The Avengers #7, Aug. 1964
Magnificently written by: Stan Lee
Majestically illustrated by: Jack Kirby
Masterfully inked by: Chic Stone
Meticulously lettered by: Art Simek
There’s so much great stuff in this issue, where do I even begin? Really, apart from the unfortunately anti-climactic ending, this is solid gold the whole way through. It’s no wonder why I’m so eagerly looking forward to the Avengers movie (though I admit, I’m less enthusiastic since Jon Favreau dropped out of the project).
Captain America is brooding about the loss of his sidekick Bucky back in WWII. It really tears him up that he wasn’t able to save the kid, and he flies off the handle when Rick Jones walks in dressed in Bucky’s outfit, which he found somewhere. Meanwhile, in Asgard (now THAT’S a segue), Odin is kicking out the Enchantress and the Executioner, for being bad bad people. They’re banished to Earth, which they know basically nothing about, so they decide to contact someone who can help them get revenge on Thor: Dr. Zemo, who recently fought and escaped from the Avengers. With his help, the three come up with a plan to take out both Thor and Captain America. Yay, teamwork!
Their plan is this: The Enchantress works her magic (which is lessened by the exile, but still pretty impressive) to hypnotize Thor into thinking the rest of the Avengers are bad guys, and only he can defeat them. This is… bad. He nearly takes out Giant Man and the Wasp when Iron Man finally arrives on the scene to help them out (let’s face it, those two are useless). Ol’ shellhead realizes that something is obviously wrong with Thor, so he un-hypnotizes him with one of his devices. Strangely, this is a power that’s already been established that Iron Man can do. Thor realizes who done him wrong, and they go after the baddies.
Meanwhile, in the jungle kingdom of Dr. Zemo, Captain America has taken a plane by himself to take down the behooded monarch. After a short and ridiculously one-sided battle (Captain America versus an army with machine guns? Yeah, that army doesn’t stand a chance), Zemo tries to escape and regroup with his new partners, and Cap hitches a ride on the outside of his plane, apparently all the way back to New York. The bad guys rendezvous, and the Executioner easily knocks Cap out so they can get away before Thor gets there. The rest of the Avengers arrive, and Thor sends the plane through some lame “space vortex” which will take them… somewhere.
See? THREE paragraphs of description! I must’ve really cared about this ish. Still, by and far the best part is Cap’s struggle with the crushing guilt of the death of Bucky. This panel may seem kinda raunchy out of context, but in the actual comic, it’s kinda chilling. The most difficult thing with making superheroes relatable is giving them flaws. On one side, if the character is awesome and everything is great, he makes for a very heroic superhero, but also a very boring character. On the other hand, if the character’s just loaded with flaws, he’s not necessarily the kind of guy you can rely on to be a superhero, which is really Spider-Man’s biggest weakness. Captain America, with this anger at himself and the guilt over the loss of his young friend’s life, manages to hit that perfect balance in between the two. Not only is Captain America a fucking awesome hero, he’s an incredibly well-put-together character, and you really relate to him. So that’s part of my philosophy on why Captain America is the greatest comic book character. Of course, if you’d rather take this panel as Cap yelling at a stripper, then I will totally not stop you from imagining that hilarious scenario.