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CSBG Archive

Five Goofiest Moments in Captain America #318-322

You voted, and in a wide margin, you decided that you wanted me to feature five-issue stretches without going in chronological order, so that’s what I’ll be doing! So for the rest of the month, each day will have the five goofiest moment from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book run. Once a week it will be the ten goofiest moments of a ten-issue stretch. Here is a list of the moments featured so far.

Today we’re looking at Captain America #318-322, by the late, great Mark Gruenwald, layout artist Paul Neary and a variety of inkers!

As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Great comics often have goofy moments (Kirby/Lee’s Fantastic Four is one of the best comic book runs of all-time and there were TONS of goofy stuff in those 100 plus issues!).

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Nice glasses, Cap!

This is not a big deal, but boy, check out Cap’s driving glasses…

Awesome.

An Indecent Proposal…

This scene from Captain America #319 is definitely goofy, but I think it is doesn’t really count so much because it is deliberately so, as we’re SUPPOSED to think what Diamondback does here is bizarre.

Still, pretty freaking crazy!

5. Oh, get over yourself, Cap…

Gruenwald’s Captain America had a bit of a reputation as a stick in the mud. It is scenes like this that earned him that reputation. To capture the villain-killer, the Scourge, Cap and the police work together to concoct a fake story that one of the Scourge’s victims from Captain America #319 survived. It is a good plan, but check out Cap’s concerns over the plan…

The bit about Mirage’s loved ones is fair enough, but “this is the first time I’ve tampered with our nation’s free press”? Get over yourself, Cap.

4. Lack of attention to details…

In Captain America #319, Gary Gilbert, the former supervillain known as Firebrand, is trying to organize his fellow low-level supervillains against the threat of the villain-killer known as the Scourge.

Gilbert goes all out on protection for the meeting…

But he, of course, doesn’t think to vet the bartender!!!

If there had been some explanation for how Scourge was able to avoid the retina scans, that’d be fine, but nope, Gilbert just figured “the Scourge could disguise himself as anyone…well…anyone but a BARTENDER, right? Where could he find a “Muscle Beach” t-shirt?!?!” Quite silly.

3. Your name is Rachel? I think what would suit you is…throwing diamonds!

In the aforementioned #319, Diamondback (who eventually would become a major part of Gruenwald’s Captain America run, as well as Cap’s girlfriend) tells Cap her origin…

How freakin’ random is it that she chooses throwing diamonds? How is that not explained? Like something like “I always liked diamonds growing up” or “I always wished I could wear diamonds” or SOMEthing – something other than “I think my weapon of choice should be throwing diamonds because…well…I figure in the future it will match this Serpent Society that I don’t know about right now.”

2. Because no one demanded it!!

Reb Brown starred in two Captain America TV movies in 1979. They weren’t awful, really, but Cap had this cheesy motorcycle helmet in the movies (likely inspired by the helmet in Easy Rider)…

So, SEVEN YEARS LATER (so it wasn’t like he was forced to tie-in with the TV movie), Gruenwald decides to introduce a variation of that motorcycle helmet into the Captain America comic with Captain America #318…

Hilarious.

1. You do get that he fought in a WAR, right?

I enjoyed Mark Gruenwald’s Captain America run. I really did. However, in one of the major aspects of the character, Gruenwald just whiffed badly. For whatever reason, Gruenwald decided to take this extremely hard stance on Captain America and killing. This followed Captain America #321 (the one with the famous Mike Zeck cover featuring Cap blasting away with an uzi) where Cap is forced to kill a terrorist. In Captain America #322, Cap reflects on his actions…

Oh man, it is just sooo goofy. Cap fought in World War II! The idea that he never killed anyone is preposterous. But okay, let’s say that Cap somehow managed to avoid killing anyone during the war (silly, but let’s buy it for the sake of argument), the idea that he would be distraught over doing do now is just so contrary to Cap’s established character I just can’t get over it. I don’t mind Cap going out of his way to avoid killing if possible, but the idea that it would make him distraught? That is way too goofy (especially that zoom-in on Cap’s distraught face). In fact, I intentionally made #322 the cut-off because the next four-five issues all would have no-brainer entries on this list, except that they ALL revolve around the SAME TOPIC – Cap moaning over killing someone.

