Captain America #379
Issue(s): Captain America #379
Marrinan had already done a fair amount of work at smaller publishers and had a decent sized run on Wonder Woman at this point. He'll soon become the regular artist for Doctor Strange. I'm assuming this issue is less a surprise fill-in and more a planned break for Ron Lim after the bi-weekly Streets of Poison, but the art here is kind of scary.
The issue features a guest appearance by Mark Gruenwald's other character, Quasar, who is just golly gee whiz thrilled to be friends with Cap.
Quasar is maybe hoping that hanging out with Cap will increase his own sales and name recognition. Right now people don't really know him. Some think that he's Nova.
This issue's villain is a guy wearing the costume that Count Nefaria wore when he had super-powers...
...but he turns out to be the original Moonstone, Lloyd Bloch, the guy that the current Moonstone manipulated into giving away the meteor that bestows the Moonstone powers.
Bloch was being held in a mental institution, and while he was there he met a fellow patient that had rediscovered the process that gave Count Nefaria his powers. The process was used on Bloch, and now Bloch is calling himself Nefarius. He's kidnapped the current Moonstone, Karla Sofen (from a courthouse, so i guess she was there for a trial or hearing), and is looking for revenge. Cap and Quasar try to stop him.
But he manages to get away with Sofen at first. In addition to her powers, Sofen is a skilled psychologist who uses those abilities to manipulate people. It's an interesting facet to her character. In this case, though, she's using more like sexy psychology, making her more of a generic female temptress than an evil psychologist.
Cap catches up with them while they are kissing, giving him the wrong impression.
Cap is not sure if he is rescuing Sofen or what.
Quasar fights Nefarius.
Quasar doesn't have much luck against Nefarius, and neither does Cap.
So Sofen has to rescue herself.
Sofen is pinned by Bloch, so she surrenders and allows herself to be returned to prison. I don't know if she forgot that one of her powers is phasing, or if it's because she's still wearing power inhibitor boots (she got her hands free, but maybe that was just enough to use her power blasts).
Captain America has some judgements.
This issue reminded me of my previous rants about how Quasar has basically replaced Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau). Moonstone (Karla Sofen) had evolved into being Captain Marvel's villain, which is what brought it up. That's really neither here nor there; just me being a dead-ender about Monica's treatment.
It's a very Gruenwaldian move to take one old villain and give him the powers and costume of another. I like it. The idea to bring back Nefaria's powers and costume was actually suggested by a reader, but Gruenwald got the idea to give them to Moonstone I. Fun idea. The actual story isn't all that exciting, though, and the art isn't that great.
A back-up shows Diamondback getting warned that she is being watched. She eventually tries to take refuge with the Avengers, but gets knocked out and kidnapped while approaching their back entrance. This will become the main story for the next three issues. It's unclear how long Diamondback is unconscious before the beginning of next issue.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The back-up story takes place at the same time as the main story (Cap is unavailable to help Diamondback because of the disturbance at the courthouse).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBlack Racer, Boomslang, Captain America, Diamondback, Man-Wolf (John Jameson), Moonstone (Karla Sofen), Moonstone (Lloyd Bloch), Peggy Carter, Quasar
Was there a scan showing Moonstone changing clothes? In the panels leading up to the kiss she's wearing civvies but by the time Cap "rescues" her (and it appears in the kissing panel itself maybe) she's wearing her Moonstone costume.
Posted by: Robert | June 28, 2015 2:52 PM
She's shown somehow transforming into her costume right after the "Your mind may not know it... but your body does!" panel. She's still in her power dampers at that point so i don't know how that happens, but it's not just an art mistake.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 28, 2015 2:59 PM
Decent filler story, though never really followed up on.
But that art - eek.
Posted by: Bob | June 28, 2015 5:50 PM
Cap's thought balloon here says that Bloch fires heat beams like Nefaria, but Nefaria's eye beams were lasers. I think someone got the Superman analog confused with actual Superman.
Posted by: Mortificator | June 29, 2015 12:27 AM
Bob, it was followed up on in Avengers Unplugged.
Posted by: Michael | June 29, 2015 8:00 AM
@Mortifactor: Kind of reminds me of how a lot of people took Sentry's "power of a million exploding suns" thing a bit too literally and assumed he absorbed sunlight for power like Superman. People kept saying "he's not dead, because he got thrown into the sun!" And sure enough, he got burnt to crisp continuously until his other personality got bored of it and left (presumably he wouldn't have been harmed by the sun if he hadn't just been beaten to death with a immortal-slaying hammer). There was an occasion where Jim Hammond overloaded him with some fire in Avengers/Invaders, but I've always chalked up the "let's see how much sunstuff you can take" comment as Hammond just being poetic.
@fnord: I wasn't aware that Moonstone had evolved into becoming a Captain Marvel villain at this point. Makes me wonder if that was part of the behind the scenes reasoning to having her become the Dark Avengers' Ms. Marvel.
Posted by: Max_Spider | June 29, 2015 10:23 AM
Well, i should be clear that the idea that Moonstone was becoming a Captain Marvel villain could be just in my head. They definitely had a rivalry during Stern's Masters of Evil saga, and then Moonstone appeared in Captain Marvel's oneshot. And that was pretty much the end of any kind of focus on CM. So it felt like Moonstone was being set up as Captain Marvel's villain, but it didn't go anywhere.
And i think you know this but just to clarify since there are have been so many Captain Marvels: i mean Monica Rambeau, whereas Moonstone wore the costume of Carol Danvers.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 29, 2015 10:33 AM
Yeah, the name "Ms. Marvel" does tend to be used by individuals with some association to a "Captain Marvel" though. Not that I know of any connection Sharon Ventura had with any of them (I could say that Quasar inherited the mantle of Protector of the Universe from Mar-Vell and that both Sharon and Quasar lived in the Baxter Building at some point or another, but that would just be silly.)
Hmm... Come to think of it, "Protector of the Universe" could be the reason that ANOTHER Captain Marvel belonging to the Dark Avengers would start calling himself "Protector." Or maybe that was outright stated, I don't recall. But yeah, it made sense for Noh-Varr to be the Dark Avengers' Captain Marvel.
All these fun little connections...
Posted by: Max_Spider | June 30, 2015 9:19 AM
When I opened this up back when it came out I was so upset Ron Lim was not penciling it. What was worse was that Lim drew an excellent cover. Art makes such a difference to me.
Posted by: Grom | August 13, 2015 9:55 AM
I wish Ron Lim had drawn this one. This is a nice stand-alone and it got me into Quasar. And Moonstone is great. And Nefarius was sadly never utilized very well. There was definitely stuff to do with him but instead he just got killed off to bring back Nefaria.
Posted by: AF | March 2, 2016 6:14 PM
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