Captain America #149-152
Issue(s): Captain America #149, Captain America #150, Captain America #151, Captain America #152
You might say that Falcon was in the right here; investigating missing children is more important than hunting down possible leads on old adversaries, but it's not like Falcon is forthcoming about his own mission and really, if you're wondering why people are going missing and Cap tells you that one of his old villains might be in town, how about considering that a lead worth following-up?
Anyway, Batroc is just a hired mercenary here. He's working for a miscolored Stranger called Jakar.
Jakar is apparently an alternate dimension version of the Stranger. In his dimension, his people were the last survivors in a universe where all other stars and life-bearing planets were wiped out by "some cosmic catastrophe" two millenia earlier.
Recently, even Jakar's own people suddenly became silent and frozen, and that's when a warp (possibly activated by Jakar's own thoughts, but he's not sure) opened up to our dimension.
His plan is to repopulate the empty husks of his people with the souls of the kidnapped children.
Batroc semi-innocently just assumed the children would be ransomed, so he's offended to learn Jakar's plans and winds up helping out Cap and the Falcon.
It's been suggested that Jakar was really intended to be the Stranger but due to coloring (and probably art) errors the script was changed. I think another possibility is that the coloring and art were changed to address the fact that this wasn't a great use of the Stranger, who had always been ambiguous before, not outright evil. This also would have contradicted the origin of the Stranger given in his last appearance. Either way, something funny was going on here. I'd like to think even Gerry Conway wouldn't deliberately introduce an alternate dimension Stranger on purpose. It seems they intended to use the real Stranger at the end of issue #149.
He reveals himself to be an alternate dimension version a few pages into #150, when he realizes that Cap and the Falcon have no idea who the real Stranger is, so there's no point in masquerading as him (not that there would have been anyway).
Alternate dimension version or otherwise, Jakar is at Stranger-class power levels and Cap, the Falcon, and Batroc aren't able to defeat him, but he abandons his plans when Cap gets his frozen wife on the view screen.
It shows that Jakar isn't totally evil; he was just driven to extreme measures due to the tragedy of his people. Either that or he realized that putting a kidnapped boy's soul in your wife's body is just a little bit INSANELY CREEPY.
The remaining issues in this entry follow up on the Scorpion and Mr. Hyde, who we see lurking outside of Sharon's window at the end of issue #150 while she and Cap are making out. We saw robot versions of them during the Mr. Kline arc in Daredevil; these issues shows what happened to the originals and brings them back for a fight against Captain America. I know, i know: aaargh, not more Mr. Kline!
But he's not really important to this story at all, except that we learn that Mr. Kline did indeed have the actual Scorpion and Mr. Hyde in captivity while he was using the robot versions. In a flashback, we see the Scorpion escape...
...and he frees Hyde as well (we never see any evidence of that third guy we saw in a vat along with them in Daredevil #84, whoever he was). Neither knows what's going on, and eventually they get it in their heads that SHIELD was using them as guinea pigs for a new super-villain prison.
So they decide to capture a SHIELD agent. On their way there, they run into Steve Rogers while he's in his civilian ID...
...but he manages to fight them off very well (this is the second time that Rogers has faced the Scorpion while out of costume, not that you'd expect the Scorpion to recognize him).
Captain America and the Falcon catch up with the two villains outside of Sharon Carter's dormitory.
Despite having the upper hand for most of the fight, they fail to prevent Sharon from getting kidnapped. Nick Fury shows up to gripe about it, but Cap isn't in the mood.
Earlier, in issues #149-150, Nick Fury tried to get Cap to officially join SHIELD, and when Cap declined, he took a swing at him...
...and kicked him out of their Headquarters, ordering all agents, including Sharon, to not talk to him.
There's tension between Cap and Nick due to a love triangle (or square, i guess) involving Cap, Valentina Fontaine, Nick Fury, and Laura Brown (who doesn't appear in this story). The Contessa somehow got jealous of Nick's feelings for Laura, so she made a pass at Cap. She explains that to Nick during this arc, but he's not hearing it.
Which is fair enough, because Val really is in love with Cap. She admits it to Sharon earlier ("A woman can love two men, Sharon").
Both Sharon Carter and the Contessa should be two strong female SHIELD agents who i really don't like seeing as hostages or sappy cry babies, so these issues were a little disappointing in that regard.
Carter and the Falcon both sit on the sidelines during the rematch fight with the Scorpion and Hyde, as well.
Historians of Captain America's shield will want to take note here: Hyde tries to crush Cap's shield (which will be a re-occurring motif for him; he'll try again and fail during the Stern/Byrne run and successfully crush Cap's original shield in Stern's Siege on Avengers Mansion storyline) and fails, but what's interesting is that the fact that Cap's shield is indestructible seems to be new information, at least for the Falcon and Sharon.
And here's the knockout punch that apparently offended Roger Stern so much that he makes a point of repeatedly saying in that Stern/Byrne appearance that Mr. Hyde was only at half strength in these issues.
I understand Stern's complaint. Mr. Hyde started off as a Thor villain! He should be a real challenge for Captain America. But he's been used more recently as a Daredevil villain, and the fact that he's been in the rogues galleries for two heroes of such different power levels is pretty odd. But since his powers are derived from a potion, it's easy enough to explain variations in his strength based on the dosage level or how long it's been since his last drink.
