Cover Date: November 10, 1965
Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Wally Wood
“The Road Back”
Plotters: Stan Lee, Don Heck
Scripter: Stan Lee
Penciller: Don Heck
Inker: Wally Wood
What’s Going On?
How can the evil Enchantress and Power Man be defeated when the Avengers have been ordered by the government to disband?
- Ordered by the mayor of New York City to disband, the Avengers have reached a low point. While Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch are prepared to give up their dreams of heroism, Captain America is not. And he acts like a jerk about it.
- They leave, and Cap starts feeling sorry for himself, guilty over leading the team into failure.
- After being turned down for the Ed Sullivan Show (Hawkeye), the carnival (Quicksilver), and modeling agencies (Scarlet Witch), the former Avengers are desperate for jobs. They respond to an invite from the Masters of Menace and are hired, apparently unaware that this circus is run by criminals.
- When the Ringmaster finally explains his criminal plans to the heroes, though, they resist.
- When the Ringmaster reveals that he will hypnotize the former Avengers into doing his bidding if they do not join him willingly, the heroes attack.
- Not surprisingly, three former Avengers wipe the floor with the Masters of Menace with ease. The Ringmaster makes a clever move, though; he finds some police officers, and accuses the heroes of trying to rob his circus. With all of the recent negative Avengers publicity, the police believe him! The former Avengers are forced to run from the law.
- Meanwhile, Power Man and the Enchantress (who are just lounging around in their costumes, like normal people) are visited by a fast-talking businessman. He proposes that they start a new superhero team to become famous and replace the Avengers. He even takes credit for the fall of the Avengers; Power Man takes issue with this, and gloats that he and the Enchantress framed the Avengers.
- Obviously, Power Man’s not too bright. The businessman was actually Captain America in disguise, and he recorded Power Man’s confession!
- Cap puts up a good fight, but Power Man is just too…you guessed it…powerful. Cap is unable to defeat the villain or escape with the tape recording.
- As luck would have it, the other former Avengers visited Power Man’s home while he was fighting Cap, and they took the Enchantress by surprise. This enraged Power Man, but the Avengers were able to hold their own against him. When the Enchantress awoke, though, she decided that she didn’t want to bother fighting the Avengers any longer. She left abruptly.
- Without the Enchantress by his side, Power Man surrenders.
- The Avengers hand Power Man’s confession over to the police and have their good names cleared. It looks like the truth behind the Masters of Mayhem also came to light.
- Even though the city is celebrating the Avengers again, Captain America has had enough. He quits the team!
- To be continued…!
Is It Good?
I like it better than last issue, but still not great. I enjoyed Captain America’s ridiculous undercover work, and Cap quitting the team at the end was a surprise. But the rest of this story was pretty dumb. The Heck/Wood combination looks a little better this month, but the dreary script leaves them without much interesting to draw.
- Captain America quits the Avengers in this issue.
- The Masters of Menace (the Ringmaster, Clown, Princess Python, the Great Gambonnos, the Human Cannonball, and Bruto the Stong Man) —- previously known as the Circus of Crime —- last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #22. They have apparently welcomed the Ringmaster back to the team as their leader.
- The Masters of Menace were jailed after their last appearance, but served their time and were released in time for this story. If time in the Marvel Universe passes at the same rate that it does in the real world, that means they served no more than eight months for art theft —- and that was at least the third time they had been jailed for theft (after Incredible Hulk #3 and Amazing Spider-Man #16) —- which seems like a pretty light sentence.
- Hawkeye has high-intensity sound arrows that circle their targets instead of hitting them.
- In case readers were wondering where the other founding Avengers are, it is shown here. Apparently, this story takes place during Journey Into Mystery #122 (which, like this issue, also has a cover date of November 1965) and Tales of Suspense #72 (which has a cover date of December 1965). I like that they don’t even bother giving a real update on Giant-Man, and fail to mention the Hulk or the Wasp.
- It’s worth noting that Power Man is not arrested at the end of this issue.
Comics Are Goofy:
- It seems odd that the Ringmaster refers to his team as the “Masters of Menace,” when that was the name the Circus of Crime took after kicking him out.
- Why does Hawkeye think the Cap will beat up Quicksilver? This fight looks pretty one-sided to me, in favor of the speedster.
- Cap wore a mask over his mask, and was still able to fool Power Man?
- Power Man really needs to find self-esteem from something beyond romantic relationships.
- You might read this thing and think “Boy, Power Man really screwed this up!” But…this whole thing was the Enchantress’ plan.
- Power Man didn’t commit any crimes? He and the Enchantress are at least partially responsible for the property damage from last issue, as well as staging the robbery that Power Man stopped.