Avengers (1st series) #20

Issue Date: 
September 1965
Story Title: 
Vengeance Is Ours!

Stan Lee (writer), Don Heck (pencils), Wallace Wood (inks), Artie Simek (letters)

Brief Description: 

Captain America has jumped off the roof to protect the Avengers from surrendering to the Swordsman. With some quick thinking and good teamwork, the Avengers manage to rescue their leader just in time. They reunite to defeat the Swordsman once and for all but, before they can make their move, the Swordsman vanishes! He materializes inside the palace of the Mandarin, who wants Swordsman to become his partner in his newest plan to destroy both Iron Man and the other Avengers. He’ll even improve Swordsman’s sword if he agrees.The Swordsman is uninterested, but the Mandarin won’t take no for an answer, so he temporarily freezes the villain. He takes away his sword and makes the improvements anyway, and later turns the Swordsman back to normal. After hearing out the Mandarin’s plan, he agrees to work together. They make a fake projecto-image of Iron Man and send it to Avengers Mansion, and make them believe Iron Man vouches for the Swordsman into him becoming part of the team. They agree, and Swordsman is send to their mansion. There, Quicksilver and Hawkeye decide to test out which one of them is the strongest and run a race, but end up equally strong. With the Swordsman as new member, they don’t really trust him and continue to keep an eye on him in the coming days. However, on a rest period, they loose sight from him, and the Swordsman installs a bomb onto their control panel, which the Mandarin can activate when Iron Man returns. However, he has second thoughts about betraying the Avengers when Wanda passes his eye, and finds her too beautiful to be killed. Later that night, the Mandarin informs the Swordsman that he has changed his mind and will let the bomb go off now, so he’d better gets out. Swordsman thinks that even enemies deserve a fighting chance, and goes to dismantle the bomb. However, the Avengers notice what he’s doing and think him to be a traitor and start fighting. Swordsman manages to take the bomb with him anyway, and create a diversion so he can escape outside. However, when the Avengers hear a loud explosion, they think the Swordsman dead. In truth, the Swordsman had thrown the bomb into the air and has survived, but realizes that the Mandarin knows of his betrayal and will be out to kill him. He’s correct, as the Mandarin swears to never again take a partner, thinking he failed because of the Swordsman and swears to kill him some day.

Full Summary: 

Captain America has jumped from a high building, to protect the other Avengers so that they wouldn’t surrender to the Swordsman. Quicksilver still sees a chance in rescuing Cap, if only they move fast enough, since Cap has only fallen ten feet. Pietro runs extremely fast, and creates an actual vortex of air, slowing down Cap’s fall. Hawkeye is impressed by Cap, and notices how still he is still holding, realizing what he’s about to do. Clint fires some arrows towards Cap chains, and on impact cuts them through, releasing Cap!

Wanda notices her brother slowing down, so she decides to use her Hex powers to help him out. She causes rivets to lose from the girder besides Pietro, which then falls right into Cap’s way! With now his hands loose, Cap can make an impressive jump and lands on the girder safely! Hawkeye shoots a robe between two buildings, and orders Pietro to bring Cap’s shield to him again. Pietro picks the shield up, and does as told. Wanda admits she doesn’t like to see Clint giving the orders, but he smartly remarks to the beautiful girl if she’d rather take orders from Swordsman instead.

Pietro lands, and runs towards Cap and tosses his shield to the legendary hero. Cap congratulates them all for the fine teamwork, as he already had a hunch they wouldn’t let him down. The Swordsman is impressed as well and finally sees how formidable the Avengers work as a team, and fears they are unbeatable. He desperately tries to spin his sword at maximum speed, so that the Avengers will be blinded by the wind and won’t notice him escaping. However, Wanda does see his attempt, and uses her Hex to move another girder in Swordsman’s way.

