Captain America annual #9
Issue(s): Captain America annual #9
The Terminus Factor
Michael Heisler - Assistant Editor
As with this year's Lifeform annual event, The Terminus Factor is specifically structured so that the threat is scaled up as we move up the chain of super-characters. This one even outlines the path we'll be taking.
I think this is a fine idea. The alternative (well, besides the other alternative of not having all your annuals be parts of crossovers) is to bring the full team of Avengers into the event from the beginning, which would make this not a Captain America story. Even here there is an Iron Man guest appearance, but it's not a team-up.
Captain America has volunteered to travel down into a volcano with Stark Enterprises employee Dr. Ramona Napier (Napier will have a few more appearances during Kurt Busiek & Roger Stern's Iron Man run).
While they are down there, an explosion of some kind releases some microorganisms (for a second there i thought Cap and Ramona's shuttle was exploding!).
The shuttle's controls are jammed, and Tony Stark, supervising from above, has to slink off to become Iron Man to rescue them.
I think Tony Stark would save himself some trouble if he would just be like, "You know what, i'm not the Iron Man. But I do keep a spare Iron Man suit around just in case there's trouble like this." It would save him the grousing from employees, and it would actually reduce the suspicions that must occur when Stark goes behind some bushes and Iron Man comes out. But mostly i wish that writers would stop putting Stark in such a predicament in the first place.
After Iron Man pulls Cap and Ramona out, the microorganisms fly out of the volcano. We see them getting swallowed up by some fish.
Those fish are then caught by some fishermen, and the next thing you know, they are being fried up at a trout festival where Cap and Iron Man and some of the Stark employees have gone.
Note that the purpose of Stark's shuttle was volcano monitoring. That's a controversial political topic!
And then people start going crazy.
Including Iron Man.
Captain America himself didn't have any fish; just a diet soda (not a wholesome glass of milk, Cap?). So it's a Captain America vs. Iron Man fight.
Captain America figures out that cold counteracts the effects of the fish, so he lures Iron Man up into the mountains. The regular people that ate the fish seem to be attracted to power sources, so they follow Iron Man up as well. And once everyone is in the snow, they are back to their right minds.
And while the initial threat is over, we still have the matter of a bear that ate one of the fish.
That bear is terrifying. But a lot of Jim Valentino's art in this issue is stiff and weird (i usually like his art better). And the scripting is a joke. That's one of the problems with these annuals in general: scripting and art that makes me feel like we've gone back to the 1960s, and not in a "Ron Frenz pays tribute to Jack Kirby" sort of way. But of course the bigger problem is the use of Terminus. We've just been through 1/5th of the story. Where's Terminus? Microbes?! What?!?
The second story in this issue has Captain America going to watch a political speech by Reb Ralston, a former Howling Commando that went into politics. I don't expect actual politics in most mainstream superhero comics, but i think it's funny that Reb giving a kind of vague "keep our options open" position is considered straight talk by Cap.
But to be fair, Reb's position is enough for him to be labeled a "commie" by an assassin.
Cap knocks out the assassin and stays with Reb as he's taken to the hospital. The majority of the story is a flashback to the Howling Commando days.
God bless Percy Pinkerton.
The story has the Howlers get into a tight spot and Captain America and Bucky have to rescue them. Reb screws up a couple of times and starts to doubt himself.
The Red Skull has kidnapped Howard and Maria Stark (this is Maria's first on panel appearance in a comic, i think).
So Cap and the Howlers go to rescue them. Reb winds up paired up with Bucky, because only he and Bucky can fit through a grate.
Reb of course regains his confidence and gets himself back on track, and the Starks are rescued. And back in the present, Reb pulls through.
The third and final story in this annual features Nomad.
He's at the funeral of Patty Joplin. We actually saw her death back in Marvel Comics Presents #14. That story was published some twenty months earlier and there's no footnote for it here. This story reads like the continuation of a previous story, but anyone that missed the eight page story in a random issue of Marvel Comics Presents might feel a little left out. I did read that story but i had forgotten about it by the time i got here and could have used a little more of a reminder. Footnotes, people!
Anyway, Patty was killed by Umberto Safilios, who shows up to the funeral.
