Captain America #311
Issue(s): Captain America #311
Then, Cap shows up at Marvel comics and gets hired by editor Mike Carlin to draw the Captain America comic (that's Michael Higgins in the Grateful Dead t-shirt).
I've already complained about Captain America needing a job at all, but i have an extra level of frustration with him working for Marvel comics. Yes, it's been established that Marvel Comics exists in the Marvel Universe, but we should remember that it's mainly in stories featuring the Impossible Man, or during the likes of Assistant Editors Month, that we see them. It's a joke, guys. It's not something we should be seeing on a regular basis. It breaks the fourth wall, takes us out of the story, and is just plain goofy. Having Captain America become the artist for Captain America, in secret, is stupid, and probably even raises some ethical questions. We know that the comics depicted in the Marvel Universe represent embellished versions of the heroes' actual adventures (Jarvis is responsibly for relaying the Avengers-related stories, according to Cap last issue). When Steve Rogers sees something being depicted inaccurately, will he "correct" it? What if he just doesn't agree with how his teammates are being portrayed? How was the Vision's recent world-takeover attempt depicted in the comics? Would Cap, perhaps unconsciously, ensure that the public saw that attempt in the least threatening way possible? At what point does it become propaganda?
I know these are stupid questions, but they spring from a stupid concept.
Anyway, while he's at Marvel, he discovers that a lot of people write in to Marvel trying to get in touch with the heroes. He sees a letter to Cap from a Bobby Hutchinson (who conveniently left a place for Cap's thumb and the panel border) that Cap thinks is legit.
Cap investigates, and finds the Mad Thinker's Awesome Android hiding in a barn (love the primitive programming and pixelation).
He fights it for a while but is unable to make any headway.
However, he realizes that whenever he gets thrown out of the barn, the Android doesn't follow him out, and Cap surmises (correctly) that the Thinker ordered it to stay out of sight, and that's what it's doing. Cap tells the boy and his father to keep an eye on it and let him know if there's any activity. Holy crap! I understand that writers don't like to be "constrained" by the Marvel Universe so maybe Cap shouldn't have to call in his teammates the Avengers, or the Fantastic Four (who have the most experience with the Android), or even SHIELD, if that's not the story Gruenwald wanted to tell (i vehemently disagree with that way of thinking, but i'm going with it now to make a point). But how about at least making contact with the local sheriff? You really want to put that responsibility, and risk, on the head of a 10 year old boy? "I'll just leave it in the barn, and the boy can tell me if it decides to go on a rampage". Ok!
Bobby Hutchinson does get Cap thinking about the fact that the public doesn't have a great way of contacting him. Last issue, the Constrictor was able to get a message to the Avengers with little difficulty, so it's a bit inconsistent, but it'll be the launching point for a new development starting next issue.
Meanwhile, the Serpent Society does a little pavement-pounding to get the word out about their new organization...
...and scores a contract from AIM to kill MODOK.
I haven't mentioned Bernie Rosenthal in a while. The glass-blowing business that she worked at went out of business a few issues back (mentioned as likely in #307, confirmed in #309), and now she's studying for the LSATs.
Cap vs. the Android was fun, a Scourge appearance is always a plus, and the Serpent Society continues to be interesting. But i obviously have some other problems with this issue.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Visiting the Contrictor in the hosptial, Cap says it was "last week" that he fought the Serpents last issue. Captain America gets a job at Marvel comics this issue. In Avengers #258, Cap mentions having an art deadline, so it either needs to take place before he quits the advertising agency in Captain America #309 (which is the first issue where Cap arrives back on the East Coast after a long trip beginning in Cap #305) or after this issue. And Avengers #258 is when Cap returns from the Savage Land on a trip begun in Avengers #256. Since placing Avengers #256-258 before Cap #305-309, which includes a Secret Wars II dependency, doesn't look possible, i'm going with the later option of placing this prior to Avengers #256.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAnaconda, Asp, Awesome Android, Bernie Rosenthal, Black Mamba, Bobby Hutchinson, Bushmaster II, Captain America, Cobra, Constrictor, Cottonmouth, Death Adder, Diamondback, Kingpin, Princess Python, Rattler, Scourge, Sidewinder
I think this issue clearly shows Gruenwald's biggest weakness as a Captain America writer - he doesn't know what to do with Steve Rogers. Over the upcoming issues, Cap is basically Cap all the time with no supporting cast outside of Captain America/Captain. He eliminates everything built up over the past several years going back to Stern's magnificent run.
Posted by: Chris | July 3, 2012 9:56 PM
this was my intro to the serpent society. I love the big circle of chairs with sidewinder addressing them all.
Posted by: kveto from prague | July 5, 2012 3:42 PM
I wanted to mention that you have Bushmaster listed as Bus master for this issue.
I love your site, by the way! It brings back lots of fond Marvel memories, and the comic rating function is addictive fun.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | June 19, 2013 2:43 AM
Thanks! Fixed it.
I agree it's disappointing; Busmaster sounds like a great US1 villain.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 19, 2013 9:16 AM
Busmaster's a great concept but in every appearance he's late for the battle and smells like a portable toilet.
Posted by: Alex F | July 19, 2014 1:41 AM
fnord, this is a classic and profound sentence!!! hahahaha. we've got to use this more often.
Posted by: George Gordon | October 5, 2014 5:19 PM
I really like Gruenwald's run and that was when I actually started collecting Cap. He brings in a lot of good concepts - a villian who doesn't really want to be a villain (Armadillo), the unionized group of villains handing out their business cards, the phone line so Cap can keep in touch with America.
As for the "Cap working for Marvel" concept, well it does point out how ridiculous the idea is that Marvel even exists in the universe. But if Marvel didn't exist in the MU, we wouldn't have had that awesome back-up in Thing where he beats up the office (but lets Roger Stern off).
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 28, 2015 1:35 PM
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