Tuesday

OMU: Thor -- Year Four

Stan Lee concludes his run on The Mighty Thor during the next twelve months in the character’s life, passing the torch to 19-year-old Gerry Conway. Immediately, the series starts to feel a bit repetitive, as once again Loki seizes power, Mangog attacks Asgard, and Thor defies Hela and fights off Pluto. Also returning are Tana Nile and the Rigellians, Galactus, and Ego the Living Planet—all scenarios that Jack Kirby had already done. To make matters worse, the stories become increasingly incoherent as the supporting cast grows and grows. Though the scripts are weak, the series benefits from the solid, dependable art of John Buscema, who draws most of the issues from this period, and there is a nice balance between science fiction and mythological style stories. Most interesting is the fact that Thor spends very little time in his mortal identity of Donald Blake, M.D., and seems to have soured on the whole idea. Since Blake is usually portrayed as Thor’s main Achilles’ heel, it should come as no surprise that the thunder god now sees his human life as merely a recurring “bad dream.”

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Hearken ye to… The True History of the Mighty Thor!


January 1965 – Thor spends much of his time at Avengers Mansion or patrolling New York City for crime, trying to avoid his mortal identity as Donald Blake, which he has come to see as an annoyance. He generally transforms himself only when Blake’s surgical skills are needed, though it means carrying his hammer around at all times. One day, Thor suddenly finds himself on a dingy subway platform in Manhattan with no memory of how he came to be there. Iron Man, Goliath, Captain America, and the Falcon are with him, but they are equally perplexed. Iron Man, who is acting a bit strangely, flies off while the others return to Avengers Mansion. A few hours later, the four heroes rescue Iron Man from a gang of uniformed men wearing jetpacks. Seemingly dazed, Iron Man flies off again without explaining himself. The Avengers agree to let Iron Man handle his own personal business.

A few days later, Thor sees a news report on a group of African American insurgents engaged in a standoff with the San Francisco Police Department. He recognizes the group’s leader as Lionel Dibbs, whom Don Blake diagnosed with terminal cancer last September, even amputating his right hand. Feeling a responsibility to his former patient, Thor decides he must try to reason with Dibbs before somebody gets killed. Before leaving town, Thor tells his Avengers teammates that he must deal with the crisis in San Francisco on his own. When he arrives at the scene of the standoff, Thor finds Dibbs’ group under attack by three costumed superheroes called Medusa, Gorgon, and Karnak. Thor drives them back, only to find that Dibbs has apparently recruited a superhero of his own, a silent figure called Black Bolt. To make matters worse, Dibbs has replaced his amputated hand with a weaponized prosthetic acquired from Stark Industries. Thor summons up a fierce thunderstorm to stop the fighting while he pleads with Dibbs to stand down. Refusing to listen, Dibbs orders Black Bolt to destroy the city, forcing Thor to knock Dibbs out. Medusa, Gorgon, and Karnak then reveal that the man called Black Bolt is an impostor, but before Thor can do anything, the impostor is struck by lightning and killed. As the storm blows itself out, the police take Dibbs and his insurgents into custody. Saddened by the whole affair, Thor returns to New York, leaving Medusa, Gorgon, and Karnak to continue their search for the real Black Bolt.

One of the first acts of newly-inaugurated President Morris N. Richardson is to create the Alien Activities Commission and appoint conservative politician H. Warren Craddock to lead it. Following the commission’s first televised hearings, Thor receives a call from the Avengers summoning the founding members to an emergency meeting. He soon joins Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Captain America at Avengers Mansion, but they are interrupted when the Vision staggers in and collapses. After effecting repairs to his synthezoid teammate, Ant-Man announces that he has resigned from the team and departs. Regaining consciousness, the Vision recounts how he, Goliath, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch were called to testify before Craddock’s commission about their connection to the alien superhero Captain Marvel, and when they returned to the mansion, the original members declared them to be a disgrace and disbanded the team. Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America assure the Vision that he has been tricked by a trio of impostors. The Vision then relates how he and the others went to rendezvous with Captain Marvel at an upstate farm, where they were attacked by three cows who suddenly transformed into doppelgängers of Mister Fantastic, the Thing, and the Human Torch. Badly damaged in the melee, the Vision was forced to abandon the fight and return to Avengers Mansion to seek help.

Taking a Quinjet, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and the Vision race to the farm, where they find Goliath and Rick Jones still fighting the Fantastic Four impostors. Vision surmises that they must be Skrulls, mimicking the heroes’ powers through technological means. The Avengers defeat their foes, but then a massive flying saucer erupts from the farmhouse and speeds off into the sky, with Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel presumably aboard. As they take the unconscious Skrulls into custody, the Avengers realize the Vision has disappeared. When they arrive at their headquarters, the Avengers restrain and sedate the Skrulls, then Iron Man contacts the Fantastic Four. Mister Fantastic realizes the Skrulls must be three of the four who impersonated them three years ago, and he promises to send over his files on that encounter.

February 1965 – In the Avengers’ conference room, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Goliath, and Rick Jones discuss their plans to rescue their missing teammates. The Vision reappears, having discovered that Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were indeed kidnapped by Skrulls, and that the Kree and the mysterious Inhumans are somehow involved as well. The meeting is interrupted, though, when H. Warren Craddock arrives outside the mansion with a military detachment to back him up. He intends to take the Avengers in for questioning, and has brought along three soldiers in bulky suits of armor to subdue the heroes, if necessary. After a brief scuffle, Iron Man is able to force the Mandroid suits to overload and shut down. The Avengers then realize that one of the Inhumans, Triton, has come to them for help. Triton explains that Black Bolt is the king of the Inhumans, but has been deposed by his brother, Maximus the Mad, who wants to start a war with the human race. Struck with amnesia, Black Bolt was exiled to San Francisco and all efforts to find him have failed. Thor corroborates Triton’s story, realizing that Medusa, Gorgon, and Karnak were Inhumans too. Captain America suggests they head to California at once. The Vision objects, though, saying the rescue of the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver should be their top priority. The team decides to split up, but soon after Cap, Goliath, and Rick have left with Triton for California, the Vision changes his mind. Thus, Thor uses his enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, to generate a spacetime vortex that instantly transports Iron Man, Vision, and himself to the Inhumans’ Great Refuge in the Himalayas.

Finding that the hidden city is sealed within a black force-field dome, Thor, Iron Man, and the Vision each try to penetrate it, without success. Moments later, the Quinjet lands nearby and Cap, Goliath, Rick, and Triton disembark, joined by Black Bolt and a San Francisco boy named Joey. After silently examining the barrier, Black Bolt shatters it into tiny shards with the awesome destructive power of his voice. He then asserts his authority over the city’s armed sentries and leads the Avengers to the royal palace, where they find Maximus conspiring with agents of the Kree Empire. Overwhelmed by the Avengers, the Kree agents beat a hasty retreat, kidnapping Rick in the process. Their spaceship warps into hyperspace before the Avengers can follow. Maximus is defeated, and Captain America vows that the Avengers will take the fight to the Kree and the Skrulls to rescue their friends.

The Avengers borrow a spacecraft from S.H.I.E.L.D., and Thor uses his hammer’s enchantments to enable it to warp through hyperspace to the Andromeda Galaxy. They emerge in the midst of the Skrull Imperial Armada and fight their way onto the flagship. Storming the command deck, the Avengers confront Commandant Kalxor, but he remains defiant, having learned of the Avengers from Skrull intelligence reports. Suddenly, the face of Skrull Emperor Dorrek appears on the viewscreen, revealing that Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel are his prisoners. However, Captain Marvel initiates an escape attempt just before the transmission is terminated. The Vision grabs Kalxor and beats him mercilessly, shocking his teammates with his brutality. Thor and Iron Man pull the Vision off him, and Kalxor explains that a lone ship has left the fleet to destroy the Earth. Goliath takes off in pursuit and manages to catch up to the craft before they are lost from sight. The Skrull crew then tries to overwhelm the Avengers with the sheer weight of numbers, only to be unexpectedly frozen in place by a wave of strange energy. Confused, the Avengers return to their ship, intent on reaching the Skrull Thoneworld. However, they find themselves suddenly teleported to the planet Hala in the Kree Galaxy, where they come face-to-face with the eerie visage of the Supreme Intelligence, ruler of the Kree Empire. Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel materialize as well, as the Supreme Intelligence reveals that Rick Jones has ended the Kree-Skrull War by awakening his latent psychic powers, though the experience has nearly killed him. Thor watches as Captain Marvel phases into Rick’s body to provide the additional life-force the boy will need to survive. Rick then awakens, groggy and confused. The Supreme Intelligence assures the Avengers that the crisis is over, then teleports them all back to Earth.

Materializing outside Avengers Mansion, the heroes are met by Nick Fury, who reveals that the H. Warren Craddock who hounded them was in fact a Skrull, the fourth member of the squad that previously impersonated the Fantastic Four. The alien reverted to its true form in the middle of a speech, Fury reports, and was beaten to death by an angry mob. S.H.I.E.L.D. then located the real Craddock, who has cleared the Avengers of any wrongdoing. The Avengers then realize Goliath is not among them, and they fear he’s been lost in space.

At the next Avengers meeting, the team discusses strategies for finding out what happened to Goliath. Thor announces that he will return to Asgard to see if his father, Odin, can determine what has befallen their comrade. However, the thunder god soon discovers he is unable to cross the interdimensional boundary and so returns to Avengers Mansion. There, the Vision informs him that most of the others have gone to deal with a group of rabble-rousers called the Warhawks, and when a call to Stark Industries shows Iron Man to be collaborating with the Warhawks, Thor decides to investigate. Flying over to the scene of the Warhawks’ riot, Thor discovers that their leader is none other than Ares, the Greek god of war. The music played by Ares’ pipers causes the Avengers to turn against Thor, and they manage to separate him from his hammer and gang up on him. Luckily, Hawkeye turns up, having abandoned the Goliath identity, and helps Thor regain his hammer before the thunder god reverts to his mortal form. The Vision, who is also immune to the music’s effects, knocks out the pipers, depriving Ares of his mind-controlled followers. His scheme undone, Ares teleports away. Hawkeye then reveals that he has found Hercules suffering from total amnesia. Back at Avengers Mansion, Hawkeye explains how he blew up the Skrull death-ship before it could enter hyperspace and was then teleported back to Earth. However, he materialized in Yugoslavia, where he fell in with a traveling carnival. It was there that he discovered the amnesiac Hercules. Eventually, they made their way back to New York. Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America then try to question Hercules again, but they are interrupted when two Olympian warriors appear. The pair easily fights off the Avengers and kidnaps Hercules. Hawkeye blames the Vision for allowing them to get away, but Thor says they need to focus on what comes next—the Avengers must storm the very halls of Olympus itself.

A day later, Thor heads to Garrett Castle in England to rendezvous with Iron Man, Ant-Man, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Black Knight, Black Panther, and the Vision. The Hulk arrives as well, though he is suspicious of the others and threatens to leave before Cap convinces him to stay. The Black Knight leads them into the depths of the castle, where he summons up the spirit of his ancestor, Sir Percy of Scandia, the original Black Knight of legend. Sir Percy’s ghost reveals how Ares came into possession of the Ebony Blade and teamed up with the Enchantress to conquer three worlds: Earth, Asgard, and Olympus. Their first move was to transform the gods of Olympus into crystalline statues and banish Hercules to Earth, bereft of his memory. Unexpectedly, the Swordsman swings down from the rafters and claims his Avengers membership, demanding to help stop Ares. The others are not inclined to trust the Swordsman, but, sensing his sincerity, Thor accepts him into their ranks. The thunder god then chooses Iron Man, Hulk, Black Knight, and Vision to accompany him to Olympus while the rest remain behind to guard Earth. As soon as they have passed through the dimensional portal created by Mjolnir, the five Avengers are immediately attacked by centaurs, satyrs, and other mythological creatures. They fight their way through the horde to reach the temple where Hercules is being held prisoner by the Enchantress, who boasts that Ares plans to unsheathe the Odinsword and thereby bring about Ragnarok. After chasing off the Enchantress, Thor battles Ares in hand-to-hand combat and defeats him. Humiliated, Ares surrenders the Ebony Blade to the Black Knight. Thor frees Hercules, then the Avengers regroup and find that the Hulk has singlehandedly defeated an army of demons and captured the Enchantress. Thor instructs Hercules to turn the Enchantress over to Zeus, now that the spell over the Olympian gods has been broken. The heroes return to Earth, materializing amongst their teammates in London, England, though Hercules must remain in Olympus to help Thor close Ares’ interdimensional portal. Having won the day, the Avengers go their separate ways, and Thor returns to New York.

