web stats

CSBG Archive

I Love Ya But You’re Strange – The Time Captain America Tried to Win the War on Drugs

capicedisplay

Every installment of I Love Ya But You’re Strange I spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories. Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

Today we take a look at how Captain America tried to win the War on Drugs in Captain America #372-378 by Mark Gruenwald, Ron Lim and Danny Bulanadi…

Here’s possibly the oddest thing about this story – how it all began. Cap is just on regular patrol when he sees a member of the Serpent Society. The snake-themed villain, Boomslang, runs away from Cap and Cap pursues him. Boomslang then inadvertently runs right into a bunch of drug dealers who shoot him on sight…

capice1

I love how multi-cultural this particular gang is.

Cap arrests the gang members (but not before they accidentally shoot one of their own while trying to kill Cap). Cap returns to Avengers Mansion to learn that the Avengers handyman, Fabian Stankowicz, is acting strangely. As it turns out, Fabian is on drugs…

capice2

Dude is tripping HARD.

So Cap tells him he has to go into rehab, and then Fabian gets the party started by trying to “zing” Cap a bit…

capice3

There’s no “uh” about it, Cap. It’s flat out different. It’s a stupid comparison. Cap’s Super-Soldier-Serum is a “drug,” true, but so in Penicillin or Insulin or any number of perfectly normal, helpful drugs out there. You don’t tell an asthmatic who uses an inhaler that “you’re on drugs!!!” even though inhalers tend to literally contain steroids. The whole thing is silly.

HOWEVER, one of the things I loved about Mark Gruenwanld, and the only thing that keeps some of his odder stories in the realm of I LOVE ya but you’re strange instead of just being awful stories, is the earnestness that Gruenwald told his tales. You obviously could tell the point that Gruenwald was trying to make and it was a noble one, even if it didn’t make any sense.

So Cap goes to the internet and decides to learn about drugs in a really odd little scene “It’s never occurred to me until now to find out about illegal drugs”…

capice4

Cap decides to solve the drug problem by tracking down Fabian’s drug dealer. However, after he finds their stash, it is blown up and Cap is accidentally exposed to the Ice, which basically begins to make Cap act irrationally, like when he flips out on Peggy Carter and Diamondback when he gets back to the Mansion after the explosion…

capice5

Diamondback (who was Cap’s girlfriend at the time) knows something is up, so she decides to go undercover to find out what his deal is. Her undercover outfit has to be seen to be believed…

capice6

She later explains that “undercover” meant “not recognizable as Diamondback.” It fails there, too, as if you want to make sure people don’t know it is Diamondback, perhaps you should lay off the Diamond motif. But at least that makes more sense than “this will make it easy to blend in.”

Cap’s war on drugs gets nuttier and nuttier as Cap gets more and more insane from the drug…

capice7

“Bock bock” should be Cap’s new battle cry.

capice8

“There’s never anything wrong with me!” is an awesome line.

Okay, so Cap is eventually captured by the Avengers and taken into custody. While out of it, he dreams about the Super Soldier Serum as Gruenwald continues to try to make a connection where there is none…

capice9

capice10

Since the Ice has bonded to his system, Hank Pym solves the problem by cycling out Cap’s blood entirely.

capice11

The end result is that Cap’s blood no longer has the Super Soldier Serum in it, so he is no longer super strong. He decides he must prove himself as Captain America without the Serum…

capice12

Throughout the storyline, a subplot has been a gang war between “normal” drug dealers controlled by the Kingpin and new drug dealers selling this new Ice drug controlled by the Red Skull. The Red Skull’s henchman, Crossbones, even gets into an awesome fight with Kingpin’s henchman, Bullseye (who also had a really awesome fight with Cap in the story – Gruenwald and Lim really did a great job on their battle – a really well-thought out sequence).

So in the last issue, the two villains decide to solve their dispute in the only way villains know how – strip into their underwear and fight it out…

capice13

capice14

capice15

I don’t think I can unsee Red Skull in a speedo.

Cap shows up at Yankee Stadium and ends up battling with Crossbones and in defeating him, Cap proves that he doesn’t need drugs to still be Captain America. Of course, the only reason Cap IS Cap is because he took the serum in the first place, but that’s apparently neither here nor there.

capice16

In the end, Cap is happy with just the war between Red Skull and the Kingpin being over (the Kingpin won their fight), even though that wasn’t what he set out to do in the beginning of the story, but I guess you take any win you can get.

