifestyle terrified her, and she and Carl started dating while Stryker was recovering in the hospital. However, Stryker felt betrayed and planted two kilos of uncut heroin in Carl’s apartment before tipping off the police. Arrested for drug trafficking, Carl was quickly found guilty and sent to jail, despite his protestations of innocence. Not long after, Carl learned that Reva had been killed in a drive-by shooting while with Stryker, having been lured back into the racketeer’s life with promises that he could get Carl released from prison. Since that day, Carl has nursed his hatred for Stryker and planned to hunt him down and avenge Reva’s death.

September 1965 – Carl finally arrives in his hometown, New York City. A chance encounter with an armed robber that brings Carl a cash reward inspires him to make a living as a superhero. He goes to a costume shop in the Theater District and buys a second-hand outfit that once belonged to an escape artist. Accessorizing the yellow silk shirt and black leather pants with a steel headband and matching wristbands and a length of chain as a belt, Carl realizes he’ll need to choose a permanent new name. He settles on Luke Cage, then goes to set up an account with an answering service and orders a set of business cards. With the remainder of his reward money, Carl rents a room at a fleabag hotel, then heads out to a Harlem cemetery to visit Reva’s grave. He renews his vow to avenge her death, then finally leaves his life as Carl Lucas behind him.

Over the following days, Luke Cage makes trouble for Stryker’s crime syndicate, beating up the guys who try to collect protection money from neighborhood shops and restaurants. He then passes out business cards which read “Luke Cage, Hero for Hire” to the onlookers, hoping to draw Stryker into a confrontation. Sure enough, about a week later, Stryker sends two hitmen after Luke, but he shrugs off their bullets and easily defeats them. Thinking Luke has been shot, a woman runs up and offers to treat his wounds, introducing herself as Dr. Claire Temple. She is shocked to find the bullets merely bruised Luke’s chest. Finding her attractive, Luke agrees to accompany Claire to her neighborhood clinic, which has been ransacked several times since it opened. When they arrive, though, Luke discovers that Claire’s partner is none other than Noah Burstein. Fearing that Burstein has recognized him, Luke leaves, cursing his luck.

The next day, Luke rents some rooms above the Gem Theater on W. 42nd St. to serve as his office and living quarters. He hits it off with the theater manager/building superintendent, a young movie buff named David “D.W.” Griffith. However, he is summoned back to the clinic by a frantic Burstein, who reports that Claire has been kidnapped by Stryker and his henchmen. Expecting a trap, Luke heads to a run-down parking garage to confront Stryker. Luke quickly frees Claire from Stryker’s assassins, then pursues his old friend up to the roof. Impulsively revealing himself as Carl Lucas, Luke mocks Stryker’s street name, “Diamondback,” and his snakeskin jumpsuit. Shocked that his former rival is still alive, Stryker goes on the offensive with his high-tech throwing knives. During the battle, though, Stryker stumbles through a skylight and is killed when an explosive knife detonates on impact. When the police arrive on the scene, Claire informs them that Luke rescued her from the gangsters and Burstein elects to keep silent about Luke’s true identity.

Later, at the clinic, Luke confronts Burstein, who has indeed recognized him as his test subject from Seagate Prison. Burstein is torn as to whether he should turn Luke in to the authorities, but Luke storms out before the matter is settled. He returns to the Gem Theater and, too agitated to sleep, spends the night pacing around and talking with D.W. In the morning, Luke is hired by a Vietnam veteran, Owen Ridgely, who has discovered a plot by a disgruntled former Army colonel named Gideon Mace to use a combat veterans’ protest to cover a series of bank robberies. A trio of hitmen manage to kill Ridgely, but Luke overpowers them and forces one of the crooks to drive him out to Mace’s compound on the New Jersey Palisades. There, Luke fights his way through a gang of mercenaries and battles Mace, though the old soldier gets away from him by spraying Chemical Mace in Luke’s face. Nevertheless, Luke stops Mace from escaping in his helicopter, causing the chopper to crash into the Hudson River. Assuming Mace has drowned, Luke returns to his Times Square office. Though Ridgely paid him before he died, Luke decides to send the money to his client’s wife and daughter, feeling that they need it more than he does.

October 1965 – Luke’s encounter one night with a mysterious phantom leads him to investigate the history of the Gem Theater and its former owner, Adrian Loring, who died in a mysterious fire in the late 1940s. The phantom has been terrorizing local theaters that are part of the same chain as the Gem, and the company’s owner, Jasper Brunt, hires Luke to get to the bottom of it. Luke discovers that the phantom is really Loring’s son Armand, an acrobatic dwarf, and his partner, a silent strongman called Jacques, who want revenge on Brunt for causing Adrian Loring’s death. Before Luke can stop him, Armand knocks Brunt through a window and they fall to their deaths on the street below. While working on the case, Luke meets an annoying gossip columnist for the Daily Bugle, Phil Fox, who is sniffing around for a story on the city’s new “Hero for Hire.” Not wanting that kind of publicity, Luke gives Fox a wide berth.

November 1965 – Luke’s attempt to meet a new client, Frank Jenks, goes awry when the man is stabbed to death during an apparent mugging. To make matters worse, the body is stolen by a phony ambulance crew before the police arrive. Luke promises the victim’s widow, Mimi Jenks, that he’ll investigate free of charge, as he feels responsible for not preventing the murder. With some dubious help from a local informant known as Flea, Luke tracks the fake ambulance to a warehouse in Chelsea. There, he learns that the ambulance is used to make off with the recently deceased, after which the gang strips the bodies of any valuables and then uses the keys and ID they find to burgle the victims’ homes. Outraged, Luke beats up the crooks, but is unwilling to fight with their leader, an enormously obese woman called Black Mariah. After slapping Luke around a bit, Black Mariah tries to escape in her speedboat, but Luke smashes it and captures her. However, Black Mariah and her gang turn out to be merely criminal opportunists and were not involved in Jenks’ murder. Heading back to the Gem Theater, Luke is harassed by Flea, who wants money for the information he provided, even though it was of little use. Unfortunately, Mrs. Jenks misinterprets their argument and thinks Luke is going back on his promise to work for free. She throws the money in his face and storms off. Frustrated, Luke pays off Flea and goes up to his office, thinking that his superhero business isn’t quite what he thought it would be.

A few days later, Luke is attacked in his office by five hitmen, but he beats them up and drives them off. He is then hired by two wealthy white women, Catherine and Laura Forsythe, to protect their terminally ill grandfather from being murdered. Luke accompanies them back to their vast country estate, where he feels out of his element. The young chauffeur’s thinly disguised racism doesn’t help matters, though he becomes much friendlier after Luke saves the sisters from a falling chandelier. During the night, Luke is attacked by the family’s collection of medieval suits of armor, which have been converted into radio-controlled robots. The battle is meant as a diversion to keep Luke busy while the grandfather’s iron lung is turned off, but Luke quickly demolishes the primitive robots and saves the old man. Confused as to why anyone would want to murder someone so close to the grave already, Luke studies the family’s genealogical records and realizes the chauffeur is really Catherine and Laura’s long-lost brother, who will only inherit the family fortune if his grandfather dies before his 25th birthday. His plot exposed, the would-be killer attacks Luke with a blowtorch, but Luke easily knocks him out and calls the police. In the morning, Catherine and Laura drop Luke off in Times Square, but while they are both giving him a kiss of thanks, Claire happens to see them and assumes Luke spent the night in bed with them. As the sisters drive off in their limousine, Luke tries to reassure his jealous friend that the women were just clients.

December 1965 – On Christmas Eve, Luke stops at the neighborhood clinic to pick up Claire for a date. While waiting for Claire and Burstein to close up shop, Luke sees a boy being beaten in the street by a man straight out of a Charles Dickens novel. Luke drives the man off, then takes the boy inside, where Claire treats his cuts and bruises. While she’s occupied, Burstein warns Luke that Phil Fox has been around, claiming to want to do a story about the clinic. Burstein is worried that if Fox digs into his background, he’ll find out about the experiments at Seagate Prison, which could lead him to discover Luke’s true identity. Luke and Claire then head to a nearby bar, but pause along the way to help a beggar who lost both legs in Vietnam. Seized by hallucinations of the Viet Cong, the beggar suddenly produces a machine gun and opens fire on Luke. Shielding Claire with his body, Luke disarms the vet and mangles his gun, though he and Claire decide that the man is mentally ill and not responsible for his actions. Sometime after midnight, Luke and Claire leave the bar, only to be accosted by a man in a futuristic uniform brandishing a laser gun, who claims it is Christmas Day, 1984. During the ensuing fight, Luke realizes that all three of the violent characters he’s encountered are the same man. Luke is knocked out and wakes up to find himself chained up in the man’s apartment. His foe, now dressed as a modern-day executioner, reveals that he plans to detonate an atomic bomb that he stole piece by piece back in 1946 while serving with the O.S.S. Luke tries to talk him out of it, but to no avail—the man has lost all faith in humanity despite Luke’s own bravery and compassion. When a burglar suddenly comes down the chimney, Luke takes advantage of the distraction to break free and defeat the mad bomber. He then calls the police, who take both criminals into custody. The atomic bomb is quickly located by the authorities and dismantled. Luke enjoys the rest of his holiday, gratified that his “Hero for Hire” business is going well enough to provide a steady income, though he worries that his past will soon catch up with him.