March 1965 – While flying across New York City, Thor sees a group of protestors outside the Latverian embassy. When one of the protestors is injured in a confrontation with a crowd of hecklers, Thor flies her to Don Blake’s medical offices and changes back into his mortal form to treat her wounds. The woman identifies herself as Cosette LaFarge, daughter of a noted weapons-system designer who was kidnapped by Doctor Doom two years ago. She had been held prisoner in Doctor Doom’s castle, she says, while her father was forced to work on the tyrant’s ICBM program, until she was smuggled out of the country by the Latverian Underground. Blake assures her that he knows someone who can help and sends her on her way. He then contacts newspaper reporter Harris Hobbs and feeds him a story about a revolutionary plastic-surgery technique, hoping to draw Doctor Doom’s attention. The next day, Doom kidnaps Blake and transports him to his castle in Latveria, where Blake recoils with exaggerated horror at the sight of Doom’s ravaged face. As expected, Doom throws Blake into the dungeons, enabling him to change back into Thor to search for Pierre LaFarge. Once he has located the engineer, who seems terrified of betraying his captor, Thor breaks through the wall of the castle and confronts Doctor Doom. The dictator threatens to launch a thousand missiles unless Thor surrenders his hammer immediately. Solemnly, Thor hands it over, knowing Odin’s enchantments will prevent Doom from lifting Mjolnir from the floor. While Doom is thus distracted, Thor smashes his missile launch controls, then retrieves his hammer and utterly destroys the ICBM complex. Returning to Pierre LaFarge, Thor is shocked to discover that the man has been working for Doom willingly, expecting to earn vast wealth as Latveria’s chief weapons designer. He grabs a gun and shoots at Thor, but the thunder god deflects the bullets with his hammer. A ricocheting shell strikes LaFarge in the heart, killing him. He dies cursing Cosette for getting Thor to interfere in his scheme to get rich. Disgusted by the man’s greed, Thor returns to New York. He informs Cosette that her father died fighting for what he believed in, and that his last words were of her. Satisfied that he didn’t actually lie to her, Thor hurries to Asgard in response to Odin’s urgent summons.

There, Thor is immediately struck by the air of doom and despair in his father’s palace, and Odin reveals the looming threat to the universe of a being called Infinity. He has already sent the Warriors Three to investigate, but they’ve gone missing and, to make matters worse, the Odinsword has been trying to unsheathe itself, forcing Odin to push it back into its scabbard each day. Furthermore, a cadaverous figure whom Odin calls the Silent One has appeared, portending a cosmic catastrophe. Thus, Odin announces, he has summoned Thor to guard the golden realm while he himself confronts Infinity. Thor objects to this plan, but Odin ignores his concerns and sets off with the Silent One at his side. Thor immediately orders the warriors of Asgard to prepare for battle. Learning that Odin has gone, Loki kidnaps Balder the Brave and leads an army of Trolls and Storm Giants to attack Asgard. Thor confronts them on the Plain of Ida outside the city and, going into a berserker rage, routs Loki’s forces and rescues Balder. As the god of mischief flees, Sif soothes Thor’s rage. Feeling the realm is safe for the time being, Thor decides he must go help Odin defeat Infinity.

Using Mjolnir’s enchantments, Thor generates a spacetime vortex that carries him to a silent realm of shadows and swirling mists, which Odin has described only as the World Beyond. He is immediately attacked by a six-limbed brute calling himself the Guardian, but the thunder god overcomes him. Infinity manifests itself then as a giant claw-like hand of darkness, striking the Guardian dead as punishment for his failure. Saying both Thor and Odin are beneath his notice, Infinity disappears again. However, the Silent One emerges from the mists and grants Thor a vision that reveals that Infinity plans to turn all the sentient life-forms in the universe into his mindless slaves. As if to prove the point, Fandral, Volstagg, and Hogun the Grim then emerge from the mists, glassy-eyed, and charge at Thor with their weapons drawn. Unwilling to fight his friends, Thor reopens the spacetime vortex, transporting the Warriors Three back to Asgard. The Guardian is suddenly resurrected and attacks again, rising anew each time Thor smashes him. Finally, the thunder god traps his foe within a force field created by his enchanted hammer, then drives away the swirling mists, revealing that they are on a large asteroid floating somewhere in space. In the distance, Thor sees a storm of colorful energies that he realizes is the site of Odin’s battle with Infinity.

Before Thor can join his father, though, the Silent One leads him to Hel, where Hela, the goddess of death, reveals that the Silent One is her servant. She tries to lay her touch of death upon Thor, but he evades her. Frustrated, Hela blasts Thor with energies that rapidly age him into a desiccated husk. Still, Thor refuses to yield, so Hela teleports away. With a tear in his eye, the Silent One then sacrifices himself to restore Thor’s youth and vigor. Vowing to be worthy of the enigmatic figure’s sacrifice, Thor speeds back to the battle, arriving in time only to witness Odin’s defeat. Now possessed by Infinity, Odin turns on Thor. No match for his father’s power, Thor retreats to Asgard, where he finds that Loki and Karnilla have been persuaded to combine their sorcerous might to free the Warriors Three from Infinity’s thrall. After informing the others of Odin’s fall, Thor withdraws to his father’s inner chambers with the Grand Vizier and transforms himself into Don Blake, hoping the surgeon’s analytical mind will discover some clue to Infinity’s nature that Thor’s warrior instincts have prevented him from seeing. Reviewing Asgard’s recent travails, Blake realizes that Infinity is Odin’s shadow-self, unleashed about four months ago when Loki had imprisoned the All-Father in the Sea of Endless Night. Hela had found the unconscious Odin there and managed to siphon off a portion of his life-force, from which she created the evil persona of Infinity. As this non-corporeal anti-Odin made its way toward Asgard, it consumed countless worlds, gaining strength and power as it went. Now it seeks to merge with Odin’s corporeal form to become infinitely more powerful. Despairing, Blake changes back into Thor and informs his comrades of the truth of what they are facing.

As word spreads of Asgard’s impending doom, a ragtag army of trolls, giants, and other demonic creatures breaches the walls of the golden realm. Thor sends the Warriors Three out to lead the counterattack while he tries to think of a way to defeat Hela and save Odin. Finally, he leaves the palace and uses Mjolnir to create a hurricane that blasts the invaders out of Asgard, though it devastates the city in the process and shatters the Rainbow Bridge. Then, after consulting with Karnilla, Thor decides on a desperate plan of action and summons Balder, Sif, Heimdall, and the Warriors Three to the crumbling palace. As the Norn Queen casts a powerful spell, Thor generates a spacetime vortex that carries the gods’ divine life-force in a single bolt of energy that strikes Odin just seconds before his merger with Infinity is complete. Woken from his trance and instilled with the knowledge of Infinity’s nature and origins, Odin is able to shatter his shadow-self and safely reabsorb his stolen energies. Odin teleports himself back to Asgard and uses his vast reserves of power to undo all the damage to the worlds Infinity had absorbed, erasing all memory of the events from mortal minds. The ordeal leaves Odin’s powers at a low ebb, and he is in need of the restorative Odinsleep. However, he fears that Hela, deprived of her victory, will now strike at Thor instead. Thus, he restores the Rainbow Bridge and sends Thor back to Earth in his mortal guise, hoping Hela will not be able to find him in that form. Dutifully, Don Blake goes about his normal routine under strict orders not to change into Thor.

A few days later, Volstagg tracks Blake down and reports that Loki has betrayed his location to Hela, and she has come to Earth to search for him. Thus, Blake suspects a trap when he hears a news report that firemen on the scene of a burning building have suddenly turned into old men and are unable to rescue the people trapped inside. Heedless of the danger, Blake transforms into Thor and flies to the burning building, rescues those who are trapped, and douses the flames by summoning a heavy rain. As expected, Hela appears and coerces Thor into surrendering to her touch of death. However, Odin arrives at the last second and blasts Hela with his scepter of power, killing her instantly. Thor is shocked, realizing that death is a necessary part of the natural order, and implores his father to restore Hela. Acknowledging that he acted rashly, Odin does so with a heavy heart, summoning Sif to be at Thor’s side as Hela again ages the thunder god to the brink of death. Wracked with grief, Sif begs Hela to take her life in exchange for Thor’s and, touched by the display of love and devotion, Hela relents. She restores Thor to full health and slinks off to her dismal realm. Thor, Sif, and Odin return immediately to Asgard.

When they arrive, they find that Loki has taken advantage of the chaos and staged a coup d’état by seizing Odin’s powerful Ring Imperial. His mercenary army of trolls and giants patrols the ruined streets. Heimdall and the Warriors Three have been banished from the realm, and Balder has been sold like a slave to Karnilla in exchange for her support of Loki’s scheme. Thor is outraged, but Odin is strangely passive about the crisis, and when Loki orders him to enter the Odinsleep, the All-Father obeys without objection. Loki then sets about humiliating Thor, commanding Karnilla to use her magic to create a creature with the power to kill the thunder god. When she has done so, Loki names the fearsome figure Durok the Demolisher and sends it to wreak havoc on Earth. Thor sets off in pursuit, and their ensuing battles cause tremendous amounts of property damage in New Orleans, New York City, Washington DC, and the capital of a small South American nation. Though he refuses to yield, Thor begins to suspect that he cannot defeat Durok. Luckily, the Silver Surfer takes over the fight, freeing Thor to return to Asgard to deal with Loki. Fighting his way back to the palace, Thor arrives to find Sif being dressed up in a revealing wedding gown, about to be made Loki’s unwilling bride. Thor challenges Loki to single combat, but during their battle, Loki realizes the Ring Imperial is draining away his own life-force to power itself. In desperation, he rips the ring from his finger and throws it away. At that moment, Odin steps out of the shadows and picks up the ring, then uses it to banish Loki and his minions from the golden realm. Sitting upon his throne, Odin explains that he knew Loki was doomed the moment he put on the Ring Imperial, not understanding that it takes power from its wearer rather than granting it, and he recognized that Loki did not have the inner strength to wield it for long. Thor realizes that his father needed the Odinsleep to restore himself after his struggle with Infinity and took advantage of Loki’s coup to do it. Clearly, Odin felt Thor could handle Loki for the duration. The assembled warriors of Asgard then celebrate their victory with a massive feast.

April–August 1965 – Thor remains in Asgard for the next several months as work begins on restoring the devastated city to its former glory. Odin continues to regain his strength, but seems haggard and weary, preoccupied by grave matters he will discuss only with his Grand Vizier. Thor is glad to have time to spend with Sif and his friends, though he keeps an eye on Earth in case an emergency should arise there.

September 1965 – Odin sends Thor and the Warriors Three on a dangerous quest to obtain water from the mysterious Twilight Well on a distant planet. After an arduous journey, they overcome the spells of a sorceress named Satrina and her dragon to reach the well and confront its guardian, Kartag the Keeper. As Thor battles Kartag, they tumble into the well’s icy waters, where the thunder god receives a vision of Asgard besieged by the monstrous Mangog. He sees that Odin sent them on their quest so they would not be present when Mangog attacked, and likewise sent Sif off on a mission of her own. Now, Odin is preparing one last desperate measure to avert the golden realm’s utter destruction. When Thor’s senses clear, he finds the three Norns have materialized by the Twilight Well, and they provide magical sheepskin gourds for Thor and his comrades to collect the water in. The warriors then return to the Rainbow Bridge, accompanied by Kartag, but are shocked to discover that the bridge has been shattered and the entire Asgardian landmass has disappeared. Undaunted, Thor puts his trust in Odin’s wisdom and anoints Mjolnir with drops of water from the Twilight Well. He then uses the hammer to generate a spacetime vortex that carries them all to Asgard, now adrift in some nameless dimension. They are shocked to see their city has again been decimated by Mangog’s merciless onslaught.

Thor, Kartag, Fandral, and Hogun the Grim rescue Odin from Mangog’s clutches while Volstagg takes the sheepskin gourds to the Grand Vizier. When he regains consciousness, Odin confirms that Thor’s guesses were correct—the waters of the Twilight Well have been added to Odin’s own Cosmic Well, thus launching the Asgardian landmass through hyperspace back to its original location. They then pursue Mangog into the royal palace, where the monster draws the Odinsword from its scabbard. Odin disarms Mangog with a mighty blast of energy that also severs the psychic connection between the creature and the population whose hatred and desire for revenge sustains him. Succumbing to a berserker rage, Thor pummels Mangog with his hammer, and as they battle, the creature gets smaller and smaller as he burns up his own substance to remain in existence. Finally, Mangog dwindles away to nothing, and Thor, his rage spent, turns back to his comrades. The thunder god is stunned to see that Odin has apparently dropped dead, and he howls in grief over his father’s body.

The Asgardians assemble to carry out a grim funeral procession for their fallen liege. Odin’s body is laid in a boat, which is placed in a tomb at the edge of the continent, to be launched when Asgard is back in its proper place. Here, Thor learns that Heimdall was sent to Earth on a mysterious mission right before the Rainbow Bridge was shattered and is presumably marooned there. There has likewise been no word from Sif. Then, realizing that Hela has not appeared to claim Odin’s soul, Thor assumes it is because they are traveling through hyperspace. Hoping to protect his father’s spirit, Thor uses his enchanted hammer to generate a time vortex around Odin, as he once did for Jane Foster when she was dying. Finally, Kartag the Keeper asks Thor’s permission to return to his own planet, and, receiving it, he teleports away. As their journey continues, Hela finally materializes and tries to take Odin’s spirit to Valhalla, only to find she cannot penetrate Thor’s time vortex. Just then, Pluto, the lord of Hades, arrives on the scene with a fleet of ships carrying an army of trolls, intent on capturing Odin’s soul for himself. Hela attacks Pluto, trying to drive him off while Thor and the warriors of Asgard tear into their foe’s troll army. The Greek god overwhelms Hela, though, forcing her to teleport away to safety. Undaunted, Thor attacks Pluto and they fight viciously. Pluto tries to induce the thunder god to surrender by teleporting the Warriors Three to Hades, but Thor continues battering him with his hammer. Finally, Odin emerges from his tomb and commands that the fighting cease. No match for Odin, Pluto retreats to his ship, accompanied by his remaining troops, and sails off into the mists. Thor is intent on rescuing the Warriors Three, but Odin reveals that he was able to divert them to Earth, where they are safe and sound. Still, since his comrades are not accustomed to life among mortals, Thor heads back to Earth, accompanied by Balder, before the Warriors Three get themselves into trouble.

