Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Men Who Would Be Captain America

We've previously seen how the A.I.M. creation known as the Adaptoid attempted to duplicate Captain America's form and skills in order to effectively replace him (and failed); yet there were also ordinary humans who tried to fill the void when Cap, who had become disillusioned with his own government, decided to abandon his star-spangled identity and return to a normal life as Steve Rogers. Unfortunately, those stand-ins would almost immediately learn that no ordinary individual could easily step into the boots of someone so extraordinary.

And brother, they learned it the hard way.

Bob Russo:

Russo believes that changing uniforms from an idolized ball player to an idolized American hero will be an easy transition for him. But this time the field he looks to play in has no rules, little to no margin for error... and one hell of a learning curve.

Scar Turpin:

Like Russo, Turpin makes his announcement with an audience present in order to benefit from the immediate gratification of those who look up to him--though it looks like he already has a rival for the position he seeks to claim.

But poor Scar may regret going out on patrol and not bringing along the rest of his little cycle club for backup--because it turns out his opponents weren't as short-sighted in that regard.

Roscoe Simmons:

As Steve Rogers' young gym partner, Roscoe has received his inspiration from watching Rogers go through his above-average workout regimen--so when he's ready to take the next step, it stands to reason that Rogers would be the man he'd ask for help in training him to be the next C.A. But he runs into the Falcon instead, who isn't supportive of the idea--a flippant reaction, coming from one who learned the ropes from Cap, himself.

Unlike our other would-be Caps, Roscoe wasn't lucky enough to walk away with a few bruises, as he's captured and brutally slain by the Red Skull.

As for the real Cap, things worked out pretty well for himself and his lover, Sharon Carter--at least in his brief time as a civilian, before he would later resume the life of a costumed adventurer as the Nomad.

Yet... does all of this give you a sense of déjà vu?

To find the answer, we have to turn the pages back by posing yet another

Marvel Trivia Question

What prior Captain America story were these events presumably recycled from?

Now that we've covered the basics of the story by Steve Englehart, let's look back to the point in time when Cap, who has been fighting alongside Sharon in her role as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent 13, decides to start spending quality time with her in his civilian identity. As in the later story, he finds that a normal life as Steve Rogers isn't so bad.

But things turn sour when he pops the question (jeez, you do move fast, Mr. Rogers) and finds that Sharon won't simply abandon her obligations to SHIELD. But thanks to the disappointing encounter, it occurs to him that it's well past time for Steve Rogers to reclaim his life.

It never occurs to Sharon that accepting a proposal of marriage doesn't translate to quitting her job; but writer Stan Lee personified the mindset of those in the late '60s who believed (and expected) otherwise.

As for Steve, his choice may be a rash one.  Retiring from being Captain America will let him clock in more time as Steve Rogers, yes, but how will that help his situation with Sharon? While he's cooling his heels watching a Yankees game, Sharon will still be off on missions indefinitely--is he going to pace up and down, hoping for a furlough?

But there are other complications of this decision, as everyone within reach of a newspaper now knows that Steve Rogers and Captain America are one and the same. (Though why would Steve announce that?) Also, just as was... er, will be the case in the Englehart story, others are looking to fill the void left by Cap's departure.

And just as the police predicted, it isn't long before another would-be fill-in discovers that there's a price on his head--or, rather, the man he's impersonating.

(Now why wouldn't it occur to the underworld that if they spot a man dressed as Captain America patrolling the city, it can't be the man who's now retired?)

But thanks to the real Steve Rogers rushing to his window and taking in the scene, our hapless imitation makes it out of the deadly predicament alive, while Rogers gives his assailants a lesson they won't soon forget. Waiting in the wings, however, are Nick Fury and Dum Dum Dugan, who use the incident to their advantage in getting Steve to see reason.

An ending which in its own way also shares some similarity to that of the Englehart tale--though in that story, Steve had to reconcile what had happened to him in the White House with the continuing need for someone to represent the American dream. Here, he instead realizes how difficult it would be to put aside an identity that had long since become a part of him--and he, a part of it.

1 comment:

Fred W. Hill said...

Although Englehart's story was a retread of the earlier, much briefer one by Lee & Kirby, Englerhart's (which I read a year or so prior to getting the reprint of the ToS story in Marvel Double Feature) resonated much more and not just due to taking up about 8 full issues to just half of an issue of Tales of Suspense. This time, Rogers is not quitting out of any desire to to settle down to a normal life but because he has been shaken to his core by the corruption he encountered while taking on the Secret Empire. And it takes another shock, the brutal murder of Roscoe, to prompt him to take on the mantle of Captain America again, accepting that while his nation is not perfect, he can still champion its better ideals as best he can, representing those ideals in his costume and fight against evil and not a fallible government. And, yeah, Englehart did have Cap give a speech, more to himself tho', than to any audience -- not to mention one in which he had to switch out of his Nomad costume to his Captain America uniform, which he must have very conveniently and magically fit into his back pocket, complete with his shield. But, hey, Frank Robbin's artistic license made for a dramatic closer.

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