Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July- Marvel Style!

I thought I'd celebrate our nation's independence by celebrating the Silver-Age debut of comicdom's greatest patriot- Captain America!

So, Happy 4th of July and SUCK IT, GEORGE III ! No Taxation without representation, BEE -YOTCH!!

Right off the bat, let me apologize. I had this post in mind for some time, thinking I had a reprint of Avengers#4. Turns out, the book I have that reprints it reprints a 6-page, abridged version of it. Near as I can tell, it mostly leaves out a big, Kirby fight.

In issue #4, The Avengers acquire a new member. A guy with all the charisma and leadership any superteam could ever ask for; Captain America.

This issue begins by reminding us of a big fight between the Avengers and the Sub-Mariner that took place last issue. We rejoin the Sub-Mariner on yet another rampage. After brooding about how much he hates the Human race, he decides to stop and hassle some Eskimos. These Eskimos are minding their own business, worshiping their idol; a dude frozen in a block of ice. Silly Eskimos.

Because he's just that big a jerk, Subby takes their idol and throws it into the ocean, where it just happens to drift into the Gulf Stream. The lump of ice slowly thaws out in the warm, Gulf Stream waters and reveals the floating body inside just as it happens to pass by a submarine (with the biggest interior any sub never had) filled with-you guessed it- The Avengers.

The Avengers marvel over the frozen corpse they've found and ponder his strange costume. Just then, the body springs to life and reveals himself to be Captain America.

When the Avengers question his authenticity, Cap challenges them to a fight. It's ALWAYS a fight with these people!

The Earth's Mightiest Heroes then get their asses handed to them by a guy who's been frozen for 20 years. You would think he'd have frostbite and muscular atrophy, at least.

Cap then recounts the strange tale of how he came to be there:

In 1945, while trying to defuse a flying bomb that is aimed at the U.S., Cap and his kid sidekick, Bucky are carried out over the North Atlantic Ocean. Something goes horribly wrong and the bomb explodes early, killing Bucky outright and throwing Captain America into the icy waters below. Cap is flash-frozen and slips into a state of suspended animation. He remembers nothing else, but, for some reason conjectures that he must have become frozen in a block of ice and then been found and worshiped by some Eskimos as a supernatural object...

Sure. Why not?

The Avengers dock their sub in New York Harbor and are greeted by a mob of reporters. Two seconds later, a bright flash occurs and the heroes are turned to stone. The ever-vigilant representatives of the Fourth Estate decide it must be some trick the Avengers used to dodge an interview.

Captain America emerges and puzzles over the odd poses of the "statues" of the Avengers, and then goes sight-seeing. At some point he checks into a hotel. I have no idea what he used for money. Cap does what any guy who just woke up in 1964 New York would do; he watches hotel TV.

His vegging out is interrupted by Rick Jones, who Cap mistakes for Bucky. Apparently Rick is a dead ringer for the late, lamented sidekick. I had just assumed that he looked similar because he was another Kirby drawing. To me, Rick always looked more like Snapper Car. Anyway, Rick has come to find Cap because the Avengers are missing.

The good Captain snaps out of his Rip Van Winkle funk and becomes a decisive man of action. Looking at photos taken at the dock that morning, Cap spots a guy with a device he's absolutely sure isn't a camera. Seems to me, since in Cap's mind people should be riding in flying cars by 1964, he would defer to Rick on that.

Cap is right, however, the "camera" is a ray gun in the possession of a stranded alien who was hired by the Sub-Mariner (Cap comments that he seems "to remember that name from the dim past"- "the dim past"? You mean the day before yesterday, when you and Subby were on the same side in WWII?) to turn the Avengers to stone. In exchange, The Sub-Mariner was to help the alien free his sunken ship from the ocean floor.

The alien explains that he has been stranded for thousands of years and gives hints that his frightening appearance and ability to petrify may have inspired the legend of Medusa. Oh! Good, I needed someone to rationalize Medusa for me.. now, where did we leave Thor??

Cap and Rick get the spaceman to revive the Avengers who help free his spacecraft and send him home. There are references to a big battle, but my copy skips all of that. *sigh*

For some reason, Captain America seems to act like he's really old. I mean, if you'd been frozen in a block of ice when you were 20 for two decades and suddenly revived with no memory of time passing, wouldn't you still be, like 20? Geez! at the most he's in his early 40's.

Sure, his slang and his world view would be different. But instead of acting all morose and grandpa-ish, wouldn't he be more likely to attack the staff at Benihana and make them pay for Pearl Harbor? Wouldn't he go to record stores looking for 78's of Glen Miller? Also, I don't remember anyone issuing you a discharge, Captain. Shouldn't you report for duty or something?