No sooner have Thor and Balder caught up with the Warriors Three in the streets of New York City than they are joined by Sif, who appears in a flash of light and is followed by the Asgardian warrior Hildegarde, the Rigellian colonizer Tana Nile, and a human sea captain named Silas Grant. They are pursued by a giant crystalline monster called Ego-Prime, which Thor learns was inadvertently created when Tana Nile sliced off a chunk of Ego, the Living Planet. During their battle, Ego-Prime evolves itself into a humanoid form and announces its intention to wipe out the human race and use Earth as the seed for a new Bioverse in which it can evolve into a new living planet. The fighting rages on for many hours, demolishing several buildings and terrifying the populace, until Heimdall arrives with three mortals who absorb the evolutionary power of Ego-Prime and are transformed into the first of a new race of Young Gods. The process causes Ego-Prime to disintegrate, ending the threat. Odin’s visage then appears in the sky and reveals that this was his purpose all along for sending Thor, Sif, and Heimdall on their different quests. Thor is outraged by the destruction his father’s scheme has unleashed on Earth, so Odin undoes all the damage and erases all memory of the events from mortal minds. Even so, Thor continues to argue the point, until Odin loses his temper and banishes the thunder god from Asgard. Sif, Balder, Fandral, Hogun the Grim, and Hildegarde turn their backs on Odin, casting their lot with Thor. Tana Nile and Silas Grant explain that they, too, are now marooned on Earth, as he is the last survivor of a planet called Blackworld and her spaceship was lost when his world was destroyed. Thus, Thor leads them all to Avengers Mansion, where he informs the butler, Edwin Jarvis, that his entourage will need to stay there for a little while. Later, Iron Man drops by the mansion and meets Thor’s guests. While telling Iron Man of his recent experiences, Thor realizes that Volstagg disappeared sometime during the battle with Ego-Prime.

The next day, Balder, Fandral, and Hogun go out searching for Volstagg, while Tana Nile, Silas Grant, and Hildegarde explore the sights of the city. Thor, however, merely sits in front of the television, brooding about his exile, until Sif insists he give her a tour of New York. As she has borrowed some earthly raiment from the Scarlet Witch, Thor changes himself into Don Blake and they head out. Blake leads Sif to the building where his private medical offices are, only to find he’s been locked out due to non-payment of rent. The building’s new owner, Karl Sarron, proves less then cooperative, but agrees to schedule a meeting so they can get the situation resolved. Frustrated, Blake takes Sif back to Avengers Mansion. A few hours later, after Blake has changed back into Thor, he and Sif are transported to Hell by Mephisto, who has also kidnapped Balder, Fandral, Hogun, Volstagg, Hildegarde, Tana Nile, and Silas Grant, along with numerous influential men from around the world. Mephisto wants revenge on the Asgardians for invading his realm last year and plans to unleash a wave of evil across the world by merging the kidnapped men with his demons. Mephisto first uses mind-control to make Thor’s friends attack the thunder god, and when that fails, he sends his legions of the damned to overwhelm them. For hours, Thor fights his way through the ghostly hordes until he is able to confront the arch-demon in his inner sanctum. Impressed, Mephisto reveals that he is determined to corrupt Thor’s soul and enslave him, but Thor remains defiant in the face of his foe’s seemingly superior power. Finally, Thor manages to throw Mephisto into a lake of fire and trap him there by blasting the cavern’s ceiling with mystical lightning from his hammer, causing it to collapse. With Mephisto temporarily incapacitated, Thor is able to generate a dimensional vortex that transports all the kidnapping victims back to Earth, stripped of any conscious memory of being in Hell. He then creates a second vortex that deposits him and his entourage on the New Jersey Palisades, from which they make their way back to Avengers Mansion.

October 1965 – Thor joins Iron Man and the Vision at Stark Industries for a chess match between a human grandmaster and a new computer called Nimrod. Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch also arrive for the media event. However, the garrulous Soviet chess-master, Comrade Sporadnik, collapses during the tournament and is rushed to the hospital. While the Avengers follow the ambulance, Thor slips away, changes into Don Blake, and volunteers to assist the surgical team. Blake determines that the patient has been poisoned, prompting the Avengers to return to the scene of the crime, where Thor soon joins them. The team tracks down the assassin—a balding middle-aged man—but he escapes by phasing through the floor. Suddenly, the heroes receive a vision that reveals that the assassin is an ordinary accountant named Leonard Tippit, who was recently granted superhuman powers by the omnipotent alien known as the Watcher. Tippit was charged with preventing a future nuclear holocaust by murdering five innocent people whose yet-unborn children would be responsible for the catastrophe. As the images fade, Thor assures his teammates that the Watcher is, in fact, real. Even so, the Avengers are unwilling to stand by while people are murdered. They split up, and Thor speeds to Naples, Italy, hoping to protect a young boy. The thunder god arrives too late, though, and Tippit manages to put his victim into a coma. Easily evading Thor, Tippit then teleports away. After getting the boy to the nearest hospital, Thor rendezvous with his teammates at Stark Industries. Soon, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch bring in the unconscious Tippit and strap him into the machine Iron Man has built to siphon off Tippit’s superhuman energies. As the device is activated, Tippit regains consciousness. Suddenly, the Watcher materializes in the room and reveals that it was Tippit, not his victims, who was a threat to the earth, and the murder scheme was just a ruse to force Tippit to travel the world and exhaust himself. The Avengers are angry at having been manipulated, but Tippit agrees to sacrifice himself to save the world. Before disappearing again, the Watcher assures the Avengers that the five victims will awaken tomorrow with no memory of their ordeal.

The Avengers head immediately to the New York County Courthouse, where the Hulk is being put on trial. The Hulk’s lawyer, Matt Murdock, calls Iron Man to the stand, but most of his testimony is stricken after the prosecutor objects to the Avengers’ presence. Thor is called to testify next, but the judge rules that the Avengers’ testimony has no bearing on the case. As such, the team returns to their headquarters before Thor even takes the stand. Some hours later, they learn that Mister Fantastic inadvertently enabled the Hulk to escape while trying to change him back into Bruce Banner. Thor is surprised that Reed Richards could be so careless.

The following evening, Thor joins his teammates for a late-night meeting at Avengers Mansion. The Scarlet Witch opts to take a stroll through Central Park instead, only to be kidnapped by one of the mutant-hunting robots known as Sentinels. When the Avengers fail to stop the abduction, Quicksilver becomes hysterical and quits the team, vowing to rescue his sister singlehandedly. Returning to their headquarters, the Avengers spend the night trying to track down the Sentinels. They are soon contacted by scientist Peter Corbeau, who reports that his new space station, Starcore One, has detected an energy beam emanating from Australia that is destabilizing the sun and may cause solar flares powerful enough to wipe out all life on Earth. The Avengers race to the Australian outback, where they discover the energy beam is being fired from the Sentinels’ secret base. Fighting their way into the underground complex, the Avengers rescue the Scarlet Witch and defeat the Sentinels. Unfortunately, Larry Trask, the son of the man who created the Sentinels, is killed in the battle. The team then seals off the installation and makes their way back to New York.

Upon their return, the Avengers find that Quicksilver has vanished without a trace, prompting the Scarlet Witch to initiate a desperate search. She soon brings her teammates a possible lead—a news report of three Chilean scientists being kidnapped by a group of men with strange powers. Thor and Sif agree to accompany five of the Avengers to Tierra del Fuego to investigate. When they arrive, the team discovers a tunnel that leads them into the mysterious Savage Land. While making their way through the prehistoric jungle, they are attacked by the Savage Land Mutates—Amphibius, Barbarus, Brainchild, Equilibrius, Gaza, Lupo, and Lorelei. Thor and Sif defeat Barbarus while their teammates take care of the rest of the Mutates. Freeing the scientists, the Avengers march the Mutates out of the Savage Land and turn them over to the Chilean authorities to face kidnapping charges.

When the team arrives back at Avengers Mansion the next day, Thor and Sif rush off for a meeting with Karl Sarron, Don Blake’s landlord. Sarron has already postponed the meeting a couple of times and is again out of the office, leaving Blake angry and frustrated. He changes back into Thor and returns to Avengers Mansion to round up the Warriors Three while Sif goes to meet up with Balder and Hildegarde. On the way, Thor is distracted by a fight in an alley, which he finds to be between a pair of muggers and an exceptionally acrobatic young man. When the muggers’ victim gives her rescuer the cold shoulder, Thor strikes up a conversation with the irreverent youth. Suddenly, the city is enveloped by a strange “negative time” effect. Recognizing that Loki once cast such a spell, Thor generates a spacetime vortex that protects him and the young man, who, to the thunder god’s surprise, turns out to be Spider-Man. They then spot an army of Asgardian Trolls marching through the streets, and Thor recognizes their leader as an old enemy, Kryllk the Cruel. Kryllk brags about his Dark Crystal, which he used to generate the “negative time” effect, and of his plan to conquer Asgard. Thor leaps to attack them, but the Trolls evaporate like wisps of steam. The two heroes race to Avengers Mansion, where they find the others all frozen in place like a photographic negative. Spider-Man rewires the communications console so they can use it, allowing Thor to determine that the Dark Crystal’s arcane energies lead both to Asgard and an asteroid orbiting Jupiter. After sending Spider-Man to Asgard, Thor transports himself to the Jovian asteroid, where he finds Kryllk and his horde hiding out in a deep cavern. The thunder god fights his way through the Trolls, only to discover that Kryllk is protected by a force field. Suddenly, Kryllk collapses, as though stricken by a massive heart attack, after which the Trolls and the Dark Crystal all vanish into thin air. They reappear a moment later along with Spider-Man and the Watcher, who explains that Kryllk’s misuse of the Dark Crystal led to his defeat. Taking the Dark Crystal for safekeeping, the enigmatic Watcher teleports Thor and Spider-Man back to Earth. Thor then finally reaches Avengers Mansion, where Fandral informs him that his teammates have all gone out somewhere searching for Quicksilver.

After Tana Nile and Silas Grant have moved out of Avengers Mansion and gotten a small apartment together, Thor is called in by the United Nations to help guard a “mermaid”—a red-skinned aquatic woman—who has caused an international incident. The Sub-Mariner soon appears and announces that the “mermaid” is a citizen of Atlantis, but, because her skin is red rather than blue, Thor requests proof of his claims. The Sub-Mariner merely loses his temper and attacks Thor, and their fight leads them out into the East River. Thor ultimately overcomes the Sub-Mariner and drives him off. This gives the government officials the chance to move the “mermaid” to a high-tech water tank in a secure vault deep within the UN Building. Satisfied that he has fulfilled his duty, Thor returns to Avengers Mansion.

Two weeks later, Thor is still brooding about his exile from Asgard and declines to go camping with Balder and the Warriors Three. Instead, he slumps into a chair in front of the television, until Jarvis informs him that Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man, is on a rampage on the other side of the city. Thor rushes to the scene, where he finds his old foe battling Sif and Hildegarde. Creel slams his ball-and-chain into the ground, generating a shockwave that knocks the two goddesses out. Furious, Thor attacks him, and their battle causes a great deal of property damage to the street and surrounding buildings. Throughout, Creel complains of a pain in his head driving him to kill Thor, and Thor suspects Loki is behind it. Thus, when Creel absorbs the properties of Thor’s uru hammer, the thunder god pretends to be defeated, hoping that Creel will lead him to Loki.

On the second night of their search, Thor, Sif, and Hildegarde track the Absorbing Man to the woods outside of Rutland, Vermont. As Creel attacks, Thor orders his companions to keep out of the fight. Sif objects, but Hildegarde merely picks her up and carries her off into the trees. After a fierce battle, Thor finally manages to daze Creel with a massive blow to the head. Knocked into the chilly waters of Otter Creek, the villain inadvertently absorbs the properties of the stream and dissolves into the current. Thor barely has time to catch his breath before Loki appears and sics two monstrous dog-creatures on him. Thor dispatches them with a small tornado, but Loki is unimpressed. He merely manifests the Fire-Sword, a magical weapon that draws its power from the life-force of a small group of people nearby, whom Loki has ensorcelled. The fight does not go well for Thor, and Loki soon separates him from his hammer, knowing he need only keep them apart for the sixty seconds until his brother becomes a vulnerable mortal once more. However, at the last moment, a fierce thunderstorm appears out of nowhere, distracting Loki and allowing Thor to regain his hammer. Thor immediately calls down a powerful lightning strike that destroys the Fire-Sword and frees Loki’s victims from the spell. Seeing that they are unharmed, Thor turns back to find that Loki has been struck blind and, howling in rage and panic, has run off into the woods. Thor chases after his brother but soon loses him in the darkness. He spots Hildegarde standing alone on a nearby hilltop and flies up to join her. Hildegarde reports that Sif made a deal with Karnilla, promising to help the Norn Queen find Balder if she would use her sorcery to save Thor. Thus, Karnilla conjured up the thunderstorm and then teleported away with Sif. Thor is angered by this turn of events, and Hildegarde wonders if they’ll ever see Sif again.