Notes:

September 1964–August 1965 – Luke Cage is introduced in Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1, where his past as Carl Lucas is detailed in lengthy flashbacks. Additional details are provided in Power Man and Iron Fist #50. It is later revealed that the gangsters who put Willis Stryker in the hospital were with the Maggia, and the heroin that Stryker used to frame Carl was stolen from the Harlem crime boss Cottonmouth. It was actually Cottonmouth’s enforcers who killed Reva Connors while trying to get at Stryker. The fact that Noah Burstein’s early research into human cell regeneration was funded by Stark Industries suggests that Tony Stark hoped it would lead to a treatment for his injured heart. However, after the Carl Lucas debacle, Burstein resigned in disgrace and his research program was abandoned. He then came home to New York and started the neighborhood clinic with Claire Temple. Warden Stuart was fired for greenlighting the experiments, and not long after, Seagate Prison was shut down and sold off by the government, also putting Albert Rackham out of a job. These repercussions all become seeds for future stories.

November 1965 – The “muggers” who murder Frank Jenks are actually enforcers for the mob boss known as Señor Suerte, who also hires the five hitmen who try to eliminate Luke in the next issue.

December 1965 – This sweet Christmas story brings us up to Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #7.


OMU Note: The final canonical appearance of Luke Cage is in Power Man and Iron Fist #125.


Next Issue: Secrets of the Scarlet Witch – Part Four


Tuesday

OMU: Thor -- Year Four

Stan Lee concludes his run on The Mighty Thor during the next twelve months in the character’s life, passing the torch to 19-year-old Gerry Conway. Immediately, the series starts to feel a bit repetitive, as once again Loki seizes power, Mangog attacks Asgard, and Thor defies Hela and fights off Pluto. Also returning are Tana Nile and the Rigellians, Galactus, and Ego the Living Planet—all scenarios that Jack Kirby had already done. To make matters worse, the stories become increasingly incoherent as the supporting cast grows and grows. Though the scripts are weak, the series benefits from the solid, dependable art of John Buscema, who draws most of the issues from this period, and there is a nice balance between science fiction and mythological style stories. Most interesting is the fact that Thor spends very little time in his mortal identity of Donald Blake, M.D., and seems to have soured on the whole idea. Since Blake is usually portrayed as Thor’s main Achilles’ heel, it should come as no surprise that the thunder god now sees his human life as merely a recurring “bad dream.”

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Hearken ye to… The True History of the Mighty Thor!


January 1965 – Thor spends much of his time at Avengers Mansion or patrolling New York City for crime, trying to avoid his mortal identity as Donald Blake, which he has come to see as an annoyance. He generally transforms himself only when Blake’s surgical skills are needed, though it means carrying his enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, around at all times. One day, Thor suddenly finds himself on a dingy subway platform in Manhattan with no memory of how he came to be there. Iron Man, Goliath, Captain America, and the Falcon are with him, but they are equally perplexed. Iron Man, who is acting a bit strangely, flies off while the others return to Avengers Mansion. A few hours later, the four heroes rescue Iron Man from a gang of uniformed men wearing jetpacks. Seemingly dazed, Iron Man flies off again without explaining himself. The Avengers agree to let Iron Man handle his own personal business.

A few days later, Thor sees a news report on a group of African American insurgents engaged in a standoff with the San Francisco Police Department. He recognizes the group’s leader as Lionel Dibbs, whom Don Blake diagnosed with terminal cancer last September, even amputating his right hand. Feeling a responsibility to his former patient, Thor decides he must try to reason with Dibbs before somebody gets killed. Before leaving town, Thor tells his Avengers teammates that he must deal with the crisis in San Francisco on his own. When he arrives at the scene of the standoff, Thor finds Dibbs’ group under attack by three costumed superheroes called Medusa, Gorgon, and Karnak. Thor drives them back, only to find that Dibbs has apparently recruited a superhero of his own, a silent figure called Black Bolt. To make matters worse, Dibbs has replaced his amputated hand with a weaponized prosthetic acquired from Stark Industries. Thor summons up a fierce thunderstorm to stop the fighting while he pleads with Dibbs to stand down. Refusing to listen, Dibbs orders Black Bolt to destroy the city, forcing Thor to knock Dibbs out. Medusa, Gorgon, and Karnak then reveal that the man called Black Bolt is an impostor, but before Thor can do anything, the impostor is struck by lightning and killed. As the storm blows itself out, the police take Dibbs and his insurgents into custody. Saddened by the whole affair, Thor returns to New York, leaving Medusa, Gorgon, and Karnak to continue their search for the real Black Bolt.

One of the first acts of newly-inaugurated President Morris N. Richardson is to create the Alien Activities Commission and appoint conservative politician H. Warren Craddock to lead it. Following the commission’s first televised hearings, Thor receives a call from the Avengers summoning the founding members to an emergency meeting. He soon joins Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Captain America at Avengers Mansion, but they are interrupted when the Vision staggers in and collapses. After effecting repairs to his synthezoid teammate, Ant-Man announces that he has resigned from the team and departs. Regaining consciousness, the Vision recounts how he, Goliath, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch were called to testify before Craddock’s commission about their connection to the alien superhero Captain Marvel, and when they returned to the mansion, the original members declared them to be a disgrace and disbanded the team. Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America assure the Vision that he has been tricked by a trio of impostors. The Vision then relates how he and the others went to rendezvous with Captain Marvel at an upstate farm, where they were attacked by three cows who suddenly transformed into doppelgängers of Mister Fantastic, the Thing, and the Human Torch. Badly damaged in the melee, the Vision was forced to abandon the fight and return to Avengers Mansion to seek help.

Taking a Quinjet, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and the Vision race to the farm, where they find Goliath and Rick Jones still fighting the Fantastic Four impostors. Vision surmises that they must be Skrulls, mimicking the heroes’ powers through technological means. The Avengers defeat their foes, but then a massive flying saucer erupts from the farmhouse and speeds off into the sky, with Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel presumably aboard. As they take the unconscious Skrulls into custody, the Avengers realize the Vision has disappeared. When they arrive at their headquarters, the Avengers restrain and sedate the Skrulls, then Iron Man contacts the Fantastic Four. Mister Fantastic realizes the Skrulls must be three of the four who impersonated them three years ago, and he promises to send over his files on that encounter.

February 1965 – In the Avengers’ conference room, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Goliath, and Rick Jones discuss their plans to rescue their missing teammates. The Vision reappears, having discovered that Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were indeed kidnapped by Skrulls, and that the Kree and the mysterious Inhumans are somehow involved as well. The meeting is interrupted, though, when H. Warren Craddock arrives outside the mansion with a military detachment to back him up. He intends to take the Avengers in for questioning, and has brought along three soldiers in bulky suits of armor to subdue the heroes, if necessary. After a brief scuffle, Iron Man is able to force the Mandroid suits to overload and shut down. The Avengers then realize that one of the Inhumans, Triton, has come to them for help. Triton explains that Black Bolt is the king of the Inhumans, but has been deposed by his brother, Maximus the Mad, who wants to start a war with the human race. Struck with amnesia, Black Bolt was exiled to San Francisco and all efforts to find him have failed. Thor corroborates Triton’s story, realizing that Medusa, Gorgon, and Karnak were Inhumans too. Captain America suggests they head to California at once. The Vision objects, though, saying the rescue of the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver should be their top priority. The team decides to split up, but soon after Cap, Goliath, and Rick have left with Triton for California, the Vision changes his mind. Thus, Thor uses his hammer to generate a spacetime vortex that instantly transports Iron Man, Vision, and himself to the Inhumans’ Great Refuge in the Himalayas.

Finding that the hidden city is sealed within a black force-field dome, Thor, Iron Man, and the Vision each try to penetrate it, without success. Moments later, the Quinjet lands nearby and Cap, Goliath, Rick, and Triton disembark, joined by Black Bolt and a San Francisco boy named Joey. After silently examining the barrier, Black Bolt shatters it into tiny shards with the awesome destructive power of his voice. He then asserts his authority over the city’s armed sentries and leads the Avengers to the royal palace, where they find Maximus conspiring with agents of the Kree Empire. Overwhelmed by the Avengers, the Kree agents beat a hasty retreat, kidnapping Rick in the process. Their spaceship warps into hyperspace before the Avengers can follow. Maximus is defeated, and Captain America vows that the Avengers will take the fight to the Kree and the Skrulls to rescue their friends.

