Captain America #336-337
Issue(s): Captain America #336, Captain America #337
...and fighting a seventh level Druid that has chosen the stag as his Animal Companion.
Prior to that, it seems he at least had contact with one of the Avengers, since he has a court order sent from the government to them, forbidding Cap from wearing any red, white, and blue costume. He's also paid a visit to Bernie Rosenthal, who isn't too happy about Cap giving up.
And he's had conversations with Falcon, Nomad, and D-Man, each of whom have their own perspective on Steve's situation. (Nomad, who was originally the 1950s anti-communist Bucky, has obviously had a change of heart about that period).
The scene with Falcon, Nomad, and D-Man above is a montage panel, but the three do get together in this issue to search for Cap now that he's been gone for a while. Nomad brings along his girlfriend Priscilla, aka Vagabond.
Priscilla is impressed with D-Man's wealth (UCWF wrestlers must get paid a lot more than other wrestlers; as we'll see, D-Man has a lot of money to throw around, and i never got the impression in the Thing's series that he was a Hulk Hogan level star). Nomad, on the other hand, thinks D-Man is a complete joke and a poseur.
Cap learns a lesson from his fight with "Brother Nature" that he shouldn't rebel against the government's orders.
I guess that's also why he shaves the beard.
Cap's sidekick brigade catches up with him after he's taken Brother Nature to the police. D-Man has a new costume for him that circumvents the "no red, white, and blue" rule.
Cap and Vagabond aren't yet formally introduced.
Meanwhile, we're introduced to a new group of serpent villains that are robbing a casino in Las Vegas.
The "spell their names right" joke is funny in the tradition of Stan Lee's self-depreciation, but seriously, "Fer-De-Lance" is striking the bottom of the barrel. I should also note that thanks to the continuity insert in Iron Man Legacy #6-11, Puff Adder has been seen before and even has an association with Sidewinder. It's not explicitly said, but it seems that these Serpents are angling for membership in Sidewinder's current Serpent Society organization.
When "The Captain" and company hear about the Serpents, D-Man charters a private plane to Vegas. Steve finds that not having Avengers clearance is problematic when it comes to crime fighting...
..but he and his friends (sans Vagabond, who Cap orders to stay behind) nonetheless storm the building and take out the Serpents.
Having decided after the Brother Nature fight not to directly challenge the government, Cap now wonders about his decision to disregard orders from the police.
Somewhat ironically, news reports tell us that the official John Walker Captain America continues to take down Watchdog units, something that i'm sure Steve Rogers would have no problem doing. But he's not shown to be regretting his decision to give up the role.
These weren't a good set of issues, but i still find the overall premise to be intriguing and worthwhile. The reaction to Cap's initial resignation, though, shown in the lettercol for issue #337, leans neutral to negative, with one reader writing, "It is not enough that you made the book a joke, with all of those absurd camp villains. Now, you had to go further than that, didn't you? Well, I am sorely offended by this blasphemy that you are inflicting on Captain America, one of Marvel's oldest and best heroes."
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBlack Racer, Brother Nature, Captain America, Copperhead III, D-Man, Falcon, Fer-De-Lance, Nomad, Puff Adder, Redwing, Vagabond
Steve Rogers' shaggy beard will also reappear in the "Castaway in Dimension Z" storyline, so you should probably give it a character tag or at the very least add this to the historical significance.
That storyline had him away from America for a long time... I wonder if it was a conscious decision for Steve to regrow his shaggy beard... That Steve secretly loves having a shaggy beard, but doesn't believe the American society would accept a shaggy bearded Captain and thus only grows one when away or retired.
Posted by: Max_Spider | April 20, 2014 2:31 PM
I so wish Steve had kept this black costume. Alas, it will forever remind me of USAgent now.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 20, 2014 2:38 PM
It is a bit sad to see Steve so paralysed with this decision when he went through far worse back in 1974.
The answer is fairly simple and should have come to him a long time ago already: the law has little if anything to do with doing the right thing, but it instead reflects political support or opposition to certain goals and behaviors.
Steve should follow his conscience and accept that the law may or may not support his choices, and accept the consequences and adjust his behavior accordingly.
It all comes down to how much he is willing to sacrifice while clashing with the law, really.
Of course, that would be a good reason to stop being Captain America or minding the concept (as he did in the 1970s). Which would be an improvement for the character, but alas, that is not to be.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 20, 2014 4:40 PM
I picked up these two issues in real time off a Jewel supermarket comic rack and they got me back into Cap after half a year's absence from both Marvel and DC. I stopped right after the Flag Smasher story and couldn't believe how much stuff had gone down during those few months. It was cool to see Falc and Nomad teaming up again with Cap in his new I.D.
