Wednesday, August 23, 2006

That's like the 27th Ultimate Frisbee fatality this year.

Phoenix tells Cap about how great his dad was, like the bestest Nazi scientist ever! The elder Baron Zemo had invented a hand-held laser weapon in the 40's, and the aforementioned Adhesive X, a glue that "once applied, nothing could remove it!" While that sounds silly, I suppose if you had a glue so strong you could build tanks using it, that would be something. Something hideously unsafe, yeah, but something.

Since American newspapers called the laser a 'death-ray,' Phoenix notes that 'propaganda' made his father "the most hated man in Germany!" (Yeah, ok, we know you're proud of your dad, but that's just not true.) Zemo had taken to wearing a mask, although I'm not exactly sure how that was going to help. Even in the Marvel U. during WWII, there weren't that many masked Nazis. Couple dozen, tops. The mask pretty much just singled him out for Cap's attention, who ends up smashing a tank of Adhesive X over Zemo, who ends up with his mask glued to his head forever. (From an old Marvel Handbook, I believe Zemo had to be fed intravenously for the rest of his life.) Lashing out at his family, the Baron soon disappeared, and his wife died shortly thereafter, leaving Helmut alone.

Now the continuity is a little dicey here: Phoenix makes a living on his scientific knowledge, until he sees the headlines of Cap's return. Returning to Castle Zemo, he recreates his father's death-ray and Adhesive X. But, the original Baron Zemo was killed shortly after Cap's return, and Phoenix had already been working on his revenge. Busiek would straighten this out a bit in Thunderbolts, as I would've thought they would try to get in touch to get revenge together. Cue "Cat's in the Cradle." Or don't.

Either way, Zemo is about to dump Cap into the Adhesive X, when Falcon and Redwing smash through the skylight that all warehouses have. Sam totally knew Cap was just trying to get him out of harm's way, but with his bird running interference, Falcon's beating Phoenix pretty handily. In fact, the beating is getting so bad, Cap feels bad for the "misguided fool still fighting World War II!" He manages to get loose, and stops the Falcon from further thrashing Zemo.

Phoenix takes this opportunity to try to kill them both with Cap's own shield. I applaud thinking big, but I have no idea how the hell he thought that was going to work. It would be like trying to stop two people by throwing a manhole cover at them: you might get lucky and get one, but even that's pushing it. And he manages to miss Cap and Falcon both, and boomerang it back into himself. Again, no idea: Cap's shield doesn't naturally return or rebound, Cap has to bounce it off things or put a helluva lot of spin on it. But, Zemo goes into the tank of Adhesive X.

Cap starts to try to save Phoenix, but Falcon, quite rightly, stops him. Not a lot of superheroes are going to be able to dive into a boiling vat of unbreakable glue to save a Nazi, but that may be just as well. Cap mopes that, "the big war just claimed another victim," and that his revival also brought back "a whole generation's hatreds--hatreds that should've been left frozen a quarter of a century ago!" Cheer up, Cap: we've got a whole ton of new hatreds now!

This is about as objective as I could be on this comic: thanks to listening to that record so many times, I love it to this day. Probably 15 years after last hearing it, I bought the comic at Red Iguana Comics in Missoula, MT, for a dollar. And today I was able to read it and listen to it at the same time, for the first time. A pretty good day.

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