For Part One of this series click HERE.
CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON Vol 1 #176 (August 1974)
Title: Captain America No More
Villain: Steve Rogers’ drama queen tendency to quit being Captain America every so many years. This was already the SECOND time he had pulled this.
Synopsis: Captain America, still reeling from the monumental revelation about the leader of the now-defeated Secret Empire, has been contemplating whether or not his disillusionment is strong enough to drive him to quit being Captain America.
NOTE: In spite of my joke above, I do recognize that THIS time that Cap quit let the Marvel Comics writers explore competing nationwide feelings of the time period. I would argue that this time also should have been the last time this gimmick was pulled. Everybody always knows that Steve Rogers will go back to being Captain America no matter how many times he quits.
While weighing his decision, he motorcycled from Washington DC to New York City, where he and his fellow Avengers fought alongside Captain Marvel and Drax the Destroyer in the first Thanos War (1973-1974). He was also still with the Avengers when they faced the supervillains Klaw and Solarr.
This issue picks up late that same night, after the Avengers’ official farewell dinner for the Black Panther, who was temporarily leaving the team to devote all his attention to Killmonger’s uprising in Wakanda. Cap stands on the rooftop of Avengers Mansion, still engaged in soul-searching.
Captain America reminisces about how he was first transformed into Captain America decades earlier. He reflects that “Nothing else in my life, before or since, has ever even come CLOSE to that moment.”
He also ponders the rest of his World War Two career, his winding up frozen in suspended animation until the Avengers discovered his frozen form in 1964, etc. But always every memory leads back to the same moment – when Cap learned the secret of Number One from the Secret Empire.
Suddenly, Thor joins Captain America on the mansion’s rooftop. He appeals to Steve Rogers to continue in his superhero identity. From Thor’s point of view, since that is the guise in which Cap does “glorious battle,” it is worth keeping because it lets him fight for the right, with his “blood roaring” and his battle prowess being a man’s “measure for survival.”
While flashing back to some of the Avengers’ clashes with foes like the Lava Men, Kang the Conqueror (left) and others, Thor also argues that it is in battle “that a man be most fully alive” and “true nobility will out!” Cap replies that he hasn’t seen as much “nobility” these days as he used to see and that Earth isn’t Asgard, where battle is EVERYTHING. Thor offers Steve his friendship any time he needs it, then flies off.
Cap goes back inside the mansion, where he encounters Iron Man, who also offers his opinion on Steve’s dilemma. Iron Man argues from the side of responsibility, pointing out that people who have the powers and abilities that Cap and other superheroes have should feel a certain noblesse oblige to use those powers and abilities for the world at large. He uses Avengers’ battles against Mole Man and the alien Kallusian race as examples.
Cap argues back that even though he HAS been using his powers and abilities for the world at large, so many people were willing to believe the Fake News and other lies spread about him by the Secret Empire’s media outlets. (Hey, Cap, try living Spider-Man’s life some time.)
Suddenly, the Falcon bursts into the room where Cap and Iron Man are debating this. Peggy Carter and Sharon Carter are with him. Sharon explains that Falcon and Peggy were looking for Cap at her place and she figured he was still at Avengers’ Mansion after the day’s events with Klaw and Solarr.
Peggy, still in the dark about Steve Rogers’ and Sharon’s romantic relationship says she is puzzled why the Falcon insisted they check at Sharon’s apartment (what a Soap Opera) but it’s good that Sharon thought to check Avengers’ Mansion.
The Falcon tries to get Cap to open up about why he wants to quit and to explain the massive governmental coverup that descended on Washington right after Cap pursued Number One into the White House. Steve insists he can’t violate his national security oath regarding what happened, in spite of how close he and Sam (Falcon) are.
That being the case, Sam Wilson instead makes a personal appeal to Cap. He rehashes his own origin (this is basically like a Clip Show). Falcon recalls aloud how he and Cap first met when Sam, his hawk Redwing and Cap were all stranded on the desert island HQ of Cap’s old foes the Exiles and the Red Skull.
Cap taught Sam all the acrobatic and combat skills he would need to go up against supervillains and helped him with his original green costume. By the time that adventure was over, Sam Wilson was well and truly the Falcon. In a nice writing touch, Sam says “Nothing else in my life, before or since, has ever even come CLOSE to that moment.”
Falc goes on to emphasize how much he values his friendship with Cap and how thrilled he was to meet him again several months later when they met by coincidence and brought down the gang led by the supervillain called Diamond Head.
Sam further recalls how Cap visited him in Harlem not long afterward and asked him to be his full-time crime-fighting partner. No sooner had Falc said yes than they had to save Harlem from obliteration at the hands of Cap’s old foe Modok and his A.I.M. armies.
After recapping how their next battle came against the gangsters led by Stone-Face, the Falcon closes by pointing out that if all the “good guys” like Cap quit in disgust, soon only the corrupt people will be left running things.
Next, Peggy uses her worldview from the World War Two era to encourage Captain America not to quit, telling him that any country has scandals and has to deal with them as they surface. Similarly, he needs to deal with whatever is eating at him.
Peggy closes by reminding Cap that Sharon told her how hard he fought against the 1950s Captain America when he was revived and wanted to take back the Captain America title, yet now he’s willing to voluntarily let it go. She reminds him he fought to keep it because he is the best man to be a truly nationwide hero.
Cap argues back that since he emerged from suspended animation he has seen that the country is not one singular entity, that many Americans have goals that are completely contrary to each other. He asks which version of America he is supposed to represent.
Next the Vision enters the room and offers the surprisingly simple-minded advice that Cap should ask himself if he can truly turn away from a life of adventure. After that, Cap asks to be left alone to think.
