Avengers #88

Title: “The Summons of Psyklop”

Plotter: Harlan Ellison

Dialogue: Roy Thomas

Penciller: Sal Buscema

Inker: Jim Mooney

Hulk stands between two electrodes screaming from the electricity pouring out of them. Hulk screams at Ross and Talbot as they watch on. Deep inside the Boulder Dam, Hulk is being held prisoner. Reed Richards and Professor Xavier watch on. Reed says that he thinks that the Hulk is weakening, but that he would still feel better if Professor Xavier withdrew to a place of safety. Professor X says that they have worked together until now, and that he will see it through to the end. Professor X says that the Magneto-powered poles hold the Hulk and the coma-gas will be used to keep him there. He asks if they, along with Tony Stark, didn’t work for months each in their own way. Reed says that Professor X has made his point. He says that he doesn’t know how he managed to pull his own weight and teach at his upstate school. Reed suggests looking in to see of the mega-volt snare is working. Hulk staggers and drops down. General Ross shouts that the Hulk is down. He tells them to turn off the power before they kill him. Talbot tells Reed that his plan sounded bizarre, but that it worked. He says that it is now his and Professor Xavier’s show. Reed thanks him. He says that at last they can contain the Hulk and maybe even cure Bruce Banner. Reed says that this is as much Tony Stark’s triumph as it is theirs. Xavier says that they had hoped he would be there and wonders if something had come up.

At that moment, Iron Man, Falcon, and the other Avengers, Captain America, Goliath, and Thor, are walking through a swamp. Cap says that there is still nothing, but that they must keep moving. Iron Man says that they don’t have a choice. Thor says that if Captain America is right that the fate of the world may lie on their shoulders. Goliath says that everything, including his shoulders, lies heavy on his shoulders. He says that he can’t change sizes too often because it tires him out. Falcon asks Cap if he thinks they are getting close. Cap says that they won’t know what they are even looking for until they find it, or until it finds them. Cap starts thinking about how it all started.

A few hours ago, Falcon is worried about an old friend from New Orleans because he didn’t show up for a visit. Cap tells him that they can take a quinjet down there to check it out if he wants. Sam Wilson says that he knows that he is probably making too much of this, but that he doesn’t have enough friends to start losing them. In New Orleans, Cap and Falcon discover that Sam’s friend was last seen walking in a trance out into the Bayou Country. Cap and Falcon go to investigate. They come across a voodoo ritual. A man in a mask holds a skull on a stick before the fire. He says, “O Dark Gods, you who stand astride time and tempest… we seek an answer… a reckoning… but for that answer you have demanded… a human life! But whose, ‘Mighty Ones’? Whose? One of our own brothers… or shall we seek out strangers?” Suddenly the man senses two blasphemers watching them. He says that they are their answer and their sacrifice. Cap says that it looks like they are in trouble. He asks if Sam saw his friend. Sam says that he didn’t, but that if they don’t get out of there they’ll be up to their armpits in machetes. Cap says that he was never much for running away. He and Falcon dive into the voodoo worshippers. After a while, Cap says that they just keep coming like zombies. He asks how Falcon is doing. Falcon says that if they don’t get some help soon that they’ll be in trouble. Suddenly the police arrive. Cap welcomes the police. The cop says that they got a tip at the office, but asks what they are doing there. The masked man is about to cleave Falcon in the back with a machete when Redwing knocks it out of his hand. Falcon says that the bird saved his life again. He punches the masked man in the face breaking the mask. Falcon looks down in shock to see his friend Ralph lying on the floor. Cap says that he is mumbling something. Ralph says, “Twenty-seven south… ninety-seven west…” Falcon says that he just keeps repeating it. Sometime later, Cap and Falcon tells the other Avengers about the experience. Black Panther asks if they have nothing more than a latitude and longitude. Falcon says that Cap isn’t crying wolf. Vision says that it is not that. Cap says that he knows that it is a long shot, but that it is a hunch that sent shivers up his spine. He says that he thinks there is more than just a voodoo ceremony in the bayou. Goliath asks if Cap wants them to go with him. Quicksilver says that surely all of them aren’t needed. Thor says that a few should do. Black Panther says that he has to head back to Wakanda as the old man that was ruling in his stead has died. He says that he isn’t sure when he will be back. Quicksilver says that he, Scarlet Witch, and Vision will remain on monitor duty as they promised Reed Richards. Wanda asks what could possibly stand up to Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America.

After a long search, the group in the swamp finally fins something when they pull back some tall grass. They stand in shock until they realize that the monstrous beast in front of them is merely a craven image. Captain America looks and realizes that the face of the beast is the same one that the voodoo priest wore as a mask.

