This Week in Comics — 2013/01/23

“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.

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