Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Don Heck
Inker: Dick Ayers
Letterer: Art Simek
Meet the Swordsman! A swashbuckler and all around treacherous individual. As the issue begins, Swordsman is explaining that he wishes to join The Avengers because once he has an Avengers ID, he can get away with anything.
Over in Avengers Mansion, brother and sister Pietro and Wanda Maximoff are on call for the evening and are beginning to feel the strains of boredom. Just as they start to think it will be a quiet night, they are alerted to an intruder in their home. Rushing off to investigate, Pietro comes across Swordsman within Avengers Mansion and immediately confronts the stranger. Soon Wanda has joined in the fight, though her Hex powers go awry, causing Pietro to slam into a nearby computer. Though Swordsman attempts to halt the fighting, his own pride prevents the cessation from lasting long. Eventually Captain America joins his teammates and upon investigating Swordsman’s background, they determine that he is wholly unfit to serve as an Avenger. Upon hearing this revelation, Swordsman makes a quick exit and the Maximoff siblings pursue him into the night.
When Cap tells Hawkeye of the evenings events, Hawkeye is stunned to hear that the Swordsman was their visitor. Not only is Hawkeye familiar with the man, but he practically raised Hawkeye and his brother after their parents died. At the time Swordsman worked in a circus and he taught Hawkeye to shoot a bow and arrow. When Hawkeye caught Swordsman stealing money from the circus, Swordsman confronted Hawkeye and in the end left him for dead. Of course, unknown to Swordsman, Hawkeye survived when the tightrope managed to arrest his fall.
Elsewhere in New York, we see the letter Captain America wrote to Nick Fury just sitting on a desk. That desk however is under surveillance by Hydra who is trying to determine Fury’s location. The vile Hydra agents use a beam to transport the letter to their hiding place so that they may read it and see if it contains information regarding the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent or his whereabouts. Fortunately for the Colonel, it contains no such information and the Hydra agents quickly dispose of it out a nearby window where it is discovered by a passerby.
As luck would have it, that passerby is a local lowlife and card player. As he partakes in his usual card game, word comes around that Swordsman is looking for any information that might be used to trap an Avenger. Having just such information, he departs his game and makes straight for Swordsman. When the card shark arrives, Swordsman forcibly takes the letter and refuses to pay the man until after he has successfully trapped Captain America.
The next day at Avengers Mansion, Cap is overwhelmed with joy. After weeks of waiting, Nick Fury has finally responded to Cap’s letter and requests a meeting with Cap. Unfortunately, his fellow Avengers are less thrilled with Cap becoming a part time member of the team. After some harsh words are exchanged, Cap departs for his meeting and Hawkeye goes out on patrol to relieve some stress. While he is out on the streets, Hawkeye manages to break up a safe robbery. As he confronts the getaway driver, who is the very same man that discovered Cap’s letter, Hawkeye finds out that Captain America is walking into a trap. Though initially he doesn’t want to get involved because of their earlier confrontation, Hawkeye realizes that his duty as an Avenger is more important than his current personal feelings. As such, he rushes back to Avengers Mansion to enlist the aid of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
Just as Hawkeye is returning to the mansion, Captain America enters a warehouse and suddenly has a bad feeling about things. Of course, Cap’s feeling is justified when moments later Swordsman swings down from a stack of boxes and attacks Cap. The two combatants battle through the entirety of the warehouse as they crash crates and spare parts on one another, finally culminating when Swordsman crashes a forklift into a stack of boxes and manages to knock out Captain America. While all of this is going on, the remaining Avengers track Cap down using the homing device in his belt.
When they arrive on scene, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver find Cap and Swordsman high above them on the building next door. Cap is tied up and has been forced out on a narrow plank at sword point. Now that he has their attention, Swordsman delivers his ultimatum; either The Avengers accept him as their new leader, or he will push Captain America off the plank, letting him plummet to his death. As the trio debates what to do, they suddenly see Cap fall from the plank. Although they are stunned, they realize that it wasn’t Swordsman that force Cap over the edge, but Cap himself, sparing his teammates the impossible decision. All they can do now is watch in horror as Cap hurtles towards the ground below.