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CSBG Archive

Five Goofiest Moments in Captain America #116-120

Every week, I’ll examine the five goofiest moments from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book series. Here is a list of the moments featured so far.

This week, we look at Captain America #116-120, written by Stan Lee, penciled by Gene Colan and inked by Joe Sinnott (and yes, the art is as good as that combo sounds).

As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Not only were these writers certainly never imagining people still reading these comics decades after they were written, 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

These two bits are more cute than goofy, but still, seeing Stan Lee stick with the times is still pretty funny…

(Amusingly enough, as I am writing this, I am listening to Warren Zevon’s “Tenderness on the Block,” which has the extremely dated line, “She was wide-eyed/Now she’s street-wise/To the lies/And the jive talk”)

As a rule, whenever Cadavus shows up in a group of issues, I simply HAVE to feature his…MURDER CHAIR!!!

Oh man, do I love the murder chair.

Anyhow, in Captain America #116, the set-up is that the Red Skull has used the Cosmic Cube to switch bodies with Cap. So now Cap is in the Red Skull’s body trying to evade the police as he travels to the Avengers to see if they can help him. The Avengers are monitoring the situation, but Wasp has other ideas…

Stan and the Wasp tended to be a strange mix.

After “Cap” treats Rick Jones like crap, Rick decides to leave Cap. This scene involves the always hilarious conceit of people carrying around autographed pictures of their friends…and they’re often really weird pictures that don’t even make sense (like Cap giving Rick a photo of just his head in the corner of the photo and then the rest of the paper is blank…)

Okay, so Red Skull figures it would be cool to see Sharon Carter kill Cap (who, again, is in the Red Skull’s body). Ed Brubaker picked up on this idea decades later by the Skull using Carter to seemingly kill Cap. Anyhow, she is stopped by….love?!

How does that make any sense here? She loves the Red Skull?

5. Now, Mr. Bond, let me explain my plan to you….

In #117, the Red Skull has transported Cap to an island that the Skull’s former pals, the Exiles, were, well, exiled to. So the Skull is watching the Exiles put a beating on Cap (who the Exiles believe is the Red Skull) and just before the finishing touches, the Skull decides to…stop watching?!

Huh!?

4. The oddest brainwashing you’ll see…

So in #120, Cap (who is now back in his own body) goes to visit Nick Fury to find out information about where Sharon Carter is. Nick Fury, in turn, decides to take the opportunity to…brainwash Cap into doing a mission for SHIELD?!?!

The goofiest thing is at the end of the issue, Cap goes to report back in!!!! As if Stan forgot that Cap didn’t do the mission on his own accord…

3. Brilliant plan, MODOK!

Okay, so on that mission in Cap #120, Cap shows up for a job at a college and saves a teacher who is being harassed by student protesters.

By the way, I love that everyone in the Marvel Universe knows the leading authority on atomic equations.

So anyhow, the protests are getting a bit out of hand…

I love that line. Said as he punches some other dude.

Anyhow, as it turns out, Grizzly and the other guy are working for AIM and MODOK, who are using the protests as a diversion to kidnap the professor (man, if you can’t trust a guy named Grizzly, who CAN you trust?)….

Grizzly and no-name take the professor to the roof. I love the fact that it took the professor this long to realize that they were not normal protesters…

They try to escape in their mini-copter, but Cap takes care of business…

Cap then spent the next three issues wallowing in depression over killing Grizzly and no-name. Oh wait, no he didn’t, I forgot that I was talking about Captain America for a sec. Instead, Cap just went on with his life.

1 (tie). Wait, this thing’s a MASK?!?

A tie is a bit of a cop-out, but the bit I would have at #2 would only make sense AFTER seeing the #1 bit, so it makes more sense to put them together as one bit.

Okay, so as I mentioned, the Red Skull switches bodies with Cap. So Cap (in Skull’s body) goes on the run for over an issue. Repeat that – OVER AN ISSUE!!!

