These half-dozen issues of Avengers (three of which are shown above) and two issues of Captain Marvel (leading to a crossover a year later) do not feature Captain America very heavily, but there are a few meaningful scenes in which he displays some moral wisdom, righteous anger at hatred, and rational suspicion.
In issue #110, after Quicksilver reappears and announces his engagement to Crystal of the Inhumans (and, intermittently, the Fantastic Four), the Scarlet Witch tells him about her and the Vision, and he does not react well. Note Cap’s reaction, sympathetic to Wanda and Vision, both in this face (top row) and his thoughts (bottom).
Soon after, the Avengers split up to investigate an attack on Charles Xavier and the X-Men, and he gives some good advice to Wanda.
Cap makes an excellent point here: When someone gives you an ultimatum, you don’t have to accept the terms as given, nor are you responsible for how the person reacts to your choice among them (if you choose to play along at all). We see this more often in superhero comics when the villain holds an innocent civilian hostage and give an order to the hero “or else”—a choice the hero usually transcends to save the day, defying the ultimatum itself—but we also see it in more ordinary situations such as a stubborn brother.
After they get to Xavier’s school, they find themselves attacked by Cerebro (almost as if it were being manipulated by someone with magnetic abilities, hmm). It also gives a chance for Cap to mention his new super-strength, gained recently in Captain America #157-159, as well as condescendingly call Wanda “girl” (which, unfortunately, goes back much farther).
Magneto (as you no doubt guessed) reveals himself at the end of issue #110 and captures half the Avengers. After a diversion to Daredevil #99 to pick up Hornhead and Black Widow, we return in issue #111 to see Magneto’s newest trick: mind-control, which renders Cap inactive for most of the issue.
Even though Cap is not himself, we still see a great (if hard to believe) “Mjolnir vs. Shield” moment.
After the Vision manages to subdue Magneto—by playing Deadman and inhabiting the body of one of Magneto’s lackeys—Cap makes an executive decision and invites Daredevil and Black Widow to join the Avengers. Matt turns him down, because there would be too many people around (as opposed to, you know, San Francisco), while Natasha takes the opportunity to get away from him. (Ouch.) Wisely, Cap does not comment.
In issue #112, the Avengers face the Lion God, who controls a group of protesters claiming to want the Black Panther to return with them to Wakanda.
Manners seem a quaint concern at such a time, but hey, it’s Cap.
We don’t see Cap for the rest of this issue because Tony sends him on an errand…
…but the rest of the team manages to defeat the Lion God without him, after which Black Widow cuts her first term of membership with the Avengers short, inspired by Wanda and Vision.
I guess she left her heart in San Francisco. (I’ll be here all week; be sure to tip your bartenders.)
In issue #113, we see Cap’s concerns about society’s reactions to Wanda and Vision come all too true, and he demonstrates the appropriate reaction to hate and prejudice, especially in name of religion.
Unfortunately, the people who sent the letter also take action, becoming suicide bombers who manage to injure the Vision. As Tony Stark, Donald Blake, and Black Panther try to repair him, Cap wonders where Iron Man and Thor went—right? so weird—but his confusion is interrupted by more of the bombers.
They manage to stun Cap temporarily, but he soon lets them know what he thinks of their plans.
Meanwhile, after Tony had to duck out of the operating room to “find” Iron Man, he returns to see if anyone can “find” Thor, and finally we get some assurance that at least two of the Avengers are not utterly clueless.
Of course, the Mighty Avengers manage to take care of some fanatics with bombs strapped to their heads, and at the end Wanda sounds like Pietro… with good reason, of course.
In issue #114, the Avengers meet Mantis, who has been lurking behind the scenes (with a mystery character) since issue #112. When Wanda brings her to Avengers Mansion, Cap whips out the rulebook, but Wanda isn’t having it. (Don’t make her mad Cap please.)
But Mantis isn’t who Cap should be concerned about… we meet the other lurker, a more familiar face.
