Captain America #338
Issue(s): Captain America #338
We start with the new Captain America and Bucky launching an attack on Professor Power's Secret Empire goons.
Bucky is really getting into his role, with the "You don't have to tell me twice, Cappy" and the "Aww, shucks!". He sounds like Golden Age Bucky Barnes. The second scan above, though, is a bit of ironic foreshadowing, as we'll see.
After the centurions, John Walker Cap and Bucky fight some robots that look like Mandroids (as Walter points out in the Comments, these robots have been seen in a previous Secret Empire story).
I bring the Mandroids up in the context of Iron Man's Armor Wars. More on that below.
And next is Leviathan, a giant super-soldier that the Secret Empire previously manipulated in an arc on the Defenders.
When Captain America finally makes it to Professor Power (who was in a coma thanks to Moondragon when he was imprisoned and is just barely above being a vegetable at the moment) he's in no mood for niceties, and lets loose.
And i mean really lets loose, leaving a bloody smear where the Professor's head used to be.
Power will eventually be back, but not for a few years.
Meanwhile, we face the unlikely situation of the original Captain America's sidekicks in jail across from the new serpent villains from last issue.
Gruenwald continues to develop Nomad into a more anti-establishment personality, which is an interesting direction (and one that will be developed further in later years). But as i mentioned last issue, it's definitely a move from his earlier days as 1950s Bucky. And on the other side, we have the Falcon agreeing to have complete faith in the justice system, something i doubt we'd have heard from him in the early 70s.
Anyway, Steve Rogers was expecting that these Serpents would be rescued by Sidewinder, but he doesn't have any plan in place when the teleporter does show up...
...and that leads to a bungled fight where Sidewinder, who has to teleport people one-by-one, manages to get the first three Serpents out before Steve reluctantly allows D-Man to bend the bars of their cell. Steve grabs Sidewinder, who teleports Cap around a bit, unable to shake him, before returning to the cell and threatening to kill the remaining Serpent prisoner, Fer-De-Lance. Cap kind of lamely lets him go.
This is in obvious contrast to John Walker, but while we don't want to condone excessive force against near-comatose men, we also shouldn't condone standing there with your hands at your sides while the villain makes a pretty transparent ploy to get away. This seems to be another idea that sounded good in a plot paragraph but comes across pretty poorly in execution. One could potentially blame new penciler Kieron Dwyer, but this sort of thing seems to happen a lot on Gruenwald's Cap.
The other thing i wanted to mention is the fact that this issue almost feels like a tie-in with Iron Man's Armor Wars. Professor Power shows up on the list of names that comes up in Iron Man #225 but aside from a symbolic shot of villains in that issue, he's not featured or mentioned in the rest of the Armor Wars series. And then there's the fact that the Mandroids end up as Iron Man's targets, which seems like it could have tied in with the idea that Power has Mandroid-like robots here. And then there's the fact that Power seemingly had help inside SHIELD, aiding his escape, a plot point that is not resolved in this issue. You could imagine that someone at SHIELD was supplying Professor Power's organization with schematics on the Mandroids; the existence of these Mandroid-bots seem to justify Iron Man's decision to go after the SHIELD Mandroids. In any event, Professor Power's brutal death here erases him from Iron Man's list, intentionally (by Marvel) or not.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Next issue is a Fall of the Mutants tie-in with an epilogue that takes place concurrently with Iron Man #227.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
This issue is clearly intended to be a first meeting between Puff Adder and Sidewinder, contrary to Iron Man Legacy 6-11. Note that Puff-Adder feels the need to tell Sidewinder what his name is. Also, wouldn't Sidewinder assume that Puff Adder told Steve about him since Steve knew who he was and Sidewinder didn't recognize Steve?
Posted by: Michael | May 6, 2014 7:45 PM
The pseudo-Mandroids--they have a name, but I'm forgetting--previously appeared in Defenders 127, http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/defenders_127.shtml
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 6, 2014 9:53 PM
Gruenwald had a tendency to have some interesting ideas, but bad execution. Sometimes he surprised and really knocked it out of the park.
Even with a certain amount of knowledge of public identites, I find it surprising Cap, D-Men, Falcon, and Nomad allowed themselves to be taken into custody and thrown into the same cell as the villains. First, why are the heroes maskless, but the villains not? Second, if the heroes went willingly with the police to give statements, why would they be put in cells as mere procedure? This is just a way for Cap to observe Sidewinder's appearance. It could be handled so much better.
It also makes little sense Sidewinder would fail to recognize Cap. His voice is probably the same, and the costume is almost identical! Not to mention his old partners (at least Falcon, if not Nomad as well) are in the same cell with him. Sidewinder might wonder why Cap is in a different costume, but recognition should be there.
I agree with bad presentation of Sidewinder's threat. This is almost as bad as Cleavon Little holding himself hostage in Blazing Saddles. This is a major problem with Gruenwald - he writes Cap as way too naive and golly gee. Yes, Cap is honest and honorable, but he's also a man whose been through war and fought really terrible enemies. He should be portrayed much better.
Kieron Dwyer's appearance as penciller is a big improvement artistically. He's hampered by inkers that don't work well for him early on (Morgan and Milgrom), but it's definitely noticeable.
Posted by: Chris | May 6, 2014 10:00 PM
I was never a Cap fan as I don't like my heroes too goody-goody; so I'm not sure what Gruenwald was leading to with him, but I do think he brings up some interesting ideas.
I was thinking the events that have happened to him; such as giving up being Cap, being put in jail for obstructing justice and now letting Sidewinder go would lead Cap to question himself. Perhaps doing the right thing all the time isn't the right thing sometimes? It could (did?) lead to Cap becoming a more vigilante type character. Does this eventually happen to him?
Posted by: jsfan | May 7, 2014 9:13 AM
I don't have that big a deal with Cap falling for Sidewinder's ploy--maybe it would have been better if it was like a guard who happened to wander by or something instead of another villain, but Cap is the kind of hero that would work on, particularly when he was already a little angst-ridden about causing the death of that terrorist. I thought in conception Gruenwald did a good job in presenting Cap as the sort of hero who makes various mistakes due to his own stubborn-ness or idealism, but as it played out, the execution tended to make Cap always seem right.
Posted by: Michael Cheyne | May 7, 2014 10:48 AM
This was a memorable issue. You have Sidey recruiting more snake-themed goons and trying to teleport Steve off his back in a neat little sequence. On the flip side, Walker beats Power to death only to begin questioning the rationale behind his actions.
Posted by: Clutch | May 8, 2014 9:16 AM
Ron Frenz starts doing the covers for Captain America this issue. He'll do them up until 349 and then his final one is 355.
Posted by: Robert | September 22, 2014 7:11 PM
Professor Power is one of the worst characters in Marvel history. Weird history, ugly costume, boring personality, no interesting powers, stupid gimmick henchmen that you'd expect in the DC silver age... It's a miracle they bothered to bring him back after this.
Posted by: Berend | March 9, 2015 1:33 AM
I thought Prof. Power was kind of interesting in his first appearances, when he was a jaded political figure and not another cliche, costume-wearing villain. But, the same writer who created him turned him into that cliche villain, so I guess there's no excuse.
Posted by: TCP | March 9, 2015 9:14 AM
Is Power not in his son's body here? The illustration and writing makes him look like an old man.
Posted by: MikeCheyne | September 20, 2015 10:38 PM
I suppose Gruenwald's going for a bit of irony here by having the John Walker Cap sent against a villain who's even more of an ultra-nationalist than he is, just as with the Watchdogs. Unfortunately, it doesn't really come through if that was the intention.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | September 13, 2016 6:31 AM
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