Captain America #351
Issue(s): Captain America #351
Before the conference is complete, however, Walker is shot down.
Seeing a Captain America publicly shot down here of course reminds me of the shooting of Cap during Ed Brubaker's run, which led to someone else filling the role of Captain America for a while. It's always interesting to see how future stories echo past ones, never exactly the same, but with a lot of the same parts. Jumbled, in this case.
The shooter is "dressed like" a Watchdog. The shooter flees, shooting several more people along the way, while Steve Rogers pursues. Before Steve can reach him, though, the Watchdog is shot down by a Scourge, who escapes.
Steve is unaware that the Red Skull claimed (to Walker) that he was behind the Scourges and the Watchdogs, so he misses the possibility that this was all arranged by the Skull (but see the Considerations section below regarding the Scourge). Every time i find myself typing "a" Scourge, i get a little annoyed since i think it dilutes the original story, but i have to admit that this is a cool sequence, kind of like the opening scene in some 1960s psychedelic spy movie. But the rest of this issue doesn't allow Steve to trace the Scourge, and by the end of this issue it turns out that Walker's body is missing.
In the meantime, the rest of this issue is about Steve Rogers (who i can now go back to calling "Captain America") finding out that SHIELD was disbanded, something i guess that he wasn't made aware of while he was acting as the Captain. The first thing he finds is an email (so to speak) from Agent Jack Rollins and Henry Gyrich announcing that Nick Fury is wanted as a traitor.
That would have been from earlier in the SHIELD mini-series, around the same time Rollins and Gyrich went around to all the active teams. Cap then reaches out to Peggy Carter, who tells him that SHIELD is now defunct, and Cap then gets that confirmed by going through the rest of his emails, and the next day, he meets with Peggy.
Peggy saying that she hasn't seen Cap since the funeral service for her sister had me scratching my head for a second until i realized she was talking about Sharon. The retcon making Sharon Peggy's niece instead of sister was not in effect yet.
Coincidentally enough, while talking about SHIELD, Cap notices Nick Fury's car drive by, and they follow it to the blind alley that has the secret door into SHIELD's old headquarters. And they find Nick, Gabe, and Dum Dum.
Fury is actually serious about selling this headquarters to Donald Trump, and the three former SHIELD agents are here to wipe out its computer files and destroy the weapons cache (in an adamantium-lined atomic furnace that recycles the melted down metal). Fury is also pretty vague about what exactly happened to cause SHIELD to get shut down.
But the shut down operation goes bad when all of the machines in the base start attacking.
This does not feel like a set-up for the return of SHIELD that occurs in the new Nick Fury series coming later this year. Quite the opposite, really; it seems to be written as if the SHIELD shutdown was going to be permanent. I don't know if the new series was already being planned, although i'd assume so and that if so Gruenwald would know about it. Either way, i like that as of this point there's no hints that there's going to be a reversal.
Cap runs down all the possible people that could be behind the attack - AIM, Hydra, Ultron, Doctor Doom - and then settles on Machinesmith (which will turn out to be correct) based on the fact that even devices not hooked up to the main system were being controlled. Cap and the former SHIELD agents manage to escape the base unharmed, but Cap is upset to think that yet another villain of his (after the Red Skull and Scourge) is back from the dead.
When it's over, Cap offers Peggy a position with his upgraded Avengers support team (confirming that the back-up feature in Avengers #300 was showing us people that hadn't been recruited yet). Cap also offers Nick Fury a staff position, but Nick declines with a snort.
Fun issue, and one that doesn't yet have us wondering what the new direction for the series will be now that Steve Rogers is back as Captain America.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The opening segment with Walker getting shot takes place the day before the rest of the story. It's really not until after this issue that Steve Rogers should be appearing in public as Captain America. The MCP tags the Scourge in this story as the same one that killed the original Scourge, which might make him an agent of the Golden Age Angel instead of the Red Skull. I've listed the Machinesmith as a character appearing despite him not showing his "face".
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
This should have been Walkers final issue. He'd served his purpose and at least would go out on a sombre note. Bringing him back as US agent and trying to "redeem" him was a mistake. It also polluted the Captain costume. While not my favourite steve rogers identity, that goes to the Nomad, steve has some memorable stories in that outfit. it should have been retired as well.
Posted by: kveto from prague | September 9, 2014 2:52 PM
This _SO_ should have been Walker's final issue.
If for no other reason, because it is so obvious that he hasn't really learned anywhere near enough to begin redemption.
Although I would rather have Steve remain "The Captain" indefinitely. More striking visuals, and a nice permanent reminder of the dangers of unquestioned authority.
