Avengers (1st series) #211

Issue Date: 
September 1981
Story Title: 
By Force of Mind

Jim Shooter (writer), Gene Colan (penciler), Dan Green (inker), Janice Chiang (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist), Jim Salicrup (editor)

Brief Description: 

Captain America has decided to reduce the number of active Avengers. He calls a meeting for 1600 hours, giving them time to think about their futures. Jocasta is feeling like she doesn’t fit in and a conversation with the Vision does nothing to allay her worries. Wonder Man and Beast fool around a while, before Simon informs Hank that he is going to voluntarily leave the team to concentrate on being Simon Williams, and also on his acting career. Everyone reconvenes for the meeting, but they are joined by Moon Knight, who has been taken over by mental control from an unseen source. He is followed to the mansion by several more heroes, including Hercules, Iceman, the Angel and Dazzler. To Captain America’s surprise and astonishment, Iceman and Moon Knight begin to fight inside the mansion. When their battle ends, Tigra and the Angel begin one of their own. An outside force is suspected and it is soon revealed to be a former Avenger, Moondragon. When they ask her why she is causing trouble, she replies that she is there to help them reorganize; likening them to children. Hawkeye is allowed to depart, along with the Black Panther and Black Widow. Moondragon then places the senior Avengers in her mental thrall, and asks Dazzler to show her talents. After a brief display, Moondragon comments that Dazzler’s power is greater than she suspects, but knows she wants to further her singing career more than play hero. Dazzler leaves and, whilst Moondragon is distracted, Iron Man manages to escape the mansion and free himself of her mental control. When he returns, Moondragon beams back to her starship, rather than face the Avengers in battle. Everyone then leaves, except for Tigra, who asks if she can join the team. With the resignations of Beast, Vision and the Scarlet Witch, as well as Wonder Man, Tigra is welcomed to the team, as is Yellowjacket, who rejoins after an absence. As the new roster is hailed on television, Jocasta leaves the mansion, feeling the Avengers have forgotten about her.

Full Summary: 

(Avengers Mansion)
Captain America, the current Avengers chairman, decides to invoke his right to limit the number of active Avengers. Presently, there are nine of them and Cap feels that, as they have a habit of playing for high stakes, a smaller, close-knit group would operate better. He tells the team that only six can stay; the rest must go.

Beast jokes that the only way he’ll go is with explosives. His friend, Wonder Man, whispers to Wasp, who is perched on his shoulder, saying that he was never any good at this hero stuff anyway. The Vision exclaims that he and his wife, the Scarlet Witch, stay or go as one, and she agrees with his comments.

Cap adjourns the meeting and asks for it to reconvene at 1600 hours. In the meantime, everyone should get some rest. Thor feels Cap’s decision is a wise one. He wears the mantle of leadership well, but it seems to weigh heavily upon him. He wishes he could speak with Cap about this, but he has duty to attend to elsewhere.

Beast thinks that, except for the Wasp, this crowd’s pretty grim. He can fix that. As the team disperses, he bounds across the room, hopping over Wanda and Wonder Man, grabbing Simon’s ruby sunglasses as he leaps. Simon doesn’t like having his glowing eyes on show and demands his glasses back, but Beast is in a playful mood and heads away. As he tears past Jan, she cries, “Hank! If you’ve put a run in my leotard…” Hank replies that at least she’ll be right in style, what with punk being in fashion at the moment.

Wonder Man pursues Hank through the mansion. “Come on, you lame-brained blue-furred buffoon!” he cries. Hank replies that he’ll have his friend know he is a highly intelligent blue-furred buffoon. He holds a dozen PhD’s and speaks fifty-three languages. But, he tells Simon, he don’t get no respect. Meanwhile, Jan grows to her normal human size and thinks she needs to get her hair done for the meeting. She thinks that Vidal’s probably busy, but she reckons he won’t mind postponing some ordinary movie starlet’s appointment for the chance to do an actual Avenger’s coiffure.

Vision thinks it’s odd that Jan’s greatest worry is about her hair-do. The possibility that she may be cut from the team seems not to trouble her. Wanda tells him that it’s probably because she has a life outside the team, in the real world. Jocasta asks Vision if she can have a word and he stalls, though he is eager to follow his wife to their room.