Quicksilver lifts up a plan and runs towards the Swordsman, planning to hit the villain’s head with it. He has no time to dodge it, but uses his sword to instead cut the plank. Cap warns Pietro to get out of the way and leave the Swordsman for him. He does, and Cap tosses his shield against the Swordsman, ordering him to face him again. The Swordsman won’t admit his defeat, and even threatens to make them wish they had never heard of him. The other Avengers quickly surround him but, then, suddenly… the Swordsman is in shock! Suspecting that the Swordsman is playing a game to startle them, the Avengers are prepared for everything. However, the Swordsman claims he isn’t doing anything and at that moment… vanishes!

Swordsman leaves the Avengers wonder what happened to him. Hawkeye and Pietro both think it’s Cap’s fault, as they should have worked together, meaning as a team and not face their foe alone! Ignoring their bickering, Cap just picks up his shield and walks back to Avengers Mansion, followed by the others. However, as they walk, none of the Avengers realize that evil eyes have witnessed the entire battle.

Meanwhile, the Swordsman has teleported into a big, strange-looking place. In another room, a man wearing rings uses their power to activate a machine, which opens the doors behind the Swordsman. Realizing that the one who brought him here must be on the other side, the Swordsman goes through them, and he is welcomed by none other than… the Mandarin!

Swordsman is impressed, as he always thought of the Mandarin to be nothing more than an old wife’s tale. Mandarin explains that’s how he wanted it to be, as he claims the world isn’t yet ready to become aware of his existence and plan to dominate the planet! But now, the Mandarin explains, his plans are more modest, and he simply wants to destroy the Avengers, and has selected the Swordsman to become his agent. Swordsman wants to know what the Mandarin has against the Avengers.

Mandarin claims to not have anything against the Avengers as a team, but his greatest enemy, Iron Man, might one day return to them, and therefore he wants the Swordsman to become a member of the group so that he can finish the shellhead off when he least suspects it. And that is also why the Mandarin has dissipated so many months of his supply of his delta energy source so that he could teleport the Swordsman here. The Mandarin cuts to the chase, and asks the Swordsman to hand over his sword to him, so that he can improve it a hundred fold!

However, the Swordsman isn’t interested and won’t be anyone’s agent, ever. Mandarin can’t believe this, as only Iron Man has managed to defy him in the past, and for that he’ll have the armored Avenger destroyed. With a slight touch on his ring, the Mandarin rises two energy spheres from the floor, and uses their powerful electrical shocks to attack the Swordsman! He can’t even hold his sword in his hands due to the pain, and the swords flies into the Mandarin’s hands. Seeing this, the Swordsman gathers all the strength he has, and breaks through the shocks. Wanting revenge, he jumps straight towards the Mandarin, but the villain uses another of his rings’ power to make the Swordsman freeze! The Mandarin laughs, and will let Swordsman stay frozen until he feels otherwise.

At the same time, the Avengers have returned to their Mansion. Cap tells them that they can go on with their bickering now, since they are no longer in public and can’t be overheard. Hawkeye questions Cap’s leadership again, and laughs at it. Wanda tries to calm him down, but Cap asks her to stay out of it. Pietro thinks that, if they are going to question Cap’s leadership, he should have a say in it to, thinking he’s more capable for the role. Hawkeye doesn’t agree, thinking Quicksilver’s speed is useless. Cap lets them argue, as he wants to give them all a chance to finish it once and for all.

Hawkeye thinks his arrows can beat Quicksilver’s powers. Pietro has had enough of the loud mouth, and suggests a race to prove otherwise. Every Avenger agrees for it. Clint fires an arrow towards a wall. Pietro leaves at the same time, and ticks the wall at the same time the arrow does! Wanda congratulates her brother, thinking Clint will now never again think he is the better one. Cap asks Clint how he feels, but he thinks a stupid race like this doesn’t prove anything.

