Essential Avengers: Avengers #19: “The Coming of… The Swordsman!”

We jump right into things with the Swordsman deciding to break into Avengers mansion and demand to join them despite a checkered past. If Iron Man was still running things, he’d be a member in no time.

Granted, Swordsman has less than noble goals – he wants to join the Avengers because you can get away with more stuff if you flash an Avengers ID card. He also thinks that the Avengers would have to be idiots to turn him down. Considering his actual performance when he actually joins the Avengers as an actual good guy… he has an inflated estimate on his skills.

Anyway, he breaks into Avenger’s mansion – geez guys, stop making me think Gyrich was right about your security down the line – and assaults Quicksilver when Quicksilver tells him to stop intruding. Scarlet Witch also shows up and casts a hex that gives the Swordsman butterfingers but she also nails Quicksilver with it and causes him to run into a thing. And then Swordsman throws his sword at the thing Quicksilver ran into.

I wonder if this is one of those writer/artist disconnects, where the artist drew Wanda’s hex causing the Swordsman to lose his grip on his sword so that it flew from his hand but Lee wrote him intentionally throwing his weapon away like an idiot.

Because Swordsman quickly realizes that facing Quicksilver without a weapon is dumb so he bluffs, saying he wants to join the Avengers and that he was just testing them. And then as soon as he’s close enough to his sword he wangs Quicksilver across the head with it.

But he does want to join the Avengers so what was the bluff? He says that he was just getting even for Quicksilver hitting him but that’s no way to get people to let you join, dude.

Anyway, Scarlet Witch hexes a big computer looking dealie and it explodes, pelting Swordsman with bits, knocking him out. Effective, certainly but you know Tony Stark is going to have to pay to replace that. It’s a wonder he can stand any of the Avengers.

Anyway, Cap shows up to wonder what all the hubbub is. He looks up the Swordsman in the Avengers database and learn that he’s been exiled from a dozen countries. Cap is frankly shocked Swordsman would think the Avengers would admit him. Cap probably wouldn’t have let Hawkeye join if it had been up to him though.

But Swordsman rouses and literally cuts the lights to make his escape.

Later, Cap returns to his training. Working out keeps his mind off the fact that Fury hasn’t replied to his letter yet. Cap fears that Fury-sempai will never notice him. “I yearn to be in action every minute!” Huh. Yeah. I think the theory that MCU Cap’s biggest fear is peace might have some grounding in the comic.

Hawkeye shows up to wonder what all the hubbub was and is shocked to hear it was the Swordsman – the only man he used to fear. TIME FOR BACKSTORY!

Hawkeye was an orphan and he joined the circus. He idolized Swordsman and his sword tricks and practiced obsessively to master archery. Swordsman was apparently his archery teacher??? Archery and swords seem two very different things.

Pre-Hawkeye: “Some day I’ll be as good with my bow as you are with your sword! You’ll see!”

Swordsman: “Don’t try it, kid! Don’t ever try it! I’m warning you – it won’t be healthy!”

Um, warning signs right there?

Anyway, Hawkeye caught Swordsman with stolen money and was bitter and disillusioned that his idol was corrupt. Swordsman reveals that he was only mentoring Hawkeye to make him an accomplice.

Hawkeye fled up the tightrope because he has never made good life decisions but Swordsman chases him up, deflects arrows with a sword and then cuts the tightrope. Swordsman assumed that Hawkeye had died in the fall. Also, Hawkeye wasn’t going by Hawkeye back then so Swordsman has no idea Hawkeye is his old student. Kind of a shame, it removes a personal element if Swordsman thought he could get in with the Avengers by appealing to his past with Hawkeye or trying to blackmail him.

MEANWHILE, Cap’s letter has just been sitting in Fury’s abandoned office this whole time. Some Hydra goons are spying on Fury’s office and use a displacer ray to steal the letter in hopes that it has some clue to Fury’s location. Yeah, Hydra just casually has teleport rays. Upon learning that the letter was just Cap begging for a job, the Hydra agents angrily crumple up the letter and throw it out the window.

Some two-bit criminal finds it and learns that Swordsman is willing to pay a cool grand for a lead on how to trap an Avenger. I think Cap’s signature would go for more than a grand but this is pre-eBay. The criminal gives the letter to Swordsman (who doesn’t even pay him, what a jerk).

The next day, Cap gets a response back from Fury (It’s a trap!) saying He Wants You, Cap. Cap is overjoyed that he can now be in action AT ALL TIMES but the other Avengers are lukewarm, feeling like he’s abandoning them. Quicksilver asks what gives Cap the right to be a part-time Avenger. “My entire life gives me the right, mister!” Oh snap, you done got tole, Quicksilver.

BUT HOWEVER: later, Hawkeye is rounding up some two-time losers and catches the letter guy from earlier, who confesses to giving the letter to Swordsman, thinking that Hawkeye already found out.

Also, Hawkeye calls Cap ‘glamor pants.’ That’s…. wow, Hawkeye.

Hawkeye, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch try to contact Cap and warn him IT’S A TRAP but he won’t respond to hailing frequencies. But then they remember the Tracer Beam! It’s a thing Tony Stark invented that homes in on Cap’s belt. How convenient!

MEANWHILE, Cap arrives at a warehouse and is instantly suspicious that Fury chose this as a meeting ground.

Proving that the Swordsman is an intellect without peer, his trap for Cap is to loudly announce that it’s a trap, zip line down and then attack him. He plans to take Cap hostage and force the Avengers to make him a member.

Um… what’s your follow-up? Are you going to hold Cap hostage indefinitely? Do you think the Avengers wouldn’t just beat you up and revoke your membership as soon as Cap is safe?

Anyway, Cap proves every bit Swordsman’s equal and the fight rages on for many no-doubt exciting panels. I like fight scenes because unless something silly happens, I can just skim over most of it in these posts. So here’s the silly way the fight ends. Swordsman tries to use a mechanized hydraulic lift to bury Cap in crates so Cap jumps on top of the vehicle and then Swordsman crashes into crates and they bury Cap anyway.

The other Avengers arrive and discover Cap is Swordsman’s hostage. If the Avengers don’t agree to make Swordsman not only a member but the leader of the Avengers, Swordsman will push Cap off the building.

Leader is more ambitious but this plan has the same problems. What is your follow-through, Swordsman? Are you thinking more than five minutes ahead?

Anyway, the Avengers are afraid of risking Cap’s safety and are about to accept the Swordsman’s terms. Before they can, Cap jumps off the building so Swordsman wouldn’t have any leverage.

“And so, the new Avengers face their first impending tragedy! Yet, sometimes the flames of glory can rise from the ashes of defeat! Don’t dare miss our gripping sequel next issue – the tale history will long remember as – “Vengeance is Ours!”

Welp, Cap is dead forever.