Avengers (1st series) #38

Issue Date: 
March 1967
Story Title: 
In Our Midst… An Immortal!

Roy Thomas (writer), Don Heck (pencils), George Bell (inks), Artie Simek (letters), Stan Lee (editor)

Brief Description: 

After the Avengers return back home, Goliath and Hawkeye start fighting, since other because Hank doesn’t think the Black Widow is good enough to join the team, as she’s a former villain. Elsewhere, the Widow herself gets abducted by Nick Fury, who accepts her on his team and gives her a secret mission in the Far East, so Natasha can prove she isn’t a menace anymore. She lies to Hawkeye that there never were any romantic feelings between them so he doesn’t follow her, and angrily leaves the team. Later, Captain America mysteriously disappears without a single word of explanation. Elsewhere, on Asgard, after a battle with Ares, Hercules falls victim to a spell of the Enchantress and falls in love with her. They travel to Earth and fight the Avengers. However, thanks to a new sulfur arrow of Hawkeye’s, Hercules is eventually brought back to himself and he orders Enchantress to leave, or else they’ll have to fight. Enchantress does and, once back home, wonders if she has true feelings for him. Zeus appears, angry with Hercules for traveling to the mortal world without his permission, and therefore banishes him to it. To cheer him up, the Avengers offer Hercules to join their ranks, and he accepts.

Full Summary: 

The Avengers have only returned a few moments ago from their trip to Europe, and already Hawkeye and Goliath are in yet another quarrel. Hank simply refuses to let the Black Widow join the team, much to Clint’s disliking. Cap tries to stop the battle, but Clint is stubborn for a battle, and so is Hank.

Cap throws his shield between the two in an attempt to stop them, but Hank quickly grabs it, ignoring it. Pietro recognizes that Hank’s reflexes seem to be as fast as his, and Cap orders Pietro to go get his shield back as he needs it in case of battle and doesn’t want to see it accidentally destroyed by the two combatants. Cap suggests that they hold a meeting at the round table, and everyone agrees.

Hawkeye immediately votes yes, but Hank defends that Janet is the chairman for this meeting and she gets the final say. Since they can’t start the meeting without the Widow, Hank wants to know why the Widow hasn’t returned yet. Not knowing for sure, Hawkeye suspects that she must have been delayed for a reason, but is certain she’ll arrive soon.

Elsewhere in Manhattan, the Widow has lost track of time but remembers she has to be present at Avengers Mansion. She feels lucky that she’ll become an Avenger soon, thinking she’ll probably be accepted, as the Avengers could see her worth during the battle against IXAR. While walking over her widow’s web in the hope to get to the mansion faster, Natasha suddenly gets caught in strange fog… but, it’s no ordinary fog! It makes her feel dizzy, and falls down! She lands on the ground and gets unconscious. Two villains nearby activate a fire vacu-ray to pull Natasha closer to them, and are ready to start their evil plan.

At the same time on a timeless mountain, the mighty Hercules is busy fighting Ares. Ares is confident he will win, as his battle armor is tempered by Hephaestus himself. That may be true, but the strong Hercules still manages to give a hard blow into the coward’s face! Ares get angry hearing that remark, but Hercules calls him that because what other name would he give someone who sheathed his sword when the hordes of Pluto attacked him. Ares gets up again and the two powerful Gods test their strength by pushing their arms against each other. Hercules mentions that he’s stronger, which Ares shamefully has to admit, fearing it won’t take long anymore before he’s defeated.

Suddenly, fog arises. Hercules, thinking a messenger from Zeus has come to great him, speaks out to the person coming through the fog to state its name. It’s the Enchantress! She has traveled from fair Asgard to witness this battle. She hands the powerful warriors two goblets, filled with divine mead from the Table of Odin himself. While Ares drinks it up, Hercules doesn’t fully trust the matter. Enchantress smiles that Hercules must be simply afraid of beautiful women like her, but he denies that and also drinks.

Ares smiles, realizing that Hercules doesn’t know that his drink has a powerful potion in it, which will make him Enchantress’ slave as a part of his plan. The evil plan works, and Hercules is completely under Enchantress’ control. Ares thanks her for the help, and she asks Hercules why he came to this mountain.