This time, of course, Cap’s suspicion is warranted—and it certainly doesn’t help Mantis’ case that she brought an old foe along.
Speaking of whom, the Swordsman explains where he’s been (hint: nowheresville) and how he met Mantis. Cap still isn’t buying it, but Wanda plays the cards she was dealt…
…and the rest of the Avengers assembled agree with her. Cap honorably agrees to go along, but makes it clear he still doesn’t buy what the Swordsman is selling. (Given the naivete he’s shown in earlier issues, and the ruses the Avengers have fallen before, this is a welcome sight.)
Nonetheless, when the issue of Hawkeye comes up and the Swordsman becomes petulant, Cap is suspicious, but in a very self-aware way.
Before they know it, the Lion God returns, only to be defeated by—who else—Mantis and the Swordsman, after which they explain that they lured it to Avengers Mansion to take care of it once and for all.
Again, Cap is very understandably suspicious, while his fellow Avengers seem all too eager to believe. (And seriously, did Tony write the exposition in the upper-left-hand panel?)
Finally, issue #115 sees the Avengers travel to England, only to be stopped by S.H.I.E.L.D. UK, who object to their newest two members. As we would expect by now, the rest of the team back them up, while Cap silently asserts his suspicions.
The Avengers are looking for the Black Knight—he never calls, he never writes—and when they find his castle surrounded by a force field, Thor and the Swordsman try to break through it, and the latter cuts a bit close to home for Cap (not helping his case with the Sentinel of Liberty).
They don’t actually find the Black Knight, who had joined the Defenders and was turned to stone by the Enchantress; he shows up next in Defenders #8, in chapter one of the Avengers/Defenders War, a storyline we’ll cover in the next post.
Meanwhile, in Captain Marvel #27 (in the storyline that brings Thanos to prominence, after being introduced in Iron Man #55), a mysterious woman shows up at Avengers Mansion… at the front door, no less!
Wow, that’s… a bit of an overreaction. I guess she should have snuck in the back?
The woman is Lou-Ann, friend of Cap’s former sidekick Rick Jones, who shares a body (kind of) with the Kree hero Mar-Vell, also known as Captain Marvel. Cap settles down when she collapses in his arms… and he learns a new name. (Thankfully, Thanos was not his mother’s name.)
I think Cap needs to switch to decaf.
Before long, Captain Marvel shows up to find Lou-Ann (and bless Black Panther for understanding what he meant when he said he was “looking for a girl”).
In issue #28, Mar-Vell has reverted to Rick Jones (with whom he shares a body), and it seems Cap has calmed down enough to offer a hand of comfort and a word of sympathy to his young friend.
It isn’t long before the Avengers receive yet another visitor, and this one definitely merits meeting with force.
That can’t be the first time Cap’s shield has bounced off someone, but he sure looks like it was. (And no, his mysterious foe is not Thanos, but the Controller, another villain who originated in Shellhead’s book—issue #12, to be exact.)
The larger story of Mar-Vell and Thanos will continue in his bimonthly title until the Avengers join up again in issue #31-33, coinciding with Avengers #125, which we will cover in due course (although Cap does not appear substantially in the Captain Marvel issues).
Avengers (vol. 1) #110, April 1973: Steve Englehart (writer), Don Heck (pencils), Frank Giacoia and Mike Esposito (inks), Glynis Wein (colors), Shelly Leferman (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
All collected in: Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers Volume Eleven
Captain Marvel #28 (September 1973): Jim Starlin (plot, script, pencils, colors), Mike Friedrich (script), Dan Green and John Romita (inks), Tom Orzechowski (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Avengers #106-108 (December 1972-February 1973)
ALSO THESE MONTHS: Captain America #160-162 (April-June 1973), Captain America #163 (July 1973), Captain America #164 (August 1973), Captain America #165 (September 1973), and Marvel Team-Up #13 (September 1973)