Avengers (1st series) #117

Issue Date: 
June 1975
Story Title: 

Steve Englehart (writer), Bob Brown (artist), Mike Esposito (inker), P. Goldberg (colorist), J. Braverman (letterer), Roy Thomas (editor)

Brief Description: 

Dormammu watches as the threads of his dastardly plot start to unravel. The Defenders, tasked through his trickery to obtain the Evil Eye, are met with opposition everywhere they go. He is baffled by the turn of events, but nonetheless resolute, as another battle is about to happen. Said battle is between Valkyrie and the Swordsman who have both traveled to Bolivia for a piece of the Eye. After their initial confrontation, they both end up in a nearby castle and duel, sword to sword. The castle owner, meanwhile, tries sneaking away to get the Eye piece. Both Defender and Avenger converge on the room with the Swordsman gaining the prize and making his escape. The owner pulls out a gun and shoots the Swordsman, who in return stabs him in the gut. After the authorities arrive and the Swordsman is given proper care, Valkyrie takes off with the fourth Evil Eye piece. While over in Japan, Namor and Captain America battle over the fifth unclaimed fragment. Namor bests him time and time again and is only caught off guard when Sunfire appears and steals the Evil Eye from the both of them. After some hasty explanations between the two heroes they finally realize some trickery may be afoot. After the Sub-Mariner chases down Sunfire and frees the Eye, Captain America catches it on the ground below. He decides to hand it over to Namor in the hopes they’ll soon discover what’s really going on.

Full Summary: 

The Dark Dimension:
Dormammu watches in utter outrage as the first three Defenders are met with resistance at each location. How could the Avengers have found out, he wonders. He asks Loki if he knows anything about it. Loki pleads ignorance, using his blindness as an alibi and saying he would never act without Dormammus’ guidance. His thoughts, however, betray his guilt. Luckily, Dormammu cannot read them.
Dormammu relents, calling his accusations against Loki foolish. He voices his frustrations that he cannot affect the battle and kill the Avengers, lest Dr. Strange detect his magic and thereby foil his plot. He still holds out hope, though, as the Defenders are an unconventional group, which might give them an advantage over the Avengers.

Loki asks Dormammu if he will at last restore his vision as promised earlier. Dormammu, annoyed by the constant pestering, waves him off like a fly. He explains his mind is too occupied on the battles. He then orders Loki to be silent, as a new battle is beginning.

Chapter 7: Swordsman vs. the Valkrie:
Jungles of Bolivia:
The Swordsman flies solo aboard an Avengers quinjet. He nears his intended destination, the resting place of one of the Evil Eye fragments. He spots a castle amid the jungle foliage and remarks on its German architecture, wondering what it’s doing in Bolivia. He guesses some Nazi fleeing the war built it.

This leads the Swordsman to reminisce about his criminal past and how his life used to be filled with hate and disgust. He never had enough money and he never had the respect of anyone. He even fought the Avengers once at the behest of the Mandarin. His past always hounding him, the Swordsman intends on proving himself to the Avengers with this latest quest.

The Swordsman spots something coming at him from out the cockpit window. He has no time to react before Valkyrie and her winged horse, Aragorn, slam into the side of the jet. Valkyrie takes off content, knowing any Avenger should be able to pull out of the tailspin she induced.

The quinjet comes in hard for the landing. It’s right wheels hit the ground first, the tip of the right wing almost snagging the pavement. The aircraft rights itself and lands safely, much to the Swordsman’s relief. He disembarks and searches for any sign of Valkyrie, but finds none.

The Swordsman decides to check out the nearby castle. He figures Valkyrie wouldn’t have attacked him if he wasn’t close to the Evil Eye, and maybe that’s where the prize he seeks resides. He knocks on the front door, his thoughts swarming with the battle he knows is ahead. A man opens the door slightly, asking what he wants. The Swordsman introduces himself and warns the castle keeper he may have an unwelcome visitor inside. The man invites him in.

They walk side by side as the castle owner relays the history of the castle. Its original owner was an escaped Nazi who constructed it in 1946. He was captured in 1949 and up until three months ago, when the current owner moved in, had been uninhabited. The owner assures Swordsman there’s nobody else inside. In fact, he’s the only other person he’s met since moving there.

The Swordsman’s not so sure and a creaking sound from upstairs fuels his doubts. He charges the stairs and finds Valkyrie rummaging through a chest of valuables. They charge toward each other, hands on their hilts, ready to draw. The Swordsman threatens her she won’t be leaving alive with the Evil Eye. Valkyrie, who has yet to find it, replies she won’t stand for his threats. They draw steel.

Valkyrie explains her sword was formerly the Black Knight’s. This outrages the Swordsman, him thinking they stole it, and he lunges at her. She nimbly dodges and the two swordsmen find themselves dueling along a stone banister.

