Episode 137: Does Evil Exist? (Avengers #6) -- July 1964
In this episode:
Mike and Ed discuss the nature of evil. Does even the most villainous criminal truly think of themselves as “Evil”? Is being amoral the same as being evil, or is that just selfish? When a group of criminals call themselves the “Masters of Evil”, how should we interpret that? Does it matter that their leader is a former Nazi? Once you signed up to work for a Nazi, you must at least be admitting somewhat to yourself that you are evil. Also: How do we know which supervillains are redeemable?
Behind the comic:
For the first couple of years of the Silver Age, Stan Lee was creating new villains for the heroes to fight every month. Then he started bringing the villains he liked back for re-matches. This issue is the culmination of that trend. It brings back three villains who have fought individual Avengers to fight group vs group. One neat twist is that the villains initially fight the Avenger that they had fought in the past, but then during the re-match the Avengers mix it up and go after villains who are not properly matched for their abilities. For instance, Melter is dangerous against Iron Man, but there is not much he can do against Giant-Man.
The villains are brought together under the leadership of Baron Zemo. The issue hints that Zemo was an archenemy of Captain America during WWII, and was responsible for the death of Bucky. This is all “Retroactive Continuity”. Zemo was a new villain created in the 1960s, and then given this backstory (just like the story of Bucky dying and Captain America being frozen in ice was a retro-continuity invented in Avengers #4). Zemo clearly goes on to be an important character, and a version is used as the primary antagonist in the MCU film Captain America: Civil War.
In this issue:
Captain America shows off his new “magnetized” shield/glove combo that allows him to basically control his shield in ways that would otherwise seem to defy the laws of physics. Meanwhile, Zemo relays his backstory to one of his agents, explaining how his mask was glued to his face during a fight with Captain America in WWII. The action then kicks into high gear, with the Black Knight flying through the city, spraying an adhesive around, causing vehicles to stick to the roads, boats to be stuck in the water, and all around causing some sticky business in the city. At the same time, the Melter melts the ground, making it sticky, too. And the Radioactive Man is radiating around, also causing things to get sticky. The Avengers meet the challenge, battling the villains in the street. Zemo joins the fray. The Avengers are tied up in sticky stuff, and retreat. They reach out to Paste Pot Pete in prison for advice on how to fix the sticky problem they face, and he directs them to a super-dissolver that he has which can dissolve any adhesive. This helps the Avengers unstick, and return to the battle with Zemo and his cronies. The Avengers are then able to defeat this group, who call themselves the Masters of Evil.
Assumed before the next episode:
Other supervillains are thinking about creating a supervillain group.
This episode takes place:
After the Masters of Evil have been defeated.