We wrap up the relevant issues of Avengers in the 40s, and the title’s first annual, in this post, which closes with Cap once again leaving the team (although not for long).
The annual sees the first gathering of the original and current Avengers teams (minus the Hulk, natch) to battle a group of their foes gathered by the Mandarin, which takes the form of a classic “split up into smaller teams” tale, like writer Roy Thomas’ beloved tales in the Golden Age All-Star Comics featuring the Justice Society of America. As such, Cap doesn’t appear in most of the issue, but early on he does impress several of his fellow Avengers with his leadership skills—especially Iron Man and Thor, who haven’t seen this side of him for a while.
Below, Cap and Thor compete to see who can be more inspiring (which backfires as far as Wanda is concerned).
Which team did Cap put himself on? The one that stays home, of course—which he justifies to Pietro with a little John Milton.
(At the end of this post, we’ll learn another of Cap’s favorite authors.)
They don’t stay idle for long, I assure you, facing the Mandarin himself before the rest of the Avengers arrive for the final battle. And the final page is a classic.
Issue #45 starts off with the aftermath of the annual, with the members of the combined team enjoying an Avengers Day celebration in Manhattan’s Central Park. After Thor and Iron Man leave, the remaining Avengers find themselves facing the Super-Adaptoid, a creation of AIM that Cap faced in Tales of Suspense #82-84. who can absorb super-powers—which he did this time by attending Avengers Day. (Oops.)
In the two (nonsequential) panels below, a police officer shows his trust in and deference to Cap (and only Cap, given how nutty his story is).
After the Super-Adaptoid proclaims his target to be none other than Cap, our hero nobly tries to protect his fellow Avengers…
…but wouldn’t you know they can’t stay away, especially after the android manages to knock Cap out and capture him.
After Pietro drains the Super-Adaptoid’s batteries and it collapses, the Avengers gather for a postmortem. Pietro reveals his growing animus against humans, while Cap previews his role as leader of the “Unity Squad,” made up of Avengers and X-Men, after the two teams fought in the 2012 Marvel event cleverly titled “Avengers vs. X-Men“).
In issue #46, we see our team recovering from the battle with the Super-Adaptoid while Cap longs for something…
…oh, right… her. (Whatshername.) It’s a tribute to Stan Lee and Roy Thomas that Cap’s romantic turmoils in his own book worked their way into Avengers, helping to maintain the interconnectedness of the Marvel Universe.
Cap’s mood also hints at his next departure from the team, as we see below.
But if he leaves, who is going to play nursemaid to the boys? The never-ending task of team leader.
In issue #47, Cap has made up his mind, leading to his short-lived retirement in Tales of Suspense #95-96.
His thoughts in the final panel above are very telling: even Captain America wants to save face in front of his friends and colleagues. (And note that his language about “Captain America dying so Steve Rogers can live” is echoed almost word-for-word in Tales of Suspense #95, as you can see in the panel to the right as well as the linked post.)
ONE FUNNY THING
From issue #46: Who’d have guessed Cap was a Tolkien fan? I’d have pegged him more as a devotee of Harper Lee or Dashiell Hammett.
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Avengers #42-44 (July-September 1967)