Jocasta tells him that she needs advice. She feels like an outsider, and yet, she has nowhere else to go. He has learned to fit in, even though he’s a robot, as she is. Her sentence is broken off by Vision, who coldly replies that he is not a robot; he is a synthezoid. Through the door, Wanda asks him to hurry and Vision continues to inform Jocasta that, as such, he is a perfect meld of computer micro-circuitry and living, synthetic flesh. In all ways, he is a fully functional man. He has a wife who needs him now. He cannot help with her dilemma.

He phases through the ceiling and away from the conversation, leaving Jocasta to try and stutter an apology for inferring they were alike. Once his body has passed through into the next room, Jocasta wonders if he is truly so different than she. Her voice may ring metallic, but his is cold, hollow and emotionless. She has built-in sensors. She can see, hear and feel. She functions well enough doesn’t she? She asks herself, what does it take to be alive? Does it take warm flesh? Is she merely animated, because she is made of metal? She did not choose to be what she is. Disconsolate, she sits and wonders why, as they were both created by Ultron and both chose to side with the Avengers, she is made to feel less than he. She is alone, and at least Ultron loved her.

Meanwhile, outside the mansion, Wonder Man continues his pursuit of Beast. He hops through the gardens and into a tree, but Wonder Man simply chops the tree down with one slice of his hand. He asks Hank if he’s surprised that he could do that, but Hank replies that he didn’t think he could be so dumb! Cutting down trees is against the law in this town. He has half a mind to turn him in. Simon replies, “Half a mind - well said!” He catches Beast as he falls, again surprising Hank with his swiftness. Simon tells him that people think he’s just strong. Everybody forgets that he has instantaneous reflexes and blinding speed. To him, the world looks like it’s moving in slow motion. He removes his glasses from Hank’s hand and places them over his glowing eyes.

Hank asks to be put down, so Simon instead hurls him skywards. Hank covers his eyes, preparing for the worst, thinking his friend killed him over a crummy prank. For stealing his glasses, he’ll end up a blue blotch on the street. His girlfriends won’t recognize him! He descends at speed but, fortunately, Wonder Man is there to catch him safely. He tells Simon that for a common ruffian, he’s a decent guy.

Simon wipes some dust off Hank’s shoulder and tells Hank he’s going to miss hanging around with him. Hank asks him what makes him think he’ll be cut. Simon replies that he’s leaving voluntarily. He’d planned to anyway. He’s going to try to make it as plain old Simon Williams. He doesn’t really like facing death a dozen times a week, despite being darn near invulnerable and loaded with raw power. Hank hangs upside down from a branch (on a tree Simon missed), and replies that he never considered dying until a few moments ago. Simon reckons that being a hero doesn’t make you a person any more than having power makes you a hero. Despite this, Hank says he’s staying.

Later, in Iron Man’s private rooms, Tony Stark is speaking to a man named Pierre on the phone about some cost estimates, when he receives an important message asking him to report for the meeting. In the Avengers Mansion basement, Captain America is working out. He isn’t looking forward to this cull of existing members, but feels it’s for the best. At that moment, outside, Dr. Donald Blake steps out of a yellow cab and enters the mansion’s gates. The cabbie wonders what a wimpy guy like him is doing at Avengers Mansion, and he’s half tempted to snoop around and find out.

Once out of sight of prying eyes, Blake strikes the ground with his walking stick and is magically transformed into the Norse god of thunder, Thor; his walking stick becoming the mighty Mjolnir. He is happy to engage in the meeting, as it’s been an honor to walk among his fellow Avengers. Still, he wonders if chosen to remain, will he do so?

The cabbie speeds away, but his journey is brought to an abrupt halt, when his mind is taken over by a strange, overwhelming force. All at once, it owns him. It commands him to seek a shadowed alley, and to change from his civilian clothes and his Jake Lockley identity, into those of the costumed crime-fighter, Moon Knight. He tosses the clothes into the trunk and, firmly in the grip of another, looks towards the mansion through narrowed, angry eyes.

Meanwhile, in the mansion, Captain America tries to bring order to the assembled Avengers. Jarvis appears and informs Cap that there’s someone here who absolutely insists upon entering. Moon Knight doesn’t even wait to be asked and storms into the lobby. Jarvis apologizes, and adds that the automatic defense system appears to have been turned off. He introduces the white-costumed man as Moon Knight, but he replies that they know; they summoned him.

