Characters Appearing: Amy Chen, Battlestar, Bludgeon, Captain America, Doug Powell, Heat-Ray, Madame Hydra (Viper), Raul Quentino, Razorblade, Red Skull, Silver Sable, Slither
Captain America #419
Issue(s): Captain America #419
Meanwhile, Captain America convinces Sable that she shouldn't be performing a job for a Nazi, the group that her Wild Pack was originally formed to hunt.
Cap and Sable decide to try to trap the Skull by delivering Viper to the agreed upon location and seeing what happens. The Red Skull sends (a new) Iron Monger to torture her in order to find out what her current scheme is.
Sable argues that Cap should let Iron Monger continue so that they can also learn Viper's scheme. Cap wonders why women are so vicious nowadays.
Viper is rescued by a team of villains loyal to her, called the Fangs.
Since Viper is snake themed, and so is Slither (formerly of BoEM/Mutant Force but he's been seen with Viper before), and the name of the group is the Fangs, i wondered if they were all supposed to be snakes of some kind. Razorblade (formerly Slasher/Buzzsaw) might have been based on some kind of sharp scaled snake that i don't know about... But no, because there's nothing snake-like about Heat-Ray (formerly Blockbuster) or Bludgeon (a Power Broker wrestler).
Anyway, they take Viper to a television station where Viper intends to transmit a signal that will blind everyone watching TV. Cap, Sable, and Battlestar move in to stop them.
Here's your Captain America With A Big Gun panel of the month, but he's just blowing up the signal tower.
As with the Silver Sable chapter, i found this to be a better than average issue for this series for the time period. It might be because it's a single issue (of Cap) or because Gruenwald has kept the obscure villain count to less than a dozen.
For what it's worth, it's confirmed in the lettercol of this issue that the approach for the Red Skull in this book since his resurrection is to use him as a supporting cast member, "like the Kingpin had been in SPIDER-MAN rather than a one-scheme-at-a-time recurring villain". The person writing the letter is agreeing with a previous letter writer that "Mark has overkilled the whole Red Skull thing". I think it's been an interesting approach, especially since Gruenwald jettisoned the entire non-superpowered supporting cast. Gruenwald seems to be more inspired when writing the villains than when writing Cap. I do think the use of the Skull has been overdone, though; especially it lately feels like the Red Skull hasn't really been doing much. The Kingpin comparison puts an interesting light on things. When he was appearing regularly in Spider-Man's books, the idea was that the Kingpin was profiting from his ordinary crime organization and Spider-Man wasn't able to touch him for various reasons (he had no legal evidence and couldn't just beat him up, and taking him out would just cause a gang war anyway). I did wonder at the scenes in this series where Cap talked like he couldn't touch the Skull. Yes, in theory he's in a new body and you might not be able to prove that he was responsible for everything going back to the Nazi era. But i don't think SHIELD would mind too much to throw him in a dark cell and figure out the case against him later. And the idea with the Kingpin was that he was benefiting from the status quo, living off of his crime empire. With the Red Skull, he's not specifically benefiting from anything just by existing, and once he launches any particular scheme, Cap would stop him. And in the meantime he's stomping around his headquarters not doing much. So i don't think he worked as well as Gruenwald intended. I do like the way Gruenwald highlights the philosophical differences between him and the Viper in this story, though (although i question how the Skull didn't realize that to begin with), and his role here as a villain stopping another villain because of those philosophical differences is an example of one of the better aspects of Gruenwald's run (i.e. his use of characters like Flag-Smasher and John Walker to tease out philosophical differences between characters).
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Continues directly from Silver Sable & the Wild Pack #15. Next issue shows Cap and SHIELD acting on info about the Red Skull that they get from the Viper, but it doesn't necessarily have to follow directly.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
the Iron Monger armour sure went down a steep power decline. It used to hold its own with Iron man and now it gets taken out by a sigle blast from 4 loser villains (scourge-bait)
Posted by: kveto | November 8, 2016 4:04 PM
Interesting to see Gruenwald backpedal from the Red Skull being a nihilist. The Skull specifically rejects it here, but I am pretty sure he described himself as a nihilist during the Streets of Poison storyline.
