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Captain America #432: Review

Oct 1994
Mark Gruenwald, Dave Hoover

Story Name:

Baron Ground

Review & Comments

4 stars

Captain America #432 Review by (May 13, 2017)
Comments: “Fighting Chance, Book 8.” The title is a pun on the phrase “barren ground” i.e. a place where nothing will grow. Zemo’s henchmen are called variously Plastoids, Plastimen, and Servitors. Baroness Zemo first appeared in SPIDER-MAN: FEAR ITSELF (one shot) where she claimed to be the original Baron, now in a woman’s body, here explained as merely a cover story. Issue includes an eight-page advertisement for Quarterback trading cards.

Review: We now enter the second phase of this three-issue arc: “The Zemo Bunch,” former evil villain stars in his own family sitcom. This part of the tale recalls Jack Kirby's second run on the title with a whole lot of Gothic weirdness. Yes, it is played a lot straighter than Kirby did but lacks Jack's over-the-top punch. Which is good, since Kirby's 70s run was an oddball sideshow and Gruenwald was right not to attempt a fully accurate homage—just keeping his tongue in cheek. But it still leaves matters a bit goofy with all the Plasmoids and whatever running around. It's also comical that Baron Zemo is trying to work through his Captain America issues while dedicating himself to raising a family. These are some of the funniest bits in the issue and I hope they were intentional.

And in this issue we see what Cap's new outfit will do, namely mimic Batman's utility belt full of goodies and gadgets. (Or Doc Savage's equipment vest which predates both Bats and Cap.) Marvel was having a bit of a crisis in the 1990s, like many other comics companies so it's not surprising that a number of little changes were made here and there. And the story ends on a 60s TV Batman-style cliffhanger. Tune in tomorrow, same Cap-time, same Cap-channel!


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America #432 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Captain America and Diamondback are in the castle of Baron Zemo, surrounded by the missing children who have been brainwashed into accepting Zemo’s warped "family values." Zemo orders the children to shoot Cap and the hero manages to shield Diamond and push her out the doorway before it is sealed shut. It is then discovered the kids are firing blanks; Zemo explains that the children were taken away from their abusive real families to be raised with loving parents in a safe haven. When Cap refuses to condone his actions, the villain releases a trap door that drops Cap into the dungeon. When the Baron checks his monitor later, he is surprised to find Cap’s cell empty and orders his Plastoid guards to investigate. It turns out Cap is holding on to the ceiling, above the security camera and just below the hatch. He leaps out, surprising the guards and defeating them with a combination of the weapons from the harness Fabian had designed for him and good old-fashioned skill.

Elsewhere in the castle, Diamondback has been captured by a Plastoid guard and is embedded helplessly in its chest. She manages to spit an acid diamond at its foot, crippling it but also trapping herself.

Meanwhile, Cathy Webster, the newly enhanced heroine Free Spirit, has traced her quarry Professor Deirdre Wentworth to Zemo’s castle in Mexico, where she dons her costume and looks for a way inside. Wentworth is there for a meeting with Baroness Zemo, who explains that her claims to be the reincarnation of the original Baron were a lie to distract her enemies. The bad doctor then outlines her physical enhancement process, effective only on women….

Cap, meanwhile, falls for a silly ruse and is captured by the Plastoids and brought to Baron Zemo. Zemo, meanwhile, is eavesdropping on his beloved wife and her visitor and overhears her casually plotting to have him eliminated to further her own ambitions. The hurt and distraught Zemo asks Cap what he would do if Diamondback betrayed him, then orders the confused Cap to be embalmed in a vat of Adhesive X. Cap attempts to persuade the Plastoid he is embedded in to rebel against Zemo but the creature has no mind so the hero just tosses a capsule of a freezing chemical and shatters the now-brittle guard. Elsewhere, Zemo is preparing the children for their "mother’s" departure, should he need to destroy her first….

Meanwhile, Free Spirit has found and freed the trapped Diamondback and together they are carrying out their respective missions. Spotting the Baroness and Wentworth, Diamond recognizes the latter as the feminist villain Superia….

In the lab Cap tries to escape by swinging to safety, as the remaining Plastoids merge to create a huge plastic monster. Unfortunately, at this point Cap’s muscles cramp up, leaving him suspended over the vat of Adhesive X and at the mercy of his giant foe…

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Dave Hoover
Danny Bulanadi
George Roussos
Dave Hoover (Cover Penciler)
Dave Hoover (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Baron Zemo
Baron Zemo

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Rachel Leighton)

Plus: Baroness Zemo, Free Spirit, Superia (Deidre Wentworth).

> Captain America: Book info and issue index

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