Hercules has trouble to remember it at first, but than he recalls: he came to this mountain because of his love for Enchantress! Ares has to prevent himself from not destroying Hercules now he’s got the chance, but remembers the greater purpose of their cause. He’ll go back to Odin and inform him that Hercules has renounced his godly heritage simply for the love of an Asgardian woman. He hopes that the kingdom will fall into turmoil because of this and war will break lose, a war he shall win. Enchantress thinks that’s fine, as she will use her new pawn into a revenge plot.

Hercules is starting to have doubts, but Enchantress tells him not to give into them and instead worry about those who have wronged her. Hearing that, Hercules gets angry and swears to destroy those people once his beloved tells him who they are. Enchantress speaks out the name of the Avengers, and travels together with Hercules to their Earth, where Hercules once battled the mighty Thor, also one of Enchantress’ enemies. Hercules vaguely remembers the name, but if he has harmed his beloved he will surely doom him as well!

Back at Avengers Mansion, the Wasp has received a response from Iron Man and Thor that they are too busy to attend the meeting right now, but they agree with whatever she agrees. Clint thinks that this is enough to prove that there’s no reason not to let Natasha join. Pietro wants to know why they need another member, but Clint says it’s because he thinks so and doesn’t want the speedster mouthing against him like Hank. Wanda’s a little hungry and thinks everyone could think better with full stomachs. Everyone, minus Cap who’s on monitor watch, leaves to have some late night dinner.

Elsewhere, the Black Widow awakes and immediately attacks her kidnappers. She runs and looks outside a window, and notices she’s in a flying airship, high above the city! Suddenly, two strong arms grab her: it’s Nick Fury! Natasha recognizes the name as she spoke to such a man on the phone recently and calms down. Fury apologizes for having to bring Natasha on board like this, but they don’t have much time for any nice-nice things here on the cloak-and-dagger department.

He shows Natasha a map and explains they are currently cruising a few miles above New York, and they sent one of their hovercrafts because that was the fastest way to bring Natasha on board. And if Natasha still sounds as patriotic as she did on the phone, Fury has a little mission for her.

Natasha wants to do anything to prove that she isn’t an enemy anymore. That’s fine by Fury, but he warns they aren’t going to send her to a vacation spot. Natasha notices Fury pointing to a place on the Far East, where she was brainwashed into becoming a villain. Fury remembers, and also warns that nobody can know about this mission, especially not her bow-slinging boyfriend Hawkeye. Natasha agrees, but thinks about how she’s going to tell Clint she has to leave him again.

Back at Avengers Mansion, Jarvis informs the other Avengers that Cap suddenly ran off someplace without a word of explanation. Clint thinks that maybe Cap left a message on the video-replay machine so they activate it, fearing their leader might be in trouble. There’s a message of Cap, but he only says that he had to leave to figure out something, and hopes he will return soon. The Avengers don’t know that Cap was attacked by the Swordsman and Power Man again, and left to chase them.

Pietro thinks Cap must have left because of some important personal matter, or else he wouldn’t have done it. Hawkeye gets upset by it all fearing they’ll have to postpone the meeting right now. Everyone defends Cap, but Clint argues about it. Natasha interrupts, informing Clint that she has to leave to her homeland anymore to deal with her past. Clint panics and wants to know the reason, as he thought Natasha was through with her former employers. She doesn’t want to say anything more about it. Hank doesn’t agree with it, thinking there’s more behind it than meets the eye, but Natasha doesn’t think it’s his concern.

Everyone gets angry, with Hawkeye defending that it sure is his business what Natasha is doing. She lies that he’s a fool to think there were ever any romantic feelings between them. She has to tell Clint this lie, fearing he might have followed her home otherwise. She angrily leaves and slams the door, with the Avengers suspecting the Widow must have returned to her former, evil ways again. Hank wants to discuss some important Avengers business next, but nobody agrees with him and gets angry with Hank. Hawkeye leaves to have some time alone, and is followed by Janet, who is surprised her lover brought business up on a time like this. Pietro and Wanda are left behind alone, fearing that this is definitely the blackest day in Avengers history!

Meanwhile, Hercules and Enchantress arrive on Earth. Hercules remembers how long it has been for him since he last walked among mortals. Enchantress doesn’t want to waste any time and suggests they leave to attack her enemies.

Back at the mansion, Hank has informed Pietro and Wanda that he thinks there’s more behind the Black Widow’s departure, but isn’t sure what. Before the conversation can go on, Hercules punches a hole in the wall! Enchantress calls out to Hercules to attack, and he does so, fighting Quicksilver. The speedster doesn’t believe they are dealing with the real Hercules, thinking he is only a myth. Hercules claims otherwise and manages to hit Pietro down.

