Avengers (Vol. 1) #18

Credits:

Cover Date: July 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

“When the Commisar Commands!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Don Heck

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

The Avengers travel to a tiny nation to overthrow their government, which is definitely not something with complex implications.

Details:

  • The oppressed people of Sin-Cong have reached out to the Avengers, asking for help in usurping their Communist leaders.

  • When they arrive in Sin-Cong, though, they are welcomed by the military. It is obvious that they have walked into a trap.

  • The Avengers fight their way through the initial wave of soldiers…

  • …but the team soon succumbs to trickery. Wanda falls into a trap and is captured, while the other three are dosed with a sleeping gas and brought to face the mighty Commissar.

  • The Commissar wants to defeat the Avengers in front of a crowd. To get his propaganda victory, the Commissar insists on fighting the Avengers one by one, while holding the Scarlet Witch hostage.

  • It quickly becomes apparent that the Commissar is a formidable opponent. He is able to easily shrug off Captain America’s mightiest attacks.

  • The Commissar’s strength proves too much for Cap, Hawkeye, and Quicksilver. However, Cap realizes that there is something suspicious about the villain. He challenges to Commissar to battle the Scarlet Witch, so she can act on his hunch.

  • Acting on a suggestion from Captain America, Wanda attacks Major Hoy instead of the Commissar. It turns out that the Commissar was actually a robot being controlled by Hoy, and Wanda destroyed both the controls and the robot. Capitalism wins again.

Is It Good?

Well…no. It’s jingoistic to an amusing degree, and this story will age poorly, as these same characters (I imagine) will eventually have to explain why they are not overthrowing other governments.

I did like the teamwork on display in this issue. I really like how they feel like a team, rather than solo heroes taking turns.

But woof, the casual decision to overthrow a foreign government is mind-boggling to me.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of Major Hoy and the Commissar. They won’t reappear in the Marvel Universe until after 2015’s Secret Wars.
  • This is also the first appearance of Sin-Cong. This fictional Asian nation won’t reappear in the Marvel Universe until 1989.
  • Captain America is still waiting for a response to the letter he sent Nick Fury in Avengers #15, asking for a job as a spy.

  • Even though Thor has not officially quit the team like Iron Man, Giant-Man, and the Wasp, Cap sure seems to have accepted his absence as a resignation.

  • The Scarlet Witch likes the theatre, and Quicksilver likes the circus. I’m not sure why this is specifically pointed out, and I don’t know if it will ever be mentioned again.

  • Hawkeye has added a vibration arrow to his arsenal. It can lift heavy objects by vibrating at ultrasonic speeds. In a bizarre storytelling choice, he doesn’t explicitly use this arrow against the Commissar.

  • This is the first appearance of Nick Fury’s eyepatch, even if it is just in Cap’s mind. He still has both of his eyes in his only modern day appearance to date, Fantastic Four #21.

  • The Avengers apparently don’t need approval from the US government to attack foreign nations.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • First of all, I find the science behind this arrow to be even more comic book-y than usual. I’m not a scientist, but I’m going to go ahead and say that this arrow would not work like that. More importantly, I want to know what happened to the safe. Did it fly into space? Did it land in the middle of New York City? Why isn’t Hawkeye worried about fatalities?

  • I like that Cap is imagining Fury with an eyepatch. It’s like Cap doesn’t understand how people age, so he’s just making arbitrary changes to Nick’s appearance in his mind.

  • Marvel’s superheroes seem to all agree that Namor is the violent leader of a dangerous nation, but no one wants to depose Namor because he has nobility. Meanwhile, this is the second time an Avenger has tried to topple a foreign government for being Communist (the other time being Tales to Astonish #54).
  • This is actually a solid point/counterpoint. Now, Hawkeye, explain why the Avengers are not fighting in Vietnam.

  • I give you Hawkeye without a mask, which is clearly a creative choice, and definitely not because Don Heck drew Quicksilver, and Stan made a mistake when scripting.
  • Captain America making fun of anyone’s fashion sense is a bold choice.

  • Why doesn’t Quicksilver just speed over and push Major Hoy away? How fast is he supposed to be?

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