Characters Appearing: Captain America, D-Man, Jack Frost, Keith Kincaid, Man-Wolf (John Jameson), Peggy Carter, Thor
Captain America #384
Issue(s): Captain America #384
I've mentioned my problems with the way the super-serum is depicted before. My preference is that the super-serum brought Captain America to "peak human" but that was it. Maintaining that perfect body should be a matter of Cap constantly working out, training, eating right, etc.. The serum itself shouldn't still be in his body or providing any ongoing benefits. Cap is supposed to be the best a normal human can be, and he's admired for that. If he's just got super-powers, then it takes away what makes him special. But i'm fighting against the tide with this; there are several stories that make use of the fact that the serum is still in his blood. Gruenwald removing the serum could have been a way to get away from that, though, and it was also meant to say that no, Cap does not use steroids. So it's odd to see that being reversed already. That is kind of brushed away here, with Cap thinking to himself:
Well, at least for the short time the serum's effects were inhibited, I proved to myself it was the man that made me Cap, not the drug or virus or whatever. I guess there isn't a lot of comparison between my situation vis-a-vis body-altering substances and those who abuse conventional drugs.
Well, if you say so, Cap.
Kincaid also asks Cap a series of questions, like if he has any allergies or ever had major surgery, and one question that comes up is his reaction to extreme cold, asking about the period where he was frozen on ice. One funny bit about that is that Cap completely skips over the situation revealed in Captain America #220 that had him awake and running around in Newfoundland in between getting launched in Baron Zemo's plane and being found by the Avengers.
"Later i found out that i woke up in between, and i went back in suspended animation due to nerve gas reacting with my super-serum, not because i was frozen", might have been something worth bringing up to a doctor asking these questions. Cap actually brings up the fact that extreme cold did not put him back in suspended animation when he dove into the Arctic waters looking for D-Man in Captain America #349. Roy Thomas added his retcon in Cap #220 in part because he thought the idea that the serum would cause Cap to go into suspended animation didn't make sense, and that's why he added the idea of the experimental gas that Cap was hit with in the Newfoundland story. So, again, seems like a relevant thing to bring up in this discussion.
On the other hand, i'm as willing to ignore that story as Mark Gruenwald seems to be.
Speaking of Cap being exposed to extreme cold and the fact that D-Man is missing, look what Peggy has found in the National Tattler. What a coincidence!
Having Eskimos (as they are called in this story) worshiping an ice totem in 1963 was probably a little ignorant, but it's a lot ignorant by 1991. But this is just a tabloid paper, right? Probably not a realistic depiction of events.
On the other hand, this is the Marvel universe.
Cap contacts Peggy, asking her to send Thor, since the situation is "more in his league". Cap is then swallowed by the worm and dragged into the frozen water. He finds himself going into hibernation. So forget that Newfoundland story; it's the serum that makes Cap hibernate.
Before Thor gets there, Cap is saved by an unexpected ally. It's not D-Man. And if you bought this issue because you're an Iceman fan and you saw the cover, you're going to be disappointed. It's actually Jack Frost, formerly of the Liberty Legion.
Jack says that after World War II, he came north to find out what he was and where he came from. His earliest memories are of walking on a frozen plain as a young child. But when he came north, he was attacked by the Ice Worm, and to stop it he had to let it swallow him so he could freeze its heart.
Cap and Jack team up against the worm...
.. with Jack being way too much like Iceman for my tastes.
They both have the same powers, but using them the same way feels like it cheapens them both, especially since i doubt Jack Frost used ice slides in USA Comics #1-4.
Jack winds up having to stop the worm the same way he did the first time, sacrificing himself to keep the thing frozen. Then Thor shows up and speculates that both the worm and Jack Frost are from Asgard, with Jack possibly being a dwarf Frost Giant.
As they're leaving, they pass another ice block, not realizing that it contains D-Man.
Despite ignoring a Roy Thomas story, this issue is very much in his tradition. An entire issue devoted to explaining or fixing something, combined with another explanation/fix for a long forgotten Golden Age character.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Thor has no beard.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
"And if you bought this issue because you're an Iceman fan..."
There are Iceman fans? I kid, I kid. He was invaluable in helping Spidey defeat Videoman and we are all in his debt.
I really have no idea what was going on with Gru at this point and why he didn't step away from the book when he was so clearly out of fresh ideas. I guess we should be happy that he didn't or else we wouldn't get the masterpiece that is Cap Wolf in 1992.
