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Roy Thomas (writer), John Buscema (pencils), George Tuska (inks), L.P. Gregory (letters)
Several months ago, Iron Man faced a villain called the Black Knight in a mid-air battle. The battle ended tragically for the Black Knight, as he fell off his flying horse and to his death. Iron Man himself survived the fall, thanks to his armor, and went on with his life. A few months later, the Black Knight’s nephew, a young scientist named Dane Whitman, chose to make up for his uncle’s evil deeds by making a breakthrough in science by communicating with life in outer space. From his castle, Dane and his assistant, Norris, project magnetic waves into space, hoping to reach alien life. Little do they both realize that the waves reach the exiled mutant master of magnetism... Magneto! Magneto and his servant, Toad, had earlier been imprisoned by the Stranger on his laboratory world, use the waves to transport themselves back to Earth. Before their return, Norris betrays Dane, wanting to take credit for their work and knocks Dane out. However, as Magneto and Toad arrive at the castle, they demand that he show them how their magnetic device works, so Magneto can use it for his own evil purposes. After Norris reluctantly does this, Magneto throws both Norris and Dane into a dungeon. Magneto reveals to Toad that he wants to bring the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants together again and attack an unexpecting world. Deciding to leave Mastermind alone for now, Magneto first tends to Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, as he feels they still owe him because Magneto saved their lives from an angry mob in the past. Magneto lures the two Avengers to the castle, where he has a giant army of robots attack the two to test their powers. After Pietro and Wanda defeat the robots, Magneto reveals himself to them. He attacks and defeats the siblings and wants to force them into rejoining. Meanwhile with the Avengers, Captain America decides to quit the team and give his life as Steve Rogers a chance. The rest of the Avengers are left devastated by this news and deal with it in their own ways. Hawkeye argues about this with Natasha, who can’t help but wonder if Clint truly loved her for who she is and not just her former alter ego of the Black Widow. Hank and Janet go on a vacation with a plane she just bought, and Hercules travels back to his home of Olympus to earn his place back in it, only to find it... completely deserted?!? What in Zeus’ name has happened?!?
Across the infinite, fathomless void of space – on a grim, grey world without a name—stands the vengeful entity known as... Magneto!
Magneto hates the fact that he, as the self-proclaimed most powerful mutant of planet Earth, is forever exiled on this desolate, forsaken planetoid. Instead, he would much rather be conquering the entire universe! He refuses to be mocked like this and is determined to find a way to escape his fate. Standing scared behind his master, Toad is confident Magneto will do just that. His only question is how?
Magneto shouts at Toad, calling him a dolt. He refuses to be questioned, as he is the destroyer of humanity and the greatest of all of Homo superior! He reveals that, for days now, he has detected ever-stronger magnetic beams that are being beamed throughout space from Earth. Magneto doesn’t know the exact location of the beams, but swears that, today, those beams will be the means of their escape! When Toad worries aloud about the Stranger, Magneto gets even angrier with Toad and even attacks him! He reminds Toad he warned him never to mention the Stranger in his presence again. He knows the Stranger has exiled him twice on this barren planet now, but he can’t be held there forever.
Toad apologizes, which Magneto accepts. Besides, he thinks the Stranger has lost interest in them since he acquired the Abomination. He suddenly stops talking, as he detects something. Those magnetic rays – he can feel them again. And, as always, they are stronger than when they last came. Magneto thinks the beams seem to be broadcasting a coded message of greetings. Toad wonders who, besides Magneto, could do such a thing. Magneto doesn’t think that’s important: what matters is that, soon, he shall be free!
Meanwhile, measureless miles away, on a spinning sphere called Earth, within a certain infamous castle which has been transplanted to the shores of the United States can be found the source of those magnetic beams, which come out of a powerful machine. The owner of the castle, a proud scientist proclaims to his assistant, Norris, that they’ve done it. Once more, they’ve established contact with some human intelligence... in another solar system! It’s repeating the usual message: that it desires to establish peaceful relations with Earth.
Responding, Norris warns Dr. Whitman to be careful about that. He suggests that the ability to lie is probably not just a human trait. However, Dane refuses to break contact now when they are this close to success! He is aware that this is just a job to Norris, in which he helps him experimenting with the rays, but it’s different to him. Norris is actually curious about Dane’s story. They’ve been cooped up in this damp castle for weeks on end now, and yet Dane never told him why he’s so eager to make a name for himself. Dane admits he only thought of that to be business of his own, but agrees he might as well inform Norris about it.
