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Captain America 125
"Captured In Vietnam!"


Writer: Stan Lee Artists: Gene Colan and Frank Giacoia

What I like among other things about comic books are the cover blurbs, such as "The Surprise Villain of The Year!" or "This Issue, A Villain Dies!" Makes you tempted to see what's beneath the darned cover, doesn't it? Another thing I like is when people you don't normally expect to see in comic books are present in cameo roles.

What's it like when a super-hero goes up against his buddy's super-villain nemesis? Does the villain go, "You're an okay fighter, Cap... but you're no Shell-Head when it comes to small talk!" This issue tackles the above examples, as well as sending Cap to a place he's been to before... Vietnam!

The cover has an unconscious Cap being dragged through a castle hallway by two brown-suited guys, while the caption promises the presence of the surprise villain of the year! (We'll just see about that!)

Our story opens with Steve Rogers flinging his Cap uniform, frantic for a mission... anything to make him forget Sharon Carter!

They've just broken up, but Cap can't forget about her so easily, especially since he thinks that she lied to him. (But a friendly caption below a worried Steve lets us know that this isn't the case at all!) He thinks if he had a normal job and friends, or social life, he could deal with the loss. (This wouldn't be the case until after Captain America #237 in 1979, when Sharon apparently dies and the writer/artist team of Roger Stern and John Byrne have Steve Rogers become a commercial artist with friends and neighbors galore.)

Steve turns on his TV and watches the six o'clock news (With Walter Cronkite making an unbilled cameo!) A report concerning the disappearance of Doctor Robert Hoskins in Vietnam catches Steve's attention. Known as the peacemaker, Hoskins treated the sick on both sides and now both nations are blaming the other for his disappearance! Steve Rogers changes to... a three-piece suit and heads in search of the doctor.

At the State Department, he uses his Avengers I.D. instead of his S.H.I.E.L.D. one, due to the painful memories of Sharon. As a valet attempts to take his case, Steve hangs onto it. Considering that it holds his shield, it's a good move on his part. The Head authorizes his plane trip and his mission is given top priority.

Aboard a B-52, Steve enjoys the ride until it's time for him to bail out! In the land below, the inhabitants quarrel amongst themselves about the disappearance of Dr. Hoskins. The battles escalate. The absence of Dr. Hoskins causes the war to intensify with fanatic determination. Cap has arrived in Vietnam and is making his way through the jungle when... SPAK! SPAK! Gunfire erupts above his head! A sniper in a tree is given the flying shield treatment from Cap, who hopes that his trusty comrade will return to him, which it does, while the other inhabitants believe Cap to be an enemy soldier!

Cap dodges the twin gunshots, diving into a trench, where he eludes the gun-toting hunters. As his pursuers leave, Cap believes that it was a mistake to wear his costume in the jungle, as it stands out against the terrain. He's in the area where Dr. Hoskins disappeared. Cap sees a tripwire, but pretends to blunder into it. Uniformed men leap on him! (Thankfully for him, it's not a reenactment of Tales of Suspense #39).

Cap notes the strange uniforms as he beats the men back. Since their uniforms don't correspond to the North or South Vietnamese, he decides to let himself be captured! A rifle-butt to the head and Cap is out like a light. The men carry him to a nearby castle, where their master is sure to be watching them. In the mountain stronghold, the Mandarin witnesses this and wonders if the Avengers are aware of his latest plan! (Nice! I'm sure that readers were expecting the Red Skull, Dr. Faustus, or even Batroc the Leaper, but the Mandarin is a good choice. During Mark Waid's run, he'd bring in villains you wouldn't expect the shield-slinger to run into!)

Cap sees that it was the Mandarin who captured Dr. Hoskins. The villain doesn't desire peace in Asia: he would rather have the East and West destroy one another, leaving him as the ruler of the remains. Cap punches out the two guards, while another attempts to spear him. As he dodges, the spear pins his boot to the floor with a TWANG!

As the soldier leaps towards Cap, ZINNG! He punches them out and continues in search of Dr. Hoskins! The Mandarin prepares to use his mystical power rings on Cap, who uses his shield to deflect the rays, and continues to dodge. He spots a metal grid within reach...

Cap enters the grid, while the Mandarin has inadvertantly set fire to his own chamber. Cap spots a steel door at the end of a corridor, where the object of his search may be found. Dr. Hoskins is on the other side of the door, and Cap uses a barrel of gunpowder, as well as his shield to ignite it! BTAMM! The Mandarin arrives and fires his rays in the direction of Cap and Hoskins. He angles his shield so that the blast is deflected towards the drawbridge chain, causing the Mandarin to fall. (I bet the surprise villain of the year wasn't expecting that one!)

Cap carries Hoskins over the chasm, as the Mandarin continues to plummet. At a nearby village, the inhabitants are pleased to see Hoskins once more. Cap believes that both sides will work towards peace. Later, a trenchcoated Steve Rogers makes his way to a waiting airplane... and a new tomorrow.

It's a pleasure to see Frank Giacoia ink Gene Colan.

One wonders why the Avengers and the Fantastic Four didn't go to Vietnam and try to end the war. Perhaps the government forbade them, or their own respective rogues galleries kept them occupied.

Steve Chung
"Reviewed In Vietnam!"