So after everything settles down, Hank Pym offers Cap his Serum back. Cap says no, as he just says no to drugs…

capice17

Again, the whole thing is just ill-thought out, if noble in intention. The Super Soldier Serum has no negative side effects. It just makes you stronger. That’s it. That’s not at ALL the same thing as narcotics or even stuff like the steroids that athletes take. So taking this “say no to all drugs” approach is just foolish, as again, this would lump in medicine with narcotics and no one should want to do that.

As it turned out, Cap didn’t even get rid of the Serum, as detailed in this old edition of Abandoned an’ Forsaked.

Thanks to reader Will B. for suggesting that I feature this one. If you have suggestions for future editions of I Love Ya But You’re Strange, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com

62 Comments

I was wondering if you were going to get around to it! It’s not just the fact that the Kingpin and Red Skull strip to their underwear (and yes, Red Skull in a speedo is something one can’t unsee), but it’s also the fact they fight in Yankee Stadium!

I can just imagine Wilson Fisk calling George Steinbrenner on the phone, “George, this is the Kingpin of Crime. I need to borrow Yankee Stadium for a little while. What for? Well, the Red Skull is infringing on my drug territory so I’m going to strip down to my boxers and fight him. Can you watch? Only from the owner’s box, George.”

Man, I had forgotten all about the Kingpin and Skull’s underwear duel. Oh, Gruenwald…

The street slang, the underwear- am I on drugs right now?

This story is notable for another reason- it’s probably the last time the Kingpin was the unstoppable-by-anyone-without-super-strength powerhouse that he’s supposed to be.

Interesting how that drug’s effects change depending on who takes it. When that Fabian guy takes it, he starts having all these weird delusions, as if he’s taken a hallucinogen of some kind, but when Cap is exposed to it, it acts like a stimulant.

Also, this storyline featured a drug dealer stripping down to his briefs to take care of business twenty years before Breaking Bad did it.

It always bugged me that there was a miscommunication between colorist and artist in the scene with Cap laying in bed contemplating life without the serum. It looks like Ron Lim intended to have Cap’s white sleeves extend to his wrists, but the colorist colored Cap as if the sleeves went to the tops of his gloves. Just a little thing that annoys me.

I also love Cap talking about dungarees – reminds me of this WKRP conversation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFE31-GzjaY

And while I certainly have issues with Ron Lim’s artwork in hindsight, I do enjoy the way he draws a fight scene and I did really like his run on Cap.

I really disagree on your premise that the SSS is supposed to be “with no ill effects whatsoever”. That would put it straight into fantasy territory, which of course has always been an integral part of Captain America’s premise, but often very unconfortably so.

In real life there is no fine line separating medicine from harmful drugs. Just ask anyone married with a dependent on sleep disorder drugs.

Gruenwald, I feel, realized that and attempted to address that issue (and many others; his Cap run is a fascinating study case, as full of blunders as of good intentions). All things considered, it is one of his better efforts, but still badly hindered by a couple of ill choices. One is focusing in the supply side of drug use, when it makes far more sense to attack demand instead. Another is attempting to portray drug culture when he simply lacks the skill and probably the knowledged needed.

Truth be told, it IS a very difficult subject, in no small part due to the real life issues involved. Out of the top of my mind I simply don’t think anyone ever handled it better. Gruenwald’s effort is controversial, but it does not deserve to be. I have seen FAR worse in Miraclemen and in Charles Burns’ Black Hole, among others – but the public acceptance of those comics is far better, perhaps unfairly so.

It is an utterly silly premise, that the super-soldier serum is ‘a drug’, and it’s equally silly and non-nonsensical when we see it in other places, like DC’s Hourman. This kind of foolishness is what happens when a ‘message’ is mandated to appear because of the political/social climate of the time, instead of naturally occurring within the story structure, and it rings just as false as the various messages we got in 80’s cartoons.

Unfortunately many writers seem to like using Cap as a foil for anything that goes against the common grain, and it rings false with his character. The above silliness is a good example, or his telling the Young Avengers to take off their costumes, go home and be normal kids.

To be fair, Cap’s treatment of the Young Avengers can be justified by what happened to Bucky.

