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Avengers #166: Review

Dec 1977
Jim Shooter, John Byrne

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Story Name:

Day of the godslayer

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #166 Review by (July 8, 2014)
The 2nd mystery man introduced here is Django Maximoff, another claimant to being the father of Pietro and Wanda. His ship will dock in #173 and he'll make his presence felt in #181. Last issue's mystery man Henry Gyrich will make *his* presence felt in #168. It will say there that he has only just crept into the Mansion via this issue's hole in the wall, indicating that #166-168 form a continuous narrative. But the OI puts lots of stuff between this issue and #167, including Annual #7. Despite his movements being controlled by the Collector, Thor will hang around for several of these appearances culminating in #168. Shooter and Byrne seem to forget that Black Panther was also knocked out by Nefaria last issue. The OI lists him as behind the scenes in this issue. He's still with the team in a cameo with Beast, Captain America, Wasp and Yellowjacket in the same month's X-Men #108, also by John Byrne, but then leaves for #1-13 of his own series, which Jack Kirby is already halfway through. Then CA faces Magneto in his own Annual #4 - the end of Kirby's return to his creation. The whole team apart from BP reassembles for Super-Villain Team-Up #14, caught up in a spat between Magneto (again) and Dr Doom. Magneto kidnaps Beast and then the Champions turn up on the last page to take the resolution of the story (with Beast but not the rest of our team) in #16 of their series. Iron Man then spends time in #95-109 of his own series, the bulk of Bill Mantlo's run as writer, with Yellowjacket guesting in the last 2 issues. Then all but Wasp, WM and YJ (and BP) will convene for An#7.

I said last issue that Thor was brought here by the Collector from within Thor #260. The Official Index has chosen to ignore the caption that mentions Thor #265-266. This makes sense for 2 reasons. Thor says he's been brought here from space, which he returned from in #263. And his reference to fighting the Destroyer sounds like an older memory than #266 which was published in the same month as this issue. Note that this is the 1st time it actually *says* Thor has been transported here by unknown means, but Scarlet Witch last issue mentioned he'd made other mysterious appearances lately. #175 will reveal that Collector is behind it, and will specifically mention this fight and the 1 against Ultron in #162. The OI adds Graviton in #159. Jim Shooter was the writer for all these events, but there is no evidence that he had the Collector's behind the scenes manipulation in mind before last issue. In fact Thor's words and thoughts in the previous 2 appearances suggested he just joined the fights of his own accord. Prof Sturdy must have been lying when he said he lied to Nefaria. Getting rid of the Count's powers and stopping him ageing must not be as easy as the Prof claimed, because in Iron Man #114 the Avengers have him in suspended animation while they figure out what to do with him. Then in IM#115-116 his daughter Madame Masque tries to cure him, but he is apparently killed. However his next appearance as a corpse revived by Grim Reaper in #353-354 is considered by the OI to be a fake. And he'll eventually return as an immortal ionic vampire in IM Annual 1999 (ionic because the process that empowered Nefaria used a version of Zemo's method of creating Wonder Man and the original Power Man).


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #166 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Thor was out in deep space when suddenly he found himself outside Avengers Mansion at the end of last issue. He didn't have time to wonder how that happened, because he saw super-powered Count Nefaria standing over fallen Avengers :- Black Panther, Captain America, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man. So he immediately attacked.

Faced with the display of Thor's might, Nefaria at 1st begs for mercy. But when he realises that Thor's blows aren't actually hurting him he fights back. He came here seeking Thor for the secret of godly immortality - he believes rumours that it is Mjolnir that is the source. When the Thunder God whirls the hammer to create a portal which starts to suck the villain into another dimension, it only feeds his erroneous belief.

The Count upends a skyscraper(!) into the portal, blocking it and simultaneously burying Thor. Nefaria thinks he can now just dig up the hammer. But 1st he'll kill the Avengers lest the wake and annoy him further.

However Thor bursts free of the rubble, likening his foe's might to that of the Destroyer. (A caption points to the battle with Destroyer just concluded this month in Thor #265-266.) He calls down lightning on Nefaria, and to give Mjolnir a power boost. But when he strikes with it the villain just stops the hammer with 1 hand.