The Avengers borrow a spacecraft from S.H.I.E.L.D., and Thor uses his hammer’s enchantments to enable it to warp through hyperspace to the Andromeda Galaxy. They emerge in the midst of the Skrull Imperial Armada and fight their way onto the flagship. Storming the command deck, the Avengers confront Commandant Kalxor, but he remains defiant, having learned of the Avengers from Skrull intelligence reports. Suddenly, the face of Skrull Emperor Dorrek appears on the viewscreen, revealing that Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel are his prisoners. However, Captain Marvel initiates an escape attempt just before the transmission is terminated. The Vision grabs Kalxor and beats him mercilessly, shocking his teammates with his brutality. Thor and Iron Man pull the Vision off him, and Kalxor explains that a lone ship has left the fleet to destroy the Earth. Goliath takes off in pursuit and manages to catch up to the craft before they are lost from sight. The Skrull crew then tries to overwhelm the Avengers with the sheer weight of numbers, only to be unexpectedly frozen in place by a wave of strange energy. Confused, the Avengers return to their ship, intent on reaching the Skrull Thoneworld. However, they find themselves suddenly teleported to the planet Hala in the Kree Galaxy, where they come face-to-face with the eerie visage of the Supreme Intelligence, ruler of the Kree Empire. Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel materialize as well, as the Supreme Intelligence reveals that Rick Jones has ended the Kree-Skrull War by awakening his latent psychic powers, though the experience has nearly killed him. Thor watches as Captain Marvel phases into Rick’s body to provide the additional life-force the boy will need to survive. Rick then awakens, groggy and confused. The Supreme Intelligence assures the Avengers that the crisis is over, then teleports them all back to Earth.

Materializing outside Avengers Mansion, the heroes are met by Nick Fury, who reveals that the H. Warren Craddock who hounded them was in fact a Skrull, the fourth member of the squad that previously impersonated the Fantastic Four. The alien reverted to its true form in the middle of a speech, Fury reports, and was beaten to death by an angry mob. S.H.I.E.L.D. then located the real Craddock, who has cleared the Avengers of any wrongdoing. The Avengers then realize Goliath is not among them, and they fear he’s been lost in space.

At the next Avengers meeting, the team discusses strategies for finding out what happened to Goliath. Thor announces that he will return to Asgard to see if his father, Odin, can determine what has befallen their comrade. However, the thunder god soon discovers he is unable to cross the interdimensional boundary and so returns to Avengers Mansion. There, the Vision informs him that most of the others have gone to deal with a group of rabble-rousers called the Warhawks, and when a call to Stark Industries shows Iron Man to be collaborating with the Warhawks, Thor decides to investigate. Flying over to the scene of the Warhawks’ riot, Thor discovers that their leader is none other than Ares, the Greek god of war. The music played by Ares’ pipers causes the Avengers to turn against Thor, and they manage to separate him from his hammer and gang up on him. Luckily, Hawkeye turns up, having abandoned the Goliath identity, and helps Thor regain his hammer before the thunder god reverts to his mortal form. The Vision, who is also immune to the music’s effects, knocks out the pipers, depriving Ares of his mind-controlled followers. His scheme undone, Ares teleports away. Hawkeye then reveals that he has found Hercules suffering from total amnesia. Back at Avengers Mansion, Hawkeye explains how he blew up the Skrull death-ship before it could enter hyperspace and was then teleported back to Earth. However, he materialized in Yugoslavia, where he fell in with a traveling carnival. It was there that he discovered the amnesiac Hercules. Eventually, they made their way back to New York. Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America then try to question Hercules again, but they are interrupted when two Olympian warriors appear. The pair easily fights off the Avengers and kidnaps Hercules. Hawkeye blames the Vision for allowing them to get away, but Thor says they need to focus on what comes next—the Avengers must storm the very halls of Olympus itself.

A day later, Thor heads to Garrett Castle in England to rendezvous with Iron Man, Ant-Man, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Black Knight, Black Panther, and the Vision. The Hulk arrives as well, though he is suspicious of the others and threatens to leave before Cap convinces him to stay. The Black Knight leads them into the depths of the castle, where he summons up the spirit of his ancestor, Sir Percy of Scandia, the original Black Knight of legend. Sir Percy’s ghost reveals how Ares came into possession of the Ebony Blade and teamed up with the Enchantress to conquer three worlds: Earth, Asgard, and Olympus. Their first move was to transform the gods of Olympus into crystalline statues and banish Hercules to Earth, bereft of his memory. Unexpectedly, the Swordsman swings down from the rafters and claims his Avengers membership, demanding to help stop Ares. The others are not inclined to trust the Swordsman, but, sensing his sincerity, Thor accepts him into their ranks. The thunder god then chooses Iron Man, Hulk, Black Knight, and Vision to accompany him to Olympus while the rest remain behind to guard Earth. As soon as they have passed through the dimensional portal created by Mjolnir, the five Avengers are immediately attacked by centaurs, satyrs, and other mythological creatures. They fight their way through the horde to reach the temple where Hercules is being held prisoner by the Enchantress, who boasts that Ares plans to unsheathe the Odinsword and thereby bring about Ragnarok. After chasing off the Enchantress, Thor battles Ares in hand-to-hand combat and defeats him. Humiliated, Ares surrenders the Ebony Blade to the Black Knight. Thor frees Hercules, then the Avengers regroup and find that the Hulk has singlehandedly defeated an army of demons and captured the Enchantress. Thor instructs Hercules to turn the Enchantress over to Zeus, now that the spell over the Olympian gods has been broken. The heroes return to Earth, materializing amongst their teammates in London, England, though Hercules must remain in Olympus to help Thor close Ares’ interdimensional portal. Having won the day, the Avengers go their separate ways, and Thor returns to New York.

March 1965 – While flying across New York City, Thor sees a group of protestors outside the Latverian embassy. When one of the protestors is injured in a confrontation with a crowd of hecklers, Thor flies her to Don Blake’s medical offices and changes back into his mortal form to treat her wounds. The woman identifies herself as Cosette LaFarge, daughter of a noted weapons-system designer who was kidnapped by Doctor Doom two years ago. She had been held prisoner in Doctor Doom’s castle, she says, while her father was forced to work on the tyrant’s ICBM program, until she was smuggled out of the country by the Latverian Underground. Blake assures her that he knows someone who can help and sends her on her way. He then contacts newspaper reporter Harris Hobbs and feeds him a story about a revolutionary plastic-surgery technique, hoping to draw Doctor Doom’s attention. The next day, Doom kidnaps Blake and transports him to his castle in Latveria, where Blake recoils with exaggerated horror at the sight of Doom’s ravaged face. As expected, Doom throws Blake into the dungeons, enabling him to change back into Thor to search for Pierre LaFarge. Once he has located the engineer, who seems terrified of betraying his captor, Thor breaks through the wall of the castle and confronts Doctor Doom. The dictator threatens to launch a thousand missiles unless Thor surrenders his hammer immediately. Solemnly, Thor hands it over, knowing Odin’s enchantments will prevent Doom from lifting Mjolnir from the floor. While Doom is thus distracted, Thor smashes his missile launch controls, then retrieves his hammer and utterly destroys the ICBM complex. Returning to Pierre LaFarge, Thor is shocked to discover that the man has been working for Doom willingly, expecting to earn vast wealth as Latveria’s chief weapons designer. He grabs a gun and shoots at Thor, but the thunder god deflects the bullets with his hammer. A ricocheting shell strikes LaFarge in the heart, killing him. He dies cursing Cosette for getting Thor to interfere in his scheme to get rich. Disgusted by the man’s greed, Thor returns to New York. He informs Cosette that her father died fighting for what he believed in, and that his last words were of her. Satisfied that he didn’t actually lie to her, Thor hurries to Asgard in response to Odin’s urgent summons.

There, Thor is immediately struck by the air of doom and despair in his father’s palace, and Odin reveals the looming threat to the universe of a being called Infinity. He has already sent the Warriors Three to investigate, but they’ve gone missing and, to make matters worse, the Odinsword has been trying to unsheathe itself, forcing Odin to push it back into its scabbard each day. Furthermore, a cadaverous figure whom Odin calls the Silent One has appeared, portending a cosmic catastrophe. Thus, Odin announces, he has summoned Thor to guard the golden realm while he himself confronts Infinity. Thor objects to this plan, but Odin ignores his concerns and sets off with the Silent One at his side. Thor immediately orders the warriors of Asgard to prepare for battle. Learning that Odin has gone, Loki kidnaps Balder the Brave and leads an army of Trolls and Storm Giants to attack Asgard. Thor confronts them on the Plain of Ida outside the city and, going into a berserker rage, routs Loki’s forces and rescues Balder. As the god of mischief flees, Sif soothes Thor’s rage. Feeling the realm is safe for the time being, Thor decides he must go help Odin defeat Infinity.

Using Mjolnir’s enchantments, Thor generates a spacetime vortex that carries him to a silent realm of shadows and swirling mists, which Odin has described only as the World Beyond. He is immediately attacked by a six-limbed brute calling himself the Guardian, but the thunder god overcomes him. Infinity manifests itself then as a giant claw-like hand of darkness, striking the Guardian dead as punishment for his failure. Saying both Thor and Odin are beneath his notice, Infinity disappears again. However, the Silent One emerges from the mists and grants Thor a vision that reveals that Infinity plans to turn all the sentient life-forms in the universe into his mindless slaves. As if to prove the point, Fandral, Volstagg, and Hogun the Grim then emerge from the mists, glassy-eyed, and charge at Thor with their weapons drawn. Unwilling to fight his friends, Thor reopens the spacetime vortex, transporting the Warriors Three back to Asgard. The Guardian is suddenly resurrected and attacks again, rising anew each time Thor smashes him. Finally, the thunder god traps his foe within a force field created by his enchanted hammer, then drives away the swirling mists, revealing that they are on a large asteroid floating somewhere in space. In the distance, Thor sees a storm of colorful energies that he realizes is the site of Odin’s battle with Infinity.

