With this issue, we catch up with what Rick Jones has been doing since we last saw him in Captain America #118, and also get a fright concerning Nick Fury.
Last time Rick “saw” Cap, he was actually the Red Skull, who had used the Cosmic Cube to switch appearances with the Sentinel of Liberty, and then rejected Rick as a useless sidekick. So when they reunite in this issue, Rick understandably has a bit of a chip on his shoulder—but such is his respect and admiration for Cap, that all it takes is a word to make Rick feel like a heel again (not that he should!).
When they meet up with the Avengers, we get a nice affirmation of Clint’s Cap-worship (after slowly warming to him in the Kooky Quartet days), as well as a warmer-than-expected welcome for Rick, to whom the Avengers (and Cap, to some extent) often seem ambivalent.
While Cap briefs his teammates on the disappearance of some local city officials, Dum Dum Dugan calls to give them a clue—the sign of Scorpio, one of Fury’s foes—found in each of their homes. (He also tells them that Fury’s dead… minor detail.)
It turns out that Rick also came to Avengers Mansion to talk about Scorpio, and Cap stands up for him (which is always nice to see, given that it doesn’t always happen).
Rick sees Scorpio in Nick Fury’s apartment, and he triggers his new “identity” as the co-inhabitant of a body with Mar-Vell, the Kree warrior known as Captain Marvel.
As you see above, Rick doesn’t give the Avengers the whole story, and at least one of them notices.
Nonetheless, after the Avengers get a message from Scorpio himself, the villain manages to overcome them and trap them in his “secret parlor,” after which he introduces the rest of the Zodiac, twelve villains modeled after… well, you can guess.
Hank and Janet summon the ants who also live in the secret parlor to short-circuit the contraption holding the Avengers, and… they fight! Plus, they’re joined by a surprise guest…
We’ll get the answer to this soon, but meanwhile, Rick says no to Mar-Vell, choosing to handle this as his own, win or lose.
Long story short: Scorpio was actually Nick’s brother Jake, and after Jake escaped their battle, Nick assumed his identity to flush out the Zodiac. And his “death”?
Of course it was an LMD. Golly those things are handy!
Not only is Cap compassionate and understanding with his old pal Nick regarding his brother’s death, he also gives Rick the praise he always wanted… but he can’t accept it, at least not in the way he wants to.
Rick’s adventures continue in Captain Marvel #20, and we’ll see Cap in the next post!
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Avengers #69-71 and Iron Man #18-19 (October-December 1969)
ALSO THIS MONTH: Captain America #121 (January 1970)
NEXT ISSUES: Avengers #75-76 (April-May 1970)