CAPTAIN AMERICA #393-397 (1991-1992)

There have been back-up features in prior issues, and this story brings them into the main story.  Sadly, the “Bad Girls Inc.” back-ups starring Diamondback continue to run and continue to suck.

Red Skull has a crew, they’ve been captured by some German superheroes, and Captain America and some Avengers go to collect them to stand trial in the U.S. 

Only it’s not Cap, and the Avengers, it’s Arnim Zola’s gang of “bioplastoids.” And they’re not in a Quinjet, either…

…It’s Doughboy.

The main villain of the anti-Red Skull villain group is a German super solider named Hauptmann. Captain America gets a lead (planted by Red Skull) and meets him for the first time….

They find a fake Red Skull, dead, with the words “Justice Is Served” behind him–thus setting up a Scourge return.

Again–lots going on in these issues. Mostly, though, this extended arc is a story about the villain collective run by Red Skull.

Beyond that, it’s very had to follow this haphazard story.  Even the character elements are dumb.

For some reason, Marvel thought it was a good idea for Bernie to be jealous of Captain America’s secretary, who is really Diamondback.  She became his secretary when she retired from being a superhero.

Cap was best when he was naive to the ways of women.  Now he’s a ladies’ man? This is stupid, and it doesn’t even make sense.

But one doesn’t read a Gruenwald joint for character work. He’s all about plot and stuffing as many characters as he can into each story. If you don’t think too much and take that angle, you can have fun with this.

Anyway, Red Skull gets free of his captors and basically starts running a facility for C-list villains.  He talks to Viper while he’s in a hot tub. Then this happens:

Gross. He also has an S&M dungeon…

Even the dialog is stilted sexually…

What the Hell is going on in this comic?

And Mother Night is jealous.  Because, you know, every girl wants a Red Skull of their own.

Crossbones visits the Bar With No Name because Red Skull kicked him out of the band and he wants revenge.

Meanwhile, Cap is with The Avengers and learns that Thor is really Eric Masterson, so he makes him an Avenger-in-Training.  Why didn’t this happen in the actual Avengers book?  I don’t know.  These issues are all over the place.

A pretty fun and silly sequence though, with the real Thor and Cap being captured:

The Hauptmann band, staffed by Machinesmith, has hired Taskmaster to train guys like Cutthroat.

They also have a new Jack O Lantern (since Macendale is now possessed by the demon Demigoblin).

Scourge keeps killing villains throughout.

Cap finds the big Skull gang.

And, inevitably, saves the day. Red Skull escapes.

Yes, I left a ton of stuff out of this overstuffed epic. There are some good things here: Making a Cap book that tells the tale of the villain is nice. The running subplots aren’t bad. It’s just hard to keep track of it all.

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