Avengers #231-232 (May-June 1983)

As is typical during this period of Avengers, these two issues have spotty Captain America content, especially of the ethically interesting variety, but we nonetheless find things to talk about, usually in the form of meaningful interpersonal moments between Cap and his teammates.

In issue #231, Avengers past and present are gathered in memory of their unofficial team member Jocasta, who died a hero fighting Ultron alongside Machine Man and the Thing in Marvel Two-in-One #93.

We get a glimpse of the thoughts of the various Avengers, starting with Cap, to whom Jocasta is the latest of his allies and friends to perish, all of whom he usually feels responsible for in some way.

Good question, Beast… and one that is addressed, if not answered, below.

Cap thinks he can get through to his old pal Tony Stark, and unbeknownst to everyone, this is not Tony but Jim Rhodes, who took over as Iron Man in this month’s Iron Man #170 after Tony’s descent into alcoholism.

More on this point later, but for now, we turn to the team reacting to an urgent message from the White House that the S.H.I.E.L.D. base in Maryland has been invaded and taken over, with Nick Fury and the president of the United States (at that time, Ronald Reagan) inside. After the Avengers rush there and Captain Marvel performs retcon in her energy form, team leader Wasp turns to Cap for advice.

After Thor easily defeats the guards around the base, Cap continues to act as field commander—not superseding the Wasp, but performing a specialized role for her and the team.

On Cap’s orders, Captain Marvel slips into the room where Fury and the president are being held, but Nick is ready for anything… or anyone.

Is Cap implying that Nick might have shot the explosive device at him anyway? (“Oops.”)

Cap stays with the president this time, who managed to sleep through much of the excitement (a typical characterization of Reagan during his time in office).

In the rest of the issue, the Avengers take care of the invaders and defeat a giant plant-creature (courtesy of Plantman, who was also behind the invasion). They had the help of Eros, brother of Thanos, who showed up unannounced at Avengers Mansion earlier in the issue (and who we last saw at this blog in The Death of Captain Marvel).

After the rest of the team congratulates Monica on her performance, Eros starts to flirt with her until he is shocked to learn her code-name, after which he remembers the reason he’s here.

As issue #232 opens, Thor’s alter ego Donald Blake is setting Hawkeye’s leg, which was broken in last issue’s battle, while both Captain Marvel and the Wasp admire their mysterious visitor.

Afterwards, Cap and Janet usher the good doctor out of the room so he can revert to his Asgardian form in private (although they may have wanted to back up a bit first).

I appreciate the sense of awe expressed here, especially from Cap, as well as Thor’s unexpected modesty concerning it. And speaking of Tony Stark, the other Avenger privy to Thor’s secret, Cap and the Wasp will pay him a visit very soon… but not until Janet asks her two fellow long-term team members a very heartfelt question.

Janet’s question is addressed no further—especially after Cap and Thor were clear about their unqualified support—once the topic of extending an offer of membership to Eros comes up. At the team meeting to discuss the matter, Hawkeye flies off the handle, until Cap makes it clear the archer’s out of commission for the time being anyway, and Thor confronts Eros about his brother Thanos, until Eros reminds Thor of his own troublesome brother Loki.

Only one question remains: What to call him? Leave it to Janet…

Whenever I see a joke like that, I remember this great panel from Marvel 2-in-One #4 (May 2018) by Chip Zdarsky and Valerio Schiti:

See, Johnny, you’re not the only one!

Back to our story: While Thor and Captain Marvel take Eros Starfox to investigate a disturbance that is one again the work of Plantman, Cap and the Wasp finally pay their old friend Tony Stark a visit.

Tony’s obviously drunk, but he knows he didn’t call Avengers Mansion this morning… and the fella wot did shows up to explain.

Tony falls back on the old wink-wink explanation of who Iron Man is in relation to Tony Stark, which actually fooled everybody, even the Sentinel of Liberty (who, to be fair, tends to be excessively trusting).

Neither Tony or Rhodey tell Cap and Janet who’s in the armor, and when Cap and Janet urge Tony to lay off the sauce a bit—with Janet going so far as to invoke her fallen ex-husband to her fallen ex-boyfriend—he throws them out.

But Cap doesn’t stay away for long: He confronts Tony one-on-one very soon after this in Iron Man #172 (July 1983).


ISSUE DETAILS

Avengers (vol. 1) #231, May 1983: Roger Stern (writer), Al Milgrom (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Christie Scheele (colors), Jim Novak (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Avengers (vol. 1) #232, June 1983: Roger Stern (writer), Al Milgrom (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Christie Scheele (colors), Rick Parker and Jim Novak (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

All collected in: Avengers: Absolute Vision Book One.


PREVIOUS ISSUES: Avengers #228-230 (February-April 1983)

ALSO THESE MONTHS: Captain America #281 (May 1983) and Captain America #282 (June 1983)

NEXT ISSUES: Avengers #233-234 and Fantastic Four #256 (July-August 1983)

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