“The Avengers” #4
I know that the Avengers TV series occasionally had episodes with mind control themes, but the comic, on the other hand, is really going overboard with them.
In the first three issues, the continued story line had a group of senior British ministers and ranking military officers all believing they were the survivors of a nuclear war and Britain was now under the control of the Hellfire Club. What gave the plot away was the fact that they all remembered having the same breakfast, a result of a hurried brainwashing effort during the set up of the plot. That wasn’t the only brainwashing that occurred: the whole purpose of the effort was to further brainwash the officials and return them to Britain. Thanks to the efforts of Steed and Mrs. Peel, they were thwarted, although not before we get to see Mrs. Peel in her leather and spiked collar from the television episode. Plus a demonstration of how Steed and Mrs. Peel arranged their own system of breaking mind control with each other.
But apparently that wasn’t all the brainwashing the Hellfire Club was up to. In issue #4, the plot continues, this time at a very fancy masque ball with the theme of black and white. One guest arrives wearing black, accompanied by two figures dressed in painted in white. Said figures were performers of an art form called butoh-fu, a Japanese form of dance epitomized by a Zen-like formless and gracefulness. The dancers were said to place themselves in a hypnotic state for their performance, a dead giveaway that hypnotic hijinks are upcoming.
Investigating a murder separates Steed and Mrs. Peel from the rest of the guests at a most propitious time. When they return to the dance floor, its almost empty except the man in black and the orchestra. It turns out that the dancers in white have the guests in a trance, blankly dancing away into the night, following the dancers like mute Pied Pipers, only to be rescued by Steed.
“How perceptive. Their every move, every position, was an acted spatial engram directly affecting the neural pathways of anyone who witnessed it.”
In other words, mind control through sight and movement. As for the man in black, he’s conducing the orchestra, themselves entranced by the music they’re playing.
“Its a downward spiral. Every note they play further ensures they must play the notes that follow. Aural hypnosis.”
Mrs. Peel, however, has some musical talents of her own, breaking their trance with a well-blown tuba blast. Then she confronts the conductor, whom she discovers was the person who performed the brainwashing in the previous issues, and he is still wielding some hypnotic tricks up his sleeve (or under his shirt, in this case, a set of speakers, not to mention spirals on the backs of his white gloves.)
“The high sound is your nervous system. The low sound your circulation. I’ve learned to manipulate that high sound, and thus the nervous system and thus the brain.”
Fortunately Mrs. Peel is able to resist long enough to put a bullet through the speakers and through him, as well.
In the end, the question remains of what was the overall goal of the kidnapping attempt and therefore the question of whether or not it was successful is still unanswered. But the last scene shows a satellite overlooking Britain bearing the arms of the Hellfire Club. More mind control via satellite? Maybe next month will say.