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Provide Some Answers – Captain America Solves a Canadian Murder Mystery

This feature is basically a counterpart to our Left Unresolved feature. That feature is for plotlines that were, well, left unresolved. In this one, though, we spotlight examples of long unresolved stories that WERE ultimately resolved by later writers. The only rule is that at least four years have to pass between the plot point being introduced and it being resolved.

Today, based on a suggestion by Ben Herman, we look at how an Alpha Flight murder mystery was resolved five years later in the pages of Captain America!

In 1989’s Alpha Flight #78, James Hudnall, John Calimee and Mike Manley introduced a Brazillian hero and also had him murdered…

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The plot was never resolved in the pages of Alpha Flight.

A couple years later, Mark Gruenwald introduced a seemingly unrelated character named Zeitgeist into the pages of Captain America #390 as part of a new German superhero team…

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In 1994, with Gruenwald about to leave Captain America after a nearly decade-long run on the book, he brought back the German heroes in Captain America #442 and also decided to resolve the Alpha Flight mystery by having Zeitgeist revealed to be the same person in both books…

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But wait, Zeitgeist the German character didn’t use a sword. Aha, so there’s the DOUBLE twist! In the end, it is revealed that Zeitgeist was actually Everyman…

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Who was a short-lived character from J.M DeMatteis, Mike Zeck and John Beatty’s Captain America run, debuting in Captain America #267…

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That is some hardcore continuity right there. In the letter column of the issue, Gruenwald practically wrote a treatise on the character, noting that he enlisted the help of Marvel historian Peter Sanderson to make it all make sense.

That’s it for this installment! Feel free to send in suggestions for future editions of Provide Some Answers to bcronin@comicbookresources.com

51 Comments

Man, the art in that first batch is really eye-catching. There’s a Mike Allred, Steve Rude quality to it and the coloring that holds up a lot stronger all these other 90s examples.

Wow, that is… impressive. The only one of those issues I ever actually read was the one with Everyman. It’s kinda nice to see that Blitzkrieger was used anywhere other than the original Contest of Champions.

But man, seeing that Cap armor again makes me want to take back anything bad I ever said about any other Captain America costume. That one will always be the worst.

The art was good, but the coloring had issues. It’s kinda hard to tell where Captain Forsa’s costume ends, and his skin begins. Looks like he’s running around mostly naked. Which would just be stereotypical enough for a Brazilian hero created in this time period.

Since he was everyone else (every man else?) and since Gruenwald had the Flash appear in Quasar (mostly) did he explain too how Zeitgeist was also Reverse-Clock King?

Superconnectivity

January 27, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Wait a minute, Everyman wasn’t a one off character! He was at least a two off character. He is also Reed Richard’s dutch nephew, and appeared in the Spiderman & Reed Richards Marvel Team Up 132. A great little story leading into a larger plot by Dr. Faustus.

Fair point, I’ll change it to “short-lived” instead.

Hahaha, they managed to misspell the name twice. “Forsa” is gibberish and “forza” is Italian. It’s “Força”.

Was the uncanny resemblance to Clock King intentional?

Embarassing how the Brazilian superhero is wrong starting with the name. The correct name would be Captain Força. Okay, I can see why they would make it “Forsa” to get the closest phonetic equivalent and not using a character absent from English. But dude… would an American superhero use a name as bland and generic as “Captain Strength”? Anyway, bonus points for the writer for at least not using the Spanish “Fuerza”.

But then he blows it when the reporter lady that is actually the villain in disguise uses “Señor”. That is Spanish, dude.

Also, the guy has the stereotypical “Latino” coloring. Sigh. Heh, okay. There are at least some people here with that coloring. But that typical Latin Lover silly thin mustache? Not one in a million guys would dare show his face in public with that silly thing.

Now, making the superhero very arrogant and womanizing I actually don’t have a problem with it. Can’t say it’s uncommon with Brazilian celebrities, particularly old-school soccer players.

Interesting Rene, I was thinking that to have the first Brazilian super-hero be such a jerk was kind of annoying. But you’ve probably got a better handle on your own country.

I am, however, baffled why a whitebread American decides to devote himself to purging South America of super-humans rather than, say, New York or LA.

I can believe that Everyman thought senor was the right word to use, but yes, it is odd Captain Strength doesn’t react.

interesting twist taking who would normaly be a character on his own every man and make him the killer and so well at the thing that the other hero’s are too blind to see right in front of their noses.

