Monday, September 3, 2018

In The Grip Of The Gargoyle!

There are a handful of schemers I could think of who might warrant the international spy agency, S.H.I.E.L.D., pooling its forces with Captain America to take down. Off the top of my head, in no particular order:

  • the Yellow Claw
  • the Secret Empire
  • A.I.M. (with or without M.O.D.O.K.)
  • the Mandarin
  • the Red Skull
  • Hydra

You probably wouldn't think to add your garden-variety super-villain, or organizations like the Sons of the Serpent, the Frightful Four, or the Serpent Society to the list of menaces that would have Nick Fury soliciting Cap (or vice versa) to help take on the threat. But when that threat decides to come after you, we're going to shortly see that it's a different matter.

Not long after his partnership with the Falcon had begun in earnest, Captain America was approached by the NYC police commissioner about going undercover as a cop in order to investigate a missing persons case involving police officers and city officials. Little did he suspect that the culprit would turn out to be none other than the Grey Gargoyle:

Hiding out in a stone cutter's storage yard, the Gargoyle prepares a master plan that will eventually become the focus of a plot involving not only targeting S.H.I.E.L.D., but also securing for him a destructive substance which could mean the end of the world!

It looks like this time the Grey Gargoyle is playing for keeps--
and it's coming right down to the wire!

In this multi-part story, with art by John Romita Sr. and initially scripted by Stan Lee (in his final story for the title), we never do find out why the Gargoyle begins to snatch random people, turning them to stone presumably to avoid their reporting him.  Yet in the end, all he's done is practically invite a police investigation, in addition to really striking out by having Cap on his case. And if you think a direct question as to what he's up to is going to yield a direct answer this early in the story, think again.

Fortunately for Cap, who isn't doing so hot against a foe made of solid stone, the Falcon arrives to take some of the heat off of him--but in distracting the two partners with a hurtling stone figure, the Gargoyle instead decides to withdraw, having bigger fish to fry.

But while Cap suits up in his police uniform in order to make his report to the Commissioner, around the same time all the befuddled stone figures return to normal, the Falcon is successful at locating their foe in a secret lab beneath the cemetery. But a new experimental formula of the Gargoyle's makes that success short-lived.

Meanwhile, Cap races through town on his motorcycle, worried that the Falcon may have fallen victim to the Gargoyle. To investigate further, he decides to signal the SHIELD helicarrier in order to take advantage of their greater tracking resources. But there's something else that Fury wants to discuss--and as Cap discovers, it holds the key to whatever it is the Gargoyle is planning.

With that revelation--and the implication that the Gargoyle is after Element X--we segue into the next issue, which finds Cap and his 'cycle deposited back in the city, resuming his frantic search for the Falcon. He doesn't have far to look--but while we can question why the Falcon suddenly crosses Cap's path, Cap is likely too consumed with the Gargoyle's timetable to suspect that he may have fallen for an elaborate trap.

And soon, that trap is sprung--for in transferring Falc to the helicarrier for treatment, no one notices when he "recovers" and slips away, heading for the ship's control center while Cap, Fury, and Agent 13 (Sharon Carter) argue about how unwise it might have been to bring the Falcon aboard in his current state.

And with almost dizzying speed, the Gargoyle's plan is underway.

Nothing, Gargoyle? What about PLAN D, mister?

We should really give it up for the Gargoyle here--not only has he maneuvered his way onto the SHIELD helicarrier, but he's also found a way to discover the secret location of Element X by simply having the carrier take him there. And who's to stop him? On this huge ship that should be full of SHIELD strike squads, there only seems to be Fury, Sharon, and a handful of agents in the control center aboard. But for the sake of argument, let's say that before the other agents could mobilize, Plan D forced them to abandon ship. (But you'd better believe that Fury, should he survive, will likely give them a tongue-lashing on "draggin' their blamed feet" or words to that effect.)

As for Cap and the others heading to the escape pods themselves before the Gargoyle overwhelms them, well...

The Director of SHIELD is also liable to lay into Cap for how he'd make a lousy SHIELD agent--aborting Plan D to save Fury, Sharon, and the Falcon, even though it means the Gargoyle gaining possession of Element X and threatening the entire world. Fortunately, the SHIELD agents assigned to thee mountain stronghold where Element X is held have their own Plan D:

In the chaos of the attack, Cap is able to break away from the Gargoyle and get the stone figures of Sharon and Fury to a hovering life-craft--only there's still the Falcon to worry about, following his orders to intercept and attack Cap. But while Cap catches a break in that respect, the Gargoyle makes his escape, plunging into the very heart of his intended destination.

Assuming the agents manning this base are going to be as helpless against the Gargoyle as those on the helicarrier, the window for stopping this villain is quickly closing; and without the helicarrier's armament, how are Cap and the others going to penetrate this installation? The doomsday clock is running out!

Gary Friedrich takes the writing reins--and the Grey Gargoyle takes Element X! (No lie!)

(And don't think you've seen the last of... PLAN D!)

Captain America #s 140-141

Script: Stan Lee
Pencils: John Romita
Inks: George Roussos and Joe Sinnott
Letterer: Artie Simek


Anonymous said...

This is a cool comic, but, uh, the Gargoyle's "gliding power"...
Yeah, I dunno about that one. The guy's made of rock.
Bit of a head-scratcher, there.


Comicsfan said...

I tell ya, M.P., when it comes to formulas, these chemists think of everything! (Of course, his transformation was the result of an accident, but why should we quibble over details?)

Anonymous said...

The Grey Gargoyle looks rather handsome but gargoyles are supposed to be ugly (like the gargoyles on European cathedrals).

B Smith said...

If only Cap vould have gotten onto the heli-carrier PA and shouted "Maneuver 67!" - that's the one that deals with stone humanoids gliding through your defenses.

As for a gliding hunk of rock - can't be any dopier than the Beetle and his giant metal wings (or the Owl somehow swooping about when he's built like Victor Buono).

Comicsfan said...

I agree, B--metal wings would pretty much keep me from moving, much less flying. How does the Beetle get airborne? To get them to flap sufficiently he'd have to have a generator in that costume the size of my desk. And while we're at it, we'd also have to investigate things like Namor's ankle wings--Cap's probably wondering, "Why can't my mask wings be rigged to do the same thing?" :)

So Speaks Galactus! said...

Can Grey Gargoyle turn Thing into stone?