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I Love Ya But You’re Strange – Hey Kids, Look! In This Issue Captain America Gives a Lecture on Superhero Ethics! Fun!

by  in Comic News Comment
I Love Ya But You’re Strange – Hey Kids, Look! In This Issue Captain America Gives a Lecture on Superhero Ethics! Fun!

Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature.

Today we take a look at Captain America #401 by Mark Gruenwald, Rik Levins and Danny Bulanadi, an issue where Mark Gruenwald took the conceit of Captain America-as-a-square to a whole other level…

Okay, to give the context for this issue, note that the Avengers had just finished a mission in outer space where the Kree Supreme Intelligence intentionally destroyed roughly 75% of the Kree Empire so that the remaining 25% would evolve to become even stronger. The Avengers take issue with this, of course, so Iron Man (against Captain America’s wishes) leads a small group of Avengers (including Black Knight, Sersi, Hercules, Thor (Eric Masterson), Vision and Wonder Man) who proceed to hunt down the Supreme Intelligence and kill him/it/whatever. Now, this being comics, the whole “Kree Empire is reborn” thing has more or less been dropped and the Kree are pretty much the same as they’ve always been and the Supreme Intelligence has returned from the dead, but still, at the time Cap was quite irked at his fellow Avengers, leading to Captain America #401…

The issue opens up with Cap passive aggressively asking if they want him to quit…

(as a quick aside, you know you’re taking things too far when you have a “Chief Executive” Avenger)

After they correctly point out that Cap is basically throwing a hissy fit…

Cap then announces that he’s giving a seminar on superhero ethics…

After a short break where Gruenwald explains that Quasar (whose comic was written by someone quite close to Gruenwald) is one of the few Avengers who DOESN’T need a lecture on superhero ethics, we follow Cap to his office where he continues the passive aggressive whining…

“It’s so tough when everyone isn’t as professional as me.”

Then the seminar comes about…

By the way, I love that Black Widow, the spy, has great “superhero ethics.”

So Hawkeye brings Cap to a bar, where, in traditional Gruenwald Cap fashion, we learn that Cap does not drink alcohol (?!?)…

Then Tony Stark comes by to visit and basically throw himself on Cap’s feet for a few pages…

Cap does, at least, sort of kind of forgive Tony, but more in a “I still think you’re a scumbag, but I like you, so we’re still friends” way.

Then Cap learns that his missing friend D-Man is alive and the issue ends on an upbeat moment…

I enjoyed a lot of Gruenwald’s Captain America run. I think he did wonders to Captain America’s Rogues Gallery and he had a strong sense of excitement and forward movement throughout his run (lots of strong action pieces, especially during Kieron Dwyer’s run on the book). It got way too goofy in the post-#400 issues, but overall, the run was enjoyable. However, his “Captain America as a square” routine is just way too silly. I appreciate Gruenwald’s earnestness, but the approach just did not work and since he was on the book for so long, there’s a whole generation of readers who now think that Captain America has to be this goody-two-shoes, when that was not the case when he was created, it was not the case when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought him back, it was not the case during Jim Steranko’s issues, it was not the case during Steve Englehart’s run, it was not the case during J.M. DeMatteis’ run, it was not the case during Mark Waid’s run and it is not the case during Ed Brubaker’s run.

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