(flashback / Dane’s story)Dane’s late uncle, Professor Nathan Garrett, led a strange double life: as a biologist and as the super-criminal called... the Black Knight! Some months ago, Nathan had his final encounter with the invincible Iron Man. Iron Man was hanging on the Knight’s flying horse and wanted to prevent him from escaping. Iron Man was too weak to fly for himself, so he decided he had to do something. He used the last surge of his depleted transistor power, pulling both the winged horse and rider Earthward, when suddenly the Knight fell off his horse and into the deep below!
The cinch on the horse’s saddle had broken, and the Knight realized that falling from this height could mean his doom. Iron Man, having almost no power left of his own, hoped he could break the fall as well. Fortunately for the Golden Avenger, he evaded death by plummeting into a stream far below, and his lightweight armor enabled him to swim to shore. Iron Man realized that if his armor had been just a few pounds heavier, he would have never made it. He could hardly even move. He saw that the Black Knight landed some distance away from him, and wondered if he survived the crash. Later, Iron Man found the Nathan’s cloak in the bushes, but the Black Knight himself was never heard of again... at least not by mankind at large.
(present)Dane tells Garrett that the rest of the world knows that Professor Garrett is dead... but not that he was the menace known as the Black Knight!
After the young scientist concludes his tale, Norris tells him that still doesn’t explain why he drives himself so hard with these magnetic experiments. Dane supposes it doesn’t. At least, not to someone who only works for money. He has sworn to make up for his uncle’s deeds, by doing something of value for the science which he only used for evil. That’s why he can’t stop now, not when he’s so terribly close.
Meanwhile, in a far-famed mansion in the heart of New York City, a gloved hand touches the buttons on a control panel and shouts loudly in its speaker the famous words: “Avengers Assemble!” Captain America concludes to himself that he has said those words so many times now, it’s hard for him to believe it may be the last time! The other Avengers quickly gather around Cap, and can’t believe their ears when Cap informs them... he wants to quit the team! He thinks it’s time Captain America actually died, so that Steve Rogers can finally live again. That should be reason enough, he thinks, but Hawkeye disagrees: there’s still a job left to be done... for all of them. They even swore an oath to finish that task!
Cap is well aware of that. He defends he swore an oath to hold the Avengers together until the original members returned to take over! With Goliath now being back on board, and his size-changing powers being at their peak, Cap thinks he can finally call it quits... for good! Cap leaves his team behind, admitting to himself that he isn’t so proud of that act. He only pretended to be angry, so he could leave without having to take everyone’s pity. Yet in doing so, Cap thinks he only earned the other’s scorn. Well, Steve concludes, there’s no turning back now, and hopes he doesn’t regret his decision later.
A short time later, Hawkeye returned to the apartment he shares together with his beloved Natasha. Clint wonders to himself, and can’t believe Cap actually isn’t an Avenger anymore. He never thought he’d live to see the day. Matter of fact, he almost wishes he hadn’t! Natasha asks Clint what’s wrong with him, as he hasn’t said ten words to her since he got back. Clint lashes out at her, telling her that Cap just quit the team. A startled Natasha tries to apologize, and Clint knows this isn’t her fault. It’s just his blasted temper, and he thought he was finally learning to control it. He leaves the apartment, thinking he can better split before he makes things even worse and will come back when he’s ready to apologize.
Natasha tries to stop Clint, but he doesn’t even hear her when he slams the door shut behind him. Natasha cries, realizing that, now that she’s not a super-heroine anymore, the Avengers are a part of Clint’s life she can’t share anymore. She can’t help but wonder if Hawkeye ever loved her for who she truly was... or if he just loved the Black Widow.
At the same time, in a limo, Hank Pym is also lost in deep thought. He’s confident the Avengers shall survive this tragedy just like they always have, but knows it just won’t be the same. Janet sees Hank thinking and thinks it’s a good thing they had this vacation planned out already. She asks her chauffeur Charles to step on it so they can go to Las Vegas already. They make it to the airport, where Janet shows Hank the plane she just bought and will travel in.
Inside his jet, having already departed and is thousands of miles away from the mansion, Hercules’s heart is heavy with the departure of Captain America. Yet, he realizes the decision was only Cap’s to make, and the Avengers to accept. Moreover in doing so, Hercules finally got the courage to do what he has desired to do for so long now. Hawkeye instructed him into how to pilot the Avengers’ aero-car, which has helped him greatly into reaching his home... Olympus! Hercules lands the jet and starts climbing the soaring heights of Mount Olympus, and thinks about the fact that, since he has joined the Avengers, only one thing remains to mar his joy: his unhappy exile! Hercules must now face his father Zeus and win back his place as first among Zeus’ honored sons. Then, and only then, Hercules will be truly content on remaining on Earth, because than it will be by choice.