And then, after MORE THAN AN ISSUE, he realizes, “Oh yeah, this is a mask”…

Then Cap ratchets the goofiness up a notch with his expert “making disguises out of clay on the ground” skills!!!

That’s some goofy stuff.

To cap it off, the next issue, the Skull takes a whole other issue longer than Cap to figure out the mask thing….

“Oh wait! I didn’t wear a mask! How odd that I didn’t recall that!”

Too funny.

44 Comments

How does that make any sense here? She loves the Red Skull?

Okay, while I admit it’s hokey as hell, the “logic” behind it isn’t really that hard to follow as you make it out to be. The idea is that even in the Red Skull’s body, you can’t disguise Steve Roger’s noble spirit, his basic aura of goodness shines through even when you transport his mind into the body of the Red Skull. That’s what Sharon loves, not the Red Skull himself.

That said, it’s still goofy I agree. Especially since Stan did that same shtick with Reed and Doctor Doom in Fantastic Four just a few years earlier.

When these issues came out I was a freshman in high school had my one and only subscription to a Marvel comic (they folded them in half long-wise and creased then with the power of Thor so the seam never flattened out!) and I recall being so disappointed when Gene Colan started drawing the book! To go from Steranko (to Kirby to Steranko) to Romita was bad enough. Jazzy Johnny just didn’t have the Kirby power, nor the Steranko innovation. But then to go to Colan, whom I learned to like on Daredevil. again following Romita, but I just hated his rubbery soft plastic figure drawing. As to the goofyness within the writing, well that was standard issue those days. I do seem to raising a Spock-like eyebrow at the making a new face with clay thing!

Great stuff, Brian. Some comments:

1. The Skull’s mask: This has got to be the goofiest thing that I’ve read in a while. To be wearing a mask and not realize it…..

2. Cadavus and his murder chair: This is where goofy becomes awsome. Seriously.

3. And yet, amidst all this goofiness, we do get the Falcon, a great character. Of course, we do have to buy the very goofy notion that that a bunch of war criminals would hire a falcon trainer for their own amusement (Yes, I know that Englehart retconned this with his noxious “Snap Wilson” idea).

4. What, no goofy love for Baldini and his deadly scarf?

hilerious issues not only the red skull in caps body near the end freaking out over cap figuring out he is wearing a red skull mask since always thought the red skulls face was real but the avengers not thinking maybe something could be up with cap .not to mention the murder chair wonder if that is where marvel got the idea for modoks later floating look

Cadavus, Monarch of the Murder-Chair is so awesome.

“Cap then spent the next three issues wallowing in depression over killing Grizzly and no-name. Oh wait, no he didn’t, I forgot that I was talking about Captain America for a sec. Instead, Cap just went on with his life. ”

I don’t really get that statement. Is that referring to some later story that I haven’t read yet?

Nothing’s funnier than ’60s-era “the counterculture as dupes of super-villains” plots.

I was going to point out that the mask bit may not have been so goofy because I don’t think what Steve Rogers realization wasn’t that the Red Skull wore a mask, but rather he just realized that given mask, the Exiles may never have seen the Skull’s real face. That is, the fact that the Exiles may never have seen the Red Skull’s face is what he just realized, not that he was wearing a mask.

However the fact that he made an on the spot disguise out of clay made me realize, nope, forget it, it’s still goofy as hell anyway,

I just read the Fear Itself: Avengers trade that collected the issue with the Exiles most recent appearance. I was very disappointed that Bendis never had Cadavus mention his murder chair!

The idea of something about a person showing through even in a body swap situation crops up in a lot of stories, not just comics. Doesn’t mean it isn’t silly, but it isn’t exactly unexpected.

The Sharon Carter bit is fairly straghtforward, if somewhat poorly worded. The idea is that Steve’s pattern of speech and choice of words and subjects would be recognizable even after the body switch.

That university has a great hiring policy- ‘I haven’t looked at your resume, or checked your references, but you’re the first applicant, so the position is yours!’

