Cover Date: February 1965
Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
“The Castle of Count Nefaria!”
Plotters: Stan Lee, Don Heck
Scripter: Stan Lee
Penciller: Don Heck
Inker: Dick Ayers
What’s Going On?
The Avengers take on Count Nefaria, an international crime leader! But when he frames them for treason, will they be able to stop him and clear their name?
- The Avengers are stopping all sorts of crime these days. Much of the crime they’ve stopped has been —- whether they know it or not —- related to the international Maggia crime syndicate.
- The leader of the Maggia, Count Nefaria, has a plan to deal with the Avengers. It includes transporting his European castle, brick by brick, to America and making use of his public identity of a law-abiding wealthy European. Sure, that makes perfect sense.
- Count Nefaria invites the Avengers to the grand opening of his castle in America, and they eagerly accept.
- The Count invites them to freshen up in separate rooms, and they accept his invitation without suspicion. Rick Jones and the Teen Brigade came with the Avengers, but they were told to wait outside by Count Nefaria.
- Count Nefaria then basically hypnotizes the Avengers and creates programmable 3D models of the Avengers that he can command. Nefaria believes that, because he didn’t make the real Avengers do anything, he cannot be accused of a crime.
- He then sends the images to the Pentagon, where they demand the US government be turned over to them to rule.
- The 3D images are so convincing that no one questions them when these fake Avengers declare war on America.
- Sensing that something suspicious was going on, Rick Jones and the Teen Brigade started snooping around Nefaria’s castle. They were promptly captured.
- Meanwhile, Count Nefaria notifies the US military that the Avengers are at his castle, and he then releases the real Avengers from their hypnotic state. When they are met by an aggressive military, they are understandably surprised!
- The Avengers don’t spend too much time fighting American soldiers. They soon retreat and regroup to figure out what has happened. Their foggy memories of Nefaria’s castle and the Teen Brigade’s disappearance points them in the right direction.
- When they arrive at the castle, Giant-Man, Wasp, Iron Man and Thor all fall prey to Nefaria’s booby traps. Only Captain America gets past the first round of defenses. He doesn’t have any problems with the second round, either:
- Cap finds and releases the Teen Brigade, who then work in freeing the other Avengers. Together, they make short work of the Maggia thugs and corner Nefaria. He confesses all, and the confession is overheard by a US general, so the Avengers have cleared their name. Nefaria is now a known criminal that will be deported from the country, and the Maggia will presumably punish him for his mistakes.
- The issue ends with the revelation that the Wasp was shot in the fight with the Maggia. Will she survive? This will presumably be continued next issue.
Is It Good?
There’s not much to like in this issue. I am not necessarily against the Avengers taking on street-level crime, but this group of Avengers has always focused on bigger picture villains. Even with Count Nefaria’s traps and inventions, it still doesn’t feel like much of a challenge for the Avengers.
There’s not even a good fight to enjoy, and even if there was — and this early version of Count Nefaria is specifically not a physical threat, anyway — Don Heck doesn’t specialize in that sort of storytelling. This isn’t a bad issue, but it’s not fun or very interesting.
- This is the first appearance of Count Nefaria. At this point, he has some advanced technology, but no super-powers.
- This is the first appearance of the Maggia. They are an international crime syndicate, much like the Mafia…if the Mafia hired and occasionally fought super-powered people.
- The Teen Brigade last appeared in Avengers #10.
- Count Nefaria has a 3D image projection device, much like Iron Man’s.
- The government intervenes with the Fantastic Four, telling them to not try to attack the Avengers. In case you wondered why the heroes of NYC didn’t try to stop the supposedly evil Avengers.
Comics Are Goofy:
- The Avengers formed to handle problems too big for a single superhero. They are now stopping fur robberies.
- Their powers are also radical and tubular.
- It takes until nightfall for the Avengers to be publicly declared outlaws. Rick Jones and the Teen Brigade were apparently hanging outside Count Nefaria’s entrance that entire time; it took them several hours to get suspicious.
- Nationwide martial law?!? That seems…excessive.