Friday, September 07, 2007

Dances With Werewolves (Marvel comics)
Captain America #405 When: Late August 1992 Why: Mark Gruenwald How: Rik Levins

The story so far...
Having escaped the feral clutches of lycanthropy before, Captain America finds himself once again strapped to the table of the evil Dr. Nightshade. Intent on turning him permanently, she injects her formula, incurring immediate results.

The feral Captain America proves strong enough of will to resist the influence of Dredmund; Nightshade's partner in crime, and self-proclaimed lord of Werewolves.

Confused and disorientated, the turned Captain America sprints into the surrounding Massachusetts wilderness, his super-soldier body origins giving him an edge against the opposing werewolves. Unlucky for him, werewolves aren't the only feral creatures in the wilderness: Enter the Wolverine!

Previous Form:
Wolverine (#4): Killed Cap in an alternate reality, having already hacked off a few limbs.
Captain America (#5): Aided SHIELD and the X-Men in putting Wolverine down.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Draw 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Captain America 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Wolverine 6 (Generator)
Agility: Captain America 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Draw 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Captain America 2 (Projectile)

So, you remember in that last entry [Captain America #408] I mentioned Captain America was battle fatigued? Yeah, well now you have at least some clue why.
After being turned into a werewolf by Nightshade, Cap snaps free of his shackles and bounds off into the village, where Dredmund turns a bunch of innocent bystanders, and sends them off in pursuit of the Captain. Not that any of that particularly matters, just needlesly elaborating.

These guys have a history together that continues to develop as pieces of Wolverine's missing past continue to surface in stories like the current arc in Wolverine: Origins, featuring WWII encounters between the characters.

On our watch, the first time these two met in opposition was back in our very first entry! [Wolverine #25] saw a Hydra controlled Wolverine finally put down by the intervention of Captain America, but not before he took the X-Men to task, and murdered gay-icon, Northstar. Ouchie!

Wolvie got the chance to even the score up in a What If [Wolverine was never deprogrammed?] spinning out of the same story. In this world, Wolverine was able to evade the finishing blow and hack himself a tasty, side of patriot.
In this world he's able to take the wheelchair bound Captain out. Not sure if that really means anything, but it fills the tape, and gives you somewhere else to go.
If you don't mind breaking a bit of kayfabe, it's fair to see how Captain America has the almost impossible advantage: Harmlessness.

In times of International war, who knows? But in his adjustment to contemporary life, Captain America made the decision never to take a life unless entirely necessary. That makes him a much more child-friendly victor when fighting a man whose chief offense is metallic, eviscerating claws that extend from his wrist.

So affected by this encounter is WOLVERINE, that he makes it his life's mission to be omnipresent, so no one will ever forget his name again...On the page, it could just about go either way.
Each character is supremely skilled in military maneuvers, and both are capable hand-to-hand combatants. Wolverine, more inclined to feral rages and brazen arrogances, is more likely to put himself in a losing position, comfortable in the fact that his healing factor will keep him in the hunt for a later opportunity.

Both men are one-man army corps (*cough*), but Cap probably comes to mind more immediately when you think piles of Hydra goons. That said, despite all this evidence, he has one of the highest loss percentages in the Infinite Wars, currently sitting at an anchoring 37.5% (versus Wolverine's 23.8%).

The Math: Captain America (Meta Class)
The Pick: Captain America

What went down...
With his strength and agility enhanced even further, Captain America swiftly evades the oncoming attack of Dredmund's wolven followers. He sprints further away from their growls, coming across a "man with long claws," who is lost in an entirely different haze of animal ferociousness.

Instincts and muscle-memory give Cap-Wolf mind to call upon the defensive aid of his shield as Wolverine slashes wildly with his adamantium laced claws. They rake across the vibranium alloy of the shield, literring the ground with sparks.

Cap-Wolf grapples with the raging Wolverine, wrapping his own clawed fingers around the mutant's wrists to defend against his wild slashing. Through the red fog of his feral transformation, the Captain tries to communicate with the berzerker Wolverine, trying to find audible understanding.

Though Wolverine pauses for a moment to exchange snarls, it proves a costly opening for the lycan-Captain. Wolverine connects with his adamantium claws, opening up Cap-Wolf's shoulder with a deep gash.

The pain of the wound only stirs Captain America's animal urges further, sending him into a reactionary rage that he cannot control. With reflexes enhanced by both lycanthropy and super-soldier serum, he lashes out with a clawed slash!

Blood sprays, and Wolverine is momentarily blinded by the slashes across his eyes. Before his healing factor can stitch them up, Cap-Wolf hoists the spandex-clad mutant above his head, and with the villager werewolves closing in, hurls him in an unsolicited variation of the fast-ball special!

Cap will almost certainly be hearing from the X-Men lawyers, but as far as the battle goes, he is free to gallop deeper into the woods, victorious!

The hammer...
Bringing it up two-to-one in his favour over the clawed X-Man, your winner, by a snout -- Captain America!

If you're a regular reader of the Infinite Wars, you'll already know that Captain America is eventually freed from his curse of science, and goes on to kill a weird, spacey clone, and takes the Falcon out to dinner. Okay, that last part I made up, but y'know, the rest is true... If you missed it, you can find it here.

Much like the afforementioned previous issue of Captain America, this one contains a handful of additional fights. With our new format, no doubt you'll be seeing some of the quick fixes in the near future, along with some other battle featuring more obscure characters, like Dr. Druid. Until then...

