- This whole team has been falling short of its rep, lately...
Appearing in "To Fall by Treachery!"
- Lethal Legion
- Count Nefaria (Luchino Nefaria)
- Luke Cage (Power Man) (Mentioned)
- Alice Nugent
- Whizzer (Robert Frank)
- Vision (Mentioned)
- Dr. Stancheck (First appearance)
- Hellen Rachelson (First appearance)
- Professor Sturdy (First appearance)
- Withers (First appearance)
- Heinrich Zemo (Mentioned)
- Hulk (Bruce Banner) (Referenced)
Races and Species:
- Solar System
- Yellowjacket's Suit
- Panther Habit
- Captain America's Uniform and Shield
- Wasp's Suit and Bio-Synthetic Wings
- Iron Man Armor Model 4
Synopsis for "To Fall by Treachery!"
Wonder Man is the focus of attention at the start of this story, as the Avengers consult with Tony Stark (whom, of course, they are unaware is their leader Iron-Man) and a Stark technician named Alice to investigate his new ionic energy form. Alice states that Simon didn’t die as everyone believed (in issue #9) but went into a dormant state of metamorphosis, like a caterpillar in its chrysalis before emerging as a butterfly.
Throughout the examination, the Beast tries to speak up but is repeatedly cut off by the rest of the group. Feeling ignored, he quietly departs. In a bout of self-pity, he stalks off in a trenchcoat and fedora, concerned about the reactions he’ll get from the general public. Confirming his fears, a hot dog vendor he approaches runs away in horror at the sight of him. But then, to his surprise, he is mobbed by women who gush over him as if he were one of the Beatles!
As he basks in his newfound sex symbol status, the Beast fails to notice a sinister figure drive past him in a Rolls Royce. This person drives to a harbor warehouse where he finds a worker lifting massive crafts with his bare hands. The figure identifies the worker as the supervillain Power Man, who insists he’s left his villainous life behind him. His mystery visitor, now revealed to be Count Nefaria, makes him an offer that he doesn’t refuse. Nefaria states that his first assignment will be to break two particular men out of prison.
Several days later, Bob Frank (a.k.a. The Whizzer) is reading about the prison break by a pair of supervillains and suspects this might lead to the Avengers' involvement. He has the television on and sees a live update about a bank robbery in process nearby, prompting him to try and spring into action as the Whizzer. However, his “daughter” Wanda (the Scarlet Witch) drops by at that moment and reminds him of his heart condition. She insists he takes it easy while she takes care of the bank heist.
The heist is being pulled off by Power Man along with the Living Laser and Whirlwind. Before Wanda arrives, several other Avengers make it to the scene. There is a brief scuffle in which the Avengers are briefly overpowered by the three villains who seem to have had their abilities amped up and manage to escape.
In an uptown townhouse, one equipped with a high-tech lab in its sub-basement, Count Nefaria convenes with a small group of scientists in his employ. This group includes Prof. Sturdy, the former Nazi scientist who devised the enhancing ray that gave Wonder Man AND Power Man their superhuman strength. They've been working on a mysterious Project N for the Count, and it involves the three villains, who don’t realize they’re being used. Over a video linkup, Nefaria dispatches the villains on a new assignment.
The next day, the Avengers are holding a meeting although their chairman Iron-Man is absent. Captain America is on the verge of making a motion to replace him in absentia when a car is suddenly thrown through the second-story windows, injuring the Wasp in the process.
- Script: Byrne provided dialogue in this story on page 14 panel 7, "visual bits," and the introduction of Maximoff per letters page in Avengers #168.
- Apart from the cover, no-one ever actually refers to the three villains assembled by Nefaria as the Lethal Legion in the course of the story, although they were all members of that supervillain team during its one previous appearance (while being led by the Grim Reaper) in #78 - 79.
- The Beast remarks that he misses "Patsy", meaning Patsy Walker who became the Hellcat. Later in the issue, he exclaims "Oh my stars and garters!" for the first time. This is an exclamation that the Beast and Hellcat have both employed at various moments.
- Initially, Power Man has given up on a supervillain career and is a (superstrong) warehouse employee. This minor bit of characterization fits nicely with his future depiction in the Thunderbolts as blue-collar Joe Sixpack who doesn't particularly like being a villain and grows to like being a superhero.
- There are two minor continuity errors in the story: the interactions by the three villains suggest they don't know or are even all that familiar with each other, even though they were all members of the Grim Reaper's previous Lethal Legion team (and Power Man and Living Laser were both part of the Mandarin's' assembly of Avengers villains in Avengers Annual #1.) Also, during their first skirmish, Captain America thinks to himself "Whoever he is..." referring to Power Man. But Cap and Power Man have already crossed paths numerous times before, both in past Avengers issues and in Cap's own series.
- Slightly less incongruous is the interaction between Wanda and her (presumed) father, the Whizzer. Wanda calls him "dad" and they interact as a typical father and daughter would. But at this point, the two had only recently learned of their familial connection (which was later retconned anyway) and actually barely knew each other.
- Wanda also mentions the flying belt she used in #159 (although a footnote mistakenly states she used it in #16). She relates that the belt proved to be unreliable and thus she was forced to discontinue using it. Several readers had written in to ask why the Scarlet Witch could suddenly fly in #159 when she never had before.
- In between #162 and this issue, Yellowjacket and the Wasp appeared in Marvel Team-up #59 -60, in which the heroic duo had their superpowers significantly upgraded (which is noted by the villains in this issue). Ironically though, the Wasp is almost immediately knocked out and then decommissioned for the entirety of the next issue.
- This issue contains a letters page, "Avengers Assemble". Letters are published from Michael R. Lettner and Garth Kriewell.
- Whirlwind seems to be the only member of the Lethal Legion not to have lasting aftereffects of Nefaria's duplicity. Power Man's decline in strength seems to accelerate, leading to his defeat by Spider-Man in Spectacular Spider-Man #49, while the Living Laser's powers start spiraling out of control, necessitating his alliance with the East Germans in Iron Man #153.
- The Beast notes that he has been missing from the team for days because he was spending considerable time with young females. One name mentioned is "Paty", a reference to Marvel Artist and Head of Production Paty later the wife of Dave Cockrum.
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