Saturday, August 12, 2006

Honestly, I can't tell which goon has the worse job.

Would you rather...

A. Have to pat down the Kingpin, which really should be a two person job if they want to have this fight in the near future.

B. Touch the scabby face of the Red Skull. Gross!

C. Have to fight a huge-armed, skull-masked sociopath, in Yankee Stadium, while coming down really hard?

Again, from the Streets of Poison storyline in Captain America, written by Mark Gruenwald, art by Ron Lim. The larger storyline was an anti-drug rebuttal: if drugs are so bad, how come Captain America was created by a drug? Probably because there's a difference between the Super-Soldier Serum, and black tar heroin. Mmm...heroin. The SSS is probably more akin to steroids, but Cap's never shown any ill effects attributed to steroids like "roid rage." It's like trying to explain "drugs are bad" without differentiating between a legitimate (if experimental) medical treatment; and something made out of cough syrup and battery acid then purchased in a back alley from a guy with three teeth.

During the course of the storyline, Cap is exposed to large quantities of crack in a warehouse explosion, and the crack latches onto the SSS already in Cap's blood and stays there. So, Cap gets high, and stays high, getting weird, then paranoid and violent. Black Widow, Diamondback, and Daredevil all try to stop the increasingly erratic Cap, for his part, administers a beating on Daredevil so bad that he pretty much beat DD amnesiac. (As mentioned earlier, but we may come back to that) And to subdue him, the Widow has to shoot Cap in the face (!) with her wrist-blaster thingee.

In the last issue, after having the tainted blood removed, a SSS-less Cap has to prove himself by fighting Crossbones. (The Super-Soldier Serum altered Cap's DNA, if I remember correctly, although he needed a blood transfusion at the start of Mark Waid's run too.) Meanwhile, the Red Skull and the Kingpin are going to duke it out, mano a mano, to see who will get custody of the drug trade in New York City. Currently, the Skull is in a cloned copy of Cap's body (but with a scabby head!) and is a seasoned fighter; while the Kingpin is near the top of his game, and built like a sumo. And the guy searching the Skull misses a shield activator on the bottom of the Skull's heel, which creates a ring for them to fight without interference. (That guy: soooo fired.)


Ian Myles Slater said...

Over at Monitor Duty, Alan Kistler's survey of the various embodiments of Captain America and Bucky also explores the occasions on which Marvel has faced the obvious,and treated the Super-Soldier Serum as a drug, and a pretty dangerous one at that ( Even without accidental admixtures, some of the versions of SSS do seem, in some tellings, to have produced paranoia and outright delusions. (Retcon time, mostly, but not exclusively.)

There have been some interesting discussions at Polite Dissent ( of similar comic-book "formulas," which are obviously performance-enhancing drugs, notably Miraclo and Venom. The latter was speculatively classed as a sort of "street version" of the former, belonging to the same class, chemically. Figuratively, of course, as a comment there also noted, Venom is a steroid. But it functions as a more drastic version of Hourman's drug-of-choice -- which was eventually acknowledged in modern storylines as addictive, and potentially quite dangerous to long-term users.

The Fortress Keeper said...

The Red Skull in underwear.

I believe I just lost my sight.