These two issues of Avengers continue the biweekly story “The Collection Obsession” that began in issues #334-335, at the end of which Captain America and the rest of the team had been defeated by the Brethren, who had until recently been prisoners of the Collector, and their leader Thane Ector, who absconded with Sersi as his hostage. Cap’s appearances in the middle chapters of this chapter are few, so luckily we also have Cap pitching in alongside the Avengers in another galactic incursion in Alpha Flight #99-100 and the aftermath of Hydra’s attack on SHIELD in Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #26.
In Avengers #336, a recovering Cap plays Captain Kirk as he coordinates the activity of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four—and U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who drops a welcome “fella” on our hero—from a decent replica of the U.S.S. Enterprise command deck.
“And go get yourself a good shave there, fella!”
A half-dozen of the Avengers show up… or were they behind him the whole time? (And can we assume from Cap’s words to Iron Man that it’s open knowledge again that it’s Tony Stark in the armor?) Regardless, Cap gives the team an inspirational pre-game speech, culminating in an affirmation of their principled mission as Avengers.
Before he can complement Peggy on her new blowout, Cap sends the team on their way, and declines Black Widow’s words of consolation.
In any case, by the end of the issue, Cap rejoins the battle with his mighty shield followed by bold words of defiance…
…and bare arms, apparently.
The Brethren soldier kindly gives the shield back…
…for which the still recovering hero is thankful, but his expression of sympathy for the Brethren’s anger is not similarly appreciated.
This time, Widow rallies Cap back to action, but too late, as someone else seems to have taken care of the Brethren soldiers for them…
…as an audition for team membership?
In issue #337, Crystal explains to the reassembled Avengers her very personal reasons for wanting to join the team, her own version of the hopes of many past Avengers for redemption and reinvention… and Cap agrees (tentatively, given current events).
The rest of the issue focuses more on Sersi and her growing attraction to Thane Ector, who defends her from his second, Lady Sybil, before explaining that the Brethren are literally a bacterial race created by the Celestials to plague the universe.
This story concludes in the next two issues—but before we move on to our Canadian friends, enjoy this exchange, both warm and chilling, between Vision and Crystal after Lockjaw fails to recognize the synthezoid Avenger.
Switching gears to another catastrophe, Alpha Flight #99 is part three of a major storyline involving a character who goes by many names, including Her (related to Him, naturally, the original name of Adam Warlock), which gets a little confusing, especially because comics dialogue is usually printed in all caps! Anyway, she (Her) is fleeing from the Consortium , who are attacking Earth to get her (or Her), and while the more powerful heroes of Alpha Flight and the Avengers engage in battle, Cap takes charge of getting civilians to safety.
Guardian explains the situation to Cap, who wants assurance that protecting her (Her, not Guardian) is worth all of this sacrifice and destruction…
…and Guardian asks for his trust, while agreeing about the nature of moral dilemma the situation presents.
In the next issue, Cap assumes leadership of the combined Avengers-Alpha Flight team…
…which includes asking the tougher members of the team to take blasts for the others.
As the heroes plan their final offensive against the Consortium, Cap assures Northstar that he has complete confidence in Black Widow’s ability to survive (and throws in a “son” for good measure).
Finally, in Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #26 we see the aftermath of the Hydra attack from the last issue (referenced in Captain America Annual #10), beginning with Nick about to be squished by a falling helicopter, until “the” hammer falls (and even faster).
Captain Killjoy scolds She-Hulk for her humorous compliment while Nick is relieved to see so many heroes arrive on the scene.
Cap commiserates with his old friend while Reed serves as the bearer of bad news, and that’s before Hydra makes their presence known…
…and Cap has to hold back the same friend for losing control at a floating symbol (as hateful as it is).
Avengers (vol. 1) #337, early September 1991: Bob Harras (writer), Steve Epting (pencils), Tom Morgan (inks), Renée Witterstaetter (colors), Bill Oakley and Rick Parker (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Both collected in: Avengers Epic Collection: The Collection Obsession.
Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #99, August 1991: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Michael Bair (pencils), Chris Ivy (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Janice Chiang (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #100, September 1991: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Michael Bair, June Brigman, John Calimee, Tom Morgan, and David Ross (pencils), Michael Bair, Danny Bulanadi, Chris Ivy, and Larry Mahlstedt (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Janice Chiang and Chris Eliopoulos (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Yet not collected.
Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD (vol. 3) #26, August 1991: D.G. Chichester (writer), Jackson Guise (pencils), Doug Hazelwood (inks), Nelson Yomtov (colors), Phil Felix (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD Classic – Volume 3.
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Avengers #334-335 and Thor #434 (July-August 1991)
ALSO THESE MONTHS: Captain America #389-390, Darkhawk #6, and X-Factor Annual #6 (August 1991), Infinity Gauntlet #2-3 (August-September 1991), Adventures of Captain America #1 (September 1991), Captain America #391-392 (September 1991), Avengers: Death Trap — The Vault (September 1991), and Avengers Annual #20, Namor the Sub-Mariner Annual #1, and West Coast Avengers Annual #6 (September 1991)