When i first read issue #151, i thought it might have been the first appearance of Leila Taylor, based on the fact that she introduces herself to the Falcon for the first time...
...but she's apparently been around since issue #139. She's part of a heavy-handed scene in the beginning of #151 where the Falcon is finding that he's lost the support of his black neighborhood because he's been hanging out with Cap. Falcon checks in on a neighborhood kid who was kidnapped in Captain America #149. The kid's brother (or maybe "brother") thinks Falcon is a "sellout" and "one of whitey's jive-mouth uncle tom's!".
Issue #152 is the first appearance of the crimelord Morgan, however.
The Falcon gets information from him when he and Cap are looking for info on Mr. Hyde and the Scorpion. Morgan plays a role similar to the Kingpin but on a smaller scale, mainly in Captain America but also Power Man and Spider-Man books, with heroes sometimes having to thwart his crimes but often having to go to him to get information on other threats.
Issue #152 is also the last time Steve Rogers acts as a police officer. He's on the job when he gets info on Sharon's whereabouts, so he just abandons his uniform and never returns. Not very responsible, Cap!
Sgt. Brian Muldoon, Steve Roger's superior on the police force, is accused of corruption during this arc.
I was expecting worse from these issues. They're not great, even leaving aside the poor treatment of the women and the heavy-handed racial stuff. Lots of melodrama. But i enjoyed Mr. Hyde, who was sufficiently abusive to the Scorpion, and the entire plot is based on the fact that the villains had the wrong idea about who had imprisoned them, which is pretty funny. Sal Buscema's art is nice, but his Mr. Hyde isn't terrifying enough; i think that's more due to the fact that there really hasn't been a consistent model for Hyde at this point than any fault of Sal's.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The story in issues #151-152 aren't directly related to #149-150, but they happen directly afterwards thanks to the scene with Scorpion and Hyde outside Sharon's window at the end of #150. The MCP places these issues between Avengers #101-102.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
The Mr. Kline footnote left out the relevant Sub-Mariner issues.
Steve Englehart was going to do a story explaining the history of cap's shield, but he just never got around to it.
The cover to #151 does not have a similar scene inside the book, and this departure was so egregious that a special note was added to the letters page to apologize(though they kinda flubbed a coherent explanation).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 17, 2011 11:58 PM
Steve Rogers as cop never made sense. Neither did his later role as a commercial artist. The lack of a civilian identity is something that hurt the character. Ideally, he'd still have a normal life as Steve and have a supporting cast, but simply retained by the government. However, that would make Cap dependent on working for the government, and I understand this would not be an ideal situation, especially during the 1970s.
Out of all the characters, Steve doesn't really need a job though. Perhaps a modest government pension (not a paycheck) for his wartime services combined with a gift from the Falsworths (to help out their old Yankee friend) and perhaps an occassional check in compensation for the work he does volunteer to do for the government, would be enough that Steve could survive along with doing some part time work (not job) he could do with whatever spare leisure time he has when he's not being Cap. He wouldn't be wealthy, but comfortable, and have enough free time to be Cap or hang our with his supporting cast as needed.
Posted by: Chris | August 2, 2012 11:32 PM
probably the Scorpion's and Hyde's worst showing. Come on, the scorpion is stronger than Spider-man. Why would he be afraid of an unpowered Falcon?
Hyde and scorp might as well have been unpowered thugs this issue.
Posted by: Kveto from Prague | March 4, 2013 1:52 PM
-- There's a weird thing in the 1970s at Marvel with "fake Stranger" stories. Here, it's really some new guy named Jakar, and in Steve Engelhart's Avengers we'll get the Toad impersonating the Stranger as well.
-- The Contessa's actions here take on an interesting subtext given the retcon in Secret Warriors that she was a mole for the Soviet-era organization Leviathan all along....who nonetheless is in love with Fury.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | December 5, 2016 7:09 AM
I always assume Conway wrote his story for the Stranger, and when he handed the script to Sal Buscema he was told John had drawn a completely different origin for the Stranger the previous year in the Fantastic Four, and Conway just decided to make minimal changes to the visuals and keep everything else the same. It seems unlikely to me that Kane, who drew the cover, would miscolor the Stranger's hair, since he'd already drawn him a few years back in the Hulk.
Posted by: Andrew | December 5, 2016 2:11 PM
it's also strange that Mr. Hyde's dialogue here doesn't fit other appearances of him when he's a bit more... well spoken and doesn't say "gonna", etc.
Posted by: Wis | January 14, 2018 4:53 AM
Steve Rogers actually does "act" as a police officer again, in his police uniform, in Captain America #232 (1979). His sergeant gets angry with him for vanishing and fouling up his "whole duty roster," but Steve is rescued from his official responsibilities by Commissioner Feingold again, who whisks him into his office, for a quick chat. It's like the whole span of issues between 1972 and 1979 had happened during a short span of maybe a few days or weeks. Marvel time I guess:-)
After their quick chat, in which the corrupt commish is as evasive as ever, Steve exits through the window in his Captain America underoos, leaving yet another specially-tailored police officer costume crumpled up on Feingold's floor.
Posted by: Holt | January 17, 2018 5:54 AM
Is the Scorpion being racist when he calls Falcon "boy" in the scan above? Dammit, Mac, I expect better of you. (Especially as I don't recall his showing bigoted tendencies otherwise.)
Posted by: Dan Spector | March 21, 2018 9:30 PM
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