Thursday, May 8, 2014

Val, The Gals, Our Pal -- Wow!

Good grief! Captain America is facing the hordes of Hydra, when tragedy strikes:

As always, our money's on Cap, but that's not what makes this issue and the next one stand out. The Captain America book has had three heavyweight artists of note since Jack Kirby left the title in late 1968: Jim Steranko, Gene Colan, and John Romita, each leaving their distinctive touch on the good Captain and a dazzling set of issues in their wake. And now, with this cliffhanger panel, Romita hands over the reins to a new artist coming on board with the next issue:

But who's our next artist??

Why, none other than...

"Our Pal" Sal Buscema, whose work on Cap will grace us for another 35 issues!

Buscema has already warmed up with several covers of the Captain America book, and of course he'd drawn Cap in a series of Avengers stories a few years prior to this new assignment. And with the apparent death of Cap's love, Sharon Carter, Buscema definitely has Cap starting off fighting-mad (with emphasis on the "mad"):

Heh, SHIELD and their maneuvers. They seem to have a maneuver for just about everything. But once Cap has his head back in the game courtesy of La Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine ("Val" to her friends), Buscema shows us that the man has a few time-tested maneuvers of his own:

As you've gathered, SHIELD has deployed in the field a team of female operatives known as the Femme Force, led by the fallen Sharon Carter. Fury apparently saw the need for a separate strike team--but Sharon and the other members of the team see it as a visible means of gaining equality as agents, an odd development more in line with the mindset of Stan Lee (the writer who created the Femme Force) towards his female characters. Otherwise, we would have to draw the conclusion that an international spy and law enforcement agency on the scale of SHIELD places a different set of values on its agents, depending on their gender.

Eventually, Cap and the Femme Force regain control of their plane and wrap up the Hydra agents for questioning. But Cap has another priority to see to:

Meanwhile, the Supreme Hydra is already percolating a story to give his superior in the shadows, a figure no one except himself is aware of--naturally placing the blame on the incompetence of his lackeys:

And what of the Falcon? Fury makes an attempt to bring him into the fold in order to help Cap--but Falc and Cap have already severed their new partnership, due to racial tensions connected to Falc making a name for himself in Harlem. And Falc is adamant about his position:

In the interim, Cap has received word that Hydra has abducted Sharon from her hospital bed, and they've issued an ultimatum which Cap has no intention of turning down. Fortunately, the Femme Force is thinking on their feet--er, jet packs:

So that, when Cap finds himself swarmed by Hydra hordes, Femme Force is there to back him up. And Buscema once more gives us a taste of what he'll bring to the table as Cap's regular artist:

But the man in the shadows pulling Hydra's strings, seeing that trapping Cap is a lost cause, shows us that his ambitions reach much farther than advancing Hydra's agenda. It also seems he isn't particularly loyal to his troops:

Yikes! I'd like to say there's a chance for Cap to survive, but the villain has already pushed that button, hasn't he? Maybe one of the "bumbling hordes of Hydra" forgot to wire the detonator? Or maybe "Our Pal" decided he didn't want this assignment after all? It looks like Femme Force may not get the chance to prove themselves, after all--unless our eyes are playing tricks on us here.  (Is that Sal I hear chuckling in the background?)

Captain America and the Falcon #146

Script: Gary Friedrich
Pencils: Sal Buscema
Inks: John Verpoorten
Letterer: Sam Rosen


Phil said...

I don't want to rag on Sal. But I finally got a subscription to Marvel comics in the mid 70s.
Trimpe left Hulk, I got Sal.
Romita, Kirby and Steranko left Cap, I got Sal.
Kirby left the FF I got Sal.
He had the bad luck to follow Marvel's best artists. dal wasn't terrible. But I just can't look at that grimace he always drew any more without laughing and moaning my bad timing.

Comicsfan said...

Phil, you're probably thinking of Sal's brother, John, taking over from Romita (who briefly filled in for Kirby) on Fantastic Four. Sal did pencil one or two FF issues, later in the book's run, but of course nowhere near the number that Big John turned in.

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