November 1965 – Thor and Hildegarde return to Avengers Mansion a few hours before dawn, where the thunder god takes out his frustrations on Jarvis. Hildegarde castigates him for his inexcusable behavior toward a servant, prompting Thor to apologize to the butler, who responds graciously. After daybreak, Thor wanders the city, trying to shake his foul mood, while Hildegarde goes exploring on her own. When he returns to the mansion later, Thor realizes the place is deserted. He goes to the communications room to try to locate his teammates, and, after a while, Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch, the Black Panther, and the Vision enter with Jarvis, all looking exhausted. Before Hawkeye can tell Thor about their recent adventure, the archer’s chair collapses under him, giving the Avengers a good laugh. The Scarlet Witch is in no mood for joking around, though, as Quicksilver is still missing. The Vision goes to comfort her, and as they embrace, Thor realizes that his two teammates have fallen in love with each other. He suggests to the others that they withdraw so as to give the Vision and the Scarlet Witch some privacy.

Sometime later, Thor is shocked by reports that Hank and Janet Pym have apparently died in a house fire, but Ant-Man soon turns up alive and enlists some of his former teammates to help rescue the Wasp from a secret A.I.M. installation on Long Island. Thor is relieved to hear that the couple escaped the fire and is doing fine, though they’ve decided not to resume their superhero careers. Thor spends the next couple weeks hanging around Avengers Mansion with Hildegarde, waiting for Balder and the Warriors Three to return from their camping trip. He makes repeated attempts to contact Karl Sarron to resolve the situation with Don Blake’s lease, but without success. The thunder god becomes increasingly irritable and depressed as the days go by.

Finally, the Warriors Three return in their borrowed Quinjet, but Thor is annoyed to learn that Balder has decided to remain in the wilderness on his own. Wanting to free Sif from Karnilla’s service as soon as possible, Thor sets off to find Balder without further delay. However, as he is flying across the city, he spots a strange glow in Don Blake’s medical office and decides to check it out. Entering through the window, Thor discovers a weird alien calling himself the Fourth-Dimensional Man, who is absorbing the residual energies left from every time the thunder god transformed to and from his mortal form in that room. The Fourth-Dimensional Man attacks him, intent on absorbing the last of Thor’s energies directly, and their fight spills out into the streets of Manhattan. Soon, the Warriors Three join in, giving Thor a chance to slip away and head for the New York Public Library. After changing into Don Blake, he spends half an hour researching a way of defeating his foe. Then, resuming his godly identity, Thor snatches a large I-beam from a construction site, drops it on the Fourth-Dimensional Man, and melts it to slag with the awesome power of Mjolnir. As Thor expected, the Fourth-Dimensional Man quickly reaches critical mass and implodes. Afterwards, Karl Sarron is reported to have disappeared, and Thor assumes he was murdered by the Fourth-Dimensional Man.

December 1965 – Watching Hawkeye work out in the Avengers’ combat-simulation room, Thor realizes the Scarlet Witch’s burgeoning romance with the Vision is causing dissention among the team, as the others are worried that a relationship between a mutant and a synthezoid won’t go over very well with the general public. Later that morning, Hawkeye disappears from the mansion. After two days, an oddly-worded letter arrives in the mail informing the team that Hawkeye has accepted a business opportunity with a notorious corporate tycoon known as Champion. Preoccupied with his own problems, Thor doesn’t think much of it.

Having searched North America for Balder without success, Thor flies across the Atlantic Ocean to check Europe and Scandinavia. He stops for dinner at a pub in London, England, where he is visited by the astral form of the Grand Vizier, who can’t understand why Thor has yet to beg for his father’s forgiveness. Their chat is cut short when the building is wrecked by a powerful blue-skinned man calling himself the Demon Druid. Thor confronts the Demon Druid, only to get blasted by an energy beam that knocks him out. When he comes to, Thor confers with Detective Chief Inspector Prichard of Scotland Yard, who informs him that the Demon Druid has marched southwest and is now fighting the British Army. Thor flies to the scene and confronts the Demon Druid again, with no better results. The Demon Druid knocks Thor into a building, which then collapses on top of the thunder god. Two hours later, Thor digs himself out of the rubble and catches up to his foe on the Salisbury Plain, where they blast away at each other again. Finally, DCI Prichard convinces Thor and the army to leave the Demon Druid alone, allowing the mysterious figure to walk into the center of Stonehenge and dematerialize. Prichard speculates that the Demon Druid might have been a member of a group of ancient aliens who was somehow left behind on Earth, and has now gone to join his people. Thor wonders if he may have acted rashly in meeting him with violence.

Continuing his search, Thor flies across Asia, where he is attacked by the Red Chinese Army. Though they manage to bury Thor in a rockslide, the soldiers flee when the thunder god emerges unharmed. Frustrated by his fruitless search, Thor wraps himself in his cape and goes to sleep. When he wakes up, Thor finds he has been kidnapped by Ulik the Troll and his minions. While Thor is battling Ulik, the other Trolls manage to steal Mjolnir with a powerful magnet and dump it into a large furnace. Thor braves the heat and flames of the furnace to retrieve his hammer before he transforms back into his mortal form. Thor then learns from Queen Ulla, wife of the Troll-King Geirrodur, that Ulik is leading an invasion of Midgard. Thor follows the Troll army back to Midtown Manhattan, where he is joined by the Warriors Three, Tana Nile, and Silas Grant. Thor beats Ulik into unconsciousness, humiliating him in front of his troops, which causes the Trolls to retreat. Once the invaders are gone, Thor and Tana Nile seal up the Trolls’ tunnel with the rubble of a demolished tenement building. The Warriors Three then inform Thor that Balder has returned to New York, but something has driven him mad. Thor storms into Avengers Mansion to see for himself, then, blaming Odin for Balder’s madness, he generates a spacetime vortex that carries him, Fandral, Hogun the Grim, Hildegarde, Tana Nile, and Silas Grant to Asgard, leaving Volstagg to look after Balder.

When they materialize, Thor and his entourage are shocked to find the golden realm deserted. They soon come across a group of bedraggled creatures led by a 10-foot-tall lizard-man named Sssthgar, who claims they’ve escaped from the alien slavers who have captured the Asgardians. Thor convinces Sssthgar to lead them to the slavers’ home planet, and they all set out in an Asgardian ship, the Starjammer. Upon arriving on the distant world, Thor is outraged to find Odin in chains on an auction block, and leads his comrades into battle against seemingly impossible odds. However, no sooner have Thor and the others defeated their foes than Sssthgar reveals that he, too, is one of the slavers—he and his crew were marooned on Asgard by his former partners, the Vrellnexians, and Thor has just eliminated his enemies for him. Sssthgar’s crew overwhelms Thor’s band of warriors and throws them into a dungeon with the rest of the captured Asgardians. Though the slaves are kept docile with drugged gruel, Thor manages to break free before the guards can feed it to him. He frees Hildegarde and Tana Nile, who also have not been drugged yet, and they soon meet up with the underground resistance movement. While the freedom-fighters go to blow up the drug factories, Thor and Hildegarde attack Sssthgar and his crew while they are carousing, giving Tana Nile the chance to free the Asgardians and lead them to the Starjammer. Defeated, Sssthgar reveals that Sif and Karnilla were not brought to the slave-market because the Vrellnexians sold them to some miners from the Dark Nebula beforehand. The Starjammer then takes the Asgardians home and, along the way, Odin gratefully remands Thor’s exile. Then, Thor, Odin, Heimdall, Fandral, Hogun the Grim, Hildegarde, Tana Nile, and Silas Grant set sail in the Starjammer again, heading to the Dark Nebula to rescue Sif and Karnilla.

Arriving in the Dark Nebula, Thor and the crew of the Starjammer are shocked to find the mining operation is being attacked by the Fourth-Dimensional Man and his henchmen. The villain, who reveals that his name is Mercurio, explains that he was saved from the implosion last month by a transdimensional red jewel that appeared to be sentient. He has tracked the jewel to the Dark Nebula and is intent on using it to save his own race from extinction. Suddenly, the jewel erupts from the ground and looms over everyone like a skyscraper. Thor is outraged to see that Sif and Karnilla are imprisoned within the crystal, and his righteous anger grows when the jewel announces telepathically its intention to use the goddesses’ life-force to conquer the galaxy. Mercurio convinces Thor that they should join forces, and so, when the jewel leaves the Dark Nebula, the two groups pursue it aboard the Starjammer. The crystal then assumes a humanoid form, calling itself Xorr, the God-Jewel, and destroys a solar system for sustenance. While Xorr is feeding, Mercurio and his men attack it, but Thor drives them back, worried that Xorr will harm Sif and Karnilla. Mercurio once again convinces Thor that their only hope is to work together. Thus, Odin leads Xorr to a supergiant star, and while it is preoccupied with absorbing such a tremendous amount of energy, Mercurio uses his powers to free the two goddesses. As Thor flies them back to the Starjammer, the supergiant star goes nova, as Odin had planned, and the sudden surge causes Xorr to explode. Mercurio and his men harvest the shattered fragments of the God-Jewel and return to their home planet to avert its destruction. Reunited with Sif, Thor sets course for Asgard.

When they reach the golden realm, the crew of the Starjammer discovers that they have been replaced by impostors. Odin confronts his doppelgänger, leading to a huge brawl. While battling the false Heimdall on the Rainbow Bridge, Thor knocks his foe off into the void, and as he drifts away, the impostor disintegrates. Thor grabs Sif and flies out over the city until he spots Balder, who, Thor reasons, must be an impostor. Thor attacks him, forcing the false Balder to reveal himself as the wizard Igron, one of Loki’s former minions who snuck back into Asgard while it was deserted. Igron traps Thor and Sif, only to be defeated by the real Balder, who has come home with Volstagg. Without Igron to sustain them, the doppelgängers soon fade to nothingness. Balder convinces the warriors of Asgard that the true Odin and Thor have returned at last, bringing the fighting to an end.

Later, Thor, Sif, and Balder set out again in the Starjammer to take Tana Nile and Silas Grant home to Rigel III, though Odin has warned them to expect grave danger. Upon arrival, they find the planet has been evacuated, except for the mutant underclass, which has been left to die. Learning what has happened from the mutants’ leader, Jukka, Thor offers them passage aboard the Starjammer, and the mutants gratefully accept. The ship soon rendezvous with the Rigellian fleet, where Thor and his comrades meet with the Grand Commissioner, who reveals that Rigel III has been completely destroyed since the Starjammer left just six hours ago. Its nine billion inhabitants have been crowded onto only about 700 spaceships, which is one reason the mutants were left behind. An intergalactic “message in a bottle” alerted the Rigellians to the approach of the Black Stars, a marauding system of five planets, each of which would dwarf Jupiter, forcing them to evacuate their homeworld. Thor decides to put an end to the Black Stars’ reign of terror.

On its way to the Black Stars, the Starjammer is intercepted by Avalon, one of the giant living robots who run the world-destroying matter-scoops. Avalon explains to Thor and his comrades that he and his fellow robots are kept as slaves and forced to maintain the Black Stars’ technology, though they yearn for liberation. However, another robot, called the Protector, has detected the organic lifeforms within the matter scoop and flies up to attack them, but it proves to be no match for Mjolnir. When the matter scoop is retracted to its base on one of the Black Stars’ planets, Thor is astonished to find a race of giants so large that he is like a flea to them. Undaunted, Thor tries to attack the giants, but they barely notice his mightiest blows, and the Asgardians are forced to fight off swarms of robots seeking to exterminate them. Luckily, Jukka and the other Rigellian mutants are able to make contact with the leader of the giants, Lord Kragonn, and convince him his planet is the only one of the five to still harbor life. As such, Kragonn decides they no longer need to destroy other planets to power their own civilization. Avalon petitions Kragonn for his people’s freedom, and his request is granted. The robots deliver Thor and his comrades to the flagship of the Rigellian fleet before seeking their destiny among the stars. Thor, Sif, and Balder bid farewell to Tana Nile and Silas Grant, then sail the Starjammer back to Asgard.

No sooner have they docked in the golden realm, though, than Hildegarde reports that her sister Krista has been kidnapped by Pluto and Hercules and imprisoned in Hades. Thor is outraged by his friend’s betrayal and sets off for Olympus alone, where he fights his way into Zeus’ palace and brawls with Hercules. Zeus stops the fight and assures Thor that Hercules has been enjoying a festival of wine, women, and song for at least a fortnight, and could not have been involved in the kidnapping. Zeus convinces the two headstrong warriors to work together to rescue Krista from Pluto. Thus, Thor and Hercules head out to storm the gates of Hades. Along the way, Hercules suggests they pay a visit to the reclusive sorceress Chaga, who, in exchange for an hour of gossip, reveals that Ares had disguised himself as Hercules in order to assist Pluto, and he will be waiting for them at the entrance to Pluto’s infernal realm. Thus forewarned, Thor and Hercules are ready when Ares confronts them, and, after a brief battle, Thor is able to bury the God of War under tons of rubble. Marching through Hades, Thor and Hercules are set upon by vicious snake-women, who delay them long enough for Pluto to sneak off with Krista. Frustrated, Thor generates a spacetime vortex that takes him and Hercules directly to Asgard.

There, Odin determines that Pluto has taken Krista to Earth and teleports Thor and Hercules to Times Square in Manhattan. They quickly find Pluto and his prisoner on a nearby rooftop, where he admits that he had hoped to start a war between Asgard and Olympus that would have devastated both realms. Enraged by Pluto’s taunts, Thor smashes him with his hammer, knocking him off the roof, but the Lord of Hades is able to teleport himself back to his own realm. Seeing that Krista needs emergency surgery, Thor and Hercules rush her to the nearest hospital, where Thor transforms into Don Blake in order to assist the ER doctors. Hercules is at first confused by Thor’s mortal form, but soon catches on. The demigod agrees to go out on the town for a few hours while Blake is busy in the operating room. The surgery is successful, though while visiting Krista in the recovery room a little while later, Blake notices that the Destroyer is on a rampage several blocks away. Though he had hoped to spend some time in his mortal identity, Blake immediately changes back into Thor and flies to the scene.