I wonder what happened to the filtrated serum Cap refused. I wonder if it still lies in a drawer at Pyms place waiting for someone to nick it and become another captain america clone.

Willie Everstop

June 8, 2014 at 9:59 am

Just Say No to the medicine that has kept you alive all these years.

How many people died because Captain America was too tired to properly tie up Crossbones and too winded to chase down the Red Skull? Cap must have been on drugs when he came up with that idea.

Yeah the speedo scene doesn’t quite work the way Batman stripping down to fight R’as did.
Luis, I think arguing “in real life it would have to have bad effects” would be like arguing “in real life Oracle can’t possibly hack everything” or “in real life Punisher would have shot down lots of innocent people.” It’s not real and I doubt anyone has been inspired to get misconceptions about drugs from reading Cap’s adventures. And of course it’s not just a drug injection–there are the vita-rays and everything else that went with it (hmm, come to think of it crazy 1950s Cap was, in fact, the result of someone incorrectly administering the super-soldier serum. And didn’t some of Isaiah Bradley’s fellow guinea-pigs die from it?).
This feels like someone raised the issue to Gruenwald (“Cap’s on steroids, man!”) and he decided they were right. And did so badly, to boot, but I will give him credit for pointing out that lots of people have taken the serum by now and none of them turned into another Cap, ergo he’s not just the product of a laboratory.

I do love the bit where Skull is offering an alliance to Kingpin but Kingpin shows he does have a moral code by refusing to ally himself with a Nazi. Shows how even most of the other Marvel bad guys can’t stand the Skull.

As pointed out above and in that “Abandoned” article, Gruenwald did realize he was taking the wrong approach with this and did a coda of the serum still in Cap and Cap openly thinking how silly it was to compare it to hard drugs so at least he realized his mistake.

Sigh, another example of Gruenwald attempting to handle a topic that was WAY out of his depth. But I gotta love the panel where Cap keeps saying bock bock bock!

The posted scans reminded me of Batman: Venom that was about drugs as well. I’m too lazy to check which was earlier, this story or the Batman’s one, but what is more important that both stories had similar morals, as defeating seemingly impossible obstacles relying on your own strength,and of course, saying no to drugs as well.

Anti-drugs campaign was really popular in the 90s, and was promoted among various subcultures, for example I have some cds from that era with the “stop the madness” (anti-drugs campaign) logo on it.
I also remember having A LOT of lectures in the school done by people who either worked with junkies, or were “former” junkies themselves. It seemed to be a really really huge problem.

@Fraser- Gruenwald has said the story was in response to a fan suggestion. Not every fan idea is a good one.

was wondering when this story would show up here for it was kind of messed up from the beginings since it took cap so long to relize that in a way the super solider serum was a drug . plus that mark almost a little spoiler warning of some of the story had him beat daredevil to death while on ice and also get brain damage from black widow. not to mention the red skull vs kingpin in their underwear trying to be top drug lord.

I love the fact that the Gru gets a reprieve on his bad ideas and scripts, just like Jack Kirby. He deserves it because of his lack of cynicism and real love for the characters.

Luis Dantas:”I really disagree on your premise that the SSS is supposed to be “with no ill effects whatsoever. That would put it straight into fantasy territory,”

Which is the point; the super-soldier serum is fantasy. Just like Green Lantern’s power ring or Hawkman’s Nth metal.

Luis Dantas:”In real life there is no fine line separating medicine from harmful drugs. Just ask anyone married with a dependent on sleep disorder drugs.”

And in real life getting belted with gamma rays will not turn you into 1,000 pounds of raging fury, getting dosed with chemicals that have been hit with lightning won’t give you super-speed, etc.

So many things wrong with this one:

1. As you pointed out Brian, the multi-racial street gang: This one was really odd, as criminal organizations tend to run on ethnic/racial lines.

2.The needle: Man, the line of reasoning here is just insane:” Wait, he’s going to inject me. With a hypodermic needle. But junkies use hypodermic needles to inject heroine…..Therefore hypodermic needles are bad(?).”

3. Drugs are bad: This has to be the most Manichean comic that I have ever read. There is no attempt at nuance; no attempt to differentiate between different types of drugs, proper and improper use of drugs, etc.

