Avengers (Vol. 1) #21

Credits:

Cover Date: October 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Wally Wood

“The Bitter Taste of Defeat!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Don Heck

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Wally Wood

What’s Going On?

The Enchantress and her new partner, Power Man, plot to ruin the Avengers!

Details:

  • In the ruins of Baron Zemo’s Amazonian base, an unnamed former underling of Zemo’s has spent the past several months digging through the wreckage. Today, he finally finds what he has been looking for —- the equipment used to grant superpowers to Wonder Man!

  • The underling desperately wants powers of his own, but is hesitant to try to operate the machines on himself. That’s when the Enchantress steps into the picture.

  • She operates Zemo’s machines and grants this man, Erik Josten, great power! Power enough to become…Power Man! Together, they will attack the Avengers.

  • The Avengers soon answer a distress call and find a hulking monster terrorizing the city. But something’s odd about it…

  • It turns out that the monster was an illusion created by the Enchantress that only the Avengers could see. To everyone else, it just looked like the Avengers were wrecking the city!

  • A similar scene soon follows, where the Avengers are forced to wreck an empty subway train, only for the authorities to question their motives again. Once again, the Enchantress was behind it all.

  • Not long after, the Enchantress magically draws Captain America to a scene where Power Man appears to be attacking some security guards.

  • The Enchantress uses her magic to slow Cap down enough for Power Man to defeat the hero. Even with this handicap, Power Man is impressed by how tough Cap is.

  • It turns out that Power Man was attacking thieves disguised as security guards. Once again, the Avengers look like they don’t know what they’re doing.
  • Concluding that Power Man is behind their recent woes, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver independently decide to sneak into Power Man’s home (they got the address from a newspaper article). Power Man defeats Hawkeye and Quicksilver; before Scarlet Witch can get very far, the police arrest her for trespassing!

  • The very next day, the City Council decides that the Avengers must disband!

  • To be continued…!

Is It Good?

This is okay. Power Man is obviously —- and intentionally —- similar to Wonder Man, and we’ve seen villains try to discredit heroes before. However, this is both the best and most subtle usage we’ve seen of the Enchantress’ powers, and that goes a long way toward making this story feel a bit more novel. The art is okay, but not great; I’m not seeing a huge impact from Wally Wood’s inks on Don Heck’s pencils, but the action is easy enough to follow.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of Power Man, Erik Josten. He will change his identity many times over the years, including a stint as Goliath and, most famously, Atlas. He presumably has the same powers as Wonder Man, since they were given super-powers by the same machines: super-strength (which we see in this issue) and invulnerability (which we don’t see here).
  • The Enchantress last appeared in Fantastic Four Annual #3.
  • Baron Zemo died in Avengers #15.
  • Wonder Man was given powers and died in Avengers #9.
  • Apparently, only Tony Stark is allowed to perform maintenance on the gadgets in the Avengers headquarters.

  • Hawkeye is still angling to lead the Avengers.

  • The Scarlet Witch appears to be attracted to Captain America.

  • I guess the Enchantress is no longer partnering with the Executioner. We haven’t seen her without him before.

  • The Avengers have an emergency cash fund, apparently for when they screw up.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Quicksilver has expressed interest in leading the Avengers recently. If he knows that his sister will vote for him, why doesn’t he ever try to push for a new team leader?  He’d get at least two of the four votes.

  • Has the Enchantress been hanging out for the past few months, just waiting for random dudes to wish for power in this secluded spot? That seems like a poor use of her time.

  • This exchange cracks me up.

  • As ugly as Power Man’s costume is, it is still better than the flatter brown tones shown on this issue’s cover.

  • You’ve faced subterranean monsters and time travelers. Where do you get the nerve to be cynical about this stuff?

  • It is so strange that Quicksilver is left behind for this mission with absolutely no reason given. He’s 25% of their team! Did they accidentally leave him locked in the back seat of their car?

  • I, too, often find my thoughts drifting to Power Man when friends mention Carol Channing.

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