Good story all the way around, I have it…

Wow… you’d be hard pressed to find two comic book pages where a supervillain fights two superheroes and is subsequently killed without the artist showing any action at all. Th”what di

Kudos to the late, great Gruenwald.

Fraser- The part about him starting with South America (he implied that he planned to get to the rest of the world eventually, if I read it correctly) actually makes sense to me- he doesn’t want to attract too much international attention during the early phase of his plan, so he’d want to start with South America, which, at the time, had no internationally-famous Marvel heroes (the only other continent that could make that claim at the time was, I think, Australia). The part that doesn’t make sense to me is, if he wants to get rid of the heroes and the villains, why didn’t he start with the villains? If he’s smart enough to pull this off for as long as he does, he should be smart enough to know that getting rid of the heroes beofre getting rid of the villains would be a really bad idea.

Man, Zeitgeist’s costume from Cap #390 is horrible. It’s like Gruenwald said, “He has time powers, so try to incorporate that into the costume,” and the artist said, “Eh, drawing clocks all over a guy’s full-body costume should be good enough.”

Seeing as how zeitgeist is one of those foreign words that’s made it into the English language, it feels kinda weird to make sure that the hero with the name is specifically German (or at least pretending to be?) I mean, it’s like introducing a character with the name Ballerina and then specifically making sure that they’re Italian.

Oneminutemonkey

January 27, 2016 at 3:09 pm

I can’t say that any of his victims were tremendous losses. Defensor was a gimmick character created for Contest of Champions, and literally anyone could take up his armor and the new identity. Machete, of course, was likewise a gimmick character who’s already on version #3 (apparently the brother of the first) so easily replaced. La Bandera only had a few appearances, if even that many. And I don’t think some of the others ever even appeared on page.

Blitzkrieger was another character created for Contest of Champions, and had about as many appearances as most of the others combined… poor fellow.

I love the obscure international heroes when they pop up. While too often they’re generic or else regional stereotypes, they do add flavor to the larger picture.

Did James Hudnall ever reveal what his plans were for Zeitgeist? Since this was in Alpha Flight, I’m guessing Zeitgeist was just going to skip over the United States and take his spree directly from South America to Canada…

Gruenwald sure had a thing for killing off characters, maybe even more than Remender does. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed much of Gru’s writing (and in particular the early mystery of the Scourge of the Underworld, even if the concept later became diluted under his pen), but I almost get the feeling he started offing characters just so he wouldn’t have to do so much work on the Official Handbooks.

Fraser –

Things have changed somewhat in the last decades, but this comic is from 1989, and I must say, Brazilians used to like their heroes to be “bad boys”, braggarts with great success with the ladies. The soccer idol that talks trash about his opponents and has many dalliances with fan girls used to be a classic (still is, somewhat). But to make Captain Strength even more appropriate, they’d have to make his arrogance funnier, like Crackerjack in Astro City.

We have something called The Brazilian Way, that is quite different from the American Way of Life. The Brazilian Way is more or less being a bit of a con man and a bon vivant, sort of. A lovable rogue. The closest American equivalent would be the characters James Woods used to play.

Yes, there was always a bit of self-deprecation in how Brazilians see themselves, and in the last decades this image has been more and more criticized, as it’s been more associated with political corruption, laziness, cutting corners, etc.

It’s funny, I have that later issue of Cap and have zero recollection of that story. I was getting burned out on comics by the mid-90s and was just buying books out of habit and not enjoying them.

It’s too bad there’s no continuity cops at Marvel like Gruenwald and Sanderson anymore.

I wrote that Alpha Flight but was kicked off the book before I could resolve the story, He was a serial killer who killed Superheroes. Zeitgeist was his name, he would have eventually come after Alpha Flight where he would have been defeated but he would have either killed or seriously injured a character who would end up sidelined for awhile. Glad that Gruenwald dealt with it. He was a good guy.

Maybe Captain Forca is a gaucho, from the Argentina-Brasil border

The funny thing is, even if he’s something of a jerkish stereotype, Captain Força shows more personality in his brief comic book career than any of his fellow murdered South American heroes showed in their entire careers (well, the ones that actually appeared somewhere else). I mourn his passing.

The way Gruenwald killed existing characters like Zeitgeist and Machete off panel was just horrible.

Sorry that should be “La Bandera and Machete”.

I, too, remember being irked that Bandera was killed (Machete, I just figured they could replace with another one, so I didn’t mourn him too much). She was fun and she stood as a non-X-Men mutant who wasn’t grim and gritty. Archie Goodwin and John Byrne created her. So yes, I agree that it was a waste to kill her (and she had only been introduced in the late 1980s).

