Avengers (1st series) #43

Issue Date: 
August 1967
Story Title: 
Color Him… Red Guardian!

Roy Thomas (writer), John Buscema (pencils), George Bell (inks), Jerry Mann (letters), Stan Lee (editor)

Brief Description: 

During a training session at the mansion, Quicksilver demonstrates that his speeding powers have improved and it almost looks like he can fly now. Some time later, Janet gets a visit from a lawyer who announces that she has now, thanks to her 23rd birthday, as agreed with her father, inherited all of his money and is from now on a very rich woman! Meanwhile, Hawkeye gets a little impatient and wants to find out where Natasha is being held captive. After tussling with the local thugs, he gets the information he wants and convinces Hercules to tag along with him for a mission behind the bamboo curtain. Meanwhile, Ling, Natasha’s captor, introduces his newest weapon to another General: the Red Guardian. After demonstrating his powers, the Guardian is allowed to battle and destroy the Avengers. Hercules and Hawkeye quickly take out the guards, but when they are faced with the Guardian, Hawkeye is quickly taken out. Hercules is left alone to battle him and, despite his great strength, he is fooled and lured into the chamber where the Psychotron weapon is stored. There, he has to fight an imaginary hydra-snake, not realizing what’s really going on. The Guardian imprisons Hawkeye into a holding cell next to Natasha. He also reveals to them both that he is in fact… Natasha’s husband! Devastated by this terrible news, Hawkeye tells Natasha not to even bother explain it to him. At the mansion, Cap starts to get worried and realizes Hawkeye and Hercules must be in trouble. Realizing their battle might result in war, the Avengers decide to take that risk and start an immediate rescue mission.

Full Summary: 

48 hours after the attack of Diablo and Dragon Man, Hawkeye, Captain America and Quicksilver are training at the mansion. Much to both Cap’s and Hawkeye’s surprise, Quicksilver demonstrates his new power: he has learned how to fly! Pietro is so happy about it that he quickly trains his powers and manages to move so fast he can even take Hawkeye’s bow and Cap’s shield out of their hands.

Wanda wants to know how her brother gained this new ability all of a sudden. Pietro wants to explain, but first teases Hercules by taking his Iliad away from him. Cap realizes Pietro is playing with fire by teasing Hercules and decides to stop it before a fight starts. He manages to kick Pietro down and apologizes for his juvenile behavior. Quicksilver reveals he was running so fast, it almost felt like he actually was flying for short distances. Cap mentions it’s alright, and mentions he and Hawkeye have to go discuss some important matters now.

Hercules holds them up, as he wants to test his strength against Cap. Hawkeye panics that Cap won’t stand a chance against the Prince of Power, and decides to keep his bow ready should Cap require help. The two fight, but Cap manages to use his advanced agility so he can dodge all of Hercules’ attacks, impressing him and finding it into his honor he can call Cap his friend.

Suddenly, a lawyer named Ebeneezer Walla enters the mansion, wanting to discuss something important concerning the Wasp. Both she and Goliath enter and are all ears. The lawyer reveals that, since Janet has now passed her 23rd birthday, the full sum of her father’s money now completely belongs to her! Both Hank and Janet they completely forgot about her birthday because of Diablo. Janet is thrilled, as this now means she gets to spend 25,000 dollars a year, meaning she is rich! During the confusion, Hawkeye used it to his advantage and left to search for Natasha, as Cap feared he would do. Wanda mentions Hawkeye never forgave himself for not trusting the Black Widow and believes it’s his fault she got kidnapped.

later that night, at the Lower East Side…
Hawkeye, in his civilian clothes, hopes the others won’t be too mad at him, but there’s some things a guy needs to do alone. He still can’t believe Natasha really was a secret agent working for SHIELD and is now a prisoner. He enters a dark bar where thugs hang out, and Clint goes looking for a guy named Bruiser. He finds Bruiser sitting at the bar, but the guy refuses to talk to him.

Hawkeye reveals his Avengers uniform and all of the thugs start to panic, fearing they’ll have to go to jail now. A fight breaks lose, but Hawkeye manages to defeat them all single handedly, impressing Bruiser and he decides to inform Hawkeye where he has heard the commies are holding the Widow and that she was betrayed by a guy inside SHIELD who afterwards even went over to the evil side.

Hawkeye leaves and returns to the mansion, where he finds an impatient Hercules not being able to sleep. He wants to go on an adventure. That’s fine by Hawkeye, and Hercules agrees to join him on his mission to rescue the Widow, and they leave in their plane together.

Meanwhile, Ling welcomes his General to his secret base. The General doesn’t want to stall any longer and is introduced to the Psychotron. That’s fine by Ling, but first he wants the general to meet the sentinel of the weapon: the Red Guardian! Ling explains that he is meant to be the exact counterpart of Captain America and born in this country. But the General remains unimpressed, as the only thing he sees is a man in a silly costume.

