Friday, August 18, 2006

The Terminus Factor Part One of Five: You are what you eat (Marvel comics)
Captain America Annual #9 When: 1990
Why: Roy Thomas & Dann Thomas How: Jim Valentino

The story so far...
When Sherlock Holmes isn't cracking cases, he shoots heroin. Which is, frankly, why Holmes is nothing but a skinny elbowed English nancy.

Scoffing the most lethal of dangers, Captain America decides to volunteer for an experimental mission to pilot a Stark funded vessel to the center of a newly formed volcano. Why? Well, formerlyto protect Persephone-1 from sabotage, but really, just because he's that good. Human, too.

Things get ugly when a cybernetic egg planted by Terminus begins to crack, and a glowing lot of weird stuff starts to wreak havoc on the mission.
Only by the intervention of Iron Man (who just happens to turn up as Mr. Stark disappears...) do Cap and the pilot escape with their lives -- but so too does the Terminus goo!
Hitting a local waterstream has a strange effect on the fish that swim through it, and subsequently the bear who eats the fish, and so, Terminus enters the circle of life... and the water supply.

Previous form:
Iron Man #2: Iron Man battles Hulk to a standstill.
Captain America #6: Captain America and Cable do battle with AIM.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Iron Man 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Iron Man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Captain America 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: Iron Man 6 (Generator)
Agility: Captain America 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Captain America 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Iron Man 5 (Lasers)

It seems like it's been a while since we've had a straight one-on-one.
I guess it seems appropriate that the Civil War theme provide the first in a while. These two guys are arguably among the top tier of Marvel characters, stalwarts of the Avengers, and most recently, leaders of two different camps of thought.

Captain America isn't necessarily the most free-thinking sunnuva gun in town, but he represents the broadest sense of right, and the ideals of what all men aspire to. In many respects he's what America wants to be in the world, as opposed to what it is. He's a guiding symbol of good, who never backs down.

Stark, both in Civil War, and in general, probably represents more of what America really is. He's a character who made his early life producing technological advancements in weapons, and has essentially built a fortune by neglecting extrapolation beyond what serves his immediate goals -- which means ignoring the potential consequences around him.

Both characters exhibit an All-American iron will, but as the stamina readings show, Iron Man just has a little extra technology to back it up.

Wolverine might have a better PR agent, but Cap is truly the best there is at what he does, and he's about as close to human as you can get, without relying upon gadgets, or iron suits of armor. This guy has all the experience and grit to fight overwhelming odds, and plenty of times he'll even come out on top.

Iron Man's equipped to go toe-to-toe with pretty hefty opponents too, mind you.
The red and gold has regularly diced with the likes of Fin Fang Foom, the Mandarin, Titanium Man, and The Hulk.

So, what does all of that mean? Well, Cap may have taken down Japanese kamikaze pilots, and dropped a few Nazi tanks in his time, but neither of those had the maneuverability or firing power of Iron Man. Nor did they have the ability to out grapple him with hydraulic muscle.

He'll always be a sentimental favourite, but against Iron Man? We salute you anyway, Cap.

What went down...
Washington state has more resaons than a newly formed volcano for a couple o' Avengers to visit. You guessed it! It's time for the annual Georgeville trout feast!
Cue ominous music. Oh yes, that trout*.

Cap's a bit more manly than the silver spoon, so he doesn't bother with any food, but IM goes and sits by himself to chow down on some fresh, local trout.

As Cap is putting the moves on Dr. Napier (the Persephone-1 captain), some schmuck in a suit turns into "... a snarling animal -- leaping at us --!"
Napier makes her alliances known by calling Iron Man for help, claiming Captain America needs help, which promps Cap to machismo the guy head-first into the pavement.

As an angry mob starts to form, crazy eyes Iron Man shows up on the scene.
Snarling ponytail suit guy got the jump on Cap, but Iron Man is a drunk, so he's well prepared to backflip, snatch up the damsel in distress, and forward flip his way through a double barrage of repulsor rays.

In the commotion some powerlines become severed, and some of the raving mob start to head toward them with no sense of repercussion. Cap is there to save a zombified kid, as some guy in lime green pants gets fried.
Cap dumps the kid in a barrel of ice, as Iron Man descends into the mob.

Cap, recognising Iron Man as a threat, tries to take him out quick with a swift toss of his mighty shield. IM goes down, and much to the surprise of the Captain, the mob descends on the Golden Avenger!
Meanwhile -- to his further surprise, the kid he dumped in the ice has returned to his senses. This prompts an idea, and also an impromptu opportunity to cop a feel of Napier's arse, as he ushers her into their helecopter with the rather conspicuous line, "Don't wory about us getting lonely..."

