Avengers #326 (November 1990)

This issue is the first of three that, among other things, introduce a new character named Rage who will play an important part in the title going forward. Also, these issues prominently feature Iron Man, a founding Avenger if not a currently active one, who nonetheless receives the “guest-star” treatment, with prominent cover placement. (And young Quasar is nowhere to be seen—I guess he needed a break after his epic adventure with Captain America in issue #379 of his book, also this month.)

When we join the team, they are helping putting the finishing touches on the Avengers’ new headquarters, including the meeting table that potentially caused a rift behind head of security Michael O’Brien and god of thunder Thor (as seen in the last issue). Below, however, we see they arrived at a compromise, with both pieces representing an important part of Avengers history.

While putting the table together, Cap is relieved to discover Thor’s sense of humor is even less developed than his own.

“Verily, when Thor jests, you willst have no doubt about it!”

That awkward episode finished, Sersi presents Cap with a very special gift, which would have been quite a touching moment, probably even prompting a few tears from the Sentinel of Liberty, if we weren’t distracted by Iron Man’s less-than-careful guarding of his “secret identity,” which is definitely not Tony Stark. <comical wink>

Elsewhere in the complex, Jarvis—newly sans eyepatch—meets a young man named Rage who wants to be an Avenger. When Jarvis informs him of the procedure, Rage prefers to have his application expedited, and when he forces his way past Jarvis, Cap steps in and is immediately challenged by Rage.

After a couple pages setting up the eventual threat elsewhere, the scene returns to Cap and Rage, with Cap citing the two Black members of the team to date. But Rage dismisses them as either out of touch or merely a token (which was Sam’s concern too, as seen in issues #181-185), and then accuses the team of hiding out in an upper-class, white part of the city (on either 721 or 890 5th Avenue, just off Central Park).

Cap chooses not to challenge Rage on any of these points, and instead turns to his qualifications for the team. Rage responds by demonstrating his physical abilities before making a position statement that should sound very amenable to Cap.

Following another change of scene, Rage makes more accusations to Cap…

…to which Cap does not react, but unfortunately Sersi does, followed by the rest of the team.

After Rage tosses She-Hulk aside, Thor engages, but Cap breaks them up, pointing out that their reactions only confirmed Rage’s arguments (although, to be fair to Sersi, Rage did appear to be attacking Cap before she rose up in his defense). Cap starts to stand up for the new aspirant, but Rage has lost his patience with the team…

…and storms off, making the now-familiar point, reminiscent of he classic Green Lantern #76, that the Avengers (and other similarly “big-time” superheroes) are too focused on super-villains and threats to the planet to focus on problems in their own backyard.

If the Avengers were the only heroes in New York, Rage’s point would be more valid, but there are any number of “street-level” heroes—such as Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Luke Cage—who do protect the “little guy,” leaving the Avengers and Fantastic Four to protect the planet, which is, after all, where the “little guys” live too. (Perhaps the scarcity of superheroes outside New York is a more relevant issue!)

The Avengers don’t have a chance to consider these points, though, as they are called to—you guessed it—a global-level threat, in the form of Lieutenant Ramskov, a victim of the Chernobyl disaster who was brought to the US, ostensibly to be treated for extreme radiation poisoning, but instead…

Obviously Cap has his suspicions, which their government liaison Sikorski is hardly allaying, much less the secretive official from the (former) USSR, Galina Nikolaevna Zhukova, whom Cap has to remind what the Avengers do (in space or in the streets, I assume he would have liked to add, if Rage had been there).

As an American doctor relays her own suspicions about Ramskov to She-Hulk and Zhukova remains defensive, the floor collapses, and Cap takes command…

…with Thor and Iron Man way ahead of him.

Good questions… which may be answered in the conclusion of this story, coming in the next two issues.


Avengers (vol. 1) #326, November 1990: Larry Hama (writer), Paul Ryan (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Max Scheele (colors), Bill Oakley (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Collected in: Avengers Epic Collection: The Crossing Line.

PREVIOUS ISSUE: Avengers #325 (October 1990)

ALSO THIS MONTH: Captain America #379, Spectacular Spider-Man #170, West Coast Avengers #64, and Nomad #1 (November 1990)

NEXT ISSUES: Avengers #327-328, Avengers Spotlight #40, and Thor #427 (December 1990-January 1991)

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