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I Love Ya But You’re Strange – The Time Captain America Tried to Win the War on Drugs

by  in Comic News Comment

Every installment of I Love Ya But You’re Strange I spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories. Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

Today we take a look at how Captain America tried to win the War on Drugs in Captain America #372-378 by Mark Gruenwald, Ron Lim and Danny Bulanadi…

Here’s possibly the oddest thing about this story – how it all began. Cap is just on regular patrol when he sees a member of the Serpent Society. The snake-themed villain, Boomslang, runs away from Cap and Cap pursues him. Boomslang then inadvertently runs right into a bunch of drug dealers who shoot him on sight…


I love how multi-cultural this particular gang is.

Cap arrests the gang members (but not before they accidentally shoot one of their own while trying to kill Cap). Cap returns to Avengers Mansion to learn that the Avengers handyman, Fabian Stankowicz, is acting strangely. As it turns out, Fabian is on drugs…


Dude is tripping HARD.

So Cap tells him he has to go into rehab, and then Fabian gets the party started by trying to “zing” Cap a bit…


There’s no “uh” about it, Cap. It’s flat out different. It’s a stupid comparison. Cap’s Super-Soldier-Serum is a “drug,” true, but so in Penicillin or Insulin or any number of perfectly normal, helpful drugs out there. You don’t tell an asthmatic who uses an inhaler that “you’re on drugs!!!” even though inhalers tend to literally contain steroids. The whole thing is silly.

HOWEVER, one of the things I loved about Mark Gruenwanld, and the only thing that keeps some of his odder stories in the realm of I LOVE ya but you’re strange instead of just being awful stories, is the earnestness that Gruenwald told his tales. You obviously could tell the point that Gruenwald was trying to make and it was a noble one, even if it didn’t make any sense.

So Cap goes to the internet and decides to learn about drugs in a really odd little scene “It’s never occurred to me until now to find out about illegal drugs”…


Cap decides to solve the drug problem by tracking down Fabian’s drug dealer. However, after he finds their stash, it is blown up and Cap is accidentally exposed to the Ice, which basically begins to make Cap act irrationally, like when he flips out on Peggy Carter and Diamondback when he gets back to the Mansion after the explosion…


Diamondback (who was Cap’s girlfriend at the time) knows something is up, so she decides to go undercover to find out what his deal is. Her undercover outfit has to be seen to be believed…


She later explains that “undercover” meant “not recognizable as Diamondback.” It fails there, too, as if you want to make sure people don’t know it is Diamondback, perhaps you should lay off the Diamond motif. But at least that makes more sense than “this will make it easy to blend in.”

Cap’s war on drugs gets nuttier and nuttier as Cap gets more and more insane from the drug…


“Bock bock” should be Cap’s new battle cry.


“There’s never anything wrong with me!” is an awesome line.

Okay, so Cap is eventually captured by the Avengers and taken into custody. While out of it, he dreams about the Super Soldier Serum as Gruenwald continues to try to make a connection where there is none…



Since the Ice has bonded to his system, Hank Pym solves the problem by cycling out Cap’s blood entirely.


The end result is that Cap’s blood no longer has the Super Soldier Serum in it, so he is no longer super strong. He decides he must prove himself as Captain America without the Serum…


Throughout the storyline, a subplot has been a gang war between “normal” drug dealers controlled by the Kingpin and new drug dealers selling this new Ice drug controlled by the Red Skull. The Red Skull’s henchman, Crossbones, even gets into an awesome fight with Kingpin’s henchman, Bullseye (who also had a really awesome fight with Cap in the story – Gruenwald and Lim really did a great job on their battle – a really well-thought out sequence).

So in the last issue, the two villains decide to solve their dispute in the only way villains know how – strip into their underwear and fight it out…




I don’t think I can unsee Red Skull in a speedo.

Cap shows up at Yankee Stadium and ends up battling with Crossbones and in defeating him, Cap proves that he doesn’t need drugs to still be Captain America. Of course, the only reason Cap IS Cap is because he took the serum in the first place, but that’s apparently neither here nor there.


In the end, Cap is happy with just the war between Red Skull and the Kingpin being over (the Kingpin won their fight), even though that wasn’t what he set out to do in the beginning of the story, but I guess you take any win you can get.

So after everything settles down, Hank Pym offers Cap his Serum back. Cap says no, as he just says no to drugs…


Again, the whole thing is just ill-thought out, if noble in intention. The Super Soldier Serum has no negative side effects. It just makes you stronger. That’s it. That’s not at ALL the same thing as narcotics or even stuff like the steroids that athletes take. So taking this “say no to all drugs” approach is just foolish, as again, this would lump in medicine with narcotics and no one should want to do that.

As it turned out, Cap didn’t even get rid of the Serum, as detailed in this old edition of Abandoned an’ Forsaked.

Thanks to reader Will B. for suggesting that I feature this one. If you have suggestions for future editions of I Love Ya But You’re Strange, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com