Red Guardian decides to demonstrate his powers, and throws his shield towards Brushov’s chair, breaking it apart and causing the general to almost fall. Ling panics because, if Brushov is hurt, it could mean war between their countries. Red Guardian tells his master he doesn’t have to worry, as his great speed allows him to safely catch Brushov in mid-air! The idea works, and Guardian explains that he wants to succeed the real Captain America in any way.

Brushov’s soldiers think the Guardian is attacking their leader and open fire. Red Guardian quickly defends himself, knocking the guns out of the soldier’s hands. Brushov tells everyone to relax, as he is impressed and shall allow the Guardian to attack the Avengers, much to his pleasure. Red Guardian promises he shall destroy them all!

At their plane, Hawkeye notices on the monitors that the Widow must still be wearing the homing device he gave her once, because now he can see on the monitor that guards are already awaiting them. Both he and Hercules quickly jump out of the plane and start the battle. Once they have fought through the first line of soldiers, more troops await but now they are armed with flamethrowers! Hawkeye demands to know where Natasha is, but then a shield hits his head, knocking him out.

Hercules tries to figure out, until the Red Guardian finally reveals himself. The Guardian isn’t impressed by the Prince of Power, joking that no mere lackey of Captain America shall defeat him. Hercules notices the resemblance between the Guardian and Cap and jokes back that no mere copy shall defeat him. Hercules’ strength proves to be much stronger, and the Guardian fakes that he knows he’s about to be defeated and has to escape. He quickly runs into a dark chamber, with Hercules following him. Once Hercules is inside the chamber, the Guardian uses his speed and runs outside, revealing that this was all a trap.

The door closes, and Hercules finds himself being attacked by the Psychotron and has to face a hydra-snake! Hercules panics a bit, as he knows that, once a head of the snake is destroyed, another quickly grows back in its place. Hercules doesn’t think he can win and has the hardest time withstanding the snake’s flame attacks. He tries to get himself together by remembering that his punches are so strong that they even once took out Dragon Man and Thor himself. He gets up and hits the hydra-snake but it hardly feels the punch. Hercules realizes that can only mean one thing: that he is dealing with a machine of some sort. He picks up a giant rock and throws it at the snake, which starts to lose its balance a bit.

Meanwhile, the Red Guardian notices that Hawkeye seems to be awake again. He tries to beat him, but Hawkeye quickly reacts and kicks the Guardian in his face, demanding that he brings him to his beloved Natasha. Red Guardian recognizes that name immediately, wanting to know what Hawkeye, an Avenger, his business is with her. Hawkeye admits that he truly loves the woman and wants to rescue her. Red Guardian doesn’t see the point in that, as the Widow is nothing but a tiresome tool to the democrats in his opinion. Hawkeye won’t take that offense and wants to fight again. That’s fine by the Guardian, who quickly throws his shield at Hawkeye and knocks him out.

Some time later, Hawkeye wakes up in a holding cell next to the Black Widow. He is happy to see her again but notices that the Guardian is guarding them. He decides it’s time to reveal himself to his darling. Hawkeye wants to know why the Red Guardian called Natasha his “darling.” The Guardian takes off his mask, and reveals to Hawkeye that he is in fact Natasha’s husband!

Natasha doesn’t know how she can ever explain this to Clint, but he doesn’t see the point in it all if it’s true that they are married. Red Guardian smirks that Hawkeye seems to be smarter than he looks, and decides to take off to prepare himself for the arrival of Captain America, confident he shall win the battle, thinking Cap won’t be as fit as he used to be 25 years ago during the War.

At Avengers Mansion, Goliath reports to Cap that he’s right about the fact that Hercules isn’t at his room either, which must mean that both he and Hawkeye took off by themselves to rescue Natasha. Cap has found a message from Hawkeye that, no matter what, he doesn’t want the team to follow them. Cap realizes there’s a truth behind Hawkeye’s request, because their presence could mean war. But he does suspect that their teammates must be in danger as well, so he has Goliath fetch Janet, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch and prepare an aero-car for an immediate rescue mission!

Characters Involved: 

Captain America, Goliath, Hawkeye, Hercules, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wasp (all Avengers)

Black Widow I (Natasha Romanova)
Red Guardian I (Alexi Shostakov)

Colonel Ling
Dr. Yen
General Brushov

Ebeneezer Wallaby (lawyer)

faux Hydra-snake (Psychotron effect)
Bruiser and several other thugs at the bar (all unnamed)
Ling’s soldiers (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

Dragon Man and Diablo attacked the Avengers in the two last issues.

This issue raises up the question if Quicksilver could use his speed powers to fly or not. But as Pietro reveals himself, he wasn’t actually flying, just running so fast it almost seemed like he was flying short distances.

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