These four issues of Avengers continue Captain America’s recent return to the team as a rank-and-file member rather than leader, although he has trouble avoiding that role entirely. (He’s not even on any of the covers—only his shield is on the one you see here!) Although Cap’s participation in these stories is not front-and-center, we do get reference to the Avengers becoming more violent, which Cap rationalizes (and perhaps even endorses). Plus, we get half a page from She-Hulk’s book in which Jen comes back from the dead, much to Cap’s relief.
Avengers #364 picks up where the last issue left off, in the Andes Mountains, following the end of the team’s battle with Proctor and his merry band of Gatherers—of whom one member, Magdalene, remains with the Avengers. Below, we see Magdalene playing the Debbie Downer role, to which Cap responds with unquestionable idealism, which does little for the Gatherer but hopefully does more for his teammates.
(In case you forgot, the tech-y headgear is “psionic armor.” Yes, it is hideous, and yes, these are the 90s.)
What Hercules sees as remarkable is a spacecraft, from which emerges Deathcry, a follower of Deathbird who was sent by the Shi’ar leader Lilandra to help the Avengers against the Kree who remain after most of their race’s destruction in “Operation: Galactic Storm.” Her timing is impeccable, as Kree sentries show up moments later; after our heroes engage, Cap seems to doubt the Vision’s ability to walk and chew gum at the same time.
Despite the arrival of more Kree sentries, Cap remains optimistic, because he has a plan…
…but he leaves the traditional leadership responsibilities to current team chair Black Widow, whom Deathcry actually listens to. (Impressive!) Cap still finds a chance to rally his teammates, though, as Crystal heads out to create a snowstorm to delay the sentries’ progress.
Vision praises Cap for the success of his plan—and, in particular, his “analytical capabilities,” which I’d like to think was a sly reference to Cap’s criticism of Vision’s use of same above. Cap extends his praise to the entire team, and he and Crystal try to proclaim the story over, but a Kree admiral has another idea.
In Avengers #365, our heroes learn of Kree attacks all over Earth, and they plan countermeasures…
…with Cap helping to craft strategy alongside the rest of the team, without exerting undue authority.
As Natasha mentions, Cap stays behind with her, leaving the rest of the issue for Crystal, Hercules, Deathcry, and the Black Knight to confront, and by captured by, Galen and his Krew. (That’s “Kree” and “crew”… no? Fine.)
The back cover to Avengers #366 makes explicit the long-simmering contrast between Cap’s steadfast refusal to kill and his fellow Avengers’ more ambivalent feelings on the matter, a topic that arises in the issue itself.
Inside the covers, Sersi and Vision arrive separately at Avengers Mansion to tell of impending doom. My favorite part of the double-page spread below is Cap asking Vision, “are you all right, man?” (It doesn’t seem that Cap would toss off a “man” casually, but rather with emphasis, which only makes using it with the Vision all the more odd, unless he were trying to reassure the synthezoid of his inherent humanity.)
While the team ponders the implications of a Kree nega-bomb on Earth, Sersi grows impatient and decides to find their captive teammates (especially the Black Knight, to whom she became “linked” in the last storyline), and the Avenger most in need a haircut expresses his frustration before forgetting himself and issuing the traditional battle-cry to the newly expanded team (with Deathcry and original member Hank Pym on board).
The rest follow Sersi in a Quinjet, and they know they’re in the right place when two more Kree sentries attack. Hank expresses concern about the Eternal “out there unprotected,” but Cap has no such worries—although after she destroys one sentry single-handed, he criticizes her for not destroying the other one as well.
It’s Cap’s turn to be concerned when the other sentry lands on the Quinjet itself and Hank embiggens to fight it off, both of them plunging into the water below—but only one emerging victorious.
(While his more extreme size transformations have always threatened Hank’s health, I assume Cap’s concern is based on more current events, which may have been shown in West Coast Avengers—I can’t say.)
Sersi’s comment below, while characteristic, is particularly funny given his earlier lack of concern about her (albeit based on confidence in her abilities).
Soon after the captured Avengers break free and attack the Kree, the newly arrived onse burst in, and Sersi takes lead with a harsher take on the traditional battle cry. (Everyone gets a turn in the new Avengers, I guess.)
When Galen praises the team’s unexpected “savagery,” Cap offers a controversial argument based on meeting brutality with brutality, considering if not endorsing the statement from the Black Knight that times have changed and heroes must change with them. (To be fair, he did say “maybe—just maybe.”)
(As it happens, Cap’s gradual shift to condoning extreme measures such as killing and torture, which is just beginning to emerge here, was discussed during my most recent appearance on the Captain America Comic Book Fans podcast.)
Despite the Avengers’ best efforts, the Kree successfully activate the nega-bomb, and when Sersi is identified as the only one who can stop it, Cap does show concern, but she is determined to succeed. (Given her long history with Cap, as well as her recent mental instability, it is far from certain what she means not “not failing him again,” but I trust she is sincere, given her muttered “I promise” afterwards.)
In the end, she does “fail” to disarm the bomb completely, but she weakens it enough so it merely destroys the island containing the Kree base, rather than the entire planet. As the team poses for a group portrait, Hank congratulates them all, to which Cap readily agrees.
The omnipresent existential dilemma of the Vision is the focus of issue #367, in which Cap appears on just one page after the synthezoid interrupts a training session with the Black Widow, who calms down a particularly agitated Sentinel of Liberty. (And again with the casual “man,” which here makes me think Cap’s going to accuse Vision of harshing his mellow.)
Finally, in Sensational She-Hulk #55, Cap expresses the relief of the team when the eponymous hero is announced to have been brought back to life. (His body language is odd, though… maybe he’s just sick of hearing such announcements.)
(I will abstain from commenting on Sue and Ben’s attire, seeing that I already did so in the Infinity Crusade post.)
Avengers (vol. 1) #364, July 1993, “Call Her — Deathcry!”: Bob Harras (writer), Steve Epting (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks and colors), Bill Oakley (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Avengers (vol. 1) #366, September 1993, “The First Rule!”: Bob Harras (writer), Steve Epting (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks and colors), Rick Parker (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Avengers Epic Collection: The Gatherers Strike!
Avengers (vol. 1) #367, October 1993: Bob Harras (writer), Jim Hall (pencils), Don Hudson (inks), Chris Matthys (colors), Bill Oakley and Jonathan Babcock (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Avengers: The Gathering Omnibus (and eventually in Avengers Epic Collection: The Gathering).
The Sensational She-Hulk #55, September 1993: Michael Eury (writer), Patrick Olliffe (pencils), Art Nichols (inks), Glynis Oliver (colors), Brad Joyce (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Not yet collected.
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Avengers #360-363 (March-June 1993)
ALSO THESE MONTHS: Captain America #417 (July 1993), Invaders #3-4 (July-August 1993), Infinity Crusade #2-5 (July-October 1993), Amazing Spider-Man #380, Spectacular Spider-Man #202-203, Spider-Man #37, and Web of Spider-Man #103 (July-August 1993), Captain America #418-419 and Silver Sable and the Wild Pack #15 (August-September 1993), Secret Defenders #6-8 (August-October 1993), Captain America #420, Nomad #18, and Thor Corps #1-2 (September-October 1993), and Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective #1-2 (September-October 1993)
NEXT ISSUES: Avengers #368-369, West Coast Avengers #101, X-Men #26, and Uncanny X-Men #367 (November-December 1993)