Monday

OMU: Captain America -- Year Two

Captain America’s early adventures after suddenly waking up in the 1960s were chronicled primarily by Stan Lee with Jack Kirby in Tales of Suspense and Don Heck in Avengers. Throughout these tales, one thing is clear: Steve Rogers is depressed. This is hardly surprising, considering his circumstances. He slept through the prior two decades and the last thing he remembers is his best friend’s murder. But, interestingly, he does not bounce back as one would expect of a superhero. He puts very little effort into re-establishing a civilian identity, choosing instead to remain “holed up” at Avengers Mansion, rarely appearing out of costume. He often laments not having a life outside of his superhero persona, but takes little positive action to change the situation. He is often moody, short-tempered, and reckless, even after resolving his obsession with revenge on his sidekick’s killer. He broods and pores over old photographs again and again. He has no social life. The only thing that keeps him going is his devotion to duty. It seems pretty obvious: though Captain America has been revived from suspended animation, for the next twelve months, Steve Rogers remains on ice.

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.


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


January 1963 – Captain America continues trying to settle in to life two decades ahead of his time, but after two months he’s not finding it any easier. Living at Avengers Mansion isolates him somewhat from the world outside, and despite having a friendly rapport with his teammates, he quickly realizes that none of them are keen to reveal any personal details about themselves. Cap is frustrated when team meetings fizzle out because they haven’t anything to talk about. His only true confidante is the butler, Edwin Jarvis, but even their discussions are hampered by Cap’s still-pervasive memory loss, an after-effect of his long years in suspended animation. Rick Jones is a constant presence at the mansion as well, and though Cap appreciates the teen’s good intentions, he just can’t see taking on a new sidekick, especially when he has yet to bring Baron Heinrich Zemo to justice for murdering Bucky Barnes. The death of his former partner weighs heavily on Cap’s mind, and he spends much of his time on monitor duty at Avengers headquarters, waiting for leads on Zemo’s whereabouts. During one such session, he learns of a 30-foot-tall “Colossus” terrorizing a region of Africa, and he recruits Giant-Man and the Wasp to investigate.

After the Avengers put Iron Man on suspension for one week for failing to respond to a crisis without offering any explanation, Cap loses his temper when Rick shows up wearing a Bucky costume. He yells at Rick to take it off and rips the domino mask from the boy’s face, insisting that he’ll never be responsible for another junior partner. After the mortified teen leaves, Cap vows not to rest until Zemo pays for his crimes. His first big break in the case comes a day or so later when one of Zemo’s former underlings betrays the location of the Nazi war criminal’s hidden compound in the Amazon jungle. Cap arranges transport aboard a military plane to Brazil and skydives into Zemo’s remote lair. He is attacked immediately, but overcomes Zemo’s mercenaries to seize control of a vibration cannon, which he uses to destroy his foe’s headquarters. Baron Zemo makes a fast getaway in his high-tech airship, but Cap is able to hitch a ride thanks to the powerful magnets installed in his shield by Tony Stark. Zemo flies all the way back to New York City, keeping low to avoid being detected by radar. When he reaches the city, Zemo finds the Avengers on a rooftop and strafes them with gunfire, prompting Cap to smash through the windshield and fight with the villain in the cockpit. However, the ship lands itself on a penthouse terrace, where a large man pulls Cap off Zemo and knocks him out with a nerve pinch. Cap is revived by the Avengers minutes later, and they explain that a pair of villains from Asgard, the Enchantress and the Executioner, have joined forces with Zemo. They nearly escaped, but Thor surrounded the ship in a space-time vortex, sending it tumbling out of control to some random place in the universe. Cap is more annoyed than anything, remaining determined to get Zemo no matter what.

Cap continues to brood about his quest for vengeance in the days that follow, as the Avengers go about their business. During one training session, his teammates discuss what they should do about the Hulk, who was reported to have disrupted the shooting of a movie involving the mysterious Spider-Man a couple weeks ago. Days later, Cap discusses Spider-Man with Mister Fantastic via their new videophone system, though he has yet to meet the web-slinging vigilante. Then, a session on monitor duty is disrupted when Cap is attacked by Iron Man, who accuses him of being an impostor. Cap leads his armored associate on a chase across the city, but their battle is ended when Giant-Man and the Wasp apprehend the master-of-disguise known as the Chameleon, who had set the two heroes against each other. There are no hard feelings, and Cap meets two of Iron Man’s friends from Stark Industries, “Happy” Hogan and “Pepper” Potts.

Early one evening, Captain America joins the Avengers for a special conference-call with the top brass at the Pentagon, where they learn of the menace of Kang the Conqueror. Traveling to Virginia aboard a specially-chartered DC-8 from Idlewild Airport, the Avengers find Kang relaxing outside his massive time-ship. Thor notes the conqueror’s air of absolute confidence, and when Iron Man questions him, Kang announces that he has claimed their world for his dominions and easily repels the Avengers with his fantastic technology. Soon, an undersecretary from the Defense Department arrives on the scene and takes charge, prompting Kang to reveal that he is a time-traveler from the far future, who had been known in the distant past as Pharaoh Rama-Tut. After a chance encounter with Doctor Doom, Kang explains, he decided to assume a new identity and conquer the 20th century. Having heard enough, the Avengers charge again, but Kang captures and imprisons them within his ship using various energy beams. Many hours later, Cap is freed when Thor smashes open his holding cell, saying they owe their freedom to Rick Jones and his Teen Brigade. The Avengers storm out of the ship, finding it is now morning, and attack Kang once again. This time they succeed in overcoming his defenses and manage to drive him off. Kang flees into his ship and escapes into the timestream. Confident that Kang has been beaten, at least for a while, the Avengers return to New York.

Captain America and the Avengers are concerned by reports of Spider-Man’s recent public acts of cowardice while battling the Green Goblin and the Sandman, and discuss the matter at their next meeting. Cap is heartened when Spider-Man redeems himself by rescuing the Human Torch from the Sandman and the Enforcers. A couple days later, the Avengers attend an out-of-town charity benefit. They are almost late due to the Wasp’s primping, but Thor flies them to their destination at top speed. Cap’s teammates become concerned about his state of mind when the strain of his obsession with bringing Baron Zemo to justice begins to take its toll on him. Cap constantly pores over the photo scrapbook the Army delivered to him at Christmas, as the images and clippings begin to stir memories of the early years of World War II. Cap’s flagging spirits are actually raised one evening when he single-handedly defeats a gang of criminals who invade the mansion to rob the Avengers’ vault. Even though the gang’s leader has an armored battlesuit, Cap outfights them all and hands them over to the police with a great sense of satisfaction.

A series of seeming earthquakes strike New York one morning, and whole city blocks start vanishing into the ground, leaving behind only huge, impossibly deep shafts. The Avengers assemble to investigate, but find that the Fantastic Four are already on the case and are devising a strategy against the Mole Man, who is behind the strange phenomenon. Several hours later, the missing city blocks are restored and the FF report that the Mole Man’s underground kingdom was destroyed.

When reports come in of a bank robbery being committed by Baron Zemo, the Enchantress, and the Executioner, Captain America and the Avengers race to the scene. However, their battle has barely begun when a new super-hero calling himself Wonder Man leaps into the fray. He proves to be so powerful that Zemo and his accomplices beat a hasty retreat. The Avengers question Wonder Man, and he claims he wants to join their team. Discussing the matter further at Avengers Mansion, Wonder Man reveals that he owes his powers to Zemo’s experiments, but they’ve also resulted in a strange disease that’s slowly killing him. The Avengers are glad to offer their assistance. A few days later, Captain America receives a message from Iron Man that Wonder Man and the Wasp have been captured by Zemo and are being held prisoner in South America. After the team arrives to rescue them, though, Wonder Man betrays them, taking Thor and Giant-Man out of action in rapid succession. Cap is brought down while battling the Executioner when Zemo shoots him in the back with a stun blaster, but when he revives moments later, he finds that Wonder Man has switched sides and is fighting to save the Avengers. The villains are driven off and seal the entrance to their escape tunnel with a massive explosion. The heroes turn back to Wonder Man, finding him lying on the ground near death. He tells them he wanted to do one noble thing in his life before he died. Finally, the toxins that Zemo used to empower him take their toll and he dies in Iron Man’s arms. Sadly, the team returns Wonder Man’s body to the United States, where Giant-Man and Iron Man make a recording of his brain patterns.

