Real Name: Maria ??
Identity/Class: Human technology user
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Employed group of costumed underlings; Employed by an undefined group of enemies of the Avengers
Enemies: Avengers (Beast/Henry McCoy, Captain America/Steve Rogers, Hawkeye/Clint Barton, Iron Man/Tony Stark, Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff, Thor/Odinson, Vision, Wasp/Janet Van Dyne, Yellowjacket/Hank Pym), Falcon (Sam Wilson)
Known Relatives: Unidentified father (deceased), Angelo (brother, deceased)
Base of Operations: Manhattan, New York; possibly worldwide
Appearances: Avengers I#145 (March, 1976)
Powers: None. The Assassin used a variety of lethal weapons, such as poison, and non-lethal weapons such as gas grenades, etc. She used a gun able to fire radiation that incapacitates instantly, but kills slowly. Another device immobilized the Vision and then caused his solar radiation to build to the point where it would explode. She is an expert strategist and a master of stealth, which enables her to get the drop on and overpower foes much more powerful than she. She is presumably trained in hand-to-hand and other forms of combat.
She killed anyone connected with her in order to prevent anything from being traced back to her (it's amazing she continued to get help).
History: (Avengers I#145) - The Assassin was hired to kill the Avengers (specifically Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Thor, and the Vision) by an agent of several of their old enemies. The fee was one billion dollars, and one year of preparation was allowed. At that time, Captain America became the first victim. The Assassin had several agents wear Captain America masks while robbing a jewelry store to draw his attention. After he threw his shield away to drop one of the fleeing criminals, the Assassin dropped him with a blast from the radiation gun.
(Avengers I#146) - As per the Assassin's plan, the other Avengers came to the hospital to guard Cap against further attack. Don Blake was chosen to operate on Captain America to save his life. Iron Man substituted a Life Model Decoy for Thor to prevent suspicion over his absence. With the right combination of Avengers present, the Assassin and agents assaulted the heroes. Hawkeye and Iron Man were rendered stuporous after a sip of drugged tea (possbily served by the Assassin disguised as a nurse), making them easy targets for defeat by the agents. As the Vision battled a horde of agents, the Assassin snuck up behind him and placed a weapon on his back that immobilized him instantly. When "Thor" was incapacitated by a blast meant only to stun, the Assassin realized it is just a robot, confirming the belief that Blake and Thor were one and the same. The Assassin prepared to shoot Blake from behind, completing the mission, but was interrupted by an arrow from Hawkeye, who had vomited the poison tea, allowing him to recover. Iron Man claimed the same, but was apparently immune due to his artificial heart. Having removed the immobilizing device from the Vision, the Avengers overpowered the Assassin, shredding the full body cloak, revealing the Assassin as a woman.
While the Avengers were surprised by her gender, she threw down a gas grenade and escaped. However, when she barked some orders to her agents, they failed to recognize her out of costume. Thinking she had blown their cover, they gunned her down, but were then captured by the Avengers.
The Assassin's brother threatened the agent who gave her the job for exceeding her limits, but the agent shot him. The agent revealed himself as their father before putting a gun to his own head.
Comments: Created by Tony Isabella and Don Heck
The "enemies" who hired her were never defined, but may have included members of the Zodiac Cartel and Hydra, the Grim Reaper, Moonstone (Bloch), and/or Dr. Spectrum (Krimmon), who were seen in slides shown to the Assassin by her father when he hired her. The other characters shown (the Asgardian Destroyer, Magneto, Zzzax) seem highly unlikely to hire an assassin. The pictures were used to demonstrate the abilities of the individual Avengers, and so may have been unrelated. The guys from the original Zodiac are my bet.
Only five Avengers were chosen as targets. I'm not sure why those specific ones were requested, or if it was just the active membership at the time.
The story took place out of chronology, occurring after the conclusion of the battle against the Brand Corporation, etc. in Avengers#149.
I always did hate the plot involving the ambiguous "life-saving surgery." Blake operates on Cap to place some "counter radiation capsules" inside him. Oh well, I guess it's just part of the suspension of belief.
Tony Isabella remembered this story in his online column World Famous Comics Network. Among the things of interest were that he intended Count Nefaria to be the one that hired the Assassin, that the story took place before Englehart's then-current story, that he wasn't told who would be on the new Avengers roster by editorial and that he is bothered by the medical stuff in this issue as well after reading it again.
Thanks to Norvo for the updated images in this profile.
Clarifications: There are a plethora of characters known as the Assassin, and numbering is somewhat arbitrary.
However, the others are:
--Avengers I#145 (Avengers I#145-146
images: (without ads)
Avengers I#146, p12 (main image)
p15, p4 (without mask)
p3, pan4 (agents)
Avengers I#145 (March, 1976) - Tony Isabella (writer), Scott Edelman (script assist), Don Heck (pencils), John Tartaglione (inks), Marv Wolfman (editor)
Avengers I#146 (April, 1976) - Tony Isabella (writer), Keith Pollard & Don Heck (pencils), John Tartaglione (inks), Marv Wolfman (editor)
Last updated: 08/02/02
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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