Avengers #32
(September 2000)

Title: Behind the Masque
Story: Kurt Busiek
Art: George Perez/Paul Ryan/Al Vey/Tom Smith

Summary: As the sensational She-Hulk makes her exit from the ranks of the Avengers, the Black Widow arrives with new information about the mystery of Madame Masque. While Tony & Natasha discuss this new info, the rest of the team attends to various matters. Wanda & Jan discuss leadership issues and Simon's whereabouts while Triathlon takes a call from Triune leader Jonathan Tremont! Tremont asks that Triathlon leave immediately to attend a Triune rally and is upset when Triathlon asserts his need to remain on alert due to his Avengers membership. Tremont is none too happy to hear this and challenges Triathlon's loyalty to the Triune. Tri doesn't back down and restates that his duties as an Avenger have to come first. Unbeknownst to Triple-Snacks, Carol catches the tail end of the conversation. Carol muses that maybe Triathlon isn't such a security threat and that maybe she should look into straightening all this Triune business out. As Carol enters the conference room, she vents a bit about needing more of a social life now that she's back in New York. To her surprise, the Vision shares this sentiment and abruptly asks her out to dinner! The assembled Avengers are all a bit shocked, especially the Scarlet Witch. Carol stumbles in her response and the Vision realizes the awkwardness. He then makes sure that Wanda is okay with it. When she states that he is a free man, Carol agrees to the date!

The moment is interrupted by news that Iron Man & the Black Widow are ready to brief the team. Shellhead recounts the recent murder of various Madame Masque look-alikes. The Widow then explains the mysterious coin she received from the robot Benedict, which contained information about the Maggia! The connection between these events is made clear as the story shifts to the Nevada base of Madame Masque herself. Masque has grown paranoid and shut herself up in her stronghold, preferring to send clones and androids out to do her bidding. She recounts her personal history which has lead to her obsessive paranoia and complete mistrust of everyone. We learn that the mysterious Masque who worked with the Avengers was actually an errant clone who escaped her service. As Masque tries to convince the true Madama Masque to trust again, the Grim Reaper arrives with his new Steelskull troops, courtesy of the Taskmaster.

The Avengers are there and waiting having received the Reaper's location from SHIELD. The Avengers easily defeat the Reaper and his crew and are then attacked by Madame Masque's robots...just as Count Nefaria arrives with Atlas and Wonder Man!!!

NOTES: This issue sets up two future plotlines for Carol, the Triune investigation and the date with Vision. These will probably have to wait until after the T-Bolts crossover and Maximum Security. *sigh*


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