CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE FALCON: NOMAD (Marvel, First Printing, 2006; Softcover)
Collects Captain America #177-186 (cover dates September, 1974- June, 1975)
Writers: Steve Englehart with John Warner
Artists: Sal Buscema, Frank Robbins, and Herb Trimpe with Inking by Vince Colletta, Joe Giella, Frank Giacoia, and Mike Esposito
Steve Rogers has quit being Captain America, leaving The Falcon flying solo. Things start out with a ridiculous, it could only happen in the '70s storyline where C-Lister Lucifer returns to our dimension. He ends up spotting a store and, missing our Earthly food, breaks into it and eats a snack cake that bears more than a passing resemblance to a Twinkie. I swear that everyone that worked at Marvel in the '70s was high, because a chemical in the snack cake causes Lucifer to slip back into his own dimension. He quickly possesses another body, but sensing that he is burning out the frail human form, decides to split his power across two humans. Again, everyone was high back then, because these are some overly labored stories. I have a soft spot for Englehart's writing in spite of his flying by the seat of his pants because he is so stoned and has no idea where he is going style of writing.
Issue 179 shows Hawkeye return a favor to Steve Rogers. By posing as a villain called The Golden Archer, Hawkeye convinces Steve to become a superhero once again. This issue has a DC Silver Age feel to it. #180 finds Steve reinventing himself as The Nomad, a man without a country. Tapping into the zeitgeist is what Englehart did best. Everyone was disillusioned with America in 1974, with the Viet Nam War and the Watergate scandal. Steve Rogers decides that he can no longer be the symbol of a country and Government that he no longer trusts. Nomad's first battle is with the Serpent Squad, who by the end of that issue team up with Warlord Krang to use the lost Serpent Crown of Lemuria to enslave the entire world. One thing is for sure, villains in the Bronze Age of comics went in large or they stayed home. No two bit heists in the '70s.
#182 and 183 are marred for me by Frank Robbins' overly cartoony artwork. I loved his stuff as a kid, as he did many of my 1980s quarter box finds favorites (Adventure Into Fear with Morbius The Living Vampire, Man From Atlantis, etc.). I find that his work leaves me cold as an adult. I know that I am in the minority, but I dislike his art.
This is all revealed to be the grand scheme of none other than The Red Skull. It is fitting that Steve Rogers faces The Red Skull as his first battle after becoming Captain America, as he was the villain that Cap fought in his first issue back in 1941. As a nod to that issue, the Skull once again plays Chopin's Funeral March before murdering his victims with an overly elaborate and dramatic method.
I was severely disappointed with the ending of this book, as the Red Skull convinces Cap that The Falcon was really his sleeper agent all this time. While we know that this wasn't the case, it was the plot that Steve Englehart envisioned and it stuck for a time before someone else thankfully ret-conned it away later.
|Frank Robbins' cartoony artwork is occasionally effective.|
The writing was very good and the art was a mixed bag, but all in all I had a good time reading these comics. The Bronze Age are seldom considered a high point in the history of the artform, but I enjoy these comics for their sheer lack of self-importance. The people who made these comics didn't even care enough to take themselves or the material too seriously, which is something that is healthy for everyone to do once in a while.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone-
Linework and Color restoration: Some issues look better than others, but overall this is a serviceable restoration job with the original color palette maintained for the most part.
Paper stock: Matte coated stock of sufficient thickness and weight. This is the same stock found in the softcover Marvel Masterworks and Epic line books. This paper is my favorite paper used in any collected editions published by any company.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.