Monday, July 18, 2011

All this week: Captain America!

Since Captain America: the First Avenger opens this week, we might as well try a week of Captain America posts! And we'll start off with one of the first Cap appearances I remember reading as a kid...Amazing Spider-Man #187, "The Power of Electro!" Script and co-plot by Marv Wolfman, layouts and co-plot by Jim Starlin, finishes by Bob McLeod. Cap isn't a surprise guest-star in this one, and neither is the villain; but this was 1978, and possibly the first comic I'd read with them.

Although things had been going pretty well for Spidey at the time, he's still as paranoid as ever, and his current assignment from the Daily Bugle wasn't helping. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have sealed off the Indian Point power plant, evacuated the surrounding area, and clamped down on any information going out; so J. Jonah Jameson suckers Parker into going out to investigate. In short order, Spidey runs into Captain America, who steadfastly refuses to tell him anything.

Spidey realizes Cap is trying to protect him, then leaves. Cap then heads to the power plant, where he finds a kidnapped child, and Electro. Although he admits it's not his usual game, and has picked up a nasty cough, Electro's working a two-fer: a million dollars ransom for the kid (son of a movie star) and twenty-five grand to blow up the power station. A bargain!

Of course, Spidey didn't really leave, and shows up to help Cap pummel Electro. Electro grabs the kid, but Cap explains that may not be wise: the boy was on his way to medical specialists when he was grabbed; because he had been bitten by a rat and contracted the bubonic plague. (Yeah, the plague's usually spread by flea rather than rat bites, but they didn't have wikipedia in 1978!) Electro panics, and tries to 'burn away the plague' with the power station's electricity; Spidey, Cap, and the boy get out before the place blows up.

Later, Cap digs his shield out of the wreckage...something I'm a little surprised he doesn't have to do more often. And Spidey has to get his shots. Dum Dum Dugan makes an appearance, as S.H.I.E.L.D. will have to put out a cover story. He suggests lightning, since it worked during the 'Godzilla' affair. For some time, I thought that was some cool spy code-word thing; before I found out Dum Dum really meant Godzilla.

And, more than thirty years after first reading this issue, I'm still creeped out by rats...

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