It’s really too bad, too, as I really wanted to feature Nomad’s wicked ‘stache from Captain America ##24…

Oh, I guess I just did. I’m sneaky like that…

63 Comments

That “Lack of attention to details” was great, who could suspect on the bartender? NOBODY! Fraction did something similar in Punisher War Journal # 4, but at least Frank had a moustache :D

Peace

I remember liking the plots of Gruenwald’s run, at least until he started doing Cap-Wolf and Cap-Armor and all that weirdness, but man oh man is his scripting lacking. I love Stern and Byrne’s run on Cap and while I’m not going to hold it against Paul Neary for not being as great as John Byrne, I will say that I enjoyed Stern’s characterization of Cap for those ten issues and it’s disappointing that 50 or so issues later, Gru is portraying him as stodgy old timer with no sense of life about him.

YES! I loved these books, having read most of them when I was about 14, and even back then the “Cap never killed anyone” aspect of Gruenwald’s run never made any sense to me. Who was Gruenwald trying to kid with that crap? It’s strange looking back on that book and comparing it to the rest of the stuff at the time. I’d say the Captain America books of the 80s had an innocence to them that separated it from most of the other comics out at the time, but they were still fun nonetheless.

I can see a reason for 4 making some sort of sense.

Assume that the retina scan isn’t to check that people aren’t the Scourge (because people don’t know who he is) but to check that the super villains are the super villains they claim to me. I mean, it’s not like Firebrand actually had a retina scans of the Scourge.

I mean, that requires us to assume that low level super villains routinely conduct retina scans on themselves for verification purposes. And there are other questions as well. But it makes 4 make more sense than you claim it does.

I remember thinking the sunglasses in that fight scene in #318 were very odd indeed. Basically, it’s a hackneyed plot device so that Blue Streak doesn’t get a good look at Steve’s face while he’s out of costume. Streak even thinks about it later, after he realizes who he was fighting. And of course, those shades are never seen again.

I actually don’t think any of those are that goofy, except for the one about Cap being so distraught over killing people.

I also thought of the same excuse for Jake the Bartender not getting a retina scan that Thok did. It does make sense, or at least is no more nonsensical than your average superhero comic plot twist.

“Who are you supposed to be… GAY NINETIES MAN!” from the second example is hilarious.

comicbookreader

May 4, 2011 at 7:15 am

All great moments of seduction should begin: “Then when I laid eyes on you in that Jersey shopping mall…”

comicbookreader

May 4, 2011 at 7:19 am

Also, what do you think she gave Pete in exchange for those simulated diamonds?

Omar Karindu

May 4, 2011 at 7:41 am

Same thing she was trying to give Cap in Honorable Mention #2.

Omar Karindu

May 4, 2011 at 7:53 am

Gruenwald wrote Captain America as rather innocent, but his work overall doesn’t reflect the same spirit. Squadron Supreme wasn’t Watchmen, but it still had a superhero brainwash another one into sleeping with him, and was one of the first times I remember seeing American superheroes using lethal force on one another in battle. DP7, a forgotten gem despite its New Universe provenance, also hit some fairly dark territory for a mainstream superhero title. Dave Landers’s failed suicide stands out in my memory as getting into territory that was rare in superhero books back then, as does a memorable early sequence wherein an inexperienced super-speedster tries a disarming trick and accidentally takes off someone’s fingers.

Even within his Captain America run, there’s some dark stuff. The Serpent Society making their reps by butchering MODOK on panel, including slashing open his throat, is hardly “innocent” stuff. Later, Crossbones turns out to have raped Diamondback when she was a teenager as part of a gang initiation. The John Walker replacement Cap beats a minor villain to death with his bare hands in on story, and uses another villain as a human shield against machine-gun fire in another issue. Even the above examples suggest the juxtaposition of brutality alongside Steve’s pie-in-the-sky outlook: goofy or not, that Scourge example ends with a guy machine-gunning 18 people to death, and Rachel is shown implicitly trading sex to get into the supervillain game.

Gruenwald tended to write Steve Rogers as a somewhat naive moral paragon, but the rest of his work is an unusual attempt to do relatively big themes within the admittedly juvenile idiom of the superhero comic. Unlike the British Invasion writers of the era, he doesn’t abandon or break with that idiom, which leads to some odd tonal mismatches between a lot of his plotting and dialogue and his themes.

