This post covers the last four issues of the Korvac Saga, in which Captain America plays a small very role; the next issue of Avengers and an annual, in which he is marginally more important; and two issues of Iron Man featuring Cap with the Avengers, in which… well you get the idea. The relevant panels are few and far between, with the exception of the annual, so I won’t even try to fill in the story around them.
At the end of Avengers #173 (not covered here), we discovered that the person collecting heroes is—quelle surprise—the Collector, whom we first met in issue #28. In Avengers #174, the Collector is defeated by the mightiest Avenger of them all… umm… Hawkeye. (Hawkeye? Yep, Hawkeye.) After Clint frees and revives the rest of the Avengers, they take hold of the Collector…
…and Cap has his only line of the issue (not shown here) when the Collector is destroyed by a destructive beam from nowhere, courtesy of Korvac. (He’ll get better.)
Avengers #175 contains no meaningful scenes with Cap, focusing instead on Korvac’s backstory and the collected Avengers (now including Black Panther, Quicksilver, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Moondragon, Hercules, and the Black Widow) making plans to defeat him. But I do find the following panels with Iron Man interesting, given Cap’s concerns over the last few issues (covered here and here) about Tony spreading himself too thin while being the chairperson of the Avengers… concerns Tony takes very seriously as well, as we see.
In Avengers #176, the team continues to conference over plans, and it’s T’Challa’s turn to get literary.
(That was Hercules tossing Thor through a wall, as he is wont to do. Nothing to see here)
Once they find Korvac in… checks notes… Forest Hill Gardens, Queens, the Avengers have to take a bus just like you and me, because in Avengers #172, Henry Gyrich of the National Security Council revoked the team’s special government privileges, including the airspace clearance to operate their Quinjet. Once again, Cap supports Iron Man’s leadership, after their reconciliation in Avengers #170…
…and when he does offer the chairperson advice, he does so respectfully. (Hawkeye, not so much.)
When the team finds Korvac (the blond fella in the corner of the panel below), Thor finds him underwhelming, but Cap knows better.
In Avengers #177, the Avengers (plus a few other heroes) battle Korvac, who manages to take Cap out quickly at first…
…but when he comes to, Cap gets in a few good blows while Korvac (first name: Michael) is relatively de-powered, taunting him with the fact that a mere man is beating him, not a “super-man” (whatever that might be) or a god.
In the end, the more superpowered Avengers team up to defeat Korvac, but then have to fight his lover Carina (daughter of the Collector), and both battles together leave most of the Avengers near death themselves. (You can play “Where’s Cap” in the page below… and the fact that he wears stripes like Waldo does won’t help you.)
And that does it for the Korvac Saga (although the panels I shared in the last three posts barely even referenced the main storyline).
Avengers #178 focuses on the Beast, who has a clever comeback to Cap’s plea for caution.
Remember the Squadron Sinister from Avengers #69, the pastiche of the Justice League, including Doctor Spectrum (the Green Lantern analogue)? Of course you do. In Avengers Annual #8, Hank Pym plans to give his wife Janet a gem made from fragments of Spectrum’s Power Prism, but when she finds it, the entity inside it—like the wizard Nabu who inhabits Doctor Fate‘s helmet—takes over her mind and body, and Janet van Dyne becomes the new Doctor Spectrum.
In a search of a more powerful body—specifically, an Asgardian one—Spectrum defeats Avengers one by one, until she meets four at once.
Cap doesn’t even get mad that Black Panther answered Ms. Marvel’s question for him… now that’s virtuous!
As they fight, more Avengers join in, and the Vision uses Doctor Spectrum’s one weakness—ultraviolet light—to defeat her. (Although the Beast and Cap above refer to Spectrum as she, both Vision and Marvel refer to Spectrum as he, presumably because the entity in the prism was originally male.)
Of course, Hank refers to Spectrum as she because he knows whose body the Prism is inhabiting. (And I nominate “get a grip on yourself, fella” to be the official response when talking to Hank Pym.)
Several of the Avengers consult a preoccupied Doctor Strange…
…who, despite Wong’s best efforts, eventually explains that after the Defenders recently defeated the Squadron Sinister, he wiped their memories of their villainous identities. (He has a bad habit of doing that, as we know from the aftermath of the Avengers-Defenders War.) The Avengers need to find the other Squadron members and “wake them up” so that the former Doctor Spectrum can help them break the Prism’s hold on Janet.
The teams splits up to find the other former Squadron members, with Cap, Hawkeye, and the Scarlet Witch tasked with finding the former Whizzer—not the one Cap knew during WWII, although he does lapse into military lingo at the first sign of attack.
