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Marvels Project, The #4: Review

Feb 2010
Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting

Story Name:

(No title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

Marvels Project, The #4 Review by (March 17, 2011)
Steve Roger's early life has several sources. Captain America Comics #1 merely said that he was 4-F but eager to enlist. His artistic talents were introduced by Steve Gerber in CA#225. The rest of Gerber's origin story was declared false implanted memories by Roger Stern in CA#247, who wrote the first definitive account of SR's life in CA#255, which basically matches this one. SR's mother dying 3 years ago when he was 16 makes him 19 now, and hence born 1921. Author Brubaker also uses the age 19 or 20 in his run on CA. The only earlier specific reference to this kind of age was in CA Annual #10. But an alternative of 1917 was put forward by the Adventures of CA limited series, which was taken up by some other comics with the accompanying shift of his mother's death to 1934, all enshrined in CA's bibliography in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z 2007 Updates, now available online in Marvel Universe. Which would make SR 23 at this point. Several comics (not Brubaker's) say SR was rejected by the draft before trying to volunteer for the army. The draft only began in Sep40, but more significantly before Dec41 it only applied to men 21 or over. As I mentioned in my comments to #1 there are conflicting accounts of exactly when the events leading up to the super-soldier experiment took place. CAC#1 starts with the experiment, and just says it happened in 1941. Other tellings have pushed the date further back, mainly to allow room for CA to be trained and have adventures, and then recruit and train Bucky, all before the March 1941 cover date of CAC#1. This issue uses Fall 1940, which is a popular choice, but as we will see that in later issues Marvels Project puts subsequent events later than usual. The Official Index to the Marvel Universe says Winter 1940/41. OHotMU has the experiment taking place much earlier, before May 1940.

Angel says he's met Ferret a few times. They never actually met in any Timely Comics. And the only modern meeting in Marvel Mystery Comics 70th Anniversary Special causes a problem. It also features Human Torch and his sidekick Toro. But in Marvels Project Ferret died last issue and Toro isn't introduced until next issue.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Marvels Project, The #4 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The previous issues have been centred on Human Torch, Sub-Mariner and Angel, with only a brief cameo by Steve Rogers. But one thread of the story has followed Prof Erskine whose super-soldier project takes centre-stage this issue as we move into Fall 1940.

In New York Major Kerfoot, the Nazi spy we have seen infiltrating the US super-soldier project as Prof Hamilton, welcomes Heinz Kruger who has just arrived by U-boat. It turns out that the smuggling operation that Phantom Bullet died investigating in #2 was smuggling Nazis and guns into the US. Kerfoot gives Kruger the identity of Frederick Clemson, with access to the project. Kerfoot himself intends to get hold of Erskine's super-soldier formula. When he has that, Kruger will kill Erskine.

Kruger was named in Captain America #109, but Kerfoot wasn't identified there. The Clemson alias was revealed in CA#255. Their handler is I believe an invention of this series, and is never identified by name.

P.I. Ferret has been trailing Hamilton, whom he suspects of murdering a cleaning woman in #2. But Kerfoot (and now Kruger) have a handler who has also been watching the meeting. This handler now kills Ferret, searches his office and burns it down. Ferret's death here explains the short life of another Timely series, like Phantom Bullet's in #2.

Angel discovers the body. They have met a few times before. Angel takes in Ferret's pet ferret Nosie, but can't find out what Ferret was working on because his office is destroyed. Angel is also still working on Phantom Bullet's murder. (Investigations seem to take a long time in this series.)

Kruger reads Kerfoot's dossier on Steven Rogers, the chosen test subject for the super-soldier project.

Rogers was born in New York and came of age in the Great Depression. He was skinny and sickly with artistic talents. His father died early, and his mother followed 3 years ago when Steve was 16. Since then he has been scratching a living.

He was driven by a newsreel of the invasion of Poland (as seen in #1) to repeatedly try to enlist, but was always rejected as 4-F. His determination attracted the attention of General Phillips, who recruited him for the super-soldier project 2 months ago. I think Gen'l Phillips was first named in Giant-Size Invaders #1.

In occupied France super-man John Steele, escaped from the Nazi superhuman Project Nietzsche last issue, has been fighting Germans, and comes across Nick Fury, Red Hargrove and the Sky Devils. One would assume from last issue that Fury and friends are in France looking for Project Nietzsche sites to destroy. However next issue's events suggest they're there just for general mayhem.

A bit more than a week after Kruger arrived the super-soldier experiment is about to be tried on Rogers. Kruger will be there as Clemson, and must kill Erskine then. Meanwhile Kerfoot has copied Erskine's notes but fears some part of the procedure isn't recorded there. CA#155 will show that Vita-Rays are the bit that Kerfoot doesn't have. They were added to Cap's origin story in CA#109.

Steve Epting
Steve Epting
Dave Stewart
Steve McNiven (Cover Penciler)
Steve McNiven (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

Plus: Angel (Tom Halloway), General Chester Phillips, John Steele, Nazis.

> Marvels Project, The: Book info and issue index

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