Captain America #318
Issue(s): Captain America #318
This issue also introduces a significant new direction for Cap. Last issue we saw the departure of Bernie Rosenthal, Cap's longtime girlfriend. This issue we see that Cap has decided to go back to his Easy Rider days of traveling the country in a motorcycle, except that he's updated things for the 80s - a high tech van, a high tech bike, and a new helmet (featured on the cover as a selling point).
Cap moves his stuff out of his apartment and into Avengers Mansion...
...and then tells the Wasp that he's going to be on the road ("I should still be able to make our Saturday meetings. I may need a quick pick-up by Quinjet occasionally, I imagine."). And then he takes off. And just so we don't miss the significance, the Wasp says that she feels like it's the end of an era, and Jarvis says "Or the beginning of a new one".
Earlier, Death Adder was taking Princess Python to the Circus of Crime, who were paying a ransom for her return...
...when his flying saucer was blown out of the sky. He managed to get clear of the rubble and get into a cab, only to have the cab driver turn out to be the Scourge, who blasts the guy through the seat (Princess Python survives because Death Adder left her behind).
Later, we see someone enter a seemingly shut-down "Bar With No Name"...
...and have a conversation with Gary Gilbert, who used to be Firebrand.
I'll talk more about what i think about the Bar With No Name and why i especially don't like the role Firebrand is currently planning, but for now let's say that the other patron is not interested in joining his anti-Scourge campaign.
Cap later bumps into the same guy, who he instantly recognizes as Blue Streak, the former SHIELD Super-Agent who turned out to be a villain working for the Corporation.
We haven't seen him since then, and he's ditched the disco outfit and gotten himself some new gear.
Cap gets to test his new equipment against Blue Streak's.
Blue Streak manages to escape by tricking Cap into thinking he fell off a cliff, and while Cap is climbing down the cliff to help him, he gets picked up by a truck driver that turns out to be Scourge.
Cap going cross country on a motorcycle is cool, but you add the van and stuff and it's a little less spirit of America than his previous motorcycle journey. Or i guess just an updated 80s version that feels a little less true to me. That said, it's an interesting shake-up for the book and Gruenwald is doing a good job building to the conclusion of the Scourge saga.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showBlue Streak, Captain America, Death Adder, Firebrand, Hercules, Jarvis, Princess Python, Scourge, Sub-Mariner, Wasp
There's a contradiction between this issue and Amazing Spider-Man 278- in this issue, Firebrand tells Blue Streak about the Wraith's death but in Amazing Spider-Man 278, Scourge listens to a radio broadcast about the massacre at the bar in Captain America 319 a few hours before he kills the Wraith.
Posted by: Michael | December 1, 2013 8:41 PM
I'm not sure what your displeasure with Firebrand is, but mine relates to the fact that a character established as leftist, wanting to take down the system is now penciled in as a generic agent to the villains. This was a cool idea for a character, but it didn't seem right for Gilbert (the Handbooks would spin this as trying to take down the system from within or something, which doesn't seem what he's doing in these stories).
I agree with you about the Serpent Society build up. I am a big pro wrestling fan and one of the clearest connections I see between wrestling/comics is that we take characters seriously as threats if they win a lot and don't suffer clear losses. The Serpent Society always seemed to confound Cap and was a well organized supervillain team (which is what makes their later, pretty easy defeats really frustrating).
Posted by: Michael Cheyne | December 1, 2013 9:30 PM
I was not reading this title anymore at the time, but Neary's art is very Byrne-like in these scans. When I saw Herc and Sub-Mariner walking out of the room in that top scan, as well as the perspective of the larger panel above it, I actually looked at the credits for Byrne's name. I don't even mean "similar influences of Kirby, Adams, and Wood"; it looks like the John Byrne synthesis of those. I wonder if he was trying to draw CAPTAIN AMERICA in a sort of Marvel house style of the 1980s.
Posted by: Todd | December 2, 2013 7:55 AM
The Bar With No Name is a good concept, and it makes sense that the criminal element would somehow be "serviced". If I remember right, it's clear that this is merely one of many such bars. Was it ever established who ran them, or were they just an ongoing phenomenon?
