Their Darkest Hour (1964) Reading Order

The Enchantress and the Executioner are introduced to the Marvel Universe and quickly ally themselves with Baron Zemo – the man responsible for the death of Bucky Barnes. Having already defeated his Masters of Evil, Captain America is keen to face the foe who cost the life of his best friend and his time on ice. But how can Cap rely on his fellow Avengers when one of them is more interested in going on a date than helping his teammates?

Related Events: While the stories in each title can be read separately, it all makes more sense when read together.

Must Reads: Story arcs marked with a ✔are must-read stories from this time period, along with any key related stories and often-forgotten tales that are worth a read.

Anthology Issues: When an issue contains multiple stories, the relevant story is denoted with square brackets. For example, [2/5] refers to the second story of the five stories in that issue, so you don’t need to read the other four. 

Want to keep it simple? Here’s the chronological reading order without story descriptions, or spoilers:

  • Journey into Mystery #103 [1/3]
  • Journey into Mystery #104 [1/2]
  • Tales of Suspense #56 [1/2]
  • Avengers #7

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Must ReadsTitle, Issue & Synopsis
Journey into Mystery #103 [1/3]
Desperate to sabotage Thor’s love for Jane Foster, Odin and Loki employ the Enchantress to seduce Donald Blake, thus seducing Thor as well. When she fails, she turns to the Executioner to track down Jane Foster and trap her in Limbo. Thor defeats the Executioner, but he has to give up his hammer Mjolnir to the Executioner in order to win Jane’s freedom. When the Executioner proves himself unworthy to life Mjolnir, Thor leaves with both Jane and his hammer. The Enchantress learns of Executioner’s failure and uses her sorcery to punish him. Thor transports both villains back to Asgard
1st appearance: Enchantress/Amora, Executioner/Skurge
Journey into Mystery #104 [1/2]
With the Enchantress and Executioner defeated, Loki advises Odin to visit Earth and take a more hands-on approach. With Odin away from Asgard, Loki takes the throne and unleashes Surtur and the Frost Giant called Skagg on Earth to make sure Odin remains there. Heimdall sends Balder to Earth to warn Thor and Odin. Odin transports all the humans on Earth to another dimension for their protection while he, Thor and Balder defeat Skagg and Surtur, imprisoned them once more. Odin and Balder return to Asgard where Odin forces Loki to serve the Trolls as punishment.
1st appearance: Ravenseye (Odin’s sword), Twilight Sword/Sword of Doom
Must ReadsTitle, Issue & Synopsis
Tales of Suspense #56 [1/2]
Tony Stark gives way to his frustration over having to wear his Iron Man armour 24/7 and decides takes a break. He refuses to answer an urgent summons from the Avengers in favour of going on a date. At the same time, a new villain calling himself the Unicorn sets out to prove himself against Iron Man. In his absence, the Unicorn decides to threatens Stark Industries employees instead, injuring Happy Hogan and kidnapping Pepper Potts. Feeling immense guilt, Stark becomes Iron Man once more and rescues Pepper Potts. The Unicorn who reveals he’s hidden a bomb in Stark’s factory. Iron Man allows himself to be defeated and begs the villain to deactivate the bomb. Unicorn agrees and takes Iron Man onto his private plane which is headed for the Soviet Union. However, Iron Man escapes and attacks the plane, forcing Unicorn to flee.
1st appearance: Unicorn/Milos Masaryk
Avengers #7
Iron Man refuses to give the Avengers an explanation as to why he had chosen to ignore a summons from them, so they suspend him from duty for a week. Meanwhile, Odin banishes the Enchantress and Executioner from Asgard and they eventually find their way to Baron Heinrich Zemo. Together, as the new Masters of Evil, they initiate a plan was to divide the Avengers, convincing Captain America to head the Amazon jungle on Baron Zemo’s trail. The Enchantress entrances Thor, making him believe his fellow Avengers are monsters. When the Thunder God attacks Giant-Man and the Wasp, Iron Man returns breaks the Enchantress’s spell. In the Amazon, Captain America catches up with Zemo and hangs onto ship as he tries to escape. They land in New York where the Avengers confront the gathered Masters. The villains flee aboard Zemo’s ship, so Thor sends it through a space warp…

Must ReadsIssue & FalloutEvent / Crossover
Avengers Classic #7 (2008)
The Masters of Evil find themselves between the fifth and sixth dimensions where the Executioner fights to free the Masters of Evil from an alien creature and confronts the Enchantress over her treatment of him.
Avengers #9 (1964)
The Masters of Evil return to Earth; Captain America gets another chance to confront Baron Zemo when the Masters transform Tony Stark’s business rival, Simon Williams, into Wonder Man; Wonder Man infiltrates the Avengers, but ultimately turns against the Masters of Evil.
Avengers #15-16 (1965)
Captain America has his final confrontation with Baron Zemo when the villains falls in battle in a conflict between the Avengers and the Masters of Evil.
Journey into Mystery #116 (1965)
The Enchantress and Executioner become minions of Loki again.
Avengers #21-22 (1965)
The Enchantress continues her enmity with the Avengers.
Iron Man #4 (1968)
Following clashes with the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, the Unicorn next faces Iron Man when he receives a power-up from the Hyper-Activator which affects his sanity.
Avengers #61 (1969)
Surtur is next unleashed on Earth, along with the Ice Giant known as Ymir; the two demons are beaten back by the Avengers and Doctor Strange.
Thor #360-362 (1985)
The Executioner redeems himself when he aids Thor on a mission to Hel;
Thor #367 (1986)
The Enchantress is finally filled with remorse when she receives news of the Executioner’s demise.

Notable collected editions featuring these issues:

Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor vol.2
Mighty Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor vol.2: The Vengeance of Loki
Mighty Thor Omnibus vol.1
Thor Epic Collection: The God of Thunder (vol.1)
Thor: Tales of Asgard by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

All include…

  • Journey into Mystery #103-104

Invincible Iron Man Omnibus vol.1
Iron Man Epic Collection: The Golden Avengers (vol.1)
Marvel Masterworks: The Invincible Iron Man vol.2

All include…

  • Tales of Suspense #56

Avengers Epic Collection: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (vol.1)
Avengers Omnibus vol.1
Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers vol.1
Mighty Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers vol.1: The Coming of the Avengers

All include…

  • Avengers #7

Reading Order ©OmniverseComicsGuide 2023

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