The Fangs may be disposable goons, but it is a good idea to REUSE disposable goons written earlier than create brand new ones. Not only does it prevent the detritus of more meaningless characters, by reusing them there is a small chance that eventually something may click and enable one or more characters into becoming an interesting villain.
Not a fan of seeing the Iron Monger suit in this though. As Kveto stated, it is quite powerful even if not to Iron Man standards. Second, there is a real issue of how it's gotten out to the bad guys. Stane himself was a villain, but on a different level, and we know Stane Industries is tied in with the government. If the bad guys got a hold of the Iron Monger armor, that is worthy of an entire story by itself. Lastly, the name Iron Monger does not make any sense outside of Obadiah Stane himself who by potentially mass producing the armor was a "monger" (seller) of "iron" (Stark armor). Some goon in a suit isn't particularly mongery. And I don't think anyone other than Stark himself ever encountered that name (except perhaps the Madame Masque bio-duplicate).
Posted by: Chris | November 8, 2016 6:46 PM
Not really a fan of this art in general - but i'm loving the Red Skull at the top.
Posted by: cullen | November 8, 2016 7:54 PM
Wait a sec, was I the one who wrote that letter about Mark Gruenwald's use of the Red Skull? I know I had a letter published in this issue, which was a thrill for me because at the time I was a huge fan of Captain America. Many years later I even bought a page of original artwork from this issue.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 10, 2016 1:55 PM
Ben, turns out that is your letter! Sorry i didn't notice.
I actually have another of your letters flagged to talk about when i get to a later issue of the FF. ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | November 10, 2016 2:45 PM
@fnord: Uh oh!!! Now I'm scared!
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 10, 2016 3:46 PM
And let's not forget the weird bit back around 370 or so, where Cap just walks out and lets the Skull go free because he;s sick, knowing full well the deaths he caused in the John Walkers storyline.
Posted by: Bob | November 12, 2016 10:34 PM
It seemed like a big deal when Gru had the Skull and Viper start collaborating, and it's weird that the subplot never developed, only to end abortively here, with the Skull deciding Viper is too nihilistic after all. And her plot, by the standards of Marvel villainy at this time, when Carbage is chopping people up throughtout NYC, just seems quaint: blowing up TVs so whoever is tuned in happens to get blinded? Sure, it's evil, but it just doesn't feel real. And why would Viper settle on this, rather than stealing nukes or something?
The Fangs feel like Gru trying too hard: reusing old villains is good, but bringing Razorblade back was unnecessary, and the team is so random and unimpressive it makes Viper seems silly: she's fallen far from taking over the Serpent Society and serpentizing Washington, DC.
Gru had years to do something with Viper, but he didn't. I assume he wasn't subject to editorial interference, but his own editorial duties must have cut into his time and energy for writing. His run is a classic, but in places feels semi-amateur.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 13, 2016 10:26 AM
Out of interest, is this the same Iron Monger suit that USAgent fought in Captain America 354? Does this issue say how Red Skull obtained it?
Also, at the end of Armor Wars, Tony sets up his satellite to detect any future use of his technology. If that's still active, Tony should be getting a notification of the Iron Monger's use. Unless that's why the Iron Monger is less effective here (and in Cap 354, to an extent), because the Starktech has been removed to avoid detection?
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | November 13, 2016 11:43 AM
@Jonathan: I've always suspected that General Haywerth had some sort of ties, either direct or indirect, to the Red Skull. Haywerth first appeared in "Born Again" when he loaned out Nuke to the Kingpin, so clearly he has no problems colluding with criminals. Haywerth is also closely associated with the Power Broker, who at the time was being financed by the Red Skull. Whether or not Haywerth was aware of the connection between the Power Broker and the Red Skull is unknown. Whatever the case, when this issue came out I hypothesized that the Red Skull had obtained the Iron Monger armor from Hayworth, either directly or through an intermediary such as the Power Broker.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 13, 2016 11:52 AM
Thanks Ben, I had a vague memory of Haywerth being a crooked general but cheers for confirming it. :)
I guess the other option (if it's never specified in the comic) would be that Machinesmith obtained it somehow. But we already know of a link between Red Skull and members of the Commission, so your theory is likely what Gruenwald was thinking.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | November 13, 2016 12:32 PM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|