Thor finds Hercules battling the Destroyer and takes over, as the unstoppable robot is of Asgardian origin. Thor sends his friend to search for whoever’s soul is animating the Destroyer, knowing he can never defeat Odin’s creation with brute force. Luckily, Hercules succeeds in short order, and the spirit of the mad scientist Dr. Clement Holmes is returned to his body, causing the Destroyer to shut down. Leaving the inert robot lying on a pier, Thor and Hercules head back to the hospital, where the thunder god becomes Don Blake again. Hercules is dumbfounded that Thor would maintain such a dual identity, but Blake explains that when he’s in mortal form, he has little interest in the affairs of the Asgardians, and when he is in his godly form, the life of Don Blake just seems like a bad dream. Their conversation is cut short, however, when they come upon Firelord, the latest herald of Galactus. Hercules attacks the flaming alien, but as soon as Blake transforms into Thor again, Firelord shoots energy rays from his eyes into the sky to summon his master. Claiming he bears the earth no ill will, Firelord then flies off. Thor realizes there’s little he or Hercules can do until Galactus makes his move, though he vows to fight the Devourer of Worlds to his dying breath.

A few days later, Galactus arrives on Earth, but explains he has come only to enlist Thor’s aid against Ego, the Living Planet. He apologizes if Firelord’s volatile temperament conveyed the wrong impression. Relieved, Thor and Hercules accompany Galactus up to his spherical mothership, which then carries them back to the nebula known as the Black Galaxy. As soon as they are within range, Ego attacks them, causing Galactus’ ship to crash-land on the surface of the living planet. Thor, Hercules, and Firelord hike out a ways, fighting off automatons that Ego generates out of his own substance. Believing that Ego has gone insane, Thor decides that their best bet is to find the planet’s brain and, if necessary, destroy it. Thus, he uses Mjolnir to blast a tunnel into the ground, and they descend into a deep cavern. After a while, Thor figures they must be nearing the planet’s core, though Hercules wonders why there’s been so little change in the air pressure or gravity. They then enter a new cavern with a large brain floating in the center of it. More automatons swarm out of the walls and battle Hercules and Firelord, but Thor manages to hurl Mjolnir at the brain. As the hammer strikes the mass of tissue, Thor is hit with a psychic backlash that overwhelms him. His mind is suddenly awash with images that he takes to be Ego’s memories of how he came to be. The images show how a man named Egros attempted to save his race when their sun went nova but failed. The radiation from the solar holocaust caused Egros to merge with the dying planet, and in the process he inadvertently absorbed the life-force of its two billion inhabitants. He emerged from his metamorphosis as Ego, the Living Planet, a being consumed by guilt. Feeling great sympathy for Ego’s plight, Thor is reluctant to destroy the floating brain, but Hercules and Firelord convince him he has no choice. Thor blasts the brain with mystical energies from Mjolnir, though not enough to destroy it completely. The entire planet convulses, and Thor, Hercules, and Firelord rush back to Galactus’ ship. They find that Galactus has not only repaired his ship, but also attached a propulsion unit to Ego’s south pole. When Galactus activates the thrusters, Ego is sent hurtling out of the Black Galaxy and off into deep space.

On their way back to Earth, Firelord petitions to be released from Galactus’ service. Galactus says he will grant Firelord’s request if they can find another herald to replace him. Thor offers Galactus the Destroyer, saying the Devourer of Worlds could animate the armored shell with a portion of his own life essence, and it would serve him more faithfully than any herald ever could. Galactus agrees to the plan and, finding the Destroyer still laying on the battle-damaged pier in New York, imbues it with the Power Cosmic. After Galactus and his new herald have departed, Firelord streaks off into the sky without so much as a word of thanks. Leaving Hercules behind, Thor flies back to Avengers Mansion, where he finds the team having a late-night meeting. The Scarlet Witch has become convinced that the letter from Hawkeye is a forgery, and Thor, Iron Man, Vision, and the Black Panther agree to investigate. They track Hawkeye to a remote location in the Mojave Desert, where they find Champion has captured the archer and tied him to a large bomb. Though Champion’s body armor makes him a force to be reckoned with, he and his henchmen are quickly defeated by the Avengers. Despite the timely rescue, Hawkeye is determined to make it on his own, so he tenders his resignation from the team, effective immediately. After all of Champion’s bombs have been dismantled, the Avengers leave Hawkeye in California and fly back to New York.


Notes:

January 1965 – Thor and his teammates find themselves in a Lovecraftian mystery in Avengers #88 when the insectoid creature Psyklop kidnaps the Hulk. Realizing he is outnumbered, Psyklop teleports the Avengers to the New York City subway platform, erasing their memories of the entire affair. Iron Man’s odd behavior is due to him being mind-controlled by Shara-Lee and the White Dragon, as shown in Iron Man #39, in which Thor briefly appears. Thor then heads to San Francisco to confront Lionel Dibbs in the Inhumans story in Amazing Adventures #8. Tony Stark must have created Dibbs’ weaponized prosthetic while under the influence of his Chinese foes, as it seems unlikely he would have done it otherwise. Next, Thor joins with the Avengers to fight the Skrulls in Avengers #93–94. For more on President Morris Richardson, see OMU: POTUS – Part Three.

February 1965 – The Avengers are drawn into the Kree-Skrull War and foil Ares’ scheme of interdimensional conquest across Avengers #94–100.

March 1965 – Thor’s adventures continue in Thor #182 and following. I believe that the Silent One is really Bor, Odin’s deceased father. Using his ghost would give Hela a psychological advantage over Odin and make him more vulnerable to “Infinity.” Thor does not recognize Bor due to his cadaverous appearance, but it explains the Silent One’s self-sacrifice to save the thunder god in Thor #186. During the battle, everyone on Earth is forced to face doomsday, but luckily Odin erases those events from the timestream, so they never happened. Only Thor would be aware of how close the Earth came to destruction. The Silver Surfer ultimately defeats Durok the Demolisher by transporting him through time and leaving him marooned in the distant future, as seen in Thor #193. In the next issue, Thor changes into Don Blake after losing his hammer, even though that enchantment is normally inactive while Thor is in Asgard. It’s reasonable to assume that Loki triggered the change using the power of the Ring Imperial.

October 1965 – The Avengers face the threat of Leonard Tippit in Avengers #101. Later that same day, the team appears at the Hulk’s trial, as depicted in Hulk #153. This is followed immediately by Avengers #102–105. Thor and Spider-Man battle Kryllk and his trolls in Marvel Team-Up #7, then Thor fights with the Sub-Mariner over the aquatic alien Tamara of the Sisterhood in Sub-Mariner #59. On Halloween, Thor fights the Absorbing Man and Loki outside Rutland, Vermont, as depicted in Thor #207. Thor is doubtless unaware of all the other weirdness going on in Rutland on that particular night.

November 1965 – Thor briefly meets up with the Avengers following their battle with the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper at the end of Avengers #108. The thunder god remains behind the scenes during the Pyms’ travails in Ant-Man’s revival series in Marvel Feature. Thor does not realize that “Karl Sarron” was merely the Fourth-Dimensional Man’s cover identity while he was on Earth and needed unfettered access to Blake’s medical offices.

December 1965 – Thor observes Hawkeye’s training exercises at the beginning of Avengers #109. In Thor #209, I believe it is when the Demon Druid causes a building to collapse onto Thor that Inspector Dai Thomas’ wife is killed, as seen in the flashback in Captain Britain v.2 #1. They were probably in Esher to do some Christmas shopping, and the experience leaves Thomas with a deep-seated hatred of superheroes. While Thor is battling the Destroyer in Thor #225, Odin decides to have his master craftsman, Eitri the Dwarf, build a magical machine to copy the thunder god’s essence, in case Odin should ever need a substitute Thor to defend Asgard, which we learn in the flashback in Thor #277. As explained in Fantastic Four #245, the “brain” that Thor, Hercules, and Firelord find within Ego the Living Planet is merely a decoy, and the images Thor sees are not Ego’s true origin but a falsehood designed to gain the thunder god’s sympathies. Egros’ friend Chimu looks suspiciously like the Rigellian Grand Commissioner and Project Worldcore is a dead ringer for the Citadel of Science on Mount Wundagore, suggesting that much of the imagery is drawn from Thor’s own memories. This brings us up to Thor #228. The Avengers rescue Hawkeye from Champion at the conclusion of Avengers #109.


Jump Back: The Mighty Thor – Year Three

Next Issue: Hero for Hire!


Saturday

OMU History: Avengers 1965

The Fourth Annual Avengers Christmas Charity Benefit, December 1965.

 
L to R: Vision, Scarlet Witch, Iron Man, Captain America, Black Panther

Friday

OMU: Captain America -- Year Four

Captain America spends the next twelve months of his life juggling a complicated triple-identity as a superhero, a New York City police officer, and a part-time S.H.I.E.L.D. operative. The conflicting demands of these vocations nearly prove to be more than even Steve Rogers can handle, and his friendships definitely suffer as a result. Even so, for most of the year, Steve enjoys a pretty good relationship with his lover, super-spy Sharon Carter. Throughout this period, Captain America must face the moral ambiguities of the modern world as he learns that, despite his best intentions, systemic racism can spoil his partnership with the Falcon, sexual jealousy can drive a wedge between him and Nick Fury, rampant corruption can tarnish his image of the police force, and his own sexism can imperil his relationship with Sharon. Nevertheless, Cap keeps soldiering on through all adversity.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Continuing on with... The True History of Captain America!


January 1965 – Captain America and the Falcon suddenly find themselves on a dingy subway platform in Manhattan with no memory of how they came to be there. Thor, Iron Man, and Goliath are with them, but they are equally perplexed. Iron Man, who is acting a bit strangely, flies off while the others return to Avengers Mansion. A few hours later, the four heroes rescue Iron Man from a gang of uniformed men wearing jetpacks. Seemingly dazed, Iron Man flies off again without explaining himself. Cap decides that if Iron Man wanted his help, he’d ask for it.

Steve Rogers starts his undercover assignment for the Police Commissioner, posing as a rookie beat cop to investigate a series of mysterious disappearances of police officers and city officials. At the precinct, he is introduced to Sgt. Brian Muldoon, a real ball-buster who reminds Steve of his World War II drill instructor, Sgt. Duffy. While walking his beat through Upper Manhattan, Steve meets a local minister, Reverend Garcia. The Reverend’s sudden disappearance leads Steve to discover who is behind the kidnappings—the Grey Gargoyle. Joined by the Falcon, Captain America fights with the Grey Gargoyle, but the villain manages to escape. Changing back to his patrolman’s uniform, Steve calls the police to the Grey Gargoyle’s hideout, where his petrified victims start reverting to normal. Commissioner Murphy commends Steve for his quick results and defends him from Muldoon’s criticism of not following proper procedure.

Later, concerned about the Falcon, who flew off in pursuit of the Grey Gargoyle, Steve heads over to Sam Wilson’s office to look for him. There, Steve meets Sam’s girlfriend, Leila Taylor, who refuses to answer any questions from a white cop. Discouraged, Steve changes back into Captain America and goes looking for the Falcon on his motorcycle. He soon decides to seek help from S.H.I.E.L.D., and so, once aboard the Helicarrier, he is reunited with Sharon Carter. They kiss and make up, but are interrupted by Nick Fury, who is annoyed that Cap and the Falcon always seem to be searching for each other. Fury says his agency is busy constructing an orbital platform where they can safely experiment with dangerous substances, such as the unstable compound known as Element X. Learning that stone provides the only effective shielding for Element X, Cap suspects that the Grey Gargoyle will try to steal it before it is launched into orbit.

Sure enough, the Grey Gargoyle uses the Falcon as a Judas goat to get aboard the Helicarrier and hijack it. Most of the crew abandons ship, but the Grey Gargoyle manages to turn Sharon and Fury to stone before they can escape. Unwilling to abandon his friends, Cap fights with the villain until the Helicarrier arrives at the camouflaged mountain stronghold where Element X is housed. When the proper code-signal is not received, the S.H.I.E.L.D. base opens fire and shoots the Helicarrier out of the sky. During the barrage, the Grey Gargoyle slips inside the installation, but Cap is busy rescuing his friends before the massive airship crashes to the ground in a spectacular fiery demise. About an hour later, after the Grey Gargoyle’s stone-touch has worn off, Cap, Falcon, Sharon, and Fury break into the base and attack the villain again. This time they get the better of him, and the Grey Gargoyle, along with Element X, is launched into high earth orbit where he can do no harm.

After returning to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Cap and the Falcon head home to Harlem. Steve quickly freshens up, dons his patrolman’s uniform, and rushes to the precinct house, where Muldoon chews him out for being late for his second day on the force. Though his undercover assignment has been completed, Steve has decided to continue working for the NYPD in an attempt to build a life for himself outside of his Captain America identity. Commissioner Murphy soon arrives with Reverend Garcia, who persuades Steve to volunteer at his afterschool boys’ club in Harlem. However, Steve’s plans for the evening are derailed when Sam Wilson is brutally beaten by members of the People’s Militia, a violent “Black Power” organization. After changing into Captain America, he finds members of the People’s Militia roughing up Reverend Garcia at the boys’ club, and during the ensuing fight, Sam arrives as the Falcon to lend a hand. After the young toughs have been defeated, Cap and the Falcon find a tense standoff outside between an angry crowd of black residents and police dressed in riot gear. Falcon negotiates with the crowd, calming things down a bit and buying some time for him and Cap to continue their investigation. The two heroes head immediately to the headquarters of the People’s Militia, where they discover the group’s leader is none other than the Red Skull. With help from the Falcon’s trained bird, Redwing, Cap and his partner escape from the villain’s deathtrap, but they are unable to capture the Red Skull before he escapes. Returning to the boys’ club, Cap and Falcon find that Leila has helped negotiate a peaceful resolution with Commissioner Murphy. However, as the crowd disperses, Cap makes a comment that the Falcon takes to be racially insensitive and he leaves angry. Hoping to clear the air, Cap follows him back to Sam’s office, only to find Sam making out with Leila. Cap decides not to interrupt them, but worries that racial tensions may spoil his partnership with the Falcon.

