Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Your Pain Is My Pleasure

Previously, we left a busy issue of Captain America with a few loose ends dangling, didn't we? Not the least of which was the likely possibility of death for our hero--along with that of the God of Thunder, the identity of whom is currently assumed by the mortal known as Eric Masterson. But let's quickly take a peek through the next issue and see how things turned out for the various characters involved.

Both Cap and "Thor" had come to the abandoned Skullhouse, the former residence of the Red Skull, to ascertain whether the Skull is truly dead--but the house has turned out to be not so abandoned after all, as the fiendish genetics scientist known as Arnim Zola reveals himself by springing a trap and capturing the pair with the aid of his pliable, obedient creation, Doughboy. Once Cap and Thor are helpless, the creature follows the instructions it received from Zola--to dispose of them at the bottom of nearby Devil's Lake. As we can see, Doughboy is well-named--and apparently dough can be dense enough to hold a thunder god as well as a living legend. At least, until the writer decides that Thor can cease being helpless.

Wait a minute, Cap--if you've put yourself in a trance-state, how do you expect to have the presence of mind to figure out anything, much less how to extricate yourselves from almost certain death? Fortunately, it looks like your "trainee" didn't need to consult with you on procedure here.

Cap is in for a few surprises upon his return to Skullhouse; but for now, let's cut to the man known as Cutthroat, an applicant for the vacant position of the Skull's chief operative, who got the position by being the last man standing the only man to revive from a three-way death match with fellow villains Mangler and Deathstroke. Cutthroat has been *ahem* cut no slack since he prevailed in mortal combat, immediately being relocated to a training facility run by the notorious Taskmaster and put through his paces. From all indications, it looks like the Taskmaster has his work... okay, one more time... cut out for him.

As for Cap, he's made his way back to Skullhouse to confront Zola--but it appears he's struck out on both fronts.

Yet it seems there are others who are interested in Skullhouse, for completely different reasons, as Cap notes the arrival of the villains known as Jack O'Lantern and Blackwing--the latter having an apparent direct connection with the Skull himself.

Cap's battle with the pair is inconclusive (at least where this issue is concerned), as Jack O'Lantern hurls a hallucinogenic bomb at him that affects his perceptions.

But what about Skullhouse? And Zola? For the answer, we must turn our attention back to the Skull and his current guest, the Viper, whom we last saw reach their own form of, er, d├ętente--yeah, that's what we'll call it--and are now ready to discuss the Skull's offer to bankroll the Viper's subversive activities. But before they proceed, another of the Skull's operatives makes contact with the information on Skullhouse that eluded Cap--which makes sense, since the foe that Cap was returning to the house to confront happens to be the one responsible for its disappearance.

All of these preliminaries would normally be leading up to the 400th issue of Captain America, though regrettably a lot of momentum is lost as Cap's title is about to be hijacked by the Operation: Galactic Storm crossover event. But two people we don't have to be worried about losing their momentum are the Skull and the Viper, who are about to take it up a notch, literally. I realize I mentioned last time that it would be best if we left them to their own devices--but, technically speaking, that's exactly what we're doing.

Note to self: If the Red Skull issues an invitation to sample his playroom, DECLINE.

The gloomy cover to this issue. What happened to that masthead, Mr. Colorist?


B Smith said...

These days they'd be calling it Fifty Shades Of Red.

Anonymous said...

Thunderstrike vs. Doughboy...it had to happen!!!


Unknown said...

50 shades of wannabe Image over-rendering without an hour of life-drawing classes.

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