Wednesday, April 30, 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA #251

"THE MERCENARY AND THE MADMAN"
Beginning: An all-new excursion into the life and times of America's Living Legend, as chronicled by:
Writer: Roger Stern | Penciler: John Byrne | Inker: Josef Rubinstein
Letterer: Jim Novak | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Flag-Waver: Jim Salicrup
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: After spending a little time reflecting on his life, Cap returns to his apartment to work on some storyboards. Meanwhile, Mr. Hyde is broken out of prison by Batroc the Leaper. Hyde convinces Batroc to work with him on a scheme to make millions of dollars, and the next day the duo, along with Batroc's men, hijack a Roxxon Oil super tanker. Hyde threatens to ram the tanker into Manhattan unless Roxxon can raise a billion dollars' ransom, plus deliver Captain America to him.

Cap travels out to the tanker but springs a trap on the villains; however Hyde is too much for him to handle and he is captured. Tied to the tanker's bow, Cap has a front row seat as Hyde sets course for Manhattan at ramming speed.

Continuity Notes: At the story's outset, Cap recalls getting his memories in order in issue #247, then spends the first few pages of the issue recapping his life in the present day, since the Avengers thawed him out of suspended animation in AVENGERS #3. Among his recollections are his battles with the Red Skull, his partnership with the Falcon, and his love of SHIELD's deceased Agent 13, Sharon Carter.

Hyde is sprung from Ryker's Island penitentiary, which at the time was the Marvel Universe's main prison for super-criminals.

The morning after his all-nighter at the drawing board, Steve Rogers is visited by Bernie Rosenthal. Bernie makes breakfast for the pair, marvelling at Steve's taste in antiquated music beforehand. Later during the meal, she reveals her profession: she is a glass-blower.

Bernie also brings Hyde's escape to Steve's attention, though when she mentions "the big breakout at Ryker's Island", Steve initially assumes she's speaking of the Cobra's escape a week before, as seen in the Stern-scripted PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #46.

Upon learning that the mercenaries who broke Hyde out had French accents, Cap suspects Batroc may be involved, and pays a visit to District Attorney Blake Tower. While at Tower's office, a footnote reminds readers that Cap nearly ran for president last issue.

Cap references a previous encounter with Mr. Hyde in CAPTAIN AMERICA #152, where the villain had a glass jaw. Roger Stern, who is on record as believing that certain super-strong characters had been gradually de-powered over the years, gives Hyde a moment to gloatingly retort that he was not at full strength during that battle.
It is specified twice that Batroc requested Captain America's presence along with the ransom. Could this be a clue to something which will resolved next issue...?

My Thoughts: I love stories that add to the "shared universe" concept without making that universe feel claustrophobic. Example: this issue is the middle portion of what could be called a Cobra/Hyde trilogy by Roger Stern. PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #46, published a couple months before this issue and occurring a week before, featured Cobra escaping prison and electing not to free Mr. Hyde with him. Now we see Hyde's escape here in CAPTAIN AMERICA #251, followed by references to Cobra next issue. Hyde will finally catch up with Cobra in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #232, published almost a year after this issue. It's this sort of inter-connectedness, without the need to bash readers over the head with the concept, that really appeals to me about the Marvel of this time, and about Roger Stern's writing in particular.

Also -- a while back, I wondered if being evil was a required job qualification to work for Roxxon. As it turns out, maybe not. When Hyde attempts to blackmail the corporation with his intention of ramming their tanker into New York Harbor, he gets ahold of Pierce Benedict, Roxxon's Director of Sea-Going Operations, who is horrified at the loss of life the scheme could cause. I wonder what Benedict thought about that time Roxxon killed an entire town in Iowa.

No comments:

Post a Comment