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Avengers #138: Review

Aug 1975
Steve Englehart, George Tuska

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Story Name:

Stranger in a strange man

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #138 Review by (March 23, 2014)
I don't know how Beast imitates Edward G Robinson this issue. Last issue it was clearly a mask and a suit of clothes. Not something like an image inducer. So I don't know where he was hiding the suit and mask this time. Toad gets a bit of his own history wrong, which I have corrected in the synopsis. He says he was reunited with Scarlet Witch when they were captured by Sentinels in X-Men #59. But in fact he had been with her since they left Magneto in Av#53.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #138 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue Wasp was critically injured by someone who Beast and Thor recognised as the Stranger. Now they 2 leave the hospital with Iron Man and Moondragon to face the press and the public. Thor explains that Beast and Moondragon aren't yet Avengers. The crowd doesn't like either of them, especially the mutant Beast.

Wasp's husband Yellowjacket rushes out and commandeers a cab to take them to Avengers Mansion. He explains in passing how Jan survived an explosion that was powerful enough to KO Iron Man and Thor. She would be dead now if her tiny size hadn't meant that she was carried away by the shock wave. He also mentions that there's no specialist doctor this time for them to track down who can cure her, as happened in #14. All that Henry Pym can do is hunt the Stranger down for revenge.

Back home the team wonder why Hawkeye hasn't returned immediately from his time-trip (last issue) to bring Black Knight from the 12th Century. But before they can worry about that they are hit by a fierce mental probe from Stranger, who tries to find out where Scarlet Witch is. But they don't know where she and Vision are honeymooning.

YJ comes up with a cunning plan, which chairman Thor implements. He and Moondragon will fly off as if going to warn the newly-weds, hoping to lure Stranger out into the open. Iron Man, Yellowjacket and Beast will stay here in case the villain just attacks them mentally. In that case they will use Stark tech to track the source of the attack.

Prickly Moondragon didn't like the way Iron Man and Thor argued (in a friendly way) over whose team she should be on. As they fly to the Florida Keys in a quinjet she finds the Thunder God arrogant and condescending, not like the demi-gods of Titan where she was raised.

YJ's plan works and Stranger appears before them, confirming that he is looking for Wanda and the Vision. Thor hurls Mjolnir but the Stranger vanishes and reappears as 2 copies, 1 of which he claims is an illusion (a trick Thor remembers from their previous encounter in Th#178). The heroes take 1 copy each, attempting to discover which is the real one.

When Thor hits his foe with his hammer, that Stranger fades away. And the other copy claims to be the real deal.Moondragon uses Titanian judo to topple the giant alien. But she is confused as to why he isn't using the prodigious mental power he demonstrated earlier and last issue. She strikes out with a mental blast. And the 2nd Stranger fades away too. They were both illusions, and the real foe is elsewhere.

Before we leave this duo, Moondragon comments that she senses that Henry Pym's personal stake in the battle will make him reckless, and that may spell danger for the other team. Thor asks her if her insights were akin to Mantis' empathy? (We learned in Giant-Size #4 that they were raised to be similar.) But we don't hear the Titan priestess's answer.

Meanwhile the other team detected Stranger's energy use, and discovered as Shellhead hoped that that the power is being beamed from somewhere - from some orbiting spacecraft. YJ hustled them into another quinjet to head into space.

They find and break into (somehow) Stranger's ship, only to be held at bay by chest-high laser beams. And Stranger immediately finds them. Beast leaps over the laser beams, but instead of attacking he runs away. And Stranger follows him. Ducking round a corner Beast changes into the Edward G Robinson guise he used last issue. 'Stranger' is so surprised he drops his own mental disguise, and is revealed as the old X-Men foe Toad.

The diminutive Toad throws a hissy fit and runs bent over under the laser beams. YJ shrinks enough to get beneath them too, catches him and starts to beat him mercilessly. But then Toad turns himself into the illusion of an amoeboid monster. YJ falls for it, but Beast grabs the villain behind the illusion.

While all this has been going on, Iron Man has crawled under the lasers and now reaches a switch to turn them off.

Toad rants relevant bits of his life story. He was Magneto's whipping boy until they were both taken by the real Stranger in X-Men #11 to his planet of specimens. Magneto escaped as told in X-Men #18 and left Toad behind, but was soon recaptured. They escaped again in #47 of this series, but Toad was fed up with how his master treated him, and literally ditched Magneto (in the sea) in #53.

Toad had a crush on Scarlet Witch since their days in Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. When he left Magneto it was to help Quicksilver care for his injured sister. They stayed together through several adventures until Arkon kidnapped them to his alternate universe. We now learn that Toad stayed there after #76. He (unbelievably) managed to build a spaceship to cross back to the Marvel universe, find the Stranger's planet and steal loads of his stuff. Years of watching Magneto helped him do this, and watching fellow-Brotherhooder Mastermind made mastering the mental gadgets easy too.

His plan all along was to use all this to impress Wanda and get her to marry him. But when he got back to Earth he learned that she'd just married Vision. So instead he would get his revenge on those 2, and attacked the Avengers to find out where they were. But now they've ruined that plan too.

In 1 epilogue we see Yellowjacket hiding the pain he's in after staying shrunk too long. And in another we see Vision and Wanda still taking it easy on Rurutu.

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

George Tuska
Vince Colletta
George Roussos
Gil Kane (Cover Penciler)
Mike Esposito (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Charlotte Jetter.
Editor: Len Wein.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank McCoy)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Pietro Maximoff)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)


Plus: Arkon, Toad (Mortimer Toynbee).

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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