Monday, February 1, 2016

Besieged By The Beetle!

Jotting down ideas for a Captain America story had to have been a lot of fun, most of the time--yet you have to assume there's also a reject pile where ideas that are too far-fetched even for comics are considered dead-on-arrival and tossed aside. It would also be safe to assume that writer Steve Gerber's reject pile is practically nonexistent. Otherwise, this sort of pitch would never have seen the light of day:

"Hey--let's have Cap attacked by a driverless VW Beetle!"

To which veteran Cap artist Sal Buscema likely shook his head sadly, threw up his hands in resignation, and thought, " *sigh* ... Oh, why not."

And before you shake your head in disbelief, no, you're not seeing things--this attack is happening in Steve Rogers' hole-in-the-wall apartment, where a small car like a Beetle MIGHT be able to fit if you cleared out all the furniture and assembled it as if it were a ship in a bottle--but it couldn't possibly maneuver or even move more than a couple of feet, much less rev up to attack speed. Maybe 2 m.p.h., before it bumped into a corner and was forced to sit there idling, giving Cap plenty of time to double over in laughter. "Man, that Nick Fury, what a prankster!" he'd probably think. But no, this Beetle apparently doesn't know it's in a cramped apartment, and that it doesn't have room to turn on a dime, and that it can't build up nearly the speed it needs to have an athlete like Captain America dodging for his life.

It certainly looks like the building's other tenants are okay with the raucous noise of a VW engine (remember how LOUD a Beetle's engine was?), not to mention the sounds of a car crashing around in their building. Think how great an explosion is going to sound right outside their windows.

Cap isn't dreaming--nor is Dr. Faustus in this story--and Cap definitely isn't on acid (though he might decide to give it a try after this experience--how could an acid trip come up with anything worse than a malevolent Beetle invading your apartment?)... but whatever's happening to him, this story isn't finished messing with his mind just yet. Though what could Gerber have happen to Captain America at a peaceful landmark like the Lincoln Memorial?

Even Sal must have been snapping every one of his pencils in two by now. "Come on, guys! This has gone too far!" But you know Sal--he's the professional's professional, and he'll see this story through--but we may not be able to say the same for Cap, given the esteem in which he holds Lincoln. Can Captain America bring himself to destroy one of America's most beloved historical figures?

Sure, as soon as he gets his head back in the game and faces up to the fact that he's being attacked by a statue and not Lincoln. (Personally, I think Sal should have had the statue attacking while bearing down on Cap behind the wheel of a VW beetle. And I'm almost horrified to think that it probably crossed Gerber's mind.)

Cap has Animus, a hireling of the sinister Corporation, to thank for these shenanigans. (And if it appears Animus bears a resemblance to Gerber, that's probably not a coincidence.)

A slight revamp of this issue's cover art, which Cap declined to receive as a souvenir.


david_b said...

I remember buying this issue once I realized the coast was clear.., Kirby had departed, no Frank Robbins in sight, ahhhh 'Our Sal' was back.

The stories were a bit hit-miss for the next dozen issues I collected, AND I did miss Sam Wilson, soooo I didn't hang on to the title for long.

A few issues later, Steve was to have some mind-probe rediscover his life as a youngster and totally remove 'the super-serum' from his body.., leaving him a weakling again.

I just thought.., '..sheesh..'. I missed Steve Englehart too much.

Anonymous said...

It could have been could have been a Bob's Big Boy statue chasing Cap around with a giant hamburger.

Comicsfan said...

M.P., egad! Don't give them any ideas!