Thursday, November 17, 2011

Marvel 1981 Week--Captain America #263!!

As Marvel 1981 Week continues, we at Slay Monstrobot have a sentiment that can best be expressed by a special guest star:

Thanks, Cap!!

That's right, it's time for:

Look, what we've got here is a Mike Zeck drawn, J.M. DeMatteis written story with Captain America fighting a 20-foot android Cap (with the mind of a Nazi war criminal) at the behest of the Red Skull. And you might be thinking, "Yeah, that's a lot of comic book there."

Dude, we haven't even gotten started yet.

There are plots that are so labyrinthine, so overly complex, so dependent on so many parts coming together that the villain would probably be just as likely to win the Powerball.

Ahhh, but then there are the truly mad and Machiavellian evil-doers, who go one step beyond labyrinthine into a plan that is so far past madness that it actually makes sense again, just a thing of beauty (insane beauty, sure...). This is one of those times. So put on your thinking caps, and fasten those seat belts.

So let's leap in to the action:

Movie?? Wait, wait, let's check out our creators first...

Now, we're coming into part 3 of a three-part story, so I'd best recap for you (with the help of the Skull). Captain America is in California, reluctantly taking part in publicity for a blockbuster movie of his life from a major studio. But he's really there to investigate:

(editors' note--this is well before Jack Monroe took on the role of Nomad)

The Skull is actually telling the truth here...

Hey, wait, a minute...this plan seems kind of...familiar...

Well, I guess we'll come back to that.

Now, even though Lyle Dekker had reformed, Skull managed to take control of Ameridroid...and it ain't gonna be pretty:

You know, the Ameridroid would so be the hot Christmas present...

Well, Dekker is trying to throw off the Skull's control:

But we know that all that's really needed is a speech from Steve Rogers on freedom:

Of course, it works. Dekker throws off his shackles and goes after the Skull, only to get a lecture on the Skull's brand of fascism...

Oh, and he dies.

Which enrages Cap, but Skully has been taking lessons from Doctor Doom:

I am about to blow your mind here: we're still only on page 8. Please remain seated until the story is over.

Meanwhile, we cut the reporter that's been doing his best to destroy Cap's reputation...but things are about to take a bad turn for him:

Stay classy, Will Brynner.

Hey, wait a minute...those members of the Nihilist Order just turned themselves in? Out of the blue? And confessed to the plan to ruin Cap's reputation? With documents and everything? That doesn't make a lot of sense, does it?

We'll come back to that.

Meanwhile, for some reason, the studio has changed plans:

Hey, wait a minute!! Why would the studio pull the plug on a multimillion dollar guaranteed box office smash, and replace it...with a TV documentary?!?!

We'll come back to that.

Meanwhile, Cap has tracked down the real Skull:


OK, get comes some explanation:


Cap has sussed it out. Have you, reader?

Yes, but surely it's not about money, Herr Skull?


Well, that's a plan.

Let's recap:
  • The Skull buys a Hollywood film studio
  • He produces a summer blockbuster about Cap, and asks him to come out to help publicize it
  • He creates a new terrorist group, the Nihilist Order
  • He hires a stunt man to act as Nomad to fight the Nihilist Order, to ensure that Cap comes out to California, and to make Cap look bad in the media
  • He gets Ron Burgundy a local TV newsman to really push the "Cap is a self-aggrandizing, inept loser" meme
  • He then has some of his tools from the Nihilist Order turn themselves in, revealing that it was all a plot to ruin Captain America's good name
  • When the ruination and subsequent clearing of Cap's name has him the #1 story on every newscast, Skull cancels the film and instead sells a documentary about Cap to a network, who will show it immediately to an audience at least as big as Roots or The Holocaust (and pockets a cool $5 million)
  • He has treated the film with "a potent hypno-chemical" (don't ask) and inserted subliminal images that will drive everyone who sees it roaming the streets in an "orgy of destruction"
  • Red Skull wins

Man, nothing could possibly go wrong with any part of that plan. Seriously.

Well, Cap tries to stop him, but...

Fool you twice, Cap, shame on you!

But there's one player left on the board:

The Ameridroid busts right into the secret inner Skull sanctum, where the real (really, truly this time!) Skull is running things:

That's odd...Hollywood studios usually implode, not explode...

[SPOILER ALERT--That wasn't the real Skull, either]

Cap makes it to the network studio in the nick of time:

And so Captain America has saved us all again! this something you really want to publicize, to put in the papers? Won't that just make Cap even MORE popular, and so when the inevitable Hollywood blockbuster does come out , it will turn out that that was the film the Skull really treated with hypno-chemicals, and...

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! I saw the movie this summer, I'm going to die!!!

Still, it was a really good movie, so I guess it was worth it...


Here's hoping Frank Miller didn't read this issue:

In this tale, the Water Wizard is using his "make monsters out of water" shtick to make "evil djinns" out of petroleum in Saudi Arabia, so that gangsta Sheik Hurani can take over every oil-rich gulf nation.

So, since Johnny Blaze feels responsible because he let the Water Wizard loose, he goes over there to settle his hash, while Saudi super hero Arabian Knight also goes in to save his country. Predictable Marvel "let's fight instead of talk" hijinks ensue. But they end up realizing that they're on the same side, beat up the bad guys, and part friends.

Wait a minute!! A demon from Hell and a Muslim hero joined forces to prop up the Saudi regime?? This somehow must all be the fault of all of those "Occupy" hippies and louts and rapists and pond scum who are actually helping al-Qaeda!! And this story proves Islamicism is allied with the Devil. And...

I'll shut up now.


Siskoid said...

And I just done watching it again on chemically treated hypno-DVD! Oh nooeeeesssssss!

I just love Cap's trash talking here. Filth, Maniac... they don't make insults that primal anymore.

Stephen said...

Snell, you didn't point out Cal Lummbo, LAPD! Cal Lummbo? Priceless. I want to see a Marvel Team-Up with Columbo, Burgundy and Howard the Duck. Who would they fight...?
I really don't like Skull. He is a total ba#@a$d. Weird how he never seems to hit on the "shoot hin repeatedly in the head" plan for Cap.

Martin Gray said...

I remember that cover, but not much else. How could I forget such a classic? Probably it was too much for my young brain.

Dance, Schnell - sorry, Snell - dance!

snell said...

Siskoid--primal insults for a primal hatred. Until, of course, Red Skull reformed and became Cap's partner...oh, wait, I must have been thinking of X-Men...

Stephen--I left that little tidbit for reader to discover on their own...

Martin Gray said...

By the way, who were Cap's pals at the end? Lenny seems a loser, Arnie Roth can't come soon enough.

snell said...

Martin--they were cast and crew of the cancelled captain America film...

Martin Gray said...

Aha, thankee!

Nicholas Yankovec said...

I loved loved loved the DeMatteis/Zeck run on Captain America; my favourite creative team on Cap ever, I think.

Wasn't there also a really cool scene you didn't show of Cap taking out all the Nihilist Order goons before he gets to the Skull? Or am I misremembering, cause that would have been one packed issue?

snell said...

You are correct, Nick--it was a pretty nice 2-page sequence, but one man can only blog so much...

Joseph Tages said...

Cap #261-263 were my first issues of the series and this Red Skull arc remains my favorite to this day. Marc, Mike, and Quickdraw Studios can do no wrong by me! It's just perfect storytelling.

I loved the Arabian Knight since I first encountered him in Contest of Champions. Yet another of Bill Mantlo's many ballpark knockouts!

Steve said...

I love these insanely convoluted plans villains try, instead of just sitting back and enjoying the millions they use for the schemes.