Before Thor can join his father, though, the Silent One leads him to Hel, where Hela, the goddess of death, reveals that the Silent One is her servant. She tries to lay her touch of death upon Thor, but he evades her. Frustrated, Hela blasts Thor with energies that rapidly age him into a desiccated husk. Still, Thor refuses to yield, so Hela teleports away. With a tear in his eye, the Silent One then sacrifices himself to restore Thor’s youth and vigor. Vowing to be worthy of the enigmatic figure’s sacrifice, Thor speeds back to the battle, arriving in time only to witness Odin’s defeat. Now possessed by Infinity, Odin turns on Thor. No match for his father’s power, Thor retreats to Asgard, where he finds that Loki and Karnilla have been persuaded to combine their sorcerous might to free the Warriors Three from Infinity’s thrall. After informing the others of Odin’s fall, Thor withdraws to his father’s inner chambers with the Grand Vizier and transforms himself into Don Blake, hoping the surgeon’s analytical mind will discover some clue to Infinity’s nature that Thor’s warrior instincts have prevented him from seeing. Reviewing Asgard’s recent travails, Blake realizes that Infinity is Odin’s shadow-self, unleashed about four months ago when Loki had imprisoned the All-Father in the Sea of Endless Night. Hela had found the unconscious Odin there and managed to siphon off a portion of his life-force, from which she created the evil persona of Infinity. As this non-corporeal anti-Odin made its way toward Asgard, it consumed countless worlds, gaining strength and power as it went. Now it seeks to merge with Odin’s corporeal form to become infinitely more powerful. Despairing, Blake changes back into Thor and informs his comrades of the truth of what they are facing.

As word spreads of Asgard’s impending doom, a ragtag army of trolls, giants, and other demonic creatures breaches the walls of the golden realm. Thor sends the Warriors Three out to lead the counterattack while he tries to think of a way to defeat Hela and save Odin. Finally, he leaves the palace and uses Mjolnir to create a hurricane that blasts the invaders out of Asgard, though it devastates the city in the process and shatters the Rainbow Bridge. Then, after consulting with Karnilla, Thor decides on a desperate plan of action and summons Balder, Sif, Heimdall, and the Warriors Three to the crumbling palace. As the Norn Queen casts a powerful spell, Thor generates a spacetime vortex that carries the gods’ divine life-force in a single bolt of energy that strikes Odin just seconds before his merger with Infinity is complete. Woken from his trance and instilled with the knowledge of Infinity’s nature and origins, Odin is able to shatter his shadow-self and safely reabsorb his stolen energies. Odin teleports himself back to Asgard and uses his vast reserves of power to undo all the damage to the worlds Infinity had absorbed, erasing all memory of the events from mortal minds. The ordeal leaves Odin’s powers at a low ebb, and he is in need of the restorative Odinsleep. However, he fears that Hela, deprived of her victory, will now strike at Thor instead. Thus, he restores the Rainbow Bridge and sends Thor back to Earth in his mortal guise, hoping Hela will not be able to find him in that form. Dutifully, Don Blake goes about his normal routine under strict orders not to change into Thor.

A few days later, Volstagg tracks Blake down and reports that Loki has betrayed his location to Hela, and she has come to Midgard to search for him. Thus, Blake suspects a trap when he hears a news report that firemen on the scene of a burning building have suddenly turned into old men and are unable to rescue the people trapped inside. Heedless of the danger, Blake transforms into Thor and flies to the burning building, rescues those who are trapped, and douses the flames by summoning a heavy rain. As expected, Hela appears and coerces Thor into surrendering to her touch of death. However, Odin arrives at the last second and blasts Hela with his scepter of power, killing her instantly. Thor is shocked, realizing that death is a necessary part of the natural order, and implores his father to restore Hela. Acknowledging that he acted rashly, Odin does so with a heavy heart, summoning Sif to be at Thor’s side as Hela again ages the thunder god to the brink of death. Wracked with grief, Sif begs Hela to take her life in exchange for Thor’s and, touched by the display of love and devotion, Hela relents. She restores Thor to full health and slinks off to her dismal realm. Thor, Sif, and Odin return immediately to Asgard.

When they arrive, they find that Loki has taken advantage of the chaos and staged a coup d’état by seizing Odin’s powerful Ring Imperial. His mercenary army of trolls and giants patrols the ruined streets. Heimdall and the Warriors Three have been banished from the realm, and Balder has been sold like a slave to Karnilla in exchange for her support of Loki’s scheme. Thor is outraged, but Odin is strangely passive about the crisis, and when Loki orders him to enter the Odinsleep, the All-Father obeys without objection. Loki then sets about humiliating Thor, commanding Karnilla to use her magic to create a creature with the power to kill the thunder god. When she has done so, Loki names the fearsome figure Durok the Demolisher and sends it to wreak havoc on Earth. Thor sets off in pursuit, and their ensuing battles cause tremendous amounts of property damage in New Orleans, New York City, Washington DC, and the capital of a small South American nation. Though he refuses to yield, Thor begins to suspect that he cannot defeat Durok. Luckily, the Silver Surfer takes over the fight, freeing Thor to return to Asgard to deal with Loki. Fighting his way back to the palace, Thor arrives to find Sif being dressed up in a revealing wedding gown, about to be made Loki’s unwilling bride. Thor challenges Loki to single combat, but during their battle, Loki realizes the Ring Imperial is draining away his own life-force to power itself. In desperation, he rips the ring from his finger and throws it away. At that moment, Odin steps out of the shadows and picks up the ring, then uses it to banish Loki and his minions from the golden realm. Sitting upon his throne, Odin explains that he knew Loki was doomed the moment he put on the Ring Imperial, not understanding that it takes power from its wearer rather than granting it, and he recognized that Loki did not have the inner strength to wield it for long. Thor realizes that his father needed the Odinsleep to restore himself after his struggle with Infinity and took advantage of Loki’s coup to do it. Clearly, Odin felt Thor could handle Loki for the duration. The assembled warriors of Asgard then celebrate their victory with a massive feast.

April–August 1965 – Thor remains in Asgard for the next several months as work begins on restoring the devastated city to its former glory. Odin continues to regain his strength, but seems haggard and weary, preoccupied by grave matters he will discuss only with his Grand Vizier. Thor is glad to have time to spend with Sif and his friends, though he keeps an eye on Earth in case an emergency should arise there.

September 1965 – Odin sends Thor and the Warriors Three on a dangerous quest to obtain water from the mysterious Twilight Well on a distant planet. After an arduous journey, they overcome the spells of a sorceress named Satrina and her dragon to reach the well and confront its guardian, Kartag the Keeper. As Thor battles Kartag, they tumble into the well’s icy waters, where the thunder god receives a vision of Asgard besieged by the monstrous Mangog. He sees that Odin sent them on their quest so they would not be present when Mangog attacked, and likewise sent Sif off on a mission of her own. Now, Odin is preparing one last desperate measure to avert the golden realm’s utter destruction. When Thor’s senses clear, he finds the three Norns have materialized by the Twilight Well, and they provide magical sheepskin gourds for Thor and his comrades to collect the water in. The warriors then return to the Rainbow Bridge, accompanied by Kartag, but are shocked to discover that the bridge has been shattered and the entire Asgardian landmass has disappeared. Undaunted, Thor puts his trust in Odin’s wisdom and anoints Mjolnir with drops of water from the Twilight Well. He then uses the hammer to generate a spacetime vortex that carries them all to Asgard, now adrift in some nameless dimension. They are shocked to see their city has again been decimated by Mangog’s merciless onslaught.

Thor, Kartag, Fandral, and Hogun the Grim rescue Odin from Mangog’s clutches while Volstagg takes the sheepskin gourds to the Grand Vizier. When he regains consciousness, Odin confirms that Thor’s guesses were correct—the waters of the Twilight Well have been added to Odin’s own Cosmic Well, thus launching the Asgardian landmass through hyperspace back to its original location. They then pursue Mangog into the royal palace, where the monster draws the Odinsword from its scabbard. Odin disarms Mangog with a mighty blast of energy that also severs the psychic connection between the creature and the population whose hatred and desire for revenge sustains him. Succumbing to a berserker rage, Thor pummels Mangog with his hammer, and as they battle, the creature gets smaller and smaller as he burns up his own substance to remain in existence. Finally, Mangog dwindles away to nothing, and Thor, his rage spent, turns back to his comrades. The thunder god is stunned to see that Odin has apparently dropped dead, and he howls in grief over his father’s body.