I agree with Michael Cheyne. Firebrand had a particular reason for his villainy, and to take that away and make him a generic criminal doesn't seem right. Firebrand had a lot of potential in the hands of the right writer. It also seems odd that Gruenwald could use an Iron Man villain to do this; wouldn't that book "control" this character?
Gruenwald put a lot of effort to upgrade Blue Streak. He was a laughable villain before, but here receives some upgrades to move him out of the ridiculous category. That's a lot of work to put into a character right before he dies.
One obvious thing about the Scourge is that he's obviously getting some kind of inside information so that he's around the area at the time of identified villains. There's a lot of implied back story and organization.
Posted by: Chris | December 2, 2013 9:48 AM
Firebrand was one of my favourite villains in his first appearance but all of his appearances after detracted from that seeing him work with other villains just put the icing on this problem.
My favourite part of this iss was that Cap recognises Blue streak when he's stopping for a pee break. Without that, he'd have never found blue streak. Cap going for a leak becomes a significant plot point.
Posted by: kveto from prague | December 2, 2013 3:14 PM
Gruenwald was editor of Iron Man at the time, and Denny O'Neill has said that Gru had to propose villains for him to write in that book--villains weren't O'Neill's thing, so you get Gruenwald-made or Gruenwald-rediscovered obscure-o's like the Brothers Grimm, Vibro, and the Termite. Presumably if Gru wanted to kill Firebrand he not only already had the IM editor's permission--i.e., his own--but also knew that O'Neill wouldn't care. Denny was on his way out at this point anyway.
I agree it's a poor use of Firebrand.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | December 2, 2013 10:16 PM
"This issue we see that Cap has decided to go back to his Easy Rider days of traveling the country in a motorcycle, except that he's updated things for the 80s - a high tech van".
The van in early form appeared in Reb Brown's TV films.
Incidentally, at any point prior to Mack Bolan's battle van, did adventure heroes start using vans? Mack Bolan's battle van could also change color (cf. The Orion Book of Murder), just as Captain America's battle van could. Other battle vans include those of the Punisher (who rather closely derives from Bolan), Ross G. Everbest/the Foolkiller, Roderick Kingsley, Scourge and a few others. I would find it interesting if the Shadow, the Spider or Doc Savage had battle vans.
Posted by: PB210 | December 4, 2013 7:47 PM
The Vigilante (Adrian Case) also had a battle van.
Posted by: PB210 | December 5, 2013 7:48 PM
These were probably the two Scourge victims that I was most annoyed to lose (along with the Melter). Blue Streak was redesigned and no longer some lame disco-guy and showed a surprising bit of competence vs Cap in their fight down the highway. Seems like a waste. Death Adder was just awesome and deserved a way better fate than this (why would they send a mute to collect a ransom anyway?)
In the long run, the whole Scourge of the Underworld storyline was pretty much a waste.
Posted by: Coldstream | February 4, 2014 11:54 PM
Did they ever make it clear how Scourge found his victims? An awful lot of them just seemed to be randomly running into characters (Miracle Man, Blue Streak).
Given that the Melter was killed in his hideout, how would he even have been found?
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 17, 2015 4:43 PM
I think that was the point of his detective, Domino.
Posted by: Thanos6 | June 17, 2015 6:38 PM
Had totally forgotten about the detective. Still seemed like a lot of coincidences and a lot of going back and forth across the country a lot.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 17, 2015 7:54 PM
Death Adder absolutely was not a B villian; it's possible that he was so dangerous that they used the Scourge to remove him.
Scourge was really on his game here and next issue.
Posted by: VtCG | April 18, 2016 3:07 AM
PB210: The Hobgoblin had a battle van; actually it was built by Norman Osborn/Green Goblin 1, but he never used it.
VtCG: The more I think about Scourge, the more I don't like the story, because now we're (creators and fans) dividing villains into A, B, C, and D villains, and arguing about who goes where. When universes have large rogues galleries, there are always going to be some that rise to more prominence than others. When writers (especially Gruenwald) start treating lesser villains as "losers" (especially Porcupine in CA 315), it sort of cheapens the rogues gallery as a whole.
Posted by: mikrolik | April 18, 2016 12:22 PM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|