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Stan Lee (writer), Don Heck (pencils), Frank Giacoia (inks), Sam Rosen (letters), Irving Forbush (attributor)
Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are in trouble. Their mutant powers have been slowly, but certainly starting to fade away. They worry about it, and decide to leave the Avengers to return to their homeland to investigate the mystery. Cap gives the twins his blessing to leave, as the Wasp and Goliath can fill in for them. Meanwhile, Goliath is still sulking because he’s stuck at ten-feet seize and completely ignores a worrying Janet. He reads in the newspaper that his old friend, Dr. Franz Anton, is in South America, studying body cells. Hank hopes that the doctor might be his last chance to return to his normal size, and takes off alone. Janet worries about Hank’s leaving, so Cap suggests a mission to keep her mind of the trouble. He wants to go find the missing Black Widow, Power Man and Swordsman. They separate, and Janet eventually gets a clue that they might be hiding in a warehouse. Hawkeye wants to make up for his earlier mistake that he let them go, and Cap lets him try it. Meanwhile, the Black Widow contacts her boss, but he still wants to go on with the mission to capture the Avengers. Hawkeye finds them and, after a rough battle, manages to defeat both Power Man and Swordsman. The Black Widow claims that her brainwashing has worn off, and that she’s back to her normal self. Hawkeye doesn’t know if this is the truth, but is glad to have her back. Later, Janet hears on the news that their missing air car has been found in South America, but it’s in flames. Fearing for Hank’s safety, Cap promises that the Avengers will go help him. Goliath himself has arrived in South America, but Dr. Anton is missing and his equipment mostly destroyed. He starts an investigation, but gets attacked by costumed natives. Hank manages to defeat them, and takes one of the natives hostage, so he can find his friend easier. After he finds the other natives, they see Goliath as an enemy and think he wants to betray their secret. A battle comes of it, but one of the natives, Prince Rey, sees Hank as a hero who has come to help him, and helps Hank escape. He leads Hank through some tunnels. Hank doesn’t understand what’s going on, but promises himself that he will find out the truth behind this whole mess.
Quicksilver has found Goliath’s old cybernetic Ant-Man helmet, and plays a little with it, though he fails to understand how Hank ever got to work with it. He notices Wanda staring outside the window, and that her attention lies elsewhere. He wants to know what bothers his sister. Wanda fears that she can no longer remain there, and has to resign from the Avengers!
Wanda thinks she isn’t of much use to the team, especially since, recently, she has felt that her Hex powers have been weakening. Pietro has felt the same thing with his speeding powers, and worries that they aren’t true mutants like they thought they were. He even suspects that, perhaps, a magical object of some sorts might have given them their powers and has been wearing off because of their long stay here in America. He thinks it’s best that they indeed leave the Avengers and go investigate.
Cap has overheard the conversation and understands the twins’ motives. He gives them his best, as the two young heroes have served long and good. Cap feels lucky that, at least, Goliath and the Wasp have returned to fill in Pietro and Wanda’s positions.
Meanwhile, Janet desperately tries to convince Hank to join her for some dinner, as Hank hasn’t eaten anything for the whole day and locked himself up into his room. He has to eat, especially since he’s ten-feet tall! Hank is still mocking about the fact that he’s trapped in his current size, and doesn’t think he’ll be respected anymore like he used to, especially by Janet. Janet calls out that she loves Hank and wants to share his troubles, but he doesn’t even respond. Janet gets the idea. She cries, and flies away in her Wasp form.
Hank doesn’t like doing this to Janet, but he just can’t face her yet. He finds a newspaper on the floor, and starts reading it. He finds an article from his old college friend, Dr. Anton, who is studying body cells in South America. Hank thinks that Anton might help him get his normal size back, and takes a rocket-powered air car, invented by Tony Stark, to move there. Hank remembers Stark saying the car had unlimited range, so it has to work.
A short while later, the Avengers discover Hank’s leaving. Janet worries that Hank might never return to her, or the team. Cap and Hawkeye believe otherwise, and try to calm Janet down.