Meanwhile, the Mandarin releases the Swordsman back to normal. He thinks he’d best play along, realizing how powerful the Mandarin is, and maybe if he can really beat their mutual enemies, namely the Avengers. He agrees to work together, but only for a little while. Mandarin isn’t interested in the Swordsman’s terms, but is glad that he has at least come to his senses. He gives the Swordsman his sword back, which Mandarin has improved with more power and a few buttons to activate them. Now, the sword works like his rings do, and each button activates a different power.

The Swordsman decides to test it and, upon pressing a button, a destructive fire comes out of it! However, Mandarin warns the Swordsman to never use the sword against him, or otherwise the attacks will reverse to him! The Mandarin has covered up all of the bases, but has had enough talk and orders the Mandarin to follow him. He uses one of the rings to activate a control panel, and a hidden door in a wall opens.

They walk through a long tunnel, where Mandarin explains his plan. The Swordsman shall return to the Avengers but, this time, he will be accepted as a member. Swordsman wants to know what makes Mandarin so sure about that. They enter a lab, where Mandarin explains that, there, in his hidden palace, he has spent years developing undreamed wonders of science. And he admits, that one of his greatest achievements is the infallible matter recreater! Mandarin shows it to the impressed Swordsman, who begins to wonder how Iron Man could have possible ever defeat his new ally in the past.

Mandarin hates those words, as he would rather choose to say that Iron Man merely escaped from him. Mandarin further explains that he has devoted many months to studying Iron Man, and now knows enough about him to perfectly recreate his lifelike image. He activates the recreater, and a perfect image of Iron Man is seen! Mandarin explains that it is merely a perfectly accurate pseudo-image of Iron Man, completely under his control! And further more, the image can be spread anywhere across the entire planet!

And so, not long afterwards, the Avengers receive the message at their mansion. Cap is immediately surprised, as he is aware that Iron Man is currently fighting the Titanium Man in Europe right now, plus his voice sounds odd. “Iron Man” fakes that his voice sounds strange because, between rounds, he is sending his pseudo-image over a long distance, which also explains why his voice sounds weird. Cap buys it, and asks what the important message is.

“Iron Man” explains that it’s concerning the Swordsman: he has sent him towards Avengers Mansion, and wants him to join the group personally! The Avengers are startled. The shellhead claims that, when the Swordsman first came to them, he merely tried to prove how powerful he is and that they simply misunderstood. Hawkeye defends that they have already beaten the Swordsman and that he isn’t their cup of tea. Iron Man vouches for the Swordsman, using his Avengers mark for it, and asks Hawkeye to think about what would have become of him should the Avengers not have allowed him to join the group. Hawkeye understands, and the others ask Cap’s opinion. The word of Iron Man is good enough for Cap, so they all agree to let Swordsman join! Iron Man lies that he can’t stay any longer, and the Mandarin secretly pulls the image back to his palace.

Not wanting to waste time before the Avengers figure out it has all been a lie, the Mandarin immediately teleports the Swordsman back to their Mansion, they same way he brought him there. After traveling through space with great speed, the Swordsman materializes back at the mansion. There, Hawkeye wonders why they let Iron Man decide who gets to join, since he no longer is a member of the group. Cap defends Iron Man, making Hawkeye jokingly wonder if Cap really fought alongside America’s side during the War, since he would make a great dictator himself.

Suddenly, they notice the Swordsman and stop talking, with Hawkeye immediately going into defense. Cap tells Clint to stand down, and Swordsman corrects that they know why he’s there. Cap agrees, and welcomes Swordsman on the team. Hawkeye mocks that, before they know it, they’ll be enlisting even Dr. Doom into their ranks! Cap shows Swordsman around the mansion, explaining to him to ignore the harsh Hawkeye, as he’s a great guy when it comes in being an Avenger. Cap asks Swordsman what his connection with Iron Man really is, but Swordsman lies that it’s rather confidential and wants Iron Man to explain himself, when he returns. Cap keeps in mind to keep a close eye on Swordsman then, with Swordsman realizing that the Avengers are suspicious about him, but is glad that they don’t have any proof.

