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Quote1 You mixed-up, adorable nut! As if my life would mean anything to me if I lost you! Quote2
-- Wasp

Appearing in "The Agony and the Anthill!"

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Synopsis for "The Agony and the Anthill!"

Most of the team are relaxing in the newly refurbished Avengers Mansion lounge. The Scarlet Witch thinks that Captain America has seemed decidedly distracted recently. Cap is distracted by thoughts of a beautiful S.H.I.E.L.D. agent he's recently met whom he only knows as "Agent 13."

Hawkeye arrives with the recovered Black Widow. She announces that she's giving up her costumed identity and retiring from espionage work. The Wasp arrives as well, accompanied by her new chauffeur Charles. Goliath chides her for bringing an unknown person into the Mansion, but she counters that she just wanted to introduce him to the team so they know who he is when he comes and goes. Jan dismisses Charles for the time being.

Hercules makes strides to fit in with modern day society by shaving his beard and wearing a suit and tie. Sporting this new look, he asks Wanda out for a night on the town. Hawkeye and the former Black Widow, now just Natasaha, join them on a double date. As they stroll down the street, the naive Hercules notices stares (from female passerbys) and is concerned that he's doing something wrong. His friends assure him he is doing everything very right.

Elsewhere, Goliath's suspicions about "Charles" are proven correct: He's really the villain formerly known as the Human Top, an enemy of Giant-Man, who used his position as Wasp's chauffeur to get a close-up look at the security parameters at the mansion. Donning a new costume and calling himself Whirlwind, he plots to take revenge on Goliath.

Goliath is working in the mansion's lab, aided by Jan, when Whirlwind attacks. Taking them by surprise, he easily defeats them and shrinks them using Goliath's experimental new size-chaning ray. He then tosses them into a glass anthill (which Hank was using to test new control circuitry on) and sets to work planting a bomb to eliminate the rest of the team.

Without Hank's control helmet, Hank and Jan are viewed by the ants as intruders and attempt to kill them. They flee but Hank is caught. Jan attacks the ant grasping Hank in his mandibles, killing it. As it turns out, this was the hive's queen and without her guidance, the rest of the ants become docile. Using circuits contained in the glass structure, Hank cobbles together a new ant-control helmet and takes over the colony. He instructs the ants to transport him and Jan to the surface.

Meanwhile, Captain America and Quicksilver have returned to the mansion and found Whirlwind in the act of sabotage. They battle him to a standstill, but he escapes. As he retreats, Whirlwind gloats that neither of the heroes are aware of the explosive he planted in the lab.

Aided by the ants, Goliath reaches voice amplification equipment and warns Cap amd Pietro about the bomb. Grabbing it, Quicksilver rushes outside with it and throws it up into the air, letting it explode without causing harm. As he returns to the mansion, though, he overhears a few eyewitness pedestrians remark how they distrust both he and his sister Wanda as they are mutants. Pietro reflects that no matter how much good the twins do as Avengers, the public will never forget their past as Magneto's lackeys.

Goliath determines that his new headband is actually much improved on his old Ant-Man helmet. He decides to resume using the powers of Ant-Man as well as his Goliath abilities to help the Avengers.

Notes

  • The mystery woman, Agent 13, that Cap is obsessed with at the start of this issue is his long-time love interest Sharon Carter, who'd been recently introduced in Cap's solo series in Tales of Suspense.
  • Hercules and Wanda's date seems to suggest that a more serious romantic storyline was considered for the characters. It will not lead to anything, however, as within the next four issues, both characters will be written out of the series and go their separate ways.
  • Likewise, Hercules' clean-shaven look will not last. After he is written out of this series in Avengers 50, the character languishes in character limbo until Avengers 98, in which he'll once again be sporting a beard. He'll then keep it until well into the 1990s.
  • Whirlwind was last seen in Tales to Astonish 69 battling Giant-Man/Henry Pym while still using the alias "Human Top." He will appear next in Avengers 54. Whirlwind will continue posing as Jan's chauffeur until this secret identity is exposed in Avengers 139.
  • The anti-mutant remarks which Quicksilver overhears sets up a new storyline which will culminate in Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch defecting from the Avengers and once more joining Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in Avengers 49.
  • credits:
    • Stan Lee, Editor... Roy Thomas, Writer... And John Buscema, Artist, Again Pool Their Peerless Powers With Those Of Vince Colletta, Inker, And Sam Rosen, Letterer! More You Could Ask For?
  • references: Tales of Suspense #95, Avengers #44, and Tales to Astonish #50

Trivia

  • It is very possible that Hercules' clean-shaven look was a winking meta-message to comic book readers of the time. This issue has a publication date of November, 1967 and likely published in August, the tail end of the Summer of Love. At that time, young people across the country were embracing the hippie look (long hair and scruffy beards) much to the dismay of the older generation. The subtext of this subplot is quite clear: the clean-shaven, suit & tie "straight" style will get you noticed by females much more than the bearded hippie style.
  • The title for this story - "the Agony and the Anthill" - seems to be lifted from the popular 1960s book and film "the Agony and the Ecstasy", although there are no similarities between the plot of the book or film to this issue's story.

See Also

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