Captain America #400
Issue(s): Captain America #400
Well, not all, as Captain America notes.
The villains have no business being on the Kree homeworld, but the villains know enough about Cap that he starts to wonder if maybe they are real. But he confirms that they are fake when he asks Batroc to take off his mask. Since he's never seen Batroc's face before, the construct's face is just blank.
Supreme Intelligence my ass. Even a Moderate Intelligence could have figured out to construct a generic human face underneath the mask. But the Supreme Intelligence is all like "You have proven to be a most resourceful enemy, Captain America" and practically wishes him a happy anniversary before knocking him out. His original plan was to absorb Cap's brain like he did to the assassinated Kree rulers, but apparently Cap's face trick made that impossible. Kind of worthless as a contribution to Galactic Storm.
All of that fills the length of a normal comic. There is also a reprint of Avengers #4, first modern day Captain America. And there are two back-up stories. The first, which is really also a full length story, focuses on USAgent and Falcon, who are among the Avengers that stayed behind on Earth. D-Man has lost his memory and has been staying with a group of Inuit in the Arctic Circle, but a plane attracts him to an ULTIMATUM base where he's captured by Flag-Smasher.
Flag-Smasher contacts the Avengers and demands that Captain America meet with him. But since Cap is in space, USAgent and Falcon go instead.
USAgent meets Flag-Smasher directly while Falcon hangs back as back-up. Flag-Smasher is initially surprised that "Captain America" is still wearing his black costume, but quickly identifies USAgent as an imposter based on the way he walks. Flag-Smasher takes USAgent prisoner, and USAgent allows it but breaks free and attacks the ULTIMATUM goons once Flag-Smasher is away. USAgent appeared to be shield-less but it turns out he was keeping them shrunk with Pym particles.
Flag-Smasher is reviewing the equipment that he got from the Red Skull, but he refuses to use it since it came from the Skull. Then USAgent shows up to fight him. Meanwhile, Falcon rescues D-Man. It's noted twice in this story that D-Man is stinky; i wonder why that is if he's been living with the Inuits; it's not like they reacted to the way he smelled and i'm sure the point wasn't meant to be that Inuits are stinky. But D-Man's stinkiness will become a defining characteristic of his going forward.
I've wondered a few times if Flag-Smasher has actual super-powers. He does have strength draining gloves.
The fight between Flag-Smasher and USAgent ends with both of them going over a cliff towards the sea. Falcon is able to rescue USAgent with the Quinjet, but Flag-Smasher is last seen going into the water. Falcon and USAgent seem to bond a bit.
I like that this story was made to fit with Galactic Storm instead of just taking place in a vacuum.
The final story has Diamondback still being held captive by Crossbones in the subway system. He is sleeping, and she's contemplating smashing his head open with a cinder block. But the majority of the story is a flashback, showing the shared history between them that was hinted at in Captain America #363. The fact that he knew her as 'Ratsel', a name that she hadn't used in a long time, implied that they knew each other before she became Diamondback, and that does turn out to be the case. It seems that she had some older brothers that were part of a gang that Crossbones was running prior to him becoming Crossbones. And she wanted to join the gang like her brothers.
Notice that this gang was a rival to the Yancy Street Gang. Hard to imagine the group from Fantastic Four #361 standing up to them. I guess the previous generation of Yancy Streeters were tougher.
Young Diamondback meets with pre-Crossbones privately and agrees to be his "girlfriend" if he'll let her in the gang. She comes home with a black eye. She's fifteen years old at this point.
Two of Diamondback's brothers confronted Crossbones. One died. The other "went wild" and got shot while committing a crime a few months later. And the one that didn't confront Crossbones ran away out of shame. Crossbones himself disappeared after the incident.
So that's the backstory. It's logical enough, but there's nothing super revelatory here, and it could have been dealt with in a two panel flashback instead of an 11 page story. In the end Diamondback decides that she can't kill Crossbones because Captain America wouldn't like it.
The return of D-Man and the bonding between Falcon and USAgent prevent me from saying that literally nothing happened in this issue, but it's a close call.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is part fifteen of Operation: Galactic Storm. It continues in Avengers West Coast #82. Wonder Man and Vision are again listed because we see a shot of the Nega-Bomb. I said that the USAgent/Falcon back up takes place during the main story, but it's not quite true. They will return from that mission in Captain America #401, so their appearance in Avengers West Coast #82 actually takes place before their story here. I'm not going to sweat the fine tuning and break the back-up into a separate entry, though. If you like, you can assume they went on the mission, came back for Avengers West Coast #82, and then went went back to the Arctic to find D-Man's missing cowl (unsuccessfully).
Crossover: Operation Galactic Storm
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): show
This was one of the few Galactic Storm issues I bought at the time and nothing about it made me want to pick up any of the others. Actually, come to think of it, this was the last Cap issue I bought prior to the Waid run. I read CapWolf and stuff later on but missed it at the time.
Posted by: Robert | February 1, 2016 2:49 PM
Not completely true about cap never seeing Batroc without his mask. He was maskless in Cap #150 or so (with Jakar the miscoloured Stranger) but Bats had sunglasses and a hat.
Hard to believe Cap never showed up for any of Batroc's trials or saw a photo of him unmasked in Shield files or something.
I did like that the only reason Cap didnt die is because Batroc couldn't stand to see him tortured.
As always, Flag-smasher against anybody who is not Captain America is pointless.
Posted by: kveto | February 1, 2016 3:17 PM
OK, whose dumb idea was it to have the milestone 400th issue of Captain America be part 14 of a 19 part crossover?!?!?
Posted by: mikrolik | February 1, 2016 6:58 PM
They tried real hard to make people read about USAgent back in those days.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 1, 2016 8:15 PM
Fnord, I think the idea is that whatever the Supreme Intelligence did, it can only create solid images based on Cap's memories, similar to the way Mirage's powers were depicted at the time. So the Intelligence couldn't have made Batroc's face look normal if he wanted to.
Posted by: Michael | February 1, 2016 8:35 PM
Gru had slipped massively, but the terrible art just kills this book.
Posted by: Bob | February 2, 2016 9:54 AM
Warrior Woman's real name was Julia Ratsel; so I wonder if Gruenwald wasn't eventually going to reveal that Diamondback was related to her.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 3, 2016 12:20 PM
1) Warrior Woman's real name is Julia Koenig (Freida Ratsel was an alias she used).
Posted by: AF | January 9, 2017 7:52 AM
Her name is Rachel. He calls her Ratsel. Can you not see a more obvious reason?
And if you really really really want a pointless familial connection with no supporting evidence for your brain, surely Master Man and Warrior Woman having a child and that child being Crossbones makes 100% more sense.
Posted by: AF | January 9, 2017 7:58 AM
Um, what? This sounds like something John Byrne would have come up with...
"Diamondback's nickname is the same as Warrior Woman's last name; they *must* be related!"
As I've mentioned before, I'm just glad the Byrne never wrote any Ant-Man stories, otherwise we would have probably found out that Scott Lang was the half brother of X-Sentinel creator Steven Lang, or something.
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 9, 2017 2:04 PM
Traditionally, the Inuit wear many, many layers of clothes and they will keep most of them on for many months at a the time. If the Inuit who found D-Man were so isolated that they could not even radio for a doctor when they discovered him, then they probably don't have access to indoor plumbing. So yes, it is not surprising that when he gets stripped down to his costume it is a bit stinky down there.
That other writers read this issue and decide that D-Man's stinkiness is a defining characteristic is just unfortunate.
Posted by: Bernard the Poet | November 28, 2017 2:18 AM
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