> Avengers Masterworks Volume 2

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From the Mouths of the Marvels:

"I'll admit he's good-looking, Jan, but I'll bet that beard would tickle when he kisses a gal!”

-- Giant-Man, discussing Count Nefaria with the Wasp, page 5

Stan turns the Avengers into a medical melodrama.

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Avengers #13
February 1965 • 20 pages

Script: Stan Lee • Letters: Artie Simek
Pencils: Don Heck
Inks: Dick Ayers

Lineup: Captain America • Giant-Man • Iron Man • Thor • Wasp

Title: “The Castle of Count Nefaria!”

First Appearance/Villain: Count Nefaria, the Maggia

Guest Appearance: Rick Jones, Teen Brigade

Cameo: Fantastic Four

Innovation: Avengers underground emergency headquarters

Gadgets & Technology: electro-ray signal/electro-disc, Time Transcender Beams, Nefaria's dungeon system

Letters Page: Page One • Page Two

Synopsis: After Thor and Iron Man bust up a Maggia crime job, the Maggia bosses convene to discuss the threat of the Avengers, which is very much putting a crimp on their abilities. Suddenly, their meeting is interrupted by a communique via electro-ray from the Maggia boss, Count Nefaria. He beckons the leader of the Maggia group to touch the electro-disc, thus sending a projected image to his castle in Europe, where he metes out punishment for being so weak as to not be able to enact a simple robbery: banishment from the Maggia!

Now, Nefaria turns his attentions to defeating the Avengers, his new nemesis. Back in America, the Wasp reads in the newspapers about the super-wealthy Count Nefaria moving his castle- brick by brick- to American shores, settling in New Jersey overlooking New York City. Nefaria also announces a charity function, inviting the Avengers so they can raise lots of money. The group attends out of a feeling of charitable goodwill, and they are met by the Count Nefaria at the castle door, who tells them they all have their own private rooms where they can rest until the charity function begins. Cap tells Rick Jones and the Teen Brigade to wait outside with all the other civilians while they wait. Once in their own private rooms, the chambers are filled with a bright light that seduces them into an hypnotic state: these are Nefaria's Time Transcender Beams, and they keep the Avengers in a docile and unconscious state.

While they are debilitated, he creates 3D images of each of the Avengers and then sends the images to the Pentagon. There, they interrupt a meeting between top military brass and tell them that they are immediately and henceforth taking total control of the government. This declaration of war is met with incredulity by American government, and they reluctantly are forced to set up Operation Seek And Destroy to take care of the menace of the Avengers. Meanwhile, Rick and the Teen Brigade wait impatiently outside Nefaria's castle. Thinking something fishy is going on, they sneak inside where they are captured by Nefaria's goons and taken to a dungeon cell.

Later, Nefaria wakes the Avengers and sends them on their way, saying the charity event was cancelled. Once outside, they come under fire by the US Army. Having no idea what is going on, they do their best to fight off the attack without hurting anyone. Giant-Man and the Wasp read in the newspaper headlines that the Avengers are wanted for declaring war on America, so the team recons at their hidden emergency headquarters and discuss their next move. They compare notes on their experiences at Nefaria's castle, sharing an uneasy feeling that they were brainwashed or something.

Over at the Baxter Building, the Fantastic Four are preparing to fight the Avengers, but a Pentagon official arrives to tell them not to appear in public, as it is martial law against super-powered people, thanks to the Avengers!

Rick Jones activates a radio transmitter to reach Iron Man, but the golden Avenger's suit was damaged in the fight with the Army, and he doesn't pick up the signal. Nefaria does, though, and he moves the kids from Dungeon B to Dungeon K, where a sinister trap lays in wait for the teenagers. As part of Nefaria's declared policy of not physically harming any of his foes by his own hand, so as to not be prosecuted for the crimes should he be caught, the trap in Dungeon K does not impart a lethal force to the Teen Brigade. Instead, the walls of the chamber close in around them so that they can only stand in the cell without being crushed; then, the walls are coated with a poisonous substance that will make them paralyzed if they touch it. Thus, the Teen Brigade must remain standing at all times in order to continue living.

Fortunately for Rick and the boys, the Avengers are at the castle, but their progress is slowed when Thor, Giant-Man, the Wasp and Iron Man are all paralyzed when they touch the castle walls. Captain America notices this and leaps into the castle through an open window. Once inside, he faces off against a gang of thugs before making his way to the prison cell where Rick and the Teen Brigade anxiously await. He lets them go, then hands the antidote for the poison substance to Rick, who rushes outside to apply it to the rest of the team.

Captain America signals to a Navy destroyer floating up the river with his shield when he is struck down by Nefaria's ray gun. He is bound up in Dungeon G when Iron Man busts inside to free him! The thugs try to escape, but Giant-Man binds them up in a big net. Count Nefaria is cornered and tries to tell them the whole plot was just a big joke, a prank! Standing by is an Army General, who hears Nefaria's confession. This takes the heat off the Avengers, and they decide to deport Nefaria from America, where he'll be kicked out of Maggia leadership.

But suddenly, Rick Jones appears with the lifeless body of the Wasp in his arms. A stray bullet in the fighting struck her down, and she appears to be slipping fast...!!!

(continued in AVENGERS #14)

-- synopsis by Gormuu

-- panel images and letters pages provided by Avengers Assemble

Issues Reprinted
Avengers #11-20

Click on cover image to learn more about each issue.

AVG #11 AVG #12 AVG #13 AVG #14 AVG #15
AVG #16 AVG #17 AVG #18 AVG #19 AVG #20


All cover images are courtesy of the Silver Age Marvel Comics Cover Gallery.

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