Episode 24: The Road Back

Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller: Don Heck
Inker: Wally Wood
Letterer: Art Simek

Plot Summary

After the disastrous events of last issue, the Avengers struggle with what to do now that they have been disbanded as the result of a court order. While Captain America is convinced that Power Man couldn’t have managed such traps without help, the others seem unaffected, instead choosing that it’s time move on. Though Cap attempts to motivate his teammates, his methods are flawed and only serve to widen the existing divide that already exists. When Cap insults Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver escalates the situation by attacking Cap. Only when Hawkeye steps in to restrain Quicksilver does the fight end and the warring teammates part ways. With the others gone, Cap begins to wonder how things could have gone so wrong and how he will ever face the original Avengers again, given his unquestioned failure as team leader.

While Cap is off thinking things through, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch all begin looking for jobs to sustain themselves with. While Hawkeye is turned down by the Ed Sullivan Show, Quicksilver is laughed out of an agent’s office and Scarlet Witch is dismissed out of hand at an audition. Unbeknownst to the Avengers, the Circus of Crime, recently released from prison, has become aware of their predicament and comes to offer employment. When the Avengers arrive to met their new colleagues, they are stunned to discover the Circus of Crime’s illicit intent. When they refuse to join in the Circus’ plans, Ringmaster tries to hypnotize Quicksilver. The mutant speedster is far too quick to fall into that particular trap and the Avengers spring to action against the rest of the Circus. As the heroes make short work of the would be criminals, Ringmaster decides to call the police, knowing that the Avengers had been forcibly disbanded, hoping that they would assume the team was breaking the court order. With the police on their heels, the three heroes make their escape with the help of a smoke arrow from Hawkeye.

Meanwhile, throughout the country, a heated debate rages as people both support and condemn the Avengers. Many wonder where the original members have gone to and why they haven’t come to retake their rightful place.

As for Power Man and Enchantress, they are enjoying the fruits of their labors and are beginning to explore the potential future of their partnership. Suddenly a knock at the door brings them back to reality and they are confronted by a man claiming to be a publicity agent. Realizing that with the Avengers gone, there is a vacancy for a super hero team, the publicity agent suggests that Power Man and Enchantress form a team. Both Enchantress and Power Man immediately jump at the idea and the press agent tells them that it’s the logical next step in his mind since he was the one who orchestrated the discrediting of the Avengers. Knowing that this man could have absolutely no connection with discrediting the Avengers, Power Man explains to him exactly how he and Enchantress were responsible, much to the displeasure of Enchantress. With that confession, the press agent reveals that he is none other than Captain America.

Now unmasked, Cap attempts to make a quick exit with the recording tape he had hidden within his briefcase, but not before tangling with Power Man for a bit. This time however, Cap is aware of the effects of Enchantress’ sorcery and ensures that he remains unaffected. Fighting at his full strength, Cap is able to fight off Power Man and make is way out to the roof of the building. Although he was initially beaten down by Cap, Power Man quickly recovers, catches up with, and overpowers Cap, carrying him back down to Enchantress. When he arrives though, Enchantress is on the floor and he finds himself face to face with one of Hawkeye’s arrows. Throwing Cap at Hawkeye, Power Man realizes that he must now face the entire Avengers lineup. Though he initially fares well, he quickly finds himself surrounded. Just as it appears that Enchantress will enter the fight, she decides to abandon Power Man. With his paramour gone, Power Man loses the will to keep fighting and surrenders.

Once the police and city council are provided with the recorded evidence, the Avengers have their names cleared and are permitted to return to duty. The city even holds a celebration in their honor. Just as things are getting back to normal though, Cap drops a bomb on the team; he is leaving the Avengers.

Avengers

Captain America
Hawkeye
Quicksilver
Scarlet Witch

Villains

Circus of Crime
Enchantress
Power Man

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