Captain America #372-378 (Battlestar)
Issue(s): Captain America #372, Captain America #373, Captain America #374, Captain America #375, Captain America #376, Captain America #377, Captain America #378 (Battlestar/USAgent story only)
Walker was Battlestar's partner when Walker was the replacement Captain America, but the government took the opportunity of an assassination attempt to pretend that Walker was killed, and then they switched his identity, making him USAgent (with a civilian name of Jack Daniels, an American whiskey unlike the Scotch Johnnie Walker) and assigning him to the West Coast Avengers. Battlestar eventually got Val Cooper to admit that Walker was alive, and has now tracked him to the West Coast Avengers' compound. He stakes the place out, and eventually sees USAgent coming in on a sky cycle. And get his attention by shooting him with a rifle.
USAgent won't admit that he's Walker. And he doesn't take it well when Battlestar starts recounting what he knows about him and mentions his parents (we've been seeing in Avengers West Coast that USAgent doesn't believe his parents are dead and has even been having imaginary phone conversations with them).
Battlestar and USAgent then fight for a while until Iron Man and Wonder Man come break it up.
Battlestar then gives up on trying to get USAgent to admit that he's Walker, and leaves. He's still pretty confident that USAgent is Walker despite a changed voice and face, which he attributes (probably correctly) to voice coaching and plastic surgery.
He then gets a call from Ethan Thurm, the guy that was his and Walker's agent in their BUCkie/Super-Patriot days. He goes to meet Thurm and is attacked.
One of the attackers is Jackhammer, a former Hydra agent that we saw more recently on a date with Poundcakes. The others (Drill and Buzz-Saw) are new, but are reminiscent of the minions that Dr. Karl Malus was using in Avengers Spotlight #29 (and Jackhammer fits their motif as well).
Battlestar is able to hold his own against them, but when they capture and threaten Thurm, he surrenders and is placed in cuffs that "must be adamantium". And they do take him to Malus. He's first placed in a room with other people that were powered up by the Power Broker, including the awesomely named Red Zeppelin, the guy that Thurm was hoping Battlestar would rescue for him. They're held in adamantium, or maybe "adamantine" racks.
Battlestar is then brought to Malus, who is working on a way to reverse the power enhancement that he and the Power Broker had been doling out, because in a prior story the Power Broker wound up getting over exposed to it.
Battlestar is the latest in a string of captured augmented people that Malus is working on while trying out an augmentation reversal process. And Battlestar is the first on which it works with no visible side-effects.
Battlestar tries to escape, but is in trouble when the "Power Tools" show up.
Then USAgent shows up.
While USAgent fights a bunch of tools...
...Battlestar struggles with the Power Broker...
...and eventually threatens to destroy the augmentation reversing machine.
Whatever the anti-steroid message of the main story in these issues, there's none of that here. USAgent makes Malus give Battlestar his muscles back.
You might think that a secondary purpose of this story was to clean up all the Unlimited Class Wrestlers and other random people walking around with Power Broker's super-augmentation, but USAgent and Battlestar force Malus to restore all of the test subjects. And then USAgent cruelly destroys the machine before the Power Broker is restored.
On the way home, USAgent admits that he is, or was, Walker. But he's still confused about Battlestar saying that his parents are dead.
So Battlestar takes USAgent to their grave.
I actually think having this stuff as a back-up feature does a disservice to the story. I mentioned something similar on a Thor entry regarding the Tales of Asgard back-ups. Mark Gruenwald does a good job of plotting here, weaving various past stories together and giving a number of characters a chance for the spotlight. I think that's great. But regular readers of this site know my feelings about stories that come in such short installments, at least for American comics where they feel the need for an opening splash page and then a cliffhanger every five pages. It's partially just a question of packaging. If this stuff were mixed in with the main story, i'd be like, wow, this is a Claremontian level of plotting (except stuff is actually getting resolved!). Instead my immediate reaction is ok, here's the Cap story, and here's the Battlestar story. It also misses the opportunity to do some thematic parallels when both stories are dealing with the loss of super-strength. There is a practical reason for this, of course: the book can be split between two separate artists, reducing deadline pressures. But with this stuff tucked away in the back, i have to keep reminding myself to not just look at it as throwaway filler, which it definitely isn't. (On the other hand, splitting the stories out does give me more flexibility for placement purposes!)
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This entry covers the Battlestar back-up only. The main story is in a separate entry. Next issue's back-up features Diamondback, but then #380 begins a USAgent story that picks up on the events here. I'm keeping these back-ups separate from both the main Cap story and the USAgent back-ups for maximum flexibility. Note that the West Coast Avengers act like USAgent and "the guy who filled in for Cap for a while" are different people (as opposed to in Avengers West Coast #60, when Hawkeye refers to USAgent as John Walters), but they could be playing it safe, either because they don't know if they can trust Battlestar or because they are humoring Walker on his secret identity.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBattlestar, Curtiss Jackson (Power Broker), Drill, Ethan Thurm, Iron Man, Jackhammer, Karl Malus, Red Zeppelin, USAgent, Wonder Man
In the backup in Captain America 383, US Agent is checking on Left- and Right- Winger to see if they're dead after the Legion of the Unliving affair. But Ethan seems to think they're alive in this story. It does seem like the sequence of events was supposed to be this backup, then AWC 60-62, then the Cap 383 backup. Admittedly it's possible that John forgets to check whether they're dead, runs into Ethan who thinks they're alive but doesn't mention it and then remembers to check on them later but that does seem complicated. (It makes it seem like they weren't dead until John actually got around to checking if they're dead, like they're Schrodinger's Cat.)
