This issue serves as the epilogue to the previous one, which included not only the court-martial of Hank Pym (Yellowjacket) for a potentially deadly mistake in the field, but also the scene of Pym striking his wife, Janet van Dyne (the Wasp). Here, we see the aftermath through the eyes of not only Janet and Hank (naturally), but also Captain America (which is why we’re here), Thor, and Iron Man, with bonus points for the Avengers’ indefatigable butler, Jarvis. (We see none of this on the cover, of course: The rest of the issue deals with the Avengers’ encounter with Ghost Rider, a later version of whom is currently an Avenger as of 2020.)
WARNING: There is discussion of domestic violence, as well as images of its effects, in this post.
The issue opens with Cap working out his frustrations amidst some dramatic exposition and a news clipping bringing us up to date.
Although we’ve often seen Cap in the gym exercising to blow off steam or get his mind off something, we don’t often see him doing so by simulating battle. Clearly, Cap is working out something more aggressive this time—but it will have to wait for Jarvis to tease it out later in the issue (because Tigra isn’t going to crack that nut herself).
But that will have to wait, because Tony Stark and Don Blake get their heads together to figure out what’s wrong with Hank and determine how to help him, fully aware that he will likely resist.
We now turn to Janet van Dyne, her eye now swollen shut two days after the incident with her husband, after which he disappeared… and has only now resurfaced.
After withstanding and excusing Hank’s belligerent, dismissive, and finally violent behavior for too long, Janet stands up for herself, making clear to Hank what he did to her and what it says about him… and kicks him out, while still maintaining some sympathy for him, as we see at the very end of the panels below.
I have to say that, while Janet should be applauded for her strength in standing up to Hank and throwing him out, this is not as straightforward a matter for all abused women, especially those who are financially dependent on their partners.
If you are a victim of domestic assault, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Back to Cap, who is now demolishing what looks like Hawkeye’s practice equipment before being on the receiving end of some wisdom for a change.
Jarvis is not messing around, teaching Cap a lesson about letting other people succeed or fail on their own merits without feeling responsible for them. (Who else but Jarvis would dare lecture Captain America about the American dream?)
Thanks to Jarvis, we learn that Cap was beating himself—and the Avengers’ gym equipment—up out of feelings of guilt and responsibility over Hank, feeling that he could have done something different to prevent his teammate’s mistake in the field (and perhaps even his abuse of Janet). This is unreasonable, of course, but is no surprise to us, being yet another reflection of Cap’s outsized sense of responsibility, not only as leader of the Avengers but as the person and hero he is.
Now the rest of the story begins as Cap receives a distress call from a friend of Angel, the former X-Man, who was attacked by Ghost Rider in New Mexico. So the Avengers head to New Mexico, where Cap insists on paying for his rented motorcycle (of course).
After looking for Ghost Rider, the Avengers gather for shawarma at Al’s Diner, which you’d think Al would be happier about. (Slim certainly didn’t have a problem with it.)
Eventually, the Avengers find Ghost Rider…
…who then has an encounter with the mighty Mjolnir…
…and appears to “wield” it (although he’s actually just holding on to it).
Ghost Rider wins the first round, and the newest Avenger is hesitant to go another after experiencing his soul-seering hellfire, but Cap rouses her inner hero…
…and earns the silent admiration of the Armored Avenger. (Was the “What a man!” his thought or Tigra’s? We’ll never know!) Cap finishes the panels above with the always valuable insight that fear is not the problem—letting it control you is. (For more on Cap and courage, see chapter 3 in my book.)
After Angel arrives and helps to stop Ghost Rider (who reverts to his human form, Johnny Blaze), Cap brings the story back around to Hank, showing that he took Jarvis’s words to heart.
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Avengers #213 (November 1981)
NEXT ISSUES: Avengers #215-216 (January-February 1982)