Captain America #222-223,225-227
Issue(s): Captain America #222, Captain America #223, Captain America #225, Captain America #226, Captain America #227
That means Cap getting attacked by the Killer Volkswagen Beetle...
...the Lincoln Memorial...
...some weird dreams...
...and Animus, "a strange being that appears to embody the worst of both ends of the evolutionary scale, the savagery of early man coupled with the massive mental capacity of man's future potential".
Animus always shouts, "Die-e-ee!". I don't know exactly how that should be pronounced, but i like the consistency of it. Despite that guttural cry, she (we'll learn that she is actually Vamp from the SHIELD Super-Agents, although i doubt that was the original intent) speaks intelligently and in fact says that she's only trying to kill Cap under duress.
All of these attacks are directed by the Corporation. Whenever Animus is near defeat, the Corporation teleports her away.
Animus' second attack is while Cap is on a train, and the result is a lot of innocent lives lost in a trainwreck. That draws the attention of SHIELD. Tired of hitting dead-ends on his quest for his lost memories, Cap demands that Nick Fury release Mason Harding, the inventor of the Madbomb, so that Harding can use his memory inducing techniques to discover Cap's lost memories.
Before that, though, Dum Dum hands in a report on Veda, which reveals that Veda's mom was the woman that was present when Steve Rogers became Captain America (in most tellings of the origin, the woman that pulls off her old lady face to reveal a younger woman).
Meanwhile, after the repeated failures, and the fact that SHIELD has learned the identity of her mother, Kligger kills Veda.
Back to Mason Harding. The memories he discovers, which no one points out contradicts previous memories that we've seen, such as in Captain America #176, will all eventually be re-retconned away, so i'm not going to go into too much detail on them. We learn that Steve was a wimpy artist type that grew up in the suburbs and didn't get along with his dad.
He had an older brother who was more of a sports guy, and when he joined the army and was killed in the Pearl Harbor attack, Cap joined the army to get vengeance.
It's a bad retcon - Cap was never about vengeance. We also didn't need to saddle him with Daddy issues or the tragedy of the death of an older brother. And it's contradictory even beyond the previous childhood scenes that we've seen because we know that Captain America was active prior to Pearl Harbor. I think the one thing that sticks from this origin is Steve Rogers' artistic abilities; i don't think we've seen him demonstrate them before.
After the memories are revealed, Cap's super-serum is somehow neutralized.
Roger McKenzie becomes the writer with issue #226, and Roger Stern is now editor (Stern was also editor on the #224 fill-in. Shooter was editor on #222-223 but the story was continuing a plot introduced in issue #215). I really feel like they must have said, "Look, enough with the origin retcons! We've gotta do a straightforward super-hero story! Bring in the Red Skull!"
While Cap's training at SHIELD to deal with his lack of super-serum, the Red Skull attacks from afar, using a beam that turns all the SHIELD agents (including Dum Dum) into Red Skull clones under the Skull's control.
Cap's powers return while fighting an out-of-control robot. The whole loss-of-powers bit feels again like McKenzie and Stern just sort of quickly reversing the previous creative team's stories.
Then Cap faces off against the Red Skulls.
Issue #227 is a straightforward fight issue and it works well enough. My one complaint is this little sequence.
When Steve Rogers wears his shield on his back under his civilian clothes, it strains credibility but i think readers are generally willing to overlook it. But to ask us to believe that it can fit under Cap's armor, in the front, and not be obviously bulging out is a bit much.
Captain America also learns during issue #222 that the Falcon has quit his post as the leader of the SHIELD Super-Agents, but he isn't able to follow-up and find out why yet.
It's hard to pass an overall judgment on an arc like this. First, i have some sympathy for Steve Gerber, who inherited the Thomas/Glut "Hunt for Steve Rogers" plot. I think he did a terrible job with the actual Steve Rogers origin, and while i'm sure the artist/tough guy conflict and daddy issues parts were his idea, he shouldn't have had to come up with a backstory for Steve Rogers in the first place, and he should have had a more continuity-minded editor to help him navigate the existing history. The Animus and Corporation parts of the arc are actually pretty good. And then the McKenzie issues are pretty generic, but it was exactly the antidote for all of the retcon noodling. One consistent factor is the art team, who is competent throughout, and have fun with the crazy Animus concept.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Captain America #224 was a fill-in issue. This arc should take place soon after issue #221 ends. Presumably, the Killer Volkswagen Beetle attacks Cap the morning after he falls asleep in his apartment at the end of #221. That puts this whole thing prior to the Korvac saga due to the reference in the Korvac saga to Captain America #218 (i point this out because my placement here differs from the MCP in that regard).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
The title to #223 may refer to the MC5 song "Call Me Animal".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 20, 2011 11:47 PM
There was originally announced to be also a story cowritten by Mark Evanier & Steve Gerber, and a fill-in by Mike W. Barr featuring the Hulk.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 26, 2012 4:43 PM
The first person to have the "older brother of Captain America" idea was Ted White, author of the 1960's paperback "Captain America and the Great Gold Steal"(I may have the title partially wrong). Steve's older brother was then called Alan Rogers. Roger Stern took pains in his FOOM#8 article to declare it non-canon.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 10, 2013 7:09 PM
FOOM#21(4/78) announced that Gerber was changing his plan to wrap up Omega's story in Defenders, and do it in this book instead. Unfortunately, he got fired first. He was also intending to write out SHIELD and Sharon Carter for good.
