Captain America #402-408 (Back-ups)
Issue(s): Captain America #402, Captain America #403, Captain America #404, Captain America #405, Captain America #406, Captain America #407, Captain America #408 (back-up stories only)
Larry Alexander pencils all of the stories here except for issue #407 (Kevin Kobasic) and the Falcon story in #408 (Rik Levins). Raymond Kryssing inks #404, Rodeny Ramos inks #407, and Don Hudson inks both stories in #408.
These back-ups start with Diamonback still a captive of Crossbones. He's been forcing her to train for fighting, and then leaving her in isolation (still at the bunker where Magneto once trapped the Red Skull in Captain America #366). While she's alone, we get flashbacks filling out her backstory. She was once in a training class run by the Taskmaster, but she noticed that Brock Rumlow, who would later become Crossbones, was also there. Rumlow killed her brother (as we already learned in Captain America #400), so she disguised herself by cutting her hair and putting on lots of make-up, beginning what became her Diamondback identity.
Eventually Crossbones gives her a new costume and equipment, and allows her to leave the bunker.
He must think that he's sufficiently brainwashed her. But as a test, he sends her to Avengers Mansion so that she can steal a sample of Captain America's blood. He tells her that there is a wire in her costume so he'll know if she betrayed him (although he's lying about that). She does go in and get the blood.
Diamondback tells security chief O'Brien that she needs the blood as bait and that he'll kill her if she doesn't give him the real thing, so he just makes her sign for it, like she's borrowing a library book. Diamondback and Crossbones then drive for 36 hours and wind up at the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. They begin climbing a mountain and are attacked by Cutthroat, Jack O'Lantern, and Blackwing.
They get captured and taken prisoner. And Cutthroat recognizes that Diamondback is his sister.
Crossbones tells the Red Skull that he wants his old job back, and that Diamondback and Cap's blood are peace offerings.
Meanwhile, Cutthroat has struck up a relationship with Mother Night.
He tells her that Diamondback is his sister, and then he goes to see her.
I love that he's proud of turning his life around by becoming a better super-villain.
Cutthroat is also worried that Crossbones is going to get his job, so he goes and tries to kill him in the middle of the night, but Crossbones kills him instead.
In an unrelated back-up in issue #408, the Falcon is taking his new costume out for a spin when he comes across an unknown person riding an Avengers skycycle.
It turns out to be Moonhunter.
Meanwhile, Captain America is getting ready to go looking for Diamondback.
Falcon offers to go with him.
This all continues next issue but i'm pausing here because this is the last of the goddamn back-ups in Captain America. Next issue this all becomes the main story, depicted across a full 22 pages and all by the same artist without any false cliffhangers and intro splash pages padding things.
It continues to be true that Mark Gruenwald does better writing the villains than he does Captain America himself. It's worth repeating that this is all happening during the Capwolf arc. I have some qualms about the semi-loser villains that Red Skull is associating with, and i wish someone like Thundra would come along and smack Mother Night until she got a damn grip on herself and stopped simpering over the Red Skull, but in general i like seeing into the lives of the villains, and it's much better than Cap running around as a puppy dog.
A letter in issue #404 compliments Mark Gruenwald for coming up with new characters like Mangler, Deathstroke, and Cutthroat, and the response corrects the writer, saying that they're all previously existing characters but that Gruenwald's philosophy is that "The Marvel Universe has enough characters as it is" and so he prefers "dusting off some oldies rather than creating some new characters". And i definitely agree that it's better to use an existing character whenever possible (although i already quibbled about bringing back Deathstroke). Somewhat relatedly (because it's about getting rid of old characters, instead of dusting them off), in response to another letter, it's said that Mark Gruenwald's plans for the Scourge that will be shown in the upcoming USAgent miniseries are part of a backstory that Gruenwald "had in mind way back in '83 when he created the character".
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: It's said that Viper is not around because she's away on a secret project for the Red Skull.
The Falcon back-up in issue #408 explicitly takes place after Infinity War and Citizen Kang. It's noted that Captain America is officially on leave of absence but now that those two events are wrapped up he's going to go back to searching for his friends. That might indicate that both Infinity War and Citizen Kang happened in quick succession or else Cap would have gone searching earlier, but consider that in Citizen Kang, the Vision had been missing for "several days" before Cap went looking for him, during which time he might have appeared elsewhere. Another data point: it's said that Moonhunter would have been tossed out "a week ago" if he hadn't passed his security screening, meaning that it's been at least a week since Cap brought him back after the main story Capwolf story (which ended at the start of Infinity War). Reserve Avengers like Quicksilver and Captain Marvel are at Avengers Mansion for a briefing after the recent big events. Both back-ups will continue directly in the main (and only) story in #409, but i'm keeping these issues in their own entry for symmetry with the Capwolf entry.
As i've said before, the Diamondback subplot has been going on for what seems like an alarmingly long time, but that will be acknowledged in issues #409-410.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBlack Widow, Blackwing, Captain America, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Crossbones, Cutthroat, Diamondback, Donna Maria Puentes, Dr. Druid, Fabian Stankowicz, Falcon, Guardsman II (Michael O'Brien), Jack O'Lantern (Steven Levins), Moonhunter, Mother Night, Quicksilver, Red Skull, She-Hulk
I really disliked the Diamondback story arc. It was unnecessarily mean towards a character we've spent a long time getting to like and it really seemed just like something to purposely grate on readers and knock Diamondback's character back a whole lot of steps.
Posted by: AF | April 21, 2016 2:40 PM
Why does Cap refer to Diamondback as "this woman I've told you about" in his conversation with Falcon? Falcon and Diamondback met in Captain America 342-343.
Posted by: Michael | April 21, 2016 9:24 PM
I don't know what to think about Gruenwald's writing of Diamondback and Mother Night in these issues. He acknowledges that they are seriously unbalanced, but does not follow on that in a logical way.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 22, 2016 8:10 AM
Did Cutthroat's hair just recided between issues? It's like he aged 10 years from one scan to the next.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | December 27, 2016 10:52 AM
Hey, working for the skull is stressful.
I like seeing a receding hairline on a character. It always seems like every male character has either a full head of hair or is cue ball bald, with nothing in between.
Posted by: kveto | December 27, 2016 11:44 AM
Although I didn't know much about him Dr. Druid always stood out for me as one of the few characters who didn't have a regular superhero look with his receding hairline and non-superhero build..... but then came the 90's. Craptastic.
Posted by: Multiple Manu | November 30, 2017 7:32 AM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|