Captain America #160-162
Issue(s): Captain America #160, Captain America #161, Captain America #162
In another 10 issues, the Falcon will gain the ability to fly and that almost works as a complimentary (if not equal) power set. But that's a ways off.
I wonder what the goal here was. Cap and the Falcon's arguments have been alternatively realistic and annoying from the start. Giving Cap powers that puts him on a whole new level almost seems to be setting up a break-up of the partnership. Was it done deliberately? A symbolic look at black and white relationships in the 70s? Just a way to add more drama to the book?
Definitely a way to drive the Falcon to Leila, at least.
The same issue also introduces a new villain whose purpose is mainly to give Captain America someone to trounce while the Falcon stands on the sidelines.
The villain is Solarr, a particularly uninspired villain, especially for Englehart in this book at this time when he was going through all sorts of political themes. There's nothing to this guy, he's just evil.
He's a murderous killer, granted, which is unusual only because of the Comics Code...
...but there's no real angle to him. He draws his power directly from the sun, so he's quickly out of juice when knocked into a building, and Cap ultimately defeats him by covering him in paint (on a scaffold that he "could never have leaped to" without his super-strength).
In the comments, Mark points out a possible psychedelic shamanism angle to Solarr that would have never occurred to me. Here's Solarr's origin. It should be noted that thanks to Alpha Flight Special #1, this flashback must have occurred quite a while ago.
It doesn't really translate into anything about Solarr's personality, though.
With Cap's partnership in shambles, he turns to Sharon Carter for support, but she's left.
Cap heads to SHIELD to see if he can get a clue on Sharon's disappearance, and after a pointless fight with Agents "Ham" and "Eggs"...
...he learns nothing from Nick Fury. He does get his old motorcycle back, though.
Meanwhile, the Falcon is fighting Leila's friend, Rafe Michel, and his gang, the Silver Skulls.
Cap shows up during the fight, but doesn't interfere...
...and makes a big speech afterwards that convinces the Falcon to renew their partnership, for now.
Considering the Falcon's desire to focus on problems in his neighborhood, you'd think "My girlfriend left with a note saying 'Don't follow me'" wouldn't be the right mission to re-start a tenuous partnership, but the Falcon seems agreeable. They eventually track Sharon down to an "asylum and rest home" that has been taken over by Dr. Faustus...
...and he attacks with the usual psychological illusions. This includes another flashback appearance of Agent Axis, a character that at this point in publication time had never actually appeared in a Marvel comic except in flashback (see Invaders annual #1 for more on that).
There's also this hallucination about Bucky. It will of course turn out that Cap was more right than he knew.
Then we get the big reveal: Sharon Carter's older sister, Peggy, is the French Resistance fighter that Cap met in Tales of Suspense #77.
This is a weird revelation. But we knew from Sharon's first appearance in Tales of Suspense #75 that Sharon had a sister that knew Captain America, and it was strongly implied that it was the woman that Cap fell in love with. So Englehart isn't coming up with this out of nowhere. That said, it may have been better to just let it drop. Cap falling in love with the sister of his WWII love is creepy, and raises all sorts of questions. Which i guess Englehart wanted to explore, but i don't know why.
There's also the sliding timescale problem. Peggy is a sister in this story, but since she is anchored to World War II, she eventually becomes Sharon's aunt instead and we're approaching the point where even that isn't feasible.
So what's the end result? Well, for now, Faustus gets punched in the gut...
...and talking to Cap brings Peggy back from the worst of her dementia, although she's still going to need some adjusting.
The Falcon agrees to stick around with the Carters for a while, again surprisingly.
The book is feeling overextended at this point. Cap/Falcon strife, super-strength for Cap, the introduction of Peggy Carter. We're all over the place, and nothing is going to get the attention it really deserves.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places this between Avengers #112-113.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Captain America vol. 4
Inbound References (4): showAmanda Carter, Captain America, Dr. Faustus, Falcon, Harrison Carter, Leila Taylor, Mr. Carter, Mrs. Carter, Nick Fury, Peggy Carter, Rafe Michel, Redwing, Sharon Carter, Solarr
Peggy's relationship to Sharon is thankfully no longer an issue for the sliding timescale, as she died towards the end of Brubaker's run and will probably not be mentioned again.
Posted by: Michael | March 22, 2013 5:05 PM
Solarr's origin was influenced by the books of Carlos Castenada. "Fruits of the cacti" is supposed to refer to Peyote(the other drugs mentioned by Castenada were psilocybin mushrooms and Jimson Weed), but I don't think the code would have allowed that. I'm pretty sure Sal Buscema drew the wrong kind of cactus, though...
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 23, 2013 3:42 PM
Added the scan of Solarr's origin. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 23, 2013 4:03 PM
In addition to Mark Drummond's note above, Solarr also seems to be a commentary on the way the psychedelic scene and the hippie movement were turning violent. In the flashback, he's stuck in the desert because his van breaks down while he's running drugs, and this, plus the Castaneda connection, seems to be a play on the increasing violence of groups like the Weather Underground.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 9, 2016 8:26 PM
Solarr's origin is still completely uninspired, though, even given the limits of the comics code. "I was in the desert, it was hot, I did some drugs and hey! Superpowers!" He's just as bland when Englehart re-uses him in Avengers 126, a little over a year from now, to the point where he has to make a letters-page contest to try and come up with an explanation for how this bozo met and teamed up with Klaw. Blech.
Posted by: Dan Spector | March 2, 2018 2:14 PM
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