The Asgardians assemble to carry out a grim funeral procession for their fallen liege. Odin’s body is laid in a boat, which is placed in a tomb at the edge of the continent, to be launched when Asgard is back in its proper place. Here, Thor learns that Heimdall was sent to Earth on a mysterious mission right before the Rainbow Bridge was shattered and is presumably marooned there. There has likewise been no word from Sif. Then, realizing that Hela has not appeared to claim Odin’s soul, Thor assumes it is because they are traveling through hyperspace. Hoping to protect his father’s spirit, Thor uses his enchanted hammer to generate a time vortex around Odin, as he once did for Jane Foster when she was dying. Finally, Kartag the Keeper asks Thor’s permission to return to his own planet, and, receiving it, he teleports away. As their journey continues, Hela finally materializes and tries to take Odin’s spirit to Valhalla, only to find she cannot penetrate Thor’s time vortex. Just then, Pluto, the lord of Hades, arrives on the scene with a fleet of ships carrying an army of trolls, intent on capturing Odin’s soul for himself. Hela attacks Pluto, trying to drive him off while Thor and the warriors of Asgard tear into their foe’s troll army. The Greek god overwhelms Hela, though, forcing her to teleport away to safety. Undaunted, Thor attacks Pluto and they fight viciously. Pluto tries to induce the thunder god to surrender by teleporting the Warriors Three to Hades, but Thor continues battering him with his hammer. Finally, Odin emerges from his tomb and commands that the fighting cease. No match for Odin, Pluto retreats to his ship, accompanied by his remaining troops, and sails off into the mists. Thor is intent on rescuing the Warriors Three, but Odin reveals that he was able to divert them to Midgard, where they are safe and sound. Still, since his comrades are not accustomed to life among mortals, Thor heads back to Earth, accompanied by Balder, before the Warriors Three get themselves into trouble.

No sooner have Thor and Balder caught up with the Warriors Three in the streets of New York City than they are joined by Sif, who appears in a flash of light and is followed by the Asgardian warrior Hildegarde, the Rigellian colonizer Tana Nile, and a human sea captain named Silas Grant. They are pursued by a giant crystalline monster called Ego-Prime, which Thor learns was inadvertently created when Tana Nile sliced off a chunk of Ego, the Living Planet. During their battle, Ego-Prime evolves itself into a humanoid form and announces its intention to wipe out the human race and use Earth as the seed for a new Bioverse in which it can evolve into a new living planet. The fighting rages on for many hours, demolishing several buildings and terrifying the populace, until Heimdall arrives with three mortals who absorb the evolutionary power of Ego-Prime and are transformed into the first of a new race of Young Gods. The process causes Ego-Prime to disintegrate, ending the threat. Odin’s visage then appears in the sky and reveals that this was his purpose all along for sending Thor, Sif, and Heimdall on their different quests. Thor is outraged by the destruction his father’s scheme has unleashed on Earth, so Odin undoes all the damage and erases all memory of the events from mortal minds. Even so, Thor continues to argue the point, until Odin loses his temper and banishes the thunder god from Asgard. Sif, Balder, Fandral, Hogun the Grim, and Hildegarde turn their backs on Odin, casting their lot with Thor. Tana Nile and Silas Grant explain that they, too, are now marooned on Earth, as he is the last survivor of a planet called Blackworld and her spaceship was lost when his world was destroyed. Thus, Thor leads them all to Avengers Mansion, where he informs the butler, Edwin Jarvis, that his entourage will need to stay there for a little while. Later, Iron Man drops by the mansion and meets Thor’s guests. While telling Iron Man of his recent experiences, Thor realizes that Volstagg disappeared sometime during the battle with Ego-Prime.

The next day, Balder, Fandral, and Hogun go out searching for Volstagg, while Tana Nile, Silas Grant, and Hildegarde explore the sights of the city. Thor, however, merely sits in front of the television, brooding about his exile, until Sif insists he give her a tour of New York. As she has borrowed some earthly raiment from the Scarlet Witch, Thor changes himself into Don Blake and they head out. Blake leads Sif to the building where his private medical offices are, only to find he’s been locked out due to non-payment of rent. The building’s new owner, Karl Sarron, proves less then cooperative, but agrees to schedule a meeting so they can get the situation resolved. Frustrated, Blake takes Sif back to Avengers Mansion. A few hours later, after Blake has changed back into Thor, he and Sif are transported to Hell by Mephisto, who has also kidnapped Balder, Fandral, Hogun, Volstagg, Hildegarde, Tana Nile, and Silas Grant, along with numerous influential men from around the world. Mephisto wants revenge on the Asgardians for invading his realm last year and plans to unleash a wave of evil across the world by merging the kidnapped men with his demons. Mephisto first uses mind-control to make Thor’s friends attack the thunder god, and when that fails, he sends his legions of the damned to overwhelm them. For hours, Thor fights his way through the ghostly hordes until he is able to confront the arch-demon in his inner sanctum. Impressed, Mephisto reveals that he is determined to corrupt Thor’s soul and enslave him, but Thor remains defiant in the face of his foe’s seemingly superior power. Finally, Thor manages to throw Mephisto into a lake of fire and trap him there by blasting the cavern’s ceiling with mystical lightning from his hammer, causing it to collapse. With Mephisto temporarily incapacitated, Thor is able to generate a dimensional vortex that transports all the kidnapping victims back to Earth, stripped of any conscious memory of being in Hell. He then creates a second vortex that deposits him and his entourage on the New Jersey Palisades, from which they make their way back to Avengers Mansion.

October 1965 – Thor joins Iron Man and the Vision at Stark Industries for a chess match between a human grandmaster and a new computer called Nimrod. Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch also arrive for the media event. However, the garrulous Soviet chess-master, Comrade Sporadnik, collapses during the tournament and is rushed to the hospital. While the Avengers follow the ambulance, Thor slips away, changes into Don Blake, and volunteers to assist the surgical team. Blake determines that the patient has been poisoned, prompting the Avengers to return to the scene of the crime, where Thor soon joins them. The team tracks down the assassin—a balding middle-aged man—but he escapes by phasing through the floor. Suddenly, the heroes receive a vision that reveals that the assassin is an ordinary accountant named Leonard Tippit, who was recently granted superhuman powers by the omnipotent alien known as the Watcher. Tippit was charged with preventing a future nuclear holocaust by murdering five innocent people whose yet-unborn children would be responsible for the catastrophe. As the images fade, Thor assures his teammates that the Watcher is, in fact, real. Even so, the Avengers are unwilling to stand by while people are murdered. They split up, and Thor speeds to Naples, Italy, hoping to protect a young boy. The thunder god arrives too late, though, and Tippit manages to put his victim into a coma. Easily evading Thor, Tippit then teleports away. After getting the boy to the nearest hospital, Thor rendezvous with his teammates at Stark Industries. Soon, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch bring in the unconscious Tippit and strap him into the machine Iron Man has built to siphon off Tippit’s superhuman energies. As the device is activated, Tippit regains consciousness. Suddenly, the Watcher materializes in the room and reveals that it was Tippit, not his victims, who was a threat to the earth, and the murder scheme was just a ruse to force Tippit to travel the world and exhaust himself. The Avengers are angry at having been manipulated, but Tippit agrees to sacrifice himself to save the world. Before disappearing again, the Watcher assures the Avengers that the five victims will awaken tomorrow with no memory of their ordeal.

The Avengers head immediately to the New York County Courthouse, where the Hulk is being put on trial. The Hulk’s lawyer, Matt Murdock, calls Iron Man to the stand, but most of his testimony is stricken after the prosecutor objects to the Avengers’ presence. Thor is called to testify next, but the judge rules that the Avengers’ testimony has no bearing on the case. As such, the team returns to their headquarters before Thor even takes the stand. Some hours later, they learn that Mister Fantastic inadvertently enabled the Hulk to escape while trying to change him back into Bruce Banner. Thor is surprised that Reed Richards could be so careless.

The following evening, Thor joins his teammates for a late-night meeting at Avengers Mansion. The Scarlet Witch opts to take a stroll through Central Park instead, only to be kidnapped by one of the mutant-hunting robots known as Sentinels. When the Avengers fail to stop the abduction, Quicksilver becomes hysterical and quits the team, vowing to rescue his sister singlehandedly. Returning to their headquarters, the Avengers spend the night trying to track down the Sentinels. They are soon contacted by scientist Peter Corbeau, who reports that his new space station, Starcore One, has detected an energy beam emanating from Australia that is destabilizing the sun and may cause solar flares powerful enough to wipe out all life on Earth. The Avengers race to the Australian outback, where they discover the energy beam is being fired from the Sentinels’ secret base. Fighting their way into the underground complex, the Avengers rescue the Scarlet Witch and defeat the Sentinels. Unfortunately, Larry Trask, the son of the man who created the Sentinels, is killed in the battle. The team then seals off the installation and makes their way back to New York.

Upon their return, the Avengers find that Quicksilver has vanished without a trace, prompting the Scarlet Witch to initiate a desperate search. She soon brings her teammates a possible lead—a news report of three Chilean scientists being kidnapped by a group of men with strange powers. Thor and Sif agree to accompany five of the Avengers to Tierra del Fuego to investigate. When they arrive, the team discovers a tunnel that leads them into the mysterious Savage Land. While making their way through the prehistoric jungle, they are attacked by the Savage Land Mutates—Amphibius, Barbarus, Brainchild, Equilibrius, Gaza, Lupo, and Lorelei. Thor and Sif defeat Barbarus while their teammates take care of the rest of the Mutates. Freeing the scientists, the Avengers march the Mutates out of the Savage Land and turn them over to the Chilean authorities to face kidnapping charges.

