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CSBG Archive

The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Maybe Investigate More Next Time Someone Shows You a Video of Your Girlfriend Dying

Every Saturday, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today we look at the death and life of Sharon Carter.

Enjoy!

In Captain America #217, Sharon Carter was written out of the book by Roy Thomas, through Steve Rogers going on a search for his past mixed with a misunderstanding on Sharon’s part…

(the woman who kisses Cap was a bad guy whose job was to get close to Cap in a plot that really didn’t end up going anywhere)

The next we hear about Sharon is in #231 (during Roger McKenzie’s stint on the book) where we learn that she was brainwashed by some neo-Nazis…

In #232 we see her in action…

In #233, we discover that the Neo-Nazis come with self-destructive incendiary devices, so Cap doesn’t know if Sharon was one of the agents who self-combusted…

Cap goes looking for Sharon. He discovers that the bad guys have made a robot copy of her…

This is an important point to note. THEY MADE AN EXACT ROBOT COPY OF HER, PEOPLE!!

So Cap eventually stops the bad guys (as it turned out, Dr. Faustus, the evil expert in psychological warfare, was behind the Neo-Nazis), but then gets some bad news the following issue (#237 with a script by McKenzie and a plot by Chris Claremont, of all people) – Sharon WAS one of the brainwashed people who set themselves on fire…

So he sees on videotape Sharon burn up – when he has seen a robot copy of her from the same bad guys, who happen to be run by an expert in psychological warfare!!! And he just accepts it? WEIRD!!

Anyhow, over 200 issues later, in Captain America #445, Cap meets a familiar face…

Later, we learn that SHIELD faked her death to cover up a mission she was on, but then “burned” her afterwards. Eventually we learn that Nick Fury thought that she died on the undercover mission, so he figured it was better to have Cap think that she was dead from the first thing rather than tell him that THAT death was faked but she died on a DIFFERENT mission (which actually does make sense).

Thank goodness for her return! And I can’t believe it took that long to happen.

41 Comments

That page where Cap learns of Sharon’s death is a classic!

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it weird in the flashbacks of Captain America #445, Sharon looks completely normal, but when she shows up on the very next page, she has a crazy 90s body (complete with seemingly gravity-defying hair)?

yea, women never change their looks.

Well, he does kinda just let her go off without bothering to tell her that he’d only just met this strange woman kissing him, so not being terribly broken up over her “death”….

Oh, wait, he had some “heavy things” to work out. She should have known better….

And he was SO confident that the “receptionist” that looked exactly like Sharon was just a robot, he casually decapitated her. Imagine if it had just been Sharon under heavy hypnosis? “Oops, I guess all the blood means that WASN’T a robot. Sorry, honey!”

While Cap 445 is “over 100 issues” after the video scene, it’s even over 200 issues later, just to point out HOW long it was.

Ah, Waid’s Cap run. So cool.

Lamest death scene ever. What is it about SHIELD and its agents anyway? Sharon, Nick, Val, Clay, and virtually all of the original supporting cast has been “mistakenly” presumed to be deceased at one point or another.

Sharon was dead for the entirety of my comic reading days. She was long gone when I first started reading and she only turned up right after I had quit! No previous writer had ever thought of undoing this whole mess with the videotape up to Mark Waid’s run. I guess nobody cared for Sharon very much during the Lee/Kirby years until Waid got to her. Now look at Brubaker’s run and see how badass she’s become.

Thank you, Mark & Ed.

This one was indeed embarassing, and kudos for Waid for following so well on the matter.

It is obvious that Roy Thomas did not know what to do with Sharon, so he sent her away is as ambiguous a way as possible. Never mind the death scene itself – I figured that by the time Faustus was captured, Sharon would make herself known, so it is Sharon’s absence that has been hurting Cap and the video is just the last straw.

But the main problem is that the Sharon-Veda scene is so contrived and awkward. Steve literally runs into Veda the moment he leaves his apartment. And it just so happens that she knows of his secret identity AND has a strong crush on him AND knows that he is looking for answers about his past right now AND is conveniently in immediate need of a hero rescue?

She might as well knock at his door and politely ask if he would be so kind as to voluntarily accompany her to the trap that the Corporation has so painstakingly set up for him. Seriously. For a good while I was in doubt if Steve was thinking just that.