This is usually the part where the feature would somehow flow into some point of discussion. Maybe some sort of recap of recent comics history, a perspetive of reflection upon something contemporary, or maybe even a rant about making the Sub-Mariner kingpin of crime. Unfortunately, the relevance of Man and Wolf is questionable beyond the geek-chic of a werewolf Captain America.

Why go there? Heck, what kind of a website would we be if our statistics weren't coming from every avenue, regardless of long term impact or relevance?
We got here through Marvel Ultimate Alliance Mondays, and we stayed here because, well, I just felt like it. Maybe it was because President Bush is currently all over the place with the APEC summit, or maybe it was just the chance to see another hero-v-hero battle with Captain America AND Wolverine involved.

HASELOFF: Bowling the competition over with his cosmically fanciful tangents!Actually, to be fair, this clash does bring us to one of the long debated facts of comics history.

If you've been following along at home, you'll no doubt be aware of the Alex Ross headed project set to bring a time travelling Invaders trio [Captain America, Namor, Toro] to the post-Civil War present.

The team, fresh from the Second World War, represent a younger, more battle-ready generation of heroes from the past. Among the many noteable comparisons we can expect, will be more aggressive and pro-active heroes than we may otherwise be used to, even in a time when heroes hunt and imprison each other.

If you're one of the many new schoolers hitting us up, you may not have ever stopped to consider the violence perpetrated by the heroes of the 1940s. A popular, if non-specific reference, is often then teen icon, Bucky, who as sidekick of the super-soldier Captain America, was to regularly have appeared toting an automatic weapon, gleefully mowing down hordes of Germans, or Japanese.

There's a contention between factions that argue exactly what it means to be a "superhero," and exactly how that translates to the wholesome, star-spangled heroes of the Second World War.

Idealists tend to prefer to consider the mark of the hero's worth by his ability to fight the good fight, without ever needing to take a life, however, that particular slant has a way of reinventing history, rather than honoring it.

I personally fall somewhere in between. I'm without a doubt a traditionalist, but at the same time, I can't help but be interested by the prospects of moral diversity in heroes. I like the idea that perhaps we can have it both ways, and that it's perhaps even greater to measure Captain America as a hero who survived bloody war times, and made the choice to take advantage of what is essentially a second-life, and do something truly extraordinary with it.

Speculation surrounding the Invaders/Avengers time-spanning crossover mini has been too distracted by teaser images to worry about the degree of violence that may accompany these battling Invaders. The earliest promotional shot used the central image of Captain America as a teaser for his apparent "return."

This, of course, has since been revealed to be a tagential return for the character, but the inevitable question remains: When, and how, will Captain America return to the Marvel universe?

Fans seem resigned to the fact that of all the heroes to stay dead, Captain America is among the least likely. This time around probably doesn't seem like the occasion to do it. Still, despite his death, Cap remains as hot a property as ever, with promise of a film sometime after the 2008 Iron Man feature sitting gingerly on the horizon. Can it be long before the mass media has a chance to spoil his return, in the same way they spoiled his death? Time will tell.

Bahlactus may tell, too, for he sees all, sucka!
It's Friday Night, which means, barring confusion and lack of concession for my time difference (living in the future, as I do), he may well be seeing us!
Bahlactus remains a cosmic force- neither hero nor villain- dedicated to the consumption of all things fight!

Gaze upon him and tremble... Before a two week hiatus!
If you're looking for a fight fix during the break, be sure to stop by!

Wrapping up with the plugs, you can also catch more sketching goodness from Pedro Cruz, who has returned from his travels abroad. I got to get giddy like a schoolgirl over being an author on a blog that wasn't mine for a week while posting for him while he was away, and you know what else has me giddy like a preteen? The Kirby Martin Inquest #1, which is on sale at Nite Lite Theatre.

If you haven't, you should do the right thing, and go get yourself a copy.
It's only $2.99 through the ever-snail paced ComixPress. They may be slow, but really, aren't they just making it all the more exciting? Wheeee!

The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 3
[The #408 review highlighted presumed editorial interference impeding on the story. As "Billycomics" so rightly pointed out, it really wasn't the most stellar story to begin with. A fun nineties comics, not at all worthy of the flame breathing hatred of some, but likewise not about to win any awards.]


Blockade Boy said...

Wait a minute... Cap looks more like a were-collie in those panels. Not that a collie couldn't still jack your shit up, but the spookiness factor takes a real downturn. And I love the old monster-man trope of a transformation completely destroying the lower 1/4 of a pair of trousers. That's why lycanthropes should just stick to bell-bottoms.

Thanks for posting about this story! I'd heard a lot of things about it over the years but I'd never seen any panel scans or recaps. I agree with you; tonally it doesn't feel like a typical Cap story but it doesn't seem like a bad story in and of itself.

Mike Haseloff said...

Hah! Aye, not exactly the most intimidating wolf around town, but then, I suppose they don't want their ICON deevolving to a point of no return (and no pants).

Pleasure to be of service!
I like to think, among other things, Secret Wars on Infinite Earths is a gateway to stories often referred to, but ne'er revisited.

It's interesting to think of other perspectives the story could have been told from. I mean, you put it through a contemporary filter and imagine, like you suggest, a much spookier, more atmospheric werewolf tale, and it's suddenly a really interesting beast.
McGuffins a bit stronger than 'mad scientist injects serum, just cuz' would be nice.

Then again, in the bigger picture, it's hard to get away from the story as a case of someone saying, 'Hey, what if we made Cap a werewolf?'

In the larger context, it's just hard to see that kind of story existing in the dense, flowing world of Captain America as it is today.

Thanks for the comment!
If you missed it, be sure to check out how it all ended in Cap #408, and browse around.