Reed Richards stretches up to a crane. He says that the Hulk is still too hot, even for the boys in asbestos, but that the crane should be able to handle him. He tells the soldier inside to be careful with the pick-up. He says that if they can get him into the coma-crypt that they may be able to cure Bruce Banner. Reed is stunned as he watches the Hulk become transparent and then disappear.

Hulk materializes in a tube where a ray pours over him. Hulk tries to use his muscles, but he discovers that he can no longer control them. A shadowed figure tells Hulk that he is more fortunate than he can suspect. He says that if he hadn’t succeeded in reassembling him in his underground lair that his atoms might have drifted through space forever. He says that maybe Hulk would like an introduction. He says, “I am… Psyklop! My race lived here, beneath the Earth, eons before even your apish ancestors walked the land above. But we fell into disrepute with the Dark Gods we worshipped… and so were put to eternal sleep.” Psyklop asks if Hulk can even understand. Psyklop says that his kind has slept with empty dreams for millennia until he alone was revived by the Dark Gods. Psyklop says that he senses others, that are not welcome like the Hulk, drawing near. Psyklop excuses himself to prepare a pleasant reception for them.

Goliath asks if they are just going to stand there all day. Cap says that there is something ominous about the statue. Thor says that it chills his heart as well. Goliath says that he hears something big coming their way. Suddenly Thor is covered by some strange substance. A giant slug like creature appears. Iron Man says that his repulsor rays will send it back under the rock it came from. He blasts the giant slug, but the slug absorbs the blast as if it were candy. The slug spits out more of its goo, but Captain America and Falcon dodge it, but Iron Man’s suit is gummed up preventing him from flying. Goliath grows and smashes the slug. Falcon and Cap are leaping towards the slug too, but the slug whips around and knocks them all backward as Iron Man shoots another blast at the Lemurian slug. Thor finally manages to break out of the now hardened goo. Thor tells them to stand back and slams the bug with Mjolnir. Cap says that the slug is gone, but Thor says that the menace behind it is still unknown. Thor says that they have to keep searching. Iron Man says that Thor hit created a crater. Falcon says that there is a cavern below. Iron Man says to follow him as he dives in. Cap says that this is no time for showboating as Iron Man leaps into the cavern. Thor says that the don’t know their enemy yet. Iron Man says that he doesn’t care if it is the white rabbit. He says that he owes somebody for the cement bath and that he always pays his bills. Iron Man looks down the hall to see all kinds of statues lining the walls.

Psyklop asks Hulk if he feels honored. He says that only the Hulk has the rampant power that he needs to use as an energy source to feed the Dark Gods that he serves. Psyklop says that when he feeds the black ones that they will awaken his people from their slumber to inherit the world. Psyklop says that in order to study how to best utilize the Hulk’s power that he will shrink him down at a controlled rate to a size where his molecular structure can be more easily examined. Goliath tells Psyklop to hold it. He says that they came in on the end of that, but that they already have an answer, “Avengers Assemble!” Psyklop turns stunned and says, “Some of the most powerful earthlings of all… here… in my sanctum sanctorium!” Captain America leaps and punches Psyklop in the face. He says that he doesn’t know who he is or what the Hulk is doing there, but that he doesn’t look like he wants to discuss it. Psyklop smacks Captain America away and asks if he thought that one as puny as him could challenge the immortal Psyklop. Falcon cushions Cap’s landing. Iron Man and Thor stand blasting Psyklop. Iron Man asks why they don’t just charge him. Thor says that it is better this way since they don’t know Psyklop’s power. Goliath says that he doesn’t look so tough and picks Psyklop up by the back of his neck. Psyklop uses his double-jointed legs to kick backward into Goliath’s face. Psyklop says that he like his insect ancestors that his people evolved from are double jointed. Cap says to never mind Psyklop. He says to get the Hulk. Psyklop turns and is horrified to see that the Hulk has been reduced into nothingness.

Hulk is bewildered as he falls through space.

Goliath says that Psyklop is getting away. Goliath is told to let Psyklop go since only he can save the Hulk. Psyklop says that he will do so, but that he will do it after he gets rid of them. Psyklop blasts the Avengers with a giant gun and teleports them all to a subway platform in New York City with their memories of the recent events wiped away.

CONTINUED IN INCREDIBLE HULK VOL. 2 #140

Avengers Files rating: 7 out of 10

You know that I love Psyklop, so Harlan gets points for creating him and his Dark Gods, but this is clearly a set up issue to shrink the Hulk, so much so that the Avengers don’t even get to remember the events of the issue. 3.5 out of 5 for the writing. Sal does a good job with the layout, but his pencils suffer under Mooney’s inks.

Review and pictures by The Leader

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