The Red Skull telling himself the sigth of someone’s death is “too sordid” to watch is at least an echo of an earlier Lee story from Tales of Suspense where the Skull leaves the room after using mind-control to command his minion Wolfgang to shoot himself.

Somehow I never realized that the Yellowjacket costume went all the way back to the late ’60s. I always thought of it as a ’70s thing.

Those were pretty amusing! Say what you will about the classics and the writing of today, at least a lot of these goofs wouldn’t happen nowadays.

Those were pretty amusing! Say what you will about the classics and the writing of today, at least a lot of these goofs wouldn’t happen nowadays.

Chuck Austen’s X-Men and Avengers, Cry for Justice, Rise of Arsenal, Identity Crisis, Brad Meltzer’s Justice League and every single thing Jeph Loeb has written in his life are as goofy if not goofier than any of these in my opinion. So I can’t quite support that statement.

I don’t really get that statement. Is that referring to some later story that I haven’t read yet?

Yet suggests that you will read it in the future. I hope that you don’t.

Seeing Cap casually kill those guys in the copter and not think twice about it really pokes a hole in Mark Gruenwald’s Cap characterization as one who never kills ever, huh?

The Red Skull telling himself the sigth of someone’s death is “too sordid” to watch is at least an echo of an earlier Lee story from Tales of Suspense where the Skull leaves the room after using mind-control to command his minion Wolfgang to shoot himself.

This makes me wonder if this is a subtle yet deliberate part of Lee’s Red Skull characterization. For example in the Red Skull origin story the Red Skull seems to be depicted in the art as clearly shooting another soldier in front of Hitler, yet Lee’s dialogue makes it clear the Skull only shoots off his coat buttons. Maybe to Lee, the Skull is a person who is evil but at heart is such a coward he doesn’t have the stomach to get his hands dirty or view murder firsthand if he can avoid it?

The red and white AIM suits look a lot better than the plain yellow. Why hasn’t anyone brought this version back?

There’s some great work with shadows in the art. Man that writing is awful/excellent though.

See, I’d disagree with Mary about the color of AIM’s costumes. I like to think that someday they’ll embrace their beekeeper look and start tending robo-bees. Robo-bees that make world-dominating hypno-honey! Only they could embrace so many hyphens!

Man, I wouldn’t have thought it, but apparently Cap is a soul brother. Hey now!

Wait, there’s a character with a murder chair? Damn!

And then Fury has Cap sit in a “slumber seat”? Whoa? Anyone wonder if Stan had to go shopping with the Mrs. a lot around that time? Or maybe bought a bunch of chairs and had to figure out a way to write them off on his taxes?

I think the Skull not looking is simply that goofy trope of villains assuming that their plans to kill others will work flawlessly, even (or especially) if it’s some technology or some goons doing the actual dirty work. What’s always fun about it is that they NEVER LEARN! “Ach, I’ve had the Captain in my clutches so many times before, and almost killed him, but he’s escaped each time. Should I take the extra 2 minutes to be sure he’s dead?

“Nein, I need a coffee.”

Although I do like T’s notion that Stan was doing it deliberately. It’s certainly possible.

That brainwashing is awesome. Is that supposed to be a guitar in the upper left? Why does it have just 3 strings? Or is it an electric banjo, the music of which I could TOTALLY see brainwashing someone.

That does totally rule that Steve just walks in and gets a job at that college. He’s using an alias, too!

Didn’t those fighting protestor kids later set up in an old clothing store and had a dummy that came to life? :)

While the mask bit is goofy (and again, T’s explanation about Cap makes sense), it also fits in with the characterization of the Skull — he’s so high and mighty on himself, but remember, he was just, what, a bellboy? Hitler made a mistake in giving him any power, because he’s really pretty stupid, and something that should occur to an intelligent person doesn’t occur to him.

If MODOK tried the body switch trick, would he have gone “wait, he won’t be able to leave that room, he’s a GIANT HEAD!”? No, he would not!

The bit about Sharon is indeed an issue popular in fiction: if you really love someone you’ll recognize him/her through any disguise. Your SO is allowed to pout if you fail in this.