At the team’s next meeting, Iron Man proposes that they give Rick Jones some kind of costume and make him an official member of the Avengers. Captain America claims it’s his decision to make and he needs more time to consider the matter. Rick is clearly disappointed when the motion is put on hold. Cap speaks to him privately afterwards, explaining that he’s just not ready to take responsibility for putting Rick in the line of fire.

Soon after, Thor summons the Avengers when his enchanted hammer detects a great evil at work in the world. They follow these mystic emanations to a mountainous region of Bavaria, where they stumble upon the X-Men. Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman, and the Beast say they are already dealing with the situation and tell the Avengers not to interfere. The teenage mutants refuse Cap’s suggestion that they join forces, and then try to drive the Avengers off with a direct attack. The Avengers attempt to subdue them without hurting them, but after a couple of minutes, Thor suddenly stops the fight. He explains that the X-Men’s mysterious leader, Professor X, has contacted him telepathically and convinced him to let the X-Men handle things. Cap accepts Thor’s decision, and so the Avengers take their leave and return to New York.

Captain America gives a private exhibition of self-defense techniques at a charity benefit, taking Rick along with him. However, as Cap begins his mock battle with a group of professional athletes, he soon discovers they are actually agents of Baron Zemo out to kill him. Cap uses it as an opportunity to test out the various technological “improvements” Tony Stark has made to his shield. Rick summons the police, but by the time they arrive, Cap has knocked out all the assassins. After making a televised address, in which he calls Zemo a coward for refusing to face him directly, Cap decides that he is not happy with Stark’s gadgets and will ask the inventor to remove them from his shield at the first opportunity.

February 1963 – At the Avengers’ first meeting of the month, they vote to give the missing Iron Man a temporary leave of absence in the wake of the reported death of Tony Stark, assuming he must be tracking down his employer’s killers. Afterwards, Captain America pays a visit to Rick’s Teen Brigade headquarters to give the boys some encouragement. On his way back to the mansion, Cap is attacked by a gang of hoodlums, but they are quickly apprehended by Spider-Man. After thanking the wall-crawler for the assist, Cap is surprised when Spider-Man announces his desire to join the Avengers. Cap calls a team meeting, where Spider-Man reveals that he witnessed Iron Man being kidnapped by the Masters of Evil and overheard them talking about their destination in Mexico. Annoyed that Spider-Man waited so long to inform them, the Avengers immediately rush to the rescue. Cap arranges for transport aboard a military jet and parachutes down to the remote temple, where, to Cap’s surprise, Spider-Man is waiting. The web-slinger attacks Cap immediately, knocking him off a high ledge. He lands safely in some kind of sticky net, then witnesses a battle atop the temple between two Spider-Men. Cap realizes at once that they’d been dealing with an impostor. Extricating himself from the web, Cap discovers that the defeated Spider-Man was a highly sophisticated robot. Finding the rest of the Avengers, Cap speculates that the robot was a product of Kang’s future technologies. The real Spider-Man has already departed by his own means, so the grateful Avengers return to New York.

A few days later, Captain America goes behind enemy lines in North Vietnam to rescue an American helicopter pilot, Lt. Jim Baker, whose older brother once saved Cap’s life during World War II. The Viet Cong general holding the pilot turns out to be a huge sumo wrestler, but Cap defeats him in personal combat and frees Baker. The pair steals the general’s private jet and escapes back to the American perimeter. Baker is thrilled to have been rescued by his personal hero, but Cap is just glad to have had the chance to pay back an old debt.

After sending out an Avengers red alert, Giant-Man reveals to his teammates that he has received a distress call from the ants. Thor is in one of his foul moods and they have a bitter argument. Cap tries to play the peacemaker, but Thor storms out and Giant-Man angrily decides he’ll handle the case on his own. Later, after a series of global tremors lend weight to Giant-Man’s theories, the Avengers meet again and learn from the Wasp that their oversized partner has gone missing. She is able to track Giant-Man’s cybernetic signals to the Mole Man’s underground kingdom of Subterranea, which was not completely destroyed after all. Then, after fending off an attack on the mansion by a platoon of heavily armed Subterraneans, the Avengers descend to the Mole Man’s realm. They are surprised when confronted by a Russian with the power of intangibility, who calls himself the Red Ghost. Nevertheless, the Avengers defeat the Red Ghost, the Mole Man, and his hordes of Subterraneans, rescue Giant-Man, and destroy the villains’ arsenal of weapons. Upon returning to their headquarters, the team offers Giant-Man an official apology for doubting him earlier.

Captain America nearly falls into a trap at the State Penitentiary after the prisoners take over the maximum-security wing, Cell Block 10, and capture Deputy Superintendent Carlson. The leader of the convicts, called “Deacon,” lures Cap there by posing as the warden, and when he arrives they overwhelm him and confiscate his shield. Deacon believes the magnetic instruments installed in the shield by Tony Stark will enable them to override the magnetically-controlled vault doors between them and the outside world. However, as Cap batters the crooks into submission, he explains that he’s removed all such gadgets from his shield, since they upset the disk’s delicate balance. After the prison guards take back control of Cell Block 10, Carlson reveals to Cap that the vault doors are not magnetically controlled anyway, they’re voice-activated.

Soon after, the Avengers lose 24 hours when they are hypnotized during a charity event hosted by Count Luchino Nefaria, who has had his castle transported stone-by-stone from Italy to the New Jersey Palisades. As they return to the city, the team is suddenly attacked by the U.S. Army and a squadron of Air Force fighter jets. Confused, the Avengers defend themselves and disable the military’s weapons as best they can without injuring any of the soldiers. Unwilling to fight American forces, Giant-Man calls for a full retreat. The Avengers soon reconvene in their secret emergency headquarters, which is hidden in an abandoned, camouflaged railway tunnel deep in a forest. Listening to radio news reports, they learn that they are wanted for treason after trying to seize the reins of power from the government yesterday. Thor speculates that some evil group impersonated them, and they decide to begin their investigation at Nefaria’s castle. Despite the national state of emergency and the declaration of martial law, the Avengers make it back to the castle without being captured, but Thor, Giant-Man, the Wasp, and Iron Man are quickly paralyzed by Nefaria’s defensive systems. Captain America succeeds in getting inside the castle, where he learns that Nefaria and his henchmen work for the international crime cartel called the Maggia. He frees Rick and the Teen Brigade from the dungeons, then signals to a Navy destroyer patrolling the Hudson River. Cap is then captured by Count Nefaria and taken to the dungeons, but his teammates soon smash their way in to rescue him. Together, they defeat the Maggia gunmen, and Army troops invade the castle in time to hear Nefaria’s confession. The Avengers are cleared of any wrongdoing, but they are horrified to discover that the Wasp has received a fatal gunshot wound and is fading fast.

The Avengers race the Wasp to the hospital, where they learn that her condition is critical. Thor flies to Norway to fetch a Doctor Svenson, a pioneer in lung restoration surgery. However, once he has been brought in to examine the Wasp, the uncooperative Svenson turns out to be an alien in disguise. When his mask is removed, the alien quickly dies of asphyxiation, unable to breathe Earth’s air. In desperation, the Avengers search the globe for the alien’s secret base, where his people are holding the real Svenson. The team finally locates the aliens near the North Pole, where they have constructed an enormous city inside a cavern of ice. However, the Avengers are captured and taken before Ogor, ruler of the Kallusians. He explains that his people are a peace-loving race from a distant galaxy, driven to take refuge on Earth by an intergalactic war, even though they found the atmosphere to be poisonous to them. Svenson had stumbled upon their city while on a research expedition and had agreed to help the aliens with their respiratory problems. Ogor refuses to turn over Svenson, prompting Thor to break free and attack. He forces Ogor to release the rest of the Avengers and the team valiantly battles the Kallusian militia. However, Svenson appears and stops the fight, telling the Avengers he had agreed to remain with the Kallusians because they intend to leave Earth as soon as their extraterrestrial enemies finish searching this sector of space. When Giant-Man explains why they need Svenson to come to New York, the surgeon is torn by his dilemma. The matter is resolved suddenly when an alarm sounds—the aliens have been discovered by their enemies. The Kallusians prepare to make a last stand on Earth in a battle that would surely devastate the planet, but Thor threatens to destroy their weapons unless they depart for outer space immediately. Knowing they can’t waste time fighting the Avengers now, Ogor relents. As they get ready to leave Earth, the Kallusians use a teleportation device to send Svenson and the Avengers back to New York. They rush to the hospital where Svenson performs the operation that saves the Wasp’s life. With the Wasp convalescing, Giant-Man steps down as Avengers’ chairman, and Thor is elected to take over those duties.

