Captain America #334
Issue(s): Captain America #334
...and not doing so great in the training room.
We also find out which one of the Bold Urban Commandos was chosen to be Cap's partner, and it is Lemar Hoskins. He's now Bucky.
That may have seemed fitting since he and John Walker's other two (white) sidekicks were the BUCkies, but "buck" is a racially charged word (e.g. Ronald Reagan's "strapping young bucks"). Something i'm sure Gruenwald wasn't thinking about or even aware of that, but it didn't help to also have the guy taking remedial English courses.
It's also not said why the government wanted Captain America to have a Bucky at this point, if the plan was to pass him off as the original (at least at first). Captain America hadn't had a Bucky since the Golden Age, excepting a very brief stint by Rick Jones. Putting a full grown man in the role, regardless of the racial connotations, is weird. In any event, when Marvel feels the backlash of this, they'll change Lemar's costume and codename.
The new Captain America and Bucky don't do to well in a training session against a squad of Guardsman (pretty funny postmortem)...
...but that leads into the other problem they are dealing with. Walker's former agent, Ethan Thurm, and the other two former BUCkies, have been harassing Valerie Cooper, trying to blackmail the government with their knowledge of the new Cap's identity. Walker decides to to be like Captain America and handle his own problems, "as a point of honor". To that end, he intends to steal some Guardsman armor and use it to anonymously threaten Thurm. Lemar thinks John is "gettin' into this role deep", but of course Captain America would never do something like that.
Nonetheless, they do it (no, that's not Angar the Screamer in the front)...
...and things wind up getting a bit out of control as the former super-strong BUCkies fight back...
...and Walker accidentally triggers his suit's hand-blaster.
The next day, Val Cooper comes to him about the incident, and he confesses, this time acting more in accordance with the real Cap's philosophy (although i don't see that he had a lot of other options; Val was clearly onto him).
The biggest news this issue is that the government brings in the Taskmaster to train Walker. This is a brilliant move on Gruenwald's part.
The Taskmaster's photographic reflexes allow him to use a shield the same way that Captain America does, so he's the perfect teacher.
And he fits right in with the other criminals working for the government at the base, Freedom Force...
...and heck, even Super-Patriot and Lemar.
This is a great issue. It's great to see Walker developing as the new Cap, as it's useful character growth for him but also insight into the original Captain America. Something more subtle is that Walker still doesn't know why the original quit...
...and more to the point isn't aware of the fact that the original didn't work directly for the government. But even at a basic level, it's a great set-up for Gruenwald. I wasn't reading Cap regularly in real time but i did pick up this issue and loved it; it made me interested in the title again.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The original Cap is said to have shaken the government's agents "weeks" ago, so i'm giving a decent amount of space between the previous arc and this one.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAvalanche, Battlestar, Blob, Destiny, Ethan Thurm, General Lewis Haywerth, Left-Winger, Mystique, Pyro, Right-Winger, Taskmaster, USAgent, Valerie Cooper
Didn't Jim Shooter once say that anyone can be Captain America? This is a very interesting story arc. Makes me wonder why Doug Moench made such a fuss about it.
Posted by: jsfan | April 14, 2014 9:14 AM
After Civil War, the Taskmaster will once again become a government trainer of superheroes for the Initiative.
He once again fits in with former criminals, getting along with Eric O'Grady of all people.
Posted by: Max_Spider | April 14, 2014 10:22 AM
Gruenwald probably wasn't familiar with "buck" as a racial slur; by 1987 it was primarily much older people who used it.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 15, 2014 3:40 PM
He writes a response in a later letter's column that he did not realize that fact and that he didn't mean it that way. He said he planned to change the name Bucky, which he did.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | April 15, 2014 5:08 PM
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