For Part One of this series click HERE.
CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON Vol 1 #178 (October 1974)
Title: If the Falcon Should Fall …
Villains: The two-in-one Lucifers
Synopsis: This issue picks up the night following the end of our previous installment. After the Falcon fought the original alien Lucifer two nights ago and the two Lucifers the previous night, this third night finds the Lucifers attacking the Falcon while he and his hawk Redwing fly around on their nightly patrol of Harlem.
As the fight goes on, one of the Lucifers reminds our hero that they have fought the X-Men on two occasions and Iron Man on a third. He and his shared identity in another body anticipate no great trouble dealing with the lone Falcon.
Unfortunately for the villains, they realize that the longer Lucifer’s ionic energies are hosted by their two human bodies (Rafe Michel and the supervillain Aries), the more their bodies burn out, with more and more of Lucifer’s power fading. That being the case, the Falcon is just barely able to survive against them.
When Falc maneuvers the Lucifers into power lines they decide to retreat for the moment and resort to some of the weaponry that Lucifer left on Earth during his second battle with the X-Men long ago. Exhausted from having to survive against two such powerful foes, the Falcon goes to the apartment of his lady Leila Taylor for rest and comfort.
While unwinding with Leila, the Falcon (Sam Wilson) recounts his battle with the two Lucifers and confides in her about how the pair really got to him when they taunted him that without his partner Captain America he has no chance against them. Leila reassures him that he is doing fine on his own and her dislike of Cap surfaces again when she tells Falc he doesn’t need “that funky white cat.”
The next day we join Steve Rogers working out at his gym, where he keeps himself in phenomenal shape, carrying out acrobatic routines that impress Roscoe Simons, the gym’s young manager. Steve and Roscoe exchange small talk for awhile.
Cut to Chicago, where the fictional MLB team the Bears are playing. (It would be the Cubs in real life, obviously.) Their player Bob Russo, the highest-paid Third Baseman in history, plays another great game.
In the locker room afterward, Russo tells the press that he has decided to quit baseball to become the new Captain America since the original has abandoned the costumed identity. Bob states that the country NEEDS a Captain America and says that he has already had a costume and shield rigged up.
He announces that he will be in costume and will hit the Chicago streets that night.
Back in Harlem, the crime lord Morgan is arguing with the two Lucifers about their failure to kill the Falcon for him, as they promised to do in exchange for a hideout. The Lucifers are amused by Morgan’s effrontery, but want to kill the Falcon themselves, now, after three battles with him.
The villains tell Morgan that, since dividing into two bodies robbed Lucifer of the power to fly, he must provide them with air transportation to their former base in the deserts of southwest America. Morgan agrees.
Meanwhile, at the New York City apartment that Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter share, the couple are still relishing all the free time they have together now that Steve is no longer Captain America. Their lovey dovey mood is interrupted by the arrival of Sharon’s older sister Peggy and her fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, the black man Gabe Jones.
Gabe and Peggy were working the same shift at S.H.I.E.L.D. analyzing intelligence data and called it a day. Gabe kept Peggy company since she is very, very upset that Captain America really has quit and she may never again see this man she loved since their World War Two years.
NOTE: After decades in and out of comas and amnesiac states, Peggy at last regained her memories several issues ago when our heroes saved her from Cap’s longtime foe Doctor Faustus. Since Peggy assumed Captain America had been waiting for her all this time, Cap and Sharon ill-advisedly hid the fact that they had become romantically involved during her long absence. They were afraid the shock might send Peggy back into a coma or bring back her amnesia, so they were delicately waiting for the right moment to tell her the truth.
Peggy had loved Cap, while Sharon fell in love with Steve Rogers before even knowing he was Captain America. While Gabe Jones, Peggy, Steve and Sharon all visit with each other, Peggy frantically admits how much she misses Captain America, who vanished without even saying goodbye. (Dick move, Cap.)