Which goes to make the silly revelations of the next few issues that much more unpalatable.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 9, 2014 9:16 PM
Interestingly, in West Coast Avengers 42-43, Bobbi doesn't seem to know that SHIELD has been disbanded either and Hank talks about a virus jumping from their computer to SHIELD's.
Posted by: Michael | September 9, 2014 10:49 PM
I don't recall them ever really "redeeming" USAgent though. When he's transfered to the WCA, he's forced on the team and settles in nicely in his role as "the team rable-rouser and jerk". While his "heroic" qualities have a dollop of depending-on-the-writer, many recent books still play up Walker's antagonizing "ugly American" disposition. And of course, these days many "heroes" have committed as many atrocious acts as USAgent (Guess which overexposed ill-tempered ball of Adamantium rage is currently part of the team?)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | September 10, 2014 4:02 PM
That is true. In many senses, the continued use of John Walker is a sad portent of things to come.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 10, 2014 4:59 PM
Michael, dare I ask? What did they reveal about Dum Dum?
Posted by: Jay Patrick | September 10, 2014 5:53 PM
It is spoilerish to the utmost. If you really want to know, google for "dugan original sin", that shall be enough.
It does look a lot like something that will be reverted sooner rather than later, though.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 10, 2014 6:02 PM
Here's a link to a scans daily post that shows what they did to Dugan. Beware- SPOILERS:
Posted by: Michael | September 10, 2014 7:47 PM
I think enough time has passed at this point that it's ok to talk about it in the comments. I'm sure it'll come up somehow when i get to the Nick Fury series later in 1989.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 10, 2014 9:22 PM
I was just gonna say that after hearing some stuff about this Original Sin stuff kind of makes it weird looking at all these old Shield characters and stuff.
Posted by: david banes | September 11, 2014 1:56 AM
Thanks for posting this link. So Dugan was a suicidal robot all along!
Posted by: Damiano | September 11, 2014 3:12 AM
The comments on this story so far hinge around the eventual (stupid) Dum Dum retcon (which I knew about). But I see the words "The MCP tags the Scourge in this story as the same one that killed the original Scourge, which might make him an agent of the Golden Age Angel instead of the Red Skull." and I start banging my head wondering what idiot retcon that's all about.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 22, 2015 12:30 PM
Erik, that "idiot retcon" was written by Gruenwald and it was in the 1993 US Agent series. Patience, Erik- fnord will get to that eventually.
Posted by: Michael | August 22, 2015 12:50 PM
"fnord will get to that eventually" If 2 more years of Marvel Comics Presents doesn't kill him off first. :)
Posted by: Jonathan | August 23, 2015 9:31 AM
I have faith. If fnord can survive Team America then he can make it up until The Crossing.
Taste tests show that one issue of Team America is the equivalent of an entire run of Skull the Slayer, and that one issue of Skull the Slayer causes the same emotional and mental stress as a year's subscription to Marvel Comics Presents.
But The Crossing is a weaponized retcon crossover. And they dared to sell it even to children... children!
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 23, 2015 11:12 AM
I don't know zilch about 'The Crossing'. Aaron, what's the level in toxicity, in Spider-units, of the retconactive waste in 'The Crossing' according to the latest research?
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | August 23, 2015 11:42 AM
Let me put it to you this way- the Crossing was the brainchild of Terry Kavanagh, the same genius behind the Clone Saga.
Posted by: Michael | August 23, 2015 11:58 AM
The Clone Saga was the Geneva-Convention-approved version of The Crossing.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 23, 2015 7:03 PM
As a tiny intro (since it won't be for a while), The Crossing killed off several characters of note, turned Tony evil and brought his teen equivalent into the present, and mutated Wasp into a bug...and that's all I can say off the top of my head.
Basically it took Onslaught to blow up that mess that would ultimately lead to "Heroes Reborn"...and ultimately to "Heroes Return" and the Buseik run to finally restore the Avengers to respectability. (then again their respectability had been collapsing rapidly prior to the Crossing so...yeah)
Posted by: Ataru320 | August 23, 2015 7:19 PM
Yeah, it took at least three consecutive reboots (soft and hardcore) to cleanse the open wound that was The Crossing and some of those efforts caused considerable damage of their own. For a time, The Crossing infected the cure itself.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 23, 2015 7:47 PM
While it isn't the "Life of Reily" blog regarding the Clone Saga, I did find a three-part blog entry that seems to try to dissect the Crossing:
http://www.delusionalhonesty.com/2011/04/crossing-not-avengers-abbey-road-1.html (pt 1)
It appears to try to be a sequel to the Celestial Madonna...and considering how much fnord hates that, that is a good foreshadowing for what's to come here.