I’d say that motorcycle helmet is way more of an homage to Peter Fonda’s “Captain America” character in Easy Rider, and it looks way more like the helmet in the classic movie, than to the Cap TV movie helmet. Easy Rider is even name-checked in the dialogue.

Great catch buttler, it does resemble the Easy Rider helmet more than the old Cap movie helmet. And the character’s nickname was Captain America, so it makes sense:

http://www.thisnext.com/show/item-images/21310F9E/A9C796BE/

It always seemed to me that Gru was writing Cap when he really wanted to be writing 1950s Superman. Capwolf and Teen Cap are straight out of the Weisenger era, and the hang-up over killing and the free press thing sound much more like Supes than Cap.

Mike Loughlin

May 4, 2011 at 9:02 am

I can understand not wanting to portray super-heroes as killing, as they always have to take the moral high ground and find a way to stop the villains with as little loss of life as possible. Anti-heroes like Wolverine and the Punisher are different, but I like seeing super-heroes not kill.

Captain America not killing in WWII, however, is absurd. He was a soldier. Assuming he or she is involved in combat, part of a soldier’s job is killing. I could buy a speech about how Cap has killed, didn’t like it, and will try not to ever do it again unless it’s unavoidable. I could buy a quick scene in which he regrets that killing was part of his job, but acknowledges that it was necessary. I can’t buy what was being sold in that sequence, however. Along with the early Hal Jordan scenes in New Frontier, it seems false.

Diamondback’s diamond thing was a lot less glaring when she was part of the Serpent Society. Still didn’t quite make sense per se, but you could at least imagine Sidewinder saying, “Let’s see, the name Diamondback is still available. Maybe you could throw diamonds or something.”

@ DanLarkin:
What a great observation! i have always hated Gru’s Cap & you comment encapsulates the feeling of his run. As we can all see from the above samples, Gru should have never been allowed to touch Cap, except as an editor. His writing, plots, and general sensibilities about the character are all very, very wrong. i have always been grateful for Mark Waid’s great run on Cap to wash away the horrible taste from my mouth that Gru’s run always brings. Terrible, terrible stuff!
DFTBA

Andrew Collins

May 4, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I was just discovering comics when I started reading Cap back then and I totally fell in love with Diamondback during Gruenwald’s run. She was a great juxtaposition for his ‘stick in the mud’ Cap. The issue where they go on their first date is priceless for showing how naive if not outright inept Cap can be around women. It’s a shame DB has kind of fallen out of the Cap books, I still think of her as more Cap’s “girl” than I do Sharon Carter…

I’m glad you went with the out-of-sequence tributes, Cronin. While seeing how series got progressively less (or more) goofy over the years is interesting, it would take you way too long to complete the longer runs at 5-issue installments.

Opinions:

- I seem to recall that the look on “disguised” Cap was intentionally goofy. As in “Cap has no idea how to fit in the modern world” (never mind that even by Marvel Time standards it had been years since his revival.)

- Oh God, I loved Diamondback. At least when Gruenwald tried to make her Cap’s Catwoman. Being his actual girlfriend, however, never made much sense. I guess Gru just wanted to keep using her.

#5- Maybe Cap means “without being told to lie by the Government?” Remember this is Cap post-Nomad days.

#4- This wasn’t a lack of attention to details, at least not on THIS scene. All of Scourge’s attacks were supposed to come as surprises, as so was this. Maybe afterwards the cops could have asked that question. (And remember -spoiler warning for some- there was actually a WHOLE organization of Scourges, with respectable resources, that might have fooled even Retina Scans.

#3- Umm, the comic doesn’t say it was “Pete’s” idea (btw who was that supposed to be, Paste Pot Pete aka The Trapster?) only that he made the Diamond gadgets for her. And other Marvel stories had already established how villains felt they needed to stand out with their own motifs (poor Ringer even got mocked by Spider-Man even worse than other villains, despite his throwing rings not being any less implausible than trick arrows.) In fact given women are supposed to have a thing for jewelry the choice seems to fit the character rather well.