When the team arrives back at Avengers Mansion the next day, Thor and Sif rush off for a meeting with Karl Sarron, Don Blake’s landlord. Sarron has already postponed the meeting a couple of times and is again out of the office, leaving Blake angry and frustrated. He changes back into Thor and returns to Avengers Mansion to round up the Warriors Three while Sif goes to meet up with Balder and Hildegarde. On the way, Thor is distracted by a fight in an alley, which he finds to be between a pair of muggers and an exceptionally acrobatic young man. When the muggers’ victim gives her rescuer the cold shoulder, Thor strikes up a conversation with the irreverent youth. Suddenly, the city is enveloped by a strange “negative time” effect. Recognizing that Loki once cast such a spell, Thor generates a spacetime vortex that protects him and the young man, who, to the thunder god’s surprise, turns out to be Spider-Man. They then spot an army of Asgardian Trolls marching through the streets, and Thor recognizes their leader as an old enemy, Kryllk the Cruel. Kryllk brags about his Dark Crystal, which he used to generate the “negative time” effect, and of his plan to conquer Asgard. Thor leaps to attack them, but the Trolls evaporate like wisps of steam. The two heroes race to Avengers Mansion, where they find the others all frozen in place like a photographic negative. Spider-Man rewires the communications console so they can use it, allowing Thor to determine that the Dark Crystal’s arcane energies lead both to Asgard and an asteroid orbiting Jupiter. After sending Spider-Man to Asgard, Thor transports himself to the Jovian asteroid, where he finds Kryllk and his horde hiding out in a deep cavern. The thunder god fights his way through the Trolls, only to discover that Kryllk is protected by a force field. Suddenly, Kryllk collapses, as though stricken by a massive heart attack, after which the Trolls and the Dark Crystal all vanish into thin air. They reappear a moment later along with Spider-Man and the Watcher, who explains that Kryllk’s misuse of the Dark Crystal led to his defeat. Taking the Dark Crystal for safekeeping, the enigmatic Watcher teleports Thor and Spider-Man back to Earth. Thor then finally reaches Avengers Mansion, where Fandral informs him that his teammates have all gone out somewhere searching for Quicksilver.

After Tana Nile and Silas Grant have moved out of Avengers Mansion and gotten a small apartment together, Thor is called in by the United Nations to help guard a “mermaid”—a red-skinned aquatic woman—who has caused an international incident. The Sub-Mariner soon appears and announces that the “mermaid” is a citizen of Atlantis, but, because her skin is red rather than blue, Thor requests proof of his claims. The Sub-Mariner merely loses his temper and attacks Thor, and their fight leads them out into the East River. Thor ultimately overcomes the Sub-Mariner and drives him off. This gives the government officials the chance to move the “mermaid” to a high-tech water tank in a secure vault deep within the UN Building. Satisfied that he has fulfilled his duty, Thor returns to Avengers Mansion.

Two weeks later, Thor is still brooding about his exile from Asgard and declines to go camping with Balder and the Warriors Three. Instead, he slumps into a chair in front of the television, until Jarvis informs him that Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man, is on a rampage on the other side of the city. Thor rushes to the scene, where he finds his old foe battling Sif and Hildegarde. Creel slams his ball-and-chain into the ground, generating a shockwave that knocks the two goddesses out. Furious, Thor attacks him, and their battle causes a great deal of property damage to the street and surrounding buildings. Throughout, Creel complains of a pain in his head driving him to kill Thor, and Thor suspects Loki is behind it. Thus, when Creel absorbs the properties of Thor’s uru hammer, the thunder god pretends to be defeated, hoping that Creel will lead him to Loki.

On the second night of their search, Thor, Sif, and Hildegarde track the Absorbing Man to the woods outside of Rutland, Vermont. As Creel attacks, Thor orders his companions to keep out of the fight. Sif objects, but Hildegarde merely picks her up and carries her off into the trees. After a fierce battle, Thor finally manages to daze Creel with a massive blow to the head. Knocked into the chilly waters of Otter Creek, the villain inadvertently absorbs the properties of the stream and dissolves into the current. Thor barely has time to catch his breath before Loki appears and sics two monstrous dog-creatures on him. Thor dispatches them with a small tornado, but Loki is unimpressed. He merely manifests the Fire-Sword, a magical weapon that draws its power from the life-force of a small group of people nearby, whom Loki has ensorcelled. The fight does not go well for Thor, and Loki soon separates him from his hammer, knowing he need only keep them apart for the sixty seconds until his brother becomes a vulnerable mortal once more. However, at the last moment, a fierce thunderstorm appears out of nowhere, distracting Loki and allowing Thor to regain his hammer. Thor immediately calls down a powerful lightning strike that destroys the Fire-Sword and frees Loki’s victims from the spell. Seeing that they are unharmed, Thor turns back to find that Loki has been struck blind and, howling in rage and panic, has run off into the woods. Thor chases after his brother but soon loses him in the darkness. He spots Hildegarde standing alone on a nearby hilltop and flies up to join her. Hildegarde reports that Sif made a deal with Karnilla, promising to help the Norn Queen find Balder if she would use her sorcery to save Thor. Thus, Karnilla conjured up the thunderstorm and then teleported away with Sif. Thor is angered by this turn of events, and Hildegarde wonders if they’ll ever see Sif again.

November 1965 – Thor and Hildegarde return to Avengers Mansion a few hours before dawn, where the thunder god takes out his frustrations on Jarvis. Hildegarde castigates him for his inexcusable behavior toward a servant, prompting Thor to apologize to the butler, who responds graciously. After daybreak, Thor wanders the city, trying to shake his foul mood, while Hildegarde goes exploring on her own. When he returns to the mansion later, Thor realizes the place is deserted. He goes to the communications room to try to locate his teammates, and, after a while, Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch, the Black Panther, and the Vision enter with Jarvis, all looking exhausted. Before Hawkeye can tell Thor about their recent adventure, the archer’s chair collapses under him, giving the Avengers a good laugh. The Scarlet Witch is in no mood for joking around, though, as Quicksilver is still missing. The Vision goes to comfort her, and as they embrace, Thor realizes that his two teammates have fallen in love with each other. He suggests to the others that they withdraw so as to give the Vision and the Scarlet Witch some privacy.

Sometime later, Thor is shocked by reports that Hank and Janet Pym have apparently died in a house fire, but Ant-Man soon turns up alive and enlists some of his former teammates to help rescue the Wasp from a secret A.I.M. installation on Long Island. Thor is relieved to hear that the couple escaped the fire and is doing fine, though they’ve decided not to resume their superhero careers. Thor spends the next couple weeks hanging around Avengers Mansion with Hildegarde, waiting for Balder and the Warriors Three to return from their camping trip. He makes repeated attempts to contact Karl Sarron to resolve the situation with Don Blake’s lease, but without success. The thunder god becomes increasingly irritable and depressed as the days go by.

Finally, the Warriors Three return in their borrowed Quinjet, but Thor is annoyed to learn that Balder has decided to remain in the wilderness on his own. Wanting to free Sif from Karnilla’s service as soon as possible, Thor sets off to find Balder without further delay. However, as he is flying across the city, he spots a strange glow in Don Blake’s medical office and decides to check it out. Entering through the window, Thor discovers a weird alien calling himself the Fourth-Dimensional Man, who is absorbing the residual energies left from every time the thunder god transformed to and from his mortal form in that room. The Fourth-Dimensional Man attacks him, intent on absorbing the last of Thor’s energies directly, and their fight spills out into the streets of Manhattan. Soon, the Warriors Three join in, giving Thor a chance to slip away and head for the New York Public Library. After changing into Don Blake, he spends half an hour researching a way of defeating his foe. Then, resuming his godly identity, Thor snatches a large I-beam from a construction site, drops it on the Fourth-Dimensional Man, and melts it to slag with the awesome power of Mjolnir. As Thor expected, the Fourth-Dimensional Man quickly reaches critical mass and implodes. Afterwards, Karl Sarron is reported to have disappeared, and Thor assumes he was murdered by the Fourth-Dimensional Man.

December 1965 – Watching Hawkeye work out in the Avengers’ combat-simulation room, Thor realizes the Scarlet Witch’s burgeoning romance with the Vision is causing dissention among the team, as the others are worried that a relationship between a mutant and a synthezoid won’t go over very well with the general public. Later that morning, Hawkeye disappears from the mansion. After two days, an oddly-worded letter arrives in the mail informing the team that Hawkeye has accepted a business opportunity with a notorious corporate tycoon known as Champion. Preoccupied with his own problems, Thor doesn’t think much of it.

Having searched North America for Balder without success, Thor flies across the Atlantic Ocean to check Europe and Scandinavia. He stops for dinner at a pub in London, England, where he is visited by the astral form of the Grand Vizier, who can’t understand why Thor has yet to beg for his father’s forgiveness. Their chat is cut short when the building is wrecked by a powerful blue-skinned man calling himself the Demon Druid. Thor confronts the Demon Druid, only to get blasted by an energy beam that knocks him out. When he comes to, Thor confers with Detective Chief Inspector Prichard of Scotland Yard, who informs him that the Demon Druid has marched southwest and is now fighting the British Army in the suburb of Esher. Thor flies to the scene and confronts the Demon Druid again, with no better results. The Demon Druid knocks Thor into a building, which then collapses on top of the thunder god. Two hours later, Thor digs himself out of the rubble and catches up to his foe on the Salisbury Plain, where they blast away at each other again. Finally, DCI Prichard convinces Thor and the army to leave the Demon Druid alone, allowing the mysterious figure to walk into the center of Stonehenge and dematerialize. Prichard speculates that the Demon Druid might have been a member of a group of ancient aliens who was somehow left behind on Earth, and has now gone to join his people. Thor wonders if he may have acted rashly in meeting him with violence.