UGH… 90’s Cap armor… enough to make you appreciate Cap Wolf as a modern masterpiece.

Check out Cap’s neck in that one big head panel… is he now Cap Giraffe?

Blitzkrieger.

Blitzkrieger.

In 1991, they called a character who was trying to ‘exorcise the evils of united Germany’s past’ Blitzkrieger.

Oof.

The 90s Cap Armor is undeniably ugly but the real fashion crime here is that Everyman costume!

That was a mystery? I’ve got the Alpha Flight issue above, but none of the others, and the only mystery was:
@Erich:
“Did James Hudnall ever reveal what his plans were for Zeitgeist? Since this was in Alpha Flight, I’m guessing Zeitgeist was just going to skip over the United States and take his spree directly from South America to Canada…”
I don’t think so, but it was tied to his storyline about Llan the Sorceror at the time. Somehow.
We don’t know how.

“South America, which, at the time, had no internationally-famous Marvel heroes (the only other continent that could make that claim at the time was, I think, Australia).”
Does Australia have any yet?
Besides Talisman* and Gateway, who are basically the same character but one is mute, I can’t think of any.
Wait… there were a couple in a couple of issues of X-Men once, weren’t there?
*No relation to Alpha Flight’s Talisman.

Y’know, it suddenly occurred to me- maybe Gruenwald figured that, by keeping the murders off-panel, he was leaving an out in case someone wanted to bring one of them back some day. It’s always especially easy to reverse off-panel deaths- it was a case of mistaken identity, the character secretly survived and has been lying low, etc.

Superconnectivity

January 28, 2016 at 6:45 am

@Kamino Neko actually the cross cultural name issues are even more problematic. You’ll notice Hauptmann Deutschland (technically Captain Germany) changes his name story to Vormund (Gaurdian) as Captain Deutschland was considered a little too Nazi too. I thought there was a legends revealed piece about this, but I can’t seem to find it.

Interestingly, it seems the future vision device Zeitgeist is using is also a gift from Faustus, so I am guessing the Marvel Team Up story for Everyman does tie back into this, and also puts an interesting take on the character’s final fate. Yes he is a mentally ill sociopath, but he is also another character left behind by the heroes of the Marvel Universe, preyed upon and manipulated by the villains of the Marvel Universe, and ultimately receiving a less than deserved end.

This pattern repeats with both Jack Monroe and D-Man (recently resurrected and seemingly no longer mentally ill thanks to Secret Wars) in the Captain America books, and really is both Sharon Carter’s back story, and Bucky’s though both have fared better long term. I wonder if anyone has ever really explored this history of the disposable ancillary character in story in a Marvel or DC book? I know since Speedy in Green Arrow, they tend to have the hand wringing “how could I let this happen” issue, but I don’t know if there has been a real discussion of this ongoing problem.

Superconnectivity –

Ms. Marvel and the Scarlet Witch are the most famous among the characters that have been criminally neglected by friends, but when you start counting supporting characters in solo books too, then I think we have a lot more examples.

The out-universe reason is obviously new creative teams wanting to dispose of older supporting players they have no interest in.

Superconnectivity

January 28, 2016 at 7:40 am

@Rene

Truthfully, it’s not even just the idea of characters being abandoned and removed. It’s that when they come back it is always just a horrific ordeal they’ve endured. There are legitimate reasons characters part ways, and go off on their own, but it seems when they do come back there seems like there is a need to put the characters into painful situations. Granted, a lot of that is just story purposes. When Ms. Marvel (She Thing version) disappeared, she did make a brief comeback where it was revealed she had just been chilling with Wyatt Wingfoot since parting ways with the FF. Nothing horrific (although I think later it was suggested she was a Skrull doppleganger), later we get her showing up in the last Fantastic Four run, in prision, for selling Mutant Growth Hormone on the black market as part of her survival gig in the UCWF.

I suppose in some ways this was the basic plot of Jessica Jones, that once outside of the protective circles of the Avengers or the Fantastic Four or Captain America, the independent hero is often subject to the cruelties of a world with near godlike super villains who operate below the radar. Who really thought of Faustus or the Purpleman as grand villains of the Marvel Universe, but in truth, they are kind of the most frightening of all.

It is frightening how easy and powerful mind control is in comic books, really I’m surprised that has never been a bigger arc. Hatred of mutants and general superhumans is rampant, but it’s odd you never see a similar panic about the hypnotists of the Marvel Universe. Those guys are really scary!

