Avengers (1st series) #26

Issue Date: 
March 1966
Story Title: 
The Voice of the Wasp!

Stan Lee (writer), Don Heck (pencils), Frank Ray (inks), Artie Simek (letters)

Brief Description: 

Tony Stark has given the Avengers a new machine that will make it easier for them to communicate and leave messages for one another, should one of them not be present on the time of departure on a mission. Uninterested, Hawkeye starts bickering at Cap, who tells Clint to just go away if he doesn’t care. Clint does as told, and leaves. However, at the same time, former Avengers Giant-Man and Wasp have just survived an attack from Namor. Fearing that he might go back to New York and attack the city, Janet decides to go warn the Avengers, just in case. Unfortunately, on her way there, she ends up a prisoner of Namor’s enemy, Attuma. He thinks of the Wasp a spy and orders to destroy her. Luckily, while in her cell, Janet manages to escape and, with a communication device, manages to reach the Avengers at their mansion, and gives them her coordinates. Though Hawkeye hasn’t returned yet, Quicksilver, Captain America and the Scarlet Witch leave anyway. Unfortunately, they end up caught as well. They try to fight back, but Attuma defeats them all. His private sentries think that Attuma wouldn’t have won the battle if the Avengers still had enough oxygen, so, to prove them wrong, he allows the Avengers a rematch. However, in the heat of the battle, Pietro ends up caught by Attuma and Wanda worries about her brother’s safety. She accidentally destroys the walls of the ship, and water starts floating inside. Not caring about the Avengers’ safety, Attuma simply continues the battle, confident that he’ll win again and will succeed in his plan to over flood the entire world and conquer it! Later, Hawkeye returns to an empty mansion, and realizes something’s wrong. He tries to activate the communication machine, but fails to remember the activation code. He remembers another machine from Stark, which might get his memory back, and goes to sit in it, hoping it’ll work. As Clint activates the machine, he doesn’t notice that another costumed individual enters the room, with apparently no good intentions at all.

Full Summary: 

Captain America has summoned his fellow Avengers, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch around him. They are impatient and want to know why they have been called, as it looks like there isn’t any danger. Cap decides not to have them wait any longer, and explains that Tony Stark has sent him a note this morning, in which Tony revealed that he has developed a new, tamper-proof for the Avengers to leave messages for one another.

Hawkeye doesn’t understand what’s wrong with their old method of secret cartridges. Cap had a feeling Clint might ask that, and defends that they just weren’t secretive enough. Cap decides to show the youngsters what he means. He takes a dummy tape as example, which on it reads that people can meet them at the castle of Dr. Doom. Cap is aware that, no matter where they leave the tape, there’s always someone who can find it. But, Stark has developed a new transistorized microphone, which will only respond to the voices of the Avengers!

And, in order to receive the message, the visi-projector, which Cap demonstrates on a viewing screen, is programmed to reproduce it by their voice command, provided the members also dial 1313 on the magnetic de-coder. He asks if everyone understands this. Wanda admits that Tony Stark is truly a genius. Cap agrees, and finds it a pity that Stark hasn’t any super-powers, or else he could join the team. Cap stops talking, and notices that Hawkeye isn’t with them anymore.

Hawkeye was bored by the endless talking, so he decided to go working out instead! Cap defends that he was explaining something important, but Clint doesn’t buy that. Pietro doesn’t have Cap’s patient or tolerance, and fights Hawkeye. Clint fires some arrows, but Pietro dodges them all. But he makes the mistake to make a quick stop, which is enough for Hawkeye to fire again, and this time he hits Pietro. He starts running and fighting again, but Cap puts his shield between the two young heroes, and stops their battle.

Cap orders Hawkeye that he better shakes hands with Pietro and makes up. Clint jokes that he doesn’t want to hurt his “dad’s” feelings, so he does as told and they shake hands. Hawkeye wants to leave to town now. Cap asks Clint to wait, and remembers him that the Avengers handled themselves pretty well without Hawkeye in the past, and can do it again if necessary. Hawkeye defends that was in the days that Cap had Thor, Giant-Man and Iron Man as backup, but they aren’t around any more. Hawkeye knows that the Avengers can use all the help they can get, and he’ll stick with it. Cap has heard enough bickering for one day, and just tells Clint to get out. Cap is confident however that one day, Hawkeye will learn the value of teamwork, but that it will be the hard way.

Pietro suggests to his sister that they best leave now as well. Wanda agrees, and goes, recognizing that Cap endures so much to keep the Avengers together, and that none of them can help him, as it’s a path that Cap walks alone.

Meanwhile, Namor is swimming towards the Eastern seaboard, and has just destroyed a ship, and is now heading towards a new mission.

