Characters Appearing: Captain America, Hulk
Captain America #257
Issue(s): Captain America #257
The narration panel says "a man from the United States deplanes in Northern England" but i guess that doesn't mean he had to be coming from the United States on this particular flight. I'm assuming Cap took a flight from the nearest airport by Greymoor Castle last issue to this spot in Northern England. But it does raise the question of whether this story was really intended to take place at this time.
Two other points about the story. First, it had "Many Hands" on inks and second, it's a short issue, padded with some reprints from Not Brand Echh #11 and #12. So it does seem like a rush job. Whether that contributed to Lee Elias' always shaky pencils is hard to say.
But, like last issue, this story plays off of Captain America and Bucky's previous history in England during World War II. This one has Cap returning to the site where he and Bucky were launched on the plane by Baron Zemo. He finds a group of armored goons waiting for him, and they manage to take him prisoner, thanks to the use of gas. The group is called Matrix Eight, and their leader is the former assistant of Baron Zemo.
After World War II, the group managed to form an "extra-legal scientific research agency" that gave them access to Nazi secrets and their un-recovered gold, which they used to build into an organization that sells weapons to AIM, the Maggia, and Hydra. Their 8 logo is a re-purposed swastika.
The group has also managed to kidnap Bruce Banner, and they've researched his metabolism and created a Gamma-Droid.
In a neat bit, while Cap is still too weak from the gas to fight the Matrix guys, he uses his time to note the location of their various deathtraps...
...allowing him to avoid them when he's ready to fight again.
Cap frees Banner, who soon becomes the Hulk. Captain America treats the Hulk really poorly in this story, first lying to the Hulk and telling him that the Matrix Eight people are agents of Bruce Banner...
...and then, when the Hulk gets covered in Adhesive X, he bashes the Hulk with his shield and tells him he's hitting the Hulk because he's weak and stupid.
Cap then lets the Hulk chase him through the Matrix's base, so he can smash all the bad guys along the way.
Here's what the Hulk thinks of the Gammadroid, by the way.
That's pretty much the entire fight with the robot.
Cap continues to manipulate the Hulk, tricking him into smashing a hole in a wall so they can escape.
The leader of Matrix Eight is crushed in the base as it collapses.
Captain America's manipulation of the Hulk seems entirely unnecessary. Why not just tell the Hulk that the Matrix guys were bad guys that captured him? But even if you accept that it was easier for Cap to make Hulk think that he was an enemy, that very first lie is also really damaging to the Hulk/Banner relationship. Cap could have set back efforts to integrate Hulk and Banner's mind by years with a move like that.
What i'm also unclear on is, what happens to Bruce Banner at the end of this.
First, he needs a change of clothes and a ride home. I assume Cap helps him with that, but it's not said. But more importantly, every so often some super hero with resources that could help Banner run into him somewhere, have an adventure with him, and then just sort of send him on his way at the end. "Ok, i guess i'll go back to my awesome life as an Avenger and agent of SHIELD. Need me to drop you off in the desert somewhere so you can continue your nightmarish Jekyll & Hyde existence?"
In the Brand Echh reprints, i liked this scene from "How to be a comic book artist", which showed a presumably older and bored out of his mind artist snoozing through a creative session while a bunch of younger geeky writers enthusiastically work out a story.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Like last issue, takes place before Captain America #255. As for the Hulk, there's no other story showing him getting returned to the United States, so i'm assuming he got picked up from wherever he was and managed to get back somehow, so this appearance is essentially context free. Definitely should take place before the Hulk World Tour begins at the end of Hulk #255 (and no, this doesn't fit well as part of the World Tour, which begins in the Middle East). Bruce Banner was kidnapped in this story from "a sleazy hotel somewhere in the midwest" but that doesn't tie to anything in his recent Hulk or Defenders appearances and i've got him appearing here after Defenders #93.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I'm assuming Cap took a flight from the nearest airport by Greymoor Castle last issue to this spot in Northern England.
That's incredibly implausible. Domestic air travel in the UK is only really possible between the South and Scotland. Anything shorter, and your options are car, train, or coach. And that's after the massive expansion of air travel in the 80s, 90s, and 21st century. Geographically speaking, we're too small a country for domestic air travel to be viable.
Posted by: Stephen | July 10, 2013 2:54 PM
Thanks Stephen. I'd hate to think Cap flew all the way home after last issue and then flew back again, though. Maybe as part of his WWII retrospective he also spent some time in continental Europe and is now returning.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 10, 2013 3:07 PM
The art for NBE appears to be Marie Severin.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 13, 2013 2:49 PM
I've always thought that the Avengers treatment of the Hulk was completely arbitrary and Captain America pretty much exemplifies this. This is the big problem that any team-up with the Hulk that the Avengers(or an Avenger) have: if they have access to Bruce Banner, then they should be offering him help and taking responsibility for the Hulk's behavior. That's their job. Now, of course, this wasn't possible because the Hulk and the Avengers are supposed to be independent and and not bound together. But when you do stories with Tony Stark and Captain America just watching Bruce walk away to hitchhike to another town where he'll likely smash it, you open up more ethical liability on their part. If Marvel had to do Hulk team-ups(and yeah I'll concede the tv show factor here, on the business level they should have), it should have been mandated that he's never Banner at the end of the story, at least for the Avengers characters. It makes the Avengers look like bad human beings. Of course, considering Avengers Annual #10, perhaps they were supposed to be boorish.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | April 17, 2016 4:57 PM
Well, at this point the Hulk was associated with the Defenders, so you really have to wonder why Doctor Strange never did anything to really help the Hulk. It's not like he couldn't just call the Avengers if he needed their help curing the Hulk or something. It reminds of an interview with Denny O'Neil regarding Knightfall that I once read:
Posted by: Michael | April 17, 2016 5:24 PM
Denny O'Neil isn't wrong. In those days, the readership was supposed to either be too young to notice these things, or old enough to understand that the Avengers couldn't be everywhere. That said, there was really no attempt to address what the Avengers relationship towards the Hulk should be at all. There's a difference between solving a problem and ignoring one and no one thought to revisit the Search for the Hulk storyline in the Avengers in an 80's context. And that's really a shame, even if the story would end on the note that they couldn't do anything. Of course, the Avengers 214 story where Johnny Blaze as the Ghost Rider terrorizes the Angel probably illustrates what would have happened. Angel offers Blaze help at the end and the Avengers walk away leaving what happens next up to Blaze. He gets a job in the next issue of Ghost Rider. Work is supposed to be therapy for the soul I guess. Ick.
Also, in Incredible Hulk #299, Doctor Strange explains that the "Gamma Gene" that Banner has? is science beyond his power to effect. So, Strange has presumably tried and failed at one point to cure Bruce. Good thing She-Hulk is happy and content.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | April 17, 2016 6:36 PM
I don't see a flight for Cap here being too implausible, as long as Greymoor castle is somewhere in the south. For '81, yeah, but it's OK with the sliding timescale. Northern football teams often fly down to London, and we regularly get news stories about how it's now cheaper to fly up to somewhere like Newcastle than it is to go by train.
Posted by: Dave77 | May 22, 2016 1:09 PM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|