Avengers (1st series) #190

Issue Date: 
December 1979
Story Title: 
Heart of Stone

Roger Stern (plotter), Steven Grant (guest scripter), John Byrne (penciler), Dan Green (inker), John Costanza (letterer), Ben Sean (colorist), Roger Stern (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

The Avengers attend a hearing, in an attempt to win back the government's trust and faith after repeated attempts by the National Security Council's Henry Peter Gyrich to withdraw their security clearance and restrict their membership. At the same time a stone monster causes much destruction in New York. The Avengers are called to fight the monster, but Beast calls his teammates to stop. Instead he hands Gyrich a table leg to fight the monster himself. Gyrich submits and as the Avengers leave the courtroom their case doesn’t look too bad. In the city the fight the stone creature with the aid of Daredevil. Vision and Iron Man smash the monster to pieces, but out of the rubble appears the Grey Gargoyle, who quickly turns Daredevil and Iron Man to stone.

Full Summary: 

The story begins late in the night, as a strange meteor-like object hurtles down towards the Earth with great velocity. Hundreds of feet above the Atlantic Ocean it turns sharply, seemingly directing itself, and lands in the coastal marshes of Brooklyn's Jamaica Bay. Soon after impact, something can be seen stirring in the crater that the object has left. Slowly rising from the hole comes a strange stone creature, man-like in form, but massive and misshapen. Sprouting from its back is some type of bizarre machinery. It lurches forward, moving on to an unknown destination.
Flash to the Avengers, who are arriving at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Manhattan for the first stages of a Senate investigation into their activities and operations. The team has called for the hearing themselves, in an attempt to win back the government's trust and faith after repeated attempts by the National Security Council's Henry Peter Gyrich to withdraw their security clearance and restrict their membership. Slowly, the Vision, Scarlet Witch, Ms. Marvel, Beast, Falcon, Iron Man, and Captain America make their way through the throng of reporters awaiting them outside the building. The defense counsel, consisting of Jeryn Hogarth (ex-Heroes for Hire counsel); Emerson Bale (former Champions' counsel); and blind attorney Matthew Murdock; walk ahead of the team, leading them into the hearing room.
Meanwhile, one mysterious stone monolith has made its way into a subway station in Brooklyn, which it proceeds to demolish with terrifying ease. Disposing with the station's guards, it strides onto the train tracks and begins its march into Manhattan.
In the hearing room, Emerson Bale begins his defense of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes with several citations of their extraordinary courage and valor. As Bale notes, the Avengers have saved the planet on several occasions, defeating the likes of Egghead, Ultron, and Graviton. Such heroes should not be hindered with restrictions and repaid for their sacrifices with harassment, states the lawyer.
Gyrich, however, contends that the Avengers are a threat to national security, and puts a SHIELD agent on the stand to testify against the Living Legend. The agent describes Captain America's recent unauthorized interference with a SHIELD operation directed against a West Coast criminal stronghold (see Captain America (1st series) 228-231). As the agent tells it, Cap has a habit of "sticking his nose in where it doesn't belong." Falcon reacts angrily to these comments, noting that Cap saved his life during his involvement in the affair and successfully rooted out double agents in SHIELD that would otherwise still be in place. Cap calms him down, noting that if that is the best Gyrich can do, the Avengers needn't worry.
Meanwhile, the stone creature has made its way to the Manhattan side of the East River, where it trashes a SWAT team awaiting its arrival. Helpless against its might, New York's Finest decide that a call best be put into a higher power, namely the Avengers (the Fantastic Four are out of town at the time).
Back in the hearing room, Gryich is telling the Senators about the time Hawkeye tied him up and held him prisoner in Avengers' Mansion. Suddenly, Iron Man receives a distress call from Jarvis, notifying him of the police request for immediate assistance. The team Chairman begs the Senators' pardon, requesting a rescheduling of the hearing at a later date. Gyrich interrupts, stating that it is "a trick--to make yourselves look good in front of the committee." Captain America erupts as a television in the room plays scenes of the creature's rampage. "Is that proof enough, you little Hitler?" Cap asks as he rises to lead the team out. The Beast stops him, wondering if maybe Gyrich is right and the Avengers really aren't needed anymore. He breaks off a table leg and hands it to the red-haired agent. "Go fight the big, bad monster yourself," he tells him. Eyes focused on the television, Gyrich finally submits. "All right! You win! Go!"
Alleviated that their case is suddenly looking up, Bale and Hogarth find themselves looking for Murdock, who has mysteriously disappeared from the courtroom. Above their heads, the red-garbed adventurer known as Daredevil makes his way out of a 12th story storeroom window, swinging out into the city to confront the stone menace. Despite his reservations about fighting in a crowd (which confuses his hyper senses), he is eager to aid the Avengers, whom he considers friends.
He finds a fierce battle waging soon thereafter, as the Avengers attack the creature en masse. Captain America launches a determined two-handed shield attack on the beast, but it catches him off-guard, striking him and launching him rapidly towards a nearby building. Daredevil arrives just in time, catching the Avenger before impact. Wasp and Ms. Marvel move next, staging a combination attack that sends the creature hurtling towards the Beast, who uses his feet to propel the creature onto the Vision, who is waiting. The androids lands a massive blow, sending the rocky menace flying into a building-side. At this point, the Scarlet Witch notices that the machinery on the creature's back appears to be a rocket-pack. Her subsequent hex bolts activate the rockets, sending the stone monolith speeding towards the two strongest Avengers present: Vision and Iron Man. "Density controlled android muscle and micro-circuited armored might [lash] out in flawless coordination," as their synchronized punch shatters the stone beast into a heap of smoking rubble. The Golden Avenger reaches into the pile, searching for any meaningful fragments that might be analyzed. Suddenly, Daredevil detects a distinctive heartbeat by Iron Man, and races forward to warn him. As he touches Shellhead's shoulder, the two heroes are instantaneously transformed into solid stone in front of their startled comrades. "No, it can't be," Cap says as their foe rises in front of them. "Thor told us you were dead," the Beast gasps, but the Thunder God was wrong.
"And now Avengers I think I shall kill you," states the Grey Gargoyle as he makes his way out of the rubble.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Captain America, Falcon, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wasp (all Avengers)
Jarvis, the Avengers’ butler
Emerson Bale, lawyer of the Champions
Jeryn Hogarth, lawyer of Heroes for Hire
Matt Murdock / Daredevil, lawyer
Senators Fleckner, Reischel and Roosevelt
Lt. Stanford, SHIELD agent
Henry Peter Gyrich, national security
Grey Gargoyle

Story Notes: 

The battles that are refered to during the hearing can be found in Avengers (1st series) #64 (Egghead’s orbital base), #66-68 (Ultron), #158-159 (Graviton) and #172 (Hawkeye ties up Gyrich)

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