Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cap with an Uzi? What, no American made guns out there?

OK, there's probably something wrong with that, but it looks fun.
Today, it's pretty standard to see Captain America use a gun on occasion. A lot of the new figures for the movie come with guns, and he's even shooting at something in the new trailers. But for years, it was almost unheard of for Cap to use a firearm; which made today's book so striking: Captain America #321, "Ultimatum!" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Paul Neary, inks by John Beatty. (And that cover by Mike Zeck, fresh off his work on G.I. Joe and the Punisher, although Zeck had a run on Cap some time before.)

Terrorist group Ultimatum (or maybe ULTIMATUM, I suppose) makes its first appearance here, hijacking a jet in mid-air with rocket-powered skis. Led by the fanatic Flag-Smasher, the group's goal is the eradication of countries--as a concept. Rabid anti-nationalists, they believe all the world's people are one, and ought to act like it; seeking to erase national boundaries and identities and conflicts. (A noble goal, but they're dicks about it; and people would find a reason to hate each other regardless.) Defeated by Cap in his first showing, Flag-Smasher offers to trade the hostages for Captain America. So he can be executed on worldwide television.
Either Cap or Mrs. Riddley are a close-talker.
Meanwhile, Cap is enjoying a dinner with Ram, a young boy who had been helping Cap set up a nationwide hotline for emergencies for him; and Ram's rather fetching single (or divorced) mom. Unfortunately, Cap has to leap into action, taking an Avengers Quinjet to Europe. (But no Avengers! Buncha layabouts.) Reasoning Ultimatum may be too new of an organization to have constructed their own facilities, S.H.I.E.L.D. is investigating three of four possible sites, leaving Cap to check out the fourth.

Of course, Cap finds the Ultimatum base, and takes out a guard outpost. Disguising himself as an Ultimatum agent (with his shield under his coat, which should not work, at all) Cap works his way in, then takes a pair of the flying skis to follow Flag-Smasher to the hostages. The foreshadowing is a little heavy here: Cap not only nearly tosses out an Uzi before remembering he needs it for his disguise; and he also laments having to not fight fair by sucker-punching several agents.

Finding the hostages, Cap takes down three of four guards, but the fourth opens fire into the crowd. Having thrown his shield already, Cap has no choice but to gun down the last agent, killing him. With the hostages rescued (with four shot, although it's not clear if any were killed) Cap then sets his sights on Flag-Smasher...

Today, this issue probably seems as quaint as any from the sixties or seventies. But that's the way it was back then: Captain America may have been a soldier in World War II, but he was a superhero, a symbol, now; and did not kill. Cap would track down Flag-Smasher the next issue, while trying to impart the idea that life was sacred--even his. Corny? Old-fashioned? Hokey? Maybe a little, but not a bad notion to try to get across.

3 comments:

Dale Bagwell said...

yeah, this little incident did cause Cap a lot if stress and guilt for awhile, but I don't think it's been mentioned recently. Retconned? Just forgotten or ignored? Could be. But Cap was an honest to god solider, so he shouldn't be so squeamish when it comes to firing a gun. After all, isn't that what he was taught and trained for in the military?

Thank God( I think) that we have the Ultimate Universe Cap to kill without getting all weepy and conflicted over it. He understands when it's necessary and when its not....just like how this Cap should be.

CalvinPitt said...

I get the argument Cap would have killed people during the war because he was a solider, but I've never had a problem with the idea that he didn't kill anyone. I don't see Captain America as someone who'd kill unless it was absolutely necessary. And because he's Captain America, there was nothing the Nazis could throw at him he couldn't handle without lethal force.

Dale Bagwell said...

Oh I agree, especially since the Nazis he's fought have been made to look rather weak. I'm not saying he should be all blood-thirsty and killing people all willy-nilly like, but he should also be put in situations where he's going to have to use lethal force, like in the above example. Cap, depending on who writes him, is smart as hell and will always try t find a the lest lethal way of dealing with the situation. That's a given since that's the type of guy he is, and there's nothing wrong with that. Too many people in thew world aren't as restrained, but to really show some depth to his character, make things an almost lose-lose situation and show what he does.