These two issues of Avengers start off “The Crossing Line,” a six-part story that brings together three super-teams (and none of them is the West Coast Avengers), which means that Captain America’s appearances in these next three Avengers posts will be few, but happily substantial. Also, we have the first issue of New Warriors, featuring the elder heroes welcoming a new team (which includes a couple future Avengers).
In Avengers #319, Cap convenes a meeting of his latest Kooky Quartet—an odd assemblage, to be sure, but much more powerful than the original line-up to go by that name.
Before long, they get an urgent call from the president of the United States, and Cap responds with respectful deference, as we would expect. (And he does not seem to mind being called “son,” as he does to so many others!)
The president asks the team for help with the Waterwind, a British nuclear submarine that was hijacked by Russian extremists (although no one known the last part yet except the readers of the comic), and on the way Cap and Quasar share their concerns about the mission (although Cap must be used to dealing with terrorist organizations like ULTIMATUM by now).
The Avengers pick up Stingray—after Namor was deemed unavailable—for his underwater knowledge and experience…
…and arrive in the waters near the submarine, only to find another super-team already on the scene.
As you fine readers know, Cap met the Supreme Soviets in Captain America #353—but he soon finds out they’re no longer using that name, given the rapidly changing political situation in the (former) USSR in mid-1990. They also strongly prefer to deal with this situation themselves, given who the perpetrators are, while Cap urges them to find an alternative to fighting, fearing that is what the terrorists want.
Before they can finish their conversation, however, warriors from Atlantis attack the Waterwind and insist that everyone leave their underseas dominion. As issue #320 opens, we see the Avengers and the People’s Protectorate teaming up to defend the submarine from the Atlanteans, with Cap urging caution during the battle (from the Quinjet, where he’s stuck for the duration).
But the Waterwind sustains damages nonetheless, as do the Avengers’ and Russians’ ships, leading Cap to give the command to pull back (a decision he never hesitates to make when it’s strategically necessary).
However, the Atlanteans flee after their leader is defeated by Perun of the People’s Protectorate—try to say that five times fast!—after which the Avengers reassemble in the Quinjet and decide, with the Russians, to refocus on the submarine rather than pursue the Atlanteans. (Sorry, Quasar.)
Just then, Stingray calls in from inside the Waterwind and updates them on where the sub is headed before he’s cut off after being discovered by the terrorists. Once again, Cap and the Red Guardian find themselves at odds regarding strategy, the former preferring caution and the latter preferring quick action…
…and somehow Cap agrees to do both. (Ever the optimist.)
When the heroes arrive at the submarine, the negotiations begin. (Oh, did I neglect to mention: The terrorist group’s name is the Peace Corpse. I imagine there were high-fives all around when one of them thought that up. “Dude, that’s so awesome.”)
Vostok—basically the Russian Vision—offers a dispassionate analysis of the heroes’ strategic bargaining position, implying the terrorists are bluffing, but it takes the Vision himself to convince Cap of this.
Unfortunately, it would seem they were not—what the heroes forgot is that the terrorists have so many hostages that they can kill some of them while still having enough left to maintain a threat. (Don’t worry, Stingray’s OK.)
Quasar unwittingly inspires a recurring South Park gag while the Red Guardian is ready to escalate matters…
…until a third super-team shows up to claim jurisdiction.
This, of course, will continue in the next issue—but we can’t leave until we look at New Warriors #1, where Vance Astro—currently Marvel Boy, later Justice, and much later Major Victory in the original Guardians of the Galaxy—tries for the first time to join the Avengers, and finds a certain blue-eyed idol of millions to be an excellent (if not effective) reference.
Just be patient, young Vance—your time will come.
Later, Vance and some of his pals fight Terrax, after which another super-team shows up to claim jurisdiction. (That may be the theme of this post.)
The younger heroes, who will become the New Warriors at the end of this issue, take umbrage at Cap’s dismissal—well, except for Vance…
…who gets some flack from Nova but sympathy from Speedball, whom you remember from Captain America #352 (not #353, sorry Danny), as well as a tragic story arc during the Civil War (which the New Warriors inadvertently start).
Awesome team name suggestion, though!
Avengers (vol. 1) #319, July 1990, “The Waterwind Interdiction”: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Rik Levins (pencils), Christopher Ivy (inks), Renée Witterstaeter (colors), Bill Oakley (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Avengers (vol. 1) #320, early August 1990, “Underlying Currents”: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Paul Ryan (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Renée Witterstaeter (colors), John Morelli (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Both collected in Avengers Epic Collection: The Crossing Line.
ALSO THESE MONTHS: Captain America #372 and Amazing Spider-Man #335 (July 1990), Captain America #373-374 (July-August 1990), Daredevil #283 (August 1990), Captain America #375 (August 1990), and Thor #420-421 (August 1990)
NEXT ISSUES: Avengers #321-322 (August-September 1990)