Cover Date: August 1965
Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
“The Coming of…the Swordsman!”
Plotters: Stan Lee, Don Heck
Scripter: Stan Lee
Penciller: Don Heck
Inker: Dick Ayers
What’s Going On?
The villainous Swordsman attacks the Avengers in an attempt to join the team. It’s not a great plan.
- Meet the Swordsman! He is a criminal that thinks being an Avenger would allow him to get away for more crimes. TWANNG!
- With that inspiration, the Swordsman breaks into Avengers mansion. He battles Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, until they get the upper hand. At that point, he announces that he wants to become an Avenger.
- The Swordsman then takes this opportunity to take a cheap shot at Quicksilver. This justifiably pisses the Scarlet Witch off, and she knocks him out with her hex powers.
- While Captain America, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch look into the Swordsman’s reputation (hint: he’s got a bad one), the villain escapes. When Hawkeye learns about it, he reveals that he was once the protégée of the Swordsman in the circus; many years ago, when Hawkeye refused to help the Swordsman steal, his mentor turned on him, and left him for dead.
- Meanwhile, a local goon stumbles upon Captain America’s letter to Nick Fury (he wrote it a few issues back). He sells it to the Swordsman, who sets a trap for Cap.
- Captain America walks right into the Swordsman’s trap. The two fight, and it looks like Cap will eventually be victorious…
- …but a lucky break knocks Cap out. When he awakes, he is bound and on a high ledge. The rest of the Avengers have tracked him to this point, but the Swordsman is threatening to kill Cap unless the Avengers make him the new leader of the team.
- The rest of the team prepares to concede to the Swordsman’s demand, but Captain America instructs them not to do it. He then leaps from the ledge, taking away the Swordsman’s advantage —- and, presumably, plummeting to his death.
- To be continued…!
Is It Good?
Well, there are some pretty good moments. I liked the insight into Hawkeye’s past. I thought that Lee & Heck would have wanted to make Clint a former accomplice of the Swordsman, since we already know Hawkeye as a reformed villain; instead, they set up their relationship as a mentor/disillusioned protégée, which makes Hawkeye a little more heroic than we’ve seen him portrayed thus far. It’s not a bad choice!
On the whole, though, this wasn’t a very good issue. The Swordsman’s plan is mind-bogglingly unrealistic, and there are a few times where Quicksilver’s speed should have stopped the Swordsman with ease. Don Heck’s artwork is okay, but the fight scenes with Cap and the Swordsman were not great; that wouldn’t normally bother me, but having Jack Kirby do crazy action scenes with Cap every month in Tales of Suspense has spoiled me a bit.
- Marvel has updated their cover corner box format. It now has a “Marvel Pop Art Productions” logo. This logo — and the term “Pop Art Productions” — won’t last long. I think it is replaced by early 1966. Curiously, this logo is only used intermittently after its introduction; some titles, will use it occasionally, but other titles, like Sgt. Fury, Strange Tales,and Tales to Astonish won’t use it at all.
- This is the first appearance of the Swordsman, Jacques Duquesne (not that his real name is given in this story). Aside from being an expert swordsman, he is also Hawkeye’s mentor in the circus.
- We now know why Nick Fury hasn’t responded to Captain America’s letter from Avengers #15. Nick didn’t answer the letter because he didn’t receive it; Fury now works for SHIELD, not the CIA, and the letter was sent to his CIA office.
- The first official appearance of SHIELD and Hydra is in Strange Tales #135, which shares an August 1965 cover date with this issue. We see a cameo by Hydra agents here, and there is a reference to SHIELD.
- Hawkeye and Quicksilver are both still very interested in assuming a leadership role on the team.
Comics Are Goofy:
- The Swordsman’s plan is to insult and/or threaten his way onto the Avengers roster so he can commit crimes. I don’t known if I could have kept reading this series if that actually worked.
- The Swordsman convinces Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch to stop attacking him and consider him for membership on the team. Naturally, his very next action is to betray their trust and take a cheap shot. This guy is not a great tactician.
- Uh, Cap…you’re on a team that includes siblings that helped conquer a small nation and a guy who knowingly aided a Russian agent. How bad can the Swordsman’s rap sheet be?
- Cap shows his joy with interpretive dance. At least, that’s my takeaway.
- That’s a mighty tight close-up to not show individual teeth.
Well, That Aged Poorly:
- It would be nice if, just once, Stan could write a female character being strong without playing into a stereotype.