Wanda panics and orders Hank to go help her brother, but he knows Pietro rather fights alone. He gets up and starts fighting Hercules again, who is amazed at this wonder. Hercules in return grabs a few control panels nearby, crushes them and hits Pietro with them, who is now hurt.

Goliath goes out to help his teammate, and lifts up a large table and tosses it on Hercules. The god is unharmed, and knocks Hank down. Hank gets up but is too dazzled to do anything, and Hercules takes advantage of this by hitting him again. After sending out an Avengers signal to her teammates, hoping they shall soon return for help, Wanda goes over to protect her brother. But, the Enchantress sneaks up on Wanda and starts putting a powerful spell on her, making it impossible for Wanda to move.

Elsewhere at a restaurant, Hawkeye and the Wasp are enjoying some quality time together. Hawkeye’s Avengers’ ring goes off, but he doesn’t think that they’re in real danger since they are at the mansion, and convinces Janet to stay with him. Though she’s worried about what she’s doing, even though Hank acted like a jerk who deserved to be walked out upon.

Back at the mansion, Wanda manages to pull a strong Hex spell up her sleeve, and breaks through the Enchantress attack. However, the evil sorceress is unharmed and simply powers up her attack, trapping Wanda again. Goliath gets up again and he and Hercules fight once more. Hank wonders where Cap is, and if Hawkeye really has quit the Avengers since he doesn’t show up. At least he’s glad that Janet is safe, but wonders where she is as well. Hercules notices Hank’s distraction and finds an opening to hit him down, and does so. Wanda notices Hank’s defeat and fears they are done for.

Luckily for them, at that very moment Hawkeye and the Wasp return! Janet takes on the Enchantress and Hawkeye decides to test out one of his new arrows: a sulfur one! He fires it at Hercules, and the smell of brimstone makes him feel weird. Enchantress panics, as it is written that the smell of brimstone can prevent the Waters of Eros spell from working! Hercules returns to his senses, and orders Enchantress to leave and never again attack the Avengers, unless she wants to fight him as well. She obeys, leaving through a portal.

Suddenly, an angry image of Zeus appears! He’s angry that his errand son showed disrespect for consorting with the Enchantress, but Hercules tries to defend himself by explaining her plot. Zeus doesn’t care, as Hercules traveled to the mortal world without his permission, and that’s against the law. Therefore, he shall be banished to it! Zeus disappears, leaving Hercules behind. The Avengers try to cheer him up and welcome Hercules into their ranks. Hercules is surprised to hear this, since he nearly wrecked their home, but Goliath officially welcomes him among the group and shows him around the house. Wanda hopes that Cap will approve of this.

Back on Asgard, Enchantress wonders why she left like this. The mortals were at their weakest point, yet she didn’t finish them off. Could it be that she has truly fallen in love with Hercules?!

And, later that night in his room, Hercules sits alone. He is still sad for being banished to this puny planet filled with mortals, though wonders what challenges he might face in the future and if he shall ever be allowed to travel back to Asgard.

Characters Involved: 

Captain America, Hawkeye, Goliath, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, Wasp (all Avengers)
Edwin Jarvis

Black Widow I, Hercules

Nick Fury
various S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (all unnamed)

Ares, Enchantress, Zeus (Asgardian Gods)

(in flash-back)
Swordsman I (Jaques Duquesne)
Power Man I (Erik Josten)

Story Notes: 

This is Hercules’ first appearance in the Avengers title. His actual first appearance was in Thor Annual #1.

The Avengers went to Europe in Avengers (1st series) #36-37 to rescue Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch from the alien Ultroids.

Pluto attacking Hercules and Ares doing nothing can be found in a story throughout Thor (1st series) #129-131.

The Black Widow was brainwashed into becoming evil to lure the Avengers to her employers’ side but later turned back to normal, as seen in Avengers (1st series) #29-30.

The story of Captain America fighting the Swordsman and Power Man, and the reason why he left (he thinks Bucky is still alive) can be found in Tales of Suspense #88.

For the reason why Hawkeye’s sulfur arrow works on Hercules and brings him back to normal, as thanks to an editor’s note, it’s explained that brimstone and sulfur are the exact same thing.

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