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Avengers #152: Review

Oct 1976
Gerry Conway, John Buscema

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Story Name:

Nightmare in New Orleans

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #152 Review by (June 4, 2014)
Marvel used the word zuvembie instead of zombie because of Comics Code restrictions, taking the name from a Robert E Howard story. The Code didn't object to vampire or werewolf. All 3 types were prevalent since the Marvel monster explosion in 1972 gave us Tomb of Dracula and Marvel Spotlight featuring Werewolf By Night and then Ghost Rider. 1973 added Monster of Frankenstein and zombies arrived in Tales of the Zombie, which as black and white larger magazine wasn't covered by the code. The word zuvembie was then used in Brother Voodoo in Strange Tales later that year. This Black Talon inherited the name and costume from a previous version in Brother Voodoo's strip. He'll continue to pop up occasionally, often involved with Grim Reaper (as he secretly id now), and sometimes played for laughs (look at the costume on the cover). Damballah is a genuine voodoo loa, but here he is a serpent demon who was 1st mentioned in Dracula Lives #2 and will appear in Dr Strange and Conan. There was also a voodoo priest servant of the demon who took that name and was involved in the creation of Brother Voodoo.

John Buscema takes over pencils for 2 issues, while George Perez does the Annual. And Jack Kirby continues to pencil the covers. Plotting this issue is Steve Englehart's farewell to Avengers. Not only that but this month sees him leaving all his Marvel books to move over to DC and the JLA, sneakily taking his creation Mantis with him as Willow. Captain America can now share memories of his WWII exploits in the Invaders, since Roy Thomas invented them a year or so ago. He may have regained those memories a while ago, and we've just never seen him mention them. But texts like the Official Handbook of the MU have had to posit mutual amnesia to explain why Cap and Sub-Mariner didn't say anything in their early encounters like #4. We won't learn that Black Talon's master is Grim Reaper until #160. In #161 we will find that Reaper was working for Ultron, which would explain Wonder Man's otherwise mysterious reference to a 'silver shadow'.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #152 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue the announcement of the new Avengers lineup was interrupted by Wonder Man breaking out of a crate (more unusual than popping out of a cake). The zombie-like figure of the supposedly long-dead (since #9) Avenger accused Vision of stealing his mind.

Simon Williams now collapses, and Captain America carries him into Avengers Mansion where Beast and Yellowjacket examine the comatose figure and pronounce him alive. But somehow his brain has been emptied apart from the accusation he kept repeating. Then WM wakes and starts muttering "The silver shadow, the reaching hand". And then collapses into a coma again.

Vision has been deeply affected by all this. Ultron gave his android brain WM's mind pattern. So he has stolen Simon's mind, and maybe he's responsible for his condition. And he starts to worry once more about whether he has a soul. Scarlet Witch can't stand seeing him like this. Whoever sent the crate containing WM's body is the 1 responsible, and she's determined to find out who it is.

Wanda rushes out of the Mansion and uses her hex power to drive the crowds away from the crate. She finds a mixture of dirt and grass caught on its surface, and uses her newly-learnt witchcraft to divine its origin - New Orleans, where she sees a vision of a dark ritual. She tells her teammates that Simon Williams has been turned by voodoo into a zuvembie.

En route to N'Orleans in a quinjet Wasp and Yellowjacket make up after their tiff last issues. Jan apologises to Hank for making him rejoin the Avengers with her. Henry Pym says he's still more comfortable as a scientist than a superhero. Wasp chides him for his insecurities.

Beast doesn't really believe in zuvembies. But Cap says he fought a Nazi vampire once in WWII (Baron Blood in Invaders #6), and Iron Man recently teamed up with a werewolf (Werewolf By Night #42).

When they reach their destination Scarlet Witch recognises 1 of the voodoo cultists from her vision. The guy runs away but ant-size W&YJ fly after him and trip him up by tying his shoelaces together,

The cultist claims ignorance until Wanda casts a spell and whispers something in his ear. The terrified man then directs them to the Dead Swamp.

With Beast carrying Wonder Man's inert body, the Avengers sneak into the swamp. The Witch senses evil about, and a silent voice calling. Then WM wakes up and starts to shuffle off, saying he's answering his master's call. He leads them to a voodoo ceremony, led by a costumed man who calls himself Black Talon.

The ritual causes emaciated bodies to rise up from the ground. But Talon is surprised to see Simon Williams walking amongst them. Under command from his own master, Black Talon had sent WM to New York and he's not supposed to have come back.

Now the Avengers break cover and attack the cultists. Talon summons the serpent god Damballah for help, and the evil presence causes Avengers, cultists and zuvembies alike to fall to the ground, crushed by some mystical gravity. But sorceress Wanda isn't affected and she fights back. However she's no match for the power of the dark god Damballah. Until she grabs a flaming brand from the voodoo fire and exorcises the demon. Then simple control over logs of wood is enough to subdue Black Talon.

The cultists flee. (It doesn't say what happens to the zuvembies.) Black Talon can't tell them much. He doesn't actually know who his master is, and Wonder Man was sent to him already in his present state.

The other Avengers return to New York, but Scarlet Witch decides to stay behind. She's concerned that her knowledge of witchcraft wasn't sufficient to deal with Damballah. (Despite the fact that she actually did defeat him.)

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

John Buscema
Joe Sinnott
Petra Goldberg
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)
Dan Adkins (Cover Inker)
Plot: . Letterer: John Costanza.
Editor: Gerry Conway.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank McCoy)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Edwin Jarvis)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Black Talon.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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