Avengers Vol. 1 No. 11

THE AVENGERS Vol. 1 No. 11
December 1964
"The Mighty Avengers Meet Spider-Man!"
Spectacular story by: Stan Lee
Incomparable illustrations by: Don Heck
Dazzling delineation by: Chic Stone
Lachrymose lettering by: Sam Rosen

Giant-Man is working in his laboratory when he receives a call from
Thor. Annoyed at the interruption of his experiments, he and the Wasp
nonetheless report to Avengers headquarters for an emergency meeting.
It seems that millionaire Tony Stark has been killed, and his
bodyguard Iron Man has gone missing. Not knowing that the two are one
and the same, the Avengers assume that Iron Man is trying to track
down Stark's killer. They vote to grant Iron Man a temporary leave of
absence until he finishes his mission.

The Avengers don't realize that they are being monitored by their
enemy Kang from the year 3000. He has been watching their battles, and
observes that the Masters of Evil came closest to destroying the
Avengers when they sent Wonder Man to infiltrate the team. Kang
decides to try a similar strategy, but using a robot so there will be
no chance of his spy betraying him. He briefly considers sending a
team of robots patterned after powerful villains, such as Absorbing
Man, the Unicorn, Mysterio, Magneto, and Dr. Doom, but decides that
they would just get in each others' way. No, a single hero robot is
his best bet, and the unique powers and loner status of Spider-Man
make him the ideal choice. Kang's Iso-Nuclear Duplicator analyzes
photographs and data about Spider-Man, and creates an exact copy with
all his powers and abilities. Kang gives the robot its instructions,
and sends it back to the 20th century.

As per Kang's calculations, the faux Spidey soon sees Captain America
battling a group of thugs. Spinning a giant web, the Spider-Robot
captures the crooks. Cap is grateful, but curious as to why Spider-Man
would be helping him. The Spider-Robot tells him that he wishes to
join the Avengers, and Cap agrees to take him to their headquarters.

The other Avengers don't exactly greet him with open arms. Thor points
out that there are tests and trials that a prospective member must go
through, and the Wasp says that she has an instinctual dislike of
spiders. The Spider-Robot expected such a reaction, and plays his
trump card: He tells them that he knows where Iron Man is, but if they
aren't interested, he'll just leave. Thor angrily cuts off his
departure with a toss of his hammer, and threatens to teach the
insolent arachnid a lesson in manners. Captain America calms him down,
and the Spider-Robot tells his story: He claims he witnessed the
Masters of Evil kidnapping Iron Man, and overhead them saying they
were going to take him to the Temple of Tirod in Mexico. Again, Thor
is ready to clobber Spider-Man for not revealing this at once, but
Giant-Man restrains him, and the thunder god agrees to stay his
wrath... until after Iron Man is rescued. Cap rallies the team with a
stirring cry of "Avengers --- Awaaay!" and they are off to Mexico. The
Spider-Robot thinks smugly that they are running off to their deaths.

The team decide to split up and each make the trip in their own
fashion. Giant-Man and the Wasp stow away on a jet plane at insect
size, and soon arrive at the temple. Suddenly, they are attacked by
the Spider-Robot, who was able to get there first via Kang's
technology. He tries to trap the two tiny heroes under a granite
block, but the Wasp slams into the robot's midsection and zaps him
with her Wasp's Sting, which knocks the imposter off-balance.
Recovering quickly, the robot tries to web them up, but Giant-Man
closes in, shrinking down to ant-size to avoid his attacks, then
zipping back up to giant-size to tag him with a super-strong punch.
Unable to keep up with the constant size-changes, the Spider-Robot
flees. But he's really luring Giant-Man into a trap, where he ties his
giant hands to a stone pillar with a special elastic web that will
shrink and grow as he does. The Spider-Robot then turns his attention
to the Wasp, smacking her with a web fly-swatter.

At that moment, Thor leaps into the fray. The robot dodges his attack,
then strikes back with a two-fisted blow that knocks Thor off-balance.
Realizing that he's no match for Thor in a fistfight, the robot backs
off and taunts him by asking if he uses bobby pins or curlers in that
long hair of his. Thor responds by tossing his hammer... exactly as
the robot hoped. He snares the hammer in his web, keeping it from
returning to Thor. Thor thinks that he must get the hammer back within
60 seconds, or revert to his mortal form. He tosses a granite block at
the Spider-Robot, but his foe uses his webbing to bounce the block
right back at him. Thor smashes the block easily, but this gives the
robot a chance to cover him in a cocoon of webbing. Thor begins to
tear through, but then his time limit runs out, and he reverts to his
Don Blake identity. Unable to see him through all the webbing, the
Spider-Robot assumes that Thor just ran out of steam. That just leaves
one Avenger, he thinks... and with no super-powers, Captain America
will be the easiest target of all. Unknown to the robot, however, he
is being watched from the shadows...