#2- Yeah, I thought the Bike helmet was a TV Cap tribute (and yes that movie was a *bad*) but I haven’t seen Easy Rider (WHAT!!) so I wouldn’t have gotten that reference anyway. Besides, how many heroes remember to put their helmets on while riding, despite it being required by law? Go Cap!

#1- OK, THIS made even me go WTH? How could Gruenwald, the Master of Continuity at Marvel, not know about stories in which Cap has been implied as killing/letting his foes die? I specifically remember commando missions in WWII where he *blew up* whole Nazi bases! Not to mention that if he hated killing, he would not have enlisted in the first place. This definitely was Gru preaching, and while I agree with that morality for superheroes, it doesn’t make sense to Retcon Cap this way.

Plus: I find Nomad’s dialogue far more goofy than his Porn Star ‘Stache. :D

Billy Bissette

May 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Claiming Cap had never killed anyone is almost as bad as when John Byrne made it a major plot point that Hulk had never killed anyone.

Claiming Cap had never killed anyone is almost as bad as when John Byrne made it a major plot point that Hulk had never killed anyone.

The Hulk having never killed anyone is perfectly plausible by superhero comic standards. Especially since in hundreds of issues of the Hulk he was never shown killing anyone. The Cap thing however not so much.

Well, the ludicrous part of it, if I’m remembering correctly, was not so much the claim that the Hulk had never killed anyone directly but the suggestion that whenever the Hulk knocked down a building Banner’s mind was always in there calculating just the right angle so that it wouldn’t hurt anyone on the way down.

Brian Cronin

May 4, 2011 at 3:47 pm

That was Greg Pak who came up with that.

Ah, yes. I remember that came up in Pak’s World War Hulk, but although I read Byrne’s run back when it came out, I didn’t remember it well enough to vouch for whether this was a brand-new retcon or not.

Another funny thing about that Captain America helmet: Cap wears a motorcycle helmet in some stills from the upcoming movie that I think really does look somewhat like the one he wore in the TV movies. If that’s not a promising sign, I don’t know what is.

Billy Bissette

May 4, 2011 at 5:40 pm

The Hulk proclamation had two pieces against it. First, the explanation was silly, that Banner was calculating the effects and preventing Hulk from doing anything that would hurt someone even as collateral damage.

Second, this proclamation came after PAD’s long run. Which, as PAD himself mentioned online afterwards, included Hulk killing Trauma. PAD also mentioned Hulk sinking a Soviet submarine, a situation where you’d be hard-pressed to claim even an off-panel “but they all survived” brush off.

I just started reading the recently-released Captain America: Operation Rebirth hardcover, and between that and this I can imagine that one could fill an entire month of Goofiest Moments in Captain America. Even some of the best stories feature him being awkward and/or unbelievably naive.

Mike Loughlin

May 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm

The Hulk thing may be goofy, but if the Hulk starts being a menace to life and limb (not just property) the audience loses sympathy for him. Some monsters, like King Kong & Godzilla, are animals. They can’t be held responsible for their actions. The (green, savage) Hulk, however, has enough intelligence to understand what he’s doing on some level. The Ultimate version of the character is more of a villain because of how many people he killed.

The Trauma thing was extenuating circumstances and committed by the intelligent Hulk. I don’t remember him sinking a Soviet sub, so I don’t know the circumstances. Does anyone know when that happened?

I thought for sure we’d see that issue where they forgot to draw Cap’s nose in one panel. I remember that the villain was the Armadillo, and I think it might have been a Secret Wars II crossover (so you know it had to be good).

Perhaps I’m in the minority, but except for Cap’s glasses and Nomad’s pornstache, I don’t think any of those is really goofy.

There used to be this unwritten rule that Marvel’s Golden Age stories didn’t really count, except when they were reinterpreted by someone such as Roy Thomas or Stan Lee. And Lee and Thomas played fast and loose with Golden Age continuity. And the Captain America after Stan Lee’s re-introduction was just like every other superhero when it came to killing: a big no-no.

Even in flashback stories from WWII, or Roy Thomas’s Invaders, Cap didn’t kill. Unrealistic? Maybe. But at the time, I don’t think many people thought so. Gruenwald was just going with that.