No one seemed quite sure what to do with Cap in those days. I have already said how tentative Jack Kirby’s run was, and these issues are basically attempting to establish a new status quo. I can only assume that Roy Thomas wanted to postpone dealing with Sharon until they figured something out. Sharon’s death _was_ a moving story at the time, and all the more so because Cap was in such shacky grounds on his personal life and even identity. By the time he met Peggy, he and Sharon were well past due a very serious and probably very awkward conversation about what they meant to each other, and there was no actual information on whether they even tried to have such a conversation. It was all so much open in the air, with the Hulk-Corporation crossover keeping the action fast and furious and also buying time for them to think of something.

In fairness, the way it’s set up is that Cap watches Sharon burn for a long time after we see it initially. Presumably Cap watched a human being burn. (Of course I’m going with the assumption that human beings and robots burn quite differently…) It does seem odd he’s willing to accept the evidence of a video in a world of life model decoys and robots, but if he watched a *human being burn* it’s kind of understandable.

Who on earth did that 90s artwork?

Rom Garney. And his run with Waid was outstanding.

Cap 445 lists:

Penciller:
Ron Garney

Inker:
Scott Koblish

Grrrr..Sorry about the double info! I even hit refresh a few times before hitting “Publish”…..

I love Waid’s run on Cap, probably the time I enjoyed the book the most (although I’ll freely admit to never being a diehard Captain America reader). Sharon was always one of my favorite parts of that run, too. She was a fun, snarky character and I liked the complex relationship she and Steve had at the time.

I agree with Chad Walters about the #445 artwork.

It isn’t just a character changing her looks, flashback Sharon could easily be a different person entirely. The next page Sharon has 90′s hair, a 90′s body, a 90′s face, and a 90′s pose, while flashback Sharon has none of those things.

That’s some interesting hair Sharon has in that last page. I guess big 1980s hairstyles survived far into the 90s in comic books? Sharon must have used a whole can of Aqua Net to achieve that look.

can not believe when marvel decided they needed sharon to fake her death as a mission for shield they screwed it up after all wouldn’t nick fury check and confirm she is really dead on the mission then deciding she is dead. before putting cap through all that heart break of losing his one true love.

Getting out of the ruins of the elevator shaft, Cap says he’s a man who expects the unexpected. Therefore, doing something so expected as using a robot like the one he’s already seen caught him off-guard.

Geez… that’s a lot of harsh criticism for a comic written in 1979 primarily for CHILDREN and not adults. I’d know – I was 7 when I read it and still have it. Get a grip guys.

I still remember that death scene and being blown away by it (a character actually died – something that RARELY happened back then!) In addition, even my 7 yr old brain could tell that was a mechanical Sharon Nurse (backed up by the caption box as well!! – tongue in cheek) plus this Cap didn’t make mistakes – he could tell if the movements were mechanical or not. It was 1979!

Everyone seems to forget that prior to Waid and Raney’s run, Sharon Carter was by and large, a pretty lame two-dimensional spy/ damsel-in-distress character that really didn’t serve much of a purpose outside of being rescued and causing emotional angst. Outside of the early Kirby Baron Zemo/ Black Panther storyline and the Sleepers one I can’t really think of any storyline in which she appeared in a interesting manner. In fact, I found her quite annoying and a drag (the constant whining). Her death was a great way to remove her from the equation and eventually have Bernie Rosenthal eventually appear front and center – an excellently written character that featured in some excellent storylines by J. M. DeMatteis.

I can see that you did not read Steve Englehart’s Cap, Jamie. While his Sharon Carter was not particularly interesting or original, it was years ahead of the characterization provided by either Stan Lee, Jack Kirby or, well, anyone else. That Sharon was much, much more interesting than the one in Tales of Suspense.

Suggestion for the column — The Many Deaths of Madame Masque. Whitney Frost was supposedly killed and replaced by another woman just after Armor Wars. The “new” Madame Masque made one or two appearances over the next three years, then vanished from comics for half a decade. A woman calling herself “Masque” showed up during Avengers: The Crossing, but became a dangler after Onslaught hit. When Iron Man returned after Heroes Reborn, dead Whitney Frosts started showing up everywhere that first year. ANOTHER year or so later, The Nefaria Protocols crossover finally revealed Whitney never died, but was a paranoid nutcase hiding in a bunker and sending bio-doubles out into the world as her proxies.

