The Small Lebowski:
Captain America #131-132
Issue(s): Captain America #131, Captain America #132
Wow, it's just the way I pictured it! Crowded, noisy, exciting, and loud! I could almost believe I'm back in New York! Well, now to get some grub!
And then a minute later when he runs out after hearing that Bucky Barnes is alive and a waitress asks about his change, he shouts, "Keep it, lady! I've got things to do!".
I dunno, just sounds more like Jack Nicholson than Cap to me.
Oh, did i mention that Bucky Barnes was alive? About that... Pissed that Cap foiled his plans last issue, the Hood scours the "gyms of San Francisco", looking for a boy.
Specifically, a boy that could pass for Bucky Barnes if Barnes hadn't died during World War II (sliding timescale issues pretty much make this story unworkable, ofc). And he finds one who is, conveniently enough, an amnesiac orphan.
Hearing the news report in the diner, Cap takes the bait and arrives at the Hood's place. That's when the Hood reveals that he's actually Baron Strucker!
Cap fights Strucker, and they really do play up the "master of weapons" angle, with Strucker using a crossbow...
...a flail (they say mace, but i'm a Dungeons & Dragons geek and i know better)...
...and, erm, maybe a toaster?
Throughout the fight, Cap is distracted by "Bucky", and so Strucker is triumphant.
Strucker rigs Cap up to a really cheesy deathtrap-clock...
...but Cap is able to appeal to "Bucky" who helps Cap escape and defeat Strucker.
Strucker is arrested and taken away by the police. Years later, in Captain America #247, we'll learn that this von Strucker is really a robot created by the Machinesmith (building the Strucker-bot must have been one of his first actions as Machinesmith considering Saxon only became Machinesmith after he 'died' in Daredevil #55). I have no idea why it was retconned so that this Strucker was really a robot.
But it's not over yet. Because is this really Bucky? Of course not! It's all a diabolical plan by MODOK.
MODOK still has all his AIM agents dressed up in a Hello, Kitty theme.
And he's devised an incredibly complex plan to mess with Cap. He contacted Dr. Doom (!), and dared him (!) to build a Bucky-bot. And Doom accepts the challenge!
Once MODOK got the 'bot, he planted him in a San Fransisco gym, and then mentally planted the idea in Baron Strucker's head to go looking for Bucky.
Now that the Bucky-bot is with Cap, MODOK activates its programming and tells him to kill Cap. Zok!
(Pretty convoluted, especially when you consider that if the Bucky-bot hadn't interfered, Baron Strucker would have killed Cap at the end of issue #131.)
(Also, that Strucker robot must have had a pretty sophisticated brain for MODOK to be able to mentally manipulate it. Leaps and bounds over the first robot that Starr created in Daredevil #49, which had to be fed a piece of paper for its orders. Ok, i'll stop griping about the Strucker-bot retcon now.)
Bucky-bot has Cap on the ropes...
...but Dr. Doom programmed it so well that Bucky's real personality asserts itself and refuses to kill his partner.
Such is the vengeance of Doom!
Earlier, a couple of reactions to the news that Bucky was found alive:
Funny that the Falcon sits around his apartment watching TV in full costume. Also note the foreshadowing... starting next issue the Cap/Falcon partnership will take off and by issue #134 the Falcon will begin to co-headline on the cover.
The lettercols in issues of Cap during this period are very political. Sign of the times, i guess, and a comic called Captain America was bound to attract more of that sort of thing than other books.
Actually, i guess the situation with the letters gets so crazy that by the Apr 71 issues, Stan devotes Soapbox column to wondering what the hell is going on:
...almost every letter to Cap and the Falcon now deals with social issues, civil rights, patriotism, Viet Nam, and student unrest. We suddenly realized that nobody's saying anything about the stories themselves!... You've gotten so involved that all your mail seems to concern the world at large, and the conflicts and divisions that are assaulting our society. We're proud of your concern - thrilled by your insight, and your enthusiasm - but we're worried about our stories! Is anybody reading them?
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places this between Avengers #79-80.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBaron Von Strucker Robot, Captain America, Dum Dum Dugan LMD, Falcon, Jasper Sitwell, MODOK, Nick Fury, Redwing, Sharon Carter
The newscaster in those panels is Walter Cronkite.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 20, 2011 10:56 PM
I dont think theyve ever since done much about the "weapons master" side of strucker.
Posted by: Kveto from Prague | November 27, 2011 2:49 AM
Forget sliding timescale. In 1970, a Bucky who hadn't died would have in his forties, so why were they looking for a "boy"?
Posted by: Erik Robbins | July 8, 2013 4:57 PM
I fear some day that for all of Brubaker's daring writing, you know which I am talking about, it will end like this story did.
Posted by: David Banes | November 15, 2013 3:32 AM
Frederic "Seduction of the Innocent" Wertham was still alive in 1970. I wonder what he thought about Cap reuniting with his favorite piece of ass, I mean, "old pal", Bucky in, of all places, San Francisco, the Gay by the Bay? Was the gym where "Strucker" found "Bucky" in the Castro district, perchance? Did Bucky use Hankie Code?
Just remember, Steve-O, 'tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all...
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 1, 2014 4:25 AM
...I wonder if this is the first time someone used a fake Bucky to get at Cap. If so, that's nearly worth a Historical Significance Rating point; it was hardly the last time...
Posted by: BU | August 3, 2014 3:46 PM
The reason Strucker was made a robot in this story was to not cheapen the drama of his death in Steranko's classic run of Strange Tales. Of course they still brought him back eventually, but it took decades.
Posted by: Andrew | January 8, 2015 9:08 PM
Also, Strucker's return here doesn't really fit with how he was reintroduced in the modern era. Why isn't he running HYDRA? Why is he going after Captain America, someone he's never really fought before, instead of taking on, say, Nick Fury?
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 16, 2017 9:55 AM
I can't believe this to be true, but this story feels like the author was only aware of Strucker in the Sgt. Fury stories and not his appearances running HYDRA.
Posted by: Michael Cheyne | November 26, 2017 6:19 PM
I've had similar questions about some of the Daredevil stories Stan Lee wrote with Gene Colan.
All I could usually think of was that Lee and Company suddenly found themselves in a situation where they couldn't ask Jack Kirby anymore, insofar as he had just signed a 3 yr. contract with DC Comics in late 1970. Still, Lee had done several SHIELD stories with other artists... Severin and Steranko to name just two. Maybe Lee was starting to use ghost writers by this period in time. I dunno. Wouldn't seem entirely outside the range of possibilities.
At this time, Marvel was gradually phasing into the period when Lee had quit writing almost completely, and Roy Thomas was in the process of moving into Lee's old position as the go-to writer/editor for Marvel.
Not wanting to jump to any conclusions too quickly, but these Stan Lee & Gene Colan stories really do complicate quite a few already complicated questions, about just how involved Lee really was, on the creative storytelling side of these creative ventures for Marvel, in the earliest years of the Marvel Age.
Posted by: Holt | November 26, 2017 6:54 PM
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