Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mauled By The Man-Ape!

It was in the pages of The Avengers that we first met the brutal M'Baku, the Man-Ape, who at the time acted as regent of Wakanda and served as Chieftain while that country's ruler, the Black Panther, was in the States on an extended stay. But we learned tht M'Baku had a deeper agenda than just holding the fort for T'Challa--moving behind the scenes to solidify his power while also greatly enhancing his physical strength by consuming the blood of the white gorilla. Even the issue in question is unclear on how that worked, exactly--unless the gorilla was irradiated in some way, such a "transfusion" would probably accomplish nothing more than wreaking havoc with M'Baku's internal organs. Then again, the Black Panther was created from nothing more than ingesting a heart-shaped herb, so apparently Wakandans know a thing or two about biophysics.

What they don't have so much a grasp on are the principles of stress mechanics--for when M'Baku has the Panther at his mercy, he chooses to symbolize his death with the abolishment of the Panther religion itself, by toppling the sacred Panther totem onto its human embodiment. But M'Baku makes a fatal miscalculation, which probably only resulted in strengthening the formidable image of the Panther-god and its power to exact vengeance in the eyes of the Wakandans.

As far as T'Challa knew, M'Baku had died in the rubble. But, over a year later (our time), the Man-Ape returns--and not only does he invade the States, but it looks like he's moving up into the big leagues as far as setting his sights and ambitions much higher than the defeat of his rival for Wakandan rule.

But why would the Man-Ape be coming after the Avengers? We'd have to wait a bit to find out the whole story--but in the meantime, he begins his assault by lying in wait for one Avenger summoned to a meeting under false pretenses.  And even Captain America could find a foe like the Man-Ape to be more than he can handle.

The arrival of the other Avengers stacks the deck heavily against the Man-Ape, though not initially. Two of them are forced instead to see to rescuing Cap from his fatal plunge--Quicksilver, by slowing his descent slightly, and the Vision, who saves them both. Since Cap's plummet had a head start on both of them, and since Avengers Mansion is a three-story building above-ground, we can all scratch our heads and wonder how a wraith like the Vision had enough time to reach the street before Cap or Pietro (or, for that matter, how Pietro, who wasn't running down the side of the building but had simply hurled himself over the edge, could possibly have gained on Cap). But you'd be surprised at how often Cap has *heh* fallen out of the clutches of death.

Meanwhile, back on the roof, it's Goliath vs. the Man-Ape--strictly no contest, though the Man-Ape escapes capture thanks to the helpful intervention of his henchman, N'Gamo, who had also been at his side during M'Baku's conflict with the Panther in Wakanda.

Elsewhere in the city, T'Challa has become involved with Monica Lynne, a singer turned activist who is serving as an example to T'Challa as far as doing more to fight racial injustice than his role as an Avenger allows. Once the Panther departs for Avengers H.Q., however, Monica is made to realize that, as writer Roy Thomas notes, evil knows no color.

Taking into account M'Baku's parting words to the Avengers, it seems clear with this latest act that he plans to use Monica against them somehow. But first, he plans to make use of her against one Avenger in particular.

If you've ever wondered about the term "half-cocked," it seems to be in use by a lot of super-heroes as a means of cautioning one of their own about not acting rashly, when, ironically, its meaning is just the opposite, as a term applied to a firearm that has a hammer. I even found this helpful example in the Avengers' files (not really), so Cap should know better:

In other words, a half-cocked hammer acts like a safety mechanism, since it prevents the actual firing of the bullet as well as the firing pin from resting on a live cap or cartridge--a position which also facilitates the loading of the gun. If anything, the Panther is going into this situation fully cocked, especially when he knows that the Man-Ape is likely to attack him on sight.

And that assuredly proves to be the case. Fortunately, N'Gamo has his uses other than as a wily attacker from the shadows.

The Panther knows he only has a few moments before the two extricate themselves, but he uses the time well in locating Monica. But T'Challa has walked into a well-laid trap--and after it's sprung, the Man-Ape doesn't waste time in taking his well-earned victory gloat with the Avengers.

Ordinarily, the Avengers would take such taunting words from a foe as mere bluster; but why would the Man-Ape want to butt heads with the rest of the Panther's teammates? Why is he so confident that he'll prevail? Where is he getting all this hardware? There's a bigger game afoot here, and "game" indeed seems to be the operative word.

Yikes! Who--or WHAT--has entered the chamber?
Are the Avengers as doomed as the Black Panther??

The answer can be found in Part Two of this tale--and it's just a click away!

The Avengers #78

Script: Roy Thomas
Pencils: Sal Buscema
Inks: Tom Palmer
Letterer: Sam Rosen


Anonymous said...

Another term that's the exact opposite of its' true meaning is "quantum leap" - a quantum leap always means some kind of huge change but anything quantum is actually unimaginably small.

Comicsfan said...

It's definitely odd how the term evolved in such a way, Colin--as I understand it, the "leap" or "jump" aspect of it is restricted to the atomic level and the transition of molecules from one state to another. Perhaps the only common denominator between the original meaning and its more contemporary usage would be the abruptness involved. (Frankly, I don't see the Man-Ape weighing in on either!)