Continuing his search, Thor flies across Asia, where he is attacked by the Red Chinese Army. Though they manage to bury Thor in a rockslide, the soldiers flee when the thunder god emerges unharmed. Frustrated by his fruitless search, Thor wraps himself in his cape and goes to sleep. When he wakes up, Thor finds he has been kidnapped by Ulik the Troll and his minions. While Thor is battling Ulik, the other Trolls manage to steal Mjolnir with a powerful magnet and dump it into a large furnace. Thor braves the heat and flames of the furnace to retrieve his hammer before he transforms back into his mortal form. Thor then learns from Queen Ulla, wife of the Troll-King Geirrodur, that Ulik is leading an invasion of Midgard. Thor follows the Troll army back to Midtown Manhattan, where he is joined by the Warriors Three, Tana Nile, and Silas Grant. Thor beats Ulik into unconsciousness, humiliating him in front of his troops, which causes the Trolls to retreat. Once the invaders are gone, Thor and Tana Nile seal up the Trolls’ tunnel with the rubble of a demolished tenement building. The Warriors Three then inform Thor that Balder has returned to New York, but something has driven him mad. Thor storms into Avengers Mansion to see for himself, then, blaming Odin for Balder’s madness, he generates a spacetime vortex that carries him, Fandral, Hogun the Grim, Hildegarde, Tana Nile, and Silas Grant to Asgard, leaving Volstagg to look after Balder.

When they materialize, Thor and his entourage are shocked to find the golden realm deserted. They soon come across a group of bedraggled creatures led by a 10-foot-tall lizard-man named Sssthgar, who claims they’ve escaped from the alien slavers who have captured the Asgardians. Thor convinces Sssthgar to lead them to the slavers’ home planet, and they all set out in an Asgardian ship, the Starjammer. Upon arriving on the distant world, Thor is outraged to find Odin in chains on an auction block, and leads his comrades into battle against seemingly impossible odds. However, no sooner have Thor and the others defeated their foes than Sssthgar reveals that he, too, is one of the slavers—he and his crew were marooned on Asgard by his former partners, the Vrellnexians, and Thor has just eliminated his enemies for him. Sssthgar’s crew overwhelms Thor’s band of warriors and throws them into a dungeon with the rest of the captured Asgardians. Though the slaves are kept docile with drugged gruel, Thor manages to break free before the guards can feed it to him. He frees Hildegarde and Tana Nile, who also have not been drugged yet, and they soon meet up with the underground resistance movement. While the freedom-fighters go to blow up the drug factories, Thor and Hildegarde attack Sssthgar and his crew while they are carousing, giving Tana Nile the chance to free the Asgardians and lead them to the Starjammer. Defeated, Sssthgar reveals that Sif and Karnilla were not brought to the slave-market because the Vrellnexians sold them to some miners from the Dark Nebula beforehand. The Starjammer then takes the Asgardians home and, along the way, Odin gratefully remands Thor’s exile. Then, Thor, Odin, Heimdall, Fandral, Hogun the Grim, Hildegarde, Tana Nile, and Silas Grant set sail in the Starjammer again, heading to the Dark Nebula to rescue Sif and Karnilla.

Arriving in the Dark Nebula, Thor and the crew of the Starjammer are shocked to find the mining operation is being attacked by the Fourth-Dimensional Man and his henchmen. The villain, who reveals that his name is Mercurio, explains that he was saved from the implosion last month by a transdimensional red jewel that appeared to be sentient. He has tracked the jewel to the Dark Nebula and is intent on using it to save his own race from extinction. Suddenly, the jewel erupts from the ground and looms over everyone like a skyscraper. Thor is outraged to see that Sif and Karnilla are imprisoned within the crystal, and his righteous anger grows when the jewel announces telepathically its intention to use the goddesses’ life-force to conquer the galaxy. Mercurio convinces Thor that they should join forces, and so, when the jewel leaves the Dark Nebula, the two groups pursue it aboard the Starjammer. The crystal then assumes a humanoid form, calling itself Xorr, the God-Jewel, and destroys a solar system for sustenance. While Xorr is feeding, Mercurio and his men attack it, but Thor drives them back, worried that Xorr will harm Sif and Karnilla. Mercurio once again convinces Thor that their only hope is to work together. Thus, Odin leads Xorr to a supergiant star, and while Xorr is preoccupied with absorbing such a tremendous amount of energy, Mercurio uses his powers to free the two goddesses. As Thor flies them back to the Starjammer, the supergiant star goes nova, as Odin had planned, and the sudden surge causes Xorr to explode. Mercurio and his men harvest the shattered fragments of the God-Jewel and return to their home planet to avert its destruction. Reunited with Sif, Thor sets course for Asgard.

When they reach the golden realm, the crew of the Starjammer discovers that they have been replaced by impostors. Odin confronts his doppelgänger, leading to a huge brawl. While battling the false Heimdall on the Rainbow Bridge, Thor knocks his foe off into the void, and as he drifts away, the impostor disintegrates. Thor grabs Sif and flies out over the city until he spots Balder, who, Thor reasons, must be an impostor. Thor attacks him, forcing the false Balder to reveal himself as the wizard Igron, one of Loki’s former minions who snuck back into Asgard while it was deserted. Igron traps Thor and Sif, only to be defeated by the real Balder, who has come home with Volstagg. Without Igron to sustain them, the doppelgängers soon fade to nothingness. Balder convinces the warriors of Asgard that the true Odin and Thor have returned at last, bringing the fighting to an end.

Later, Thor, Sif, and Balder set out again in the Starjammer to take Tana Nile and Silas Grant home to Rigel III, though Odin has warned them to expect grave danger. Upon arrival, they find the planet has been evacuated, except for the mutant underclass, which has been left to die. Learning what has happened from the mutants’ leader, Jukka, Thor offers them passage aboard the Starjammer, and the mutants gratefully accept. The ship soon rendezvous with the Rigellian fleet, where Thor and his comrades meet with the Grand Commissioner, who reveals that Rigel III has been completely destroyed since the Starjammer left just six hours ago. Its nine billion inhabitants have been crowded onto only about 700 spaceships, which is one reason the mutants were left behind. An intergalactic “message in a bottle” alerted the Rigellians to the approach of the Black Stars, a marauding system of five planets, each of which would dwarf Jupiter, forcing them to evacuate their homeworld. Thor decides to put an end to the Black Stars’ reign of terror.

On its way to the Black Stars, the Starjammer is intercepted by Avalon, one of the giant living robots who run the world-destroying matter-scoops. Avalon explains to Thor and his comrades that he and his fellow robots are kept as slaves and forced to maintain the Black Stars’ technology, though they yearn for liberation. However, another robot, called the Protector, has detected the organic lifeforms within the matter scoop and flies up to attack them, but it proves to be no match for Mjolnir. When the matter scoop is retracted to its base on one of the Black Stars’ planets, Thor is astonished to find a race of giants so large that he is like a flea to them. Undaunted, Thor tries to attack the giants, but they barely notice his mightiest blows, and the Asgardians are forced to fight off swarms of robots seeking to exterminate them. Luckily, Jukka and the other Rigellian mutants are able to make contact with the leader of the giants, Lord Kragonn, and convince him his planet is the only one of the five to still harbor life. As such, Kragonn decides they no longer need to destroy other planets to power their own civilization. Avalon petitions Kragonn for his people’s freedom, and his request is granted. The robots deliver Thor and his comrades to the flagship of the Rigellian fleet before seeking their destiny among the stars. Thor, Sif, and Balder bid farewell to Tana Nile and Silas Grant, then sail the Starjammer back to Asgard.

No sooner have they docked in the golden realm, though, than Hildegarde reports that her sister Krista has been kidnapped by Pluto and Hercules and imprisoned in Hades. Thor is outraged by his friend’s betrayal and sets off for Olympus alone, where he fights his way into Zeus’ palace and brawls with Hercules. Zeus stops the fight and assures Thor that Hercules has been enjoying a festival of wine, women, and song for at least a fortnight, and could not have been involved in the kidnapping. Zeus convinces the two headstrong warriors to work together to rescue Krista from Pluto. Thus, Thor and Hercules head out to storm the gates of Hades. Along the way, Hercules suggests they pay a visit to the reclusive sorceress Chaga, who, in exchange for an hour of gossip, reveals that Ares had disguised himself as Hercules in order to assist Pluto, and he will be waiting for them at the entrance to Pluto’s infernal realm. Thus forewarned, Thor and Hercules are ready when Ares confronts them, and, after a brief battle, Thor is able to bury the God of War under tons of rubble. Marching through Hades, Thor and Hercules are set upon by vicious snake-women, who delay them long enough for Pluto to sneak off with Krista. Frustrated, Thor generates a spacetime vortex that takes him and Hercules directly to Asgard.

