Captain America #111-113
Issue(s): Captain America #111, Captain America #112, Captain America #113
While Madam Hydra kills the agent who led the raid...
...Cap trains Rick Jones, who is frustrated that he isn't living up to Bucky's legend. Then Rick opens a package meant for Cap and has an awesome Steranko illustrated psychedelic nightmare.
Hydra captures Rick but Madam Hydra orders him killed. Cap heads back to the amusement park to try to find clues. Rick escapes. Cap is trapped on top of a building. He jumps off, and his body is riddled with bullets. The police can't retrieve his body but pull a Steve Rogers mask out of the river.
Then we switch back to Jack Kirby for a tribute issue. Kirby was called back to the book when Steranko missed a deadline, leaving him with the unusual task of writing a book where the main character was dead. Kirby approached it by illustrating many of Cap's adventures as Tony Stark flips through his visa-file.
It starts with some Golden Age flashbacks.
I like to point out when Bucky is armed with a machine gun, due to the debate about whether Cap killed during World War II as well as revelations during Ed Brubaker's run.
As for the death sequence, it's worth noting that there's never a scene where Cap is tied to the rocket.
I also loved this great flashback with the Fourth Sleeper.
And what's this? Did Jack Kirby sneak in a Celestial here?
It really is bittersweet to read issues #110 and #112 knowing that they are Jack Kirby's goodbye issues. Kirby was an awesome artist, and he was in his prime at this point, and he's been associated with Captain America since his creation in 1941. On the other hand, Steranko's art is a real breath of fresh air. Of course, Steranko will only be around for one final issue also.
Back to Steranko for #113.
We have a funeral for Cap, which looks very nice in Steranko's stylized artwork.
Hydra attacks at the funeral, putting all of the Avengers and the top SHIELD agents in a death-like state. Only Rick Jones was not at the funeral, and he follows Hydra to a graveyard, where Captain America shows up, badass as hell on a motorcycle.
He wipes out the Hydra unit and Madam Hydra seems to die in an explosion. Cap faked his own death using a 'rubberized figure' in order to regain his secret identity. You would think the fact that he will continue to go by the name of Steve Rogers would kind of ruin that, but that's the official story. Steranko's art is really, really nice, even in my b&w Essentials.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Just have to make sure the Avengers aren't on a mission and that Thor and Iron Man are also in between adventures. See James' comments. I've placed this after Avengers #60 and also before Thor's Rigellian story in Thor #160.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Captain America vol. 2
Inbound References (5): show
This story is emblematic of a problem in this title: when Stan Lee senses that a direction isn't working, he abruptly wraps it up and moves on to something else--but doesn't always consider all the ramifications. Sure, Captain America covers for his blown secret identity, but now he can't go back to being Steve Rogers out of costume. Steve Englehart tied up this dangling plot point in Avengers #107 in some retro-continuity.
The Toadman is actually the Black Toad, who appeared at least twice during the Golden Age. In his debut, he was called the Black Bat on the contents page, and he's wearing sort of a baggy parody of a Batman costume, but all the interior word balloons have been clearly relettered to say "Toad". DC couldn't have sent a cease & desist letter before the book hit the stands, so I'm guessing publisher Goodman took a look at DC's litigious behavior toward Fox over their "Wonder Man" character (DC made them stop and collected damages for sorta ripping off Superman)and decided "Bat" wasn't worth a potential lawsuit.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 7, 2011 12:05 AM
Sterenko was great in these issues. it was so wildly different. those awesome double page action scenes (which look so much better without the "motion lines" that most artists used)
Posted by: kveto from prague | September 28, 2011 6:38 AM
I remember going 'is this a comic from the 60s?' when I read these in the Essential line.
Posted by: David Banes | November 15, 2013 3:08 AM
"Just have to make sure the Avengers aren't on a mission and that Thor and Iron Man are also in between adventures."
In that case, this can't take place between Avengers #62 & #63, as you currently have it, since they head off on a mission at the start of #61 and don't return until the start of #63, before immediately heading out on another in that issue (and by the time they've returned, Hawkeye has become Goliath). It'd make a lot more sense to put it between #60 & #61, before Hawkeye's name/costume change and while Yellowjacket and the Wasp are on their honeymoon, hence their absence in this issue.