@Le Messor
One could (and some have) tried to claim Bishop as an Australian character, since Claremont decided to claim a family connection between Bishop and Gateway during… Hrm, was it X-Treme X-Men? It at least was around that era.

As for Zeitgeist, the only thing I remember about him is that Al and Paul “featured” him (and his convoluted multi-identity reveals) in an Official Handbook section of an episode of House to Astonish.

I was one of the people who requested that Brian Cronin cover this one. Thanks!

Did James Hudnall ever reveal what his plans were for Zeitgeist?

A while back I came across an interview with Hudnall about his Alpha Flight run. Here is what he said concerning Zeitgeist…

“He was a serial killer who only killed superheroes. The Sorcerer was going to lure him into going after Alpha Flight. There was going to be a two part story where he was in their HQ trying to murder them one by one. I think I was going to have him kill one of the team members (maybe Goblin) and almost succeed in killing some of the others before he was defeated. It would have been a cat and mouse type story.”

You can read the entire interview here… http://alphaflight.net/content.php?124-James-D-Hudnall-Interview

@Superconnectivity
“You’ll notice Hauptmann Deutschland (technically Captain Germany) changes his name story to Vormund (Gaurdian)”
See, it’s all supperconnected! Guardian is, of course, the name of Alpha Flight’s leader – so this circles right back to them.

@Billy
“One could (and some have) tried to claim Bishop as an Australian character”
Oh, yeah, I’ve seen that discussed on this very site. It’s controversial, though.

@Ben Herman
“You can read the entire interview here… http://alphaflight.net/content.php?124-James-D-Hudnall-Interview
Don’t I just suck? I’m an admin on that site, and I couldn’t remember the details Hudnall had revealed. (Though I remember the interview, at least in broad strokes.)

Superconnectivity –

“Truthfully, it’s not even just the idea of characters being abandoned and removed. It’s that when they come back it is always just a horrific ordeal they’ve endured. There are legitimate reasons characters part ways, and go off on their own, but it seems when they do come back there seems like there is a need to put the characters into painful situations.”

I wonder why that happens.

Maybe it’s because writers can’t help wanting to try their hand at deconstruction, and the minor heroes are the only ones that are really open to this kind of stuff. Stories about how character X used to be a hero, but now has hit rock bottom after they stopped associating with the big names… the stories almost write themselves.

Ben: Hudnall commented on this post.

Ben: Whoops, I accidentally hit publish. My bad. Anyway, Hudnall commented on this post, but it’s stuck in moderation. He basically wrote what you quoted from that interview. I don’t know why his comment hasn’t gotten through yet!

@Burgas:
Is the comment in moderation or otherwise invisible, or was it made on social media or something?

@Le Messor:
There’s also Manifold from Hickman’s Avengers, who’s ALSO pretty much the same character as Gateway, but younger.

Ah, you answered my question while I was laboriously typing! I’m not so fast with mobile devices.

I totally forgot, I had a letter published in Captain America #442!

“would an American superhero use a name as bland and generic as ‘Captain Strength’? ”

That is pretty back, but we do have one major Marvel player that is taking back “Power Man” from all the guys who used it after he discarded it…

There’s also Strong Guy of X-Factor.

DC actually has a character named Captain Strong (though that’s his real name, not an alias). (On which note, Marvel has the Power family.)

“@Le Messor:
There’s also Manifold from Hickman’s Avengers, who’s ALSO pretty much the same character as Gateway, but younger.”
Great, another one. :) (I didn’t know about him(?))

@Neko:
Power is their real name, though. Oddly, not their superhero names… though it’s their team name…
On that note, though, there’s Tom Strong, isn’t there? (I’ve never read the comic, so I don’t know how the title of the book interacts with the character inside.)

The ‘real name, not alias’ thing is what brought the Powers to mind, since I’d just mentioned Captain Horatio Strong (a Popeye pastiche, who fought, then befriended, Superman (or more recently fought Harley Quinn) FTR).

I think Power Man kinda works because it rolls off the tongue better and I always thought it was also an allusion to the Black Power movement.

Strong Guy was intended to be a joke name.

Messor, Tom Strong is his actual name. Yeah, I know, comics. :)

I still think Captain Strength is a lame name, but maybe that is because it has not been used enough to make it sounds familiar, like other very un-creative names, like Superman and Mister Fantastic.

I’m not sure it helps but I think “Força” could also be translated as “Force”.

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