And I assume that once Fantastic Four achieved worldwide fame, physics became the new rock’n'roll and thus everyone knows the leading authority of atomic equations. Marvel Universe makes more sense with that assumption.

Did the comic actually SHOW Grizzly and No-Name dead? Because in the excerpt here, they merely fall 10 or 20 feet to the rooftop. Maybe they were thrown clear of the exploding copter, and Cap saw them survive. Injured, to be sure, but not dead.

If you’re going only by this excerpt, there’s basically no evidence that Cap killed anyone. Hence no need for any soul-searching.

10-20 feet is still enough to kill you.

- to be fair, Cap, Falcon, and Hendrix would be a pretty cool comic

- great art on all of those issues

5. I don’t think it was actually hypnosis, I think Fury was just explaining his fancy new chair. The assertive line before telling Cap to press the button, and what he’d said to Dugan were probably because he certainly knew that seeing Sharon in danger would quickly and easily cause him to jump into action.

4. Red Skull knows that true victory is brushing aside a great task with a Final Fantasy win pose.

3. As far as we like to think we’ve come, in 2012 you’re just as likely to see someone that looks or sounds like Mart Baker’s crew. Although, Grizzly would have made a great recurring henchman. Brubaker should bring him back.

randypan the goatboy

January 23, 2012 at 7:19 am

To be honest after watching the Captain America movie and [years earlier mind you] reading the issue of captain America where the Red skull cloned Caps body and …uhhh transfered his soul or something and sucked down some demon dust and had his own face destroyed and transformed into a …DUN DUN DUN….. a Red Skull[ as luck would have it]. I just kind of forgot about the Red Skull mask bit. I also prefer the Skull being an evil asskicker to his DR Evil bit from the early days. Who am I to argue with Stan Lee and jack kirby though?

Does anybody else thing Cap’s clay disguise kinda looks like Mick Jagger?

I like this column. I enjoy seeing moments that you find that highlight some of the more ridiculousness of comic books. However, the honorable mentions do annoy me. You have a column to talk about the 5 goofiest moments, but then list ten counting the honorable mention. Why not just make it the ten goofiest moments. For that matter, why even limit yourself with a number at all. It could just be a more general goofiest moments. Either way would still function the same as the column does now, but wouldn’t not seem like you are copping out by not putting half of them in order.

“I just kind of forgot about the Red Skull mask bit.”
I think these issues prove even the writers do. Having seen some of the Golden Age issues, I noticed that while the mask is established in his first appearance, the artists tended to draw him as if the skull were simply his face anyway — with an impossibly wide flapping jaw and the like.

AS beat me to the punch but if atomic equations could make you into an all-powerful god, they’d keep more in the public’s eye. Although if Fosgrave really was the world expert, wouldn’t he have powers (or is he the one scientist in the Marvel Universe who doesn’t experiment on himself?)

See, I’d disagree with Mary about the color of AIM’s costumes. I like to think that someday they’ll embrace their beekeeper look and start tending robo-bees. Robo-bees that make world-dominating hypno-honey! Only they could embrace so many hyphens!

At the very least, AIM should strike up an ongoing alliance with Swarm, the Nazi made of bees.

“This scene involves the always hilarious conceit of people carrying around autographed pictures of their friends…and they’re often really weird pictures that don’t even make sense (like Cap giving Rick a photo of just his head in the corner of the photo and then the rest of the paper is blank…)”

LOL. Can’t handle it… tooooo funny….

I have always thought it was rhidiculous and goofy on the Red Skull’s part that he was once again in possession of the Cosmic Cube, which hypotetically grants him the powers of God. And what does he do with it? Why, he spends five issues wasting it just tormenting Captain America. I realize the Skull is not the most rational of people, to say the least, and that he’s obsessed with humiliating Cap. But he really dropped the ball this time around.

At least in the Captain America movie the Red Skull came up with a much better, practical use for the Cube, i.e. powering up an entire arsenal of death ray weaponry for Hydra.