March 1963 – Captain America takes Rick Jones along when he joins Thor, Iron Man, Giant-Man, and the Wasp at the engagement party for Reed Richards and Susan Storm at the Fantastic Four’s headquarters in the Baxter Building. The X-Men are also in attendance, as are some of Reed’s scientific colleagues and Sue’s society friends. During the party, Cap is interested to learn that Nick Fury, whom he vaguely remembers from World War II, has just been appointed director of a new counter-intelligence agency. That night, fragments of memories return of Cap having fought side-by-side with Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos.

Realizing he has nothing outside of the Avengers, Cap decides the time has come to try building a new life for Steve Rogers. As a first step, he moves out of Avengers Mansion and takes up residence at a hotel down the street, using his monthly stipend to pay his expenses. Not wanting to live off Tony Stark’s generosity indefinitely, he begins to consider what career options are open to him.

April 1963 – At the Avengers’ next regularly scheduled meeting, Rick Jones trips, hits his head, and blacks out for a few minutes. Captain America is somewhat relieved when the incident seems to dissuade his teammates from taking up Iron Man’s motion regarding Rick’s membership status. A week or two later, when the Hulk is captured by the military, Rick explains to Cap that he must return to New Mexico to see if there’s any way he can help the green behemoth. However, Rick is soon back in New York, still obviously hopeful of being offered a place in the Avengers. At the end of the month, Thor steps down as team chairman, and Captain America is honored to be elected his successor.

May 1963 – Following an Avengers meeting, Captain America changes into civilian clothes and, carrying his shield within an artist’s portfolio, returns to his hotel suite. He struggles to compose a letter to Nick Fury asking for a job in counter-intelligence, thinking it would be the perfect career for him. When it is finally finished, he addresses it to Fury’s office at the Pentagon and goes to drop it in a mailbox. While out on the street, he spots the Enchantress and the Executioner in a limousine. Steve pursues them through midtown traffic, but they get away. He immediately changes back into Captain America and summons the Avengers to an emergency meeting. He warns his teammates to prepare for an imminent attack by the Masters of Evil, and, sure enough, Rick Jones is kidnapped right outside by a strange airship. Though the others fail to stop the ship, the Wasp manages to sneak aboard. She soon returns and confirms that Baron Zemo is responsible for Rick’s abduction. Iron Man requisitions an XL-750 rocket plane from Stark Industries and the Avengers give chase, only to be intercepted by the Black Knight and the Melter. Leaving his teammates to deal with the Masters of Evil, Captain America speeds on to Brazil to confront Zemo at his hidden compound in the Amazon jungle.

Upon arrival, the XL-750 is shot down by Zemo’s weapons, and Cap is forced to bail out. Meeting up with Rick on the ground, Cap confronts Zemo and his mercenaries. He throws his shield at a rocky outcropping, causing a landslide that cuts Zemo off from his troops. Undaunted, Zemo aims his disintegrator gun at Cap, but the quick-thinking hero uses his shield to direct a blinding glare into the ex-Nazi’s eyes. Baron Zemo panics and fires wildly, the disintegrator beam causing another rockslide that crushes him under tons of rubble. When the dust settles, Cap finds Zemo’s mangled corpse and announces that Bucky’s death has finally been avenged. However, rather than elation, he finds he feels only a strange emptiness and a numb sense of disbelief. Coming across a shovel, Cap digs a shallow grave and treats his foe to a proper burial, as Rick looks on. Finally, he announces to Zemo’s slaves that they are free men and needn’t kneel before any tyrant. But, as Cap and Rick head for Zemo’s last jet on a nearby landing strip, they are attacked by the villain’s band of mercenaries. When one of their hand grenades accidentally blows up the jet, the mercenaries slink off into the jungle. Thus, for the next several days, Cap and Rick must hike through the Amazon rainforest, until finally coming upon a plantation near the coast. From there they eventually make their way back to New York.

When Cap and Rick reach Avengers Mansion, they are concerned to find a huge crowd of reporters milling around outside. Entering the assembly room, they are surprised to discover that three new members have been recruited: Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch. After Cap gives his report on the final battle with Baron Zemo, he is shocked to learn that his partners have decided to take an extended leave of absence from the team, and the new recruits are in fact their replacements. As Iron Man goes out to make the official announcement to the press, Cap tries to give Rick some words of encouragement when it becomes clear the teen is still being denied a place on the team. Then, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch go outside to meet the press as the new Avengers. Unsure what else to do, Cap gives the crowd a rousing cry of “Avengers Assemble!”

After the press conference has concluded, Cap and Rick join Iron Man, Giant-Man, and the Wasp in the assembly room for their final meeting. Iron Man advises Cap to try to find the Hulk and convince him to rejoin the team, as his incredible strength would be a valuable asset. They are all concerned that Thor has not returned from a mysterious “Trial of the Gods” he’d mentioned, but Cap is confident the thunder god would contact the team if he needed help. Then they go out to explain the change of roster to Jarvis, who is a bit taken aback by the news, especially in light of the new recruits’ reputations as super-villains. After explanations are made, Cap finds his own mind put more at ease on the matter. Finally, the founding members of the Avengers depart. For the rest of the day, Cap gives his new recruits an extensive tour of Avengers Mansion and its facilities. Though the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, a.k.a. Wanda and Pietro, seem eager, Cap is concerned that Hawkeye’s abrasive attitude may become a problem. He can already sense their reservations about accepting him as their leader due to his lack of superhuman powers or offensive weaponry, but he manages to keep them in line. The next day, Rick Jones packs up his things and moves back to New Mexico. Cap is sorry to see the teen so disheartened, but thinks it may be for the best.

A few days later, Captain America takes the new Avengers to search for the Hulk in the vicinity of Desert Base in New Mexico, where the green-skinned brute is frequently sighted. Tony Stark has supplied the team with a couple of advanced airships and other means of transportation, so they need no longer rely on chartered jets and the like. After an extensive search, the Avengers find no trace of the Hulk, but they are captured by the Mole Man and taken down to Subterranea. While being menaced by a large creature reminiscent of the mythical Minotaur, Quicksilver is separated from his teammates. Cap leads Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch in defeating the monster, storming the Mole Man’s fortress, fighting off his hordes of Subtrerraneans, and freeing Quicksilver from the villain’s torture devices. Deciding his foes are more powerful than he anticipated, the Mole Man ejects the Avengers from his realm. They return to their ship and fly back to New York, deciding to call off their search for the Hulk.

In the weeks that follow, Cap puts his new team through an intensive training regimen to hone their battle skills. Near the end of the month, they inform him that Thor stopped by while he was out and announced that he, too, was placing himself on the inactive roster for the time being. Nevertheless, Cap is determined to forge his troublesome teammates into an effective fighting force. In order to keep a close eye on their progress, Cap checks out of his hotel suite and moves back into Avengers Mansion.

June 1963 – Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch rendezvous with Iron Man, Giant-Man, and the Wasp at the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building headquarters for the wedding of Reed Richards and Susan Storm. Cap is introduced to Doctor Strange, a purported master of sorcery, among other guests. He notes that Nick Fury and some of his S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are working security for the event and wonders whether he should mention his letter to Fury, since he hasn’t received a response yet. Suddenly, a veritable army of super-villains besiege the building and Cap joins the other heroes in attendance in fighting them off. Just outside, Cap is attacked by the Executioner, the Enchantress, and the Cobra. Mister Hyde tries to join in the assault, but is waylaid by Hawkeye. Spider-Man swings by to lend a hand, but quickly disappears again. The Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Thor, Daredevil, and agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. soon join in what has become an all-out brawl in the street. The legion of villains also includes the Beetle, the Black Knight, Diablo, the Eel, Electro, the Grey Gargoyle, the Human Top, agents of HYDRA, Kang the Conqueror, the Mad Thinker and his Awesome Android, the Mandarin, the Melter, the Porcupine, the Super-Skrull, and the Unicorn. Finally, Reed Richards produces a device that creates a temporal vortex that sends all the villains back in time. The guests return to the Baxter Building chapel, where the ceremony proceeds without further incident. There is a lavish reception that evening in the building’s grand ballroom. Cap never gets the chance to speak to Fury, and later sees it as a missed opportunity.