Sharon had to introduce her boyfriend Steve to Peggy, since she doesn’t realize Steve is really Cap. While Sharon guiltily comforts Peggy, Gabe tells Steve that Peggy is really torn apart over losing Cap. Steve listens, plagued by his own guilt.
Hours later, the two Lucifers have arrived at their hidden, abandoned desert laboratory which still contains some of their alien Quist technology. One of Morgan’s smuggler colleagues loaned the Lucifers one of his private, unregistered jets to fly there.
The pair of villains repair the lab’s three remaining Ultra-Robots that Lucifer used against the X-Men long ago, in X-Men #21 (June 1966). They also reprogram them to kill the Falcon. (On this issue’s cover is one of the Ultra-Robots.)
That night, in Chicago, Bob Russo has been prowling the rooftops in his Captain America costume. By a comic book coincidence, he comes across an armed robbery at a fur outlet and decides to take on the crooks.
Since he’s nowhere near as skilled or strong as the real Captain America, Russo winds up breaking his arm while not slowing down the crooks at all. The next morning’s news pokes fun of Russo’s misadventure.
Back in New York that same morning, the three Ultra-Robots are flying around Harlem, blasting buildings and cars with energy beams to flush out the Falcon. Social worker Sam Wilson dons his Falcon costume and leaves his office to try to stop the robots.
The Falcon does his best in an airborne dogfight against the trio of Quist androids but eventually one of them blasts him out of the air. Steve Rogers has wandered into the vicinity, attracted by news reports of the robots and fears for his ex-partner’s safety.
Following the Falcon’s falling form, he sees him lying in a back alley, about to be killed by the two Lucifers. Struggling with himself, he at last decides he can’t just watch Sam die. He quickly rushes into a store, buys a ski mask and wears it while heading into action against the Lucifers.
Since this is still the 1973-1978 period when Captain America had Spider-Man level strength, the ski-masked Steve is able to put the two Lucifers on the ropes. Suddenly, the Ultra-Robots land to prevent Steve from finishing off their masters.
Steve Rogers defeats the robots and then clashes with both Lucifers again. In the midst of their battle, the human bodies of the two-in-one Lucifer burn out and die, condemning his ionic energy form back into exile in his prison dimension.
Since the battle between Steve, the robots and the Lucifers took place out of the public eye, Steve lets the city think that the Falcon defeated the Lucifers and their robots. He fills in Falcon about what happened when Falc regains consciousness from having been shot from the sky.
The Falcon loses his temper over Cap playing nursemaid to him, angrily telling him if they aren’t partners anymore then he wants Steve to just stay out of his life completely from now on. If he dies because of it, he dies.
CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON Vol 1 #179 (November 1974)
Title: Slings and Arrows
Villain: The Golden Archer
Synopsis: We open an unspecified number of weeks after the previous issue. Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter are walking the New York City streets around 2pm as Steve accompanies Sharon on a shopping spree.
The happy couple walk along arm in arm and reminiscing about how wonderful their lives have been since Steve quit being a superhero. They get to spend all their time together. (Since Sharon’s family is rich and Cap no longer gets his Avengers salary I guess Sharon’s money is paying for their affluent lifestyle.)
At length their conversation turns to the way Steve is still trying to work up the courage to contact Peggy Carter as Captain America and tell her they are through. He and Sharon are both still wary about what this may do to Peggy’s mental state.
Without warning, an arrow slices into the shopping bag that Steve is carrying for Sharon. He grabs her hand as they run for cover since someone is obviously attacking them. A second arrow hits a wall near them and bursts, releasing a large cloud of mace.
The mace forces Steve and Sharon out of hiding and suddenly two regular arrows hit near Steve, shot with such precision that they embed themselves in the fence behind him, snagging his jacket sleeves, pinning Steve to the wall.
Our hero flexes his muscles and tears himself out of his jacket and shirt to free himself. His attacker then shows himself. Shouting to him and Sharon from a nearby rooftop, the costumed villain calls himself the Golden Archer and talks like a Renaissance Festival performer with lots of “thous” and “thees” and “churl” and “knave” etc.