In a remarkable short amount of time, Hercules makes it on top of the huge mountain. But something is strange. He can see the entrance of his ancestral home, but there appear to be no signs of life, nor can he hear the accustomed sounds of riotous revelry. Hercules goes deeper into the city, only to shockingly discover that it has been completely... deserted?! He finds the gleaming palace of Zeus, where gods ever trod, completely empty! Hercules goes to sit in despair on some golden stairs, and is determined to learn what happened at his home.
At the mysterious castle... Whitman’s machines indicate some strange readings. Enthusiastic, Dane summons Norris at his side. He explains the magnetic rays are coming so fast that he can’t handle the receiver alone. He’s certain they are on the brink of a break-through. Norris says he’ll be right with Dane. Thinking to himself, Norris believes that, even though Dane says “they” will both gain credit for the work, Dane will walk away alone with it. And Norris can’t have that... not while he has done all the real work, which he is certain the world will ignore! He refuses to be forgotten.
Norris angrily throws a rock against Dane’s head, which knocks him out! Norris shouts that Whitman will never again tell him what to do. Norris thinks that now, the hero-worshipping multitudes will honor him as the one who used the magnetic rays to communicate with outer space. Suddenly, a noise is heard. Norris looks behind him... and sees none other than Toad and... Magneto!!!
Magneto reveals to Norris that it was he whom he was communicating with all this time. Toad wants Magneto to introduce him as well, but Magneto shouts at him to be quiet, stating that Toad is lucky he didn’t leave him behind. Either way, Norris believes he succeeded in contacting another world magnetically. He asks Magneto how he got there. Magneto tells Norris he isn’t the only one who can control the infinite power of magnetism. He seized upon those beams, and then used them to transport himself back to Earth!
Magneto then threatens Norris to show him how that electro-magnetic device of his works, as he may be able to put it into future use. A terrified Norris realizes he has no other choice but to obey and realizes the mistake he made. He quickly thinks about a plan to trick Magneto back into outer space, but as he does so the Toad hops around and feels strange. He thinks Norris is doing something. Magneto throws a screwdriver at Norris, realizing that he was trying to deceive them. He could sense it without Toad’s whining.
After he knocks out Norris by the magnetically tossing him against a well, Magneto decides to lock both he and Dane up in the dungeons below. Toad leads the way downstairs and finds an empty cell, where the two villains throw their unconscious victims. Magneto thinks that cell should hold the two, at least until he accomplishes his first mission on Earth. Toad is eager to learn more about that. Magneto reminds Toad about the supreme plan he made while being in exile in space for so long. During all those months, Magneto waited only for the day of escape, so he could once more form... the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!
Toad remembers the happy times he had as a member of the Brotherhood. He also recalls the others that were part of the group: Quicksilver... the Scarlet Witch... and the evil Mastermind! Magneto states that they will overlook Mastermind for the present, but that won’t count for Pietro and Wanda. Magneto recalls his first meeting with the two siblings.
(flashback)While searching of others who might possess mutant powers similar to his, Magneto came upon a small village in the heart of Europe! As he neared it, he beheld buildings in flames, and heard fearful cries! Houses of the village had burst into flames for no apparent reason, though one villager had a theory. He shouts that a strange girl just arrived yesterday and proclaim that she has an evil eye – she is a witch! She must be destroyed! An angry mob quickly gathered and located Pietro and Wanda in the woods. Wanda wanted Pietro to leave her behind, not being able to walk any further. Pietro agrees to leave Wanda’s side, but not in the way she asks.
Then, before Magneto’s very eyes, the silver-haired youth streaked forward like a hurtling rocked, and angrily knocked all of the villagers down! Pietro admitted that his sister may indeed have caused those fires but, even so, it was by accident, with an unearthly power she cannot control. Unfortunately, Pietro was outnumbered and got him from behind. The mob saw how Pietro moved with the speed of a demon – but they got him. They believed that both Pietro and Wanda were in league with the devil and wanted them killed.
However, Magneto intervened and used his powers to lift the weapons out of the mob’s hands. The mob didn’t understand what was going on and at first thought it was another spell from Wanda. A moment later, though, Magneto revealed himself to the “puny Homo sapiens” and shouted at them not to take another step, as these two youngsters are now under his protection. He – the greatest of all mutants! Frightened by Magneto’s powers, the mob decided they had better run away, and so they did.
The crisis passed, Magneto told Wanda that she didn’t have to fear the humans anymore. Though she tells Magneto that she owes her life to him but – her brother, Pietr! Magneto was certain Pietro was only stunned and would recover swiftly. But, he remarked to the twins, they never should forget what they owed him now!