The Swordsman gains the advantage, attacking from the high ground, leaving Valkyrie no choice but to leap onto the nearby tapestry. The Swordsman leaps as well, sword pivoted to plunge into her, confident he’s bested the Avengers’ nemesis. She dodges his strike, his blade sinking into the cloth and tearing it straight down. Both of them fall to the floor, smashing through various pieces of furniture.

Valkyrie stands up and charges, but a desk comes flying at her, courtesy of the Swordsman, that knocks her feet out from under her. The Swordsman comments on her poor fighting skills to which Valkyrie concedes, but she assures him she’ll beat him with her strength. She pauses mid-sentence when she spots the castle owner opening a giant padlock on a massive door. She knocks swords with the Swordsman, the sheer strength of her blow loosening her enemy’s grip on the weapon.

Valkyrie leaps over him and heads toward the newly opened door, certain the Evil Eye must be inside. She gets there before the man can close the door. She lifts him up in the air with one hand and opens the hidden treasure chest with the other, revealing the Evil Eye within. The Swordsman makes his grand entrance, knocking Valkyrie over and grabbing the Evil Eye for himself.

The Swordsman flees with his prize, but the previous owner has other ideas. He pulls out some sort of ray gun and blasts the Avenger in the back. The Swordsman falls to his knees, pained eyes staring up at the man. The man admits he never intended on letting him leave the castle alive for fear he would reveal its location to others. As the Swordsman falls forward he has just enough strength to drive the point of his sword into the man’s belly. The man falls to the floor, dead.

Valkyrie comes over and checks the Swordsman’s wound. She assesses the damage and although it’s serious, it doesn’t look grave. Valkyrie says she’ll get him a doctor. The Swordsman argues with her, not wanting to give up the Eye. The point becomes moot as the Swordsman falls into unconsciousness. Valkyrie pries the highly sought-after object from his hands. She hears footsteps coming up the stairs.

Those footsteps belong to the local police whose captain is interested in investigating reports of flying horses and a strange jet. Valkyrie stands over the Swordsman and praises his gallant efforts before taking off. She watches as the police arrive and carry off the dead man and the Swordsman. After the Avenger is loaded into an ambulance she takes off on Aragorn.

Chapter 8: Captain America vs. Sub-Mariner:
Osaka, Japan:
Captain America stands amidst an angry crowd of Japanese citizens who want nothing of the Imperialist from America. Cap argues his presence has nothing to do with the U.S., that he’s there to prevent a catastrophe. A voice from above denouncing his intentions grabs his attention. Standing on a nearby roof is the Sub-Mariner with the Evil Eye in hand and he warns Captain America that if he wants it he’s going to have to take it by force.

Namor gloats about his supreme strength, egging Captain America towards a fight. Cap yells he won’t be backing down from a fight. Namor leaps to the ground and roughly pushes the crowd out of the way to make room for the battle. Namor offers Captain America the first move, which he takes by bashing Namor’s face with his shield. Unfortunately for him, Namor recovers instantaneously and delivers an impressive overhand right, sending Captain America into the air. The Sub-Mariner cautions against the use of trickery, as all surface dwellers have been trying that for years.

Cap comes back with a large sign and smashes it over Namor’s head. Namor quickly wriggles out of it and throws it right back at the patriotic Avenger. Cap is knocked backwards and topples over a few citizens.

The Sub-Mariner stares down at his fallen opponent, scoffing at the old war games he used to play with his cousin Byrrah and how he always chose to be the “American.” Namor takes off with his prize, much to the dismay of the now conscious Steve Rogers. Namor, who’s too wrapped up thinking of his decision to quit the Defenders, doesn’t notice how quickly Captain America is approaching him from behind. The Sub-Mariner reaches the docks, leaving Cap with only one option, for if Namor hit the water he would surely be impossible to catch.

Captain America throws his shield, catching the Defender just prior to making contact with his beloved water. He dives toward the stunned Atlantean, who can’t believe the tenacity of his enemy. Captain America and the Sub-Mariner grapple in the water over the Evil Eye they both desire, until a bolt of fire from above rains down upon them and they both break contact. Namor loses his grip on the Evil Eye, which is easily snatched up by Sunfire, Japan’s mutant defender.

Sunfire chastises Captain America for not listening to his countrymen earlier and voices his dislike of foreigners. Cap brushes his comments aside and asks for the Eye. Namor does too, but Sunfire points out their careless attitudes concerning international boundaries and claims the treasure for himself.

Namor calls him a “Nationalistic Moron” and takes to the air after him. Cap realizes it would be better if Sunfire had it then Namor so thinking quick he latches on to Namor’s ankle. The Sub-Mariner takes umbrage to this, but Cap defiantly declares that while an Avenger lives the Defenders will never gain possession of the evil weapon.