The Golden Archer taunts Steve that he knows who he really is and has a “great debt” he wants to settle between them. Trying not to show super-powers in front of the gathering crowd, the shirtless Steve Rogers doesn’t leap up to the rooftop but just stands with Sharon listening as the Golden Archer recites a corny poem that goes “Thrice shalt thou see me/ Thrice shall we vie/ And then on the fourth time/ Steve Rogers shall die.”
The villain then runs off across the rooftops. Sharon convinces Steve to quickly return with her to their apartment before any bystanders who might have overheard the Golden Archer’s taunts put two and two together and realize who the villain meant that Steve really used to be.
Back at their apartment, the two ponder who the Golden Archer might be.
Elsewhere, in Harlem, Morgan has at last returned from hiding after skipping town following the Falcon’s alleged “defeat” of the two Lucifers weeks ago. The Falcon bursts into Morgan’s place and roughs him up, telling him he won’t stop until he brings Morgan down.
Before flying off, Falc tells the crime boss that whoever he sends to kill him next better be tougher than the two Lucifers “or I’ll send them back to you gift-wrapped. I’ll be right here in Harlem, easy to find. Anytime you feel lucky, I’ll be waiting.”
The next day, Steve Rogers is back at Roscoe Simons’ gym working out again and chit-chatting with Roscoe. Suddenly, an arrow with a sonic device bursts through a window, rendering Roscoe helpless from its intense decibel level.
Steve uses the gym ropes to swing up to where the arrow embedded itself and destroys the sonic device. He recklessly chases the Golden Archer, who escapes over the rooftops again while taunting Steve that this is the second of the four meetings between the two of them.
Steve pretends to Roscoe that he doesn’t know what that attack was all about and pretends to be winded.
Meanwhile, in Oakland, California, we join Scar Turpin, leader of a motorcycle gang called the Sickle Cycle Club (obviously based on the Hell’s Angels given the Oakland location). Scar tells his gang members that Bob Russo’s ill-fated attempt to replace Captain America has had him thinking.
He lets them know he has decided to become the new Cap, since he wants the glamour and danger involved. Another gang member, called Rasputin, demands to be the new Captain America instead of Scar. He insists he’s been thinking of becoming a superhero ever since the Ghost Rider came along.
Scar swiftly beats Rasputin unconscious, following which his other gang members cheer him on and say that “NOBODY’S gonna hassle THIS Captain America!”
The next day, Steve and Sharon are hanging out at their apartment again, still pondering who the Golden Archer could possibly be and why he wants Cap dead. Sharon mentions the previous time Steve quit being Captain America and, in the process, also announced his secret identity to the world.
Steve explains that, per Marvel Comics’ retconning of those events, the Avengers’ foe the Space Phantom used his alien technology to remove the memory of Steve Rogers being Captain America from the entire world’s minds and print media, etc.
It was given the half-assed explanation that the Space Phantom needed Cap’s identity secret again to accommodate the plans of his new partner the Grim Reaper. (The full plan is irrelevant to this Golden Archer story.) The Space Phantom at that time was often impersonating Madame Hydra, in order to use Hydra against Captain America and Rick Jones, who was temporarily serving in costume as the new Bucky back then.
NOTE: The Space Phantom’s frequent impersonation of Madame Hydra during that time period will be very relevant in a few issues.
Back to Steve and Sharon, Steve sees Peggy Carter returning home after another day of working at S.H.I.E.L.D. with Gabe Jones analyzing intelligence data. He tells Sharon he MUST tell Peggy that she and Cap are through before he loses his nerve again.
In an incredibly clumsy manner, Steve stays in shadows and informs Peggy that he has come back just this once, to say goodbye to her and tell her that, as wonderful as what they had was, it can no longer be.
Peggy runs off in tears, prompting Steve to reproach himself for this awkward handling of the situation. He resolves to chase after Peggy and talk to her at greater length, letting her know Captain America is really Steve Rogers and explaining the entire tragic situation to her.
