Some might accuse me of lacking stamina but I must admit that, by this stage, Celestial Madonna Fatigue's starting to claim me. Still, at last, after twelve issues and over a month of posting, the end is finally in sight.
And for it we get a fresh new look. Most instalments of the seemingly endless epic have so far been drawn by either Sal Buscema/Joe Staton or Dave Cockrum but this issue's pencilled by George Tuska. I know Tuska's not the most popular of artists with everyone but I've always had a soft spot for him. His style's instantly recognisable, full of vigour and his story-telling's clear and efficient.
While it might be part of the Celestial Madonna storyline, the issue's focus is more on the Vision than on Mantis, as the red-faced battler discovers just how Ultron turned the Original Human Torch into him.
It turns out he did it with an awful lot of effort; first having to track down the Mad Thinker, then having to snatch the Torch from under the nose of the Silver Surfer and then having to find the Torch's creator Phineas T Horton to force him to make the necessary changes.
Regardless of that, it's a strange sight seeing the newly-activated Vision before he's had his memories wiped and therefore speaking and acting like the Original Human Torch. And, seeing him having his identity wiped by Ultron again raises the feeling I've touched on before that the Torch really was hard-done-to by Marvel's post-Golden Age writers.
While all this is happening, the rest of the Avengers are back in Vietnam, increasingly mystified by what's going down as they find themselves in conversation with Libra and the ghost of the Swordsman.
Moondragon who turns up and tells us that, as a girl, she was in a car attacked by Thanos' spaceship, only to be rescued by Mentor - ruler of Titan - and taken to his world for an upbringing noticeably similar to Mantis'.
If all this wasn't enough, back at the Avengers Mansion, Jarvis - alarmed by a sinister laugh coming from the Scarlet Witch's room, barges in to find it empty.
What can it all mean?
Only next issue - the concluding part of our saga - can tell.
Top of the Pops: 15th December, 1977.
5 months ago