Captain America #341
Issue(s): Captain America #341
Poor Tony has to send his date home (but not before she admires Cap's "bod"). The Captain then returns the adamantium shield that Stark made for him, admonishes him for letting prisoners go free, and then tells Stark he's here to arrest him. Stark manages to get away long enough to get into his Iron Man armor, and then the two fight.
It's not a long fight, in part because Cap won't use the "bribe" shield, but Iron Man is pretty confident that there's "no way you're going to win this" in any event. And indeed, Iron Man is able to zap Cap pretty easily.
After disabling The Captain, Iron Man promises him that when he's done with his vendetta, he'll look Cap up and "we'll have a long talk about ethics". When Cap recovers, he decides it would be too difficult to hunt Iron Man down, so he's not going to. Well, umm, ok.
It's kind of funny after all the build up Steve Rogers was getting in Avengers and Thor at this time to have him basically get his ass kicked and give up in his own book.
This book is actually broken up into three separate short stories, and in the next one, we open up with Lemar Hoskins in a new costume.
Marvel had been getting complaints regarding the use of the name of Bucky for Lemar. In-story, Lemar hears those same complains from a black guard that he met at the Vault while he and Captain America were there to clean-up after Iron Man's break-in.
So he's changed his name to Battlestar and changed the costume along with it.
The other two former Bold Urban Commandoes have also changed their names, as we found out at a press conference announcing to the public that the original Captain America has been replaced. The two former BUCkies attack, announcing themselves as Left-Winger and Right-Winger.
They're upset that they got cut out of the action when the Super-Patriot became Captain America and Lemar became Bucky/Battlestar. So they announce Walker's real name.
In addition to new names and costumes for themselves, they're also using light-sabers like the one that Walker used when he was the Super-Patriot.
Names aside, there's nothing political about Left-Winger and Right-Winger. They are just self-interested bruisers like all four of these guys used to be before Walker and Hoskins got a chance to work for the government.
The Wingers are defeated and arrested. It's said that all four used to be "army pals" and that it was something about the background checks for the other two BUCkies that prevented them from being selected. I can't imagine what those two could have done that was worse than what they all did in Captain America #327.
The final story in this issue features a civil war in the Serpent Society. The new Serpents that were recruited in Captain America #338 are formerly inducted into the group.
But as soon as that's finished, Fer-De-Lance signals the Viper, who teleports in. Note above Black Mamba talking about "the usual time" with Sidewinder above. The Viper gets into the Black Mamba's room, knocks her out, and takes her sex costume...
...so that she can sneak up on Sidewinder.
My partner Min and i had just watched The Wolverine prior to my reading of this issue. That movie features Viper, and i was complaining that the movie took her name too literally and made her a snake woman with a poison bite, which i didn't like. Then of course i read this. But i didn't show it to Min because i don't think she'd react well to seeing Viper dress up in a Sexy Maid costume.
After getting bit, Sidewinder manages to teleport to Diamondback's room. She gives him anti-venom and then they teleport to the control room, where she sees a number of new Serpents roaming the halls. Not having anyone else to turn to, she calls Captain America's hotline.
The new Viper-loyal Serpents are Boomslang, Coachwhip, and Rock Python, in case you wanted to challenge my assertion a few issues ago that Fer-De-Lance was scraping the bottom of the barrel. But the inter-Serpent battle and the Viper takeover is actually pretty cool, although i would have liked to see Viper user her abilities in a non-sexual way. It's never been her MO to date.
The fact that the issue is broken into three separate stories instead of just intermixing the three plots makes each story feel a little stunted. Issue #338 had separate Steve Rogers and John Walker stories but mixed them together and it read better (although there was a point to that since the story was doing a compare and contrast between the two Captain Americas, whereas here the three stories have nothing to do with each other). I guess the reason the stories feel weird is that each has its own splash panel opening and obvious wrap-up panel.
Anyway, some good stuff in each story. I think Cap gives up too easily on Iron Man, but the Armor Wars story is an Iron Man story and Cap can't jump in and prematurely end it. I think it's good that Marvel showed that Iron Man's actions were spilling over into other books; i just think Gruenwald could have written some better reasoning for Cap when having him decide not to pursue things further. It's good that Hoskins changed his name to Battlestar, and while Left-Winger and Right-Winger are terrible names (unless they were going to do a Hawk and Dove thing, which wouldn't make sense given their backgrounds), they do work as a contrast to the sort-of reforming Walker and Hoskins. And villain vs. villain battles are always cool. So everything here should be working great and is at least cool in concept, but as usual it doesn't get executed very well.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 147,750. Single issue closest to filing date = 176,589.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Captain America appears here after Thor #390. The MCP has Iron Man here after Iron Man #229.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (10): show
Note that Steve says that TWO of the villains that escaped were never recaptured. One is Titania but who is the second? I think that it's supposed to be Vibro since all of the other villains are shown in the Vault when Acts of Vengeance starts and Tony remarks that he "escaped from the federal Vault a couple of break-outs ago" in Avengers West Coast 58. This is important since Vibro kills hundreds in that story, and if Vibro escaped due to Tony's actions, you'd think that Tony would feel guilty.
