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Captain America (1968 series) #425

March 1994
Mark Gruenwald, Dave Hoover

Story Name:

Fighting Chance, Part One: Super Patriot Games

Reviews & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

By Peter on March 23, 2017

Comments: Title is a take-off on the novel Patriot Games by Tom Clancy. First appearances of Super-Patriot (3) and Dead Ringer. This Super-Patriot is actually Steve Rogers' old pal Mike Farrel (spoiler BTW), sent to prison for his association with the militant group, the Watchdogs in issue #385-386. We discover Captain America, Wolverine, and the Punisher appear in comic books in the Marvel Universe. Issue includes a floor plan of Cap’s Brooklyn Heights Headquarters and several pinups by Dave Hoover and others, including Alex Maleev (this may be his first published work for Marvel).

Review: So here we have the start of the thirteen-issue storyline “Fighting Chance” which centers on Cap's deteriorating health and its effect on his mission. The first change that strikes the eye is the 1990s design: the characters are more pumped up and bursting out of the panels; it is a sharp divergence from the recent past in this title and it will remain for several years. So...Fighting Chance. The odd thing about the story arc is that it is actually a quartet of trilogies. Each three-issue chunk focuses on another patriotic-type hero, compared and contrasted with the real Living Legend of WW2. First up is a new Super-Patriot; the first one was John Walker, who was promoted to Captain America by the Powers That Be, and messed it up with his fanaticism and lack of wisdom and restraint. This one is new, he is Mike Farrel, formerly of the Watchdogs—another fanatic from a right-wing group—and he is out, not to prove a champion of the people, but for simple revenge against Cap. His M.O. is to impersonate Cap to besmirch his character, usually involving his partner Dead Ringer to impersonate villains, with the ultimate goal of replacing him as America's number one hero. While Cap agonizes, the baddies discredit him and there's nothing Steve can do in his condition. Poor Steve.


 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

A mysterious client arrives at the workshop of Phineas Mason, the Terrible Tinkerer, requesting a weapon that will give him an edge in a personal crusade against Captain America. The Tinkerer has the perfect item: an exact copy of Cap’s shield. He presents it to Super-Patriot and the two discuss payment….

During a training combat simulation, Captain America notices his muscles are cramping and his coordination is slightly off. His session is interrupted by the arrival of Dr. Kincaid, bearing bad news. Cap’s lab tests show that his body is experiencing negative side effects from his Super-Soldier Serum; the prognosis: if Cap keeps up the intense activity of his hero activities he will be completely paralyzed in a year. If he retires immediately, he will probably maintain normal mobility for the rest of his life. Cap swears the doctor to secrecy and tries to deal with his anger and frustration….

At the same time, a man dressed as Captain America enters a bar and buys a round for the house, getting nasty with a patron who tries to pick a fight with him, forcing the tough to lick his boots….

At his Brooklyn Heights headquarters, Steve Rogers confides in his girlfriend Rachel Leighton a/k/a Diamondback about the dilemma facing him. She suggest a fun night out to seize an opportunity they may not have for long….

Later the Captain America impostor shows up at a fundraiser for mayoral candidate Rudolph Bradley, accompanied by a hot but trashy date. "Cap" displays a lot of cynical arrogance, surprising the guests. The villain known as the Porcupine suddenly bursts in, bent on revenge against Cap. Refusing to take the fight outside, Cap brawls with the baddie, leading to several onlookers being injured, including the candidate and his wife….

Steve and Rachel meanwhile, are at a sidewalk café, when a young shoplifter dashes by. Steve nabs the boy and discovers he was stealing comic books including an issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA. Questioning the young thief about the lessons he learns from comic books Steve is surprised when the kid says he doesn’t read the books, he just sells them for a profit. Steve is further disheartened when the comic shop owner shows a preference for violent vigilante heroes like the Punisher and Wolverine, leading Steve to think it might be best for him to retire his outdated values. Steve gets an emergency call from Peggy Carter telling him that Cap was seen battling the Porcupine. Knowing it was an impostor (and that the Porcupine is dead), Steve heads over to investigate, accompanied by Rachel. At the hotel they find a scene of pandemonium, with the crowd believing that Cap has gone rogue….

Cap schedules a press conference to address the issue at Avengers Mansion the following afternoon, partly as a trap for the real villain. As he explains to the assembled reporters that he was framed by an impostor, the crowd is attacked by the original Masters of Evil (Baron Zemo, the Executioner, the Black Knight, and the Melter) who are all dead. Hearing Cap’s troubled reaction, Diamondback and the Avengers (Black Widow, Vision and the Black Knight) rush to his aid but do not see any villains. As the journalists begin to suspect Cap has gone mad, a costumed figure steps out of the woods with the unconscious Mirage, master of illusions. Introducing himself as Super-Patriot, he announces he will replace the incompetent Captain America, then takes his leave. Diamondback follows him but soon loses the "hero" downtown. As the press conference fizzles out, Black Widow loses Mirage, whom she was guarding. Security tapes show that "Mirage" morphed into the Purple Man and commanded Widow to let him leave. Cap now knows they are facing an adversary who can assume the form and powers of dead criminals. [A few blocks away, Super-Patriot meets up with his partner; Operation: Smear is a complete success.] Meanwhile, Cap tells Diamond that he doesn’t know what he is going to do: "the harder I fight, the faster I lose everything."

Elektra


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

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Avengers
Avengers
Black Widow
Black Widow
Captain America
Captain America
Vision
Vision

Plus: Black Knight, Dead Ringer, Diamondback (Rachel Leighton), Peggy Carter, Super-Patriot, Terrible Tinkerer.