Avengers #274-277 (December 1986-March 1987)

These four issues (together with issue #273) comprise the classic storyline in which Baron Zemo assembles a new line-up of the Masters of Evil and invades Avengers Mansion. It’s a cracking good story with an emotional ending for Captain America, but as with many Avengers stories, he does share time with the rest of the team (which is split up through much of this adventure). Therefore, this post, while rather long, will not summarize the entire story, which I highly recommend reading one way or another (such as the Epic Collection that concludes with this story).

After sitting out the inaugural issue of the arc, in which Zemo and friends take over the Mansion, we finally see Cap in issue #274 as he literally drops in on the Wasp, who is enjoying some rare downtime beside her pool while she mulls her ethical responsibilities as team leader.

That is one strong diving board! (And the acrobatics are all the more impressive if you consider that he had to counter the wind resistance from his shield.)

After updating Janet on his encounter with Whirlwind and Trapster in issue #324 of his own book, the two Avengers get their first clue that all is not right back at the homestead.

After the Wasp sneaks into the mansion and finds Jarvis and the Black Knight tied up, she and Cap try to intercept Hercules before he returns… rather under the influence… which makes it easier for his old friend “Stevie” to lure him into his van.

Once inside, Cap drops his disguise and puts the call out to as many Avengers as possible…

…before Hercules loses his temper and flees the van, headed toward the mansion, with Cap and the Wasp in close pursuit. Cap happily accepts a command from the team leader before the mansion’s own security systems, recently enhanced, get hold of him.

Janet starts to disable the coils when someone “turns it up” and drags Cap inside…

…where he eventually comes face to face with Zemo and remains as defiant as ever.

Cap’s defiance continues in issue #275, which he spends with Zemo in full taunting mode.

Our hero tries to get Zemo to let Jarvis and the Black Knight go with the old “I’m the one you want” line, but Zemo has a more sinister use for them.

Next comes the “you’ll never get away with this” routine, but Zemo ignores it, and Cap turns to asking how he survived Mother Superior psychic blast in Captain America #299.

(He does tell the Fixer, though: His metal headband “blunted the power” of the attack. Maybe Luke Cage should have kept his!)

When Zemo and Hyde hear on the news that Titania and the Absorbing Man are going after Hercules and the Wasp in the hospital where the former is recovering from the thrashing he received in the last issue, they team-taunt Cap, this time adding a treasured memento for extra impact.

After that doesn’t work as planned, they bring out something else they found in his room.

That doesn’t work either, frustrating Zemo—but Hyde knows what will.

In issue #276, the Black Knight manages to reclaim his sword and free Cap, and together with the Wasp, Captain Marvel, and a returned Thor, they defeat Hyde and save Jarvis from near-death.

Did I mention Ant-Man (Scott Lang, not Hank Pym) is here too? The team makes plans to get Jarvis to safety, with Janet once again very effective as team leader. (I point out mainly mainly to highlight the contrast between the reaction of Cap and Thor compared to Hercules’ normal petulance at Janet’s command.)

Cap easily thwarts the villains’ attempt at “ambush,” after which Thor deals them an apparently deadly blow…

…to which Cap reacts with significant alarm, until the Odinson explains what he did. Next, they face Goliath (the one we saw in Captain America #308, Erik Josten, not Hank Pym or Bill Foster)…

…a fight that continues into issue #277, when the Wrecker joins in.

Cap quickly catches on that his foe is even stronger than before…

…but also realizes that his fighting skills didn’t keep up with his strength, which gives Cap the upper edge.

Cap makes sure the Wrecker gets that point as well…

…and together with the Wasp, Cap finally puts the Wrecker down at the same Thor finishes up with Goliath.

Cap warns the newly arrived Army rangers away from a precipice, over which they find the villains’ escape vehicle, with a Yellowjacket inside (again, not Hank Pym, but the one introduced in Avengers #264, not that we saw her in the post on that issue).

Cap starts to give her a stern Cap speech™, but she is more reasonable than most of her colleagues.

In the end, only Zemo remains, and naturally Cap wants to face him himself—and not just because the fiend has his shield!

As they battle, Cap says that he has also faced suffering and anguish, but he perseveres…

…and, when he can, he achieves justice. (I really don’t think he means vengeance, which is beneath him—not to mention it goes against the point he’s trying to make!)

Cap emphasizes the elder Zemo’s responsibility for his own choices…

…as well as his own demise, despite the younger Zemo’s delusion. (Could Zemo also have been thinking about Cap’s controversial actions in Switzerland? We’ll never know!)

After Zemo is taken to the hospital, Cap surveys what little is left of the mansion and its contents, which he hadn’t had time to consider while fighting for his life and the lives of his teammates.

He feels foolish crying over “mere” things, such as the only existing picture of his mother, when the stakes of the battle were so much larger, but Captain Marvel reminds him that it’s OK to mourn the loss of such important pieces of his past…

…than, after he finishes mourning, counsels him to move on, for there are always lives to save.


ISSUE DETAILS

Avengers (vol. 1) #274, December 1986: Roger Stern (writer), John Buscema (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Christie Scheele (colors), Jim Novak (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Avengers (vol. 1) #275, January 1987: Roger Stern (writer), John Buscema (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Julianna Ferriter and Christie Scheele (colors), Jim Novak (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Avengers (vol. 1) #276, February 1987: Roger Stern (writer), John Buscema (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Julianna Ferriter (colors), Jim Novak (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Avengers (vol. 1) #277, March 1987: Roger Stern (writer), John Buscema (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Christie Scheele (colors), Jim Novak (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

All collected in: Avengers Epic Collection: Under Siege


PREVIOUS ISSUES: Avengers #271-272, Alpha Flight #39, Eternals #12, and Power Man and Iron Fist #125 (September-October 1986)

ALSO THESE MONTHS: Captain America #324-325 (December 1986-January 1987), Captain America #326 (February 1987), Captain America #327 (March 1987), and Marvel Fanfare #31 (March 1987)

NEXT ISSUES: Avengers #278-280 (April-June 1987)

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