At Avengers Mansion, Captain America, Goliath, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and the Vision watch television news coverage of a racially charged crisis in San Francisco. They are surprised when Thor appears and announces that he must deal with the situation alone. Though Thor declines to fully explain himself, the Avengers agree to let him handle it. Later, Cap finally gets a chance to apologize to Sam for his remarks after the fight with the Red Skull, but Sam remains angry, explaining that the people of Harlem see the Falcon as more of an “Uncle Tom” than a hero. Hoping to change the public’s perception of him, Sam officially dissolves their partnership and throws away his green-and-gold costume, replacing it with a new red-and-white design. Cap is saddened by this turn of events, but accepts Sam’s decision and remains behind when the Falcon is called into action against some local drug pushers. The next day, Steve moves out of Sam’s apartment and checks into the Corinth Hotel, a cheap flophouse near the Gramercy Park neighborhood.

One of the first acts of newly-inaugurated President Morris N. Richardson is to create the Alien Activities Commission and appoint conservative politician H. Warren Craddock to lead it. Following the commission’s first televised hearings, Cap receives a call from the Avengers summoning the founding members to an emergency meeting. He soon joins Thor, Iron Man, and Ant-Man at Avengers Mansion, but they are interrupted when the Vision staggers in and collapses. After effecting repairs to his synthezoid teammate, Ant-Man announces that he has resigned from the team and departs. Regaining consciousness, the Vision recounts how he, Goliath, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch were called to testify before Craddock’s commission about their connection to the alien superhero Captain Marvel, and when they returned to the mansion, the original members declared them to be a disgrace and disbanded the team. Cap, Thor, and Iron Man assure the Vision that he has been tricked by a trio of impostors. The Vision then relates how he and the others went to rendezvous with Captain Marvel at an upstate farm, where they were attacked by three cows who suddenly transformed into doppelgängers of Mister Fantastic, the Thing, and the Human Torch. Badly damaged in the melee, the Vision was forced to abandon the fight and return to Avengers Mansion to seek help.

Taking a Quinjet, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and the Vision race to the farm, where they find Goliath and Rick Jones still fighting the Fantastic Four impostors. Vision surmises that they must be Skrulls, mimicking the heroes’ powers through technological means. The Avengers defeat their foes, but then a massive flying saucer erupts from the farmhouse and speeds off into the sky, with Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel presumably aboard. As they take the unconscious Skrulls into custody, the Avengers realize the Vision has disappeared. When they arrive at their headquarters, the Avengers restrain and sedate the Skrulls, then Iron Man contacts the Fantastic Four. Mister Fantastic realizes the Skrulls must be three of the four who impersonated them three years ago, and he promises to send over his files on that encounter.

February 1965 – In the Avengers’ conference room, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Goliath, and Rick Jones discuss their plans to rescue their missing teammates. The Vision reappears, having discovered that Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were indeed kidnapped by Skrulls, and that the Kree and the mysterious Inhumans are somehow involved as well. The meeting is interrupted, though, when H. Warren Craddock arrives outside the mansion with a military detachment to back him up. He intends to take the Avengers in for questioning, and has brought along three soldiers in bulky suits of armor to subdue the heroes, if necessary. After a brief scuffle, Iron Man is able to force the Mandroid suits to overload and shut down. The Avengers then realize that one of the Inhumans, Triton, has come to them for help. Triton explains that his king, Black Bolt, has been deposed by his brother, Maximus the Mad, who wants to start a war with the human race. Struck with amnesia, Black Bolt has been exiled to San Francisco and all efforts to find him have failed. Thor corroborates Triton’s story, so Cap suggests they head to California at once. The Vision objects, however, saying the rescue of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch should be their top priority. The team decides to split up, so only Cap, Goliath, and Rick leave with Triton for California. When they arrive in San Francisco, they quickly locate Black Bolt, who has since regained his memory. Cap agrees to fly the two Inhumans and Black Bolt’s young friend Joey to their Great Refuge in the Himalayas. There, they find the hidden city sealed within a black force-field dome, which, to their surprise, Thor, Iron Man, and the Vision are attempting to breach. After silently examining the barrier, Black Bolt shatters it into tiny shards with the awesome destructive power of his voice. He then asserts his authority over the city’s armed sentries and leads the Avengers to the royal palace, where they find Maximus conspiring with agents of the Kree Empire. Overwhelmed by the Avengers, the Kree agents beat a hasty retreat, kidnapping Rick in the process. Their spaceship warps into hyperspace before the Avengers can follow. Maximus is defeated, and Captain America vows that the Avengers will take the fight to the Kree and the Skrulls to rescue their friends.

The Avengers borrow a spacecraft from S.H.I.E.L.D., and with help from Thor’s enchanted hammer, they are able to warp through hyperspace to the Andromeda Galaxy. They emerge in the midst of the Skrull Imperial Armada and fight their way onto the flagship. Storming the command deck, the Avengers confront Commandant Kalxor, but he remains defiant, having learned of the Avengers from Skrull intelligence reports. Suddenly, the face of Skrull Emperor Dorrek appears on the viewscreen, revealing that Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel are his prisoners. However, Captain Marvel initiates an escape attempt just before the transmission is terminated. The Vision grabs Kalxor and beats him mercilessly, shocking his teammates with his brutality. Iron Man and Thor pull the Vision off him, and Kalxor explains that a lone ship has left the fleet to destroy the Earth. Goliath takes off in pursuit and manages to catch up to the craft before they are lost from sight. The Skrull crew then tries to overwhelm the Avengers with the sheer weight of numbers, only to be unexpectedly frozen in place by a wave of strange energy. Confused, the Avengers return to their ship, intent on reaching the Skrull Thoneworld. However, they find themselves suddenly teleported to the planet Hala in the Kree Galaxy, where they come face-to-face with the eerie visage of the Supreme Intelligence, ruler of the Kree Empire. Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel materialize as well, as the Supreme Intelligence reveals that Rick Jones has ended the Kree-Skrull War by awakening his latent psychic powers, though the experience has nearly killed him. Captain America watches as Captain Marvel phases into Rick’s body to provide the additional life-force the boy will need to survive. Rick then awakens, groggy and confused. The Supreme Intelligence assures the Avengers that the crisis is over, then teleports them all back to Earth.

Materializing outside Avengers Mansion, the heroes are met by Nick Fury, who reveals that the H. Warren Craddock who hounded them was in fact a Skrull, the fourth member of the squad that previously impersonated the Fantastic Four. The alien reverted to its true form in the middle of a speech, Fury reports, and was beaten to death by an angry mob. S.H.I.E.L.D. then located the real Craddock, who has cleared the Avengers of any wrongdoing. The Avengers then realize Goliath is not among them, and they fear he’s been lost in space.

A few days later, Captain America is on monitor duty at Avengers Mansion when a man in green armor carries Iron Man into the building. Seeing that Iron Man’s armor is heavily damaged, Cap assumes the worst and attacks the green-armored figure. However, the stranger insists, in his thick Irish brogue, that he rescued Iron Man from a villain called Mikas and brought him to the Avengers for help. Cap apologizes and takes them to the medical bay. Iron Man soon recovers enough to return to Stark Industries along with the armored Irishman.

Nick Fury asks Cap to participate in a mock battle, which is being staged for the benefit of President Richardson and his advisors. The exercise is meant to secure additional funding for S.H.I.E.L.D.’s new all-female taskforce, dubbed Femme Force One. The squad, led by Sharon, makes a good showing, but the new President refuses to commit to financing the initiative, claiming to be hampered by the Washington bureaucracy. Feeling he’s being stonewalled, Fury tells Sharon to take some vacation time. She suggests that she and Steve take a trip somewhere together, but Steve is not able to get any time off from the police department. Sharon is disappointed, but Steve promises to make it up to her.

At the next Avengers meeting, the team discusses strategies for finding out what happened to Goliath. After the meeting, Cap turns on the evening news and sees a report of an angry mob threatening a Chinese delegation staying at a Manhattan hotel. A group of rabble-rousers called the Warhawks, led by a man with a mohawk called Mr. Tallon, incites the crowd to riot. Cap, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch decide to intervene, and are joined by Rick Jones. However, once they are on the scene, the music played by two pipers in hooded robes causes the heroes to black out. When they come to, the street is wrecked, the mob has dispersed, and Thor, Iron Man, and the Vision are with them. Cap is disturbed to learn that “Mr. Tallon” was really Ares, the Greek god of war, and his pipers’ music caused the Avengers to fight each other. Luckily, Thor and the Vision were immune to the effect and managed to drive Ares off. Suddenly, Hawkeye emerges from the crowd, having abandoned his Goliath identity, and reveals that he’s found Hercules suffering from total amnesia. Back at Avengers Mansion, Hawkeye explains how he blew up the Skrull death-ship before it could enter hyperspace and was then teleported back to Earth. However, he materialized in Yugoslavia, where he fell in with a traveling carnival. It was there that he discovered the amnesiac Hercules. Eventually, they made their way back to New York. Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man then try to question Hercules again, but they are interrupted when two Olympian warriors appear. The pair easily fights off the Avengers and kidnaps Hercules. Hawkeye blames the Vision for allowing them to get away, but Thor says they need to focus on what comes next—the Avengers must storm the very halls of Olympus itself.

A day later, Captain America heads to Garrett Castle in England to rendezvous with Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Black Knight, Black Panther, and the Vision. The Hulk arrives as well, though he is suspicious of the others and threatens to leave before Cap convinces him to stay. The Black Knight leads them into the depths of the castle, where he summons up the spirit of his ancestor, Sir Percy of Scandia, the original Black Knight of legend. Sir Percy’s ghost reveals how Ares came into possession of the Ebony Blade and teamed up with the Enchantress to conquer three worlds: Earth, Asgard, and Olympus. Their first move was to transform the gods of Olympus into crystalline statues and banish Hercules to Earth, bereft of his memory. Unexpectedly, the Swordsman swings down from the rafters and claims his Avengers membership, demanding to help stop Ares. Cap is not inclined to trust the Swordsman, but Thor accepts him into their ranks. The thunder god then chooses Iron Man, Hulk, Black Knight, and Vision to accompany him to Olympus while the rest remain behind to guard Earth. Captain America’s squad soon detects an interdimensional portal opening in the center of London and speeds to the scene, where they find an army of demonic creatures pouring through a hole in space. The demons are quickly driven back into their own realm, at which point Thor’s squad emerges through the portal, having rescued Hercules and defeated the villains. However, Hercules must remain in Olympus to help Thor close the portal. Having won the day, the Avengers go their separate ways, and Captain America returns to New York.

March–June 1965 – Steve continues to maintain his cover identity as a rookie patrolman for the NYPD and enjoys feeling more connected to the people on the street. He also develops a deep respect for Sgt. Muldoon, recognizing his devotion to the police force, and their relationship grows friendlier. In his spare time, Steve hangs out at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters as Captain America, helping to train Femme Force One to work as a team, after the government appropriation is finally approved. Cap notices a certain amount of friction between Sharon and her second-in-command, Contessa Valentina Allegra de La Fontaine, but chalks it up to a typical clash of two strong personalities.

July 1965 – Captain America is recruited by Nick Fury to lead Femme Force One on their first field mission, taking down a resurgent faction of HYDRA in the Las Vegas area. From S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters they are transported to the new Helicarrier, where a Boeing 707 is waiting to take them out west. Cap is happy to find the jet’s pilot is Agent Eric Koenig, who was a member of Fury’s Howling Commandos during World War II. While en route, Cap becomes suspicious of one of the members of Femme Force who is lingering near the aircraft’s hatch. Sure enough, she reveals herself to be a double agent when the plane is attacked by a HYDRA raiding party. During the melee, Sharon is shot and badly wounded, which sends Cap into a violent fit of rage. He nearly strangles the HYDRA agent who shot her until the Contessa intervenes, telling Cap he needs to get to the cockpit to prevent the plane from crashing. Cap fights his way through the forward section of the plane, enabling Koenig to make a safe landing at Nellis Air Force Base. The defeated HYDRA agents are taken into custody while Sharon is rushed to the hospital.