At the same time on the exploration ship Namor just tackled, the Wasp warns her lover that Namor is heading towards New York, and that he has to change into Giant-Man and stop him. Hank feels that he can’t do that, and has to stay there to finish his job. Janet understands, but they have to do something to warn the city. Hank has discovered that the radio is broken, thanks to the fire on the ship, and thinks it’s up to Janet and her shrinking powers to go warn the New Yorkers.

Janet agrees, and changes instantly into a tiny, little Wasp! Hank is surprised at how fast Janet managed to change size, and she mentions that she has been practicing her powers for months. Hank warns that they don’t want to cause any panic, and suggests that Janet goes out to inform the Avengers. Janet agrees. They take goodbye, and she leaves. As she goes, Janet realizes that her lover only lets her take the flight because he knows there’s no danger in it. But she doesn’t mind, and loves Hank for his concern. Janet thinks that the city is too far ahead in order to fly there straight without taking a pause and thinks that, if she’s tired, she can just float for a while on the water.

And so, a few minutes later, Janet floats. She recalls that, when she and Hank left the Avengers and temporarily retired, she left her Wasp costume on shore, but for a simple mission like this she thinks her bathing suit will do just fine. She thinks that at the rate she’s going now, it won’t take her long before she reaches the city. Janet only wishes that she knew why Namor is headed for America again, and hopes that the Avengers will be able to deal with the Sub-Mariner.

As she continues to swim, Janet doesn’t notice that she’s being watched. Under the sea, in a ship, a mysterious villain prepares his move, and decides to go for it. He presses a button, and Janet gets caught in some sort of giant hoop! The hoop traps Janet, and sinks her below to the ship. Janet tries to figure out who caught her, and realizes she only knows two underwater villains. And since she knows that Namor would never go for something like this, it can only be one other person:

Attuma! The Wasp recognizes the villain from their earlier encounter, but remembers that Attuma only saw her in uniform on that day, and doesn’t think he’ll recognize her without it. Attuma is pleased at his new catch, and gives Janet a protective helmet, which he explains she’ll need to be able to breathe, as here on the ship the humidity is different than on land, since they don’t breath air the same way. Attuma mentions that he caught Janet, thinking that she is a spy.

He’s confident that nobody can stop him, as his hidden Tidal-expander is already at work, making the tides of Earth grow higher with each passing hour, slowly at first so that the humans won’t notice it before it’s too late. Once finished, the expander will cause entire cities to flood with water, and Attuma is confident that nobody will expect that he is behind it. After the humans have tried to escape, Attuma plans to conquer them and use them as slaves in his battle against his greatest foe, Namor. After Namor’s supposed defeat, Attuma plans to erase Namor’s existence from Atlantean records, and afterwards he’ll rule the upworld. And after that’s done, Attuma plans to point his attention skywards, and conquer the heavens!

Attuma thinks he has said enough, and wants to expose of Janet. He removes her breathing helmet and traps her in a cage, hoping that without oxygen she’ll soon perish. A few moments later, Janet notices that her guard has dozed off, and decides to make her move. She shrinks to Wasp size, and escapes through her cage’s tiny grids. A few seconds later, Janet has made it to the control panels of the ship. She is happy that Hank spent time with her, teaching her the fundamentals of electro-communications. She finds something what looks like a communicator and, without her guard noticing it, Janet desperately tries to reach the Avengers.

The call luckily reaches the Avengers at their Mansion. Though hearing Janet’s warning with her using her final breath, Wanda can’t help but fear that it might be another trap, like Dr. Doom tried recently. Cap agrees with the possibility, but recognizes Janet’s voice and thinks they can’t risk not going after her. Cap tries to reach Hawkeye. He’s sitting in a restaurant in costume, and is awed by the other customers, especially all the female ones. Clint tries to show off and shows the girls his Avengers communicating ring.

But, he accidentally drops it, and doesn’t bother to pick it up, too amazed by the girls’ beauty. Unfortunately, thanks to this, Clint fails to hear the Avengers emergency call. Realizing they can’t reach Hawkeye, Cap refuses to waste any more time, and tells Pietro and Wanda to just follow him. They leave in their ship and Cap thinks that, if Attuma’s destructive machine is real, it’s up to them to destroy it. Thanks to the warnings of the Wasp, the Avengers know that Attuma’s base was 300 miles due of Cape Hattaras. So, with the speed they travel at now, the Avengers suspect to be there within the hour. Wanda and Pietro wonder how Hawkeye will reach them, but Cap thinks that’s Clint’s own problem.

Unfortunately, Attuma notices the heroes on his viewing screens, and demands them caught. His helpers pull out a gigantic pincer shot from the ship, and the device clutches the Avengers’ plane. The plane gets pulled down, and the Atlantean warriors demand that their new prisoners raise their hands and surrender. Captain America doesn’t want to, and proudly jumps out of the plane, and shouts that they are… the Avengers! Cap opens the battle, but has the hardest time breathing. He orders Pietro and Wanda to try and find the flood-tide machine while he’ll keep the warriors busy.