Elsewhere, at their newfound headquarters, the Black Widow contacts her boss, Hu Chen. He angrily answers that the plan hasn’t been changed, and that the Widow must continue her mission to imprison the Avengers. Once the contact has been broken, Chen fears that their brainwashing on the Widow might not last much longer, so they hope she’ll finish her mission quickly.
The Widow herself still has doubts about attacking the Avengers, especially Hawkeye. She wonders why he seems to love her so much. At the back, Power Man and Swordsman argue with each other. Both want to go talk to the Widow, as both men have feelings for her. They even start to fight each other because of it! The Widow notices that they are fighting because of her, but doesn’t care. She thinks the exercise will serve them all once they face the Avengers again.
Swordsman attacks Power Man with the enhancements in his sword, and strikes time after time with several electrical shocks. Luckily, Josten manages to dodge each attack that comes his way, and intends to finish the battle by throwing a heavy box on his enemy. The Widow stops the battle and manages to calm both gentlemen down. She thinks the time it’s come for them to attack the Avengers once more.
Back at the mansion, Cap thinks that Janet will only get her mind off of Hank by going on a mission with them. So, he suggests that they go try and find Black Widow and her companions. Everyone agrees, and decides to use Plan S, and separate from one another so they can scout the city faster. Hawkeye takes an airship and hopes that he’ll find their adversaries faster, so he can make up for the bad way he has been treating everyone, especially Cap. Cap takes a car but, after hours of searching, still hasn’t found any trail. The same goes for the Wasp, who secretly wishes that Quicksilver was still with them, as they sure could have used his speed.
Janet continues her search and goes into a bar. She hears two guys talking about a beautiful girl dressed in leather, who was headed towards a warehouse over in Bleecker street. Janet knows that must be the Black Widow, and thinks she better goes to warn the others about this clue. She leaves back to the Mansion, where everyone gathers back. Hawkeye apologizes to Cap and the Wasp, but he knows he could have defeated the Widow and the others the last time they faced, but didn’t because he still had feelings for the Widow. He wants to make up for that mistake by facing the villains alone. Cap doesn’t think that’s necessary, but grants Clint his wish.
Meanwhile, Hank has arrived in South America and locates Anton’s home. He lands the car, and enters it. But, the entire place is wrecked, and all the equipment has been practically destroyed! Hank thinks he better goes to find Anton outside. He scouts the jungle for a while, but then is attacked by costumed natives! They immediately suspect that the costumed hero must have come to help Dr. Anton, and overpower Hank. Luckily, thanks to his great strength, Hank manages to free himself and punches the natives away from him. He demands to know where Anton is.
The natives claim that their friends have taken Anton prisoner in their forbidden land, but warn Hank that he can’t go there. He doesn’t listen and, since he’s an Avenger, he doesn’t refuse a challenge. Hank takes one of the giants hostage, and tells him to pinpoint him to Anton’s location. As they go, Hank realizes how much he missed being an active Avenger, and swears that, after this, he’ll never leave the team again.
Elsewhere, Hawkeye manages to find the Widow’s warehouse. He drops through the skylight, and opens the attack upon Swordsman and Power Man. Swordsman immediately strikes at the archer. Hawkeye remembers that the Swordsman always considered him to be his master, but Clint wants to take this opportunity to prove otherwise!
Hawkeye fights the Swordsman, and quickly knocks him out. He takes on Power Man next, but the villain quickly destroys most of Clint’s arrows. Hawkeye, however, has an idea. He throws an explosive arrow on the floor, and Power Man falls straight down to the basement! Swordsman stands up again, and throws his sword at Clint. He luckily dodges it, and decides to run into safety behind some boxes. Swordsman keeps on attacking with electrical shocks and flames, but fails to hit Hawkeye.