There, Odin determines that Pluto has taken Krista to Earth and teleports Thor and Hercules to Times Square in Manhattan. They quickly find Pluto and his prisoner on a nearby rooftop, where he admits that he had hoped to start a war between Asgard and Olympus that would have devastated both realms. Enraged by Pluto’s taunts, Thor smashes him with his hammer, knocking him off the roof, but the Lord of Hades is able to teleport himself back to his own realm. Seeing that Krista needs emergency surgery, Thor and Hercules rush her to the nearest hospital, where Thor transforms into Don Blake in order to assist the ER doctors. Hercules is at first confused by Thor’s mortal form, but soon catches on. The demigod agrees to go out on the town for a few hours while Blake is busy in the operating room. The surgery is successful, though while visiting Krista in the recovery room a little while later, Blake notices that the Destroyer is on a rampage several blocks away. Though he had hoped to spend some time in his mortal identity, Blake immediately changes back into Thor and flies to the scene.

Thor finds Hercules battling the Destroyer and takes over, as the unstoppable robot is of Asgardian origin. Thor sends his friend to search for whoever’s soul is animating the Destroyer, knowing he can never defeat Odin’s creation with brute force. Luckily, Hercules succeeds in short order, and the spirit of the mad scientist Dr. Clement Holmes is returned to his body, causing the Destroyer to shut down. Leaving the inert robot lying on a pier, Thor and Hercules head back to the hospital, where the thunder god becomes Don Blake again. Hercules is dumbfounded that Thor would maintain such a dual identity, but Blake explains that when he’s in mortal form, he has little interest in the affairs of the Asgardians, and when he is in his godly form, the life of Don Blake just seems like a bad dream. Their conversation is cut short, however, when they come upon Firelord, the latest herald of Galactus. Hercules attacks the flaming alien, but as soon as Blake transforms into Thor again, Firelord shoots energy rays from his eyes into the sky to summon his master. Claiming he bears the earth no ill will, Firelord then flies off. Thor realizes there’s little he or Hercules can do until Galactus makes his move, though he vows to fight the Devourer of Worlds to his dying breath.

A few days later, Galactus arrives on Earth, but explains he has come only to enlist Thor’s aid against Ego, the Living Planet. He apologizes if Firelord’s volatile temperament conveyed the wrong impression. Relieved, Thor and Hercules accompany Galactus up to his spherical mothership, which then carries them back to the nebula known as the Black Galaxy. As soon as they are within range, Ego attacks them, causing Galactus’ ship to crash-land on the surface of the living planet. Thor, Hercules, and Firelord hike out a ways, fighting off automatons that Ego generates out of his own substance. Believing that Ego has gone insane, Thor decides that their best bet is to find the planet’s brain and, if necessary, destroy it. Thus, he uses Mjolnir to blast a tunnel into the ground, and they descend into a deep cavern. After a while, Thor figures they must be nearing the planet’s core, though Hercules wonders why there’s been so little change in the air pressure or gravity. They then enter a new cavern with a large brain floating in the center of it. More automatons swarm out of the walls and battle Hercules and Firelord, but Thor manages to hurl Mjolnir at the brain. As the hammer strikes the mass of tissue, Thor is hit with a psychic backlash that overwhelms him. His mind is suddenly awash with images that he takes to be Ego’s memories of how he came to be. The images show how a man named Egros attempted to save his race when their sun went nova but failed. The radiation from the solar holocaust caused Egros to merge with the dying planet, and in the process he inadvertently absorbed the life-force of its two billion inhabitants. He emerged from his metamorphosis as Ego, the Living Planet, a being consumed by guilt. Feeling great sympathy for Ego’s plight, Thor is reluctant to destroy the floating brain, but Hercules and Firelord convince him he has no choice. Thor blasts the brain with mystical energies from Mjolnir, though not enough to destroy it completely. The entire planet convulses, and Thor, Hercules, and Firelord rush back to Galactus’ ship. They find that Galactus has not only repaired his ship, but also attached a propulsion unit to Ego’s south pole. When Galactus activates the thrusters, Ego is sent hurtling out of the Black Galaxy and off into deep space.

On their way back to Earth, Firelord petitions to be released from Galactus’ service. Galactus says he will grant Firelord’s request if they can find another herald to replace him. Thor offers Galactus the Destroyer, saying the Devourer of Worlds could animate the armored shell with a portion of his own life essence, and it would serve him more faithfully than any herald ever could. Galactus agrees to the plan and, finding the Destroyer still laying on the battle-damaged pier in New York, imbues it with the Power Cosmic. After Galactus and his new herald have departed, Firelord streaks off into the sky without so much as a word of thanks. Leaving Hercules behind, Thor flies back to Avengers Mansion, where he finds the team having a late-night meeting. The Scarlet Witch has become convinced that the letter from Hawkeye is a forgery, and Thor, Iron Man, Vision, and the Black Panther agree to investigate. They track Hawkeye to a remote location in the Mojave Desert, where they find Champion has captured the archer and tied him to a large bomb. Though Champion’s body armor makes him a force to be reckoned with, he and his henchmen are quickly defeated by the Avengers. Despite the timely rescue, Hawkeye is determined to make it on his own, so he tenders his resignation from the team, effective immediately. After all of Champion’s bombs have been dismantled, the Avengers leave Hawkeye in California and fly back to New York.


Notes:

January 1965 – Thor and his teammates find themselves in a Lovecraftian mystery in Avengers #88 when the insectoid creature Psyklop kidnaps the Hulk. Realizing he is outnumbered, Psyklop teleports the Avengers to the New York City subway platform, erasing their memories of the entire affair. Iron Man’s odd behavior is due to him being mind-controlled by Shara-Lee and the White Dragon, as shown in Iron Man #39, in which Thor briefly appears. Thor then heads to San Francisco to confront Lionel Dibbs in the Inhumans story in Amazing Adventures #8. Tony Stark must have created Dibbs’ weaponized prosthetic while under the influence of his Chinese foes, as it seems unlikely he would have done it otherwise. Next, Thor joins with the Avengers to fight the Skrulls in Avengers #93–94. For more on President Morris Richardson, see OMU: POTUS – Part Three.

February 1965 – The Avengers are drawn into the Kree-Skrull War and foil Ares’ scheme of interdimensional conquest across Avengers #94–100.

March 1965 – Thor’s adventures continue in Thor #182 and following. I believe that the Silent One is really Bor, Odin’s deceased father. Using his ghost would give Hela a psychological advantage over Odin and make him more vulnerable to “Infinity.” Thor does not recognize Bor due to his cadaverous appearance, but it explains the Silent One’s self-sacrifice to save the thunder god in Thor #186. During the battle, everyone on Earth is forced to face doomsday, but luckily Odin erases those events from the timestream, so they never happened. Only Thor would be aware of how close the earth came to destruction. The Silver Surfer ultimately defeats Durok the Demolisher by transporting him through time and leaving him marooned on a barren Earth in the distant future, as seen in Thor #193. In the next issue, Thor changes into Don Blake after losing his hammer, even though that enchantment is normally inactive while Thor is in Asgard. It’s reasonable to assume that Loki triggered the change using the power of the Ring Imperial.

October 1965 – The Avengers face the threat of Leonard Tippit in Avengers #101. Later that same day, the team appears at the Hulk’s trial, as depicted in Hulk #153. This is followed immediately by Avengers #102–105. Thor and Spider-Man battle Kryllk and his trolls in Marvel Team-Up #7, then Thor fights with the Sub-Mariner over the aquatic alien Tamara of the Sisterhood in Sub-Mariner #59. On Halloween, Thor fights the Absorbing Man and Loki outside Rutland, Vermont, as depicted in Thor #207. Thor is doubtless unaware of all the other weirdness going on in Rutland on that particular night.

November 1965 – Thor briefly meets up with the Avengers following their battle with the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper at the end of Avengers #108. The thunder god remains behind the scenes during the Pyms’ travails in Ant-Man’s revival series in Marvel Feature. Thor does not realize that “Karl Sarron” was merely the Fourth-Dimensional Man’s cover identity while he was on Earth and needed unfettered access to Blake’s medical offices.

December 1965 – Thor observes Hawkeye’s training exercises at the beginning of Avengers #109. In Thor #209, I believe it is when the Demon Druid causes a building to collapse onto Thor that Inspector Dai Thomas’ wife is killed, as seen in the flashback in Captain Britain v.2 #1. They were probably in Esher to do some Christmas shopping, and the experience leaves Thomas with a deep-seated hatred of superheroes. While Thor is battling the Destroyer in Thor #225, Odin decides to have his master craftsman, Eitri the Dwarf, build a magical machine to copy the thunder god’s essence, in case Odin should ever need a substitute Thor to defend Asgard, which we learn in the flashback in Thor #277. As explained in Fantastic Four #245, the “brain” that Thor, Hercules, and Firelord find within Ego the Living Planet is merely a decoy, and the images Thor sees are not Ego’s true origin but a falsehood designed to gain the thunder god’s sympathies. Egros’ friend Chimu looks suspiciously like the Rigellian Grand Commissioner and Project Worldcore is a dead ringer for the Citadel of Science on Mount Wundagore, suggesting that much of the imagery is drawn from Thor’s own memories. This brings us up to Thor #228. The Avengers rescue Hawkeye from Champion at the conclusion of Avengers #109.


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