Spider-Man tracks down and succeeds in defeating the Kingpin. Though he is able to retrieve the prehistoric tablet Kingpin had stolen from Empire State University, the authorities mistakenly believe that he was an accomplice in the in theft.
During a brief encounter with the Hulk, Captain America saves Rick Jones from Hulk’s careless violence. He takes the youth back to his home while he recovers. Waking up while Cap is asleep, Rick finds one of Bucky’s old costumes and puts it on. Cap wakes up and is understandably upset, but eventually relents and allows Rick, as Bucky, to accompany him as a sidekick against a HYDRA taskforce.
Captain Marvel is ordered to befriend the leadership of The Organization, but instead, seeing that they are evil, destroys them while attempting to save Carol Danvers. For this act of treason, Ronan the Accuser has no choice but to condemn Mar-Vell to death.
Hulk relentlessly pounds on the Galaxy Master, leader of the aliens that kidnapped Bruce Banner from the Savage Land. The Sagitarrians, having aided him in their master’s destruction, place him in an unpressurized trip (at Hulk’s impatient command) for the trip back to Earth. Unfortunately, Hulk changes to Bruce Banner mid-flight and began to quickly suffocate and die.
An inhabitant of Lemuria, acting on instructions from Naga to find the Serpent Helmet, battles Namor for the artifact. While they fight, they are captured by Captain Barracuda and held captive. The pirate threatens to harm other humans and during the confusion, the Lemurian escapes with the helmet. Namor must choose to either save the humans or go after the Lemurian.
Using the powers he has hidden away from the Sons of Sattanish before he and Clea were banished, Doctor Strange finds a way to escape their exile; however, Asmodeus has taken Strange’s physical form, so the Master of Mystic Arts is forced to take a new form to re-enter the physical world. This marks the first appearance of his “blue” form. Too late to stop the incantation, Strange watches helplessly as Asmodeus summons Ymir and Surtur from their prisons and unleashes them on the Earth. Seeking help, Strange travels to England to find Victoria Bentley, but also runs into the Black Knight, who offers to travel with Strange to the realm of Tiboro where the Sons of Sattanish have been sent. The two heroes defeat Tiboro and rescue the Sons of Sattanish. They learn of a way to stop Ymir and Surtur, but at a great cost: the Black Knight is attacked and left comatose by one of the treacherous Sons of Sattanish. Strange departs to seek help from the Avengers.
With no help from the Fantastic Four, Black Bolt frees the good Inhumans and is able to defeat Maximus, thus reclaiming the throne. Maximus escapes with his loyal Inhuman lackeys.
The Mandarin begins a campaign to publicly discredit Tony Stark as a traitor in order to lure Iron Man into a trap.
The Hate-Monger, a possible clone or double of Adolf Hitler, reappears after being thought dead. Nick Fury leads a SHIELD team to stop the villain, and inadvertently falls into the Hate-Monger’s trap. Detailing his plans to destroy human cities for revenge by using a stockpile of nuclear weaponry he’s hidden away, he turns one of his own men against him. The defector gives Nick Fury and his men enough time to escape Hate-Monger’s base before it self-destructs.
Loki, still seeking revenge against Thor, searches the cosmos for an entity that he can manipulate into fighting his brother. Passing on Hulk, Thing, and Hercules, Loki finds a desperate Silver Surfer still attempting to escape Earth. Loki lies to the Silver Surfer and tells him that Thor is a warlord intent on taking over Asgard for evil purposes. Silver Surfer agrees to help Loki in exchange for Loki destroying Galactus’s imprisoning barrier around Earth. Through Loki’s schemes, Thor and Silver Surfer are forced into battle, though neither wish to fight each other after spending a short time together. The battle ends in a stalemate as Silver Surfer realizes he has been tricked. Loki sends the Silver Surfer back to imprisonment on Earth for disappointing him.
Doctor Strange brings Hawkeye, Black Panther, and Vision to aid Black Knight and recover a powerful artifact to combat Ymir and Surtur. Back at Avengers Mansion, Strange, returned to his physical form (but still blue) must operate on Black Knight to save his life. Ymir and Surtur attack Africa and Antarctica respectively, and the Avengers split up to combat the Asgardian evils. Strange unlocks the power of the artifact and at the perfect moment, caused Ymir and Surtur to appear before each other in mid-attack. The Ice and Fire entities, when they strike each other, cancel each other out and disappear.
Biggie Benson, seeking vengeance against against Daredevil, enlists Starr Saxon and his robot to hunt down and destroy Daredevil. Matt Murdock, in the meantime, is lamenting the loss of his friends due to his actions as a superhero and ponders giving up the Daredevil costume for good. Saxon’s robot attacks Matt Murdock who is saved just in time by the timely appearance of Willie Lincoln. Donning the superhero guise again, Daredevil goes up against the robot, but is captured and left defenseless.
Thor and the Recorder are nearly lost in the aftermath of the battle between Ego and Galactus. A spaceship, carrying the Wanderers, picks them up and revives them. Returning to the scene of the galaxy-spanning battle, Thor chooses to attack Galactus and aid Ego. Using the most extreme power of Mjolnir, Thor is able to greatly weaken Galactus, who flees into space. Ego, happy to have been saved from destruction offers to let the Wanderers live on his surface.
Experimenting with Professor X’s many scientific machines, Jean Grey inadvertently rips a hole between their dimension and the Negative Zone. The event allows Blastaar the opportunity he has been seeking to escape. Realizing the danger of letting such a powerful foe loose on the world, the X-Men battle desperately against the villain until a random event, melted ice shortcircuiting the machine that brought him from the Negative Zone, appears to kill Blastaar.
Best moment from February 1969:
Thor faces Silver Surfer. I choose this for two reasons. Firstly, its a great first meeting of two heroes, and another great appearance of the malevolent Loki. Secondly, Buscema’s art is just absolutely fantastic in this issue. He completely departs from the Jack Kirby established feel of Thor and Asgard and gives us a glimpse into a darker, more savage look for the Thunder God (I still see the Puppet Master in way too much of Kirby’s face work). It’s this look that we’ll see again in later Conan issues as Buscema’s style begins to shine without conforming to King Kirby’s influence. It’s the transition I had been waiting for. While I don’t flat out dislike Jack Kirby, I find his art not able to evolve with the Marvel brand as the Silver Age ends. Buscema and Romita Sr. are really starting to give Marvel a new sparkle at this time.