Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Have No Fear--Captain Ultra Is Here!

As was the case with the Texas Twister, there was another character who answered the Frightful Four's open call for a fourth member to their ranks--one who, like the Twister, decided to bowl over the Wizard and his crew with a dramatic (and unquestionably colorful) entrance.

Yes, Griffin Gogol, a/k/a Captain Ultra, who like many of his similarly-named compatriots in the super-powered business holds no official rank but has decided to adopt the title nonetheless. Ultra had made a favorable first impression on the evil F.F., and was this close to sealing the deal--that is, until the dealbreaker.

Ultra, like the Twister, blurs the hero-villain lines in his search for his place in the super-community, with that search becoming even more confusing when he answers an unauthorized television ad that solicits for new members of the Defenders--discovering that scores of other super-humans had the same idea. Once the mainstay of the Defenders, Nighthawk, takes a deep breath in response to the utter chaos that has erupted, the introductions go smoothly enough, with Ultra appearing to have turned over a new leaf (helped in no small part by the Defender known as Hellcat making the rounds personally).

From there, the Defenders applicants split up into sub-teams to take on a virtual invasion of super-villains in different parts of the city. Ultra's group, led by Hercules, battles their foes in the subway system, with neither Ultra nor his comrades finding much acceptance from their enemies--to say nothing of their less-than-adoring public.

Ultra is among the many applicants who decide that the Defenders aren't for them--and so he moves to Chicago, hoping to establish a following there. Yet the mighty Thor has also recently uprooted himself from New York and relocated to the windy city--and following a crisis, Ultra makes it clear that Chicago isn't big enough for both of them. And unfortunately for Ultra, Thor completely agrees.

Sometime afterward, Gogol has a few sessions with Leonard Samson in Poughkeepsie and is cured of his fear of fire. But after seeing an elated Captain Ultra flustering the town's citizens and inadvertently shattering a few windows as he celebrates, a tactful officer convinces him to migrate to New York to make his mark. Once settled in NYC, Gogol decides to try his luck on the comedy improv circuit--but eventually he changes course and becomes part of the fifty-states Initiative. His return to costumed activity later takes a dark turn when he's recruited by Wonder Man as part of his "Revengers" team, which is mobilized against the Avengers for perceived lies and wrongdoing that Simon Williams feels must be confronted.

Before the Revengers are taken down, Ultra has apparently relapsed and again suffers from pyrophobia, to the point where it becomes a factor in his quick defeat.

Given his turn as a prospective comedian, it seems appropriate that Ultra has been handled by writers as mostly comic relief in different stories, with the important exception being his stint in the Initiative where he bears and accepts responsibility for those in his charge. Part of the 2007 Iron Man title, those stories are certainly worth a look if you'd like a different take on this character who, for once, had a few moments where he stood out in a way other than polychromatically.


Anonymous said...

There must have been twenty-five or more heroes and villains in the Defenders two-issue arc, and some of them were pretty darn obscure. Only a truly frantic Marvel Maximus would recognize them all. I was stumped by a few, like Tagak and that Joe the Gorilla guy.

Comicsfan said...

It would certainly make for a good trivia post, M.P.! Hmmm....

johnlindwall said...

I really enjoyed hat Defenders story with the BIG open roll call!

Was there ever any light shed on Captain Ultra's origin?


Comicsfan said...

John, from what I gather, Gogol at one time was a plumber who fixed the sink of an elderly psychologist who couldn't afford to pay the bill. (Given the going rate of an hour of a psychologist's time, that's a pretty absurd premise to start with.) In exchange, the man offered to use hypnosis to cure Gogol of his smoking habit; but the psychologist turned out to be an alien, and his hypnotic treatment unlocked Gogol's superhuman potential. The down side was that Gogol was afflicted with pyrophobia as a result.