Comic Book Questions Answered - where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
A reader from Hungary, Gabor, wrote in to ask:
I have a comic book question that's been bugging me for a long time (decades even), and I've been wondering if you could provide me with an answer in one of your columns.
In the last issue of the first "Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars", Doctor Doom breaks Captain America's shield. So at the end of the issue, just before our heroes return to their world, Cap does the following: Offscreen he collects the broken-off pieces of the shield down to the last fleck of dust. Also offscreen, he arranges them in perfect order next to the remaining part of the weapon. What we do see, is that Steve meditates for a while, standing next to the workbench, and on the very next panel, he holds his shield whole again, joyfully in his hand.
So my question is, has this ability ever come up previously or sometime after as a retcon? Because this seems like a such a cop out to me. Even more so, considering they did change the status quo in a few things, like leaving Ben Grimm back on the Battleworld or Spidey's getting a new black costume. But they couldn't deal with the consequences of a lousy broken shield?
Here's the scene in question from "Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars" #12 (by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck, John Beatty and a bunch of unnamed inkers)...
It does seem pretty inexplicable there, doesn't it? However, Gabor, as you noted, it has been decades since this comic came out, so you likely have just forgotten the context of the Captain America sequence shown above.
You see, on the earlier page, a few "miraculous" things occurred, and Reed Richards explained that it was due to the residual energies of the Beyonder (which Doctor Doom had harnessed but then lost back to the Beyonder in the issue)...
So no, Gabor, Captain America did not actually fix his shield just through sheer force of will. I mean, I guess he sort of did, but you know what I mean, he did it through force of will and the presence of the Beyonder's energies. So that's why he had not been able to do anything similar since then.
A fascinating thing is that years later, the plot line was actually referenced again, this time in the "Captain America" series that followed the return of the superheroes following Heroes Reborn. Captain America's shield shattered and then other vibranium products began to break down, as well (if you thought that Avengers Quinjets crashed a lot normally, you could only imagine how much they would crash when the vibranium that they are made out of begins to break down!). Tony Stark explained the problem to Cap in "Captain America" #21 (by Mark Waid, Andy Kubert and Jesse Delperdang)...
Thanks for the question, Gabor! If anyone else has a question, feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com!