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Captain America #434: Review

Dec 1994
Mark Gruenwald, Dave Hoover

Story Name:

Snake Bites

Review & Comments

4 stars

Captain America #434 Review by (May 13, 2017)
Comments: “Fighting Chance, Book 10.” First appearance/origin of Jack Flag. Avengers: Black Widow, Giant Man (Hank Pym), Vision, Quicksilver, Crystal. Baron Zemo's next appearance would be in quite a different form in THUNDERBOLTS #1; meanwhile, Baroness Zemo will be said to have died in prison in THUNDERBOLTS ANNUAL 1997.

Review: The final trilogy in the “Fighting Chance” arc introduces the next patriotic hero to be a foil to Cap: Jack Flag. The red-white-and-blue outfit shows he is patriotic and the souped-up boom box reveals he is a 1990s character; at least he doesn't have a skateboard. As Starman proved, fighting crime while holding an object in one's hand can be a trifle awkward so he sets it down to provide background music while biffing baddies. And why does he do this? Because he didn't like the new neighbors; really, his family was forced out of their home because of a real estate scam pulled off by the Serpent Society. And so, despite “Jack” and “Flag” not being the names of snakes, he tries to join the Serpent Society and his initiation stunt will cause a bit of trouble later. But it leads to an absurd moment where Jack gains enhanced strength after being splattered with random chemicals (who does he think he is, Barry Allen?). Oh yeah, Cap's malady starts to come to the foreground as he reveals his secret to Free Spirit. More to come


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America #434 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Watching Baron and Baroness Zemo go to their apparent deaths in a vat of Adhesive X recalls to Captain America the time Zemo escaped him in a similar manner (issue #179). He rushes downstairs and discovers the sinister couple did indeed have an escape pipe at the bottom of the vat and he takes them prisoner when they emerge. Cap then promises the kidnapped children they will be given good homes. Eventually he wins their trust and leads them out of the castle. Upstairs he finds the unconscious Free Spirit but no sign of Diamondback….

Meanwhile in a small town in Arizona, a bank is being robbed by two members of the Serpent Society, Rock Python and Fer-De-Lance. Suddenly a red-white-and-blue clad hero calling himself Jack Flag appears and battles the villains with his weaponized "Boom Box." Subduing them, he has a message he wants them to deliver to their leader King Cobra—but Cobra is right behind him, with others of the Society. Thinking quickly, Jack Flag claims he wants to join the Serpent Society, and his hero outfit is designed to deceive his victims. Cobra has him knocked over the head and taken along….

At Baron Zemo’s castle, Cap is aided in the mopping up operations by the Avengers. Finding a note from Diamondback announcing she is going away, he questions Black Widow about it and learns of Rachel’s fear that she is not worthy of Steve. Needing to think things over, Cap stays behind as the Avengers leave with the kidnapped children. Free Spirit asks him for a favor: can he teach her to fight, for her next confrontation with her enemy Dr. Wentworth/Superia? Cap agrees, wondering if she will have to replace him soon.

We learn the origin of Jack Flag: he and his brother Drake were members of Captain America’s Computer Hotline Network and started a citizen’s patrol group in their Arizona hometown—until thugs caught Drake alone and crippled him. Shortly afterward, their parents were cheated out of their home and life’s savings by a company which turned out to be a front for the Serpent Society. So Jack trained in the martial arts and Drake built him an arsenal including the Boom Box and now he is out for revenge against the Serpents. Except that now he is their prisoner. Insisting he wants to join up, Cobra sets a test for him: steal a painting from an enemy in Reno and bring it back to him, and Jack can join the Society. Jack is dropped off in Reno—and Cobra makes a call to the homeowner: Mr. Hyde. Three hours later, Jack breaks into the house—and is caught by the huge brutish bad guy and hurled into a table of chemicals. He manages to toss acid in Hyde’s eyes and leap from a window. Calling the Hotline he summons help and drags himself away. He collapses some blocks away and is found by an angry Hyde who intends to make him suffer. Jack boxes Hyde’s ears and flees, realizing that the chemicals he was soaked with have increased his strength and healing ability….

In New York, Dr. Kincaid visits Avengers Mansion to consult with Hank Pym about Cap’s condition and Hank insists that Steve begin emergency treatment….

Meanwhile, at Castle Zemo, Cap is teaching some fighting moves to Free Spirit and she is confused by his silence and economy of movement. After seven hours, neither one is tired, though Cap has managed it by suppressing his flow of adrenaline. Finally Cap’s muscles cramp up and Free Spirit sees it as an opening and she gives him a mighty kick to the face. Now totally paralyzed, he is forced to confide his secret to her….

The next morning, as King Cobra and his minions are lounging by the pool, Jack Flag suddenly arrives and tosses the painting in his lap. The villain is surprised to say the least….

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

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

Plus: Baroness Zemo, Cobra (Klaus Voorhees), Free Spirit, Jack Flag, Mr. Hyde (Calvin Zabo), Serpent Society.

> Captain America: Book info and issue index

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