Avengers #304 (June 1989)

This issue is hardly significant, being a done-in-one fill-in, but it also comes between two longer storylines, and was published the same month as an important issue of Captain America, so it’s most easily dealt with on its own. (Listen, they’re not all going to be epic posts, OK?) It does feature a small group of Avengers—just Captain America and two other fellas—and relatively new character named Puma, whom we’ll get to soon.

This story takes place on Ellis Island, for many years the main port of immigration into the United States, and features three prominent tourists: Cap, Thor, and Gilgamesh, all in street clothes. (Note that Thor is in his Sigurd Jarlson identity, a mere disguise he’s used since Thor #341, as opposed to the transformation he used to undergo to become Donald Blake.)

Cap and Thor express admiration and solidarity with the immigrants who have long contributed to the American experiment…

…until a dissenting voice is heard, albeit not one making the typical anti-immigration arguments. Cap certainly understands and sympathizes, but points out that the young man’s righteous anger is aimed at the wrong people.

The young man soon takes off after he sees a man chasing him… a man who is more just a man, as we see below.

Primarily a Spider-Man foe, Puma is a member of the indigenous (and fictitious) Kisani Nation and the result of many generations of genetic manipulation that enables him to transform into… well, that’s obvious.

When Puma fails to explain himself, our heroes engage, with Cap awkwardly expressing support for his longtime colleague and friend.

“Verily, but I wouldst rather you question his premise, good Captain.”

Not sure why it’s “impossible” to catch the shield, but more notable is Gilgamesh doing the absolute least he can, and Cap appreciating the teamwork (which isn’t much, true, but an improvement from the team’s last outing).

Eventually Puma catches the young man, Charles Little Sky, who is not only a fellow Kisani but also a mutant who will later go by the name Portal, for reasons made clear below.

As Cap mentions above, the U-Foes are occasional sparring partners of the Hulk (including quite recently): They subjected themselves to cosmic rays in an attempt to duplicate the Fantastic Four’s powers but then used their very different abilities for evil.

Naturally, the U-Foes attack… well, everybody… but are eventually defeated, Ironclad in the most humiliating fashion.

Someday, a cellmate will ask him, “Did Cap hit you with his shield?” and Ironclad will just look away, muttering, “not exactly.”

After Gilgamesh actually contributes (by knocking Ironclad out once and for all), Puma finally explains his interest in Little Sky, but Cap argues that it is the young man’s choice with whom to learn how to deal with his powers (if at all), and Thor agrees.

Despite Puma and Thor’s best efforts, Little Sky escapes to a new dimension through one of his portals, after which the God of Thunder gives a very Cap-like lecture to Puma, which Cap backs up before Puma takes his leave…

…with Cap citing the lack of outstanding warrants, plus a touch of gratitude, as sufficient reason for not pursuing him (although Thor’s reason was better).

The final panels bring the story back around to the immigration theme. (I don’t think Thor sees why it’s “funny,” however.)


ISSUE DETAILS

Avengers (vol. 1) #304, June 1989: Danny Fingeroth (writer), Rich Buckler (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Christie Scheele (colors), Bill Oakley (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Not yet collected (but should eventually be included in volume 19 of the Avengers Epic Collection).


PREVIOUS ISSUES: Avengers #301-303 and Thor #402 (March-May 1989)

ALSO THESE MONTHS: Captain America #354 (June 1989)

NEXT ISSUES: Avengers #305-307 (July-September 1989)

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