Last issue we saw Yellowjacket apparently fleeing from the battle. It turns out Beast followed him to the lab where Vision lies comatose since #161. YJ and Iron Man had been able to revive Beast, Cap and Wanda from their comas (from the same issue) because Ultron had used the same ray on them that Grim Reaper used, that they were familiar with. But the radiation that took down Vision was something new.

But Hank Pym ran from the fight because he just realised something that might work on the android. And they sorely need Vision's power now. (YJ doesn't know Thor's here.) Lo and behold his gamble works - but Beast thinks the revived Vision sounds more robotic than usual.

Surprised Thor lets his foe get in a mighty blow, and even drops Mjolnir. But as Nefaria reaches for it, Vision ghosts up from the ground to prevent him. The android tries his phasing-a-hand-through-your-chest trick, but the villain proves invulnerable. And then his fists somehow send the supposedly-intangible Vision flying through the air.

While all this is going on we see last issue's mystery man slip into the Mansion through a hole in the wall. And Wasp, knocked out by a flying car in #164, recovers under the ministrations of Jarvis. And a Rolls Royce breaks through the police cordon, crashes, and an injured man clambers out attracting Nefaria's attention.

Thor has returned to the fight, and the Count has just thrown a bus at him. But now the villain recognises Prof Sturdy, the head of the scientific team that gave him these powers. A team we now learn Nefaria thought he'd killed.

It's flashback time as we see Nefaria offer Living Laser, Power Man and Whirlwind upgrades to their powers if he'll work for them. But as we saw in #164 the upgrades were only designed to last for a short time.. Meanwhile the scientists analysed their powers and gave them to the Count multiplied by 100. But the villain feared that they would give such powers to someone else, so he killed them and trashed the lab.

But Sturdy survived and has brought bad news. As a side-effect of the process, Nefaria is ageing fast. The Professor could have done something about that. But now he collapses seemingly dead. Refusing Thor's offer of help, the angry supervillain leaps off, causing property damage as he goes.

Vision flies after him. Wasp wakes up Scarlet Witch (letting her know that her android husband is up and running again). Wonder Man's on his feet too, but Cap takes some rousing. Still groggy he lends Simon Williams his shield as a defence against Nefaria's laser beam eyes. Then 3 Avengers race after the bad guy.

Vision has been spending time saving bystanders from falling debris. But now he knocks the Count out of the sky. (Nefaria can only leap like the Hulk, not fly.) He lands at the feet of Wonder Man who renews their fight, aided by Wasp's recently-enhanced sting. Iron Man has also recovered, and attacks with Thor and the Witch's hex.

It's Nefaria's turn to be buried in rubble and emerge alive. But then Vision supplies the coup-de-grace. He drops from a mile up at his maximum density and lands with seismic force on top of the villain. It's only enough to knock him out, but that's enough.

Iron Man is angry at Thor for only joining them when they're in deep trouble (although that's what his arrangement in #151 promised!). Thor can't explain it. But Steve Rogers applies the complaint to chairman Shellhead, saying that he's been ignoring them for his own business (although that only actually happened once in part of #164-165, and surely Cap himself has been more absent than that sometimes).

Yellowjacket arrives and breaks it up. He says Sturdy has actually only just died, and lasted long enough to tell him how to depower Nefaria. He also said that the Count isn't rapidly ageing - Sturdy lied hoping to get the villain to surrender. The apparent ageing was just a temporary side-effect, and ironically the process had really made him the immortal he desperately wanted to be. (But this will be negated when they take his powers away.)

At the very end we see another mystery man. This 1 a bearded old man getting on a boat from Vladivostok to America, carrying a locket with pictures of young Wanda and her brother Pietro (Quicksilver), and 2 string puppets.

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

John Byrne
Pablo Marcos
Phil Rachelson
George Perez (Cover Penciler)
Ernie Chan (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Denise Wohl.
Editor: Archie Goodwin.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank McCoy)
Black Panther
Black Panther

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Edwin Jarvis)

(Pietro Maximoff)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)


(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Django Maximoff, Grim Reaper (Eric Williams), Whirlwind (David Cannon).

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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