Who are we to say whether a legend has died or is just a'borning?
No Longer Alone is the start of Jim Steranko's seminal and short run on Captain America and this issue sees Rick Jones returning to Captain America's side in the Avengers and taking up the Bucky mantle full-time. We are also introduced to one of Cap's greatest enemies; Madame Hydra.
Cap is walking down some generic moody and dark streets as he smokes (yeah, Cap smokes apparently) when suddenly out of nowhere the Hulk smashes through a wall being chased by the Army. Cap tries to fight the Hulk but then Rick shows up and tries to pacify the Hulk only for the green goliath to attack him. Hulk leaps away leaving an injured Rick behind who Cap takes back to Avengers Mansion. Rick puts on a Bucky costume and decides to become Steve's sidekick as the two suddenly are fighting HYDRA. They beat them up but not before Rick screws up a few times.
This is generic to two extremes. On one hand we have the pure silly Silver Age logic of getting from X to Y without much explanation (Hulk just happens to be being chased by the Army a few feet away but Cap is completely unaware, Cap and Rick just happen to instantly stumble upon HYDRA) and on the other hand there's the dark and moody atmosphere courtesy of Steranko which while highly innovative, looking back on it now just reads like a corny parody. Then we have the Hulk appearance which is basically just there as a means to get Rick into the book. Hulk's presence isn't explained or resolved, he's just there for a few pages then he's not. We don't really see Captain America fight the Hulk much, we don't get any exploration of Cap and the Hulk's relationship as Avengers and in general we don't get any characterization for the Hulk at all. He really is just a prop to get Rick Jones back with the Avengers. The tragedy is the angle of Hulk having hurt Rick could've proved to be an area worth exploring a bit more with Hulk but he just disappears immediately having served his narrative purpose.
But there's some good stuff going on in here. I like Rick returning to the Avengers and being written a bit more as a person than just the teenage exposition machine he previously was to them. With that said neither Rick nor Steve is written as particularly layered characters with Steve coming across as a one-dimensional man obsessed with a dead boy and Rick being nothing but a try-hard. We also have the introduction of Madame Hydra which can only be a good thing.
But as a whole, while this is one of the better Silver Age escapades for Captain America, it's maybe lost some of it's punch and notoriety over time. We might still have the iconic double splash page of Cap and Ricky, but the then different approach just seems a bit hackneyed now. Still this was a readable issue with a few good parts and a solid and clear story. Just try to ignore the overbearing ramblings of the narration.