Safilios tells Nomad to go ask Patty's father why he's there, jou know? So Nomad does, and finds out that Patty had a baby with Safilios, and the father is holding the baby as a kind of insurance against Safilios' blackmail.
Love the narration punctuation in the first two panels.
Nomad is so disillusioned by all of this he goes home and changes his costume. It's time for a 90s badass look, and a Nomad mini-series.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is part one of The Terminus Factor. Iron Man annual #11 is next. Hercules and Thor are on Earth, so that places this either before Thor #419 or after Thor #429. I'm going with before #419, and that places this event before Captain America #373, since in that story Thor and Hercules are said to be off planet. As Michael notes in the Comments, Starfox is said to be recuperating in Avengers #319-325, so this should probably take place after that. Avengers Spotlight #38 references this story as happening concurrently, and Avengers West Coast #63 happens after this story is over. A note in Iron Man annual #11 says that it takes place before Iron Man #258. The next part of The Terminus Factor doesn't begin immediately after this, so there's time for the back-up story with Reb Ralston to take place. The Nomad story takes place before Nomad #1. In the interest of keeping all the stories in this annual together, i am assuming that it took a long time for Patty Joplin's remains to be returned to the family.
Crossover: The Terminus Factor
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Apparently Nomad has a superpower of being able to quickly grow his hair out when changing clothes.
Posted by: Bill | July 8, 2015 5:59 PM
Iron Man should've had the steak instead of the fish.
Posted by: Cecil | July 8, 2015 7:34 PM
Fnord, the Terminus Factor has to take place after the Crossing Line because Starfox is still recuperating in the Crossing Line but he's fully recovered in the last part of the Terminus Factor. Incidentally, that means Silver Surfer 37 needs to take place after the Crossing Line. As for Hercules, I don't think his being off Earth matters. At the start of Avengers 329, he's on Earth and the dialogue makes it clear he's been in Avengers Headquarters meeting with his fellow Avengers for "two days". That doesn't mean that he returned from Asgard "two days" ago. He could have been staying in a hotel or something. He could have left Asgard a few hours after Thor 426, for all we know.
Posted by: Michael | July 8, 2015 10:23 PM
"I don't think Reb was being vague when he said "keep our options open". I think he meant we shouldn't cut defense spending until the Soviets are definitely dead. Which makes his being shot by someone who thought he was a "commie" more bizarre."
Posted by: Luis Dantas | July 8, 2015 11:42 PM
Nomad must go to the same anti-barber as Rictor.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | July 9, 2015 12:50 AM
The Unofficial Home Page of Nick Fury notes that for a long time, it was maintained that Cap and the Howlers fought together just once in World War II (the mission seen in Howling Commandos #13). This flashback might be the first continuity insert of another shared mission.
Posted by: Mortificator | July 9, 2015 10:56 AM
@Michael Re: Placement - thanks for pointing out Starfox. I wouldn't say it *has to* take place prior to Crossing Line since recovery/relapse is a time honored tool, but you're right that there's no need to do that this time. As for Hercules, thanks for letting me know he comes back without fanfare, which is disappointing. But i'd rather not push this until after Thor returns from space since then we're potentially getting into entanglements with Excalibur. I've moved Crossing Line prior to this story.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 9, 2015 2:10 PM
@Cecil - Or the lasagna.
I had never read this, though I had the last two annuals in this crossover. But seriously, for their crossover event they decided to blatantly rip-off the art from Justice League Annual #1 (see the bottom example here for the red-eyes used for a microbial possession of humans in that issue) and a major plot point from Airplane? Was Marvel that creatively bankrupt already?
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 11, 2015 8:50 AM
Why didn't you list Fury and the rest of the Howlers in character appearances?
Posted by: Matthew Kidd | December 25, 2016 5:39 PM
In order for the chronology to track correctly, fnord doesn't list characters appearing in flashbacks, prophecies, or via time travel. See the Rules: http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/rules.shtml
Posted by: Andrew | December 25, 2016 10:12 PM
I hope that every 25 years or so Reb Ralston reappears to get shot by a radical conservative. Is he going to endorse gay marriage soon?
Posted by: Michael Cheyne | February 23, 2018 6:15 PM
Comments are now closed.
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