Swordsman has the hardest time keeping his patience during his probation period on the team, since everyone keeps a close eye on him and prevents him from making his move. But then, one day, during a rest period, the Avengers make the mistake of ignoring the villain for a short while, which gives him the chance to move over to complete the Mandarin’s trap. He installs a small device onto the Avengers’ control panel, which looks just like yet another of the many buttons on it, but in reality it’s a bomb! And it’s capable of destroying them all when Iron Man shows up, and the Mandarin can set it off by remote control at the right moment. When the beautiful Wanda passes, Swordsman wished that he could take the time to at least save her.

Later that night, a projecto-image of the Mandarin appears in his bedroom. Swordsman explains that he has set the bomb, and the Mandarin informs him that he has changed his plan: he is too impatient and wants to set the bomb off now, and warns the Swordsman to get out. Mandarin thinks that, upon learning the Avengers’ fate, Iron Man will speed up and come to investigate, and then they’ll set their trap to capture him. Swordsman tries to ask what about Wanda, but Mandarin vanishes before answering. Swordsman won’t let this happen, as even an enemy deserves a fighting chance. He puts his costume back on, and goes to the room where he installed the bomb, and tries to take it off so it can’t be detonated anymore.

However, Captain America is there as well, and throws his shield at the Swordsman, thinking that their suspicions were correct and he really is planning to destroy them, as Cap recognizes the bomb in his hands. Swordsman tries to make them understand that he can explain things but, when the other Avengers arrive to help out, they are too stubborn to listen and start fighting. Swordsman realizes that he can’t blame them for not wanting to listen, and thinks they are sworn to be enemies. Cap sees an opening and attacks Swordsman with his shield, and he realizes it’s no wonder that Cap became a living legend.

Swordsman throws fire out of his sword, trapping Cap soon in a full circle of flame. He orders Quicksilver to use plan “G” as they rehearsed it: Quicksilver quickly runs around it, and creates an air vacuum to snuff all the flames away! Swordsman dodges all of Hawkeye’s arrows, and tries to escape through a door. Wanda throws her Hew powers at him, making the villain change from direction towards the control panel. Cap and Hawkeye throw away their shield and arrow at the same time, giving Swordsman a plan. He punches the weapons away with his shield, and throws fire from his own sword around him. When the arrow explodes, a lot of smoke comes up, giving him a chance to escape.

Wanda tries her Hex to clear the smoke, but it’s still too dense. Once it’s finally cleared up, they notice that the Swordsman has already escaped. But then, they hear a loud explosion from outside! Wanda noticed the Swordsman carrying the bomb with him, and thinks it exploded while he held it! She wonders if he’s dead. Quicksilver hopes so, for their sakes.

But, on a rooftop nearby, a surviving Swordsman tries to rest and catch some breath. He had already suspected that the Mandarin would pull of a stunt like this when he realized he had betrayed him. When Swordsman heard the bomb throb, he quickly threw it into the air before the explosion could catch him! But, he realizes that both the Avengers and the Mandarin will be out there to get him when they learn he’s still alive. Swordsman wonders about it, and confesses that there’s something about being an Avenger that always stays in your blood, even when your were a bogus one!

And so, back at the Mandarin’s palace, he vows to never again take a partner and thinks he failed because of the Swordsman. To defend his own honor, the Mandarin wants his revenge and kill the Swordsman!

Characters Involved: 

Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch (all Avengers)
Iron Man (former Avenger, fake projecto-image only)

Swordsman I


Story Notes: 

Iron Man really is currently battling the Titanium Man in Tales of Suspense (1st series) #70, so that’s why Cap is immediately suspicious about seeing his image.

The Mandarin vowing to kill the Swordsman for his defeat at the end of this issue seems a bit farfetched now, as not too much later the Mandarin employs the Swordsman yet again in Avengers Annual #1. In that story, neither men even mention the fight they had here.

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