Sharon lingers after the others leave the room and she tells Cap how much she loves him and reminds him that she fell in love with Steve Rogers even before she knew he was Captain America. Even if he quits being a superhero she’ll still have that man.
After they kiss and Sharon leaves, Cap faces the moment of truth and reflects that he had already considered and rejected most of the arguments his friends made tonight. He has seen everything he fought for over the years become a cynical sham.
He enters the room where Sharon, Peggy, Falcon and the other current Avengers (Iron Man, the Scarlet Witch, the Vision, Mantis and the Swordsman – Thor has not come back to the mansion yet) are waiting. For this issue’s cliffhanger, Cap tells them:
“I’ve asked myself if Captain America must die (I TOLD you he was a drama queen) and if I had the courage to carry out the verdict. The answer to both questions … is YES.”
CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON Vol 1 #177 (September 1974)
Title: Lucifer Be Thy Name
Villains: Lucifer and Aries
Synopsis: This story opens up the day after Steve quit being Captain America and the Avengers made the announcement. Sam Wilson wakes up in his Harlem apartment after having a nightmare in which he and Cap were still partners and he wound up dying in the same fashion as Bucky did, but against modern-day foes.
NOTE: For decades it was Marvel canon that Bucky was indeed dead. Ultimately that was retconned to his having secretly survived as the Winter Soldier.
The next time Sam runs into Steve in his civilian identity he tries to casually nudge Steve into donning his costume and going on patrol with him, like they always used to do. Steve insists that Captain America is gone for good and declines the offer.
After a tense argument, Sam puts on his Falcon costume and flies off with his hawk Redwing, saying that if Captain America is gone, he has no reason to listen to anything Steve Rogers has to say anymore.
Steve ponders if following his conscience like he has done means he will lose more and more of his friends.
Meanwhile, in an alien dimension, we readers join the alien Lucifer of the Quist race. He has been trapped in this other dimension by his superiors ever since his three failed attempts to conquer the Earth for them. The first two times he was stopped by the X-Men and the third time by Iron Man.
At last, the ionic energy-powered Lucifer has obtained his prison dimension’s only existing chunk of the extraterrestrial element called casadrax. That chunk powers his Dimensional Transmitter, letting him at last return to the Earth.
After his arrival scares off a regulation fictional wino, Lucifer notices a deli and – I swear to God – feels that since it has been so long since he tasted Earth food, he wants to try some. (His ionic energy sustains him and those like him without the need for food. He can eat for pleasure, though.)
Lucifer breaks into the deli and helps himself, then is interrupted by the Falcon’s old foe Rafe Michel and his gang, who broke in to rob the place since it’s very late at night. The cops show up in the middle of the fight between Lucifer and the gang members.
Lucifer uses his Iron Man-level strength, ionic energy blasts from his hands, power of flight and ability to make himself intangible to rout all the police who rush to the scene. The Falcon comes along and attacks the alien villain, who effortlessly shrugs off all his efforts.
Suddenly, Lucifer senses that the Earth food he consumed has so altered his bodily makeup that the transmitter ray is wearing off and he is in danger of drifting back to his prison dimension. (It’s a comic book. Just go with it.) To prevent this he grabs the fleeing Rafe Michel and absorbs his body, making enough of Lucifer’s own alien form immune to drifting back into exile.
With Rafe Michel now dead as his body has become animated by Lucifer, the villain flies off to lay his plans for revenge on the X-Men and Iron Man.
The next morning, we join Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter at the apartment they share. Steve is dejected because he just got back from walking among the public and overhearing many of them discussing Cap quitting. Some are disappointed, others feel he’s a quitter and others HATE him for it.
Sharon reassures him that she still has the man she loves and she is there for him.
Elsewhere, the plotting alien Lucifer is alarmed by a glow emanating from his form. He realizes that his ionic energy form is too volatile for a human body like Rafe Michel’s to contain. He must split his powers with another Earth body to prevent burning out and ceasing to exist.
He bursts into a New York prison, kills several guards and sets free the first imprisoned supervillain he comes to. That supervillain is Aries, from the evil team called Zodiac, frequent foes of the Avengers. (This is the second Aries, the first one was still dead at this time.)
Aries has been in prison since he and the rest of Zodiac were caught by the Avengers months ago, so to go free, he is happy to accept Lucifer’s offer to have him grant him half his power. With that, the alien from Quist transfers half his ionic energies to Aries, simultaneously transforming Aries’ garb into a duplicate of his own Lucifer costume.
By a comic book coincidence, the Falcon arrives on the scene and attacks the two Lucifers. During the battle against the overmatched Falcon, the two Lucifers realize that with their ionic energies divided between them, they can no longer shoot energy blasts or fly, but still have a degree of super-strength.
They use that strength to defeat the Falcon, knocking him into unconsciousness. With other armed police and special weapons teams descending on the scene, the two Lucifers are picked up by a car and driver sent by Morgan, the rackets boss of Harlem.
When the bemused and curious Lucifers meet Morgan, he mentions his men have been searching for Lucifer since his clash with the Falcon the night before. He offers a hideout to the two villains if they agree to kill the Falcon in a way that cannot be traced back to him.
I’LL COVER THE NEXT CHAPTERS SOON.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS TO MY REVIEW OF SPIDER-MAN 1970s CLASSICS CLICK HERE.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS IN THE AVENGERS/ MANTIS/ KANG/ CELESTIAL MADONNA STORY CLICK HERE.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS IN THE AVENGERS/ KREE-SKRULL WAR STORY CLICK HERE.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS TO THE 1970s ADAM WARLOCK/ GAMORA/ THANOS/ MAGUS STORY CLICK HERE.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS TO THE 1970s BLACK PANTHER VS KILLMONGER STORY CLICK HERE.