Avengers (1st series) #165

Issue Date: 
November 1977
Story Title: 
Hammer of Vengeance!

Jim Shooter (writer), John Byrne (guest penciler), Pablo Marcos (inker), Denise Wohl (letterer), Phil Rachelson (colorist), Archie Goodwin (editor)

Brief Description: 

The Avengers are under attack by Nefaria and he toys around with them. None of them can harm or defeat him and finally he drops a whole building on them and leaves. He robs a bank and takes a beautiful female hostage, as the Whizzer confronts him. The old hero too has no chance to defeat him, but he states that how great Nefaria’s might may be, he will die of old age one day, like any other human. Nefaria realizes that the Whizzer is right and departs. In the meantime Iron Man freed the Avengers of the rubble, and is attacked by his team as he was unavailable for personal reasons, yet as acting Chair the team needs to be Iron Man’s top priority. Nefaria crashes into the mansion and demands to battle Thor to wrest the secret of immortality from him. A second fights starts and again the Avengers are defeated one by one. After all are down, suddenly Nefaria is struck by lightning, finally Thor has arrived. In another part of the mansion the Vision is seen in a healing tank.

Full Summary: 

Nefaria is on a power trip! He slaps down Cap and the Black Panther, and when the Beast recovers and charges him, Nefaria swats him away without appearing to have moved a muscle, stating "I have little use for mutant scum anyway!". The Scarlet Witch is incensed at this, and lets loose a controlled hex that sends another large chunk of the sidewalk flying at Nefaria. This he easily melts with his heat ray/eye beams. Yellowjacket is up next, and he is actually caught but before Nefaria can squeeze his hand, Wonder Man makes the next strike. Wondy lands two fairly effective blows, but is unprepared when Nefaria rises. "I don't CARE! I'll keep smashing you till you surrender! I'm WONDER MAN!" To which Nefaria sends him flying through a wall of Avengers Mansion (ruining the new costume the Beast had designed).
Wonder Man is more concerned with the power in the mansion than any injuries he may have suffered. He states this to Jarvis who in turn becomes alarmed that something may have happened to the Vision. The Vision is recuperating in a tank designed by Tony Stark and Hank Pym. He has been in this state since being knocked out by Ultron. (in #161-162)
Back out in the street, Cap and the Beast both grab an edge of Cap's shield and fling it at Nefaria. He grabs the shield from the air, but is surprised that he cannot harm or otherwise damage the shield. Frustrated, he flings the shield away absent-mindedly, knocking the Black Panther out cold! While the Avengers try to regroup, Nefaria lifts a 40-story building and topples it on top of the Avengers. Nefaria walks away exulting "They're DEAD!"
At this point, we are introduced to Henry Peter Gyrich! For now, all we see is him striding through the battle zone towards Avengers Mansion.
Nefaria is smug and enjoying his new-found power. He first rips open a bank vault with his bare hands, then he kidnaps a girl wearing a tube top and bell bottoms (it was the 70's!) and takes her to the top of a nearby building so that he can share his triumph with someone. The Whizzer appears on the scene and tells him to let her go. He thinks that Nefaria has killed Wanda and the other Avengers and he keeps raining blows on Nefaria, but to no avail. Next comes one of the best speeches in an Avengers mag. "Go ahead! Use your power! Conquer the world.. if you can! How old are you Nefaria? Fifty? More? You're past your prime! You've acquired your strength just in time to watch it fade with the dregs of your youth! In twenty.. maybe thirty years, you'll be dead -- and the world will be RID of you! Count Nefaria will be a nightmare that has ended -- another Hitler, scarring the pages of history!" This speech causes Nefaria to fly off to formulate a plan so that he can't grow old and die.
Iron Man comes flying in full of self-recrimination concerning his whereabouts while he was off fighting his personal problems. He reaches the rubble of the toppled building and starts to blast through to see if anyone survived. He is surprised to see that they ALL survived, and that Wonder Man was holding the whole thing up until help arrived. They return to the Mansion where Iron Man decides that it's now HIS turn to take on Nefaria. Scarlet Witch really takes offense at this and tells Iron Man that this is a team and if he won't lead them, then to step down! At this point, Nefaria bursts through yet another wall of the mansion, demanding that the Avengers contact Thor. Iron Man tells everyone to stay back so that he can handle the fight alone. Grudgingly, they let Iron Man have the first crack, but when it is apparent that Iron Man will not prevail alone, Beast, Black Panther and Scarlet Witch join the fight. Nefaria knocks them out and Cap and Yellowjacket as well. Iron Man has recovered and takes the fight to Nefaria again, but Nefaria will not fall. He wants Thor, so that he can wrest the secret of his immortality from him. Iron Man manages to stagger Nefaria for an instant, but Wonder Man doesn't deliver the final blow. He gets thrown back into the mansion knocking out Cap. Cap's attention was diverted from the fight by a fleeing Yellowjacket. Suddenly, there is a mighty crash of lightning and a voice.. "Thou hast dared much villain-- and, verily, thine hour of judgment hath come!" Thor is back!

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Black Panther, Captain America, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Vision, Wonder Man, Yellowjacket (all Avengers)

Whizzer (Avengers ally)
Jarvis, the Avengers’ butler
Henry Peter Gyrich, national security
Count Nefaria
Prof. Kenneth Sturdy, scientist working for Nefaria

Story Notes: 

First appearance of Henry Peter Gyrich (name revealed in #168)

Written By: