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Avengers #130: Review

Dec 1974
Steve Englehart, Joe Staton

Story Name:

The reality problem

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #130 Review by (January 13, 2014)
The Avengers stay in Saigon to continue helping Mantis next issue. But the Official Index says Shellhead nips back to the US for an adventure in IM#72, and then nips back to Vietnam for IM#73 where he runs across the Titanic Three again. The Three will then have cameos in GS Av#4 and IM#74. Slasher will only reappear once more as Razorblade in Captain America #149. The hooded figure will be revealed as Libra in #133.

The Vietnam War 'ceasefire' began in January 1973. The Americans withdrew and Viet Nam remained divided in 2, with Saigon the capital of the non-Communist South. But the Vietnamese kept on fighting until the South fell in 1975. This issue is set in the ceasefire period. (However if the Temple of Pama is in North Vietnam then it's a long way away from Saigon.) This may be the 1st time Iron Man's origin is explicitly placed in Vietnam? Early references just said 'a South-East Asian country'. IM's anger at the Viet Cong for shutting him up in his armour is valid because, as I explained in Giant-Size Av#2, he still needs to wear the chestplate. Captain Marvel and Rick Jones are unavailable because they're in space from CM#37. At the start of CM#37 Rick visits Avengers Mansion to find them all absent except Scarlet Witch who's not to be disturbed, and a note therein says that the visit occurs before the Avengers try to contact him. The Official Index says that after her appearance at the beginning of this issue Wanda is next behind the scenes in CM#37, and then bts next issue.

Death won't stop the Swordsman. He'll appear in lots of flashbacks to Hawkeye's early life, and get his own origin story in Avengers Spotlight #22. An unusual use will be made of his body in the conclusion to the Celestial Madonna saga in Giant-Size Av#4. And he'll show up alongside some other dead characters in the Chaos War event. This is the 3rd Crimson Dynamo, Alex Niven/Nevsky. He featured in Iron Man #15-22, leading to where he is now. Titanium Man is a more long-term opponent of Iron Man. They fought 3 times in Tales of Suspense before the aforementioned IM#22. Radioactive Man started off as a Thor foe in Journey into Mystery #93, but then transferred his allegiance to being a generic member of anti-Avengers groups. This is Slasher's 1st appearance.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #130 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The story continues from GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS #2.

The Avengers (Hawkeye, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Thor and Vision) hold a meeting in Avengers Mansion (with Agatha Harkness and cat Ebony sitting in) 2 days after the events of GS Av#2 (including the death of Swordsman). Hawkeye had stumbled into that affair, but now decides to stay with the team. They discuss the recent doings of Captain America since they failed to persuade him not to quit his role in CA#176. Hawkeye fared better in CA#179, and now they know that he has taken a new identity Nomad in CA#180.

Mantis enters to say that she's leaving the team (of which she was only a guest as the companion of Swordsman) because her recent actions have not been honourable. She's returning to Viet Nam to investigate the mystery of her origins. And she wants to take Swordsman's body there for burial.

But the Avengers want to help her. Except Scarlet Witch who will stay with Miss Harkness to study witchcraft. And of course Wanda hasn't forgiven Mantis for trying to steal her love Vision from her. And she hopes he will want to stay behind as well. At 1st she seems to get her wish as the android claims to be no longer worthy to be an Avenger because he froze in battle against Dormammu (#118), Zodiac (#122) and Kang (GS Av#2). But Iron Man and Thor persuade him to accompany them.

As the Avengers quinjet flies East, a villain calling himself the Slasher (because he's covered in a suit of blades) robs the Saigon Diamond Exchange.

Mantis directs the Avengers to the deserted temple of the Priests of Pama (who may have brought her up as a child, contrary to her memory, but were slaughtered in #123). They bury Swordsman in this peaceful spot.

But the peace is shattered when the Avengers find Crimson Dynamo, Radioactive Man and Titanium Man chasing a man outside the temple. The trio 'punish' the man for the manslaughter of his wife. When the Avengers try to intervene the trio claim that they have no jurisdiction here. The ceasefire in the Vietnam War left this area under Communist control.

Radioactive Man reminds them that he was captured as 1 of the Masters of Evil in #54-55. And Titanium Man came to take exiled Crimson Dynamo back to Russia in IM#22, fought the Golden Avenger but both escaped. Apparently after that Dynamo persuaded Titanium Man to break free from Soviet control, and the 2 came to Viet Nam as free agents. Radioactive Man broke out of jail and joined them. They have allied with the Viet Cong and are heroes here known as the Titanic Three.

Radioactive Man orders the Avengers to leave. But Iron Man is angry because the Viet Cong were responsible for the injuries that imprisoned him in the armour during his origin in Tales of Suspense #39, and because the battle in IM#22 killed his girlfriend Janice Cord. Thor holds him back, and the 2 heroes clash (answering the age-old question "Who would win in a battle between Iron Man and Thor?" - Thor does).

The team then do leave for Saigon, where Mantis hopes to confirm her childhood memories. They stop off at a radio station on the way to broadcast an appeal for help from Captain Marvel or Rick Jones - because the alternative story of Mantis' origin involves Mar-Vell's people the Kree. Then they go to the house Mantis recognises as where she lived as a child. Only to find it was only built 1 year ago.

Hawkeye's only just returned to the team and doesn't know what's going on. So Vision fills him in on what they know about the enigmatic young woman. Mantis arrived at Avengers mansion as the girlfriend of Swordsman, and remembered being a Saigon orphan and then bargirl. But Libra of the villainous Zodiac cartel claimed she was his daughter, and had been raised and trained by the Priests of Pama. The monster Star-Stalker claimed the Priests were pacifist Kree. Then Kang turned up and claimed Mantis was the future Celestial Madonna. (Vision doesn't mention how Mantis came on to him.)

Wherever Mantis goes she finds more evidence that her memories are false. She is forced to conclude that what Libra says may be true. And then that she may be the Madonna. But she certainly doesn't feel like one.

But Slasher has seen the Avengers and fears they are after him. He also sees the Titanic Three in town, and decides to set the 2 teams against each other by telling them the Avengers are harassing him because he is a Viet Cong sympathiser. The Three and Slasher attack the Avengers, who respond because it is now the Three who are out of their jurisdiction.

During the fight a hooded figure stops Crimson Dynamo from escaping, and then melts back into the shadows. Vision's diamond-hard skin is proof against Slasher's blade-suit, and the villain drops his stolen diamonds. Titanium Man realises they have been tricked, and the fight is over.

Joe Staton
Joe Staton
Bill Mantlo
Gil Kane (Cover Penciler)
Dave Cockrum (Cover Inker)
Layouts: Sal Buscema. Letterer: Joe Rosen.
Editor: Roy Thomas.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Crimson Dynamo
Crimson Dynamo

(Alex Niven)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)


Plus: Agatha Harkness, Libra, Radioactive Man, Titanium Man.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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