Before Steve can catch up with Peggy, the Golden Archer strikes again, shooting regular arrows at Steve and taunting him once more. He reminds him this is their third meeting, so the NEXT time is when Steve Rogers will die.
Since no bystanders are around this time, Steve takes to the rooftops to chase after the villain, who shoots several normal arrows at him while fleeing. Steve dodges most of them and even uses a trash can lid as a makeshift shield to block others.
At length, their pursuit drops to the streets below. The Golden Archer fires another arrow at Steve, who assumes it’s normal like the others, only to be temporarily blinded when it explodes in a flash, thus allowing the villain to escape. By the time our hero can see again, the Golden Archer is long gone.
That night in Oakland, Scar Turpin, in his own Captain America costume and carrying a shield, is roaming the city on his motorcycle. He comes across a rival motorcycle gang called the Road Runners beating up a victim.
Scar/ Cap parks his motorcycle and rushes to the man’s aid. The six gang members manage to savagely beat Scar, leaving him bloody and with several teeth knocked out, plus his shield all crumpled up. The trounced Scar Turpin decides the superhero game is too rough for him to play, and ANOTHER would-be replacement for Cap fails.
The following night, we see the skulking Golden Archer approaching a window. Behind the closed curtains, he sees the outline of a man, presumably Steve Rogers.
The Golden Archer chuckles, assuming Steve is using the same obvious ruse that Sherlock Holmes used against Colonel Moran in The Adventure of the Empty House. Yet, oddly, he pretends he has not seen through Steve’s plan and aims his bow and arrow at the window as if he is about to fire on the mannequin concealed behind the curtains.
As he anticipated, Steve shows himself, knocking down the Golden Archer from behind, and their final battle is on. When Steve deprives the villain of his bow, he desperately resorts to throwing arrows at him. (Yes, really.)
Steve easily dodges the thrown arrows and knocks down the Golden Archer again. This time, the Archer yells that he surrenders and begins speaking normally, with no “thous” and “thees.”
The Golden Archer reveals to Steve Rogers that he is really Hawkeye, his former fellow Avenger. He jauntily asks Steve “How’s tricks?” The relieved Steve wants to know why Hawkeye has been posing as this Golden Archer character.
Hawkeye explains that, like he said as the Archer, he does “owe a debt” to Steve for the way that, as Captain America, he never gave up on Hawkeye in his hot-headed early days as an Avenger. Like a combination of an older brother and a father figure, Cap kept at Hawkeye like a coach, forging him into the Avenger he became.
Clint Barton (Hawkeye) goes on to say that, over the years, even after he quit the Avengers and temporarily joined the Defenders and then went solo, he always valued his superhero identity and he never doubted that “super-guys are where it’s AT.” (It’s the 70s.)
He also says that he did all this, adopting the Golden Archer identity and speaking with “corny Thor-talk” to convince Cap that he was still a terrific hero and should go back to fighting crime and other menaces.
Steve replies that he has no intention of going back to being Captain America, “Even though I’m the only one who seems to believe it.” Hawkeye replies that he doesn’t doubt it, since he knows how stubborn Steve can be from the days when he refused to give up on him when he was a new, maverick and misbehaving Avenger.
To clinch his argument, Clint tells Steve that no matter how disillusioned he may have become over whatever happened in Washington DC at the end of the Secret Empire’s attack, he shouldn’t waste his super-powers and his long years of experience.
Hawkeye suggests to Steve that he simply adopt a NEW superhero identity, like their fellow Avenger Hank Pym has gone from being Ant-Man to Giant Man to Goliath to Yellow Jacket. And the way Clint himself temporarily gave up being Hawkeye to become the new Goliath when Hank Pym became Yellow Jacket.
Steve ponders the idea, clearly impressed, and, to close out this issue, agrees to become a different superhero.
NOTE: Never fear, Steve WILL go back to being Captain America again very soon. It’s all part of a well-written multi-issue storyline. I’ll review the next three installments next time. (Which means we have just two weeks to go before I end these Cap blog posts.)
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.