Captain America #193-200
Issue(s): Captain America #193, Captain America #194, Captain America #195, Captain America #196, Captain America #197, Captain America #198, Captain America #199, Captain America #200
A group called the Elite (who are very much like the Secret Empire and would eventually get folded into that organization) develops a device called the Madbomb that causes people to go crazy and fight each other. After getting hit by a mini-version of the bomb...
...Captain America and the Falcon are recruited to find the Elite's base and defuse the bomb before it goes off on the day of the celebration of the US's bi-centennial. They discover an underground empire in the desert where people are genetically modified to enjoy working for their "superiors".
Those that do not successfully undergo the modification become genetic freaks.
Cap and the Falcon are captured and then break out of their prison, and they fight their way through the empire, even getting engaged in a skateboarding "death dirby".
In what feels like a mangling of the plot, the army subsequently finds the base on their own, and basically come to Cap and the Falcon's rescue. They learn absolutely nothing about the location of the bomb at this point, but luckily a government spy locates one of the Elite's scientists visiting the house of his sick daughter. With Cap and the Falcon, SHIELD takes over the daughter's sick house and eventually gets their hands on the scientist, who has had a change of heart and tells them the location of the bomb.
The Falcon defuses it while Cap goes after the Elite leader.
And that's the other bizarre and silly thread in this story. The Elite leader, whose last name is Taurey (i.e., Tory)...
...(the leader of the Elite's army is General Heshin, i.e., Hessian), had an ancestor who was a royalist during the Revolutionary War, but was defeated by a revolutionary named Stephen Rogers. He's been hunting for the descendant of Rogers, who turns out to be... Stephen Rogers, who he doesn't know is Captain America. But Cap hears about this and challenges Taurey to a duel, but Taurey wimps out.
It's a really decompressed story with no subplots or twists or anything. The stilted dialogue is especially problematic in a story that involves mind control and a conspiracy that leads to a lack of trust - are people talking like that because they aren't themselves, or is it just written poorly? Cap and the Falcon aren't even significant drivers of the plot - a lot of the successes in the story come from faceless soldiers and spies. Really weird. And the Falcon says the word "Jive" every three panels.
Generally speaking, nice art, though.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Captain America and the Falcon: Madbomb TPB
Inbound References (4): showCaptain America, Cheer Chadwick, Falcon, Hesperus Chadwick, Leila Taylor, Mason Harding, William Malcolm Taurey
Some of Kirby's text in his earlier issues was apparently rewritten to reflect elements from previous issues, as you can see from the caption in the Falcon panel up top.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 11, 2011 1:42 AM
This arc is a reminder of just how much comics have changed. The arc has sentimental value as a kid coming of age in the Bronze Age - this was one of the first arc's I remember reading and at the time it seemed epic. I reread this a couple of years ago and I still find it a pleasure, but clearly comics have changed. Also, within the era - Kirby just took the character in a different direction - Cap & Falc departed from the rest of the Marvel continuity while under Kirby's pencil. The current arc by Remender and Romita Jr is reminiscent of this Kirby era. Love it. Both.
Posted by: Jack | July 21, 2013 9:24 AM
Skateboarding Cap? What did Steve get jealous of Tony's super-roller skates?
Posted by: Ataru320 | July 21, 2013 10:33 AM
"He's been hunting for the ancestor of Rogers"
I don't normally criticize grammar in a blog like this, but you unfortunately hit my pet peeve: people who mix up "ancestor" and "descendent". An ancestor is someone you are descended from (for example, your grandfather is one of your ancestors) while a descendent is someone who is descended from you (your children, grandchildren, etc.)
Of course, what with time travel being as it is in the Marvel Universe, Captain America *could* be an ancestor of the Stephen Rogers of the 18th century. (Perhaps one day Marvel will publish the untold story of Cap's doomed romance with Abigail Adams)
Posted by: Gary Himes | July 4, 2014 8:52 PM
Hey, that's not grammar, it's vocabulary, and it's a mistake i seem to make repeatedly, so thanks for pointing it out. I've fixed it.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 4, 2014 11:35 PM
I've never understood all the love for this arc. If anyone ever needed proof that for all his great ideas, Kirby couldn't write dialogue...
Posted by: Thanos6 | May 3, 2015 7:20 AM
By the time Kirby developed the Fourth World Series, his storytelling had become more stylized and more allegorical. And that approach informs all of his work up until his death, so I think in reading Kirby, it's like reading Dante, William Blake, or ancient myth. His work is more symbolic than most comic book writers, including Alan Moore. Moore borrows archetypes, but Kirby creates his own, as well as appropriating them, when necessary.
Kirby is not striving for realism, which was important to him in his 1960s Marvel work, and which is the stylistic approach of most Marvel writers in the 1970s and 1980s, but for trying to work out ideas and concepts that cannot be easily played out in realistic scripts.
For instance, Fnord compares the elite to the Secret Empire, but it is a slyly sinister Henry Kissenger who manipulates Cap and Falcon -- issue 193 implies Kissenger already knows who runs the Elite and his vendetta with Steve Rogers -- who is more like the Secret Empire, the corrupt bureaucracy that wants to manipulate government, vs. the Elite, which use money and privilege to control society.
Where Englehart's Secret Empire will use marketing to convince the public that Cap is corrupt, that Moonstone is a patriotic hero, and that surrendering to Secret Empire's staged coup is acceptable, Kirby's Elite uses the public to fight for them, against the public's best interests -- through riots, through bread and circus events, through demagoguery (but not through marketing).
For the Secret Empire, think of Watergate, but for the Elite, think of neo-conservatives, think of the Koch Brothers and their political/business retreat. And think of the Tea Party when you see the Madbomb. Englehart was clever to see politics as they were in the moment, but Kirby is seeing them as they were in the past, present, and the future. I think his use of allegory allows him to make these connections more fluidly than a realistic approach would.
Each issue in the Madbomb storyline is moving into a deeper level of the Elite, showing how their power politics work. The difficulty is not in finding them, but it is in understanding them in order to defeat and resist them, which is what Cap and Falcon do, but the Army and SHIELD do not.
And whereas the Secret Empire's conspiracy is revealed to the world, the public never learns of the Elite's conspiracy, which is part of the point of the Captain America stories Kirby tells this time around: Cap learns truths that the public does not get to know.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 23, 2015 10:10 PM
It's 1976 and Jack Kirby is 58-59 years old. He's been working tirelessly since 1961 (much longer really), and has come back to Marvel as a sort of a last recourse, after being disillusioned about DC in the '70s, after being disillusioned about Marvel in the '60s. He's been used, reused, misused, abused, analyzed, and endlessly copied, and in some ways some people are even starting to improve on his successful Silver Age formulas. He's tired but he needs the money and he's hooked on the game. Still he's just a small player and poor negotiator, and he owns none of the intellectual property rights he's created for the big two over the past 15 years. So it makes a certain sense that he's only going to work so hard at this point, for his page rate. He's probably getting 3 moneys per page with this contract, one each for writing, penciling, and editing. Much like his contract was with DC. He probably feels after long consideration that it's the best he can do at this stage in his work for hire career. And he's probably right. And they apparently think he's worth it.[/understatement]
Posted by: Holt | February 24, 2018 12:29 AM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|