Issue(s): Nomad #12, Nomad #13, Nomad #14, Nomad #15
These issues are largely about AIDS and homosexuality. In the first issue, a radio talk show host named Martin Elliot, in conjunction with an organization called the Clean Community Commandos, stirs up trouble against homosexuals in particular and AIDS in general.
Nomad eventually punches Elliot in the face.
He also decides to get Bucky and himself tested for HIV, since Bucky is the daughter of a drug-using prostitute. Time has to pass before the results come in.
In the meantime, Nomad has to leave town after punching the radio host. He winds up in Dallas where there's a crisis because someone is going around stabbing people with a needle infected with AIDS. The culprit turns out to be a local Undergrounder that Nomad was spending time with. She's basically just nuts.
In the third story, Nomad is hired by a Senator whose son is gay. A magazine is going to out his son, and the Senator wants Nomad to stop them. The magazine editor shows Nomad some data showing why the Senator really wants Nomad to stop him. It turns out that the son's boyfriend was going to testify in the Senate about a super-gun program, and the Senator wanted to blackmail him.
We later see the Senator asking another Senator to target Nomad with the gun once it's operational.
As this arc goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that something more Marvel universe-y is going on.
And by the final issue, Nomad winds up in a direct fight with the/a Hate Monger (the cover kind of gives it away).
While they fight, the Hate-Monger turns into various villains and past versions of Nomad.
In the end Jack stops fighting and refuses to hate himself, thanks to Bucky.
After that, Nomad gets the results of the AIDS test, but we don't get to see them yet.
There were a behind-the-scenes controversy about this. Nicieza wanted to reveal that Nomad was HIV+. From Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, here's a quote from Nicieza:
The stigma of the disease was just colossal, but I wanted to make that part of his ongoing story. I'd already done an LA riots issue that we got on Entertainment Tonight for, I understood that there were certain buttons I could push that would not only make it strong creatively but would generate publicity in ways that other titles couldn't.
The quote reveals some crassness in how the hot-topic-of-the-months for this title were chosen, although at least Nicieza also was thinking about the creative side. But Marvel's executives weren't moved even by the potential for publicity. More from Howe:
In [president] Terry Stuart's office, [vice president Bill] Blevins drew a bell curve that demonstrated that all titles in the Marvel Universe were off-limits to such experimentation. The Marvel Universe titles were the core of their sales. "No, that's not it!" Nicieza protested. "Within the Marvel Universe publishing line, you have to differentiate the importance of the characters you have... I write X-Men - I write your number-one-selling title right now. I also write Nomad, one of your lower-selling titles. I'm not saying I want to do this with X-Men..."
Nicieza was cut off and told no. In that environment, it's probably more understandable than fans give credit for that obvious metaphors for real world things, like the Legacy Virus, never went anywhere.
Also in these issues, we see Giscard Epurer brainwashing and training Bucky's mom, getting her ready to kill Nomad. And he also goes to Jill Coltrain, said to be Nomad's sister.
These issues are perfectly decent, and it's kind of a shame that Pat Olliffe is off the book after these issues (especially since it's to draw Thor Corps). To be clear, Fabian Nicieza's Nomad run is no hidden gem of the 90s. Through no fault of Nicieza's, this book is really just part of the sea of mediocrity that really defines the era. If you want Nicieza's take on various hot topics of the 90s, this book is for you, and i feel like he handles all of that fine. Hate-Monger fights are always a little tedious, but that is fine as far as it goes too. The problem is there are just so many books that are just kind of there, and this is one of them. It's not bad enough to hate read, but it's not good enough to care much about, either. Frankly this book could have been cancelled and this sort of thing could have been done with Captain America, a book that is completely directionless at this point. I mean, that's kind of what this book is, an extended rehash of Cap's Easy Rider and Nomad periods. And there are aspects of this book i like. I love baby Bucky, and i think Nomad's Bon Jovi look is campy fun. But i couldn't care less about Giscard Epurer or Nomad's relationship with the Undergrounders, and my eyes roll back into my head when i see that Nomad's sister is getting dredged up. So ideally you'd take the creative energy that went into this and merge it with Captain America, and do the same sort of consolidation across the line, and you'd have fewer books, but books of higher quality.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: At the start of this arc, it's been a "month" since last issue. Significant time also passes between these issues ("5 weeks" between #12 & 13), but i'm keeping it all together since it's a single thematic story and Nomad doesn't need to appear elsewhere.
Inbound References (3): showBaby Bucky's Mom, Bart Ingrid, Bucky (Julia Winter), Giscard Epurer, Hate-Monger (Animus), Jill Coltrain, Nomad
Nomad and Faustus have previously met- Faustus brainwashed his partner the 1950s Captain America and made him "shoot" Nomad.
Posted by: Michael | October 6, 2016 7:43 PM
Ah, defeated by my flashback policy. I didn't remember that scene and my character intersection search didn't find any matches for Nomad and Faustus. Thanks. And i've added Ingrid too.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 6, 2016 8:38 PM
That seems to be a quick turaround. I mean I heard that Alpha Flight #106 has a lot of backlash. And yet, here we are with FOUR straight issues dealing with "alternative sexualities."
Fnord, quick question. Do you think these Nomad stories would work better if they were part of the infamous "backup feature" in the Captain America comics?
Also I remember ready a rather cheeky write-up on these issues on the "Bullpen checklist" page that said Nomad was "down with OPP"...just in case you thought things couldn't get more 90s.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | October 7, 2016 2:21 AM
About 2 years Marvel time since the fight with Madcap is close to correct. Marvel has mostly been running at 4(ish) years real time to one year Marvel time since the birth of Franklin Richards.
Posted by: Jeff | October 7, 2016 9:20 AM
@Jon, no i don't think it would be an improvement if these were back-up features. I think that would be worse, because it would effectively be the same as it was here, plus it would have all the things i don't like about those back-ups. What i'm rambling about above could be either a) giving plots like this to Captain America, either instead of or along with Nomad (the latter allowing for different reactions from the two characters, potentially leading to interesting conflict) or b) making this a subplot about Nomad in Captain America (since Cap doesn't have much in the way of supporting cast at this point) and then having that blow up into the main story for the final fight with Hate Monger, with Cap being involved.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 7, 2016 11:47 AM
Something tells me that with Marvel finally slowly making some steps regarding gay lifestyles and AIDS (the Jim Wilson storyarc in Hulk, Northstar finally coming out of the closet), it was more or less interpreted as just "well we can do that now too" by other story writers...thus this tale that just flaunts it about for a few issues.
Posted by: Ataru320 | October 7, 2016 2:45 PM
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