Wanda gets surrounded by Atlantean warriors as well, and Pietro has to search on his own. She manages to defeat the troops wit her powers, but ends up defeated by Attuma, when he pulls out his tricks and makes Wanda fall asleep by hitting her with his sleep gun. Quicksilver leaves the battlefield, and after a few minutes has already covered most of the fleet, but failed to find the machine. Pietro realizes that he has never seen a flood-tide machine, but declares not to stop searching before their mission is complete.

Pietro enters another room. Suddenly, he feels his heart slowing down, which is something he never occurred before. He gets ambushed by one of Attuma’s guards, but uses his speed powers to outmaneuver and tackle the guard down. Not noticing that Pietro’s condition is getting worse by the second, the trooper begs for his life. Pietro will spare him, but wants to know where the machine is he’s looking for. Suddenly, a voice from behind asks Pietro to ask him that question: it’s Attuma!

Attuma explains to Pietro that he has already captured his friends and that he’s the only enemy left. Attuma declares that Pietro will never find the machine, and starts fighting. Pietro won’t give up fighting, but fears he’ll soon be done for as it’s getting harder and harder to breath. Attuma slashes his with his sword a few times, and remembers Pietro that only Namor equals in strength to him, and nobody else. Pietro has had enough of the talking and, after running a few times in circles around Attuma, he knocks him out. Thinking his adversary to be defeated, Pietro wants to continue his search again, but… Attuma still lives! He gets up, and hits Pietro with a brick, and knocks him out thanks to the fact that Pietro has lost the last of his oxygen.

Attuma is confident that the Avengers are the best fighters on the surface, and has nothing to fear from the other humans. He takes Pietro with him, and returns to his private sentries. They inform Attuma that the first girl they caught has escaped, and think that Attuma only won because his adversaries lost their oxygen. Attuma declaims otherwise, but the privates are certain of themselves. Attuma is confident to prove themselves, and orders to put the breathing helmets back on the heads of the Avengers, and he will prove his worth in an equal battle.

After doing so, Attuma gathers the Avengers in a fighting arena and promises that, if they defeat him, they can have their freedom back. Wanda wishes that Hawkeye and his arrows were with them to even the odds. The battle begins.

Pietro and Cap rush towards Attuma and, though hitting him on different sides of his body, attack at the same time. Attuma remains unharmed though, and slams both heroes down. He raises his sword to finish the job. Wanda notices that it’s time for her to do something, and uses her Hex powers to make Attuma’s sword too hot to hold up. He drops the sword. Cap and Pietro fight back, but Attuma still manages to dodge all of their moves and keeps punching them on the ground. Pietro refuses to surrender and keeps on fighting, but Attuma grabs him by his head and is ready to destroy the speedster.

Wanda won’t let any harm come to her brother and swears to safe him. She uses her Hex powers to break lose a piece out of a wall, and shatters a pillar and makes it fly straight to Attuma! Attuma releases Pietro, but orders his troops to seal off the flootgates, or else water will float inside it. The pillar hits a wall and breaks it, and water starts coming through. The Avengers have trapped themselves. Though the oxygen in their helmets can’t hold much longer, Attuma does not care and continues his battle against the heroes. All of Attuma’s followers are impressed by his strength and skills and are pleased that, soon, all the humans will be finally destroyed!

At the same time, back at the mansion, Hawkeye returns home. He finds it completely empty, and figures something must have happened while he was gone. He decides to go check if there’s a message on their new equipment, but fails to remember the activation code! Realizing what a fool he has been, Clint tries to remember if there’s not another way to remember the code. He gets an idea, and recalls that Tony Stark’s subliminal recall-inducer machine might bring his memories back. Clint runs to the room the machine is in and goes sit in it, and hopes that his plan will work.

However, as the machine gets activated, Hawkeye doesn’t noticed that another costumed individual has entered the mansion, and it doesn’t look like he’s got anything good planned!

Characters Involved: 

Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch (all Avengers)

Giant-Man, Wasp (both former Avengers)

Namor, the Sub-Mariner

Atlantean warriors & Attuma’s private sentries (all unnamed)

costumed villain (unnamed)

Story Notes: 

Giant-Man and the Wasp are both former Avengers, but took a leave of absence together with Iron Man in Avengers (1st series) #16. They gathered a new team of Avengers instead, which resulted in the joining of Quicksilver, Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch.

The Wasp and Attuma confronted each other earlier in Tales to Astonish #64.

The Avengers confronted Dr. Doom last issue.

Next issue reveals the costumed villain as the Beetle, though he does not get named throughout next issue’s entire story.

Tony Stark is of course Iron Man, but the Avengers aren’t aware of his double identity at this point.

The battle between Namor, Giant-Man and the Wasp can be found in Tales to Astonish #78.

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