A week or so later, Cap receives a call for the Avengers’ help from an underground resistance movement in North Vietnam. He realizes such a mission could be a perfect stepping stone to Nick Fury’s agency, and summons his teammates. Although Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are hesitant to commit, seeing it as outside the scope of the team’s activities, Cap is pleased when Hawkeye convinces them that defending liberty and justice is always Avengers business. Within the hour, the foursome is on its way to Southeast Asia. After their arrival, though, they realize it’s a trap as they are captured by a huge Vietnamese officer called “The Commissar” and his underling Major Hoy. The Commissar intends to score a propaganda coup by defeating the Avengers in hand-to-hand combat, and he proves to be remarkably strong, fast, and resistant to injury. Cap, Hawkeye, and Quicksilver are defeated in rapid succession, but Cap deduces that their opponent must be a robot. He challenges the Commissar to defeat the Scarlet Witch as well, since she, too, is a member of the Avengers. Cap directs Wanda to use her hex powers to short out the control panel Major Hoy is using to operate the robot. The Commissar is destroyed and, his deception exposed, Hoy flees as the townsfolk cheer the tyrant’s defeat. Cap gives them an inspiring speech about freedom and vigilance, and the jubilant townsfolk carry the Scarlet Witch through the palace on a litter as her teammates chuckle. But, on the flight back across the Pacific, Cap realizes he let his ambitions get the better of him, and he put his recruits in danger because he was hoping to impress Nick Fury.

Hawkeye continually challenges Cap’s leadership, and they have a particularly bitter argument after the archer makes a mistake during a training session. Hawkeye storms out, leaving Cap fuming. Later, Wanda and Pietro invite Cap to join them for an evening at the theater, but he declines. After they’re gone, Cap confides in Jarvis that he’s been plagued by self-doubt recently, and reveals that his confidence has been badly shaken by Bucky’s death. Jarvis helps him see that grief can degenerate into self-pity and become self-destructive unless one eventually comes to terms with a tragedy. The next day, in an attempt to be more sociable with his teammates, Cap reveals to them that his real name is Steve Rogers.

July 1963 – After a quiet couple of weeks, the Avengers’ routine is disrupted when the mansion is invaded by the international criminal known as the Swordsman, who claims he wants to join the team. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch drive him off, and Hawkeye reveals that he knew the Swordsman several years ago, when the villain tried to kill him after Hawkeye refused to be his partner-in-crime. The next day, Captain America is overjoyed when he receives a letter from Nick Fury requesting a clandestine meeting. Cap explains to his shocked teammates that he plans to remain a part-time Avenger once he’s working for S.H.I.E.L.D. They’re not too happy about it, but he insists he needs to make a life for himself outside of being Captain America. However, the meeting turns out to be a trap set by the Swordsman. Cap is enraged and a furious battle ensues, but the Swordsman manages to knock him out. When he revives, Cap finds himself tied up and being forced to “walk the plank” high up on a construction site as the Swordsman yells down to the other Avengers to surrender. Cap decides to take the decision out of their hands and jumps off the building. His teammates save his life and together they attack the Swordsman, but the criminal suddenly vanishes into thin air. Returning to their headquarters, the Avengers argue about whether the Swordsman escaped or was kidnapped. Cap is annoyed by their complete lack of camaraderie.

Later, the team receives a holographic message from Iron Man, telling them that it was his idea for the Swordsman to join them and assuring them that the Swordsman has reformed. Iron Man’s word is good enough for Cap, so when the Swordsman returns, he is quickly sworn in as the fifth recruit of the Avengers. Though suspicious, Cap shows the Swordsman around their headquarters. For several days, the Swordsman trains with the team and tries to earn their trust, but they keep a watchful eye on him. They are surprised to learn that his sword now possesses a number of high-tech gadgets that can produce various effects, though it lends credence to his claim of knowing Iron Man. Finally, late one night, the Avengers discover the Swordsman planting a bomb in their main control panel and attack him. He uses a flame-thrower in his sword to start a fire and escapes in the confusion. Afterwards, Iron Man insists he’s never met the Swordsman, and the earlier transmission must have been a sophisticated fake.

August 1963 – Captain America is increasingly frustrated with the contentious atmosphere around Avengers Mansion. The situation only gets worse after the Avengers are tricked into causing extensive damage to the city while fighting illusory foes and are branded as public menaces. The team argues bitterly about the situation, as clearly they are under attack by some unknown enemy. The next day, Cap is further discredited after he loses a fight with a costumed strongman calling himself Power Man. Though it is reported that Cap interfered with Power Man’s attempt to capture some enemy spies, Cap is certain that the whole incident was a set-up. After arguing with Hawkeye about it, Cap spends several hours on the phone discussing the matter with the mayor and other city officials. He is angered that evening when he must then bail his three teammates out of jail, as they were arrested and charged with trespassing and assault after attempting to fight Power Man on his own private property. The next morning, the Avengers receive a court order forcing them to disband. Cap is convinced that Power Man is working for somebody else in this scheme to discredit the Avengers, but the others have accepted defeat in the face of the court order against them. Cap loses his temper and starts a fight that leads his teammates to storm out of the mansion. Alone, Cap broods over how he has failed his original partners by leading the Avengers to ruin. Depressed, he puts on his civilian clothes and walks out into the rain, thinking that Steve Rogers can’t possibly live up to the legend of Captain America.

Determined to clear the Avengers’ name, Captain America goes into hiding for several days while he works out a strategy to bring down Power Man. Meanwhile, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch run afoul of the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime, leading to an all-out police dragnet for the disgraced heroes. Finally, Cap tracks down Power Man and disguises himself as a crooked P.R. expert in order to trick his foe into a confession. Wired for sound, Cap arrives at Power Man’s hideout and finds him with the Enchantress, confirming Cap’s suspicions. He gets the confession on tape, but the villains discover the deception and attack him. During the fight, Cap realizes that Power Man and the Enchantress must have found some way to duplicate the process that Baron Zemo used to create Wonder Man. Power Man finally knocks Cap out, but the other three Avengers arrive on the scene to rescue him. Cap revives in time to see the Enchantress decide to cut and run, disappointed with her new lackey. After she’s gone, Power Man surrenders. The Avengers turn the tape over to the authorities and the team’s good name is restored. However, Captain America says he’s fed up with the Avengers and angrily quits the team.

Steve Rogers takes the first available job, which is as a sparring partner for a professional boxer at a training camp in upstate New York. However, he is soon drawn back to the city when the Avengers mysteriously disappear. Determining that they were kidnapped by Kang the Conqueror, Cap issues a challenge to the time-traveling despot and suddenly finds himself transported to the 41st century. He meets up with Quicksilver and they storm Kang’s headquarters to rescue Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch, but they are unable to defeat Kang. The Avengers are reunited, and Cap learns that Kang is trying to force a Princess Ravonna to marry him by laying siege to her kingdom. Kang signals his armies to attack, and the Avengers soon find themselves in a state of total war. Cap’s battle-honed instincts take over, and even the commanders of the kingdom’s militia defer to his leadership. Nevertheless, Kang leads the mightiest military force ever assembled on the earth, and the kingdom quickly falls before its relentless onslaught. Quicksilver goes missing in action, and Captain America, Hawkeye, and the Scarlet Witch are captured and dragged before Kang in shackles. Cap tries to bargain for Wanda’s release, but Kang won’t hear of it, ordering the Avengers imprisoned. An hour or so later, though, Captain America is released from his prison cell by Kang, who explains that his legions are in revolt since he decided to marry Ravonna instead of killing her, as his own rules of engagement demand. Kang offers to return the Avengers to the 20th century unharmed if they will aid him in crushing the mutiny and saving Ravonna’s life. Cap demands that Ravonna’s kingdom also be set free and Kang agrees. Their deal struck, the three Avengers and Kang soon free Ravonna from her dungeon and raise a rag-tag army of freedom-fighters to storm the palace. Kang’s genius for strategy serves them well, and he is able to reach his master control room and activate a fail-safe that disables all the weapons held by his traitorous forces. They reach the throne room to discover that the rebellious generals have already been captured by Quicksilver. Triumphant, Kang is true to his word and activates the device that will return the Avengers to their own time. But as they are dematerializing, they witness the leader of the mutiny grab a weapon from a guard and shoot down Ravonna. Before the startled Avengers can even react, they find themselves back on the roof of Avengers Mansion, wondering if they will ever learn what happened next.

