Avengers (Vol. 1) #4

Credits:

Cover Date: March 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Paul Reinman

“Captain America Joins the Avengers!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: George Roussos

What’s Going On?

Returning home after the events of last issue, the Avengers find a body, floating in the ocean. It turns out to be the famous World War II superhero, Captain America! Cap teams up with the Avengers to battle Namor, the Sub-Mariner.

Details:

  • While searching for his fellow Atlanteans, Namor encountered an Inuit tribe worshipping a figure frozen in ice. This offended Namor for some reason, and he threw the ice-man into the ocean.

  • While cruising around in an underwater craft, the Avengers came across and rescued the now-thawed body. It turned out to be none other than Captain America!

  • Since Captain America disappeared at the end of World War II, and this Cap is still a young man, they suspect that he may be an imposter. After a quick brawl, though, they are convinced that he is the real Captain America.

  • When the Avengers return to New York harbor, they are transformed into stone. The press, who were preparing to ask the Avengers questions, assume it was a trick and leave. When Captain America exits the craft, the dock is deserted, so he wanders into the city and gets a hotel room.
  • Rick Jones interrupts Cap’s rest, explaining that the Avengers have disappeared.

  • Together, Cap and Rick determine that one of the press photographers used a ray gun to transform the Avengers into stone. When they tracked the culprit down, he turned out to be an alien, stranded in our planet.

  • The D’bari alien’s ship crashed into the ocean centuries ago. The Sub-Mariner promised to dig it out of the ocean depths, so the alien can leave this planet, but his price was petrifying the Avengers. When Cap promises the alien assistance, it returns the Avengers back to life.
  • Meanwhile, Namor encounters some loyal troops from Atlantis. Knowing that the D’bari freed the Avengers, and that they are on a deserted island, Namor leads his troops to battle the Avengers.

  • Captain America spends most of the fight hidden, observing both sides. He only joins the fray to rescue Rick Jones from Namor’s forces.

  • The fight ends when the D’bari spaceship starts to take off. Thinking it is an earthquake, Namor and his men escape in the water. The Avengers presumably leave via the ship that brought them to the island.
  • Rick Jones suspects that Captain America wants him to become his sidekick. Rick likes the idea, but fears how the Hulk will react to the news.

Is It Good?

I liked it. There’s quite a bit of nonsense in this issue, but it was fun. Cap’s resurrection has been reprinted and retold so many times over the years that it has become an iconic moment in Marvel history. And, in all honesty, the pages where Cap first wakes up still hold up. The rest of the issue is busy —- they battle Namor and discover a secret alien living among us —- but the quick pace helps keep things exciting, and makes it easier to ignore some of the silliness.

Continuity:

  • The people of Atlantis abandoned Namor in Fantastic Four Annual #1. They felt his loyalty was divided between the surface world and Atlantis. Namor has been looking for them ever since.
  • This is the first appearance of Captain America in the Silver Age. The last appearance of Captain America was in Captain America #78, published in 1954. Cap’s post-WWII appearances will eventually be retconned, but I’ll address that when/if I come across it.
  • The Avengers were cruising around in a submarine after their battle with the Hulk and Sub-Mariner in Avengers #3.
  • Captain America recounts his last memories and the death of his sidekick, Bucky:

  • Bucky Barnes’ death is revealed and detailed for the first time in this issue.
  • Rick Jones is apparently a doppelgänger for Bucky Barnes.

  • This is the first appearance of the D’bari alien race.
  • Namor is still referring to himself as a mutant.

  • In case you ever wondered, Namor is not worthy enough to lift Thor’s hammer.

  • Captain America and Namor do not appear to remember being allies in World War II, or even having met before. However, Cap seems to vaguely recall the name “Sub-Mariner.”
  • Captain America officially joins the Avengers at the end of this issue.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • It isn’t acknowledged enough: the only reason Captain America was revived is because Namor is a jerk.  If he didn’t pick on those Inuit for no reason, Cap would never have been found.
  • Remember when Sue Storm thought that Captain America was a fictional character, back in Strange Tales #114? No one seems surprised that he is a real person, so that apparently wasn’t a widespread belief.
  • Throwing Thor’s hammer in a submarine seems like a really terrible idea, since it regularly punches through heavy metals and rocks.

  • It never occurred to me until right now, but I don’t think the Wasp has been hit by anyone in a comic yet. That seems like an unrealistic expectation for a superhero.

  • Captain America remembers being worshipped by the Inuit because…um…reasons.

  • The alien is the inspiration for the mythical creature, Medusa.

  • “We’re off to a deserted island to salvage a UFO and hope this alien doesn’t betray us. Do we have everything? Don’t forget to bring Rick Jones, the normal teenager!”

  • How weird is it that Thor is the one using technology and magnets, and not Iron Man?

 

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Namor needs to stop being racist.

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