While Sharon is recovering from emergency surgery, the flirtatious Contessa convinces Cap to join her for dinner at a casino on the Las Vegas Strip. However, while they are there, they receive word that Sharon has been kidnapped by HYDRA. Furious, Cap returns to the hospital, where he is given a ransom note demanding he go alone to a HYDRA installation out in the desert. Ignoring the Contessa’s attempt to devise a strategy, Cap requisitions a S.H.I.E.L.D. motorcycle and roars off into the wilderness. He is picked up along the way by a HYDRA airship equipped with a vortex beam and taken to their headquarters, where the new Supreme Hydra reveals that the comatose Sharon is his prisoner. Before Cap can decide what to do, the Femme Force storms the complex with guns blazing. Cap savagely attacks the Supreme Hydra, but the villain manages to push a button that delivers a hefty jolt of electricity into Sharon’s body. Thinking she’s been electrocuted, Cap goes berserk and chokes him. Ripping off the Supreme Hydra’s mask—wanting to see his face as he dies—Cap is startled to find a young man who calls out to his father for help. Unmoved, Cap is about to smash his foe’s face in when the Contessa intervenes again, revealing that the electric shock has merely revived Sharon from her coma. Cap immediately embraces Sharon and kisses her, giving the Supreme Hydra a chance to escape in a rocket. Cursing himself, Cap grabs a Femme Force jetpack and sets off in pursuit.

The chase leads Cap back to the Las Vegas Strip, where he follows the Supreme Hydra into the Desert Inn’s penthouse suite, normally occupied by the reclusive millionaire Howard Hughes. However, Cap discovers that the penthouse has been taken over by the New York City mob boss known as the Kingpin, who reveals that the Supreme Hydra is his son. Cap and the Kingpin fight, with the crimelord proving to be a surprisingly formidable opponent. Caught in a bear hug, Cap feels himself losing consciousness when the Falcon suddenly swoops in to the rescue. Falcon notes that he has a personal vendetta against the Kingpin for the misery his syndicate has inflicted on the people of Harlem. However, the fight is interrupted by a holographic projection of the Red Skull, who claims that HYDRA has always been merely a pawn in his own schemes. The Red Skull gloats that he has activated the Fifth Sleeper—a gigantic robot armed with a deadly nerve gas that is marching towards Las Vegas at that very moment. Angry at his son for being duped by the forces of Nazism, the Kingpin offers to join forces with Cap to defeat their common enemy. Captain America accepts, telling the Falcon to coordinate with S.H.I.E.L.D., then heads off to intercept the Fifth Sleeper.

Using the S.H.I.E.L.D. jetpack, Cap quickly catches up to the Fifth Sleeper on the outskirts of the city. Just as Cap is about to get inside the giant robot’s leg, the Femme Force arrives on the scene, led once again by Sharon, and opens fire with their blasters. Unable to wave them off, Cap enters and fights his way through the robot’s interior until finally confronting the Red Skull in the command center inside its head. As the Falcon and Redwing fly in through the front viewports, Cap punches the Red Skull so hard the villain falls out a viewport on the opposite side. Intent on stopping the robot’s advance, Cap and the Falcon start smashing the control panels. They get out and take cover just as the Fifth Sleeper self-destructs in a massive explosion. No trace is found of the Red Skull in the wreckage, but the authorities nevertheless assume he was killed in the blast. Later, back at the Desert Inn, a representative of Howard Hughes thanks Cap, Falcon, and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents for saving Las Vegas and freeing his employer from the Kingpin’s clutches.

Back in New York, Cap and Sharon attend a dinner party at the Plaza Hotel in honor of the publication by Marvel Comics of the 100th issue of the comic book Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, a fictionalized account of Nick Fury’s World War II exploits. Nick Fury, Dum-Dum Dugan, Gabe Jones, Izzy Cohen, Percy Pinkerton, Dino Manelli, and Congressman Robert Ralston are the guests of honor. The proceedings are interrupted by an assassination attempt on Congressman Ralston, who is a known advocate for civil rights legislation. Fury and the former Howling Commandos immediately pursue the two assassins out of the building, while the Fantastic Four take charge of the crime scene until the police can arrive. Cap accompanies Ralston in the ambulance to protect him from any follow-up attacks. Later, Sharon tells Cap that both assassins were gunned down while trying to escape the massive S.H.I.E.L.D. manhunt. Ralston makes a full recovery.

September 1965 – When the Hulk is implicated in the disappearance of Senator Morton Clegstead, the government orders S.H.I.E.L.D. to work with the military’s Hulkbuster unit to capture the green behemoth. Captain America is happy to offer General T.E. “Thunderbolt” Ross the benefit of his experience in dealing with the Hulk. Over the course of the month, the Hulk gets into various skirmishes with the military’s forces, but Cap, busy with his work as a police officer, acts mainly as a consultant.

October 1965 – Captain America is on hand when the Hulkbusters finally capture their quarry at a ghost town in Nevada. As the soldiers secure the Hulk for transport to their specially-designed detention center, Cap is amazed to witness the jade giant’s transformation back into Bruce Banner. Nick Fury leaves abruptly, and Cap realizes his old friend has seemed unusually edgy lately. After exchanging pleasantries with General Ross, Cap joins Fury for an uncomfortable ride back to New York.

A couple days later, Iron Man unveils an advanced computer system called Nimrod by hosting a media event where the computer challenges a garrulous Soviet chess champion. Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Vision are also present. However, the chess-master, Comrade Sporadnik, collapses during the tournament and is rushed to the hospital, where Dr. Donald Blake determines that he has been poisoned. The Avengers track down the assassin—a balding middle-aged man—but he escapes by phasing through the floor. Suddenly, the heroes receive a vision that reveals that the assassin is an ordinary accountant named Leonard Tippit, who was recently granted superhuman powers by the omnipotent alien known as the Watcher. Tippit was charged with preventing a future nuclear holocaust by murdering five innocent people whose yet-unborn children would be responsible for the catastrophe. As the images fade, Thor assures his teammates that the Watcher is, in fact, real. Even so, the Avengers are unwilling to stand by while people are murdered. They split up, and Captain America and Hawkeye speed to Kenya, hoping to protect the daughter of a Maasai tribal chief. They arrive too late, though, for Tippit has already put the young woman into a coma. He easily evades the two Avengers and teleports away. After getting the victim to the nearest hospital, Cap and Hawkeye rendezvous with their teammates at Stark Industries. Soon, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch bring in the unconscious Tippit and strap him into the machine Iron Man has built to siphon off Tippit’s superhuman energies. As the device is activated, Tippit regains consciousness. Suddenly, the Watcher materializes in the room and reveals that it was Tippit, not his victims, who was a threat to the earth, and the murder scheme was just a ruse to force Tippit to travel the world and exhaust himself. The Avengers are angry at having been manipulated, but Tippit agrees to sacrifice himself to save the world. Before disappearing again, the Watcher assures the Avengers that the five victims will awaken tomorrow with no memory of their ordeal.

The Avengers head immediately to the New York County Courthouse, where the Hulk is being put on trial. The Hulk’s lawyer, Matt Murdock, calls Iron Man to the stand, but most of his testimony is stricken after the prosecutor objects to the Avengers’ presence. The judge agrees that the Avengers’ testimony has no bearing on the case. As such, the team returns to their headquarters. Some hours later, they learn that Mister Fantastic inadvertently enabled the Hulk to escape while trying to change him back into Bruce Banner. Cap is surprised that Reed Richards could be so careless.

The following evening, Captain America returns to Avengers Mansion for a late-night meeting to discuss a report from the new space station Starcore One that a group of UFOs is heading toward Earth from the sun. When he arrives, Cap learns that the Scarlet Witch has been attacked in Central Park and Quicksilver and the Vision have already gone to her aid. The rest of the team rushes into the park, where they find the Scarlet Witch is being kidnapped by one of the mutant-hunting robots known as Sentinels. When the Avengers fail to stop the abduction, Quicksilver becomes hysterical and quits the team, vowing to rescue his sister singlehandedly. Returning to their headquarters, the Avengers spend the night trying to track down the Sentinels. They are soon contacted by Peter Corbeau, chief scientist for Starcore One, who reports they have detected an energy beam emanating from Australia that is destabilizing the sun and may cause solar flares powerful enough to wipe out all life on Earth. The Avengers race to the Australian outback, where they discover the energy beam is being fired from the Sentinels’ secret base. Fighting their way into the underground complex, the Avengers rescue the Scarlet Witch and defeat the Sentinels. Unfortunately, Larry Trask, the son of the man who created the Sentinels, is killed in the battle. The team then seals off the installation and makes its way back to New York.

Upon their return, the Avengers find that Quicksilver has vanished without a trace, prompting the Scarlet Witch to initiate a desperate search. Cap decides to head over to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters to enlist the agency’s help. When he arrives, however, Cap finds that Nick Fury is still angry with him for some reason. When Cap refuses Fury’s demand that he become an official S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Fury throws Cap out of the complex and forbids any of his agents to associate with him. Frustrated, Cap heads over to the police precinct, thinking about how Fury’s injunction against him throws up yet another impediment to his relationship with Sharon. After he’s changed into his patrolman’s uniform, Steve is informed by Sgt. Muldoon that he’s been assigned to a patrol car with a new partner, Officer Bob Courtney. Later, out on the streets, Steve spots Batroc the Leaper in civilian clothes and so, when his shift ends, he changes into Captain America and returns to the scene to find out what his old foe is up to. On the way, he stops in at Sam Wilson’s office, hoping to recruit the Falcon’s aid, but Sam says he’s busy with a kidnapping case of his own.

Cap finds Batroc and his seven muscular henchmen in a dilapidated dance studio, but the ensuing fight goes badly and Cap is pinned down by his foes. Batroc, being his usual gregarious self, reveals that he’s been employed to kidnap a number of children and hold them in suspended-animation capsules until his employer needs them. Outraged, Cap struggles to free himself. Luckily, the Falcon and Redwing smash through a window, turning the tide of the battle. Sensing imminent defeat, Batroc hits a panic button that causes his employer to materialize in their midst—a massive alien man called Jakar. After freezing everyone in their tracks with his mental abilities, Jakar explains that he needs the souls of the children to reanimate his own alien race, all of whom were left catatonic by a mysterious plague. Taking the children, Jakar then teleports away, freeing the others from the paralytic effect. Furious that he’s been duped into such a heinous scheme, Batroc heads off to track down Jakar, intent on restoring his tarnished honor. His henchmen prevent Cap and Falcon from immediately following him, but they are soon overcome. Redwing then leads the heroes to a cave in the cliffs along the Hudson River, where Cap and the Falcon reluctantly team up with Batroc to stop Jakar and rescue the children. Cap convinces Jakar that his people would be horrified by the manner in which he revived them, and so the alien abandons his plan and returns to outer space. Since the children are all from Harlem, the Falcon takes charge of the situation, so Cap heads back to his hotel. He is annoyed at the way Batroc was patting himself on the back for helping rescue the children, since he’d kidnapped them in the first place. After getting home, Steve is visited by Sharon, who explains that Val de La Fontaine has been flirting with him so much in order to make Fury jealous, since Fury has been spending so much time with the reformed HYDRA operative Laura Brown. Steve says Fury and the Contessa will have to sort out their own problems, then he and Sharon go to bed together. Later, Sharon mentions that she thought a pair of men had followed her there—presumably S.H.I.E.L.D. agents—but there’s no sign of them now.

Later, after Sharon has left, Steve goes for a walk. He stumbles across the Scorpion and Mister Hyde, who are intent on kidnapping Sharon. Having heard that the two villains were killed while fighting Daredevil several months ago, Steve is surprised to find them alive. He quickly changes back into Captain America and heads up to Harlem to recruit the Falcon’s help. Together, they head to Sharon’s Park Avenue townhouse, arriving just moments before the Scorpion and Mister Hyde. Their fight draws Sharon out of the building, allowing Mister Hyde to grab her and knock her out with a choke hold. With Sharon their hostage, the villains escape into the sewers. Nick Fury arrives on the scene and castigates Cap for violating the injunction against him interfering with S.H.I.E.L.D. business. Fed up with Fury’s attitude, Cap socks him in the jaw.

After several hours of searching for Sharon, Cap is frustrated that he has to report to the police precinct for his next shift. When he arrives, Steve is informed by Bob Courtney that Sgt. Muldoon has been suspended as part of an ongoing corruption investigation. Believing Muldoon to be a good cop, the two men speculate that he may have been framed. During their patrol, Steve spots Redwing and follows the bird into an alley, where the Falcon is waiting. Learning that the Falcon has a lead on Sharon’s whereabouts, Steve immediately changes into Captain America. Chafing against the restrictiveness of his job as a policeman, Cap leaves his uniform on top of a garbage can and sets off with the Falcon without a word of explanation to Courtney. Twenty minutes later, Cap and the Falcon find Sharon tied to a chair inside an abandoned warehouse. After a furious battle with the Scorpion and Mister Hyde, the two heroes manage to knock out their super-powered foes and rescue Sharon. Thoroughly exhausted, Cap, Sharon, and the Falcon head back to Steve’s hotel, where Nick Fury is waiting for them. Cap and Fury finally hash out their differences, which stem mainly from Fury’s jealousy over Cap’s youthful good looks and superhero glamor having turned the Contessa’s head. Luckily, the Contessa turns up and she and Fury are reconciled. Fury apologizes to Cap for blowing up at him. To everyone’s surprise, Sharon announces she’s quitting S.H.I.E.L.D., tired of her conflict between love and duty. Fury grudgingly accepts her choice, saying he’ll consider it an extended leave of absence rather than a resignation. Cap is delighted, and he and Sharon agree that the time has come for their long-delayed vacation.

The following morning, Steve calls in sick to the precinct, telling them he has the flu. Sam Wilson then drives Steve and Sharon to the airport, where she buys a pair of tickets to the Bahamas. When they arrive, Steve and Sharon check into a luxury hotel before changing into swimwear and going for a walk on the beach. The next day, they decide the area is too crowded with obnoxious tourists, so they rent a remote private beach on Mosca Cay where they can be totally incommunicado. Steve is curious as to how Sharon can afford all this, but she prefers not to talk about it.

