Captain America #121-126
Issue(s): Captain America #121, Captain America #122, Captain America #123, Captain America #124, Captain America #125, Captain America #126
A scientist who was brought to justice at an undefined time in the past by Captain America researches his origin and creates his own super-serum. He applies the serum to a bum from the Bowery and arranges for Cap to fight him in what initially appears to be an innocent orphan charity exhibition.
The fight ends when the bum sees his child at the orphanage rooting for Cap. The bum's super-villain name is Man-Brute in this story, but he later changes it to Blockbuster. I'm sticking with Man-Brute for tagging purposes to avoid confusion with the Marauder.
Next, Cap struggles with his identity at a time when more and more young people are questioning the establishment. Then he fights the Scorpion and rescues Sharon Carter from a Spy Ring without even realizing it.
He has two run-ins with the Scorpion. The first time is interesting because he is out of costume.
As Kveto notes in the comments, Scorpion is ultimately defeated by a tree branch.
Then, Cap continues to fret over the fact that he feels that he can't marry Sharon unless she quits SHIELD.
Then he defeats a pair of hypnotists who have managed to take over SHIELD.
The lady of the group, named Suprema in this story, will be brought back years later as Mother Night.
Cameos by J. Jonah Jameson and Tony Stark while Cap researches the group.
Next, Cap convinces Fury to place Sharon on inactive duty. Sharon is uncharacteristically OK with this: "If that's what you want, my dearest..." Umm..... really? But then Cap is tricked into a trap involving a cyborg created by AIM...
...and when Sharon goes to rescue him, he considers it to be a betrayal of his trust, and he breaks up with her. Oh, the drama. The awful, awful drama.
Depressed about breaking up with Sharon, Cap thinks to himself "If I had a job, or friends, or any sort of social life, maybe I could take the loss...". To keep himself busy, Cap heads to Viet Nam to rescue a doctor that has been taken prisoner. It turns out the doctor, loved by both sides in the war, was taken prisoner by the Mandarin (the "surprise villain of the year", according to the cover)...
...in the hopes to... what? Get them to fight? They were already doing that. Cap defeats the Mandarin waaay too easily (although he doesn't capture him) and rescues the doctor.
Back in the US, Cap teams up with the Falcon to take on a leader of a black gang called Diamondhead who turns out to be a white Maggia boss trying to start trouble in Harlem so that they can take over.
This is only the second story arc with the Falcon so it is interesting to see how they fairly quickly started using him as a recurring character.
For a brief couple of panels, Falcon wears Cap's costume to avoid being arrested while he is framed by Diamondhead's gang.
Quality Rating: C
Historical Significance Rating: 3 - first Suprema/Mother Night & Scarbo/Minister Blood
Chronological Placement Considerations: Yellowjacket and the Wasp are still in the Avengers in Cap #121, so these issues take place before they leave for Alaska in Avengers #75.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Captain America vol. 2
Inbound References (7): show
The cyborg appears to be wearing a funnel on his head.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 10, 2011 6:39 PM
you know, gene colon was one of my favourite artists. but I have to agree with what youve said elsewhere, fjord, he was terrible at character design. The cyborg could have been a cool looking character. instead we got a monkey-faced tin-man.
Posted by: Kveto from Prague | September 12, 2012 4:12 PM
The rejected cover to #125 by Marie Severin/Giacoia appeared in FOOM#16.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 31, 2013 6:58 PM
Colon gives the Scorpion a really unique fighting style that he hadn't utilized before or since. Using his wall-crawling to pull himself over Steve Roger's punch (causing him to punch the wall, a really cool sequence) and using his tail to hang from a tree and attack.
Unfortunately, the way Cap takes out the scorpion spoils it all (in loony tune fashion with a bent tree branch)
Posted by: kveto from prague | December 15, 2013 12:54 PM
Added scans of the scenes Kveto refers to.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 15, 2013 1:18 PM
Thanks. It's interesting to see it in colour as I know it from the black and white essentials. Gene Colon's art always looks so much better in black and white.
Posted by: kveto from prague | December 15, 2013 1:26 PM
That's a Romita-drawn J. Jonah Jameson in that cameo, right? It doesn't look like anything Colan ever drew, and the contrast with Gene's Cap in that panel is striking. And I think the whole "Tony Stark" panel may be Johnny Craig's work.
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 1, 2014 2:35 AM
I'm pretty sure with Cream and Sugar on top that issue #123 features the 1st early appearance of Madame Viper, though I will Acquiese to the gods that distill Titos Vodka if astray and in desperate need of a spell check!
Posted by: RocknRollguitarplayer | July 16, 2016 12:55 AM
RocknRollguitarplayer, issue #123 has the first appearance of Suprema, who later becomes Mother Night. Madame Hydra (aka Viper) had already appeared at this point, starting in Captain America #110, but she doesn't appear in these issues.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 18, 2016 11:47 AM
Sam in Cap's uniform!
That should be noteworthy in itself!
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | August 14, 2016 1:23 PM
Interesting how this is Scorpion's first appearance in a long time. The last we saw of him was in Ditko's Spider-Man run.
Posted by: Enchlore | December 17, 2017 12:13 PM
The only one of these stories that I'd rate or re-read is #122 and only because the Scorpion is one of my favourite villains (or was until MacFarlane ruined him) and Colan drew a great Scorpion, making his armour and tail look so fluid, but for some reason Colan always drew the Scorpion as though he wore goggles and his nose and mouth were the only parts of him that were not covered by armour, whereas Ditko drew him so that only his eyes were uncovered.
Posted by: Mike Teague | February 1, 2018 4:08 PM
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