Brian C. Saunders:
Characters Appearing: Andrea Sterman, Baby Bucky's Mom, Bart Ingrid, Bucky (Julia Winter), Giscard Epurer, Jack Norriss, Jill Coltrain, Mary Ellen Monroe, Nomad, Vernon Hatchway, Zaran
Issue(s): Nomad #22, Nomad #23, Nomad #24, Nomad #25
To that end, Andrea Sterman and Jack Noriss, last seen in the early issues of this series as government agents (Noriss is a SHIELD agent nowadays) sent to investigate and capture Nomad, resurface. Andrea is trying to figure out why their bosses in the government want Nomad killed. Noriss recruits FBI Agent Vernon Hatchway to help with the investigation.
Meanwhile, Zaran has been hired to kill Nomad. He first tries to kill him with a golf ball. Failing that, he ambushes him with a poisoned arrow...
...and brings him to a warehouse so that they can have a clean fight. He says he was given a powerful gun to use to kill Nomad, but has decided not to use it. Nomad wins the fight...
...Zaran tells him that he was hired by Giscard Epurer (but we saw in Nomad #18 that Zaran was really hired by Senator Bart Ingrid). Nomad goes to confront Epurer in his New Jersey home, but gets his ass kicked (and i hate that Nomad can take Zaran but has trouble with this loser).
Nomad does get Epurer on the ropes eventually, and Epurer points him to documents that say that a Ross Perot stand-in (Pereot) is looking at Senator Ingrid. We've seen Ingrid hanging out with Nomad's sister for a number of issues now, and before that, in Nomad #17, he was unwrapping a big Super-Soldier Gun and talking about getting revenge on (Jack) Munroe. Epurer says that Nomad ruined Ingrid's life when Ingrid was a boy. Coincidentally, Andrea Sterman has dug up some research telling that same story, so we get a flashback (don't forget that Nomad was kept in suspended animation for years, allowing for the age discrepancy between him and Ingrid).
Things get a little unnecessarily complicated here - a Nicieza trademark - but i guess Nomad used to bully Ingrid as a kid, and then it turned out that Nomad's father was a secret Nazi. This isn't from the above flashback - there are a lot of flashbacks in these issues - but it's so bizarre i couldn't not include it. The teacher's reaction is the best.
Um, well i guess Ingrid remembered all of that that and now he's created a white supremacist camp in Nomad's home town. It also turns out that Epurer has sent Baby Bucky's Still Unnamed Mom to infiltrate the camp. But she gets attacked by S&M Cable (see especially this cover).
Epurer is babysitting Bucky in the meantime. So Nomad gets to spend some time with Bucky again, and then heads to his hometown, where he runs into his sister, Jill. She takes him to their mom, who is in a coma. After a heart-to-heart, she gives him the location of the camp. He heads there and has to fight S&M Cable (his real "name" is 88), who has already killed Bucky's Mom. And he has the Super-Soldier Gun.
Nomad encountered this gun back in his miniseries and reprogrammed it so that it would only respond to him. And he still has the disc with that program, so he's able to reconfigure the gun again.
The gun is linked to 88's mind, and now Nomad can control the gun and him, and he forces 88 to kill all of his comrades.
Meanwhile, Vernon Hatchway's investigation takes an unusual turn when he finds a filing saying that he is supposed to assassinate Nomad. Hatchway decides that instead of killing Nomad, he'll put him back in suspended animation using the equipment that put him and 1950s Anti-Commie Captain America in suspended animation the first time.
Ingrid's ties to the Nazi camp eventually come out, and Nomad confronts him while he's giving a speech addressing the charges. Ingrid reveals that he's holding a dead man's switch connected to a bomb, and Nomad waits until the crowd disperses, but at this point he's prepared to die himself (after failing to save Bucky's mom and "crossing the line" in killing all the Nazis). Nomad seemingly dies in the explosion, but at the end we see that Hatchway did get him to the suspended animation tube.
In a quick round-up, we see Nomad's mom pass away just as Nomad dies, we see Epurer taking on the responsibility of raising Bucky, we see Jack Norriss having gotten fired from SHIELD, and we see that Andrea Sterman has quit her job to write a book about Nomad.