September 1963 – Captain America is determined to honor his promise to the Avengers’ founding members to keep the team going until they return to active duty, despite his recruits’ volatile personalities. Even though Hawkeye scoffs at Avengers protocol, Cap finds the archer is an adept student of hand-to-hand combat techniques. When Wanda and Pietro receive a letter purporting to be from a long-lost aunt in the tiny Balkan kingdom of Latveria, Cap and Hawkeye accompany them to check it out. Knowing Latveria is the domain of the arch-villain Doctor Doom, Cap decides the team should travel incognito. Nevertheless, moments after stepping off the train in the capital city of Doomstadt, the foursome is placed under arrest. As darkness falls, they break out of jail, don their costumes, and, finding the entire city has been sealed off by a force field, go to confront Doctor Doom in the throne room of his castle. Doom explains that he lured them to his kingdom to use them as bait to trap the Fantastic Four. Angered at having been given false hope about finding their family, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch fight ferociously. The Avengers manage to battle Doctor Doom to a standstill, deactivate his force field, escape from Latveria, and return to New York.

To explore the extent of his memory loss, Cap tells Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch what he can remember of World War II. He begins with the story of how he became Captain America and how Bucky joined him as his sidekick, then relates the tale of exposing two enemy agents, Sando and Omar, which led to him working with his official government liaison, Elizabeth Ross. He regales them with the chilling details of his earliest encounters with the Red Skull. He concludes by describing his final mission with Bucky at Greymoor Castle in 1944. Talking so much about Bucky makes Cap feel sad, so he decides to go to bed early. While dozing off, Cap finally remembers his final confrontation with the Red Skull, in February 1945, when the defeated Nazi mastermind told him of the three “Sleepers” he had set to recreate the Third Reich at some future date. Awaking with a start, Cap at last understands the significance of the old documents in the strongbox he’d received from the Army last Christmas. The Sleepers are due to be awakened.

Not wasting a moment, Cap arranges transport on a military jet to Bavaria, Germany, where he parachutes down to the first town mentioned in the Red Skull’s papers. He discovers the first Sleeper has already been activated: a giant red robot emblazoned with a swastika that’s rampaging through the town. He follows the robot to another town, where it rendezvous with the second Sleeper, a large “flying wing” drone aircraft. Cap leaps aboard as the two mechanisms join together, and determines that the top of the second unit is a docking port for the third. Unable to stop the deadly mechanical monstrosity, Cap heads for a nearby NATO base for help. The base’s C.O., General Logan, gives Cap his full cooperation and rolls out a massive force with heavy artillery. They are unable to prevent it linking up with the third Sleeper, a gigantic steel head resembling the Red Skull himself. As it suddenly changes course and heads due north, Cap grabs a flame-thrower and leaps aboard the Sleeper. He rigs the flame-thrower to cause the bomb within the third Sleeper to detonate prematurely, then leaps off. He plunges down into the North Sea, surviving the impact with the help of the unique properties of his shield, as the Sleeper is destroyed by a massive explosion. Cap is fished out of the water by the crew of a freighter who witnessed the incident, and by morning he is back in New York.

Starting to feel stir crazy, Steve Rogers decides to put on some civilian clothes and go for a walk like a normal person, just to be among the teeming crowds of the city. Soon, he spots a young woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to a girl he loved and lost in the latter days of the war. He notices the way the blonde is nervously clutching a cylinder-shaped parcel and follows her down the street, without really meaning to, and witnesses her make an exchange with a man carrying an identical package. Trying to be helpful, Steve runs up to tell the woman about the switch, but she insists she has the right package and urges him not to make a scene and to just forget the whole thing. Looking her full in the face, Steve is even more astonished by the resemblance, though it’s as if she hasn’t aged a day. Stumbling over his words, he asks her if they’ve met before. She says no and walks off. A moment later, the sound of a gunshot sends him charging after her as Captain America. He discovers she’s being assaulted by a costumed Frenchman who calls himself Batroc the Leaper, who proves to be a master of the art of savate, or French kickboxing. Cap knocks the cylinder out of Batroc’s hands and they battle fiercely, but as they do, the woman slips off with the parcel. When Batroc realizes she is gone, he stops the fight, warning Cap that it contains enough “Inferno 42” to blow up the entire city, and if the cylinder was cracked when he dropped it, they have about 30 minutes until it reaches critical mass. Cap is even more shocked when Batroc reveals that the beautiful blonde is no ordinary girl, but an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Cap and Batroc chase the woman into a S.H.I.E.L.D. safehouse, where they are separated by a trap door. Cap reaches the woman just as she is overcome by the radiation leaking from the Inferno 42 cylinder. Batroc reappears, intent on delivering the cylinder to his employers before it explodes, but while Cap is fighting him, the woman manages to switch the cylinder with a dummy. Cap then allows Batroc to overcome him so he can follow the mercenary, assured that S.H.I.E.L.D. has neutralized the real Inferno 42. He trails Batroc to a hidden underground complex filled with sophisticated technology, and watches him deliver the dummy cylinder to his employers, a group of nondescript businessmen. When he’s heard enough of their conversation, Cap reveals himself. He battles Batroc again, which gives the businessmen the chance to make a clean getaway. Worried that the Inferno 42 will still explode, Batroc abandons the fight and escapes as well. Cap races back to the S.H.I.E.L.D. safehouse to find the woman on a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance. A medic tells Cap there’s no known cure for Inferno 42 poisoning, but the woman says it was worth it to ensure that the city was saved and the villains’ plot was foiled. Cap watches helplessly as the ambulance speeds off, brooding on the irony of having lost her, just as he lost her look-alike so long ago.

Later, Steve watches a television documentary about the liberation of Paris in August 1944, which highlights his own role in those dramatic events. He recalls that it was in that battle that he lost the girl he loved. He looks longingly at a framed sketch of her face he has done, and as a lightning storm rages outside, he is lost in a reverie, remembering the events of that time. Captain America had been fighting alongside the French Resistance for several weeks, and had fallen in love with a beautiful American girl among their ranks, though he knew her only by her code-name, “Mademoiselle.” Then, duty took them in different directions, and when Cap made it to Paris about a week later, he learned from the Underground that Mademoiselle had been captured by the Gestapo. Racing to Gestapo headquarters nearby, Cap found it already destroyed. He learned from a German soldier that a shell hit the courtyard as the prisoners were being executed, and most of them escaped. Suddenly, jubilant American troops arrived and began celebrating, and Cap was unable to break away to search for Mademoiselle. He never learned if she was alive or dead, and he still has no idea who she was or what became of her. And he wonders what could be the connection between her and her young doppelgänger.

A few days later, Hawkeye’s bad attitude leads to another fight, and Cap warns him he’s in danger of getting kicked off the team. The archer remains defiant and leaves to enjoy a night on the town. Hours later, the Avengers receive a mayday radio transmission from the Wasp, warning that the undersea marauder Attuma is planning to flood the surface world with a device to raise tidal levels. When Hawkeye’s call signal proves faulty, Captain America, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch fly out to intercept Attuma some 300 miles due east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. However, unaccustomed to fighting in the marine environment, the three Avengers are defeated and imprisoned aboard Attuma’s flagship. Hawkeye soon comes to the rescue in an “aero-sub” vehicle borrowed from the Fantastic Four, and the reunited Avengers overcome Attuma’s barbarian hordes, wreck his flagship, and destroy his tide-manipulating device.

