Captain America #409-410
Issue(s): Captain America #409, Captain America #410
He can only pinpoint a general location: somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Actually, Cap had to guess that; all Dr. Druid could say is that she's in a mountain somewhere near a desert. He also says that he won't come along with Cap and Falcon to help get her back, because she's not in any supernatural trouble.
Dr. Druid. The "just good enough" magician. Let's give him a big hand, everybody.
He was actually better before his recent power upgrade and de-aging. He'd drag that big old pot belly of his into combat against anyone. As far as i know, martial arts and illusions work fine against the Red Skull's minions. But Cap doesn't seem too upset that he's not coming along (in fact, he calls it a "relief", but i assume he means that Diamondback isn't involved in anything mystical). So Falcon and Cap head out in a plane piloted by Cap's new pilot, Moonhunter. Falcon notes to himself that Cap must be pretty desperate if he's leaving with a "half-baked plan". They wind up flying around for a while scouring the Rockies.
Meanwhile, the Red Skull holds an inquisition to decide what to do about Crossbones killing Cutthroat. Crossbones correctly points out that Cutthroat came after him, and Red Skull ultimately accepts that. He decides to set a trap for Captain America using Diamondback, but he also wants to test the packets of Cap's blood that Crossbones brought. Although, weirdly, he decides to test it by transfusing it into Diamondback. Because why not risk giving one of your enemies super-powers? I'm sure the Red Skull could have gotten the Taskmaster to send him a student that might be willing to be a guinea pig.
Diamondback, meanwhile, does seem to have a little Stockholm Syndrome, because before she knows the outcome of the fight between Cutthroat and Crossbones, she thinks to herself that she doesn't know if she should root for her brother or her "boyfriend".
When Diamondback is brought to the location (not the Skull's main base) where the trap/transfusion will happen, she briefly manages to escape and uses Mother Night's signal card to send a mayday that Moonhunter detects and homes in on.
Falcon, despite having his fancy new costume, really has a poor showing during the subsequent fight. He basically fights the newbie Jack O'Lantern the whole time and barely manages to hold his own.
Meanwhile, Cap fights Crossbones and Blackwing and Moonhunter has to deal with the Fourth Sleeper.
Cap's blood does indeed invigorate Diamondback, and she's able to escape and join the fight. She knocks out Mother Night and then helps Cap with Crossbones. The fight ends when Moonhunter maneuvers the Sleeper into a helicopter that brought the Skull's minions, and the resulting explosion causes some flaming shrapnel to hit Crossbones in the back.
Cap isn't too happy that Diamondback didn't try to help Crossbones, but when the fights over she tells him about how he's been brutalizing her and he thinks to himself that "This is no time for a lecture on morality".
The fight happened relatively closely to the Vault, so they head there where Crossbones can get medical attention and all the villains can be imprisoned.
We know that this story takes place after Citizen Kang, which began after the Vision had been missing for "several days", and the Vision participated in all of Infinity War. So i guess D-Man's doppelganger is one of the ones that didn't go away after the War ended and they've been engaged in an epic underwater battle for days afterwards. Or else the narration is from D-Man's perspective and we shouldn't take it literally.
In any event, he washes up in an underground cavern that is a refuge for homeless people, and it's managed by one of the crazy Brothers from circa Captain America #201.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Continues directly from the back-ups in issue #408. The Brother Wonderful that appears in this story used to be Brother Inquisitor; the original Brother Wonderful later became a Roxxon scientist.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBlackwing, Brother Inquisitor, Captain America, Crossbones, Cutthroat, D-Man, Diamondback, Donna Maria Puentes, Dr. Druid, Falcon, Fourth Sleeper, Jack O'Lantern (Steven Levins), Jarvis, Machinesmith, Moonhunter, Mother Night, Red Skull
"Or else the narration is from D-Man's perspective and we shouldn't take it literally."
Posted by: CLYDE | April 21, 2016 1:42 PM
Well, the narration is meant to be omniscient but i'm saying we can pretend it's from his perspective, which, yes, is not trustworthy.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 21, 2016 4:07 PM
One of the few good things about this is the inclusion of Black Wing and Jack O'Lantern into the Skeleton Crew. Halloween themed villains in a gang run by the Red Skull is an interesting twist, but it works thematically with the team's name and provides Cap more low level supervillains. There is a theme resemblance with Night Shift, but I think this does work better.
Mother Night, Crossbones, Jack O'Lantern, and Black Wing do make an interesting team. I wouldn't mind seeing a few more appropriate villains like Mr Fear. And Jack's origin as a Green Goblin knock off is put to good use. The Goblin long stopped being a "cutesy" type villain that juxtaposed Halloween tricks with deadly effects, but it works here for a new Jack to have "ghost grabbers". Hopefully Gruenwald played enough Ghosts and Goblins to develop it further.
However, Gruenwald has essentially been writing one ultra long Cap vs Red Skull storyline for years now with only a few breaks, and it is way past its time of expiration. We need about a three year break from the Skull regardless of how cool I think the Skeleton Crew is.
Posted by: Chris | April 21, 2016 9:55 PM
This is the best issue since Ron Lim left. I love it that Diamondback has gained the Super Soldier Serum.
Posted by: Steven | April 22, 2016 1:56 AM
these were some good fight issues even if the premise was strained (why not have Dr Druid pinpoint the locale exactly?) Diamondback's escape was pretty awesome even if it had to come about by making her "stronger by repeated rapes" by her enemy. I liked her take out of mother night.
I've never been able to place exactly what accent gru was giving Crossbones but I guess its working class Brooklyn.
Posted by: kveto | December 27, 2016 11:52 AM
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