Seeds of distrust bloom.
Ant-Man/Giant-Man; Henry "Hank" Pym
Captain America; Steve Rogers
Hulk; Bruce Banner
Iron Man; Tony Stark
Thor; Dr. Donald Blake
Wasp; Janet Van Dyne
Namor; Namor McKenzie
In 1999, this special issue was produced to tell a story that occurred between Avengers issues 1 and 2. The Avengers have announced their formation to the world, and Dr. Doom isn’t happy about it, so he lures them into an aircraft fortress to dispose of them. The Avengers triumph and destroy the airship.
- Spider-Man cameos in this issue. He will later go on to be an Avengers member, but he hadn’t yet in 1999.
- The story features the Avengers’ butler, Edwin Jarvis, for the first time in continuity.
- Writer Roger Stern wrote the Avengers title for long run in the eighties.
- The cover teases that a new hero joins the team, but it’s really just Ant-Man in his new identity as Giant-Man. In the original Avengers 2, he just shows up as Giant-Man at the beginning of the story without much explanation.
- Artist Bruce Timm tried to emulate the Kirby style of the sixties. He is best known for his work as a producer on Batman: The Animated Series and subsequent other cartoon series featuring DC characters and has won multiple Daytime Emmys.
- The issue has spoof advertisements and a letter column as if it were printed in 1963. One fan letter is from a 2-year-old Kurt Busiek, asking why Batman isn’t on the team. Kurt Busiek was the writer on Avengers in 1999. He would later go on to write Avengers/JLA in 2003, which featured both the Avengers and Batman.
- The Marvel Universe uses the term Limbo to describe many different places, but this will prove to be the same Limbo inhabited by Avengers villain Immortus later on and where Rom sends his Dire Wraith enemies.
- People familiar with the Hulk from the films might be surprised at him in this series. At this point in his career, he has the speech and temperament of an angry teenager with a chip on his shoulder.
- Henry Pym changed his identity from Ant-Man to Giant-Man in his own series. He shows up to the Avengers meeting in his new outfit, but Thor still calls him Ant-Man at first.
- This is the first time Tony Stark's Manhattan mansion appears as headquarters for the team. (Not including the issue 1 1/2 that hadn't been conceived of yet.)
- Giant-Man, Iron Man, and Wasp appear briefly in Untold Tales of Spider-Man 3 looking to track down an at-large Sandman, but they don’t have any luck. Later chronologies place it after the events of Avengers 2. Ironically, Sandman will later become an Avengers member when he decides to be a hero.
- After this issue, Bruce Banner, Don Blake, Giant-Man, and Wasp appear in Tales of Suspense (1959) 49 when the X-Men try to contact the Avengers for help. They are all busy, so Iron Man deals with one of the X-Men's members, Angel, who is temporarily out of his mind.
- Space Phantom's claims of an alien race invading are later revealed as lies. His true mission was to break up the team. At least he got Hulk to leave, so partial win!
After the Hulk leapt off at the end of the last issue, the Avengers worry he may do something rash, so they attempt to track him down. Rick Jones finds him in the American Southwest. The Avengers engage Hulk in battle, but the Hulk escapes and make his way to the Atlantic, where he comes across Namor the Sub-Mariner on a deserted island. They form an uneasy alliance and challenge the Avengers to battle on Gibraltar. The Hulk reverts to Bruce Banner and slips away, and the outnumbered Namor retreats.
- Namor is often portrayed as a villain, but he will later become a member of the Avengers.
- While searching for the Hulk, Iron Man interrupts a training session of the X-Men, whose member Beast will later become an Avenger.
- The Hulk and Sub-Mariner will often be linked together. They will share billing in the comic series, Tales to Astonish, from 1965 to 1968, as neither had their own series at the time. They will also be founding members of the Defenders in 1971 with Dr. Strange.
- Congratulations to Wasp, who is finally in the corner box on the cover. The Hulk will continue to have his face there as well, even though he is no longer a member.