Upon returning to their headquarters, the Avengers take a call from the scientist Henry Pym, who reveals that he is really Giant-Man. He tells them the Wasp disappeared after escaping from Attuma, and requests they pick him up from his research vessel in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. After Pym is brought to the mansion, the Avengers receive a radio message from a man calling himself “the Collector,” who tells them to come to a particular set of coordinates if they ever want to see the Wasp alive again. Pym is very worried, and explains that his body has suffered from the rigors of frequent size-changing and he is now quite limited in how he can use his powers. The Scarlet Witch provides him with a new costume and, based on a comment by Cap, Pym decides to change his code-name to “Goliath.” Then, following the Collector’s instructions, the five Avengers fly up into the Adirondack Mountains to a hidden castle. Though they are initially captured, Goliath smashes free and releases his teammates. They chase the Collector into his dungeons, where Captain America battles their foe’s lackey, the Beetle, whom Cap recognizes from the fight at Reed and Sue’s wedding. The Beetle defeats Captain America, but the Avengers nevertheless manage to rescue the Wasp and drive the villains off. Goliath explains to the Wasp that he’s revealed his true identity to their teammates, so she introduces herself as Janet Van Dyne. But then, while attempting to revert to normal size, Pym blacks out and remains ten feet tall.

The Avengers are unable to revive Goliath in the mansion’s infirmary, and their attempt to reach Dr. Donald Blake is likewise unsuccessful. Instead, Captain America contacts a major he knew in the war who is now a practicing physician in New York. Dr. Carlson soon arrives and examines Goliath, determining that any further attempts at changing size could be fatal. When Pym finally regains consciousness, Cap explains that he must remain ten feet tall, possibly for the rest of his life. Goliath does not take the news well and storms out of the mansion, leaving the worried Wasp behind.

Later, Cap informs Hawkeye that a S.H.I.E.L.D. intelligence bulletin has revealed that the Black Widow is still alive and is believed to be returning to the United States. Hawkeye is jubilant and races off to find his long-lost lover. Concerned that the Black Widow might still be loyal to the Communist bloc, Cap asks the Wasp to follow Hawkeye. A few hours later, Cap is attacked in the mansion by the Swordsman and Power Man, and they manage to overpower him and knock him out. When he awakens, Cap finds himself in a dungeon-like cellar. His Avengers transceiver is still working, so he sends a mayday to his teammates. Sometime later, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch arrive to rescue him, but they are quickly captured as well. However, the tables are turned after Goliath and the Wasp free them, and they join Hawkeye in battling the two villains, who turn out to be working for the Black Widow. Seeing they are now outnumbered, the Black Widow orders a retreat, and Hawkeye lets them escape when he is unable to fire a blast arrow at the woman he loves. Cap proves to be very understanding, much to Hawkeye’s surprise, and then he officially welcomes Goliath and the Wasp back to active duty.

Following a security briefing about the new XPT1 atomic submarine, Captain America approves Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch taking a leave of absence from the team. Wanda explains that her mutant powers have been fading of late, and Pietro, who claims his own speed has been likewise diminished, believes that by returning to their native country of Transia their powers might be restored. Cap wishes them well, and the twins soon depart for Europe. Then, Cap is paid an unexpected visit by Nick Fury, who has come to see if the Avengers have any intel on a mysterious cabal of scientists known only as “Them.” Their meeting is interrupted when an android killer suddenly attacks, but after a no-holds-barred battle that rages throughout the mansion, Cap and Fury manage to defeat it. The android promptly dissolves into a pile of ash to prevent anyone from studying it, and Fury is convinced it was sent by “Them.” Since the Avengers have no information on “Them,” Fury gruffly orders the team not to interfere with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s investigation. As Fury is leaving, though, Cap stops him and explains that, even though he contacted him months ago about a position at S.H.I.E.L.D., he now realizes his place is with the Avengers. Fury admits he actually considered recruiting Cap, and gives him a “Priority A-1” badge, to use if he ever needs the agency’s help.

Only days later, Nick Fury contacts Captain America to recruit him for a mission at the Statue of Liberty. Meeting up at the famous landmark, Cap and Fury discover a strange-looking invasion force teleporting in through a high-tech device. Despite the overwhelming odds, the two former soldiers attack, but Cap is soon knocked out by a burst of electricity. When he comes to, he finds that Fury has gassed the invaders to sleep and left him instructions to fetch a specialized weapon from the Fantastic Four. Cap goes to the Baxter Building and confers with Mister Fantastic and the Thing, and they provide him with an “electro-amplifier rifle.” Cap returns to Liberty Island just in time to save Fury from drowning in the harbor. When the weapon is activated, it routs the invaders, but also causes a black-out all along the Atlantic coast. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. then arrive to take the invaders into custody, and Cap learns afterwards that they were human, but essentially mindless slaves. S.H.I.E.L.D. is unable to determine the identity of the mastermind behind the plot, but Fury is very appreciative of Cap’s assistance. For his part, Cap thinks he and Nick Fury might even become friends.

October 1963 – After mounting a search for the Black Widow and her accomplices, Captain America learns that Goliath has disappeared while seeking out a former mentor, Dr. Franz Anton, for help with his condition. The Wasp is upset because Goliath has been depressed about being trapped at his 10-foot size, but Cap tries to reassure her. Hawkeye joins them as they jet down to Peru to search for their missing teammate. The Avengers confer with the local police at Anton’s residence, then fly up into the nearby Andes Mountains for a look around. There, the team discovers Goliath and Dr. Anton are prisoners in the lost civilization of El Dorado. They become embroiled in a conflict between a high priest, the Keeper of the Flame, and a deposed ruler, Prince Rey, over the highly prized Sacred Flame of Life. When the Avengers are about to be sacrificed to the local fire god, they cause an explosion that snuffs out the sacred flame. Taking advantage of the resulting chaos, the team makes good their escape. On the way back to his house, Dr. Anton tells Goliath that he cannot help him return to normal size, and suggests that the one person who could is a former student named Henry Pym. The grim irony is not lost on Cap, and he worries about his teammate’s state of mind on the flight back to New York.

Upon reaching their headquarters, Cap offers to step down as Avengers chairman in favor of Goliath, but Pym, still wallowing in self-pity, says he doesn’t want the job. Hoping to pull him out of his funk, Cap attacks Goliath and taunts him. Pym loses his temper and fights back, determined to prove himself. Cap’s gambit is successful, and Goliath goes off to set up laboratory facilities to try and find a cure himself. The Wasp follows after giving Cap a peck on the cheek in gratitude. Cap and Hawkeye joke about it as they head to the gym to work out. Cap notes that there has been a radical improvement in Hawkeye’s attitude since his reunion with the Black Widow, and their training sessions together are now far more enjoyable. Hawkeye explains that the Black Widow has overcome her brainwashing and is determined to prove her newfound loyalty to the West, but Cap remains wary.

Sometime later, Cap questions his sanity after being assaulted by armored mercenaries whom no one else seems to be aware of. However, with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D., Cap overcomes their hypnotic rays and captures one of them before he can frame Cap for murder. The mercenary reveals that he works for the Red Skull, and Cap is utterly astonished to hear that his greatest nemesis still lives. On his way to police headquarters to question the mercenary further, Cap sees an aircraft explode in mid-air and he dives into the river to rescue the pilot, who bailed out. Cap notes that the man’s distinctive yellow radiation suit marks him as a member of Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), a shadowy organization of scientists. On the pier, the dying pilot reveals that A.I.M. has created the ultimate weapon, an object called the Cosmic Cube, but one of his colleagues betrayed them and is delivering the Cube to the Red Skull. With no time to lose, Cap borrows an experimental manned missile from S.H.I.E.L.D. and catches up to the Cube’s “keeper” just as he reaches the Caribbean island where the Red Skull is hiding out. On the beach, Cap comes face-to-face with the Red Skull, and the familiar sound of the Nazi’s raspy voice makes his blood run cold.

