These two issues contain a battle against the Grey Gargoyle, primarily a foe of Thor who also faced Captain America and the Falcon in Captain America #139-142, which is bookended by a more interesting story—at least for the purposes of this blog—featuring a Senate hearing on the issues of the Avengers’ security clearance, which anticipates some of the arguments made during the “Civil War” in 2006-2007 (the topic of another book I wrote).
Almost all of the panels I’ll feature from issue #190 deal with this hearing, which is introduced below—note that Cap is the only Avenger to respond to the reporters, and he gives the only correct answer.
Below we learn the identities of the Avengers’ “dream team,” including “the famed blind attorney” (?) Matt Murdock, whom we know to be Daredevil. And of course there’s Mr. Congeniality himself, Henry Peter Gyrich, government liaison to the team, whose relationship with the team reached a head at the end of the last issue.
The hearing begins with one of the Avengers’ other attorneys beginning his argument with a plea based on his own reputation…
…before citing several of the times the team saved the world (a point made in most government investigations into the propriety of superheroes).
This argument rarely does much good, as seen above, because the investigating authorities are usually more concerned with some cost of superheroes’ activity.
This continues below, with Gyrich saving us from a footnote spelling out what S.H.I.E.L.D. means, plus an old face from Captain America #231.
As we know, Stanford’s statement does accurately reflect S.H.I.E.L.D.’s attitude toward Cap at the time (which Cap gave Nick Fury plenty of guff over later).
The Falcon stands up for his former partner, filling in the gaps in Stanford’s account of events, before Cap tries to settle him down—perhaps to let Stanford finish his thought, which had a good chance of heading in a very ugly and indicative direction.
Next, Iron Man mixes it up with Gyrich, who references the Armored Avenger’s dislike for protocol from the last issue, and Cap remains chill, finding Gyrich’s case than impressive.
Gyrich then turns to the Avengers’ lax security, which is a good point, as both Cap and the lawyers acknowledge and as we’ve seen before (other than, perhaps, the incident he cites with Hawkeye from Avengers #172, which I did not show in the post on the issue). Meanwhile, Iron Man gets an emergency communication…
…which was for real, unlike the “catastrophe” he concocted during the hearings to discuss the Superhero Registration Act many years later. Gyrich would have been correct then, but all he does now is finally raise Cap’s ire.
Cap starts into a version of his “if I see a situation going south” speech from the film Captain America: Civil War, and Gyrich reveals his complete lack of faith and trust in the Sentinel of Liberty, when the TV backs our heroes up.
Godwin’s law aside, when Captain America calls you “little Hitler,” you take it seriously (even if it does seem to be a little exaggerated in this case). Nonetheless, the Beast interrupts, making their attorney’s original point better than the attorney did.
That’s it for the hearing until the very end of the next issue. In the meantime, our heroes confront the rampaging robotic thingie, with Cap using his mighty shield like a bottle opener…
…and gets his can saved by one of his attorneys, unbeknownst to him. (Of course, you can read about the adventure Daredevil mentions beginning here.)
Eventually, their enemy sheds his skin and reveals his rocky grey interior.
Most of issue #191 is taken up with the entire team fighting the Grey Gargoyle, who at one point turns a store awning to stone over Cap and the Beast. After the Gargoyle escapes, Ms. Marvel and the Wasp rescue their two colleagues, with Cap again playing the cool reassuring veteran of the foreign wars.
As for the rest of the team, the recently married Scarlet Witch and Vision are having issues, to which Cap seems particularly sensitive (especially compared to the Beast, which isn’t saying much), and they discover that, not only is Tony Stark newly sober, but he’s also not as stoned as they thought. (Sorry.)
Yes, where is the Falcon? He’s the only one who managed to follow the Grey Gargoyle back to his house, where they fight for several pages…
…before the cavalry arrives and, after some more fighting, the Scarlet Witch transforms the Gargoyle to flesh and blood so the Beast can lay him out with a single punch.
Now we get back to the important part of this two-part episode, saved for the very last page of issue #191. To make a short story even shorter, the Senate committee acknowledges Gyrich’s concerns before mostly dismissing them, concluding that the Avengers’ work is too important to be reined in by red tape…
…until next time, that is. (We haven’t seen the last of Henry Peter Gyrich, trust me.)
Avengers (vol. 1) #190, December 1979: Roger Stern (plot), Steven Grant (script), John Byrne (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Ben Sean (colors), John Costanza (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Avengers #188-189 and Avengers Annual #9 (October-November 1979)