Posted by: James M | June 29, 2014 6:13 AM
Thanks James. I think by not listing specific issues in the Considerations i must have missed this when i was shuffling things for a back-issue add. I agree with your placement and i've shifted this back.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 29, 2014 9:28 AM
Looks as though Steranko's been watching "The Prisoner", no?
I'm pretty sure the "death of Bucky" sequence is shown in Cap #219 as well (Gerber's "Newfoundland" story).
Posted by: Dan Spector | July 8, 2014 6:14 AM
Great Steranko art, but that is one funky pose that T'Challa is standing in when questioning Rick.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 27, 2015 1:36 PM
According to Steranko on Twitter, Marvel is now crediting him as scripter of Cap 110, 111, and 113: https://twitter.com/iamsteranko/status/650864561051054080
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 5, 2015 12:54 AM
Thanks Walter. I've added a writing credit for Steranko to this entry and #110's. But see the note i put at the top of #110, which seems to indicate that Stan Lee still deserved some degree of writing credit as well.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 5, 2015 7:23 AM
I looked it up online (and confirmed in my Captain America Omnibus), the Ringmaster story is from CAM #5, Legion of Beggars CAM #4, and Black Toad from CAM #7.
Posted by: Tabe8 | October 15, 2015 12:31 AM
Thanks, Tabe8. I've updated the References.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 15, 2015 10:32 AM
Also, Cap seems to be holding a hand grenade in that war flashback. But maybe he didn't use it to kill, maybe just to frighten the enemy.
Posted by: kveto | February 7, 2016 6:36 PM
The first Captain America fight in Cap#111 is another example of poor Steranko sequencing that I was saying in #110. All this was hard to follow. The positions of Cap and the numerous hoodlums was impossible to decipher as one panel flows to the next. At one panel, the hoodlums had their weapons pointed at Cap in point-blank range. The next panel had Cap already positioned behind a telephone booth enabling him to duck some bullets. What happened in between? The next panel had a mechanical cowboy appearing out of nowhere. Cap makes short work of it in only the next two panels. Then the numerous hoodlums vanish off-panel.
Steranko would have been a great artist for moody and introspective stories. But for superhero stories, which require action, he was a poor choice.
I will be reading Steranko SHIELD next. Maybe I will like him then and understand why he is so highly praised.
Posted by: OptimusFan | January 30, 2017 1:26 PM
The end of Steranko's story would make sense if Cap didn't mean to go back to being Steve Rogers. Perhaps he meant to have Cap adopt a new identity, or get by without a permanent one.
In Gleason's DAREDEVIL COMICS #42 the Golden Age Daredevil's true identity was uncovered by a reporter. He gave it up, and became a crusading newspaper publisher. I assume the change was meant to be permanent, but it was quickly reversed. In #43-#45 he became Daredevil again, and adopted a new secret ID.
Here's the amazing thing. In #44 some crooks with grudges against Daredevil attempt to kill in when he's out of costume. At one point they try to machine-gun him. DD escapes by playing dead, and has his newspaper publish a false report that he's been killed. This lures the crooks the funeral home, where DD's assistants capture them. He continues to fake being dead afterwards. (I suppose this is to take the pressure off while he establishes his new identity.)
Steranko's story isn't a rerun of the Daredevil one: but the points of similarity - the hero fakes his death as part of a scheme to establish a new secret ID, the funeral home climax - may indicate the earlier issues were his inspiration. We can be sure Steranko was interested in Golden Age comics: he wrote THE STERANKO HISTORY OF COMICS! I could also believe the storyline inspired TALES OF SUSPENSE #95-#96.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | February 7, 2017 1:36 AM
Just found a Cap #111 what an amazing sensory engulfment of color and detailed artwork. When you open this comic the surroundings you are in disappear. Who needs VR headsets when Steranko is involved
Posted by: Rocknrollguitarplayer | May 15, 2017 1:26 PM
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