As the hypnotized A.I.M. scientist waits nearby, Captain America goads the Red Skull into a fistfight, but after trading a couple of punches, the devious Nazi switches tactics. He announces that Baron Zemo was merely his puppet, and when he killed Bucky he was acting on the Red Skull’s orders. Driven into a rage, Cap recklessly leaps at the Skull, only to be caught in a cloud of stun-gas. Ignoring his dazed foe, the Skull takes the Cosmic Cube from the scientist and reveals its awesome power—to instantly transform the user’s merest wish into reality. After banishing his hapless lackey to another dimension, the Red Skull begins to experiment with the Cube’s seemingly limitless abilities. Cap struggles to his feet and charges at the Skull, but is driven back by the Cube’s energies. The Red Skull gloats about all the things he is going to do with his newfound power—take over the world, turn every man into a relentless warrior, and create a heavily armed space armada to carve out for himself a galaxy-wide empire. But first, he must see Captain America defeated in battle, humbled by an opponent of greater strength, so the Skull creates a humanoid out of the ground to attack him. Cap outfights the humanoid, leading the Red Skull to disintegrate it in favor of banishing Cap to another dimension. Thinking fast, Cap convinces the Red Skull that it would be a better victory to make Captain America serve him as his helpless underling. The Skull likes the idea, and realizes he could form his own version of the Knights of the Round Table as an enduring symbol of his ultimate triumph. Thus, the Red Skull uses the Cube instead to create for himself a majestic suit of golden armor. On his knees, Cap approaches him to be knighted, playing to his foe’s vanity. When he gets close enough, he tackles the Nazi, making him fumble with the Cube. In a panic, the Red Skull wishes for the island to break apart, hoping to throw Cap off. But as the ground suddenly crumbles into the ocean, Cap forces the Cube out of the villain’s grasp. The Red Skull leaps into the waves after it, and is pulled down by his heavy armor as huge sinking boulders strike him. Cap clings to the last bit of rock jutting above the water and breathes a sigh of relief knowing that the Cosmic Cube lies buried beneath tons of rubble at the bottom of the ocean. When the Red Skull does not reappear, Cap activates his Avengers’ emergency signal and waits patiently to be rescued.

Soon after, Cap hears from the Fantastic Four of their encounter with the original Human Torch, alongside whom Cap fought during World War II. Cap is sorry to learn that the android hero “died” in the course of events, but he doesn’t actually remember him very clearly.

November 1963 – Captain America joins his teammates when Goliath calls an emergency meeting of the Avengers after his new lab assistant, Bill Foster, is beaten up by the xenophobic and racist hate-group the Sons of the Serpent. Afterwards, Steve Rogers pays a visit to Nick Fury’s Manhattan offices to view S.H.I.E.L.D.’s dossier on the group. The next morning, the Avengers hold a press conference to denounce the Sons of the Serpent following an assassination attempt on a high-ranking military officer from North Vietnam, General Chen, near the United Nations building. Later, however, Cap is kidnapped by the Sons of the Serpent, and though he battles valiantly, he is overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers and taken prisoner. Cap watches helplessly as the group’s masked leader, the Supreme Serpent, issues an ultimatum to the Avengers. Though he is unable to break free, Cap resists the battery of brainwashing techniques to which he is subjected. Frustrated, the Sons of the Serpent confiscate his costume and shield and leave him locked up in a cell. Several hours later, the Black Widow appears, but the suspicious Cap manages to stay out of sight long enough to get the drop on her. She convinces him that she and Hawkeye have come to rescue him, and sure enough, they soon find the rest of the Avengers battling the Sons of the Serpent and their Captain America impostor. Cap leaps into the fray, knocks out the impostor and reclaims his gear. The Supreme Serpent is defeated by the Black Widow and the Wasp, and the Avengers reveal his true identity to the public: General Chen himself, hoping to engineer a propaganda victory over the United States. With the Sons of the Serpent discredited, Chen is sent back to North Vietnam in disgrace. Following this incident, Cap is willing to give the Black Widow the benefit of the doubt.

While on monitor duty at Avengers Mansion one evening, Cap is given a cup of drugged coffee by a Jarvis impostor that makes him hallucinate. After encountering phantoms of wartime foes such as Agent Axis and General Fang, his old drill instructor Sgt. Thaddeus “Mike” Duffy, Bucky, and even Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, Cap passes out. When he comes to, he finds himself tied up in a closet, hearing the sounds of a fight nearby. Getting free, Cap discovers an unconscious doppelgänger of himself and a costumed criminal called the Tumbler. It takes Cap only a couple of minutes to defeat his cocky assailant, whom he leaves tied up on the floor while he calls the police. The Tumbler is soon taken into custody, and Cap finds the real Jarvis trapped in a closet. They take the doppelgänger, now a featureless artificial humanoid, to one of the laboratories and leave it on an examining table while Cap summons the rest of the team. While waiting for them, Cap contacts Nick Fury and learns that the shape-changer is called the “Adaptoid” and was created by A.I.M. Goliath, the Wasp, and Hawkeye soon arrive and give the seemingly inert Adaptoid a cursory inspection before promising to return later to conduct a more thorough investigation. After they are gone, however, the Adaptoid revives and attacks Captain America. Cap is shocked to see that the Adaptoid has changed itself into a 12-foot-tall amalgam of all four Avengers. Calling itself the “Super-Adaptoid,” the robot grabs Cap and carries him high into the air. Cap manages to pin its wings, causing them both to fall onto the upper levels of a suspension bridge, but the Super-Adaptoid grabs him and hurls him out over the river. Using his shield, Cap survives the 300-foot fall and swims to a pier, finding that the Super-Adaptoid has disappeared into the night.

Captain America calls a special executive session of the Avengers to discuss extending an offer of membership to Spider-Man. In addition to Hawkeye, Goliath, and the Wasp, he asks Thor and Iron Man to attend. After a contentious debate, Cap decides they should learn more about Spider-Man before testing him to see if he’s really Avengers material. At Hawkeye’s suggestion, they contact Daredevil, who gives the web-slinger his highest recommendation. Thus, the team agrees unanimously to give Spider-Man a readiness test, and they split up to search the city for him. Thor eventually makes contact and reports back that Spider-Man seemed a bit reluctant, so if he is interested, he will come to the mansion tomorrow. Cap chalks it up to Spidey’s reputation as a loner. At the appointed time, Spider-Man does appear, and the Avengers greet him warmly. However, Spidey loses his temper when it becomes clear the Avengers haven’t yet figured out what kind of test to give him. Cap tries to calm him down, but Hawkeye goads Spider-Man into a fight, which quickly gets out of hand. Thor breaks up the fight, and Iron Man suggests they send Spidey to find the Hulk, who’s been spotted in the city recently, and to bring the green behemoth to Avengers Mansion. Spider-Man agrees and sets off immediately, brimming with confidence. A few hours later, though, he returns saying he couldn’t even locate the Hulk. As Spider-Man quickly swings off, the Avengers suspect there is more to the story than that. Cap is disappointed that they lost not only the chance for a new member, but to help the tormented Hulk as well.

When Cap receives a cryptic message that the female S.H.I.E.L.D. agent he met two months ago is in mortal danger at a remote upstate convalescent hospital, he races to the scene, even though he suspects it is a trap. Upon arrival, Cap is immediately attacked by a revenge-seeking Batroc the Leaper. Their savage battle is interrupted by agents of HYDRA, who’ve decided to double-cross Batroc and eliminate them both. Angry at being betrayed, Batroc joins forces with Cap to bring down the HYDRA agents and rescue the girl. Batroc explains that he never meant her to come to harm, she was just bait to draw in Captain America. He makes a clean getaway by jumping out a window, and Cap lets him go, more concerned with the beautiful blonde. Though she still refuses to reveal her name, she is glad to see Cap again, and tells him that she is expected to make a full recovery from the Inferno 42 poisoning she suffered. Cap realizes he is completely smitten with her.

As a favor to the lovely S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Cap sneaks into the Yashonka Weapons Development Center deep in the heart of Red China to contact an undercover operative. He is concerned when he finds that Agent 60, alias “Colonel Kuro Chin,” is suffering from battle fatigue and is close to cracking under the strain. Cap decides to complete the agent’s mission himself and sets off to destroy the experimental Z-ray weapon. Cap is heavily outnumbered by the installation’s security forces, but Agent 60 sacrifices himself so that Cap can succeed. After blowing up to Z-ray with a couple of missiles, Cap heads into the countryside for extraction by S.H.I.E.L.D. On the way home, Cap tells Nick Fury he plans to take the female agent out to dinner, but Fury responds that she’s been sent on a new assignment and is unavailable.