4. Mistakenly equating the super-soldier serum for a drug in the first place:And, of course, as Gru himself realized a few issues later, the super-soldier serum (if we are taking it at all seriously) isn’t a drug. A drug would have been fully metabolized by now. Hence, the fact that Cap is still reaping the benefits of the serum years after being exposed indicates that the super-soldier process is actually a form of genetic engineering.

I always find it really funny to see writers attempt to show our heroes high or inebirated when the writers themselves have no idea what typical high behavior is like. Like, when Micheliene showed Tony,Stark getting drunk, it was ridiculous and unintentionally hilarious.

Gruenwald’s run was such a cheesy throwback even at the time, and then you compare it with Brubaker’s run, which was only ten years later, in which Crossbones spends an entire Cap-less issue torturing an unwilling girl into becoming his psychotic sex-slave (a crime which neither Cap nor Bucky ever bother to investigate or rectify, of course), and it’s pretty jarring. Marvel fell a long way in a short amount of time.

Great article and great series. This comic goes beyond “strange” and is easing up to “insane”.

I don’t want to nitpick, but I’ve got to point out that the steroids included in asthma inhalers (corticosteroids) and the steroids that athletes and actors use to increase their strength and mass (androgens) couldn’t be more different. They are not the same class of chemicals.

And then there’s the assumption that “drugs are the nations’ number one” problem, which was always debatable. Particularly given that “drugs” includes pot, heroin, oxycontin, LSD and a variety of other drugs of varying levels of lethality. And that alcohol kills more people.
Regarding Boomslang, I noticed rereading the second Harry Potter book that at one point they need boomslang skin as an ingredient. I wonder how many kids assumed that it was a mythical creature rather than a real world snake.

Duff McWhalen

June 8, 2014 at 7:41 pm

This thing was already off the rails by the time we got to the codename of “Boomslang.”

I agree with Kabe. Where this story should have quickly crumbled under the weight of its own stupidity, Gru is a likable writer and it ends up being pretty fun in a genuine yet ridiculous way. I re-read it from time to time.

I have always loved Cap’s snarky response to the Kingpin: “I’ll see to it they make you a blimp in the Thanksgiving Day Parade.” :)

The Angry Internet

June 8, 2014 at 9:58 pm

1. As you pointed out Brian, the multi-racial street gang: This one was really odd, as criminal organizations tend to run on ethnic/racial lines.

Check out some ’80s action movies, this sort of thing was ubiquitous in them.

Travis Pelkie

June 9, 2014 at 12:02 am

Man, I was hoping “thoroughly searched for weapons” was going to mean a Kingpin/Red Skull cavity search. Ew!

Well, the nuance that some of you are saying isn’t there IS there, right on that page where Cap is looking things up on the computer. He ponders the effects of the Serum, the idea that it’s a drug, and that it is different from recreational drugs. Why Gru went on to make Cap decide he didn’t want the Serum back and all is odd, but there is some subtlety here.

From what I recall, Gru himself was a pretty straight edge guy, which was part of why it was SO shocking that he died as young as he did.

As Brian says, since this is presented so heartfelt and with obvious “drugs are a bad problem, superheroes should acknowledge it and fight it” message that even though the story is dumb, the intentions are good and really, it’s not like it’s terrible if Cap is anti-drug, is it? If a superhero being definitively anti-drug bothers you too much, maybe rethink your own position, huh?

I do so hope that Brian was inspired to feature this one based off my comment on the “problems Cap and the nation face in the ’80s” column from a few days back. My comments about Cap’s Serum were actually inspired by comments made by our pal Luis et al, probably on the column linked to above. Cap’s a f#$%in’ junkie, man!

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

June 9, 2014 at 12:53 am

This is actually one of the few Captain America comics I read as a kid. Daredevil and Bullseye appeared in the story, so that was cool, but other than that I remember being underwhelmed even back then.

I recently read another one of Gruenwald’s Cap stories (my loval library has the oddest TPB selection). That one involved Cap getting a new costume with more pouches and teaming up with Jack Flag (only familiar to me for getting horribly beaten in Warren Ellis’ Thunderbolts) to fight an evil feminist who was teamed up with Nazis.

The point being, I must have really terrible luck with random sampling since Gruenwald’s Cap seems to be considered one of the classic Marvel runs, yet both of these storylines are just painful.

