Marvel Fanfare #18
Issue(s): Marvel Fanfare #18
The plotline of this story deals with a group of working class men (like shop owners and policemen), all employed, who nonetheless feel like they are getting the short end of the stick economically.
It doesn't matter who we elect, taxes keep going up, and income -- real income -- keeps going down. Oh, sure, a big recovery's supposed to be underway! But I haven't felt it, have you? No, and we won't. America has been taken away from us... from the little guys who made this country in the first place! We sweat and slave, and it's all we can do to just get by! All we ever asked for was our fair share, and all we ever got was the shaft.
It's a theme that's always relevant, but it feels particularly topical after the 2008 downturn and the rise of groups like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. Only unlike those groups, these guys don't put their energy into political activism; they become a band of arsonists and try to extort money from the city. That's where Captain America comes in.
Expecting a criminal mastermind, Cap is shocked to find that the arsonist ringleader is a regular guy with a decent home and a loving family.
The story ends with Captain America running back into a burning building to rescue a flag, but it's not an anti-flag burning story specifically (although that was a hot topic at the time this was published).
It's more about how in America you're offered hope and opportunity, but not necessarily a guarantee to happiness.
Since it's a vaguely political story, one could find things to quibble about depending on your viewpoints, but kudos to Stern and Miller for using Cap to touch on some political themes, something that hasn't really been done on Cap since the Englehart days.
In the lettercol for issue #20, two writers complain that Captain America has a very Daredevil-esque way of hunting down the arsonist gang: going to bars and beating information out of thugs, hanging people off buildings, etc..
Additionally, one of the thug groups that Cap beats up is an unrelated arsonist group led by "Injun Joe" who, when he sees Captain America, says "I heard he was on the warpath!". It feels deliberately campy, like an early Dick Tracy story, or maybe like something out of Sin City.
At one point, there's a billboard that says "Elektra mourn no more!"
The lettercol in issue #20 confirms that Frank Miller is preparing an "Elektra Graphic Novel", said to be written, drawn and inked by Miller and colored by Lynn Varley. Since that doesn't describe anything that was published as a Graphic Novel, it might have been the project that ended up as the out of continuity hardcover Elektra Lives Again (which wasn't published until 1990).
According to the Editori-Al cartoon in the front of this issue, there was supposed to be a back-up story scripted by Chris Claremont, but Claremont was late with the script so instead two artist portfolios were run, one by Kevin Nowlan and one by Terry Austin. One of the Nowlan pin-ups, of She-Hulk, became the inspiration for Fantastic Four #275.
All of Nowlan's pin-ups are of women in sexy poses, and they all seem to have the same face.
Austin's pin-ups are a little more varied, although it's interesting how both Dagger and Black Widow were frequent subjects for these portfolios.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: N/A
The Elektra Graphic Novel is definitely Elektra Lives Again. Elektra Lives Again was clearly meant to take place before Born Again (around 1985) and the main reason it's out of continuity is because Bullseye was killed in it (and then his corpse is re-animated by the Hand and decapitated). If it had been published in 1985, this would have been no problem but by the time it was finally published in 1990, Bullseye had since reappeared.
The funny animal characters are Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal, two 1940s Timely guys Terry Austin appropriated for himself.
The Captain America story was published in Brazil by Editora Abril at some point. Interestingly, the references to the American Flag were changed into references to a printed copy of a Statement of Human Rights.
Cumbersome, yes. But the alternative would be even worse.
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