Cap is frustrated that his romantic plans have been scuttled, and ends up watching a television program about himself when he is profiled on the weekly Marvel Super-Heroes Show. Cap is still uncomfortable with his celebrity and finds all the attention a bit embarrassing. Days later, events take a darker turn when President John F. Kennedy is assassinated. Cap immediately flies down to Dallas, Texas to help in the investigation, but as soon as he arrives, Nick Fury tells him to go home. Respecting Fury’s judgment, Cap complies and spends the following week serving a grieving America in a more symbolic capacity.

December 1963 – Captain America tracks down a criminal known as the “Peerless Planner,” who has committed a series of robberies while impersonating Cap. While battling the Planner’s henchmen, Cap learns that their cunning plan was to capture him and seize the technological wonders installed in his shield by Tony Stark. He knocks them all out and then captures the Planner as well. While delivering the crook to the police, Cap enjoys telling him that all of Stark’s gadgets were removed from his shield many months ago, so his great plan was a failure from the start. Later, Cap wishes wistfully that all his foes were as inept and easily defeated as the Peerless Planner.

Cap finally convinces Goliath to take over as Avengers Chairman, bringing his seven-month term to a close. The team is soon brought in by the NYPD to assist with the case of a bank robber who possesses a disintegrator beam. They quickly apprehend the culprit, a costumed villain calling himself the “Living Laser,” but he escapes. After searching for several days, the Avengers finally track him to his secret lair in the basement of an apartment building. However, the Living Laser manages to capture Cap and Hawkeye in a cage of laser beams and kidnaps the Wasp. The helpless pair is rescued by Goliath before the lasers can cut them to ribbons, but after returning to Avengers Mansion, they are unable to track the Wasp’s emergency signal. A day later, however, news reaches the team that the Living Laser has staged a coup in the tiny Central American nation of Costa Verde. They jet down at once and attack the fortress that serves as the seat of government, but are driven back by the villain’s powerful laser-cannon. The Avengers regroup and stage a second invasion an hour or so later. This time they make it into the fortress, but are overwhelmed by their foes’ superior numbers. Cap is knocked unconscious, and when he wakes up a while later, he finds himself shackled to the wall of a dungeon. Soon, the Wasp frees him, explaining that Goliath has finally regained his ability to shrink to ant-size, and so was able to escape and sabotage the laser-cannon. The Living Laser was injured in the resulting explosion and is unconscious. The rebels are turned over to the national army, and the Living Laser is taken back to the United States to face justice.

A week or so later, Captain America participates in the Avengers’ Second Annual Christmas Charity Benefit. He reflects on what a roller-coaster year it has been, and realizes that he is at last starting to feel more at home in the world of the 1960s.


Notes:

January 1963 – The Avengers don’t seem to have much to discuss at the team meeting shown in Journey Into Mystery #105. Captain America pays a visit to Giant-Man and the Wasp in Tales to Astonish #58. Then, Cap continues his adventures with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in Avengers #7 and following. He is seen working out with his teammates in Tales to Astonish #59, then has a brief cameo in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. Cap and Iron Man tussle due to the Chameleon’s machinations in Tales of Suspense #58. Cap is among the heroes seen reacting to Spidey’s public disgrace in Amazing Spider-Man #18. In Tales of Suspense #59, Cap has a cameo in the Iron Man story and then debuts in his own series as the title is converted into a super-hero double-feature. The Avengers attempt to intervene in the FF’s battle with the Mole Man in Fantastic Four #31. The team is seen returning Wonder Man’s body to the U.S. in a flashback in West Coast Avengers #2. After the team meeting in Avengers #10, Cap leads them into battle with Immortus and the Masters of Evil, but in the end the Enchantress weaves a spell that erases those events from the timeline. The Avengers then guest-star in Uncanny X-Men #9.

February 1963 – Cap’s memory appears to return in a piecemeal fashion as he is reminded of specific individuals or events. Over the course of several years, he gradually goes from near total amnesia (immediately following his period in suspended animation) to being able to recall much of his life before 1945. Direct experience seems more effective at jogging memories than second-hand accounts, which is why it proves to be such a slow process.

March 1963 – Cap is seen attending Reed and Sue’s party at the Baxter Building in Fantastic Four #36. It is likely that, in the course of conversation, Iron Man, who in his civilian identity as Tony Stark was an advisor to S.H.I.E.L.D., would mention to WWII vets Reed Richards and Ben Grimm that their mutual acquaintance Nick Fury had just been tapped to lead the covert agency, as seen in Strange Tales #135.

April 1963 – Rick Jones demonstrates his clumsiness in an odd little back-up story in Captain America #221. Cap makes a one-panel appearance in the Hulk story in Tales to Astonish #62.

May 1963 – Following the historic change in roster seen in Avengers #16, the original Avengers conclude their final meeting in Journey Into Mystery #116. Jarvis remembers being informed of their decision in a flashback in Avengers #280. Thor resigns from active duty in Journey Into Mystery #120.

June 1963 – The chaotic wedding of Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Girl is chronicled in Fantastic Four Annual #3. Giant-Man, the Wasp, and the Scarlet Witch remain behind-the-scenes throughout the story. The next morning, Cap would have learned of the anti-mutant riot in the city during the wedding reception, which occurred in Uncanny X-Men #14, and would certainly have discussed the issue with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Hawkeye is seen challenging Cap’s leadership in a brief flashback in West Coast Avengers Limited Series #4, and Cap’s subsequent chat with Jarvis is depicted in Avengers #280.

August 1963 – Another reason Cap’s Kooky Quartet is so edgy and tense in Avengers #21 may be that this occurred only days after Galactus nearly destroyed the earth, a crisis in which the Avengers were unable to participate.

September 1963 – Cap is seen training Hawkeye in hand-to-hand combat in a flashback in Captain America #301. In Tales of Suspense #72, it is revealed that the preceding series of World War II era stories featuring Captain America & Bucky were actually being told by Cap to his Avengers teammates. Thus, any mistakes or inaccuracies in these accounts reflect Cap’s impaired memory. The beautiful young S.H.I.E.L.D. agent introduced in Tales of Suspense #75 is, of course, Sharon Carter, though it would be a while before Cap learned her real name. Her significantly older sister, Peggy Carter, is briefly mentioned in this issue and more fully introduced in Tales of Suspense #77. Peggy’s code-name is not actually revealed in that story, but when she was reintroduced years later, writer Steve Englehart seemed to suggest that it was “Mademoiselle,” since this is how Cap habitually addressed her. When Goliath requires medical attention, the Avengers are unable to reach Thor’s alter-ego, Don Blake, because he is still convalescing in Asgard following devastating battles with Hercules and Seidring the Merciless. The Avengers receive their briefing on the new atomic submarine in a quick flashback in Tales of Suspense #91. Cap joins Nick Fury for the battle on Liberty Island in the flashback story in Strange Tales #160–161. The mysterious mastermind is actually Doctor Doom, though for some reason he is working through a robotic duplicate of the Yellow Claw.

October 1963 – The lost city of El Dorado was built long ago by the Deviants and eventually peopled by the descendants of the Incas. Both the Keeper of the Flame and Prince Rey would later return to bedevil a number of super-heroes as members of They Who Wield Power. Hawkeye reminisces about this period in his relationship with Captain America in Avengers #145. The Fantastic Four’s encounter with the Original Human Torch, Cap’s wartime teammate in the Invaders, occurs in Fantastic Four Annual #4.

November 1963 – The Avengers put Spider-Man through his paces in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3. Ben Grimm is shown watching Captain America’s appearance on The Marvel Super-Heroes Show in Fantastic Four #57. While in the real world this was a children’s animated cartoon, in the Original Marvel Universe it was more likely a weekly magazine-format news show that covered the exploits of superheroes and super-villains. It was sponsored by the same company that published the officially licensed comic books, Marvel, hence the name. The Kennedy assassination occurs behind the scenes, unfortunately, but this satisfies my initial research question as far as Captain America is concerned.

December 1963 – This brings us up to Tales of Suspense #87 and Avengers #35.






No comments:

Post a Comment