Back in the street, Iron Man blasts his way free of the ravenous mob, and cuts the chopper off as he flies over the snowy mountains.
A direct hit overhead to the main propellor ensures the craft head straight for terra not-so firma.

Emerging from the crashed vehicle relatively unscathed, Cap leaves Dr. Napier and challenges Iron Man to, "-- COME AND GET ME!"

Iron Man does just that, but Cap is able to backflip clear.
After getting nothing but net, shellhead decides to drive it to the hoop, and nails Cap square on the kisser with a swooping left hook.
Showing no fear, Cap eggs Iron Man on, taking a backhand that sends him flying again.

As the Captain continues to provoke the supreme assault from his ally, Dr. Napier could be forgiven for wondering if Cap was going crazy too, but alas, no
For Captain America is not without a plan!

Iron Man throws all the energy blasts he has, and then follows it up with a torpedo dive, knocking Cap a little sillier, as he plants himself deep in the snow. [Ding! Ding! Ding!]

Cap tosses his shield, and knocks Iron Man back momentarily, but the armored Avenger strikes back with a vengeance!

Cap spills over the edge of a mountainous cliff, and hanging on for dear life as the zombified villagers below watch, Iron Man blasts at the very piece of Earth Cap is clinging to!

As the sentinel of liberty begins to fall, fall, fall to his demise, something happens! The icey effects of the snow finally snap Tony Stark out of his maddened haze, and with no time to lose, he swoops down and catches the tiny patch of Earth and scoops Captain America up to safety!

The villagers gradually return to normal, and the day appears saved, but Cap and Iron Man are forced to ponder whether or not the menace of the glowing Terminus goo was indeed through.

The hammer...
Even though things ended peacefully, I've got to give this one to Iron Man based purely on points. Though Cap was ultimately able to pacify his sinister urges, Iron Man thoroughly had his number, and it was only by his will that Cap survived the fall from a cliff.

I had an interesting discussion recently about Captain America, and whether or not he has credibility as a military figure, and that ultimately led to a discussion about Civil War, which leads me here.

The conversation actually began when I said I felt Ultimate Captain America had a militant credibility that I felt the regular "616" Cap had long since lost.
I guess, honestly, there are two contributing reasons for that opinion. One is the stereotype of the fighting soldier as either a hardass drill sergeant, or a mindless jarhead. The other, perhaps the more legitimate half of the argument, is the fact that since his revival in the sixties, Captain America has spent his time devided between his roles as superhero, and ideal.

On this, my friend and I were able to agree - Captain America is an ideal - but our opinions largely diverged on whether or not his role as an ideal had superceded his credibility as a militant figure.

Personally, I err on the side of there being a distinct necessity for them to be exclusive. While a soldier may be inclined to go AWOL given the right motivation, and perhaps do so justfully, I still think there is an inherent responsibility to rank, order, and thought processes that might not necessarily reveal outcomes potentially disasterous.

For example; I feel Captain America's ideals in the Civil War scenario representative of his role as the ideal that all mean, of all colour and creed, should/would like to live up to. They are not, however, the actions of a man considering his responsibility to queen, country and greater good.

I would like to think many of us, when distancing ourselves from the material, would ultimately acknowledge that registration is a good idea. That, in the real world, it's exactly the kind of law we would each wish to see enforced and monitored to the greatest degree. This is particularly relevent, as discussed in a previous 'Hammer,' in a post-tragedy scenario.

What I think, logically, we would disagree with, is the way in which anti-registration heroes are being hounded, imprisoned and attacked with extreme prejudice.
Likewise, allowing Captain America a shred of his all-American dignity, I believe he would object to the methods used, but assuming a military role, as opposed to the role of an uber-idealistic superhero, would oppose via due process.

I doubt the thought process of a man who is almost as viciously opposing the registrants, as they are his camp. This is a man who has almost gone to the lengths to lead children (Young Avengers) into a war with his own country. This is a man putting the needs of certain individuals above the needs of the public, which has just recently lost thousands, many of whom were children.
This, in my estimation, is not the approach of a character with military credibility. This is a character who has filtered through the superhero mould, and abandoned process in favour of ideal.

And maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Also not a bad thing: Jim Valentino's pencils!
Maybe not as realistically tight as some of the contemporary best, but this is not the line I imagine when I think of a man who joined the co-founders of Image comics, and created the oh-so nineties character - Shadowhawk.

The Fight: 4 The Issue: 5

NEXT: We round the month out with the one we've been waiting for - Cap and his supporters versus Iron Man and his supporters. Do not miss it!

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