Characters Appearing: Angel (Simon Halloway), Arnie Roth, Black Avenger, Black Marvel, Blitzkrieg, Captain America, Captain Terror, Fabian Stankowicz, Free Spirit, Hauptmann Deutschland, Jack Flag, Madcap, Zeitgeist (Every-Man)
Captain America #442
Issue(s): Captain America #442
Captain America isn't quite done yet, and neither is Mark Gruenwald. This issue shows off a number of his tendencies. The first tendency is my favorite, and it's actually something we haven't seen too much of on his long Cap run: the continuity fixer. This issue addresses a longstanding dangling plot from Alpha Flight #78 of all places and also the discrepancy between the (Golden Age) Angel used by Gruenwald in his Scourge storyline vs. the sewer-dwelling hero used by Peter David. The second tendency is the one we've seen too much of: the grouping of characters based on some shared characteristic (serpents, feral, female, dead). This time it's a grouping of characters from South/Central America. But it's combined with Gruenwald's "wipe out unnecessary characters" tendency, so it kills off all those characters! Off panel!
The story starts with the German super-hero group Hauptmann Deutschland (who is now Vormund), Blitzkrieger, and Zeitgeist. They are investigating a string of deaths of Latin American superhumans. It's said that the deaths include: "Captain Forza, Densor, La Bandera, Machete, El Condor, Ojo Macabra, Zona Rosa". It's more than that: "the list of victims goes on and on". The Germans have been investigating for four months and it seems twelve deaths have occurred since they started, but i'm assuming that even with the sliding timescale it's been more than four months since Captain Forsa was killed in AF #78, which had been published almost six years ago (unless Forza and Forsa are different characters but that seems unlikely).
The opening scene ends with Zeitgeist showing Blitzkrieger a photo showing Blitzkrieger's own death.
Later that day, Vormund finds Blitzkrieger's body. And later still, we see a character that some might recognize as Every-Man showing a photo to the homeless Golden Age Angel, and then stabbing him.
We learn that this Angel is brother to the true Golden Age Angel.
Cap is later informed of this stabbing by Fabian Stankowicz. He says that the victim had an invitation for Golden Age heroes on his person. Cap has also received such an invitation. The party is being thrown by the true Golden Age Angel (Cap's narration says that the authorities didn't have enough evidence to convict him despite his involvement in the Scourges). Zeitgeist also brings Vormund to this event, saying he's found a lead on the murders.
Quite a few Golden Agers still alive and at the party.
(I wouldn't be surprised if they were all meant to be preexisting characters, but i've only tagged the ones that are identified. I have the Thunderer tagged as Black Avenger. It doesn't seem that the actual Angel appears in this issue.)
Vormund appears and declares that all the old heroes will die. The visor in Cap's armor detects a distortion around Vormund, but Cap doesn't know if that means anything since he didn't have the visor previously and doesn't know Vormund's exact powers. Cap chases Vormund, but when he catches up to him, Vormund is surprised that Cap is attacking him. Cap is then hit from behind by a sword that looks like Every-Man's, and a photo of his death is left near his body. Vormund is then swarmed by the Golden Oldies, but escapes.
However, Cap's armor protects him (there's some crazy explanation about Pym particles shrinking the blade! To which Vormund replies, "Hmh"). He uses his visor to track down the real killer.
But Vormund gets to Every-Man, turns out to be Zeitgeist, and kills him before Cap can stop him.
We learn in the endnotes that Zeitgeist (whatever his personal motivations) was funded by Dr. Faustus and the Secret Empire. The precognitive camera is a weird, Warren Ellis-like idea, and it's even Ellis-like in the sense that it doesn't have any direct bearing on the story. Just a weird concept/detail for flavor.
Meanwhile, Cap has forced Jack Flag and Free Spirit to take some time off, but they run into a suicidal Madcap.
Flag gets caught in Madcap's bomb blast, but both he and Madcap survive due to their regenerative powers (Madcap is upset that so many people have them nowadays).
These past few issues have also been reminding us that Arnie Roth is dying of cancer.
The story feels truncated, although i'd prefer that over it being dragged out for six issues. I do think it's pretty rude to kill off a bunch of characters off-panel. Machete in particular had quite a few appearances, and some others at least had potential (i could see La Bandera resurfacing during the Avengers Initiative period, for example, despite not originating from the US).
The lettercol for this issue has a single letter, a nice balanced summation of Gruenwald's entire run. The letter is written by Ben Herman, who used to comment here before i had to shut down comments (not because of him!). Then, in a slight variation on the endnotes from the past couple of issues (minus one), there is a summation of Zeitgeist/Every-Man's backstory, providing a tad more detail than we saw in his appearances (although it does cite issues as well, as reflected in my References section).
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Angel (Simon Halloway) appears in Hulk #433, which has a cover date later than this issue, but should come first since he seemingly dies here.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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