Hawkeye has truly grown: Instead of getting mad that Cap’s giving him orders he doesn’t need, he gets sentimental for their old days in “Cap’s Kooky Quartet” (starting in Avengers #16). Afterwards, Cap references the fourth member of that team while he demonstrates his unparalleled skill with the shield.
When they bring the former Doctor Spectrum to Janet, he reclaims the Prism—or, should I say, the Prism reclaims him, only to jump to Thor at its first chance, lodging itself in Mjolnir (and apparently denying Thor the chance to transform into a walking Bifrost).
Even after Spectrum is forced to drop the hammer because he is not worthy (nice touch), Iron Man has the brilliant idea to defeat him by “zooming around him in circles” on his invincible roller skates. (I’m shocked that didn’t work, simply shocked.)
The crisis ends when Thor and Mjolnir, after being separated for one minute, revert to the form of Don Blake and his cane, and the Prism and its entity disappear.
Happy birthday, Jan! (Sorry Hank doesn’t have a gift for you any more, but all things considered, that might be for the best.)
Unfortunately, this annual is the last we’ll see of George Pérez’s interior work on Avengers for a while. However, we are treated to two budding legendary artists in the two issues of Shellhead’s title the Avengers make an appearance in. In Iron Man #114 we see the early work of Keith Giffen, who would go on to pencil and co-plot a classic run of Legion of Super-Heroes with writer Paul Levitz, co-write the “bwa-ha-ha” Justice League with J.M. DeMatties (one of my favorite Cap writers, as we’ll see starting with Captain America #261) and penciller Kevin Maguire, and for Marvel, co-created a critter named Rocket Raccoon with Bill Mantlo.
Cap maintains respect for his fellow Avenger, standing ready to help when necessary…
…which it soon is.
I hope their dinner went better than that. (By the way, Iron Man defeats Arsenal, who eventually vanishes, only to return a year later in Avengers Annual #9. And this issue actually mentions Jason Beere from Avengers #169, the rival of Tony’s with a bomb connected to his heart that Tony is keeping frozen to prevent the bomb from exploding.)
In Iron Man #115, we see one of the first appearances of another comics legend, John Romita Jr., who would go on to draw nearly everyone at Marvel, including Spidey, Daredevil, Thor, and both the Avengers and the X-Men.
Yes, Iron Man does have a foe named the Unicorn, whom Tony is actually trying to help qt the moment. (Who wouldn’t want to help a unicorn if they could?)
We’ll close this post with a heartwarming portrayal of Captain America and Iron Man’s friendship, often tested but never broken.
Avengers (vol. 1) #174, August 1978: Jim Shooter (plot, script, and colors), George Pérez (plot and pencils), Pablo Marcos (inks), Phil Rachelson (colors), Gaspar Saladino and Denise Wohl (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Avengers (vol. 1) #175, September 1978: Jim Shooter (writer), George Pérez (pencils), Pablo Marcos (inks), Phil Rachelson (colors), Gaspar Saladino and Denise Wohl (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Avengers (vol. 1) #176, October 1978: Jim Shooter (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Klaus Janson (inks), Phil Rachelson (colors), Gaspar Saladino and Denise Wohl (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Avengers (vol. 1) #177, November 1978: Jim Shooter (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Klaus Janson (inks), Phil Rachelson (colors), Gaspar Saladino and Denise Wohl (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Avengers (vol. 1) #178, December 1978: Jim Shooter (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Klaus Janson (inks), Phil Rachelson (colors), Gaspar Saladino and Denise Wohl (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Avengers (vol. 1) Annual #8, 1978: Jim Shooter (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Klaus Janson (inks), Phil Rachelson (colors), Gaspar Saladino and Denise Wohl (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Both collected in: Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers Volume Eighteen.
Iron Man (vol. 1) #115, October 1978: Bill Mantlo (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Don Warfield (colors), Gaspar Saladino and Diana Albers (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Neither is collected (at least until Marvel Masterworks: Iron Man Volume Thirteen is announced).
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Avengers #170-172 and Thor #271 (April-June 1978)
ALSO THESE MONTHS: Captain America #224 (August 1978), Invaders #31 (August 1978), Marvel Two-in-One #42-43 (August-September 1978), Captain America #225 (September 1978), Invaders #32-33 (September-October 1978), Captain America #226-227 (October-November 1978), Daredevil #155 (November 1978), Invaders #34-35 (November-December 1978), Captain America #228 (December 1978), and Amazing Spider-Man #187 (December 1978)
NEXT ISSUES: Avengers #181-185 and Doctor Strange #35 (March-July 1979)