I’ve always felt that this sort of topical arc is *at least* as good a source of material for this column as any Silver Age DC stuff. I honestly want to be able to give this one a pass, because Captain America Versus Drugs isn’t really that bad a concept, but there’s just so much superfluous weirdness on top of that.

I mean, seriously, what kind of thought process leads to coming up with “the Red Skull and the Kingpin settle a drug war between their organizations by having a fistfight in speedos” as a plot point?

Also, I love how the “That be the king of the costumes, man” gangster is apparently wearing a dressy shirt and tie.

Then again, Travis, is this is about the real world issue of drugs, why bother to come up with a newer, scarier, completely fictitious drug?
And his point while staring at the computer is that it’s actually a prototype steroid, and the big difference is that it has no side effects. That’s not that much nuance.
While it’s a side note, I had enjoyed Fabian Stenkowicz when he was a breathtakingly inept super-villain. Reforming him in Cap’s run never had a point that I could see.
By the way does anyone else remember the TV movies in which the Cap-creating drug “Flag” was identified as a “super-steroid?” (IIRC) You’d never stick a label like that on it today.

I re-red this storyline 2 nights ago and thought to myself “wow”, this just does not hold up.

As good as Mark Gruenwald’s run was there’s still more than a couple of WTF ? moments in em.

Now I just want to know what happened to poor Fabian. I actually liked the idea of a reformed super-villain as the Avengers’ handyman.

“no side-effects”… I guess the whole suspended animation thing was intentional then? And didn’t Cap have actual super-strength for a time that was linked to the serum? And… we could probably go on and on here. The serum was supposed to have a singular purpose (physical perfection) and it’s become a literal cure-all that writers use to explain anything they need done to Cap.

I feel like maybe it diminishes both Cap and Skull when Cap can barely survive taking down Skull’s lieutenant (yeah, just say no to that serum Steve, you obviously don’t need it…), and Skull himself is taken down by Kingpin. Skull has been a physical match for Cap-with-the-serum again and again through the decades, but not only did a non-powered sumo do it, he doesn’t even show any bruises.

When I saw the headline, I thought this was going to be about the “Captain America Goes To War Against Drugs” giveaway comic (written by Peter David!). The reality was much, much more… well, strange.

I’m so happy we finally got to see Cap’s Arrested Development Chicken Dance.

I can definitely give Mark Gruenwald a pass on this, as he was attempting to address a serious societal problem. The execution may have been a bit clumsy, but this honestly doesn’t read as any more clunky than, say, Denny O’Neil’s efforts to look at drug addiction in Green Lantern / Green Arrow.

Obviously the difference between Steve Rogers receiving the Super Soldier Serum and professional athletes taking steroids is that Steve was not doing it to gain wealth or fame, but to serve his country, battle against Fascism, and save lives. Intentions really do matter. And the process of receving the SSS wasn’t just taking the drug, but also receiving “Vita Rays.” It was also a one-time procedure that left him permanenty altered. Gruenwald himself addressed this several issues later when he acknowledged the Operation Rebirth had permanently altered Cap at the level of his DNA.

By the way, since Anonymous asked, the blood with the Super Soldier Serum did later get used. Crossbones abducted Diamondback, tortured her, and forced her to steal it for him (see, Matt Byrd, long before Ed Brubaker wrote Crossbones, the character was a brutal, sadistic mysogynist). Crossbones, who had been fired by the Red Skull, brought both the blood and Diamondback to his old boss in an effort to get re-hired. The Skull arranged for Diamondback to be injected with the blood as a test of its legitimacy. Which turned out to be bad news for Crossbones, because DB then gained the same strength level as Cap, and she proceeded to beat the snot out of Cross for everything he’d put her through.

Now if you want to do an edition of I Love Ya But You’re Strange where Gruenwald really got nutty, there’s always “The Superia Strategem” and “Man and Wolf.” That was the porint where I honestly thing Gru was beginning to get a bit burned out on the series. Maybe he should have left the book a couple of years earlier than he did.

When I saw the headline, I thought this was going to be about the “Captain America Goes To War Against Drugs” giveaway comic (written by Peter David!). The reality was much, much more… well, strange.

Yeah, I have that one as well, Luke! There was also a second giveaway with the New Warriors. And then Marvel actually reprinted the two of them together as a one-shot for sale in comic shops in 1993.