Posted by: Robert | September 18, 2015 3:06 PM
"especially since i doubt Jack Frost used ice slides in USA Comics #1-4."
Posted by: clyde | September 18, 2015 3:13 PM
He's been frozen since World War II!
Posted by: fnord12 | September 18, 2015 3:25 PM
Well, I like Iceman...
Posted by: Bill | September 18, 2015 3:30 PM
When Iron Cross appeared in some of the later Invaders issues, he referred to Jack Frost as an "Alien".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 18, 2015 4:21 PM
Almost as though to signal the book's decline and loss of direction, the tacky, overly-intrusive logo of the anniversary issue is kept going forward.
Gruenwald had any number of lingering plots he could have built on, so the sudden bankruptcy of ideas was puzzling.
At least bringing D-Man back would have been a story, rather than this, which reads like a random fillin.
Posted by: Bob | September 18, 2015 5:55 PM
I think the time here (1991) is a little early for this just yet, but I always suspected that at least some of Gruenwald's sputtering out of ideas for Cap heavily involved Marvel's (oncoming) bankruptcy issues. He was one of the company higher-ups, so he would have been involved in the thick of it. In fact, hearing from several different sources who worked in and around Marvel at the time, each one of them noted how constantly stressed out Gruenwald was and many have thought that lead to his early death.
As I said, I think we're at least a couple of years early for that just yet, but being in his upper management position, he would have known of oncoming events. Purely supposition on my part, but he may have kept writing Captain America as something of a safety net since Cap was one of Marvel's recognizable heroes (Cap was slated for a cartoon series in the 90's that ended up not coming to fruition).
Posted by: Bill | September 18, 2015 9:40 PM
I like Iceman as well, perhaps because I first met him in that Mantlo/Byrne issue of Champions where he made such a good showing against Swarm while debuting his shortly-lived Champions costume.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 18, 2015 10:25 PM
Actually, it would be one more year--in Spring 1992--when Marvel announced it was expanding its line to a much larger degree, and the fanzines immediately declared it was to help relieve Ron Perlman's debts.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 19, 2015 12:39 AM
yeah, the immidiate backtrack on the SSS felt like him having his cake and eating it too. I agree, the SSS should give Cap muscles but it should be up to Cap to maintain them. With the explanation given, it feels like even if Cap sits around munching crisps he'll still have the same physique.
I find Jack Frost more interesting than Iceman (and more original) and liked his depiction and powers (although I agree on the ice slides. in the original golden age comics he just made the ground slippery). His look and depiction of powers was cooler than Iceman ever was.
And Clyde, how could Jack Frost learn from Iceman in the 3 or so hours he was unfrozen in the Arctic?
Posted by: kveto | September 19, 2015 1:43 AM
Count me as an Ice Man fan, although the character is a hard one to depict well, and he has been underutilized by too many writers, unfortunately.
I think that it is difficult to classify the Super Soldier Serum, as it apparently does not act like a conventional steroid, although it "looks" like it on the surface. It has to also positively affect Cap's brain, or at least the portions related in autonomic functions, in order for his reflexes to be enhanced as well -- as physical conditioning alone would not account for all of the quick decisions and reactions he can make in relation to his beyond-peak physical abilities. Also, it allows him to have an incredible physical condition, but he has to train in order how to use it. Although the two Marvel Captain America movies are not canon to this project, I think they show both of those aspects of the character well, if somewhat subtly.
The revised origins in Captain America #109 and #255 suggest that the anticipated gains from the Serum occur inside the cells (vs. the tissues alone), which would suggest the ability for the Serum to replicate itself over time. It seems likely that the properly prepared version of the Serum possibly even rewrites one's DNA, given its presence in the Red Skull's cloned body of Cap, which would certainly make it extremely different from conventional drugs.
And before this issue, Byrne also offered a similar suggestion in that the Serum replicates itself in Avengers West Coast #49, which might have been his effort to retcon Gruewald's removal of it or his effort to build upon what he and Stern established in Captain America #255.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | September 19, 2015 4:39 PM
Oops, I meant to mention that Byrne might have been trying to "preventatively retcon"(!) what he knew Gruenwald was planning to do, since Avengers West Coast#49 came out before Gruenwald tried removing the Serum from Cap's blood.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | September 19, 2015 4:47 PM
Comments are now closed.
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