> Avengers Masterworks Volume 4

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From the Mouths of the Marvels:

"The sound of an engine- - ! That plane - - with a serpent's marking - - flying off! Fly, little men! Fly, you cold-hearted cowards! There's no place on Earth that can shelter you from the retribution of - - the Avengers!

-- Goliath, page 12

The Supreme Serpent spells out his manifesto.

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Avengers #32
September 1966 20 pages

Script: Stan Lee Letters: Artie Simek
Pencils: Don Heck Inks: Don Heck

Lineup: Captain America Goliath Hawkeye Wasp

Inactive Status: Quicksilver Scarlet Witch

Title: "The Sign of the Serpent!

First Appearance: Bill Foster, Sons of the Serpent, the Supreme Serpent, Mr. Gonzalez, General Chen

Villain: Sons of the Serpent, the Supreme Serpent

Guest Appearance: Bill Foster, Black Widow, Nick Fury, SHIELD

Cameo: Mr. Gonzalez, General Chen, US Attorney General

Gadgets & Technology: Serpent Staff

Letters Page: Page One Page Two

House Ad: Page One

Synopsis: The Avengers return from their mission in South America and are rudely greeted by the Stark Mansion security alarm. As they dispatch it, Hawkeye and Cap engage in some bona fide camaraderie. But instead of being a perfect Avengers homecoming, Goliath walks glumly off, openly moaning about being a ten-foot tall freak. Cap decides enough is enough, and tosses his shield at his buddy, telling him to start bucking up and take Dr. Anton's advice and find a cure for his condition instead of whining about it. This stirs Goliath to action in a positive way, and he runs straight to set up his lab. The Wasp gives Cap a kiss on the cheek for a job well done.

Down on the city streets, a gang of men dressed like snakes are beating a man with long staffs carved of wood. They openly display their hostility to him as a "foreigner" and tell him to get out of America. After they beat the man senseless, the Sons of the Serpent clamber aboard a flight craft and head to their new membership meeting, where the Supreme Serpent presides over a recruitment session. Among those in the crowd is Natasha, the Black Widow, who decides the Serpent message of racial hate and strife is something that the Avengers need to hear about!

As Hank angrily rebuffs Jan, who offers to help him find his cure, Natasha swings towards the mansion to deliver her news to Hawkeye, who wonders if he can trust her now that she's free of Communist brainwashing. Meanwhile, Hank turns to Tony Stark to see if he knows of any qualified lab assistants that could help him in his project. The answer is easy for Stark: he recommends Bill Foster. Later that day, Bill Foster shows up at Hank Pym's door, and they get to working immediately. Jan comes back with some liquid refreshment, and Hank- in his small and clumsy way- apologizes for his rude treatment of her earlier. But his loyal mate watches on as Hank and Bill work long and hard into the night.

In Bavaria, a doctor presides over Wanda and Pietro, using a treatment method that he hopes will help restore their powers. The results are so positive they send a wire back to the Avengers saying they hope to return soon.

As Bill Foster walks towards the lab, he is stopped by the Sons of the Serpent. Because Bill Foster is a black man, it makes him a target for their racist hate, and they beat him up and leave behind the "Serpent Sign" to mark their hostility: a tall wooden staff in the shape of a snake. When Goliath arrives, he sees Bill stirring from his unconscious state, and he grabs the staff and shakes his fist at the Serpent Plane flying away, telling them in words they cannot hear that the Avengers will not rest until justice is delivered. The fighting mad Goliath shows off the Serpent Sign to his teammates, and they formulate a plan of attack. Goliath wants to do some hard-charging- NOW!- which Cap really enjoys seeing in his formerly gloomy partner, but instead he wants to confer with Col. Nick Fury of SHIELD to see if they have any information. Cap goes to their secret barbershop front and visits with Fury, who says the Sons of the Serpent were on his list after he tackled AIM, but if the Avengers want to take them out, they can be his guest!

In a seemingly unrelated event, Gen Chen of a Communist Far East nation, is visiting the UN. He is greeted by protesters who say Chen is an enemy of the US and the world and shouldn't be allowed to speak at the UN. Suddenly, a ray blast comes from a floating cloud, missing Chen's car by a few feet. Chen is furious that Western decadence could almost cost him his life.

Later, the Avengers call a press conference, telling the nation they are on the case of the Sons of the Serpent. The Supreme Serpent hears this and puts into action "Plan K" to kidnap an Avenger. They send a ship out camouflaged inside a floating cloud and pull Cap up inside a tractor beam. Once inside, Cap blacks out in a giant vertigo machine. Hawkeye witnessed his kidnaping and wants to go out and get his partner immediately, but an alarm goes off on the rooftop. The Serpent Sons have set down a staff with a pre-recorded message that says they must never interfere with their plans or Captain America is a dead man. Also, they must agree to join the Sons of the Serpent. With that, the staff explodes.

As the Supreme Serpent tells the hog-tied Cap that his teammates have 24 hours to comply or he will die, Hawkeye urges his team to suit up and fight! Goliath encourages Hawkeye to use some strategy. The phone rings, and it's the Attorney General of the United States, asking the Avengers to help tackle the Sons of the Serpent. Goliath tells the Attorney General a flat "no," and further suggests that the Sons of the Serpent "might be right!" Hawkeye thinks Goliath has flipped out, and the Attorney General is distressed that the Avengers might be supporting the vile Serpents. As news spreads of the Avengers decision, the Supreme Serpent gloats that soon the nation will be theirs!

(continued in AVENGERS #33)

--synopsis and panel images by Gormuu

Issues Reprinted
Avengers #31-40

Click on cover image to learn more about each issue.

AVG #31 AVG #32 AVG #33 AVG #34 AVG #35
AVG #36 AVG #37 AVG #38 AVG #39 AVG #40


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

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