The robot exits the temple, just in time to see Captain America
parachuting in. He tries to shove a stone block down on Cap, but he
rolls out of the way. As the Spider-Robot approaches, Cap tosses his
shield at him, but the robot quickly recovers and closes in for
battle. Cap tags the robot with a punch to the jaw, and the robot
decides that it's foolish to fight him hand-to-hand. Instead, he
covers Cap's face with webbing, and shoves him backwards off the ledge
of the temple. It's one hundred feet to the ground below, and the
robot is sure he won't survive the fall.

Watching the battle on his monitor, Kang is pleased with the robot's
victory. But his mood turns sour when he sees Cap land safely in a
web-net. Why would his robot do such a thing? Kang decides he'd better
wrap things up quickly, and orders his robot to activate the
Time-Transport Dial that will bring the Avengers to him in the year
3000. But before the robot can comply, it is yanked off its feet by a
spider-web. Then a blast of sticky web-fluid gums up the works of the
Time-Transport Dial, rendering it useless. The real Spider-Man has
arrived, much to Kang's chagrin.

The true Spidey tells the imposter that his Spider-Sense detected his
presence back in New York, and he's been following him ever since. The
robot interrupts his explanation with a kick to the jaw, knocking
Spidey over the ledge. But Spider-Man easily clings to the wall of the
temple, and starts to swing back up on his web-line. The robot grabs
the line, intending to play "crack the whip" with Spidey, but
Spider-Man once again anchors himself to the wall and reverses their
positions, yanking the robot off the ledge. Reacting quickly, the
robot webs up a pair of glider-wings to break his fall. Spider-Man
creates wings of his own and leaps up after him. Spider-Man leaps onto
his imposter in mid-air, and the two struggle. Using his scientific
knowledge, Spider-Man manages to find the robot's control stud,
allowing him to deactivate it. Shut down, the robot falls to the
ground below, while Spidey parachutes to safety.

Still caught in the web that broke his fall, Captain America has
witnessed the whole thing. Meanwhile, Don Blake has managed to work
his hand free of the web cocoon and retrieve his hammer, turning him
back into Thor. Soon the Avengers are back together, and Cap explains
about the robot imposter. They deduce that only Kang could have the
advanced technology to create such a perfect duplicate, and vow that
they will not be caught off-guard like that again. Watching them from
the year 3000, Kang shakes his fists in frustration, then slinks off
into the shadows to ponder his next scheme.


The "All About the Avengers" column begins with an explanation that
Marvel will no longer be able to send out cards responding to every
letter received, because the volume of mail has just gotten too large.
But Stan assures the readers that they still read every letter. A
couple of interesting letters from female fans this issue: Barbara
McCasland of Indiana thinks Captain America is too conceited and
bossy, and wants the Hulk back on the team. And Ruth Doyle of
California would like to see a beauty contest between Betty Brant,
Alica Masters, Sue Storm, Janet Van Dyne, Pepper Potts, Karen Page,
Jean Grey, Jane Foster, and Doris Evans (My money's on Jean Grey...
mmm, redheads...). Robert Linderman of Connecticut boasts about how he
sneaks Marvel Comics into school against the headmaster's wishes. Stan
seems a bit taken aback, and tells Robert he shouldn't go around
defying authority like that (no doubt remembering the brouhaha in the
'50s over comics allegedly causing juvenile delinquincy).

In the "Special Announcements" section, Stan reveals that the plot for
this issue was changed in mid-stream. Originally, only the Spider-Man
robot was going to show up, but they realized that might seem like a
rip-off, so they changed the ending to have the real Spider-Man appear
and save the day. We're told that while Marvel enjoys surprising their
readers, they never want them to feel like they're being deceived.

In the "Memo From the M.M.M.S.", Stan says that the plans for the
Merry Marvel Marching Society are still being finalized, but reveals
that the membership fee will be a dollar. He hastens to add that if a
fan is strapped for cash, they shouldn't worry about holding off and
joining later when they can save up the money (The tone of this whole
letter column is kind of cautious and apologetic, as if Stan was
starting to realize how popular and influential his books were, and
was being careful not to do anything that could be seen as exploiting
the kids).

The "Mighty Marvel Checklist" includes entries for FANTASTIC FOUR #34,
#63, and SGT. FURY #12.

Wasp Watch: The Wasp doesn't have a big presence in this story, but at
least she does get to sock the phony Spider-Man right in the ol'
breadbasket. It appears that Stan and co. are getting past the idea
that having a woman fight is "unladylike", and letting her mix it up a
little more.

Perhaps because of the last-minute nature of his involvement,
Spider-Man never does get to interact directly with any of the
Avengers, so the idea of him joining the team for real doesn't come
up. The idea will be broached in a couple of later issues, with mixed
results, but it won't be until 2005's NEW AVENGERS that Spidey becomes
a full-blown member.

- JKC -