As for Gruenwald’s characterization of Cap (and I find it as impossible as anybody else that any straight male would just sit there when a total hottie like Diamondback is making such proposals), you might say Gru is a little extreme with Cap’s idealism or naivete (call it what you prefer), but it isn’t “goofy” like the Torch using his flame to pick a wallet.

Brian, since you love doing them – and i love reading them, would you make a list of the the top 10 secrets Charles Xavier kept from the X-men? Since i read the recent Avengers issues, i thought “good Lord, this guy has a whole cemetery in his closet”, but i can´t remember all of them.

Ouch, didn´t see that one! Thanks!

Just throwing in my two cents to say I quite liked this characterization of Cap as the ultimate goodie two shoes. If you’re going to play it like that you may as well go big or go home, and Gruenwald certainly took every opportunity to really showcase Cap’s idealism in a big way. Even as a kid I knew that scene with Diamondback’s proposal in the crashing ship was over the top (in terms of Cap’s reaction), but it was kind of nice, especially given the grim and gritty times to come. It’s what set Cap apart (at least in Marvel) and the best part was, Gruenwald would be sure to include some action scenes of Cap kicking ass in every issue just to remind us the guy is tough.

By the way, I also thought special agent Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks was another great rendition on the squeaky-clean (relatively) but uber-competent good guy. They’re few and far between!

Captain America killing in modern continuity:

TALES OF SUSPENSE #68: Cap tricks a Nazi into blowing himself up with an experimental Allied weapon.Script by Stan Lee.

TALES OF SUSPENSE #69: Cap, in his identity as Army Ranger Steve Rogers, is depicted firing away at Nazis during a Dieppe style raid.Script by Stan Lee.

TALES OF SUSPENSE #71: Cap wipes out massive numbers of Nazi troops with a V-2.Script by Stan Lee.

INVADERS #21: Cap mans a machine gun on a captured Nazi bomber and shoots down several Nazi fighter planes.Script by Roy Thomas.

Gruenwald was just flat-out wrong about Cap never killing anyone.

That stache is epic. It deserves its own comic.

Cynthia Adler

May 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm

I’m not sure about the helmet being a deliberate shout-out to the tv movies. Cap wearing a helmet while riding his bike seems natural, and it should have some kind of Captain America-style design elements.

Just looking at stills from the Cap tv movies induces nightmares.

That moustache..can’t look away…

David Alcazar

May 5, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Doesn’t Mark Gruenwald hold the record writing the most issues of CA?

Brian Cronin

May 5, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Doesn’t Mark Gruenwald hold the record writing the most issues of CA?

He wrote roughly 140 issues, so probably.

Has it been established that Cap’s personal difficulty with killing in that issue was from it being as a super hero rather than a soldier or am I just thinking of my own internal retcon? If so, who did it?

Re: Cap not killing.

Was Shooter Editor-in-Chief t the time?

“The Trauma thing was extenuating circumstances and committed by the intelligent Hulk. I don’t remember him sinking a Soviet sub, so I don’t know the circumstances. Does anyone know when that happened?”

It happened in Incredible Hulk#145 (1971), though it was actually a destroyer, not a sub. The ship’s captain spots him in the water and orders his crew to ram the Hulk so that the Soviets can claim victory for destroying the Hulk. This only makes the Hulk angrier and his uses a propeller on the ship to pull it downwards until the ocean’s depths crush the ship. This is a Code-approved book in 1971 so you don’t see any bodies, but it’s implied that everyone on board is killed.

Crazy? Cap is crazy for not taking DB up on her offer.

I’m going to disagree with the bartender example. It seemed clear to me that Scourge had replaced the bartender from the beginning of the story. So, since he was there when the scanner was set up, he would match the scanner when he came in to work that night. Firebrand just failed to think, “maybe Scourge replaced someone weeks ago rather than days ago.”

I think Gru was just trying to be high tech, though. A fingerprint scanner would have been less goofy than a retina scanner because the criminals would have fingerprints on file with the police / FBI / etc. Firebrand could have gotten copies of those files and matched them when the guests came in. Of course, if the bartender didn’t have a record, Firebrand would have had to get his prints when the scanner was received. And, again, it would match when scanned on the night of the meeting.

Theno

Scott Rowland

May 9, 2011 at 3:16 pm

@Billy Bissette

“Claiming Cap had never killed anyone is almost as bad as when John Byrne made it a major plot point that Hulk had never killed anyone.”

