Friday, October 26, 2012

Just A Quick Wax And Polish, Thanks


Or: "When Is A Shield Like Laundry Detergent?"


Tell me, what's wrong with this picture??


Answer:

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

But don't try telling that to Tony "the tinkerer" Stark--who, soon after he and the rest of the Avengers release Captain America from his frozen sleep, decides to make a few improvements in Cap's shield. Yes, that Tony Stark--whose armor was still constantly vulnerable to being depleted of power, and thus leaving his chest device unable to keep his injured heart beating. You'd think that would be the man's top engineering priority, rather than adding transistors to a weapon that, like its wielder, had been time-proven on the battlefield before Stark ever got near a soldering iron.

But feeling the shield could still use a few enhancements, Stark gives it magnetic properties, and voila:



Controlled by special magnets in Cap's glove:



Which probably makes Cap the one person in Avengers Mansion who can't come into contact with sensitive Avengers equipment. Way to think ahead there, Tony. Better have him stay clear of the Wasp's blow-dryer, too. Speaking of the Wasp--well, try to keep in mind that this woman will one day lead the Avengers. That's admittedly hard to believe when seeing her come up with observations like this one, after Cap's demo of the modified shield in action:


(No, I don't know WTF she's talking about, either.)


Stark doesn't stop there, though. He sees all of that empty space on the underside of the shield and probably thinks, "What the hell is that good for?" So he adds communications equipment:



To which Cap, I'm sure, thanked him for the additional weight he now has to carry around. It should make it much easier for him to nimbly leap around in a fight, to say nothing of being able to throw the damned thing now. And let's assume that compartment shares the vibration-absorbing ability of the front side, because there's nothing communications equipment likes more than close contact with explosions and ray beams, or being jarred by heavy combat.

Still, at first, Cap makes a go of adapting it to his fighting style:



Okay, retrieval: that checks out. Though there are times when it slips Cap's mind that he no longer has to worry about losing his shield:



Offensively, there are only a few instances where Cap takes advantage of the shield's new properties. And no wonder. Let's just say the display is less than thrilling:



Though, defensively, there were exceptions:



However, as you can see, this new way of fighting forces Cap to almost stand in place, which cuts down on his fighting edge. You don't hold off a room-full of attackers by dazzling them with your defensive weapon. And we're used to seeing Captain America bowl through his attackers, not performing parlor tricks.

So it was inevitable that something like this would happen:



Which any idiot trying to text and drive can relate to. The last place you should be trying to fiddle with your equipment is in a situation where you need to keep your mind on your business.

So soon afterward, we see a story where Cap is captured in a prison breakout--where its instigator, the "Deacon," has concocted a plan to use Cap's magnetically-enhanced shield to open a massive iron gate barring the prisoners' way to freedom. Yet things aren't going according to plan:



When Cap breaks out of his cell and retrieves his shield, he reveals why the Deacon's elaborate scheme was doomed to failure:



Which returns to us the Captain America we're all familiar with. Hopefully Tony Stark learned the value of the adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Though as we've seen, it's a lesson that Marvel Comics itself still wrestles with from time to time.

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