These two issues of Avengers finish the storyline that introduces Rage, “guest-stars” founding member Iron Man, and leads into the landmark issue #329, in which yet another new line-up is introduced. Also, at the end we see a few panels from a Vision story in Avengers Spotlight and a Thor story in… well, Thor. (Surprise?)
Before we see Captain America in Avengers #327, we have a few pages with Iron Man, Thor, and She-Hulk under New York City, dealing with the radioactive Lieutenant Ramskov, who unleashes a massive energy blast into the air, alarming one member of Marvel’s First Family, while Dagwood Bumstead can’t even be bothered to look up from his newspaper.
(That scene would come in handy once people starting asking where the FF was in the MCU during all the big throwdowns so far!)
While the fight continues underground, Cap decides it’s time for he and Sersi to join their teammates…
…when international politics threaten to intervene. That doesn’t stop them, but Cap does make his anger and resentment clear before they leave.
They make it to the scene just in time for Cap to hear a very old tune…
…which was not mentioned in my post on the issue, but here it is, if you’re wondering.
Cap realizes the team has been stuck in a lot of alternate dimensions lately, and Tony shares his concern, so he asks their secret weapon to help. (What can’t that Eternal do?)
Plan D (with added Sersi for good measure) works, but not before Rage bursts in, so he gets transported with the rest of the team to another dimension where physical laws work differently… and there are cool monsters too, reminiscent of the Atlas Comics of the 1950s.
Second thoughts, Rage?
After fighting for a while, the monsters retreat, and Cap turns to the young man and sounds more resentful than you might expect, given the help he provided… and Rage suggests an explanation, which Cap resents even more.
After Sersi uses her powers and She-Hulk’s radioactive body chemistry to revive Ramskov, he starts spilling secrets until the Russian agent on the scene urges him to stop—and when Cap explains that it’s no big deal because the Avengers lost their official status with the US government, Rage takes that as an opportunity to hit back at the high and Mighty Avengers.
There’s no time to discuss this further, however, because Avengers #328 starts with a return of the monsters, as seen in the double-page spread below.
If we look more closely at the lower-right panel, we see that Cap and Rage have either reconciled in the space between the two issues, or (more likely) each realizes that now is not the time to argue.
Ramskov valiantly tries to protect the Russian agent and the American doctor who worked to treat him—in a scene straight out of an Edgar Rice Burroughs story—and Cap soars in with a flying side-kick while completely missing the point of the doctor’s objection. (But the kick was beautiful!)
Once captured, Cap shows the defiance-against-all-odds that he’s legendary for.
Help comes from an expected source—I mean the winged Xa, not Iron Man—and this dimension’s strange physics finally renders Cap’s vertical shield toss believable!
In their home dimension, the Avengers’ disappearance has drawn the expected media attention, and when they reappear (with Xa, who was injured after saving the Avengers), Thor answers the reporter’s question as only he can. (Cap approves.)
Those questions answered, Ms. Fong turns to more pressing matters, which Cap addresses with utmost discretion. (This is why the Avengers do not need an official spokesperson.)
After Ramskov takes center stage for a bit (and confronts another Chernobyl survivor, seen below), Cap is surprised by a friendly face, but is offended by her sincere concern—while Sersi is perturbed by her presence at all. (Cap seems oddly prickly in this story, as seen in interactions with both Rage and Diamondback.)
Diamondback manages to calm him down… just in time for him to remember he needs to talk to Rage.
(Sersi enjoys this moment, asking Diamondback afterwards if she will live as long as Cap… as an Eternal surely will.)
Cap tries to mend fences with Rage, who gives the super-soldier a lesson in perception (which I’m surprised Falcon never did during all their time together).
Rage tells Cap his origin story, starting with him as a scrawny young comic book fan named Elvin Haliday who is harassed one day by racist thugs (with bricks). He hides from them in a creek into which some of Wilson Fisk’s people dump radioactive waste, which causes Elvin to become huge, strong, and invulnerable—and only his Granny Staples stops him from using his new powers to exact revenge on his tormentors. (I assume she did not name him Rage, then.)
When Cap asks what he has been doing since then, Rage starts to explain, but someone else interrupts with a rocket-launcher. (Rude.)
And he insults Rage’s love of books at the same time! Cap literally shields Rage from the missile…
…after which Rage explains that the would-be assassin is a drug pusher (which you would imagine interest Cap, given his recent experiences in the “Streets of Poison” storyline in his own title).
At the end of the issue, a healed Xa reveals her actual mission when she opens a portal for her fellow monsters to access the Avenger’s universe… but that will come in the next issue.
In the meantime, in Avengers Spotlight #40, Vision is having trouble finding someone to talk to about his latest identity crisis, but Cap has more important things to do… but does he really?
Is Sersi using mind control, or calling in a favor? We may never know.
Finally, in Thor #427, Cap is happy to have a friend to help try out some new training equipment.
But the Thunder God finds the task much too simple…
…and Cap is comically frustrated, although Thor cannot for the immortal life of him understand why.
Seriously, though, it’s always nice to see Cap acknowledge that even he needs practice and exercise, which serves as an excellent example to his teammates who need it even more. (And even the one who does not.)
Collected in: Avengers Epic Collection: The Crossing Line.
Avengers Spotlight #40, January 1991: Lem Kaminski and Carrie Barre (writers), Gavin Curtis (pencils), Dan Panosian (inks), Renée Witterstaetter (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Not yet collected.
Thor (vol. 1) #427, December 1990: Tom DeFalco (writer, co-plotter), Ron Frenz (pencils, co-plotter), Joe Sinnott (inks), Nelson Yomtov and Mike Rockwitz (colors), Michael Heisler and others (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Thor Epic Collection: The Black Galaxy.
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Avengers #326 (November 1990)
NEXT ISSUE: Avengers #329 (February 1991)