- What If? (1977) 3 features events from this issue with a twist. The story is "What If the Avengers Had Never Been?" In this alternate universe, later called Earth-776, the team broke up after Avengers 2. When Hulk and Namor team up, Iron Man builds powered armor for Ant-Man, Wasp, and Rick Jones to help him, even though they aren't Avengers. They can't use their armor effectively, so Iron Man goes to fight the two enemies alone. The other heroes eventually join Iron Man, but Iron Man is killed in the battle
After Namor fled the battle, he came upon Eskimoes around a strange figure frozen in arctic ice. In a fit of rage, he smashes the figure free and hurls it into the ocean. The Avengers are returning from Gibraltor in their Stark Enterprises submarine and come across the same figure, which turns out to be the frozen body of Captain America, who had been missing for almost 20 years. Upon reviving him, they return to New York. A strange reporter freezes the Avengers in place with a ray gun. A confused Captain America is found by Rick Jones, and using the Teen Brigade of New York and the power of shortwave radio, they locate the strange man, who is revealed to be a disguised alien. The alien's ship had crashlanded in the ocean, and Namor tasked him with stopping the Avengers if he wished to free his ship and return to space. The Avengers offer to help the alien after being unfrozen, which brings them into conflict with Namor and a unit of Atlantean soliders. Justice prevails, and the alien pilots his starship away from Earth. After seeing Captain America's fighting prowess, they offer him membership in the Avengers.
- Jack Kirby was one of the original creators of Captain America, and according to this issue, Stan Lee's first comic script in the forties was a Captain America script.
- Both Captain America and Namor had comic book adventures in the forties, but they had since ceased publication. In the Marvel Universe, they had many previous adventures together as allies, but on their revival in the sixties, they both suffered from partial amnesia and didn't remember.
- Captain America did remember his last adventure toward the end of World War II, where his sidekick Bucky was thought dead after a battle with Baron Heinrich Zemo. This didn't reference an old comic. It was created from scratch for this issue.
- Comic books are infamous for killing characters and bringing them back to life later. A common joke for many years was, "Well, they'll never bring back Bucky," with fans thinking it would be highly unlikely. They were wrong. The character was revealed to have survived all along, but not until over 40 years later. Bucky will become an Avengers member and temporarily take the identity of Captain America as well.
- Over in X-Men 4 this month, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, soon to be Avengers, make their debut.
- This issue was voted by fans as the 69th best Marvel comic from the first 75 years of Marvel's publication.
This two-part story features only Iron Man and Captain America soon after the events of Avengers 4. Iron Man is having second thoughts about including someone on the team who he considers to be a simple costumed acrobat. They come across marauding alien robots that are able to hypnotize their victims. The heroes destroy most of the robots, but Iron Man is hypnotized and forced to fight Captain America. Captain America gains the advantage, so a robot steps in and tries to hypnotize Cap as well. His is will is too strong, and he destroys the last robot himself. A humbled Iron Man accepts that the Captain is worthy of his respect.
· The Masters of Evil become a recurring villain group that attacks the Avengers throughout their history, but its membership is ever-changing. Most recently, this is the title used for the group of super-villains residing in the nation of Bagalia, which number over 100.
· The Baron Zemo here is Heinrich Zemo, who was active during World War II. In the current Marvel stories, Baron Zemo is his son, Helmut Zemo.
· The Black Knight who appears here is Nathan Garrett. He is the uncle of Dane Whitman, who will later become the heroic Black Knight using his uncle’s research and equipment and join the Avengers.
· The Radioactive Man has more recently been a member of the Thunderbolts team of reformed/coerced villains, which sometimes fights alongside or against the Avengers, depending on the situation. He is a Chinese citizen.
· Baron Zemo’s pilot in this issue, Franz Gruber, will later impersonate Baron Zemo in a failed plot to invade the nation of Wakanda in Tales of Suspense (1959) 98.
· Joss Whedon, director and screenwriter of the Avengers films, was born in June, 1964, between this and the last issue.
· This issue is referenced in Marvels (1994) 2. Photographer Phil Sheldon sees Captain America and Iron Man making their way across the city and comes across citizens that were glued by the Adhesive X. He then gets photos of the battle and a front-page photo of Giant-Man striding between two buildings. A version of that last photo is the cover of the Marvels trade paperback collection.
Enchantress and Executioner, both Asgardian enemies of Thor, are seen being banished to Earth. Baron Zemo has already escaped from custody, so the exiles seek him out for aid in battling Thor. While the Avengers are split up in their own pursuits, Zemo dupes Captain America into traveling to the Amazon alone for a confrontation while the Enchantress bewitches Thor with her magic and bids him to battle the other Avengers. The Baron retreats from his kingdom when Cap gets the better of him and flees to join his new allies. Captain America stows along in the aircraft and is reunited with the Avengers, who defeat the villains. Thor uses his hammer to create a space warp that traps their enemies in a random dimension.
(when Rick Jones dresses in Bucky’s old outfit)
Captain America: “Don’t ever call yourself my partner again! I lost my partner!! I’ll never forgive myself for letting it happen!! And I’ll never let it happen again!!”
Captain America: “We mustn’t joke about such a man! We’re privileged to call him friend!”