Posted by: Clutch | April 20, 2014 5:09 PM
While it's obvious now that a hippie with druid-like powers called Brother Nature is pretty silly, but when I first got this issue, he was just another new character to me, with just as much importance as Falcon, Nomad, D-Man, Vagabond or Bernie.
He is incredibly powerful, with weather control powers like Storm/Thor, earthquake powers like Ricter/Vibro, plus animal control. I see that he reappears once fighting the Thunderbolts over Registration, but I guess when he isn't languishing in prison, he has made himself even more of a hermit.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | April 20, 2014 6:22 PM
It is at this point that Gruenwald has completely abandoned any idea that Steve Rogers has a life outside of being a superhero. He's removed or ignored any semblance of normal supporting cast or interaction with the real world. It's all superhero stuff.
I actually like that Cap has a deep bench of former partners, and bringing them together is a good idea. But that shouldn't be everything. Unfortunately, this is what the book has become. Despite some notable improvement in quality in the title starting around this time (not hard, since the past half year represents a nadir), I've never liked that Gruenwald has abandoned Cap's civilian life.
Posted by: Chris | April 20, 2014 9:22 PM
I was always kind of disappointed that some earlier "snakey" villains weren't used in the Serpent society, like Cornell Cottenmouth and Bushmaster(i know he died) from luke cage or the Copperhead from the human fly/DD stories of Snake-eyes from Iron fist or snake marsen from the enforcers. You's think Guenwald would be all over that rather than creating more throw-away snakes.
Posted by: kveto | April 23, 2014 12:04 PM
Most of them were just named after snakes though, rather than having snakey costumes or powers.
I liked all the characters from the Serpent Society. The group was my favourite part of Gruenwald's run.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | April 23, 2014 1:58 PM
Sure, but other society members didn't have anything snakey about them other than their names, like diamondback and the asp.
Posted by: kveto from prague | April 24, 2014 12:19 AM
Oh yeah Cornell Cottonmouth, I liked his look.
Posted by: david banes | April 24, 2014 2:45 AM
Black Racer? Where are the skis?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 26, 2014 11:39 PM
Hey, what's wrong with "Fer-De-Lance" anyway? I thought that she and the rest of the criminals here work well enough as snake-based henchmen.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | June 10, 2014 1:22 AM
It was revealed about this time in Comics Interview #54(12/87) that Gruenwald had been promoted to the newly created position of Executive Editor, which he described as 2nd in command to the EIC. He admitted to also making changes to Cap's image to attract younger readers--he ended the mentorship of Nomad because it made Cap look too old, he gave Cap a Miami Vice haircut to make him less square, and he dumped all of his supporting cast under DeMatteis to make him less tied to NYC.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 31, 2014 5:52 PM
The article describes the Executive Editor position as newly created? Tom DeFalco had that title under Shooter.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 1, 2014 9:41 AM
Gruenwald claimed it was newly created.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 1, 2014 8:22 PM
I think Gruenwald dumped the supporting cast because he's not actually interested in the "normal" element of superheroes. The supporting cast built for Cap wasn't the greatest, but it was something and had begun long before DeMatteis and been in place since 1979.
Mike Farrel, Josh Cooper, Ms Kappelbaum, and the others weren't much, but they did allow the writer to portray Steve outside of being Cap. Getting rid of Arnie was OK because Cap really didn't need a friend from the Great Depression and had served his purposes as a plot device in the Zemo and Skull storylines.
Gruenwald similarly showed very little interest in Quasar's supporting cast. He made some effort, but most of the cast was similarly superpowered or former SHIELD agents.
I think Gruenwald was simply bored with such matters and didn't know what to do with them.
There's no problem with wanting to make Cap appeal more to younger readers, but little of what he did seemed to reflect that. No one wrote Cap as more of an old fogey than Gruenwald despite some forward looking ideas.
Posted by: Chris | August 1, 2014 9:35 PM
I'm of two minds on Fer-de-Lance. If you don't know anything about snakes, it sounds really stupid.
If, however, you are interested in snakes (I am), it's an incredibly deadly snake.
It could be worse. A snake character called Inland Taipan (or Fierce Snake) would sound stupid, but that snake, a native of the Australian desert, is the deadliest snake in existence.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 22, 2015 8:35 PM
I could see a character call just Taipan, though.
(However, people might think it's a James Clavell reference.)
Posted by: Erik Robbins | July 22, 2015 11:26 PM
At this time, Steve couldn't claim to be an Avenger, but Sam certainly could. Of course, we'll see his bonafides established next ish.
Posted by: VtCG | May 7, 2016 5:17 PM
For a good non-fiction story about how scary a Fer-de-Lance can be, read The Lost City of the Monkey God, by Douglas Preston.
Posted by: Andrew | June 5, 2017 9:31 PM
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