Posted by: Michael | May 18, 2014 4:36 PM
Viper disguised herself as Mariko's maid to poison the X-Men in Uncanny 172, so disguise is an established part of her MO.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 18, 2014 6:58 PM
While the Viper's impersonation here and the Sidewinder-Mamba relationship never seemed too gratuitous to me, this is unfortunately the first of several instances of Gru giving us a peek at the sex lives of super villains. Worse is in store when he has Viper and the Red Skull match up. Of course, there's the Skull and Mother Night as well, and as far as the Serpent Society goes, we'll get a Cobra-Coachwhip scene in a couple of years. I don't think Gru was going for exploitation, but he handles it all very awkwardly.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 18, 2014 9:16 PM
Not being from the US, I didn't know that Bucky was a racial slur. I'm glad Gruenwald changed it.
Posted by: JSfan | May 19, 2014 4:03 AM
Nice of Gru to acknowledge Cornelius Van Lunt's demise over at the Wackos' own book. "Guess we can forget about Zodiac paying us back!" LMAOF!
I love how Sidey looks just like Alfred Pennyworth when he is about to get it on with Tanya. I didn't want him to die and began rooting for him and Diamondback from here onward. Sidewinder has always been an interesting bad guy.
Three good stories, with the prologue to the Serpent Society Civil War being the high point for me.
Posted by: Clutch | May 19, 2014 10:33 AM
JSfan, I'm from the US and I didn't know it was a racial slur either until many years after I read this issue. I think it's a generational thing.
Ron Frenz drew the cover to this one and it's another of his retro Silver Age-style covers he was doing already for Thor and FF.
Posted by: Robert | June 1, 2014 9:29 PM
As far as I know, Bucky is not a racial slur; "Buck" however is a well-known slur against black men. However, it's a quite a ridiculous stretch to say a pre-existing character name that isn't even the slur itself is racist, and I suspect the vast majority of those complaining were white liberals.
Posted by: cauchamar | June 3, 2014 7:29 AM
No one is saying that Mark Gruenwald was deliberately racist, and that's evident from the response to the complaints: giving the character a unique identity on pretty short notice as well as an apology in the letter column.
But the idea that putting a Y at the end of what you acknowledge is a racist slur makes it ok is absurd. And when the explanation is that the name is based on a boy sidekick from the 1940s, well, it should be clear that wasn't going to make things better. Again, Gruenwald meant no offense and was clearly doing an homage to the original but he quickly understood why it was offensive when he got the explanation and he even wrote it into the story. Pretty commendable, and a very different response than, well it's based on an existing character so if you're offended you're just wrong and probably just a white liberal trying to stir up trouble.
I don't know why it matters if the complaints were coming from "white liberals" or someone else, but of the two letters printed on this subject (among an acknowledged many more), the one in issue #341 is from a self-identified "Black American" who takes offense to the term "Bucky" specifically. The writer of the other letter in #340 doesn't identify his ethnicity but the offense taken is personal: "I won't soon forget why #334 isn't in my collection."
Posted by: fnord12 | June 3, 2014 10:39 AM
"But the idea that putting a Y at the end of what you acknowledge is a racist slur makes it ok is absurd."
But that isn't what they did. They didn't put a Y on the end of anything, they gave him an established character identity, a character that clearly had no racist overtones and was entirely complimentary. If they had done the exact same thing with a character of any other race, would anyone have seen a racial slur? No, because there wasn't one. Further, "buck", while a racial slur, is also a common word and syllable, and a common nickname and part of a name. The Buffalo Bills had a black wide receiver in the 90s named Bucky Brooks. Was his nickname racist? He didn't seem to think so.
It was not offensive, at all, to any reasonable person - not even by accident.
I haven't checked his Wikipedia page, though; perhaps Bucky Brooks later changed his name and issued a retraction.
Posted by: cauchamar | June 3, 2014 2:31 PM
Cauchamar, you're engaged in semantic arguments and irrelevant point scoring but it doesn't take away from the fact that people were offended by this, and no one appointed you to be the arbiter of whether or not they were "reasonable". Marvel obviously took it seriously enough to make a change.
The word "red" can mean different things in different contexts too, but if you dress up a Native American character in a boy's costume and call him "Red Boy" people are going to get offended, even if there was a 1940s Red Boy that you're paying tribute to.
What i find really discouraging is that you're just so dismissive about the idea that people really could have been hurt by this. It's either some liberal conspiracy or people are just unreasonable, and the term used wasn't exactly the same as the racial slur, so q.e.d. there was no racism, even accidentally. In the real world, where at Marvel there was a dearth of non-white characters, having the newest one introduced with a name that (at a minimum) resembles a racial slur was a problem.
The bottom line is that people thought it was offensive. If you don't find it offense, well, that's great, but who cares?
With your first comment about "white liberals" you're actually in direct violation of my policy on Comments under The Rules, and i'm not interested in any more back and forth on this, so please let it drop here.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 3, 2014 4:02 PM
People were offended? Ok, great. Who appointed them arbiters of anything? Why is their being offended worth more than anyone else's - the vast majority's in this case, I suspect - not being offended? Or why is their being offended worth more than my being offended by their being offended?
