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Captain America Annual #5: Review

Jan 1971
David Michelinie, Gene Colan

Story Name:


Review & Comments

4 stars

Captain America Annual #5 Review by (September 28, 2013)
Review: An electrified turkey? That’s what the man said. An offbeat Cap tale pits him against a psycho villain with a different modus operandi: he likes to watch people die. Michelinie’s entertaining script and Colan’s exciting art make this a highly enjoyable offering. Knives in an airshaft? Check. Robot dogs? Check. Room filling with sand? Check. Deadly statues? Check. It’s all here in a story that isn’t merely a rehash of a standard bad guy battle.

Comments: First annual since 1977. Story takes place between CAPTAIN AMERICA #260 and #261. Only appearance of Samson Scythe in the comics.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America Annual #5 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Late at night, Captain America is swimming toward a Coast Guard cutter anchored off Governor Island. The ship has been hijacked by the Constrictor who is threatening to turn its guns on New York City unless he receives ten million dollars ransom. Cap quietly boards the ship and takes down the villain’s guards. He confronts Constrictor and engages him in battle—which is interrupted when the ship explodes. The military storms the ship and the baddies are taken into custody. Not far away, the leader of a team of divers reports to his mysterious boss over the radio; the unseen mastermind is disappointed that the cameras did not clearly capture the expressions of the drowning victims clearly enough—but the bombing of the ship did achieve the purpose of saving the city. Meanwhile, Cap reports to the police that he has no idea where the explosion came from—then puts it to the back of his mind as he hurries home to meet an art deadline….

Ken Hanson, leader of the team which planted the bomb reports to his employer, Mr. Samson Scythe. Scythe is a young though frail man, confined to a wheelchair and seated in a room full of monitors. Hanson aides Scythe with his medical treatment and assures him that all is ready for the next day’s project….

Steve Rogers arrives at a prestigious ad agency for an interview. The lady executive likes what she sees but rejects Steve when he declines her romantic overtures. Such are the 1980s…. Meanwhile, at a downtown restaurant, gangster Carlo Ferrini is celebrating his birthday at a huge bash. When he carves the turkey he receives a shock—literally. The bird has been wired and Ferrini is electrocuted as Samson Scythe watches via concealed cameras. Ferrini’s gang suspects his chief rival Sean Gamble of the death trap. Captain America drops by the police station where Sean Gamble agrees to cooperate with the police in setting a trap for the real killers….

Over the next several days, Cap keeps a hidden eye on Gamble, waiting for the mystery villain to make his move. One night, as Gamble approaches an elevator, Cap has a premonition and crashes through the skylight. Bodyguards, mistaking Cap’s intentions, accidentally push Gamble into the elevator shaft—where the bottom has been outfitted with a bed of spikes. Cap saves Gamble from falling but drops into the shaft himself, only his shield swiftly placed beneath him preventing a gruesome death. Surveillance cameras discovered in the shaft give the police a lead on the villain. Elsewhere, a disappointed Samson Scythe conceives a new plan….

The next day, Steve is out cycling with his girlfriend Bernie Rosenthal when he hears reports of a bank robbery over the radio. Challenging her to a race, Steve quickly diverts from the path, changes into Captain America, and rushes to the scene of the robbery. Once there, he quickly subdues three gang members but the fourth Ken Hanson leads him on a chase through the streets—and into a trap in the rear of a truck. There he is captured and brought before Samson Scythe who recounts his sad history. A spoiled rich kid, Scythe soon became bored with a life of luxury and enlisted in the Army to seek thrills; eventually he was assigned to a tour of duty in Vietnam where he found that witnessing deaths exciting him as nothing else did. Returning to America and a life of boredom, his health declined and he became an invalid. Old Army buddy Ken Hanson came for a visit and suggested an unusual treatment for his boredom: Hanson would commit murders and film them for Scythe to watch from his home—but only those who deserved it would die. They started small, with Hanson gunning down muggers, then the schemes became more elaborate—and now Scythe is wondering, what would it be like to watch a hero die? Cap bursts his bonds but Scythe and Hanson, their getaway prepared, escape….

Cap soon arrives at Scythe’s mansion—only to find the place littered with death traps; he fights off robot dogs in the garden, escapes a room filling with sand, and on the roof overcomes statues that emit deadly sonic waves. Entering the villain’s control room Cap is met by Hanson wielding a flame thrower. In the fracas, the whole room is set on fire and Cap manages to rescue Hanson from the blaze. Scythe, however, ends his mad career by watching himself burn to death via video monitor….

Gene Colan
Dave Simons
Bob Sharen
Frank Miller (Cover Penciler)
Joe Rubinstein (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

Plus: Bernie Rosenthal.

> Captain America Annual: Book info and issue index

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