Tag Archives: Dr. Malus

Captain America #308 — August 1985

Title: “The Body in Question”

Script: Mark Gruenwald
Pencils: Paul Neary
Inks: Dennis Janke
Colors: Ken Feduniewicz
Letters: Diana Albers
Editor: Mike Carlin

The analysis continues!

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot to analyze this time around.

The reason?

My personal motto has always been “Make love, not Secret Wars“–and that goes at least double for Secret Wars II… Like all of these disastrously annoying company-wide crossovers (they were a huge part of the reason I quit buying superheroes in 1991… well… crossovers and my growing VHS-tape obsession) Secret Wars II disrupted every title in the Marvel line, for no defensible reason. At least Crisis on Infinite Earths had a high narratological concept going for it. This one manifestly did not. This one had god in a leisure suit–sometimes looking like David Hasselhoff…

Which is not to say that nothing of interest occurs in Captain America #308. For one thing, we do get our first real introduction to Gruenwald’s take on Cap (you’ll recall that he was pretty much absent from #307). Back in New York, Nomad, Madcap and Bernie Rosenthal are patiently awaiting the return of the prodigal protagonist, but the SW2 throws everyone a curve by forcing Steve Rogers to heed the call of the crossover to Los Angeles, California. After a conclave with Prof X (which takes place in the main series), Cap makes a beeline for West Coast Avengers HQ, hoping to score himself a quinjet-ride home. He makes his drowsy way through the compound’s defense system, surrounded by a miasma of thought balloons (wherein it is revealed that our harried hero has no idea what day it is–and… frankly…how could he?) Then we get some nice interaction with those charming newlyweds, Hawkeye + Mockingbird. Gruenwald does a good job with this stuff, and telegraphs his intention of keeping Cap’s old antagonist (from the “Cap’s Kooky Quartet” days of Avengers, circa 1965) around as an occasional guest star. Gruenwald had, of course, written and drawn a Hawkeye mini-series in 1983. Along the way, they work in a little plug for the upcoming West Coast Avengers series (which I love, by the way–I consider it among Steve Englehart’s greatest achievements).

Next: Cap gets sidetracked again–this time by a Gruenwald orginal.

I love a good ellipsis/exclamation point combo!

This orange lummox wants in to Avengers HQ in the worst way, but he fails miserably in the attempt. Characteristically, Gruenwald’s Cap fights only to force his opponent to the discussion table:

(notice that Cap is being stalked by some kind of mystery outline)

And talk the Armadillo does:

This is the kind of earnest dialog that Gruenwald does best. It’s simplistic, no question about that. I wouldn’t want to write this kind of stuff–but perhaps what is more important is that I probably couldn’t write it. I’m a pretty jaded fellow–and I was annoyed by the Armadillo on sight–but those two quick panels somehow made me sympathetic to his plight (and it’s not the Paul Neary artwork that’s affecting me). The sympathy is well earned. This is a man who agreed to become a mad scientist’s guinea pig (and–now–errand boy, which is what puts him on a collision course with Cap) on the off-chance that said Doctor (“Malus,” by name) might be able to bring his wife out of a coma. Armadillo is an awfully lovable sap–and just the first in a long line of victims at the hands of Gruenwald’s despicably mercenary 80s-style Doc Frankenstein. Eventually, we get a three-way confrontation between Cap, Armadillo and Malus that ends in a calculatedly anti-climactic stalemate. The upshot is that Cap leaves for New York with one new friend, and one new enemy. (The Malus plot would feed into the larger Power Broker storyline that would dominate so much of this series, during the next few years).

And just before he makes his way back to the storyline that interests me most, we get this wacky stuff:

Followed by this even crazier splash:

This “perfect specimen” crap–necessitated by the imperatives of an inane x-over “event”–will eventually pay off big time in Captain America #350.

For now though, it’s just stupid.

The next issue, however, will be awesome.

bonne nuit!




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