Wasn’t a plot point in that Byrne story that the Hulk doppleganger didn’t have any ears , or something like that? I remember thinking that yeah, if your story is drawn by Dave Gibbons, you can rely on a minor discrepancy in the art as being meaningful, but Marvel comics in the 1990s-2000s, not so much.

Hey, Brian, keep that one in mind for a goofiest Hulk moment!

I’ve heard Gruenwald’s run on Cap referred to as “classic” about a million times, it seems, and even as you’re pointing out it’s goofy elements, you say you love, really. — Why? I hated Gruenwald’s Cap. The characterization, the plots, everything was awful. The guy got rid of Bernie Rosenthal and created Madcap, for crying out loud!

Brian Cronin

May 9, 2011 at 6:13 pm

It was really good-hearted and optimistic. That’s such a rare quality in post-1980 superhero comics. The only thing that REALLY stood out as awful to me early on was the whole “Cap moans a lot about killing some guy” stuff. Other than that, it was enjoyable stuff until the #400s, when the quality did take a huge nose dive. Until then, there was a series of decent plotlines (replacement Cap, the Bloodstone search, all of the Serpent Society stuff). In addition, he had some strong ideas of what to do with a comic book series, including expanding the hero’s Rogue’s Gallery, that were quite astute. His expansion of Cap’s rogues led to the introduction of two extremely cool members of Cap’s Rogues Gallery, Flag-Smasher and Crossbones, with Crossbones, in particular, being AWEsome.

I’m with Rene on this one.

Syon is nitpicking – you could easily demonstrate 20 examples of Cap going out of his way NOT to kill for every scene that implies he has killed (never actually see a body do you?) In fact it’s quite clear that even in wartime Cap was reluctant to kill, and certainly didn’t feel good about it – case in point, the regret he felt in every origin scene in which he accidentally killed the Nazi Spy who shot Erskine.

The point Gru was trying to make during his run was contrasting Cap, a hero who valued life (literally) and liberty above all else, against the endless stream of “uber-cool” anti-heroes like Wolverine, Punisher, etc, etc, etc, who seemed to value life as much as a bag of chips, and taking it as a badge of honour.

Mock Gru as much as you like, but I admire him for taking that stand and creating a hero that I could look up to as a role model when I was a boy. He was, and still is one of the best writers to work on Cap IMO.

In fact it’s quite clear that even in wartime Cap was reluctant to kill, and certainly didn’t feel good about it – case in point, the regret he felt in every origin scene in which he accidentally killed the Nazi Spy who shot Erskine.

Which is completely different from “I have never taken a life until just now in 1986.” And moaning about it for months on end.

That is what is stupid and that is what Gruenwald’s run is being rightfully knocked for. It was a dumb idea by him. Doesn’t make his run stupid or dumb, but that one plot point sure was.

Gru-Cap is like the Chuck Norris of super-heroes. He’s completely fearless and never gets taken by surprise. Even responding to Diamondback, he’s thinking his way out of the situation without yielding to her whims. I think the two most ridiculous/awesome moments from this run are: 1) Cap is held about 100 feet aloft by a water spout and casually defeats Water Wizard (who by all rights should be able to drown Cap any moment) by flinging his shield about the length of a football field to take out Wiz’s footing, and 2) Cap falls out of a freaking plane, uses the Vibranium in his shield to absorb the impact, jumps up, thinks to himself “good thing T’Challa didn’t skimp on the Vibranium,” and then beats up the bad guy!

Seriously, if Galactus ever showed up, I think Gru-Cap and Byrne-Reed could scare him away without any backup.

Agreed, that was definitely an enjoyable aspect of Gruenwald’s Cap.

Snakeman99 said:
Cap falls out of a freaking plane, uses the Vibranium in his shield to absorb the impact, jumps up, thinks to himself “good thing T’Challa didn’t skimp on the Vibranium,” and then beats up the bad guy!

I disagree. That was one of the coolest things about Gru’s run – he was re-estabilishing Cap as a formidable opponent after he had been cast aside by Marvel, and replaced by Wolverine as the “ultimate hand-to-hand combatant and bad-ass.” It makes perfect sense that his shield could absorb the impact of a simple fall when it’s taken blows from Hulk’s fists.