I’m still curious about the world where a comic featuring neo-Nazis who use incendiary devices to commit mass suicide is “written…primarily for CHILDREN.”

I would be frightened to meet those children.

Actually Luis I’ve been reading Captain America for 37 years and have a complete collection of Tales of Suspense and Captain America (Vol 1 – to recent ones). I’ve read each comic several times over the last three to four decades. I’ve read Englehart’s excellent run and Lee/ Kirby’s and still believe Sharon Carter was essentially a two-dimensional character in both writer’s approaches. However, my positive memories of the character primarily stem from the Lee/ Kirby issues I previously mentioned.

That’s alright Omar, we tend to stay in our mom’s basements :)

I think what people are missing in the ’90s version of Sharon looking different from the earlier version is that it’s deliberately done to show that Sharon IS different now. Just read how she’s describing herself back then — “little fluffbrain”. While it’s probably a goofy comics visual depiction of a change like that, it is a way to show she’s more “in control” or “tougher” now. I’d say the visual change was deliberate, and nicely (but apparently subtly) done.

Looking at those pages again, it’s interesting that Steve’s mom looks a LOT like Sharon (or vice versa). Another subtle Waid/Garney look at Cap’s psychology?

@ Omar Karindu

What a silly statement. You can be as curious as you like but the fact remains that in 1979 most comic readers (including my 7yr old self) were children. A lot of teenagers and young men, but primarily children.

So, were you scared of all those children watching Star Wars in 1976 when Luke Skywalker ended up killing millions of people on the Death Star? You better stay indoors ’cause there’s millions of those kids out there today, all grown up.

Yeah, I get that the change in appearance is supposed to indicate that she is no longer the ‘fluffbrain’ that was mostly just Cap’s girlfriend. Except, her new poofy crazy-do does make her look more like a fluffbrain, albeit a cranky one. I didn’t read her return… was she also in some kind of cryogenic suspension during her missing years? That could explain the 80s do living on so very long into the 1990s. Wish artists would stop trying to equate big bad hair for a woman as being a big badass.

I’ve always thoght it was regrettable that Mark Waid was booted of Captain America to make way for “Heroes Reborn” before he could go into the specific details of what really happened to Sharon Carter when her death was faked, and who exactly was behind the deception (Faustus, Fury someone else?) that fooled Cap for so many years.

Jamie: And you still haven’t actually addressed my point about the content. The audience may or may not have been mostly children. (Marvel’s writers in the period seem to have thought they were writing for college-aged readers, based on their statements then and in years since.) The stories were about things that were not just for children.

@ Omar Karindu

“I’m still curious about the world where a comic featuring neo-Nazis who use incendiary devices to commit mass suicide is “written…primarily for CHILDREN.”

I would be frightened to meet those children”.

Mr. Karindu, check out an earlier column where I pointed out how Max Allan Collins reacted to Selina Kyle as a prostitute. I posted Collins’ comments in another column by Greg Hatcher. Collins notes the trend of inappropriate themes for children’s entertainment. This Cap story fits his comments.

(However, what Collins may not have noticed in 1987, when he made some of those comments in Amazing Heroes#119, had to do with the fact that gradually, franchises that derive from children’s entertainment, such as the Flash Gordon derived Star Wars, would come to dominate media more. Collins said this in 1987, after Rambo: First Blood Part II but prior to the disappointing Rambo III. Lethal Weapon II did quite well in 1989, but after 1992, increasingly fewer R-rated films would appear in the list of top-grossing films.)

Sharon went from looking capable in her flashback to looking like a generic scowl-faced 90s design.

At the time, it might have been meant to make her look more capable. But post-90s, it actually looks the reverse. More like she went from capable to deranged nutjob possible villain.

More like she went from capable to deranged nutjob possible villain.

She’s supposed to look like she might be a possible villain, since we’re not supposed to know for sure yet that she IS a good guy.

Here she is by the end of Waid/Garney’s run…

Thinking of “Captain America” death scenes that were later reversed, I was just wondering: Did Jeff Parker ever explain how the Yellow Claw’s great-niece Suwan returned as the Jade Claw in “Agents of ATLAS,” when she crumbled to dust in Captain America #167? I suppose it’s easily explained that the Suwan we saw die in Englehart’s storyline wasn’t the real one (which would also explain the Yellow Claw’s indifference to killing her), but I don’t know whether there’s been an “official” explanation or not. That might be a good subject for a future “Abandoned an’ Forsaked.”