Wasp is surprised by the statement and Cap tells him he needs to do some explaining and fast. Nobody asked him to come here. Before any explanation is forthcoming, Moon Knight is joined by several more heroes, all wondering why they too have been summoned to Avengers Mansion. Hercules, Hawkeye, the Black Widow, Angel, Yellowjacket, Dazzler, Tigra, Iceman and the Black Panther all enter the room wanting answers.

It’s a shock for the assembled Avengers. Beast wonders if it’s trick or treat night. The newcomers chat amongst themselves. Hercules is amused, but Dazzler is cold, as she is in close proximity to Iceman. Hawkeye is impatient, as he has things to do, and the Black Panther too is due at the UN to speak to the Security Council on behalf of his nation, Wakanda.

Moon Knight sees the rest of them follow him inside and figures it must be some kind of recruiting drive. He tells the Avengers he isn’t interested and Iceman adds that he isn’t either. He’s going to be a student and study accounting. His days of being the Iceman are over. The pair of them head to the door, but are inexplicably stopped in their tracks. Their minds are clouded and, for no good reason, Moon Knight picks a fight with the former X-Man.

Cap wonders why they’re squaring off, but is unable to stop the fight beginning, with Moon Knight using his agility to land a two-footed kick in Iceman’s face. Bobby says he used to work out with Beast when they were both with the X-Men, and he’s been trained to roll with a blow. Besides, it’s almost impossible to land a shot on his slippery, icy skin. Iceman reacts by creating an ice patch under Moon Knight’s feet, which causes him to slip. Iceman knows he should put his opponent down while he has the opportunity, but, for some reason, his head hurts, as if somebody else was in there with him. He takes a kick at Moon Knight but misses. Knight feels the weird sensation too, but still manages to avoid his attack.

Immediately, Moon Knight pulls a couple of crescent darts from his belt and seizes the offensive. He knows Iceman will block them, but they’ll distract him while he follows up with another attack. Iceman, however, knows this and prepares for a follow up, but both are struck down by a mental bolt. Yellowjacket suspects who might be behind this little game but, before he can answer Thor’s demand for an answer, Angel takes to the air, compelled to fly. Jan tries to get through to Hank Pym, who has gone into a mental stupor, whilst Tigra is the next hero to fall victim to mind control.

She sees Angel flying overhead and says that cats eat birds. She leaps with her claws extended, but is unable to tag the ever-agile Angel. He continues to thwart her attacks and Iron Man can’t believe what’s going on inside the mansion. Jocasta feels they should stop them, but Vision suspects that, although Tigra and Angel battle, they will not actually cause harm to each other. Clearly, he thinks, someone is testing them. Beast is impressed that Tigra’s costume isn’t actually a costume at all. Her skin is really fur, like his. He should be thrilled but, instead, he finds it a little unsettling.

Watching unseen from behind the Avengers, Moondragon is revealed to be the culprit and the puppet master. She hears the Vision voice his opinion that the assailant must be striking from afar, and she thinks how logical he is, but how totally false. She decides to reveal herself, and Jocasta is the first to notice her in their midst. She points to Moondragon and everyone else turns to look.

The Scarlet Witch points out that they’d heard from Ben Grimm that she had gone into space at the side of the High Evolutionary. Moondragon replies that she sensed their need for organization, and so she returned. Iron Man asks her by what right she has to interfere, and Moondragon replies, “Why, divine right, naturally.” She reminds them of her origins.

Though she was born to humble Earthly parents, fate had chosen her for greatness; transcending humanity. She was raised from earliest youth by the Demi-Gods of Titan; heirs of the grandeur of Olympus. Within the hollow shell of Saturn’s largest moon, under their tutelage, she grew to womanhood. She honed her body to perfection, learning to wield the latent powers of her mind. In time, the Demi-Gods acknowledged her as an equal. Ultimately, she surpassed them. Now, she is Moondragon, truly the mistress of the mind.