One of my favourite Cap moments (Captain America # 366) is not only when Cap jumps out of a freaking plane, but pushes the Controller (who had dismissed him as not being a threat) out of the cockpit in front of him, freefalls with him, and slams him into the pavement (using his body and his shield to absorb the impact). Moments like that were a highlight of Gru’s run, and certainly not goofy.

Brian Cronin:
Which is completely different from “I have never taken a life until just now in 1986.” And moaning about it for months on end.

That is what is stupid and that is what Gruenwald’s run is being rightfully knocked for. It was a dumb idea by him. Doesn’t make his run stupid or dumb, but that one plot point sure was.

I don’t think it was a dumb idea at all – but I agree it could have been a little better executed. If only Cap had said, “I’ve never needed to carry a gun since my resurrection. I’ve never needed to take a life to save others since I awoke from suspended animation.”

Like I stated before, Gru was trying to do was demonstrate that Cap valued life as the ultimate freedom. And his actions (outside of wartime), eventhough they saved several lives, contrasted with his own beliefs and that he believed he had failed himself and the people he was sworn to protect (both civilians and villains). In addition, Cap believed he should have been able to saves those lives without taking one – that he was skilled enough to do so! Unfortunately that’s been over shadowed by the “I have never taken a life” statement.

Sure, it’s quite melodramatic, but this was the point in which Gru began the plot in which Cap began doubting himself, and his abilities (mirroring reader’s dissatisfaction with the character and movement towards darker characters) to the point where his lack of confidence led him into a battle with Super Patriot that he was unable to win. Which then led to a further crisis of confidence in which he gave up his CA identity to the government and was replaced by the guy who’d beaten him!. After a few trials, Gru had Cap “reborn” (way before Johns was around) reclaiming the CA mantle as a more confident and formidable character (and selling a helluva lot more comics too).

The “gun/ taken a life” may be goofy taken out of context, but it was a great catalyst for Cap’s demise, struggle, and rebirth IMO.

I really enjoyed this post; your comments after the scans really made me laugh. I’m of course totally biased about this run of Cap since it was probably one of the first I read as a kid. That being said, I disagree with you regarding Gruenwald’s emphasis on Cap no longer wanting to kill. This in fact was one of Cap’s attributes I most admired as a kid. As a reader (kid) I always interpreted the sentiment as “I’ve been a soldier for a long time, I know what guns are designed to do, since I’m this awesome, wise super-soldier, I choose to kick-ass without having to resort to guns any longer.” As an adult, I think you might be forgetting the important time context Gruenwald was writing in. I think he was attempting to carve out a counter-space against all the Reagan/nationalistic/Rambo imagery that was so prevalent in 1985; and we saw where Marvel went with it (Punisher) and later DC copycatted (Deathstroke). So sure, Cap comes off as stiff and as another poster said like a “1950s Superman,” but I feel without Gruenwald pushing so hard in this counter-direction, Cap’s narratives would have mimed completely the visuals of the Zeck covers. Besides, I think the John Walker/Super-Patriot/New Cap storyline kind of supports this idea of what Gruenwald was worried about in heroes (and the U.S.) at the time. If you’ve read this, thanks.

While I thought Gruenwald brought up the whole “morality of superheroing” point too often, Jonathan (leading to a scene in #401 that is so goofy that I wonder if I should feature it here – I’d feel kinda bad doing two pieces on Gruenwald’s run, though), I don’t really have a problem with it. Like I think I noted earlier, if he wished to go with a “I will go out of my way not to kill” position, as a contrast with people like Wolverine/Rambo/Punisher, etc. then that was fine. Even then, he probably brought it up too frequently, but I didn’t have a real problem with that.

However, again, as noted, Gruenwald went way further than that when he stated that Cap NEVER killed until this one issue of Captain America. Furthermore, the idea that Cap would be so broken up about what was clearly a justified killing also read as a terrible mis-characterization of Captain America. Doing his best to avoid killing? Sure. Never killing even during wartime? Absurd. Beating himself up for weeks about a blatantly justified killing? Doubly absurd.

