Sunday, February 10, 2019

Captain America Epic Collection: The Bloodstone Hunt, Part Two

CAPTAIN AMERICA #354 - Jun ‘89. Notice they even altered the corner box.
Experimental layout has two stories taking up equal portions of each page. Gives the reader the option of reading north-south or east-west.

It also foreshadows the book splitting into back-up stories. One way Gru got around the complaint Cap’s too “dull” to headline a book. As detail-oriented and logic-obsessed as Gru could be, I’m stunned he went the “untouched abandoned base” route. Surely, SHIELD or other authorities would’ve been called in after Cap shut down Machinesmith’s lab, “way back in CAP #249” as we’re told. Ulp. Next page, Cap is criticizing himself for not being properly “meticulous” about tying up loose ends.
There’s actually a consistent theme between the two plots this issue, of heroes not properly cleaning up their messes. The official debut of the US Agent! Having Rogers and Walker swap costumes always seemed like a smart idea.
Gru was able to continue Walker’s arc, and that cool design didn’t go to waste.

A very Gru touch--the Marvel Universe version of the heroes’ comics have issue numbers corresponding with the actual comics.
An in-story explanation for why Agent isn’t quite the character who replaced Cap months earlier. The fame whore bit was totally dropped.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #355 - Jul ‘89. The ‘60s comics they were homaging were only 20-25 years old then.
Rich Buckler fills in, with Al Milgrom staying on inks. Nice, but not as stylish as Kieron Dwyer--who I just learned was only around 20 when drawing this run.The Dwyer/Milgrom team has a unique look I’ve always loved. Never seen Milgrom’s inks look so much like Austin’s, but it works perfectly with Dwyer’s art. Sersi’s intro into late 80s/early 90s continuity begins here. I like Cap reading her actual OHOTMU entry. (With Ron Lim art?)Also, “hedonist” is an occupation, apparently. Cap gets the idea to magically become a teen, and two pages later, it happens. And, Gru’s already nudging Sersi towards the Avengers.Shooter was right! Bad things do happen at the Y.So, it’s Teen Cap. When Gru’s run was held in, let’s say lower esteem, this arc was often referenced. Cap transforming into a teen, a werewolf, and once dressing in drag was a favorite butt of jokes for WIZARD. This likely biased fans against this run for years.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #356 - Aug ’89. Featuring guest art from SECRET WARS II’s hotshot artist!
Al Milgrom was pretty divisive in fandom for years, although within the industry he’s a well-respected artist. I like Milgrom’s work this issue. Expressive faces, clear storytelling, solid inking.He followed Miller on the second WOLVERINE mini, then Zeck on SECRET WARS. I think much of the backlash comes from this. Mother Night is recruiting a new generation of amoral Nazi-esque teens. Imagery is an odd fit with the goofy premise of Cap-Teen.Gru’s casting a different ideology as villainous now. Watchdogs were Religious Right as villains; now we have proto-Antifa.Interesting layout. And that image of the girl’s neck snapping is gruesome.Unless Gru backtracks, Cap’s witnessed the Sisters kill two people so far, powerless to stop them.Mother Night and the Sisters of Sin are the villains, along with some flunkies Gru picked up from literally over 200 issues ago. Gru never seemed to have the attitude that previous runs were immaterial. He always moved forward, but would pull from the past regularly.

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