And yea, I am dismissive of it. Really dismissive. If you're hurt by this, you deserve to be hurt, because you are either a fool or a dishonest proponent of political correctness. There was no slur here. There was no racism here. There was no sin committed here, not even by accident. There was not even bad taste here.
Who cares that I don't find it offensive? ME, buddy. I care that I don't find it offensive. It's weird how you continually treat my opinion as meaningless while citing other random people's opinions as having great weight and being inherently valid. They aren't. No opinion or feeling is inherently valid. You have to be able to reasonably defend it, and these people (and you, right now, on their behalf) are woefully unable to do so.
To hell with you and your policy. You're in direct violation of the rule requiring people not to be spineless PC retards.
Posted by: cauchamar PAUL | June 3, 2014 7:34 PM
According to this interview, it was Dwayne McDuffie who complained about the black Bucky:
Posted by: Michael | June 3, 2014 8:45 PM
FYI everyone, i've banned Cauchamar. I just don't need the aggravation, and i want people to be comfortable posting here without angry people aggressively telling them that things that they find offensive aren't because they said so or calling them spineless PC retards. I do want people to be able to discuss controversial topics in good faith but from his first comment that's not what Cauchamar was doing.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 3, 2014 8:56 PM
Thanks for that, fnord. This kind of pedantic quibbling in service of the (race and gender) status quo is becoming all the rage in nerddom, i appreciate you taking a stand against it. CBR comments sections can be unreadable sometimes :\
Posted by: Cullen | June 3, 2014 11:23 PM
Wasn't that that same "Paul" who got banned about a year ago? Maybe the ban mechanism needs an email detector or something.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 6, 2014 5:26 PM
Don't know. That Paul's politics were the polar opposite of this guy's but he could have just been trolling. The banning mechanism can be breached if someone really cares to but i'll deal with as it comes. Nothing you guys should have to worry about unless it gets to the point where i have to install a more formal commenting system that requires authentication, and i still prefer to avoid that.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 6, 2014 7:45 PM
This was a fun issue, and much better than most of the issues in the past 1-2 years. After this point, the title finally becomes interesting again after a long set up since #332.
The Viper is not sane, even after accounting for her anarchistic philosophy. She is very particular about snakes and snake themes. Killing the original Viper just to take his name, then leading the Serpent Squad, and now this take over of the Serpent Society simply to control more snake themed villains. None of this makes much sense. I wonder if during whatever traumatic experience created her cruel personality, she had a horrific encounter with snakes as child.
Right Winger and Left Winger are good enough names for a wrestling team, which is more or less what they are. I think from the basis of this issue, #327, and other statements, we can "assume" that while John Walker and Lemar Hoskins did not perform any illegal actions (other than 327 which may not have been entirely known to the government), that their old manager, Jerome, and Hector have habitually broken the law and displayed poor sense. Anyone could see exposing John's secret identity was a bad thing to do. That they decided to do it anyway shows poor judgment and malicious nature. I would not be surprised if they had been up to something while in the army and perhaps dishonorably discharged or some other stain on their record.
Posted by: Chris | June 12, 2014 9:57 PM
Before this book was published, Gruenwald stated in Comics Interview #54 that Kieron Dwyer came up with the name "Battlestar".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 31, 2014 6:10 PM
There's a current bit of controversy over a TV remake of Uncle Buck with Mike Epps as the title character. When I read about it, the first thing I thought of was this Bucky debate.
Posted by: Robert | March 8, 2015 7:44 PM
I think Gruenwald, who is not the most subtle writer, actually does a good job here of changing the name - specifically acknowledging why it was there and why it's being changed.
Of course the bizarre thing in the first place was that Bucky was Barnes' nickname. To ever call another character Bucky was just silly. Battlestar is much better anyway.
@ Mark Drummond - I wonder if it was in reference to Battlestar Gallactica. The OED doesn't list "battlestar" as a word, so I wonder if it originally came from the show. Marvel did do the comic adaptation after all.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 31, 2015 11:46 AM
I really liked how Gru handled Lemar changing his costume and name to Battlestar this issue. I think he acknowledged that while he (Gru) didn't intend to be offensive, that is unfortunately what happened, and bringing the real world concerns into the Marvel Universe was a great way to resolve and correct the issue. It actually felt like a real "the Marvel Universe is the world outside your window" to me.
Posted by: mikrolik | January 3, 2017 4:27 PM
One thing I really appreciate about the John Walker short story in this issue was how well it parallels earlier issues #323 & #327. In #323, Walker holds a public event as Super Patriot and has the “Buckies” stage a disruption—in this issue, two former members (now the Wingers) do it for real. And in #327, Walker fights Steve Rogers with his torch which gets paralleled in this issue’s fight between Right-Winger and Walker. Also notice the exact replica of the cover of issue #327 in the pane fnord scanned above in which with Right-Winger slashes New Cap’s shield. That’s not a rip-off, it’s a direct homage. Very nice artwork touch by Kieron Dwyer to show how the Walker arc has progressed!
Posted by: Paul Peterson | May 19, 2018 1:38 PM
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