Why have I never heard of Cadavus and his Murder Chair before this article?

I’m in awe of Gene Colan and Joe Sinnot, as usual.
Murder chair, nuff said.

If you live in the Marvel universe you need to be in the know about all the top scientists because next week they might be a super hero.

Why have I never heard of Cadavus and his Murder Chair before this article?

As I recall, the Red Skull used the Exiles quite a bit as his henchmen in those days. They were with him when he briefly took over Latveria in Astonishing Tales but I believe it was on the Lee/Kirby Captain America issues where they first appeared.

Why have I never heard of Cadavus and his Murder Chair before this article?

As I recall, the Red Skull used the Exiles quite a bit as his henchmen in those days. They were with him when he briefly took over Latveria in Astonishing Tales but I believe it was on the Lee/Kirby Captain America issues where they first appeared.

I dunno, especially since you commented a few times on the Goofiest Moments installment where I last mentioned Cadavus (the Five Goofiest Moments in the First Five Doom Features in Astonishing Tales)!

Regarding #5 – I love the art. Now that is an evil laugh!!

Also, from #4, Fury uses the expression “working harder than a Trojan”. I’ve never heard of that.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Stan the Man did indeed forget that Cap had been brainwashed into perfroming that mission. That dude had a lot going on at that time!

I also love the way Cap gets the Phys Ed teacher job just because he’s the first applicant. Try doing that nowadays!

“No need to watch his final moments. Such sordid sights depress me.”

Really? Really?? Because in the previous panel you were possitively giddy over the idea. Didn’t look like you were seeing a sight that a little more of would depress you. Not to mention You’re A Nazi!!!

The making the mask out of clay is the worst though. It bugs me enough when super heroes pull some new power or variation out of their *** just when they need it (like the superman cellophane symbol, among many more). I could even accept them giving Steve Rogers some previously unspoken of skill from back in the war. IF it were something resembling a real skill, that was Ever Used by anyone.

“I learned to do this in the war”
Yeah, no other soldier in the war ever learned to do that. If Cap suddenly had ninja training, it would at least make more sense.

I just love how people are hired on a first-come-first-served basis in the Marvel universe.

“Well, good sir, I obviously don’t need to look at your cv or see if there’re more qualified candidates, the fact that you showed up first already proves that you’re the man for the job!”

Seeing Cap casually kill those guys in the copter and not think twice about it really pokes a hole in Mark Gruenwald’s Cap characterization as one who never kills ever, huh?

Why would someone, anyone join the army if they’re not willing to kill?

I never understood why people insist on this characterization for a guy whose military background is right there in his name.

He ain’t Pacifist America!

I think I’ll try walking down the street sometime in sapphire chainmail, gigolo pants, and welder’s gloves, tossing a glowing sugarcube in my hand. I’d like to know how it feels like to be a hero. I’m pretty sure it’d feel like being tased from behind.

I don’t think I’m comfortable knowing that the Avengers can just tune in on drivers, Big Brother style, and watch them behind the wheel. “Oh, but we need to be able to do it to safeguard your liberty!” Isn’t Starfox an Avenger? I’d rather let the terrorists win than live out the remainder of my days knowing that at any moment, Starfox might be peeping me.

Thank god the Cosmic Cube has a fundamental imperfection like the Green Lantern Power Battery. And in fact, “love” as a weakness would probably lead to the most entertaining rogues gallery in all of comicdom. “I can pretty much battle Darkseid to a standstill, but I can’t do anything about Albert Fish.”

When Cap quit his job at Manning U. after four days because his girlfriend came back to town, I have to wonder how his exit interview went. “You know, we weren’t going to hire you, seeing as the background check indicates you were born in 1921, but that letter of recommendation from Nick Fury counted for a lot. Let me ask you, did you ever have any intention whatsoever of working until Friday?”

Does Modok dye his scalp to make that massive wrinkled abomination he calls a head look…well, not less horrible, but at least younger? That is sad beyond words.

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