Thor states that they know of her arrogance and asks if she recites her history for their pleasure or her own. More importantly, continues Iron Man, what does it have to do with their business? Moondragon says that who better than she to bring order to their tangled affairs. When last she left, she was still an Avenger-on-call, meaning that she would aid them in times of need. She is needed now. Iron Man has no answer.

Hawkeye has heard enough. He has a job as head of Cross Technologies, and he’s late for work. Moondragon allows him to leave, sensing that his correct path leads him away from the Avengers. “Baldy,” he replies, “If you’re so hot, why couldn’t figure that out without dragging me across town?” He leaves and is followed by the Black Panther, and the Black Widow, who has just started rebuilding her career as a super-spy for S.H.I.E.L.D. She’s not about to give that up just yet. T’Challa tells the Avengers that, if they need him, he can be contacted through the Wakandan embassy.

Hawkeye looks upwards and spots a helicopter heading his direction. He picks out a suction arrow and fires it at the passing craft. He is launched skywards and thinks about seeing the Black Widow again. Seeing her always puts a knot in his gut. She too thinks about Hawkeye, and wishes she had more time to talk.

Back inside, Moondragon wishes to continue with things. The senior Avengers find her attitude maddening, but she silences them with a psi-bolt, leaving them paralyzed until she has finished. With Captain America, Thor and Iron Man helpless, Moondragon asks Dazzler to show her what she can do. Alison sees no harm in a little demonstration, so she slips on her skates and turns her radio on, providing her light powers with the food it needs to dazzle. She says it’s not much of a power, but Moondragon replies that it is greater than she suspects. But, she senses Alison’s desire to be a minstrel is stronger than her desire to be a hero. She is asked to depart and Wanda okays her decision.

Alison departs the mansion, but feels kinda weird cutting out like this. Still, this is an Avengers gig, not hers. Wanda demands that Moondragon ceases this outrage. They can make their own decisions. Moondragon questions this statement. She says that some of them would choose to stay out of force of habit, or loneliness, or fear of failure of the world beyond these walls. “You are children,” she tells the Avengers, “It is far better that I choose.”

Iron Man feels that the situation is ugly and getting worse. To activate his armor, he only has to think about what to do and it will react to his thought commands. He activates his jet boots and rockets through the ceiling and then the mansion’s roof. Up above the mansion, Iron Man feels Moondragon’s paralysis fading. Her powers must have a limited range. Now that he is free of her thrall, he can fight back. Being an engineer, he surmises that brainwaves are electromagnetic in nature, so he can tune his built-in receiver to emit a microwave signal that’ll jam her psionic powers. She’ll feel like she’s got static on every channel.

He descends towards the mansion, and Moondragon can feel his approach by the crackling in her mind. She loses concentration for but a moment, and a group of Avengers and would-be Avengers rush her. However, she regains control quickly and erects a force field using power from her starship, redirected through her glove. Thor warns her that it won’t hold them for long.

Moondragon asks why they must resist her. Why can they not simply acknowledge that they need her godly guidance? She informs them that she has another group of candidates to summon, and can’t dally there much longer. Iron Man suddenly appears through the gaping hole in the ceiling. He is certain he can nullify her field in no time, and then he’s going to boot her back to Titan. Moondragon senses imminent defeat, but puts a brave face on things. “Have it your way,” she says, “I am needed elsewhere in the galaxy.” With her final comments, she vanishes in a blinding flash of light, beaming back to her starship.

The assembled heroes finally rub their heads, now free of Moondragon’s unwelcome attention. Thor asks the outsiders to depart immediately. Moon Knight is the first to leave, using his white cape to soar on the winds all the way to Jake Lackley’s cab. If he’s got a parking ticket, the judge will never believe him. Iceman also departs the mansion, but tells them that, if they ever need help with their budgets or tax forms, they can give him a buzz. Angel also takes to the air. He feels that he hasn’t really done much since the Champions disbanded, besides hang around with the X-Men a little. He’s never thought about becoming an Avenger, but maybe he ought to.

Tigra decides not to leave just yet. She figures that the Avengers weren’t really looking for new members after all but, now that she’s here, she asks if there’s any chance. Cap replies that they don’t know anything about her, but Hercules feels her actions in battle are good enough for him. Besides, he has been an Avenger often and knows little of some of the current team. He turns to Simon Williams and uses him as an example. He tells Simon that he is called Wonder Man, yet he knows not why. Simon replies that he’s almost as strong as Thor, and Hercules unexpectedly punches him clear through the wall, surprising Simon.