Posted by: Ataru320 | August 23, 2015 8:01 PM
Yeah I would say even a year’s subscription to Marvel Comics Presents is only as toxic as 0.1 Clone Sagas. Whereas The Crossing scores an almost unprecedented 1.7 on the Clone Saga scale, nearly twice as toxic as the Clone Saga. While the Clone Saga continues interminably with an increasing lack of anyone knowing where they were going or what they were trying to do, The Crossing is a short sharp shock with no-one knowing what they were doing in the first place.
The Clone Saga is just one of many misjudged editorial attempts in over a decade of trying to bring Peter back to a golden age where he is a teenager and isn’t married anymore, because the comic would be better if we brought back more of those stories where girlfriends kept thinking Peter was a coward for running away whenever there was trouble, and characters like F.A.C.A.D.E. would somehow suddenly have become really interesting if Peter was a teenager and MJ wasn’t there to ruin everything. Anyway, many editors tried and failed to bring Peter back to his golden age of being a teenager without the marriage, and no-one could make it stick until Mephisto and Whitney Houston visited Joe Quesada one dark and stormy night.
Meanwhile, The Crossing is the only misjudged editorial attempt to bring Tony Stark back to his golden age of being a teenager, probably mostly because he wasn’t a teenager in the first place. Add drab writing & ugly, unexciting art. Then throw in that he has a completely different personality as a teenager (starring Doogie Howser as… Iron Man!), that they find a contrived way to give Teen Tony heart problems all over again (Evil Adult Tony rips Nice Teen Tony’s heart out!), and that he is hot for his teacher. (She dated the older version of him in her past!) …And yeah, what was that Wasp thing about?
Posted by: Jonathan | August 24, 2015 8:04 AM
At least the Crossing was fixed away by Busiek.
Sadly, we'e still stuck with the Disassembled, Civil War and Illuminati/Freemasons/Stonecutters hackery of the the Bendis-Millar years, which were far more damaging to far more characters in the long run.
Posted by: Bob | August 24, 2015 10:11 AM
Guys, the way you're talking I think you're going to drive fnord away from this project entirely... :)
Posted by: Morgan Wick | August 24, 2015 5:39 PM
@Bob: You're joking about Avengers Forever right!?
Busiek's continuity implant from Avengers Forever that Kang’s allies were a bunch of Space Phantoms was an utter mess. Take for instance the powers of Space Phantoms. When Space Phantoms returned to Limbo it was regularly pointed out that they always materialised in the exact location their subject had been shunted to there, something never shown in either The Crossing or Avengers Forever for ANY of the characters they were revealed to be masquerading as; and in fact The Crossing regularly showed Luna, Malachi & Tobias, Elder Cotati/Swordsman and Mantis stepping directly back into Limbo through portals from Earth with nary a subject in sight. If this wasn’t enough, you’ll find a scene in Iron Man #325 where Kang joins his adopted son, Tobias, in a rigorous combat training session, and only the two of them are present. At the end of it, Kang berates Tobias for being too soft and unprepared to be a fit heir to him… Well, if they actually were Immortus and a Space Phantom, why in hell would they keep on pretending under such circumstances, with nobody to fool around?!
Posted by: Nathan Adler | August 24, 2015 6:04 PM
@Nathan Adler: False personality transplants on his minions to keep up the illusion at all costs? I know that an explanation similar to what I suggested popped up down the line, but I can't remember which comic it was...
...now that I think about it, when a Space Phantom makes a successful switch (unlike what happened with Thor back in Avengers #2), is there any report on what the switched person does when he or she gets shunted into Limbo?
Posted by: D09 | November 22, 2016 9:42 PM
According to Avengers #267-268, they lie on the ground unconscious. Except for the Hulk, who is standing up but apparently in a daze. Hercules walks up and punches Hulk in the face, knocking him down. Hulk doesn't get up again, much to the Wasp's surprise. So they don't seem to be aware of being in Limbo.
Posted by: Tony Lewis | November 23, 2016 10:52 AM
"Fury is actually serious about selling this headquarters to Donald Trump"
That would have been funny to see what happened there given current events.
Posted by: Ataru320 | November 23, 2016 11:52 AM
I just finished The Crossing, apparently for the first time. It was a horrible convoluted mess. It's 200 pages before the villain even appears. His plan? No idea. He gets defeated because Tony blows himself up on the magic wuggim that was going to do something. The end, then it goes o. For like another 100 pages. So, so horrible.
Posted by: OrangeDuke | December 25, 2017 9:06 PM
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