Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"If it weren't for my shield, one of his blows would turn me to paste!"

Hey kids, it's Random Comic Review time, and you know what that means: a random back issue from my personal collection gets reviewed.

Todays's comic up for review is a personal favorite of mine. Not just for the good story, but the cool cover that captured my attention. I'm talking about Captain America(Vol.1)#365.

Now for a brief little backstory on why I like this issue so much. This comic book came out around Mid-December of '89, when I was a simple 8 year-old comic book fan. I was living in West Germany at the time, so the only time I could buy comics is when I went to the local BX bookstore on base. It was there that I would lose myself amidst all the titles that were available at the time from Marvel and DC, and simply pour over whatever comic cover appealled to me. I mostly bought comics because of the cover and interior art, much as I would do for most of my comic book collecting life. If the art was good, then it didn't matter what the story was about. And if the story was good, well then that was a bonus in my young eyes. Hey I'm a visual person so sue me! Anyway, the cover of this issue with Namor punching out Cap while underwater quickly caught my eye and I was hooked! Sure I knew even then, that Namor the submariner was supposed to be a good guy, bu it didn't matter that he was fighting Cap. Neither did the Acts of Vengence banner on the front. So I flipped through it and then decided to buy it, and have never regretted that decision ever since.

This story takes place during the legendary scribe Mark Gruenwald's run, and what a run he had. This issue wasn't my first exposure to Mark's cap run, as I first picked up the last part of his Bloodstone Hunt Saga. I followed that from there with this issue on through his Streets of Poison saga, picked up 381(the 50th anniversary issue), and then sporadically picked up his early to mid '90's run with the CapWolf storyline. Yeah I know that last one is considered silly, but it has been collected into a TPB if you want to have a look see, as has the Streets of Poison story. Getting back to the subject, I throughly enjoy Mark's run during this time as I did back then. Artists Kieron Dwyer and later Ron Lim seemed to perfectly compliment Gruenwald's stories. Clean, yet still dynamic. And overall great storytelling. It doesn't get any better than this. As for the Acts of Vengence banner, for those who don't already know, this company line-wide event was basically all of the villains fighting superheroes they normally wouldn't or didn't fight. For example, Daredevil fought Ultron, The X-Men fought the Mandrin, Wolverine fought Tiger Shark, and so on. You get the idea, and what an interesting idea it was at the time. I guess the general conscenious amongst the bad guys was that if they fought a different foe than they regularly fought, then that would somehow enable them to have more success. Hey that was the basic idea at the time!

Now on to the review.....

Captain America(vol.1)#365 starts off right after the battle between Crossbones and Cap from the last few issues. The story's title is Submission, and you'll see later on why it's called that. 

We start off with the Red Skull in the middle of chewing out his main guy Crossbones and looking pissed off. He's was mad at Crossbones for directly engaging with Cap during last issue, and wants him to go round up any potential bad guys that have just escaped from the government's superhuman penitentiary. CB leaves to go to this, leaving the Red Skull behind in his office. When all of a sudden a mysterious man suddenly appears out of nowhere with a "business propostion" for the Red Skull. It seems the mystery man is getting together a collection of all the major big gun villains to get rid of those pesky superheroes once and for all, and he wants the Red Skull to join him. RS is taken aback by this, and before he can answer, the mystery man disappears leaving a magic door behind. We then join Cap and his friend(and later girlfriend) Diamondback as they make there way to what was then the Avenger's main headquarters, Avengers Island.  What Cap doesn't know, and is explained to him by Jarvis, the Avenger's butler, is that a whole bunch of Doombots sunk the island. I think this occured in the main Avengers title right around this time. We leave Cap as he's dumbfounded how this could have happened, and switch to seeing Namor the Sub-mariner. He too is briefly visited by the same mystery man who appeared before the Red Skull, and also wants Namor to join his little group. Before Namor can respond, the mystery man disappears, again leaving behind a magic door in case Namor decides to join. Back to Crossbones who manages to round up one of those escaped villains. It's the Controller, and he's pissed about being abducted. But he makes a deal with the Red Skull, and we later see him get the drop on Namor, who was simply planning on stopping by the now sunked Avengers Island. The Controller places his patented control discs on Namor's neck and takes off. Instead of wondering what that was all about, we quickly get the answer, as Captain America heads off to go find Namor after finding out that he was recently seen in the area. Cap's flying around on his hoverbike, when out of nowhere Namor goes flying right through Cap and the hoverbike. Cap's knocked into the New York Bay, where Namor drives him quickly under, trying to drown him. Cap tries to stop the attack, hitting Namor's neck in an attempt to reach back up to the surface. He finally makes it up for air right near Liberty Island, when Namor comes up from behind and knocks him down to the ground. He stalks Cap before coming after him again, ready to kill Cap. But Cap's been playing possum, and right at the moment that Namor goes to strike, Cap leaps up and smashes Namor right in the back of the neck with his shield. The blow to the disc takes out Namor and forces him into a coma-like state. We leave Cap swearing vengence upon the Controller for doing this to Namor, after all he was just trying to get the disc off Namor. The issue ends with the Red Skull finally deciding to join the mystey man's group as he enters the door left behind for him. be continued!

If you didn't already know, Namor's fine. The next issue has Hank Pym figure out how to get the disc off without seriously hurting Namor, and goes into Cap going after the Controller. Also in case you didn't know, the mystery man is.....*Spolier Alert*.....Loki. As it turns out, the whole "Acts of Venegence" things was just another scheme to get even with his brother Thor and the Avengers. In the end it doesn't work, but does make for some interesting match-ups. Every main Marvel title was involved for this one, like how it is now, but you didn't have to buy every issue out there in order to understand the main story.

Acts of Venegence, for those who are interested, is readily available in TPB form. This was just recently collected and released last year, and contains all of the relevant titles to the overall storyline. You can always do what I do, and Wiki whatever extra info you want concerning this event.

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