These two issues feature the Man-Ape, introduced in Avengers #62 as T’Challa’s chosen regent M’Baku who wants to supplant him permanently (and have Wakandans worship the white gorilla rather than the panther god). Man-Ape returns here to face more Avengers, and this time he’s not alone.
Issue #78 opens with Cap landing on a rooftop of Avengers Mansion like some kind of caped crusader, only to find he was duped by a false distress signal yet again.
Cap, of course, has no idea who he’s fighting: he didn’t appear in Avengers #62, after all, and he doesn’t keep up with T’Challa’s blog (or his T’Chumblr) as often as he should. And faced with such a strong and fierce foe, he resorts to his least favorite gambit: subterfuge.
I appreciate the flash of respect and acknowledgment M’Baku seems to show Cap above… not that it does the Avengers much good. Luckily, Cap has friends that finally noticed the racket up on the roof.
Of course, we’re all grateful that Vision caught Cap and Pietro in time, but just imagine how solid he must have been to crush the pavement like that… the boys in blue are gonna have some bruises where they were caught! (Also, think of poor Lois and all the time her own Big Blue caught her falling off those tall buildings in Metropolis.)
Below, the Avengers try to figure out what M’Baku is up to, and Clint ties to take some air of Cap’s tires, but it doesn’t work.
That’s… not how initials work, Cap. But we get the idea.
Most of the rest of the issue deals with the Black Panther, whom the Man-Ape defeats and takes to a tunnel beneath the city, where T’Challa learns that M’Baku has joined up with other foes—Grim Reaper, Living Laser, Power Man, and the Swordsman—in the first iteration of the Lethal Legion.
As issue #79 opens, we see Iron Man and Thor arrive to help out their old pals, and when Clint cracks wise, Cap gets all Lincolnseque.
Later in the issue, the Lethal Legion manage to subdue and capture the rest of the Avengers, but first, Cap and M’Baku (backed by the Living Laser) tussle once again.
Heh, reminds me of Jungle Jim’s outside Cincinnati, a humongous international grocery store. Definitely check it out if you’re in the area.
But I digress.
Cap shows a little better strategy above than he did in the last issue, but M’Baku shows his own tactical skills below.
The battle turns after the Grim Reaper realizes the Vision’s brain patterns are based on the Reaper’s dead brother, Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man, and lets the Avengers out of their glass prison. Cap finally defeats Man-Ape by doing what never occurred to him before… hitting him really, really hard.
Now that’s tactical brilliance!
Avengers (vol. 1) #78, July 1970: Roy Thomas (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), ??? (colors), Sam Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Avengers (vol. 1) #79, August 1970: Roy Thomas (writer), John Buscema (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), ??? (colors), Artie Simek (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers Volume Eight
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Avengers #75-76 (April-May 1970)
ALSO THESE MONTHS: Captain America #127 (July 1970) and Captain America #128 (August 1970)
NEXT ISSUES: Avengers #80-82 (September-November 1970)