Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Many Deaths of Baron Strucker
Geneva convention or no, I'm pretty sure guys with monocles were to be shot on sight.
While flipping through Fury: Peacemaker #6 again, it dawned on me, again, that Oberst Von Stehle, the monocled German, was probably intended by Ennis to be at least an analog of Baron Strucker. Along with the monocle, both were bald(ing), both were of 'noble,' upper-class lineage, both were utter bastards. And not bastards in a fun, Ennis fashion; bastards as in you can't wait for Fury to kill him to death.

I'm going to have to go to the indica to check which I read first, regarding my first exposure to the Baron: either Captain America #274 (October 1982, I couldn't find it in time, but check out the cover) or The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Book of the Dead #14 (March 1984) In the former, the Strucker appearance is actually a robot Life Model Decoy (man, I miss those, even though they were as overused then as Skrulls are gonna be now...) but the latter explains the circumstances of the ignoble death of Baron Strucker.
How awesome is having the panel of how they bought the farm in the entries of the dead?
(And the above is from the later Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Book of the Dead Deluxe Edition #16, art by Mike Zeck, because it's clearer and has the Baron's death panel.)

I'm going to try to recap the Baron's demise off the top of my head, but I remember the Handbook's entry quite distinctly. On Hydra Island, Baron Strucker was going to have the death-spore virus released, killing off everyone else on the planet. Through a chain of events I'm not sure about, Nick Fury infiltrated the island, incapacitated Strucker, then set up a shell game: Fury puts on a Baron Strucker mask, then puts a Fury mask and a Strucker mask on the Baron. When Hydra guards show up, they find two Strucker's fighting. Fury acts first, 'unmasking' the Baron. The guards chase him, and Strucker ends up locking himself in some kind of reactor. Foomph! (Reading the entry again, the death-spore bomb ends up exploding on the airtight Hydra Island, killing all the Hydra personnel therein. The entry also points out Strucker running around in a panic, which is fun to picture.)

I don't think I've ever seen the actual comic where it happens, and the details seem to fudge every time it's retold, and Strucker's hale and hearty now so it's a moot point; but his death fascinates me. Ever read Hamlet? The play doesn't have the same narrative flow that a novel or a comic would, it just has stage directions. Hamlet and Laertes fight, Hamlet is stabbed with the poisoned sword, they switch swords, Laertes is stabbed with the poisoned sword. The description does technically tell you what happened, but I was befuddled as to how that would happen. (Also, stage direction is a bit dry, and doesn't make it sound like a big to-do, does it?)

Until I actually saw a performance of the play, probably on PBS or something, where the actors really get into the duel. Stabbity, stabbity. There's probably a hundred different ways to stage the fight, but I needed to see one before I could imagine others. Strucker's death and the swordfight in Hamlet were both dry summaries of exciting happenings, but they were interesting enough to make me want to see what happened.

Another page from Fury: Peacemaker #6, "The End of the Beginning" Written by Garth Ennis, pencils by Darick Robertson, inks by Rodney Ramos. I also realized, the regular, 616-Fury, still has his eye, even if he has almost no vision in it...

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