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Captain America #358: Review

Sep 1989
Mark Gruenwald, Kieron Dwyer

Story Name:

Bones of Contention

Review & Comments

Rating:
5 stars

Captain America #358 Review by (December 3, 2011)
Review Part 2: The backup series in these issues is “U.S. Agent: The Night of the Scourge” which pits John Walker, the crazy ex-Captain America against the mysterious vigilante known as the Scourge of the Underworld. It’s a nice tightly-plotted little epic that does what it can to turn the demented Walker into a genuine hero, so Marvel can get a bit more mileage out of him. (Remember, the previous crazy Cap—the 1950s guy—was recast as a villain and will always remain one.) Not bad, I just would have liked more real Cap.

Review: Yahooo! “The Bloodstone Hunt” is one of the great Captain America story arcs of all time, a roller-coaster ride of awesomeness. Clearly influenced by the Indiana Jones movies, with the plot centering on a race to obtain some sort of mysterious magical artifact (not to mention the Amazonian and Egyptian locales) with a nod to James Bond (the Bermuda/underwater scenes echo FOR YOUR EYES ONLY and NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN). But the action is ramped up with the addition of a mummy (Marvel’s mostly-forgotten Living Mummy), martial artists, sharks, and the introduction of one of Cap’s greatest adversaries, Crossbones (though he doesn’t actually confront Cap until the sequel in issues #363-364). Cap is seen to his greatest advantage, escaping from the Wheel of Death by knocking flying spears out of the air, fighting off a room full of headhunters, holding his own against sharks and a super-mummy, and executing a perfect acrobatic flip to save Diamondback from a snake pit. And then there’s Diamondback, who brings most of the charm to the epic and keeps it from being too heavy-handed: a competent woman of action who has a crush on Cap and is trying desperately to impress and/or attract him (and the goof doesn’t respond until issue #371). Her great moment comes when she tricks a rich yacht owner into helping her search for the villains; her kittenish ruse is a real hoot, as are the consequences of her scheme. I’ve always thought her the best of Cap’s girlfriends, a better fit than Sharon Carter (too serious), Bernie Rosenthal (too ditsy), Connie Ferrari (too angry), and Rebecca Quan (who?). Anyway, the action never stops and the whole epic is a headlong race into adventure—with added Nazis at the end, just in case you forgot who they were ripping off. The only oddity to the whole matter is that it reads like a full graphic novel broken up into parts at random points; the trade paperback features the issues in a seamless whole.

Comments: Part two of the six-part “The Bloodstone Hunt.” The bizarre tableau Cap finds in the cavern refers back to events in Ulysses Bloodstone’s backup series in RAMPAGING HULK #1-8.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America #358 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Captain America descends by rope into the catacombs deep beneath the streets of Manhattan. He is coming in response to a signal he is receiving on a transmitter he carries. Reaching a level area, he discovers the skeletal remains of the Mole Man’s servitors, dead by violence. Suddenly a hail of spikes comes at him from two directions and only his amazing agility enables him to leap out of their path…onto a huge trapdoor which opens, dropping him toward a lava pit. He again leaps toward the open floor panel but spikes suddenly protrude from it…affording him a handhold. He climbs back to the chamber—then a wall starts to drop into place; Cap manages to slide quickly under the descending barrier—only to be trapped by a second wall. Then the spiked ceiling slowly moves down toward him…and more spikes appear in the floor. Cap manages to wedge his shield into place to halt the ceiling’s descent while he uses a blasting cap in his kit to blow open the wall and escape the death trap. He finds himself in a ceremonial chamber with the corpses of three men, one woman…and a dolphin. Deciding to worry about that later, he follows the emergency signal to a deep pit which lies beneath a hole in the ceiling. He descends into the pit in the face of a violent updraft until he finds a ledge. On the ledge is a coffin-shaped box. He pries open the lid and discovers a panicked and grateful Diamondback, who had given him the transmitter back in issue #344. She explains how she had stumbled onto a heist pulled by Batroc the Leaper and his cronies (last issue) and was sealed inside the box with the stolen skeleton of Ulysses Bloodstone and dropped in the pit. Cap recovers the skull and they climb up out of the pit.

On Avengers Island, the Wakandans have just delivered his modified Quinjet. Cap and Diamondback arrive but he has no time to look at it or to meet the pilot Colonel John Jameson before he rushes off to research the mystery. Cap learns about monster hunter Ulysses Bloodstone and the magical gem he wore on his chest; meanwhile, Fabian Stankowicz has attached a radiometer to the skull, making it a detector for the fragments of the Bloodstone. Cap and Diamond rush for the new jet and have Col. Jameson take off for the first destination: the Amazon jungle. Reaching that remote area, Cap and Diamond (who won’t admit she has never used a parachute before) jump into the wilderness and are soon captured by Inca tribal warriors. They are taken to a hidden pyramid where the chieftain, wearing a Bloodstone fragment in his ceremonial mask, orders the Wheel of Death raised. A massive stone wheel, built into the floor, has Batroc, Baron Zemo, Zaran, and Machete shacked to it. As Cap prepares to move, he and Diamond are suddenly felled by blowdarts, and they sink to the floor….



Story #2

Siege: The Night of the Scourge! Part One

Writer: Mark Gruenwald. Penciler: Mark Bright. Inker: Don Hudson. Colorist: Marc Siry.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

The murderous vigilante known as the Scourge of the Underworld invades the California estate of Curtiss Jackson, alias the Power Broker. He slaughters the guards then disguises himself as one of them to infiltrate the house and kill the servants. He then cuts the power, plunging a startled Jackson and his potential client Priscilla Lyons into darkness. When Jackson receives a threat from Scourge via walkie-talkie he calls on a secret phone to General Haywerth, who contacts U.S. Agent and dispatches him to rescue Jackson—the man who gave the Agent his powers….


Kieron Dwyer
Danny Bulanadi
Marc Siry
Kieron Dwyer (Cover Penciler)
Al Milgrom (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Plot: .

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Baron Zemo
Baron Zemo

(Helmut)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Diamondback
Diamondback

(Rachel Leighton)

Plus: Fabian Stankowicz, John Jameson, Machete, Michael O'Brien, Scourge (Scourge of the Underworld), U.S. Agent (John Walker), Ulysses Bloodstone, Vagabond (Priscilla Lyons), Zaran (Maximillian Zaran).

> Captain America: Book info and issue index

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