(present...)Magneto admits he never allowed the two to forget about that debt, until the Stranger captured him. And, he mentions, while he was speaking, he was mastering the complex apparatus their human liberators built, so he could use them for his own purposes. When Toad asks Magneto what he intends to do, Magneto calls Toad a dolt and thinks even the obvious escapes him. He shall use the device to capture both Pietro and Wanda!
Thus, a remarkable short time later... As they arrive in front of the huge castle, Wanda remarks to Pietro that the castle is only a few miles from the capital city, yet it’s surrounded by darkness. She wonders who could have sent the coded message they received and why? Pietro doesn’t know any more than his sister does, but reminds her that, as she already knows, the message they received was broadcasted at random, and they merely intercepted it while they were on monitor duty.
The twins enter the castle and suddenly hear a sound. It’s like a fierce grating of metal on metal! As Pietro thinks something truly evil is heading their way, he wants Wanda to stay there, while he’ll go investigate. However, Wanda reminds her brother she didn’t become an Avenger to be shielded, and speeches her place is here... in the forefront of danger!
On that moment, a giant metal warrior holding a mace runs from the stairs! Pietro doesn’t think they’re dealing with a human giant, as the warrior has silver flesh. It must be a robot... a massive creature of unliving metal. Yet, for that reason, the giant is all the more dangerous! The giant tries to hit Pietro with his mace, but he quickly runs away from it. Pietro silently concocts a plan that he must race behind it, which he does. He wants to try and find a way to deactivate the giant, believing it must have a power source that’s holding up somewhere. As he runs around the giant, Pietro notices there aren’t any mechanical joints on it, nor does he hear the sounds of motors whirring inside it.
Standing on a balcony above the two Avengers, Magneto uses his powers to control the giant. He is glad to see that Quicksilver moves more swiftly than ever, and now wants to see how well the Scarlet Witch fares. Toad compliments his master on how smart he is, but then notices that the Scarlet Witch is up to something.
Wanda tries to use her Hex powers, but they don’t seem to affect the monster directly. And there’s no place for her to run and hide! Wanda sees a chandelier hanging above her, and thinks there’s only one chance for her. She uses her powers to make the chandelier fall down on the giant, effectively burying it. Impressed, Pietro compliments his sister on her victory.
Magneto reveals himself to the siblings, complimenting to them that their mutant powers are still at their height. Therefore, he shall allow them both to serve him! Quicksilver is shocked to see his old leader again, and to discover that he has returned to Earth. He also realizes that that means he must have lured them to this castle and trapped them for his own amusement. Magneto admits it’s true he lured the two there, but has only done it for mere distraction. He believes it’s time for the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to live again... with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch as members! Wanda calls Magneto mad, informing him they are no longer criminals and members of the Avengers instead. Pietro tells Magneto that his sister speaks for the both of them.
Magneto states that, in that case, during his absence, Pietro and Wanda have betrayed the cause of Homo superior by joining the Homo sapiens. He wants Pietro and Wanda to know that, if they choose to live as Avengers... they’ll die as Avengers! Magneto puts his hand in front of his face, and uses his powers to create an army of giant, armored robots! Quicksilver runs into action and manages to outmaneuver the giants, causing their attacks to destroy each other. Moving to the base of the stairs, Pietro faces Magneto, who magnetically throws a screwdriver at the young boy’s head, knocking him out. Wanda tries to protect her brother, but Magneto acts faster and traps Wanda in chains! He tightens the links around her, causing her to quickly lose consciousness.
Toad and Magneto triumph and laugh over the unconscious bodies of their former teammates. Magneto can’t wait to attack an unexpecting world, and Toad is thrilled about it as well...
Captain America, Goliath, Hawkeye, Hercules, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wasp (all Avengers)
Toad, Magneto (Brotherhood of Evil Mutants)
Dane WhitmanNorris (Dane’s assistant)
Magneto’s stone warriors
Throughout Dane’s flashback: Iron Man (former Avenger)Black Knight (Nathan Garrett)
Throughout Magneto’s flashback: Magneto
a younger Quicksilver and Scarlet Witchan angry mob (all unnamed)
Magneto indeed has been banished by the Stranger twice: once in X-Men (1st series) #11 and another time in X-Men (1st series) #18. The Stranger took the Abomination with him in Tales To Astonish (1st series) #91.
First appearance of Dane Whitman, who eventually becomes the second Black Knight. The flashback Dane tells about his uncle’s death originates from Tales of Suspense (1st series) #73.
Hercules learns more about what happened to Olympus throughout Avengers (1st series) #49-50.