A goodbye note from Nicieza says that he's sad but also a "bit relieved" that the book is canceled, because these were going to be his last issues regardless and he wouldn't want to see another writer's words coming out of Nomad's mouth. That's less about throwing any disrespect at other writers (like his intended replacement, Neil Hansen) and more because he's come to view Nomad as his personal character after all the development he's put into him. And that's understandable. The series really was something unique. It was a book in the tradition of Captain America's Easy Rider period and Steve Gerber's stuff. And even if it often didn't live up to that potential, it was nice to at least have something attempting that in the mid-90s. Nicieza acknowledges that the book didn't quite reach its potential, and takes partial responsibility for that but also references a lack of upper management support:
In retrospect, I wish I could have made this the book I always wanted it to be. I wish I had the talent as a writer and the support of the publishers. The two go hand in hand and in the long run, maybe we were both out of our league.
That's probably a reference to Marvel's president nixing his Bucky Gets AIDS story (see the bottom of the Nomad #12-15 entry).
Nomad's reflection on his life while preparing to kill Ingrid and die by the subsequent explosion seems to partially echo these sentiments.
Nicieza's lack of "talent" manifested in two ways in this series. The first is just in not always being able to pull off the message issues. That's an understandable kind of failure. He had good ideas and was brave in tackling them, but just didn't really have that natural writing ability that would have allowed him to deal with those issues in interesting and substantial ways. The second, more avoidable, failure, was in bogging down the series with byzantine subplots. I don't mind this series getting cancelled because it means i'm never again going to have to flip back and figure out what characters like "Bart Ingrid" and "Giscard Epurer" did in a one page sub-plot six issues ago. This falls into the Taking The Wrong Lessons From Claremont category, i think. I do appreciate Nomad trying to tie things all together and even doing thematic callbacks to the original Nomad miniseries for the conclusion here, but it was the Topic Of The Month stuff that made the series unique. The actual plots were pretty terrible.
Also pretty terrible was the art, at least by the end.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: More than a week and two days pass during the course of this story.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Nicieza does get back around to writing the adventures of Nomad in Thunderbolts, even bringing in Sterman and Norriss and referencing this story, and then he even set up a new direction for a possible series for him - but in an inventory story that wasn't published until 2011. And by that point, Nomad had died (and in a way which Nicieza doesn't seem to particularly care for when discussing it in the introduction of that one-shot).
Posted by: AF | February 14, 2018 3:35 PM
88 is presumably so named because the number is often used by white supremacists/Nazis as a substitute for 'Heil Hitler', 'H' being the 8th letter of the alphabet, so 88 = HH = Heil Hitler.
Posted by: James M | February 14, 2018 4:28 PM
One of the kids in the flashback is wearing a Jughead-style "whoopee cap".
Posted by: Andrew | February 14, 2018 4:48 PM
Fnord, there were two things in the flashback that I think you might have missed. The first is that Jack's parents weren't the only Nazis in Jack's town. The second, and more important, is that the FBI was setting Jack up to be the next Bucky after he testified against his parents and might have known he might become unstable.
Posted by: Michael | February 14, 2018 8:20 PM
Nomad was featured in the first Captain America comic I bought, 280- or 290- something, featuring a fight with the Porcupine. And I enjoyed Nomad during Cap’s time as “the Captain” during Gru’s run, too. Nicieza’s use of the character just seems poor to me. The ideas were at times daring, but everything about the execution is wanting. 88 seems like an incredible stupid and tasteless note to end on, along with some bullied kid who grows up to be a Nazi-sponsoring killer obsessed with Nomad. It just seems like an awful end to a mostly lousy series.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 15, 2018 3:43 AM
You know, on the idea of Nomad getting AIDs, there's nothing that really says Nomad never did get AIDs off-panel... before he died in Brubaker's run, he had a malady that was terminal and was diagnosed as his super-soldier serum degenerating. BUT... stuff like passing out, constantly vomiting, him getting weaker and weaker... are all very common symptoms of AIDs virus. Particularly advanced AIDs can cause dementia and in some cases hallucinations. And, obviously, people can have AIDs for years before any symptoms appear but I'd imagine his super-soldier serum would've contributed to his body fighting the effects of it. Maybe the serum was also what prevented his doctor (Jane Foster iirc) correctly identifying it?
It doesn't really add anything else at all to the guy's story but there's something quite cute to kill him off while finally doing that big story that got nixed years ago.
Posted by: AF | February 16, 2018 2:29 PM
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