Brian, you absolutely have to do an edition of I Love Ya But You’re Strange for Captain America: The Drug Wars! I have just three words for you… alien drug dealers :)

Duff McWhalen

June 9, 2014 at 7:33 am

Brendan, the tricky thing is, was there anything to love with those later stories? This was one of the last stories I remember before Gru really went off the deep end and also started working with bad artists.

@Fraser – “Ice” is based on a real drug. It was supposed to be a real effect that got amplified by Cap’s serum, iirc.

1. As you pointed out Brian, the multi-racial street gang: This one was really odd, as criminal organizations tend to run on ethnic/racial lines.

The Angry Internet:”Check out some ’80s action movies, this sort of thing was ubiquitous in them.”

Yeah, TV TROPES discusses this in their “Equal- Opportunity Evil” article.

Duff, I stand corrected.
One thing I did like about Gruenwald’s run was AIM turning from a Hydra wannabe into mad scientists selling tech (on the logical grounds they were better at tech than world domination). A shame it didn’t take.
And for the most part I enjoyed the Diamondback/Cap romance a lot.

If you can read the very small font on Cap’s screen you can see that the drug in question is actually meth. Which makes the fact that the Red Skull is selling it quite funny due to it’s association with the kind of demographics likely to be potential neo-Nazis.

LouReedRichards

June 9, 2014 at 10:16 am

Oh sure yet another post subtly trying to tell me that the Masters of Evil aren’t reading mind!!!

Nice try Cronin, but they’re in there, ya hear me, they’re in there!

I stopped reading Cap roughly a year or so before this, I just couldn’t take the bad art and the horrible writing.
In retrospect I’m glad I made the right call.

Man, I don’ think there’s enough drugs in the world to make me enjoy Ron Lim’s art from this period – those faces (esp. in profile) and those tree stump arms, the giant “A” on Cap’s head. Combine that with Bulanadi’s inking and the flat boring coloring of the early 90’s and it’s just depressing.

Ron Lim made Keiron Dwyer seem like the 2nd coming of Kirby.

Travis: I wondered if this post was inspired by you’re comments from last week too.
It’s credited to “Will B.” but that could have just been the drugs talking…

The multi-ethnic gang is worth commenting on (and mocking), but what’s the deal with the guy in the back in the dress shirt and tie talking “street”? Did the casting agency give him the wrong call sheet?

@VichusSmith – LOL

@Michael – true…not all that long after that, street thugs with switch blades were taking him down.

If it makes anyone feel any better, you’re not actually looking at The Red Skull in his speedo’s, but Steve Rogers in his speedo’s, Because he was in a clone of Cap’s body at the time with Steve’s face turned to a skull. But though is body was peak perfection, it’s not like he’s trained to fight like the Kingpin or Cap. I mean, he’s a good fighter, but not anything super special. I think most of his head to head battles with Cap involve a cosmic cube or something.

As many pointed out, the story seems like a silly mistake to make, because it’s not like there weren’t stories BEFORE this had people getting the SSS go crazy when they didn’t have the vita rays to stabilize it.

Speaking of story chronology….was this the first story featuring Bullseye in Marvel continuity after he “died” in Miller’s Elektra graphic novel, thereby making it an out of continuity story? Elektra would follow too.

And if we could only all get along as well as street gangs in action stories…..

Now I just want to know what happened to poor Fabian. I actually liked the idea of a reformed super-villain as the Avengers’ handyman.

I feel like I can say this for so many minor supporting characters, but either way, the answer for “I just want to know what happened to Fabian” is “No, you really don’t.”

He ended up as an Avengers villain while looking like Alan Moore. Really weird idea by Alan Grant.

@Luke- the Kingpin probably would have killed Cap in their first encounter if Redwing hadn’t interfered. Besides, as Crossbones points out, the Skull was nearly killed by Magneto in Captain America 370- he might have not fully recovered.
@M-Wolverine- actually this was published a few months before Miller’s Elektra graphic novel, but yes, it is what made it out of continuity.

