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Captain America Annual #12: Review

Jan 1993
Mark Gruenwald, M.C. Wyman

Story Name:

Blood of a Fighter

Review & Comments

Rating:
3 stars

Captain America Annual #12 Review by (August 10, 2011)
Comments: Originally sold polybagged and containing a Bantam trading card. First appearance/origin of the Bantam, who would have only two subsequent appearances: CIVIL WAR: BATTLE DAMAGE REPORT #1 and CIVIL WAR: FRONT LINE #3 in which he is accidentally killed by Thunderclap. Bantamweight class is 116 to 118 lbs. but after the treatment, Roberto weighs 121, appropriately making him a “Super bantamweight.” Dr. Karl Malus first encountered Cap in CAPTAIN AMERICA #328, when he was working for the Power Broker. Issue also includes pin-ups of the Falcon (by Don Hudson), Crossbones (by Andy Smith), Captain America and the Falcon (Smith), Diamondback (Hudson), Bantam (by Charles Barnett).




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America Annual #12 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

San Juan, Puerto Rico: aspiring fighters and best friends Roberto Velasquez and Manuel Torres like to spar at Trini’s Gym while dreaming of boxing careers in the United States. While he is a fierce and gifted fighter, Roberto’s handicap is his small stature and there is no future in the bantamweight class. He is approached by a shady character named Armando Aviles who assures him that he can be a great fighter…with the help of Aviles’ "techniques." Roberto refuses at first, suspecting these techniques involve some sort of drug but Aviles wears him down….

After traveling to Miami and submitting to an intense process overseen by the creepy Dr. Malus, Roberto feels no different. The real test comes in the boxing ring: a match is arranged for Roberto to fight a seasoned boxer named Emilio Garzon. Garzon takes an early lead but suddenly Roberto goes berserk in the ring, hammering his opponent mercilessly. After the match he is stunned to learn that Garzon has died from the beating. A shocked and angry Roberto refuses to have anything more to do with Aviles. In revenge, Aviles arranges for Roberto’s friend Manny to complete in a match against one Rico Lazar. But Lazar has had the treatment too and savagely pummels Manny until Roberto leaps into the ring to stop it. Aviles offers Roberto one last chance to return to the fold and when the young fighter refuses, Aviles shoots him and has his men dump the body in a swamp. But the treatment enables Roberto to heal from his wounds and he escapes from the swamp vowing revenge. He assembles a boxing costume with a mask and, calling himself The Bantam, pays a call on Aviles. He bursts into the gangster’s hotel room and the bodyguards shoot at him and hit their boss instead. In the struggle the guards accidentally kill each other too. The Bantam leaps from the window and gets away, wondering what his future holds.



Story #2

And In This Corner, the Battling Bantam

Writer: David Wohl. Writer: Mark Gruenwald. Penciler: M.C. Wyman. Inker: Charles Barnett III. Colorist: John Kalisz.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America arrives in Miami to investigate reports of a strength augmentation treatment that has infiltrated the world of professional boxing. He heads to the hospital to visit Manuel Torres who had asked him to search for his missing friend Roberto Velasquez and tipped him off about the illegal activity. But when Cap talks to him, Manny nervously denies everything he had earlier told Cap. The hero leaves to follow up on other leads…but that night Rico Lazar pays a call on Manny in his bed. Having once warned him not to say anything, Lazar now shuts Manny up forever—by throwing him through a window. Elsewhere, shady fight promoter Cruz is looking for a sparring partner for his augmented fighter Rollo. A big blond Anglo (spoiler: it’s Steve) steps forward asking for $500 if he defeats the boxer. After a brutal match, Steve leaves his opponent in a dazed heap and demands his pay. Cruz leads him to an office where he is seized by a pair of augmented goons while Cruz questions him about the source of his own strength. Steve claims to be a mutant—so they take him to the lab to verify this. Meanwhile, Roberto visits the hospital to discover that his pal Manny is dead, an apparent suicide. At the lab, Steve confesses "the truth:" his strength was enhanced by a criminal called the Power Broker—but they know he is lying since Dr. Malus, the brains behind the "treatment" was the one who devised the treatment for the Power Broker, and he has never seen Steve before. At the point Roberto, as the Bantam, bursts onto the scene seeking revenge against his friend’s murderers. Steve takes advantage of the distraction to don his Captain America costume and he knocks out Malus and his assistant. Cap comes upon the Bantam savagely beating the two enhanced thugs; when he sees Cap, Bantam, still in his berserker rage, attacks the hero. Cap manages to subdue him long enough to explain the situation. The calmer Bantam joins him in pursuit of the villains. As Bantam takes on Rico Lazar, alias Hammerhands, on the dock, Cap pursues Cruz who is escaping by speedboat. Cap hurls an anchor onto the boat and is pulled behind it using his shield as a skimmer. He pulls himself hand over hand until he reaches the boat. As Bantam finally beats Lazar into confessing to Manny’s murder, Cap returns with Cruz. Cap tells Bantam that he will spread the word about augmented fighters trying to infiltrate the ring; drug testing should force them out of the game. The two partners shake hands and part.


Story #3

Bantam Returns

Writer: Barry Dutter. Penciler: Grant Miehm. Inker: Grant Miehm. Colorist: Dave Sampson.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Roberto "the Bantam" Velasquez is back at Trini’s Gym in San Juan, working off his frustrations. Having had his strength and reflexes augmented by an illegal treatment, his boxing career is over, since he cannot in good conscience put another fighter’s life in danger in the ring. His pal Trini walks in and sees him in his Bantam costume, learning his secret. Trini wants to use the secret identity as a gimmick to further Roberto’s boxing career but Roberto demonstrates why he can never fight again—by destroying the big bag with a single punch. Trini then suggests Roberto work as a trainer but the ex-fighter doesn’t think he would cut it. He heads out in the streets to get some air, pondering Captain America’s advice that he’ll "know what to do when the time comes." He spies two gangs about to rumble and intervenes as the Bantam, and offers to fight the toughest guy there, and if he wins, they will listen to what he has to say. A punk called Hector steps forward, draws a gun and shoots Bantam. But the hero gets up, knocks the gun out of Hector’s hand and picks him up off the ground. Now that he has their attention, he advises the gangs that violence does not define a tough guy and they should settle their differences in the boxing ring. A few days later, some gang members have taken his suggestion. Roberto considers that a good start and he looks forward to his new life as boxing trainer and San Juan’s superhero…looks like Captain America was right about him after all.


M.C. Wyman
Charles Barnett III
John Kalisz
M.C. Wyman (Cover Penciler)
Charles Barnett III (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

Plus: Bantam (Roberto Velasquez), Dr Karl Malus.

> Captain America Annual: Book info and issue index

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