Hercules laughs and grabs Simon, as he gets up. He asks why Herc is attacking him for no reason, but Hercules replies that men must brawl to know one another. How better to learn the measure of a man? Simon gives Herc some of his own medicine, and punches him through another wall, right in front of Captain America. Hercules stands and shakes Simon’s hand. “What a blow! Your strength does indeed rival that of the thunder god. Hercules calls you friend.” He places his arm around Simon’s shoulder and leads him away, calling him a worthy Avenger. Simon tells him he was going to leave to pursue an acting career, and Herc promises to introduce him to many producers and directors he knows. Cap and Thor watch them leave, and Cap exclaims that you meet some strange folks in their business.

Tigra, seated, drags the attention back to her and her problem. She explains that she’s been at a loose end for a while now, and really wants to belong somewhere. She knows she could cut it as an Avenger. Cap replies that they have no room for her, but Beast cuts in and says they do, because he’s leaving. He and Wonder Man had a talk this morning that started him thinking. He hates to admit it, but a couple of things Moondragon said hit home. He used to be a scientist and used to have a future besides his next gag and tomorrow night’s date. He wants to see if there’s anything left of Hank McCoy besides a ‘blue-furred buffoon.’

The Scarlet Witch then adds that she and the Vision have come to a similar conclusion. Cap’s mouth drops open at this sudden cull of Avengers. The Vision tells Cap that they wish to succeed in finding a place among ordinary people. Cap figures that, even with Tigra, they still only number five, with him, Thor, Iron Man and the Wasp. Hank Pym cheers him up a little by offering his services. He’s ready to give up his reserve status and return to full-time duty. His research has been going nowhere lately anyway.

Meanwhile, while the discussions go on inside, Jocasta leaps from a balcony and into the grounds. She feels upset that no one even noticed her; or count her among the team. Was it an oversight, she wonders, or had everyone’s mind already been made up? What difference does it make, she thinks; maybe she’ll find someplace where she is wanted. Maybe she’ll find somebody who loves her. Troubled, Jocasta lopes off into the night.

Later, Wanda, the Vision and Hank McCoy chat outside. A cab arrives for the couple and the Vision informs Hank that they can be contacted at the Waldorf Hotel for the next few days. After that, he doesn’t know.

Iron Man watches them depart through the window. He tells the others that it’s hard to believe that those three are Avengers no longer. It’s also harder to believe, he continues, that Jocasta just ran off. He guesses, correctly, that she may have felt ignored. If only they’d had a chance to tell her that they’d discussed her case privately before the meeting. She would then have found out that they had agreed to grant her special substitute Avenger status, and to reside at the mansion in case others were absent. He hopes she returns and that Moondragon doesn’t.

Cap wonders if Moondragon simply wished for them to believe they drove her away. What if she used her mental powers subtly to influence the decisions that were made? Jarvis appears, and informs them that some newsmen have arrived.

Later, Iron Man reveals the new roster to a televised audience. A couple of people watching hope they give an ‘Avengers Assemble’ cheer, and they aren’t disappointed. The new team is revealed: Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Tigra, Wasp and Yellowjacket.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Captain America, Iron Man, Jocasta, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Tigra, Vision, Wasp, Wonder Man, Yellowjacket (all Avengers)

Taxi Driver

Moon Knight
Black Widow
Black Panther

Father and daughter

(in flashback)
Shao-Lom monks

(on television)
Iron Man

Story Notes: 

Vidal is Vidal Sassoon, an internationally regarded hair stylist.

Jocasta was created by Ultron, but she deserted him and moved into Avengers Mansion, home of his mortal enemies, becoming a good friend to the team. Following this issue, she found temporary comfort alongside Machine Man in Marvel Two-in-One #92 - 93.

Ben Grimm is the ever-lovin’ blue eyed Thing from the Fantastic Four. Moondragon joined the High Evolutionary in space in Marvel Two-in-One #63.

Following this issue, Angel, Beast and Iceman all eventually joined the New Defenders.

Although Yellowjacket rejoined the team, he was court-martialled two issues later and forced to leave once again.

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