Comic dated February 10, 1965
“Trapped in … The Castle of Count Nefaria!”
This is the introduction of the Maggia, which is
awfully similar to TOTALLY UNLIKE the Mafia. Their leader is Count Nefaria, and he has a devious plan to undo the Avengers by using “electro images” to impersonate them.
The notable thing here is the supreme overconfidence of Count Nefaria in going up against the Avengers. He leaps into action by having his entire European castle shipped to the US and reconstructed on the Palisades in New Jersey. Then he invites the Avengers to a fantabulous charity event which actually turns out to be THEIR DOOM! But not really.
The Count’s dastardly plan involves impersonating the Avengers with SCIENCE and causing enough mayhem to put them at odds with the US government. It almost would have worked if not for that pesky Teen Brigade! (Silver Age Marvel shares a great deal in common with Scooby-Doo.)
There’s many a twist before all is said and done, but the outcome is never really in doubt. It turns out that being rich and controlling an international crime syndicate isn’t enough to overcome a group of heroes that includes a literal god and several super-geniuses.
Before things are said and done, Rick Jones and the Teen Brigade help save the day, Count Nefaria is utterly ruined, and all’s well that ends well. EXCEPT! Rick Jones arrives carrying the Wasp! She’s caught a bullet in the crossfire! She’s a goner! But not really.
The next issue will feature some truly bizarre adventures to find the one doctor who can save Janet’s life.
When I first read this story, I was convinced that Count Nefaria was a classic one-and-done villain in the finest Silver Age style. Except of course virtually nobody in the Silver Age bows out forever, and I discovered that the good Count returns again and again and again to menace the Avengers and countless other heroes. What stood out to me is that he completely trashed his spotless public persona in his bid to beat the Avengers. Not that bright!
Housekeeping note: Now that I’m doing Avengers books, I need to think through my tagging policy carefully. I can’t tag every individual character for every issue; that’ll get ridiculous. So I’m trying to limit character tags on group books to just those folks that play a key role in the issue itself.
Oh, Punta Arenas. What am I gonna do about tagging Ant-Man / Giant-Man /Goliath? Maybe he’d better get tagged “Dr. Pym.”