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Avengers #187: Review

Sep 1979
David Michelinie, John Byrne

Story Name:

The call of the mountain thing

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #187 Review by (March 17, 2015)
The corner box containing the 7 heads of the current Avengers, which was introduced in #185 and dropped off last issue, returns this time. But the layout of the heads copied from #185 is such that, coincidentally or not, the only 3 heads left unobscured by Captain America's boots are the 3 Avenger's correctly not shown on the cover captured by Scarlet Witch/Chthon. Iron Man because he's not in these issues, Vision because he was left behind to mind the store, and Beast who will ride to the rescue. Plotter Mark Gruenwald gathers together lots of threads here. And he'll make it even clearer in the Saga of the High Evolutionary that runs as a backup strip through the 1988 Annuals. The 1st Marvel series to feature the Darkhold was Werewolf by Night, and there we learned of its use by Taboo and Gregor Russoff. In the Spider-Woman series we learned of Morgan Le Fey's interest in the Darkhold and Magnus' opposition to her in the modern age. But this is the 1st time we hear details of their earlier connection and his possession of Jonathan Drew. The early stuff will be expanded on in #241. Meanwhile Cagliostro appeared in Dracula Lives, but this is the 1st time he's mentioned in connection with the Darkhold. He'll only actually be shown involved with it in Roy Thomas' 1989-90 backup series about the history of the Darkhold in Dr Strange: Sorceror Supreme.

It actually says here that Magnus assumed Jonathan Drew's form, but Gruenwald's Saga will change that to possession. Either way this links with the return of Drew to Wundagore described last issue. It says that Modred tricked Magnus into going to the other side of the world. This may refer to Magnus and Spider-Woman going from London to America in SW#2? But there's no hint of Modred's involvement there, and it's never mentioned again. Chthon must flee back to his Netherworld here because he'll be there in Spider-Woman #44. Modred will regain some of his power and attack Thing in Transia in Marvel Two-In-One #44, then leave Bova after she's injured by Magneto in Vision & Scarlet Witch v1 #4. His intellect and full powers will return in England, but he'll still be of dubious moral status in the Darkhold series. Dr Strange will take the Darkhold from Avengers Mansion in DS v2 #61 to keep it out of the hands of Dracula.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #187 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The Avengers (Beast, Captain America, Falcon, Ms Marvel and Wasp) have flown by quinjet to Transia to come to the aid of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. With Iron Man on enforced absence due to problems in his own title and Vision forced by government rules to remain behind on monitor duty, they've recruited extra muscle in the form of Wonder Man.

But the unnatural storm raging round Wundagore Mountain is going to make the craft crash. Falcon (carrying Cap), MsM and Wasp fly to safety. Wondie gives Beast his rocket belt and stays to guide the quinjet away from the village. Beast's unfamiliarity with the belt means he lands a long way from the others.

Before the 1st 4 can look for Pietro, who called them in last issue, they are attacked by Modred the Mystic, disciple of Chthon. Luckily (or stupidly) his surprise 1st blast is aimed at Cap's shield. Insecure newbie Falcon tries to impress his colleagues by taking the magician on with flying fists, but is easily dealt with.

Beast winds up in the mountain snows where he finds an animal skeleton wearing armour. Wonder Man crawls out of the quinjet to be met by Scarlet Witch possessed and transformed by Chthon. (S)he captures him in a paralysing energy sheath.

Meanwhile Modred's command of nature takes down Ms Marvel and Cap too. But he's forgotten about tiny Wasp who zaps him unconscious. However her triumph is short-lived as Wanda blasts her from behind.

The Witch transports all 4 Avengers to the Darkhold and hangs them suspended over the book to join Simon Williams, Quicksilver and Django Maximoff. Recovered Modred is also there, so Chthon takes time out to relate his history.

Chthon and Mother Earth/Gaea were the last of the Earth-spirits who were succeeded by the godly pantheons. Chthon retreated to a mystic dimension but created the Darkhold as a way back. The book passed down through a succession of mystics until Morgan Le Fey and the Darkholders cult summoned him. Unable to control him they tried to send him back but instead imprisoned him in Mount Wundagore.

1 of the Darkholders Magnus feared Chthon's return and hid the book where Modred found it in last issue's flashback. The Darkhold was later owned by Cagliostro, Taboo and Gregor Russoff. That last holder sold some land on Mount Wundagore to the High Evolutionary and Jonathan Drew and his family where they built Wundagore Citadel (see last issue again).

Later Magnus' spirit possessed Drew and taught HE's evolved animal New Men chivalry as a defense against Chthon's influence. They performed as armoured knights on flying mechanical steeds. Chthon used his host-form The Other to attack Wundagore but was repulsed by HE, Magnus/Drew and the New Men. The energies of that battle lit up the sky as Pietro and Wanda were born, and some of that energy hit the baby girl giving her latent magic to complement her mutant hex power.

It was Chthon who caused Scarlet Witch's hex power to wane a couple of times (as mentioned in #185) hoping that it would make her cultivate her magic. But that didn't happen until Agatha Harkness came along and taught her in #128 to Giant-Size #4. Wanda was now ready to be Chthon's host. But 1st he took control of the recently-revived Modred and used him to trick Magnus into going a long way away.

Suddenly Chthon's rant is interrupted by a Knight of Wundagore on his flying steed. Actually it's Beast who rescued the rest of the armour and the nechanical horse from the snow. He spears the Darkhold with his lance.

Chthon is distracted and loses his/her hold on the Avengers. Cap's shield stops Modred from interfering. And Quicksilver tries to beat the demon out of his sister.

Django pulls out the wooden Scarlet Witch puppet he used to trap Wanda's soul in #181-182. Unfortunately it's useless without the destroyed Nivashi Stone. But it comes to life as he has a heart attack. Pietro realises that the magic was never in the Stone - it was in the local wood used to make the puppet. And now his sister's soul is in the doll again.

Pietro also remembers Maximoff telling them in #182 that others were able to use his magic dolls. So he grabs the puppet and tries to will an exchange of Wanda's soul for Chthon's. But his will isn't strong enough. So the Avengers join forces with him, and the souls are swapped. Quicksilver takes the doll partway up the mountain and hurls it away. And Scarlet Witch brings a landslide down on top of it.

Django is dead, and the Avengers bury him in his magic forest. Chthon has left Modred in a childlike state, and Bova will look after him. The heroes head for home taking the Darkhold with them.

John Byrne
Dan Green
George Roussos
John Byrne (Cover Penciler)
Terry Austin (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Sam Wilson)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Pietro Maximoff)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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