I wasn’t sure, and FWIW, but Marvel’s wiki has Elektra Lives Again as March, 1990, and Captain America #372 as July, 1990.

http://marvel.wikia.com/Elektra_Lives_Again_Vol_1_1

http://marvel.wikia.com/Captain_America_Vol_1_372

I’ve alwasy been a big fan of Mark Gruenwald. I give him a pass on this because his other stories are usually top notch.
One pattern Gruenwald has that has always bothered me was his use of extreme violence. I noticed it way back in Spider-Woman #16 when she fought Nekra. The fight ends with Jessica slamming Nekra’s head into the floor repeatedly until she notices Nekra is no longer moving. The end of Squadron Supreme and the Scourge at The Bar With No Name also had HUGE body counts. Did he do this anywhere else?

After the Scourge incident, Gru published one of his Mark’s Remarks (I think it was there) where he basically decided it was a mistake and swore off that sort of thing.

However, he ended up doing it again anyway right at the end of his run, only instead of supervillains, it was a serial killer murdering superheroes – again, mostly cheesy, dumb or potentially offensive characters that Gru didn’t care for. But he wracked up quite a body count of z-list superheroes, including a couple Golden Age Timely characters (or their replacements or something?) before Cap stopped him.

Travis Pelkie

June 10, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Alan Grant wrote for Avengers? And made this Fabian dude an Alan Moore lookalike? Wha-huh?

It was John Francis Moore, not Alan Grant.

@Luke… Okay, you inspired my newest blog post by reminding me about Captain America Goes To War On Drugs and its sequel which, by virtue of having been reprinted in the 1994 special Captain America: The Drug Wars, are an official part of Marvel continuity :)

http://benjaminherman.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/strange-comic-books-captain-america-the-drug-wars/

I remember the Scourge storyline fondly. It came off the wheels at the reveal a little, but I thought it was a good idea at the time. Kinda what the Punisher SHOULD have been doing. And it wasn’t all on MG, because it was picked up and used in titles all over Marvel that he didn’t write. But I agree with the idea, for the most part, that there aren’t bad characters, just bad writers. But it also gave a chance to take something with a nugget of a good idea that was badly used or had just gotten old, and revitalize it with someone else taking the identity.

Pum, Spak!

Brian, Fabian started as an Avengers villain so having him revert back doesn’t seem so unreasonable. No idea about the Alan Moore thing though.

Making him a villain again wasn’t the weird thing, it was taking him from comedic villain (which he always was) to this grim and gritty villain – it was just so…predictable. “Hey, here’s a schlubby comedic villain that is redeemed and made into a good guy. What do we do with him?” “Grim and gritty, of course!”

I’ll give Moore this much, though, Fabian ends the issue as a hero, at least.

Ohhhh. Got it now. And yes, that does sound like a bad idea I’m happy I missed.

I used to have a cavalier, typically liberal attitude towards drugs.

Then I had two family members having problems with drug addiction (both legal and illegal).

I found that the reality of drug addiction is far more horrible and sordid and life-destroying than even the bleakest picture painted by fiction. I don’t scoff at “drugs are bad” storylines, I just think they don’t show enough “bad”. If they did, the story would be too depressing.

If they wanted to be “realistic”, Fabian Stankowicz would have gone to rehab and then would have fallen into drugs again, repeat 20 times. To kick an hard drug habit isn’t the easy, triumphalist adventure some people depict. It’s a chronic problem that will probably impact on a person’s life forever.

I am even skeptical of “functional addicts”, like alcoholics that can hold jobs but get plastered whenever they have free time. Someone is called a “functional” addict by friends or work colleagues, but ask their family, the ones that have to live with the person everyday, how functional they really are.

The flip side of that, Rene, is that thousands of people spend years in jail for minor drug offenses. Not to mention millions of tax dollars spent on ineffective efforts to stamp out drugs or to pay for prisons to hold them.
it’s true some people take drugs and the results are horrifying. But other people take them and have nothing but pleasant memories.

“I wonder what happened to the filtrated serum Cap refused”
They actually did have a later story on that. It’s been awhile but I think that Crossbones had Diamondback steal it. Don’t remember what his plan was, or what happened to it after that.

Now I look back and see that Ben covered it thoroughly. That’s what I get for skimming.

And as pointed out the SSS doesn’t even count as a drug even in the beneficial sense. Or the claim that “Caps a Junkie”. If he were taking regular doses then you could debate either argument, but he was dosed once and it completely altered him permanently.

That’s one reason the addiction plotline for Hourman worked better. Plus, of course, there are fewer people who are going to care if Rex Tyler’s hooked on drugs.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives