This issue of Avengers sees Captain America and his fellow Invader, Namor the Sub-Mariner, meet once again, brought together by the most pedestrian of circumstances that nonetheless prompts some interesting discussions. Also, we have the latest installment of Secret Wars II, for what it’s worth. (If you’ve read our previous coverage of this series, you know that ain’t much.)
After a couple pages with Stingray—the red and white fella at the upper right of the cover—learning that the Avengers need a new place to park their quinjets after the government kicked them out of New York in the last issue, we turn to Avengers Mansion, where Cap and Hercules are getting their hourly workout in when Wasp bursts in with news of some bad press for Cap’s new hotline (announced in Captain America #312).
While Hercules very calmly ponders a defamation suit, Cap generously takes a more expansive view of the freedom of the press, generously considering his own role in the confusion over his multiple roles.
Cap wants to do the honorable and honest thing, but his publicist Janet warns against it. Meanwhile, the Black Knight reminds us that the Avengers are still on the lookout for the Beyonder.
But chasing down a narcissistic all-powerful cosmic being is not as important as reviewing all the offers the Avengers have received from municipalities willing to house their quinjets, with the heroes making comments both prudent (such as the Black Knight) and compassionate (such as Captain Marvel).
After Janet finds a letter from Stingray—actually oceanographer Walter Newell, who lives with his wife Diane on Hydrobase, an artificial island created by a villain named (what else) Dr. Hydro—the Avengers fly there and get the grand tour, only to be joined by an old friend (of Cap’s, at least).
As team leader Janet challenges Namor, although I have no idea what it means that she “assumes the powers of her namesake”—are wasps known for asserting authority and verbally confronting threats? Or just that she flies up to meet him? In any case, Cap is even-handed…
…which Namor appreciates, before he delivers his DoorDash order and then dashes off himself.
Diane fills the team in on Namor’s present circumstances, having recently been asked to abdicate his throne, which explains his foul mood. When Hercules later sees him brooding on a rock, he decides to cheer him up in his own unique way.
When the rest of the Avengers notice the scuffle, they break up the two, starting with Captain Marvel trying to talk to them, followed by Captain America taking a more physical approach.
Namor doesn’t have to argue his case for long, as Hercules admits his ploy…
…and Namor likes it.
It seems Namor can’t catch a break, even from Cap, but his gift is just a dinner on the beach for his pals. Before long, Hercules suspects he’ll have to stir thing up again, but he soon learns that Cap is on the job—and Cap, for his part, is playing the part of life coach, questioning his friend about his future plans.
Cap emphasizes the importance of finding meaning in one’s life, and when Namor tries to argue the difficulty of doing that, Cap suggests an obvious answer.
Cap acknowledges Namor’s checkered point but chooses to focus on the good, while not mentioning other Avengers who began on the wrong side of the law, such as Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and the Vision. (It was probably better not to compare the former prince of Atlantis to villains!) Then, Cap starts to tell a story…
…one that we know well, but apparently Namor had no idea. (Another person “too busy” to read this blog, I guess.)
Namor is struck speechless as his proud demeanor cracks open for a second. (This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it usually has something to do with Cap.)
In Secret Wars II #6, the Beyonder is trying to be a hero by being a “champion of life” and solving all the world’s problems, a familiar superhero trope that raises the standard objections from Captain America and Reed Richards.
Cap puts it in more political terms, but overshoots the mark.
For once, Reed makes the better point: The Beyonder’s actions risk making humanity reliant on him and less focused on solving their own problems. But there is little risk of the Beyonder “controlling” them, so there is no significant cost to their freedoms—just their motivation to use them for their own betterment. (Maybe Cap is just bitter because the Beyonder stole his idea for a hotline, but perhaps he also overheard Cap talking to Namor about the importance of having meaning in one’s life!)
Just then, the Beyonder’s lackey, a journalist named Dave, uses the Beyonder’s “mento-projector” to suggest the heroes are simply afraid of being outshined (OUTSHINED! OUTSHINED!) by the Beyonder. Neither Cap nor Reed takes the bait, though, remaining concerned only that the Beyonder heard their legitimate concerns.
What do Cap and Reed conclude? Cap wants to give him the Beyonder the benefit of the doubt, while Reed says it’s irrelevant anyway. (That’s the spirit, Reed!)
What does the Beyonder try to do next? End Death… as in, the personification of death in the Marvel Universe. What could go wrong?
Collected in: Avengers: The Once and Future Kang
Collected in: Secret Wars II
ALSO THIS MONTH: Captain America #312 (December 1985)
NEXT ISSUES: Avengers #263 and Fantastic Four #286 (January 1986)