The couple’s frolicking in the sand and surf is interrupted the next afternoon when Steve spots a young man who looks like Bucky Barnes. Though he’s given up hope of ever finding Bucky alive, Steve nevertheless follows the young man into a stand of palm trees, where he is ambushed and knocked out. When he comes to, Steve finds himself tied up in a cargo plane alongside Sharon and the Falcon. Glaring down at him is his own evil doppelgänger—the mysterious man who briefly served as Captain America in the mid-1950s before descending into madness. Bucky’s double proves to be the man’s sidekick from that era. While the man gives them a detailed account of the origins of his controversial tenure as Captain America, Steve works on loosening the ropes binding his wrists. He soon realizes that the man, having spent a decade in cryogenic storage, is unaware that he has captured the original Captain America, thinking Steve is only the latest version. Steve and the Falcon taunt their captor, deriding him for his rabid anticommunist stance and the inaccuracies in his costume design. Angered, the impostor joins his junior partner in the cockpit. As soon as the plane touches down just off the coast of Miami, Florida, Cap, Sharon, and the Falcon storm the cockpit and fight with their kidnappers. However, the impostor Captain America produces a disintegrator pistol and fires it at an approaching Coast Guard ship. While Cap and the Falcon are busy rescuing the sailors from the sinking ship, the impostors swim for shore. Cap’s doppelgänger challenges him to a showdown at the Torch of Friendship monument in one hour. Using an inflatable raft Sharon found on the cargo plane, the trio makes its way ashore and, after conferring with the local police department, heads for the monument in Bayfront Park. While Sharon and the Falcon deal with the faux-Bucky, Cap engages in a brutal battle with his deranged counterpart, whose super-strength gives him an advantage in close combat. Nevertheless, Cap is able to drive his foe into a frenzy by revealing that he is, in fact, the original Captain America whom the impostor once idolized. Unable to cope, the impostor drops his guard, enabling Cap to finally knock him out. Feeling pity for his foes more than anything else, Cap hopes a cure for their psychosis may one day be found.

Steve and Sharon return to the Bahamas to enjoy the rest of their vacation. Still, Steve broods about the chilling revelations his doppelgänger made, such as how the Nazis had stolen a copy of Abraham Erskine’s super-soldier formula just hours before it was successfully used in Operation Rebirth, only for it to be lost when the intelligence officer who received the report was killed in an explosion before he could open the dispatch. Thus, the key to a Nazi victory lay undiscovered in a file all through the war. Furthermore, without the vita-ray treatment that Steve received, the super-soldier serum alone caused his replacements to rapidly descend into paranoid psychosis, perhaps dooming all efforts to recreate the serum to failure. But most disturbing, perhaps, someone currently in the government revived the doppelgängers, knowing they were psychotic, because he shared their extremist beliefs.

On Halloween, Captain America stops in at Avengers Mansion and finds the Vision on monitor duty. The synthezoid seems very depressed, but their conversation is cut short when an angry Rick Jones bursts in, ranting about being left behind when the Avengers went to Australia. To prove that he doesn’t need superheroes to protect him anymore, Rick slams his metal wristbands together and is instantly replaced by Captain Marvel. Suddenly, Cap experiences a vivid flashback to over a year ago when he and Rick were fighting HYDRA agents in Drearcliff Cemetery. Moments after Madame Hydra was blown up by a missile barrage, a second wave of HYDRA goons appeared and attacked them. Cap is confused by these new memories, and Rick, who has reappeared, denies there having been any second wave of enemy agents. Concerned, Cap returns to the cemetery to see if he can jog any further memories and eventually recalls tracking the HYDRA agents to their secret lair on the Lower East Side. Heading back into Manhattan, Cap soon finds the hidden installation, verifying that his recovered memories are real. Being there triggers more memories of him and Rick fighting their way through more HYDRA agents and unmasking their leader, a different Supreme Hydra from the one Cap fought in Las Vegas. Though Cap can’t remember the man’s face, he assumes he must have been responsible for the memory blocks and thus won’t be expecting Cap to track him down.

November 1965 – While searching the HYDRA installation, Cap finds the Vision apparently conspiring against the Avengers with the Grim Reaper and the Space Phantom. After the Space Phantom has departed, though, the Vision goads the Grim Reaper into losing his temper, enabling Cap to catch the villain off-guard and knock him out. Cap is startled to see that the Grim Reaper has exhumed Wonder Man’s corpse and has preserved it within a large vacuum chamber. With the Vision’s help, Cap soon locates Iron Man, Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch, and the Black Panther and frees them from the anti-gravity field in which they are trapped. The Avengers then storm through the underground complex and fight with a horde of HYDRA agents under the Space Phantom’s command—as it turns out, he was the Supreme Hydra in Cap’s suppressed memories. Unfortunately, the Space Phantom’s alien technology is able to subdue the Avengers, and they soon find themselves back within the anti-gravity field. The villains leave to hunt down the Scarlet Witch, who has escaped. The Vision explains that the Grim Reaper had offered to use the Space Phantom’s machines to transfer the Vision’s mind into Captain America’s body, in exchange for help destroying the Avengers. The synthezoid decided to play along until he could devise a plan to defeat the villains. Soon, the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper return, having captured the Scarlet Witch, Rick Jones, and Edwin Jarvis. The Space Phantom decides to assume Rick’s form while he kills the heroes, but is unexpectedly thrown back into Limbo due to Rick’s shared existence with Captain Marvel. Materializing in Rick’s place, the Kree-born superhero frees the Avengers, and they make short work of the HYDRA goons. The Grim Reaper surrenders, and he and his henchmen are all turned over to the authorities. When the team returns to Avengers Mansion, Cap is surprised to learn that the Vision and the Scarlet Witch have fallen in love.

Steve returns to work at the police precinct, but finds that Bob Courtney is now clearly suspicious of him. Frustrated that their working relationship has soured, Steve begins to question whether acting as a police officer is really the best use of his time. He also mulls over the implications of the Vision’s report that the Space Phantom was impersonating Madame Hydra last year when the Avengers were nearly buried alive in Drearcliff Cemetery. When Madame Hydra was seemingly killed in the explosion, the Space Phantom resumed his true form and just hid his alien features beneath the Supreme Hydra’s mask. This means, Cap realizes, that Madame Hydra may still be alive.

Sometime later, Steve is shocked by reports that Hank and Janet Pym have apparently died in a house fire, but Ant-Man soon turns up alive, fighting with a supervillain called Doctor Nemesis in the lower levels of Avengers Mansion. When his foe is defeated, Ant-Man leads Captain America, Iron Man, the Black Panther, and the Vision to rescue the Wasp from a secret A.I.M. installation on Long Island. The Avengers then invite the Pyms to return to active duty, but they decline, saying they prefer their private lives.

December 1965 – Captain America is summoned to a clandestine meeting with Police Commissioner Broderick at a precinct house in Hell’s Kitchen, where they discuss the ongoing police corruption investigation. The commissioner reports that they’ve learned the bribes are part of an organized effort led by a mystery man known as the “Cowled Commander” and asks Cap to discover the criminal mastermind’s true identity. The meeting is cut short when a bomb goes off, causing the building to collapse. Cap soon finds the bomber fighting the Falcon on a nearby rooftop. Calling himself the Viper, the costumed villain poisons the Falcon, then uses the antidote as a bargaining chip to ensure his escape. However, before slipping away, the Viper hits Cap with a poison dart as well. Luckily, Cap is able to reach the antidote in time and saves both their lives. While the Falcon and Redwing set off in pursuit of the Viper, Cap goes to visit Brian Muldoon at home, feeling the disgraced cop might be a key witness against the Cowled Commander.

There, Cap listens patiently as the disgruntled Muldoon outlines his theory that the Cowled Commander is really Patrolman Steve Rogers. Realizing he can hardly fault Muldoon for his suspicions, Cap tries to convince him to go into hiding until the Cowled Commander is captured. Muldoon refuses to be chased out of his home, so Cap leaves with a renewed determination to clear Muldoon’s name and get him reinstated. On the way back to his hotel, Cap stops to break up a bank robbery, discovering that the Viper’s anti-venom has somehow interacted with the super-soldier serum to radically increase his strength, though it’s also giving him headaches and nausea. Arriving at the hotel, Steve is informed by the unscrupulous manager that his room has been searched by the police. Frustrated and feeling ill, Steve goes for a walk, only to be kidnapped by Muldoon and Courtney, who plan to torture him into confessing to being the Cowled Commander.

As soon as he’s left alone in the room, Steve breaks free and escapes. He changes back into Captain America and follows the sound of police sirens uptown to the diamond district, where he finds the Eel, the Plantman, the Porcupine, and the Scarecrow pulling a heist at the behest of the Cowled Commander. During the fight, the Falcon and Redwing arrive, though the evil quartet nevertheless manages to escape. While Cap is conferring with Commissioner Broderick outside, they are joined by Muldoon and Courtney, as well as Sharon and Leila. Sharon insists on joining the search for the villains, but Cap forbids it, insisting that it’s too dangerous. Leaving her behind, Cap and the Falcon take to the rooftops as Redwing leads them to their foes’ hideout. On the way, Falcon reports having learned that the Viper is really an advertising executive named Jordan Dixon, who is apparently the Eel’s brother. Finding all five costumed criminals in a warehouse, Cap and the Falcon storm in and attack them, only to be choked into unconsciousness by one of Plantman’s giant animated plant-monsters. When they come to, the two heroes find themselves in the Cowled Commander’s gas chamber, with the masked mob boss gloating on a video monitor. The Cowled Commander informs Cap and the Falcon that their four friends—whom they assume to be Sharon, Leila, Muldoon, and Courtney—will be killed next. Enraged, Cap uses his newfound super-strength to tear the heavy steel door off its hinges, and they make short work of the Eel, the Plantman, the Porcupine, the Scarecrow, and the Viper. Falcon then tackles the Cowled Commander and rips off his mask, revealing him to be Brian Muldoon. Cap finds Sharon, Leila, and Courtney bound and gagged inside a closet and frees them. As the authorities arrive on the scene, Muldoon claims he was just trying to strengthen the police department by weeding out those prone to corruption and giving the remaining force a colorful enemy to rally against, but Cap and the Falcon are not convinced.

Sharon is furious at having been left behind when Cap and the Falcon went after the Cowled Commander and his costumed henchmen, so she declines to accompany Steve to the Avengers’ Fourth Annual Christmas Charity Benefit. When the Falcon isn’t interested in attending either, Cap goes to the party alone. Depressed and disillusioned by Muldoon’s betrayal of the police force, Steve decides to give up playing the rookie cop. He decides to focus on just being Captain America again, and devotes himself to a revised training regimen that takes his new super-strength into account.


Notes:

January 1965 – While searching for the Falcon’s missing friend, Captain America and his partner are drawn into a Lovecraftian mystery in Avengers #88. Recruiting help from his Avengers teammates, Cap leads them into a fight with the insectoid creature Psyklop, who has kidnapped the Hulk. Realizing he is outnumbered, Psyklop teleports the Avengers to the New York City subway platform, erasing their memories of the entire affair. Iron Man’s odd behavior is due to him being mind-controlled by Shara-Lee and the White Dragon, as shown in Iron Man #39, in which Cap and the Falcon briefly appear. Cap’s adventures then continue in Captain America #139 and following. The Avengers are seen watching coverage of Lionel Dibbs’ riot in San Francisco at the beginning of the Inhumans story in Amazing Adventures #8. Captain America joins with the Avengers to fight the Skrulls in Avengers #93–94. For more on President Morris Richardson, see OMU: POTUS – Part Three.

February 1965 – The Avengers are drawn into the Kree-Skrull War across Avengers #94–97. Captain America then makes a brief appearance in Iron Man #44, getting into a misunderstanding fight with the original Guardsman, Kevin O’Brien. The Avengers foil Ares’ scheme of interdimensional conquest in Avengers #98–100.

March 1965 – Towards the end of the month, Captain America finds himself dealing with the end of the world—along with everyone else on the disintegrating planet—during Thor #185–188, but luckily Odin erases those events from the timestream, so they never happened.

May 1965 – In the real world, embattled police commissioner Michael J. Murphy resigned at this point and was replaced by Judge Vincent L. Broderick. Thus, although they are drawn to look the same, the Police Commissioner who appears in Captain America #139–143 is actually a different guy than is seen in Captain America #157–159.

July 1965 – In Captain America #147–148, Howard Hughes is fictionalized as “Harold Howard,” though he makes no actual appearance. The Red Skull’s escape from the Fifth Sleeper is shown in flashback in Captain America #185. Cap makes a cameo appearance in Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #100, which is set in the present day rather than World War II.

October 1965 – Captain America is on hand for the Hulk’s capture in Hulk #152. The Avengers then face the threat of Leonard Tippit in Avengers #101. Later that same day, the team appears at the Hulk’s trial, as depicted in Hulk #153. This is followed immediately by the Sentinels story in Avengers #102–104. Android duplicates of the Scorpion and Mister Hyde were destroyed in Daredevil #83, leading to the belief that the two villains were dead. For more on the Captain America and Bucky of the 1950s, see OMU: Ancient History 4. Captain America has flashbacks to his battles with Madame Hydra’s terrorist cell in Avengers #106–107.

November 1965 – Captain America joins the Avengers’ battle against the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper in Avengers #108. Cap then appears in Marvel Feature #10 for the conclusion of Ant-Man’s brief revival series.

December 1965 – This brings us up to Captain America #159.


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