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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The Bitter Taste of Defeat

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

Plot Summary

As the Avengers settle into their new lives, Hawkeye takes some time to perform some basic maintenance on the myriad of devices located within Avengers Mansion. As Hawkeye continues his work, Captain America shows up and begins to berate Hawkeye. According to Cap, only Tony Stark is authorized to maintain the equipment, as it is delicate and irreplaceable if damaged. As the conversation continues, tensions flare until Cap and Hawkeye are practically at one another’s throats. The pair is only broken up by Quicksilver’s arrival, but even that isn’t enough to calm the situation and eventually the team decides to sleep on things and maybe they will be better in the morning.

Meanwhile, in the South American jungle where Baron Zemo’s former castle is located, a solitary figure makes his way into the structure. As the only remaining guard, the man has been working to access Zemo’s lab, knowing that it contains the equipment that transformed Simon Williams into Wonder Man. Although he is able to reach the equipment, he is unfortunately clueless as to its operation. Just as the guard is coming to this conclusion, he is observed by Enchantress. The Asgardian sorceress then transports herself to the castle and offers to help the guard achieve his goal. Enchantress then uses Zemo’s equipment and transformers the guard in much the same way Simon Williams was transformed into Wonder Man. With his newfound powers, the guard, whom Enchantress dubs Power Man, agrees to help Enchantress defeat the Avengers.

Back in New York, the Avengers respond to an alert of a monster attacking Midtown put out by the Teen Brigade. When they arrive on scene, they discover they are the only ones there aside from the creature. Hawkeye immediately attempts to use a blast arrow on the creature, but it mysteriously pass right through. Several more attack end in a similar result before the creature seems to just disappear. Shortly thereafter, the police arrive and confront the Avengers. The heroes are confused when the officer informs them that he was responding to calls that the Avengers were running amok in Midtown and that there was no mention of any monster. The team is forced to admit they don’t know what is going on and they are made to pay for the damages they caused. Little do they know that this is just the first of Enchantress’ traps they are about to fall into.

Having returned to the mansion, the Avengers try to figure out what just happened, when they intercept a radio report that some subway tracks have been damaged and that the Avengers are to blame. Immediately Quicksilver rushes off to investigate while the rest of the team follows behind. When he arrives, Quicksilver does indeed find damaged tracks, but before he can ascertain what has happened, he is attacked from behind by Power Man and knocked unconscious. As the rest of the team catches up, they discover that a runaway train is coming down the tracks, towards the damage and the prone Quicksilver. Only the quick application of Hawkeye’s blast arrows is enough to stop the deserted train from total destruction. Of course the blast arrows themselves cause considerable damage, which the Avengers are again blamed for causing. Having now twice been blamed for things outside their control, the Avengers begin to fight amongst themselves and ending each going their separate ways to calm down.

North of New York in Westchester, Power Man hurls a giant stone at a car speeding away from a nearby facility, stopping the car dead in its tracks. With their vehicle stopped, the two guards within begin to flee, but are confronted by Power Man. Right as this is happening, Captain America just so happens to be passing by in a helicopter and seeing the situation, sets down in order to aid the guards. Though he is initially able to slow down Power Man, Captain America is eventually beaten back thanks to a little assistance from Enchantress. It also becomes clear that the guards that Cap was “helping” were in fact thieves in disguise who had stolen plans from the nearby facility. Again, Captain America has fallen for another trap.

After Cap’s recent humiliation, Hawkeye decides to pay Power Man a visit at the mansion he is currently occupying. When he arrives, he is confronted by Power Man who makes rather quick work of the Avengers. At the same time, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are leaving a theater. Quicksilver excuses himself, saying he needs to run an errand and makes his way to the same mansion. Although he is able to evade most of Power Man’s attacks, Quicksilver is eventually stopped when Power Man hits him with the spray from a high pressure water pipe. Finally, Scarlet Witch also makes her way to the mansion, only to be stopped by the police, who have received a call about trespassers at the mansion. This is the final straw, and the next day the mayor and city council declare the Avengers public menaces and obtain a court order disbanding the Avengers.

Avengers

Captain America
Hawkeye
Quicksilver
Scarlet Witch

Villains

Enchantress
Power Man