[...] scene, it's even over 200 issues later, just to point out HOW long it was … Read more on Comic Book Resources hopfeed_template=''; hopfeed_align='LEFT'; hopfeed_type='IFRAME'; hopfeed_affiliate_tid=''; [...]

@ Omar Karindu

I replied to your comment – I highlighted how silly it was to believe a children’s comic from 1979 apparently resulted in a generation of adults you might be afraid to meet. Is the subject material controversial for 1979? Maybe – but I certainly didn’t notice it myself when I was 7yrs old. Nor did I notice how supposedly controversial it was several issues later when Captain America featured a flashback issue in which he freed a number of holocaust victims from a death camp in Nazi Germany. All I read was that Cap kicked ass, looked cool, and unfortunately, sometimes the good guys die. And I learned how horrible some people can be to each other, but in Cap’s case how noble they could also be. But bottom line: Cap was cool. Did it have some kind of effect on me that would result in me becoming some kind of child you would be laughably “scared to meet?” Hardly. Unless you find 7 yr old boys who like throwing plastic garbage bins at each other when they play Captain America “scary.”

Would I let my 7yr old read this Cap comic? Sure I would. Just like it’s fine for him to read Grimm’s Fairy Tales, watch Star Wars, Star Wars Clone Wars, and Horrible Histories. If you think reading a comic like this results in some kind of “scary child” then I suggest you get out in the real world and see what really creates one. As a Primary School Teacher I can assure you that it’s not a Captain America comic from 1979.

@ Jamie

Mr. (I will presume this poster has the gender of the Karindu from Doctor Strange) Karindu may have written facetiously. That said, his comments did remind me of Max Allan Collins’ notes about topicality in children’s entertainment, and how Collins found that overcompensation for Adam West.

Jamie, if you’re making the argument that you’re not the type of person who Omar should worry about, it’s possible that you’re taking the wrong tactic.

Oh for heaven’s sakes. Jamie seems to be mistaking his age (and the alleged age of comics’ readership) for the *intended* readership. That is, just because he read it at 7 doesn’t mean it was read by primarily children or that it was written for him as a 7 year old. I learned to read on Spider-Man comic books around age 3 but even then recognized that the themes and language were a lot different than what was being offered in “age-appropriate” books in class. If Thomas, Stern, Lee et al. were writing for a 1st grade audience, they weren’t doing a very good job of it.

@PB210 – you forgot the Rambo cartoon/toyline, just to bring things full circle on the “adult/children’s entertainment in the marketplace” continuum.

“RAMBO…THE FORCE OF FREEEEDOM!”

Mel House-the Rambo films of the 1980′s did not feature nudity, and usually would try to keep bloodshed down, cutting away (as I recall).

Also, look at Stallone’s filmography prior to 1986 and after 1975; he mostly made PG or PG-13 films (his boxing films, Victory, Rhinestone, etc.).

[...] scene, it's even over 200 issues later, just to point out HOW long it was … Read more on Comic Book Resources RAW Week: Interviews with Douglas Rushkoff, RU Sirius, David Jay Brown, Phil … David: My [...]

I disagree Jamie, Sharon was a badass and I was glad that Waid brought her back. She’s been excellent in Brubaker’scrun too…

Bad Retcon. Sharon Carter should have stayed dead.

Would love to know the backstory behind the original death. Maybe Carter was originally supposed to burn right in front of Cap’s eyes, but it was vetoed because the graphic sight of a woman burning to death was deemed offensive and they had to do the videotaped death. Yeah, we saw the male agents burn, but I imagine back in 1979 there were certain scenes of violence you could do to a grown man, but doing the same thing to women and children was not allowed.

Mel House

January 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm

@PB210 – you forgot the Rambo cartoon/toyline, just to bring things full circle on the “adult/children’s entertainment in the marketplace” continuum.

“RAMBO…THE FORCE OF FREEEEDOM!”

====================================================================================

Actually, since nudity did not stand as a hallmark of the Rambo franchise in the 1980′s, that does not stand as odd as having Conan as a hero for children. After all, some of the Conan covers in the 1930′s had nudity.

http://www.goodsearch.com/searchimage.aspx?keywords=Conan+AND+%22Margaret+Brundage%22+AND+covers

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