In FOOM#22(11/78) Roger McKenzie had this to say about Roy Thomas' missing history of Steve Rogers:"If, after all these years, Cap can't figure out who he is yet, he might as well not worry about it."
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 14, 2013 7:06 PM
And it's contradictory even beyond the previous childhood scenes that we've seen because we know that Captain America was active prior to Pearl Harbor.
Since Nick Fury, Captain Storm, and the Unknown Soldier had all lost confidants, friends, colleagues, and so forth due to State Shinto Militarist actions, adding Captain America to the list may have seemed uncalled for.
(Some people complain about just referring to the Pacific Axis as the Japanese. Allied critics tended to describe the European Axis events as "Nazi" crimes. In the Asian theater enemy brutality almost always recounts as presented as being simply "Japanese." While the latter group neglected to coin a code name for themselves, I will attempt to discourage bigotry.)
Posted by: PB210 | November 19, 2013 7:26 PM
I've read several issues of Steve's origin over the last few months and I'm getting lost. I know these were retconned by Stern but what of Steve's dad? I heard that he was a jobless drunk is that something new or old or what?
I do like Steve having an artistic side to it and it seemed Claremont and Stern would run with those ideas.
Posted by: david banes | April 29, 2014 8:20 PM
During the current Rick Remender run on Captain America, the back-story was that Rogers' dad was an abusive drunk. So, that would be the continuity they're sticking with, at this point at least.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | April 29, 2014 8:34 PM
Steve's dad was revealed to be a drunk in Iron Man 171.
Posted by: Michael | April 29, 2014 8:58 PM
I always got the sense that Animus was Veda. The two characters appeared at much the same time, were both directly tied to Kligger, and there were lots of unexpanded hints that Veda had some diferential to recommend her for the job.
#230 seems to imply another possibility: Animus is not so much a specific agent as a power that Kligger has the means to graft into a (female, one would assume) agent of his choice. That issue has Vamp insisting that Kligger must give her the power so that they can fight the Hulk.
That might be interpreted as Kligger being needed to allow the transformation, but I read it as Vamp becoming Animus for the first time then.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | July 5, 2014 11:51 AM
I'm normally not a fan of retcons, but I'm glad that Stern and Byrne retconned this. Or, since they went back to the original idea, maybe they un-retconned this?
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 1, 2015 5:45 PM
Somehow I do wonder if the later revelation of Steve's dad being a drunk is a bit of a reconciliation between the more traditional Cap origin and Gerber's, with the idea that maybe Steve did have skeletons in his closet after all but it was just hidden within his mind only to start being dragged out again due to this origin emerging. Guess my reconciliation is that this "fake origin" is the first where Steve finally remembers that his father did have problems and that even when this was revealed to be fake by Stern and others, the part about his father remained behind because it was ultimately true, dragged out and made part of the true story even if it first shows up as part of a bad retcon here. (and thus by '83 when he confirms it, he has finally reconciled with it being part of who he was prior)
Posted by: Ataru320 | April 24, 2015 9:21 PM
I always liked the retconned origin, myself. It may be unworkable from a continuity standpoint, but so is so much else... and it sure beats the traditional origin.
I don't really understand why people dislike it.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 25, 2015 9:37 AM
Luis, I'm not trying to start a fight but I'm legitimately curious: How can you say this "sure beats the traditional origin" with such finality? I don't think anybody else has ever voiced that opinion.
Posted by: JP | May 11, 2015 1:48 AM
The Lincoln Memorial would later be brought to life to fight off the Skadi's forces in Fear Itself.
Posted by: Max_Spider | May 11, 2015 9:11 AM
@JP: it is less cliched, has a lot more character, and some definite, legitimate drama and story material.
What is not to like?
As I said, and I do mean it, I just do not understand why anyone would dislike it. The original was workmanlike at best anyway.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | May 11, 2015 9:34 AM
I find it interesting that 2 of Roger McKenzie's first jobs at Marvel involved him playing cleanup on larger stories started by others -- "The Search for Steve Rogers" here and "The Trail of the Purple Man" begun by Jim Shooter in Daredevil. Both published at roughly the same point, just before the Goodwin-to-Shooter EiC change. I don't really know much about McKenzie's career in comics so that's intriguing to me.
Posted by: Jeff | May 19, 2015 9:22 PM
Absolutely love Sal's Cap!
Posted by: Jack | June 29, 2015 11:12 PM
It figures the Corporation would attack Cap with a Volkswagen; after all, it *is* a German car.
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 2, 2016 7:39 PM
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