Monday, December 05, 2011

The Terminus Factor: Captain America Annual #9!

Every so often, I like to blog a series of crossover annuals. Little secret: it's an easy way for me to do several posts at once! We covered Citizen Kang, JLApe, Lifeform was mostly just mentioned in passing...I would love to cover The Evolutionary War or the Atlantis Attacks annuals, since I had those when they came out, but have apparently lost or sold some of them. And I was going to do DC's Ghosts Annuals, but was missing three of the eight. Actually, I can't find the Flash one; I got that whole series from the quarter bins, but may not have even had the Green Lantern or Aquaman ones.

All this preamble, to say we'll be covering The Terminus Factor instead: a five annual 1990 crossover from Marvel, featuring the Avengers versus the giant alien invader. Created by John Byrne, Terminus was an armored monster, a destroyer of worlds, believed dead at the time after destroying the Savage Land in Avengers #257. The Savage Land would get better, but that'd leave Ka-Zar out in the cold for a few years...I want to guess that was part of an editorial push to get rid of or prune down some of the more fantastic elements of the Marvel Universe, since a giant hidden jungle with dinosaurs isn't 'realistic.' Destroying it with a giant alien totally is...

So, we open with Captain America Annual #9, "You Are What You Eat" Written by Roy Thomas and Dann Thomas, pencils by Jim Valentino, inks by Sam de la Rosa. Tony Stark throws Cap into a volcano. OK, actually Cap is serving as anti-sabotage backup, for Dr. Ramona Napier's test voyage of Persephone I, an exploratory capsule. The mission goes awry, when a mysterious egg-shaped object releases a "phosphorescent gunk" and the capsule loses control. Iron Man arrives to assist. (Even if convection probably would've cooked Cap...)

The gunk landed in the river, just in time to infect some fish, for the Georgeville annual trout feast. Cap and Ramona are both a bit seasick from the rough ride in the capsule, but Cap notices Iron Man having a bite, even if he can't see his face. (Tony supposedly wasn't IM at the time; Cap, the Avengers, and everyone else is still pretty sure he is.) They're the only two to avoid infection, and zombification. The townspeople, and Iron Man, go berserk, attacking Cap and each other.
How rage-zombie Tony can operate the Iron Man, I guess it's really intuitive.

One rips out a power terminal and electrocutes himself, and Cap saves a small boy from the same. Shoving the boy into an ice bucket, Cap fights on, but the boy returns to normal from the cold. Luring the townspeople and Iron Man up to the snowline, Cap then has to take a beating from Iron Man until the cold snaps him back as well. Still, they worry that they haven't seen the last of the gunk, and they haven't. Next week: Iron Man Annual #11!

This chapter felt a little light, just a bit of set-up. Most of the rest of the issue is "A Soldier's Story," a Randall Frenz/Mark Bagley WWII Cap and the Howling Commandos tale featuring the Red Skull and the kidnapped Howard Stark. Often portrayed as a complete monster in flashbacks in Iron Man, he does get a heroic moment here against the Nazis.

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