Namor can’t take it anymore; they’ve been doing all they can to save the Black Knight, the Avengers’ teammate. He calls Captain America a turncoat. Cap tells him it’s bull, blaming the Defenders for the capture and bewitching of Dane Whitman. He also lets it known he knows of the Defenders’ plan to enslave the universe with the Eye.

Namor gets free of Cap’s grip and hangs him upside down by his ankle. He tells Cap his mind is filled with Loki’s lies and then contemplates dropping him on his head, but his World War II kinsmanship prevents him from doing so. So Namor explains what really happened to the Black Knight and how they’ve been trying to restore him with the Evil Eye being their latest hope. Cap tries arguing with some of the facts of the story, but Namor will have none of it. He drops Captain America into the ocean and flies after Sunfire. Cap can only watch from the icy chill of the ocean as doubts foment in his mind on his next course of action.

Meanwhile, Namor catches up to Sunfire and demands he return the weapon. Sunfire refuses and fires a blast of plasma the Sub-Mariner’s way. Namor easily dodges everything thrown at him thanks to his winged feet. He narrows the gap and wallops Sunfire hard. The powerful jolt knocks the Evil Eye free. It falls down toward the earth and right into the awaiting hands of Captain America.

Cap takes off feeling blessed with the turn of events. Unfortunately for him, Namor touches down right in his path causing him to stop dead in his tracks. Namor offers Cap the choice between violence and peace. Captain America mulls it over before finally handing Namor the Evil Eye. He admits he’s confused by the Defenders/Avengers battle and is willing to trust him in the hopes things will start making sense.

Captain America and the Sub-Mariner take to the air side by side, Cap in his quinjet and Namor with his mutant powers of flight. Cap reasons they’ve been manipulated from the beginning somehow since their reasons for fighting don’t add up. Namor agrees and swears there’ll be hell to pay.

Characters Involved: 

Dr. Strange, Silver Surfer, Sub-Mariner, Valkyrie (all Defenders)
Hawkeye (all Defender associates)
Black Knight, Black Panther, Captain America, Iron Man, Mantis, Scarlet Witch, Swordsman, Vision (all Avengers)


Story Notes: 

Background Information:
This issue is part of the Avengers/Defenders Crossover. It all started back in Defenders (1st series) #4 when the Black Knight was turned to stone after receiving a kiss from the Enchantress. Despite Dr. Strange’s mystic prowess nothing worked to free the Avenger. Strange was finally able to contact the Black Knight after sensing his essence trapped in the Dark Realm. Unfortunately Dormammu and Loki were also residing in the Dark Realm. Dormammu managed to intercept Dane’s return message and twist it to his own means, convincing the Defenders the only way to free the Black Knight was to collect the six scattered pieces of the Evil Eye. In actuality with the pieces combined Dormammu would be able to suck Earth into his dimension and conquer it.

So the Defenders took off for the locations of the Evil Eye fragments. Loki realized he bit off more than he could chew teaming up with Dormammu, because if his plan worked Dormammu would have the ability to take over Asgard. So Loki sent a message to the Avengers warning them the Defenders have captured the Black Knight and are out to conquer the world with the Evil Eye. The Avengers were hesitant, but eventually believed the trickster, and went to the various locations to stop the Defenders. This all took place in Defenders (1st series) #8 and Avengers (1st series) #116.

The first Matchup featured the Silver Surfer, who went up against the Vision and the Scarlet Witch and came out the victor, Avengers (1st series) #116. In Defenders (1st series) #9, Hawkeye bested Iron Man, and Dr. Strange triumphed over the Black Panther and Mantis.

This issue picks up where Defenders (1st series) #9 left off, the Defenders currently holding three out of the six Evil Eye segments.

In Thor (1st series) #207 a lightning bolt from Thor's hammer struck Loki's fire-sword, causing the blindness he suffers from in this issue. Special thanks to Monolith

Valkyrie’s name is misspelled “Valkrie” in the Chapter 7 title.

Originally, the Swordsman was a petty thief at the carnival where he first met and trained Hawkeye. He later graduated to more mercenary work. In early Avengers stories, he worked for the Mandarin, the then-criminal Black Widow, and was part of the Grim Reaper's Lethal Legion. He eventually got down on his luck, though, and became a drunken bum/minor-league enforcer for a crimelord in Vietnam, Mantis's uncle. Mantis was working as a barmaid in the nearby village and, after the Swordsman was injured in battle and left for dead, she nursed him back to health. Special thanks to Monolith

Valkyrie took the Black Knight’s sword after he was turned to stone in Defenders (1st series) #4.

The Sub-Mariner fought Captain America once before in Avengers (1st series) #4 (for one panel).

This Crossover is continued in Defenders (1st series) #10 where the mighty Thor battles the incredible Hulk.

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