Suddenly, the Swordsman is ambushed by the Black Widow. Hawkeye thinks that the Widow has come back to her senses and deserted the villains. He thinks she still loves him and happily runs towards her. But, the Widow hasn’t changed a bit, and attacks Hawkeye with one of her blasts. He isn’t harmed much, and finally realizes the truth: the Natasha he loved is gone. He throws his bow at the Widow, knocking her out. Clint finds some leftover arrows lying on the ground, that haven’t been snapped. Swordsman manages to catch up on them, and desperately wants to prove that he is Hawkeye’s equal.
Back in South America, the natives have started a ceremony. The Keeper of the Flames summons their prisoner, Dr. Anton, to them. He believes that the poor doctor is a spy from the outside world, trying to destroy them. Anton tries to defend otherwise, that he’s just a research scientists, but none of the natives believe him. The Keeper believes that Anton lies, because the flames of the Fire of Life behind him rise higher and, when they do, that means that they are in danger. He fears that, for as long as Anton lives, they won’t be safe.
Some natives come to warn the Keeper about Goliath. The Keeper fears that he might have come to rescue Anton and, if he does, their mission might be in vain. He orders his guards to hide the prisoner. The Keeper and all the other natives gather around the Flame of Life, promising that they’ll never betray its secret. Hank arrives, and notices all the natives. They see that Goliath has one of their guards prisoner, and think he’s an enemy. After they start to fight, Hank notices their blaster guns, and thinks they aren’t as primitive as he first thought they were.
Hank prepares to defend himself but, on that moment, the lights go out. It’s pitch black! Suddenly, another native approaches Hank, and begs the hero to follow him. The native introduces himself as Prince Rey, the rightful ruler of the Forbidden Land, and he needs Hank’s help. The Keeper thinks that their Prince has betrayed them, and orders his guards to apprehend him as well.
Power Man has survived his fall. He can still hear the battle going on upstairs, and decides to go back up before the Swordsman finishes of Hawkeye without him. Above him, the Swordsman manages to hit Hawkeye with a blast coming out of his sword, and the archer faints. The Swordsman triumphs, glad that he is still the master over Clint. He gets up again, having fooled the Swordsman. He’s too surprised to react, and Hawkeye quickly punches his former teacher again and again, until he’s finally defeated.
Power Man sneaks up on Hawkeye, and grabs him from behind. He holds Clint tight, and starts crushing his bones. Hawkeye fears that he’s done for. But on that moment, the Black Widow strikes, and she defeats… Power Man?! She warns Hawkeye to act quickly, as her bite won’t work much longer. He fires an explosive arrow to some heavy stored boxes in front of them, and they all fall upon Power Man, trapping him under it.
Hawkeye starts to leave, as he wants to go back to the Avengers, since it’s where he belongs. But, he does want to know why Natasha didn’t help him until the last moment. Natasha apologizes, but explains to Clint that the brainwashing has finally worn off, and that she’s finally herself again. And, she wants Clint’s love back. Hawkeye doesn’t know what to think, but he truly hopes this is the truth.
Meanwhile, the Wasp hears on the news that their missing air car has been found… but it’s in flames! It gets reported on the news, and the reporter mentions that it lies in South America in front of the house of the missing Dr. Anton. Janet immediately goes to warn Cap, who has already read the terrible news in the newspaper and has also seen it on the news. He too thinks Hank’s in trouble, but promises that the Avengers will go help him out.
Back at the Forbidden Land, Prince Rey leads Goliath through some dark tunnels. He still thinks that Hank has been set to help him. Hank himself is fascinated by the undiscovered race, and is intrigued by the apparent secret the Flames hold. He wants to figure out what it means, and why the Keeper desperately wants to hold it a secret, as this new race could represent a treat to the human race.
At the same time, the Keeper has gathered his army, and they are ready to attack the Prince and Goliath!
Captain America, Goliath, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wasp (all the Avengers)
Black Widow I (Natasha Romanova)Power Man I (Eric Josten)Swordsman I (Jaques Duquesne)
Hu Chen, Dr. Yen (Black Widow’s bosses)
Dr. Franz AntonPrince Rey, the Keeper of the Flames and various other costumed natives (others unnamed)
First appearance of Prince Rey, the Keeper, Dr. Anton and all the other Forbidden Land natives.