Posted by: Michael | June 19, 2015 6:59 PM
Val Cooper, at one point (issue 350, i think) also said the wingers had survived.
Posted by: Bob | June 19, 2015 7:40 PM
I liked Battlestar and was hoping they would use him in one of the Avengers books or even as a new partner for Captain America (which seemed like a possibility since Cap "lost" the super soldier serum and someone like Battlestar would have been a nice ace in the hole). Unfortunately nothing cool like that ever came about for him...
Posted by: Bill | June 19, 2015 10:22 PM
Good comment that the story would be improved by mixing the two. I'd never thought of that, but I think you're right.
Posted by: Chris | June 19, 2015 10:50 PM
A perfect missed opportunity to get rid of all these augmented characters, dammit.
Posted by: kveto | June 20, 2015 2:42 AM
I liked Battlestar, too, but I liked him better as Bucky, and it's a pity about the name issue.
The Bucky costume is actually pretty rockin', something you can imagine would look better than most on an actor in TV/movie, being a real cloth thing with leggings - and the double breasted buttons of the tunic are a serviceable super look that works in real life.
Cap having a Bucky is part of the legacy the government was trying to use, and Lamar looked good in the suit. It all worked really well for me, and again, just a pity.
Lamar's arc reinforced John's, you know, beginning as a less-than-stellar candidate for patriotic symbol, with the hate crime and illiteracy against him, but who likewise took the assignment seriously and worked at it and sincerely struggled with doing what's right and grew into the job, with the difference of not so much with the accidental killings and having his parents murdered in front of him. (You or I, in Walker's situation would have either frozen in shock and got shot in the face - or sanctioned the lot of the murderers as he did; but then, I don't think much of anyone holds that bit of overkill against him.)
Battlestar's look was ... just too generic patriot-theme hero. It's not bad, but nothing memorable about it. And that's a pity, too. A black patriotic hero from a disadvantaged background but amiable and pretty righteous? You could do some really worthwhile and interesting things with him. Better fit for Cap replacement than Falcon, for one thing...
Posted by: BU | June 20, 2015 9:39 AM
Gosh. USAgent is a sick, sick creepo.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | June 20, 2015 1:22 PM
@BU: I think that if there was another continuity miner like a Grudenwald in today's Marvel (well outside the Deadpool writers who do it more just to show how crazy the universe is regardless of how serious every other Marvel writer try to make themselves), they could have remembered Battlestar and made him Captain America. Its not a bad idea but its probably just a matter of relevance and "out of sight, out of mind". Falcon never really left focus and is considered a major character due to being around since Lee/Kirby (not to mention his raised status thanks to appearing in the MCU now); while Battlestar only appears now and again at this point. (just looked on his Wiki and his last notable appearance had his shield stolen during the "Death of Wolverine" storyline) It is a good idea but it just takes good writers to remember and make that work.
Posted by: Ataru320 | June 20, 2015 1:59 PM
I suspect Red Zeppelin was based on Peter Grant.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 20, 2015 3:16 PM
Thing is - Sam has been his own man, not sidekick but sometimes-partner with his own style, for a very long time. Taking over for Cap is a bad fit as characterization, and he's got the wrong powerset, and I don't like 'Cap' look they saddled him with, either. I'm not following how they've worked all this in-story, so maybe they've made it work - and there certainly is the thing that it's Sam and all that history w/ Cap.
Lamar has the powers (more or less- I always wondered about the agility), he has the training (the very specific and rigorous training to fight like Cap - for story convenience, he did get put through the shield-throwing training; we don't know different), he's black - and honestly we all know that last is the entire purpose of the latest replacement Cap stunt; free media publicity, and it's worked. Lamar is exactly equally useful for that mainstream publicity.
Now, I'd be tempted to partner him with the Falcon anyway, as a mentor who knows Steve well...
But that's all a side thought from my main point which is that Battlestar has Enormous Untapped Potential. Put the ghost of Dwayne McDuffie on it (Priest would be offended by the job offer and then make him The Man With The Plan who's Always Right, basing it all on a movie I haven't seen) and have some balls about going there on Black issues, and promote it to minorities, a market with more Enormous Untapped Potential than Marvel could handle.
Posted by: BU | June 21, 2015 11:02 AM
In agreement with Fnord and others - this could have been integrated into the main story...but maybe Gruenwald didn't want the coordinating headache. Good to see the boys back together.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | July 14, 2015 8:52 PM
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