Avengers (Vol. 1) #6

Credits:

Cover Date: July 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Chic Stone

“The Mighty Avengers Meet the Masters of Evil!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Chic Stone

What’s Going On?

Captain America’s WWII enemy Baron Zemo has collected a team of villains — called the Masters of Evil — to take on the mighty Avengers!

Details:

  • Deep in the jungles of South America, Baron Zemo lives like a king in exile. When he receives a rare delivery of supplies, among them is a newspaper proclaiming the return of Captain America, Zemo’s old enemy. Zemo immediately decides to head to America to destroy his old foe.

  • Zemo teams up with the Black Knight, the Melter, and Radioactive Man to form the Masters of Evil! Together, they coat New York City in Adhesive X to cause chaos and lure the Avengers into a trap.

  • The Avengers arrive on the scene, and the non-flying members (Captain America and Giant-Man) immediately got stuck in Adhesive X. Iron Man tried to help them get free, but it didn’t work.

  • The Avengers escape to Tony Stark’s mansion, and start contemplating how to free Cap and Giant-Man from the adhesive. The Wasp has the bright idea to ask adhesives expert Paste-Pot-Pete for help.

  • Once Cap and Giant-Man have been freed from Adhesive X (thanks to a solvent from Paste-Pot-Pete), Captain America starts taking changes of the team and formulating a plan!

  • One part of Cap’s plan is to have the Teen Brigade swap out the canisters of Adhesive X being used by the Masters of Evil with Paste-Pot-Pete’s solvent.

  • Step two of Cap’s plan is for the heroes to fight villains they are unfamiliar with. So, for example, instead of Thor fighting Radioactive Man, Giant-Man and Iron Man take care of him.

  • Meanwhile, Captain America and Baron Zemo fought alone.

  • The Masters of Evil are eventually defeated, with only Zemo escaping.

Is It Good?

Yes! It is great to see the Avengers actually working like a team for the first time. The membership of the Masters of Evil isn’t too impressive at this point, but the basic idea behind it is good; I am enjoying the influx of “mastermind” criminals (like Zemo and, in Amazing Spider-Man, Green Goblin) with plans that aren’t truly awful for a change. It was also fun seeing villains from each hero’s title show up to cause trouble —- or, in the case of Paste-Pot-Pete, provide assistance!

What this comic shows me, more than probably any Marvel comic to date, is the shared Marvel Universe. That is one of my favorite things about Marvel —- the continuity and intersecting character lives —- so I am very pleased to see it starting to blossom in the Silver Age.

Continuity:

  • New corner cover box alert! They’ve updated the art to reflect Iron Man’s new helmet.

  • Captain America’s shield has been given some gadgets by Iron Man, including magnets that bring the shield back to Cap after he throws it.

  • This is the first appearance of Baron Heinrich Zemo (he is only referred to as “Zemo” in this issue, though). He was a Nazi scientist in World War II, and he has trained extensively in hand-to-hand combat. It was his rocket that Bucky Barnes died to divert.
  • Zemo’s purple mask was initially worn to hide his identity from the public at large, so brutal and infamous were his experiments. It wound up being permanently attached to his face, thanks to Adhesive X (his own chemical invention) that spilled on him during a fight with Captain America.

  • Aside from Adhesive X, Zemo also has a hypno-ray that allows him to control the actions of others.

  • This is the first appearance of the Masters of Evil. The team (Baron Zemo, Black Knight, Melter, and Radioactive Man) was formed by Zemo.
  • The Black Knight last appeared in Tales to Astonish #52.
  • The Melter last appeared in Tales of Suspense #47.
  • The Melter’s “melting” has been upgraded by Baron Zemo so that it can now impact any metal, not just iron.

  • Radioactive Man last appeared in Journey Into Mystery #93.
  • Paste-Pot-Pete last appeared in Strange Tales #110.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Nowadays, we focus on how everyone Captain America knew and loved from World War II is dead or dying now. In 1964, though, most of them would be around fifty years-old and probably pretty eager to reconnect with Cap. I like that, rather than making any effort to reconnect to family or friends, Cap opts to seek revenge.

  • Baron Zemo utilizes Adhesive X as a weapon against the Avengers, and it never occurred to him that they might develop a solvent to counter it? He treats this like a happy coincidence, rather than something that a supposed master planner should have foreseen.

  • Remember Paste-Pot-Pete? He usually has longish brown hair and a chin beard, but here he is clean-cut, with a mustache and black hair. It’s either quite the makeover, or Jack Kirby forgot what Pete looked like.  Here he is in this issue, followed by an image of him taken from an earlier issue of Strange Tales:

pastepot_pete

  • Captain America’s master plan involves sending the Teen Brigade to 1) find the Masters of Evil, who could be anywhere around NYC 2) carry tanks of the solvent with them 3) once they find the bad guys, stay hidden until the Master of Evil need to refill their Adhesive X spray tanks 4) swap out the Adhesive X tanks with the solvent tanks (which OF COURSE look the same) without being noticed. Yeah, that sounds like something teenagers with HAM radios should be able to do easily.
  • Lead-coated balloons can still fly?

  • The Melter can “melt” metals, for example…masonry?

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • The good news is that Marvel included some people of color in this issue. The bad news is…well…look at how they’re portrayed:

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