“KANG!!!” (In the voice of Captain James T. Kirk, fist clenched tightly.)
I have to tell you, I can’t stand time-travel stories, and any story with Kang is guaranteed to be one convoluted time-travel story. On the bright side, this story exemplifies the interconnectedness of the Marvel Universe even at this early stage, as it ties into two earlier Fantastic Four stories in which Kang appeared (albeit in his Rama-Tut identity, only the first of many).
FIRST SIGNS OF LEADERSHIP
This issue doesn’t have a lot of interesting Captain America content, but it is notable for the first time Cap assumed leadership of the Avengers… because it was his turn.
Hardly a ringing endorsement of his leadership skills or inspirational qualities, although those would come soon enough (especially when he assumes permanent leadership during the Kooky Quartet period starting with Avengers #16).
SELLING THE WASP SHORT
Using an attractor ray, Kang captures the four male Avengers (also reverting Thor to his Donald Blake form). Not Cap’s proudest moment as he shows less than high confidence that the Wasp and Rick Jones can do anything to save them.
Of course, Jan and Rick do exactly that…
While it seems Cap does not take Janet’s abilities seriously at this point—she downplays them herself, but that doesn’t excuse anyone else—later on their time together in the Avengers he comes to appreciate her, explicitly praising her long tenure as team leader (see Avengers #227 and #228, mentioned in The Virtues of Captain America, p. 100).
Meanwhile, Rick and his pals put Cap’s training to good use…
…if that training included fooling Kang into thinking they wanted to join him…
…and dropping things. (Maybe he showed them Laurel and Hardy movies.)
In their final confrontation with Kang, Cap shields his colleagues from Kang’s “attack ray,” displaying his legendary courage (and very wide stance).
He also tries to use it to protect his others from radioactivity (a valiant if futile effort).
CAP ALWAYS GETS THE FINAL WORD
And unfortunately, he has returned… time and time again. (Sigh.)
Avengers (vol. 1) #8, September 1964: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (words, plot, and pencils), Dick Ayers (inks), Stan Goldberg (colors), Sam Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Avengers Epic Collection: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers Volume One
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Avengers #7 (August 1964)
NEXT ISSUE: Avengers #9 (October 1964)
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