You missed the goofiness on the bonus example: Marvel letting Vince Colletta destroy Mike Zeck’s pencils.
I just recently re-read a large section of Gruenwald’s run and I loved it. Loved it then, loved it now. Not the flashiest series but dependable and Captain America was a hero, not Millar’s jingoistic Col. Flagg.
I completely agree with the “Cap never killed” silliness. What I find downright offensive about this (tying in to tomorrow being Memorial Day) is that it’s an insult to thousands of soldiers, many of whom, I’m sure, didn’t want to kill anyone either. Gruenwald’s take seems to imply that Cap never killed because of his high morals but what does that say about the average GI?
Digressing for a bit, I think the other bit of high silliness in the run was the attempt to remove the Super Soldier serum from Cap’s system. I remember at the time, Gruenwald said he was reacting to the idea that Captain America was basically a guy on steroids.
Wrong-headed on just the common sense levels: The knock on steroids are 1) they’re bad for you and 2) they give athletes an unfair advanage. Well, 1) what’s worse, steroids or the magic radiation that gave so many other Marvel heroes their powers? and 2) Cap isn’t a baseball player, he’s a soldier and a hero. He’s not getting an unfair leg up on some meaningless game, he’s getting an advantage to save lives and defend his country.
Last, I don’t understand all the hating on Madcap (and it’s not just on the messages on this article.) I always thought he made a great antagonist. He had powers and motivations that no other villain had and his powers were tied into his goals and motivations (unlike, say, Diamondback who would steal money … but throw “diamonds” away….) The only reason I can see is that there is a certain type of comic fan who only likes characters who are “kewl,” wear costumes with an endless number of belts and pouches and straps and carry big, phallic guns. But I want to be open-minded. Does anyone have a criticism of the character that doesn’t translate to, “He’s stoopid. I have him. Marvel rulez!”?

That last sentence should be, “I HATE him” not “I have him.” Oops.
Guess I got Madcap-ped…. :)

Have any of you schmucks ever read the Stern/Byrne iconic run on Cap? How, in issue #254, Cap is mortified that he has to behead the vampire. He was disgusted in himself for killing something that wasn’t even technically alive. So how do you think he’d feel about killing a puny human?? As a side note, in response to one of the posters above, you know someone that actually stood for something good probably would never use the term “justified killing”.

Gee, I wonder how Cap could have made it through WWII without killing anyone. Let me see, could it be that he has a combination of strength, speed, and agility far greater than any normal man he could have been facing? Or how about the fact that he has a shield capable of deflecting bullets and absorbing the impact of explosions? Oh, I know, it probably has to do with the fact that he can use this shield as a long range projectile to take out multiple enemies at once.

Didn’t exactly take Nancy Drew to figure that one out. As for Cap’s fashion choices, it has nothing to do with bad writing. You do recall that he was alive in the 40s? He is old. And he’s never been especially hip to the game. He is an old school white dude. He doesn’t know or care jack about fashion. He just cares about his beliefs. Beliefs that have allowed him to lead Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. He is a living legend.

Shinobi 100:”Have any of you schmucks ever read the Stern/Byrne iconic run on Cap? How, in issue #254, Cap is mortified that he has to behead the vampire. He was disgusted in himself for killing something that wasn’t even technically alive. So how do you think he’d feel about killing a puny human?? As a side note, in response to one of the posters above, you know someone that actually stood for something good probably would never use the term “justified killing”. ”

Cap isn’t bothered by the fact that he is “killing” Baron Blood;Cap is horrifed at the prospect of beheading someone with his shield.

What I love the most about Gru’s run was all the political stuff with the countless militias. Walker slaughtering the Watchdogs after the death of his parents was the highlight for me. My jaw was on the floor seeing this happening. I think it lost its bite when Kieron Dwyers left IMO

“#1- OK, THIS made even me go WTH? How could Gruenwald, the Master of Continuity at Marvel, not know about stories in which Cap has been implied as killing/letting his foes die? I specifically remember commando missions in WWII where he *blew up* whole Nazi bases! Not to mention that if he hated killing, he would not have enlisted in the first place. This definitely was Gru preaching, and while I agree with that morality for superheroes, it doesn’t make sense to Retcon Cap this way.”

Of course Gruenwald knew this. The “no killing” thing was forced on him by the higher-ups.

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