Welcome back to Rotten Ink and another update in this blogs 10 Year Anniversary, and I knew I had to cover one of my all time favorite Marvel Comic superheroes for one of the updates and that of course is Captain America, but what was harder to choose was witch story arch to cover as I had many to choose from like “Bloodstone”, “The Superia Stratagem”, “Operation: Galactic Storm”, “Man And Wolf” and more as Captain America has had some great stories in his comic pages and the one I finally decided on was “Streets Of Poison” a anti-drug story that brings in heroes like Daredevil, Black Widow and Diamondback all to try and stop the drug trafficking in New York as well help Captain America fight addiction…that’s right you read that correct! In the story arch we are covering Captain America becomes addicted to a new street drug. So if you are ready lets go for an action packed update with Captain America one of my all time favorite superheroes.
Captain America was a superhero that captured my imagination as a young kid, back when the American Dream was something you could believe in and tried so hard to obtain as our Nation and the people in Government always did a great job of making you believe in this idea as even the media companies at the time did their part in making you have pride. And while I am older I still do love the core values of America even if you can not trust many of those in the Government all that much, but lets get back on track as we are here to talk about Captain America. Growing up I read lots of comics as growing up in a small village comic books was very popular among my friend groups and some of my favorites to read was Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk, Batman, Superman, Luke Cage, Shang-Chi, Hawkman and at the top of the list was Captain America! And I can remember buying back issues of him at garage sales and would pick up copies from Big Bear/Hearts and at one point had a subscription so I had Captain America delivered to the mailbox. But as I have said before on here back when I was a kid Captain America was not the popular superhero he is now thanks to the films by Disney and I was always teased about Cap being my favorite hero as most of my friends were Batman fans and they all said that Cap was lame and old and I would always have to defend him and talk about how great he was, and when DC versus Marvel mini series was released and Batman was voted by readers to beat Captain America it fueled the fire. But I always have and always will stick behind my fandom of Captain America as he is just a very classic hero, who like the Hulk and Spider-Man was a huge part of growing up. The old Mattel Secret Wars Captain America figure is one of my favorite toys of all time, I always liked the made for TV films starting Reb Brown as Captain America and really I enjoyed the 1990 direct to video film as well! Still to this day I read old Captain America comics and even read new issues being released from time to time and in the new Disney Marvel Movies the Cap films are my favorite in all the series. Was not ashamed to say it as a kid and not ashamed to say it now as an adult I am a fan of Steve Roger aka Captain America as he is truly a noble, brave and iconic hero who really does have a legacy in comics and media that will live on forever in some shape or fashion. And I promise this will not be the last time we take a look at Captain America here on Rotten Ink as we have lots of great story arches to get through. And for those who are wondering in live action films and serials Captain America has been played by the following actors Dick Pursell, Aytekin Akkaya, Reb Brown, Matt Salinger and Chris Evans.
When you think of rogues galleries for comic book heroes Captain America has some really cool ones with the likes of Red Skull, Baron Zemo and Baron Blood being some of his most iconic ones, but another name on the top of the list is Crossbones who was one of my favorites growing up as he was a bad ass hired killer who looked like he was a pro wrestler and even worse a cool skull mask. So I would like to take a few moments and take a look at who Crossbones is. The man behind the skull mask is Brock Rumlow a former leader of the street gang Savage Crims and who was a terrible person as he was know for assault and murder and did just this to Diamondback when he attacked her and killed one of her brothers. He would go on to be trained by the likes of Taskmaster and his school and would even be a trainer himself of up and coming assassins. He would go on to become a mercenary for hire and would be hired by the likes of Red Skull and from there would become a major thorn in the side of not only Captain America and Diamondback but also Baron Zemo who was on the bad side of the Red Skull. And Crossbones would stay loyal to Red Skull who was paying him very well and even would search for his missing boss when he went missing and formed his own group called the Skeleton Crew. And still to this day Crossbones is around in the Marvel Universe and is causing issues for Superheroes as he is a very skilled foe for any of them. Crossbones is a skilled fighter, has a great mind for strategy, is skilled with all types of weapons and does not mind killing in cold blood to get what he wants. In fact he has even kidnapped and tormented Diamondback in order to get into the mind of Captain America and lure him into a trap. Crossbones for me is my third favorite Captain America villain as I feel he was always a big threat, had a cool look and his fights with Cap were always brutal and entertaining. And yes Crossbones has made it to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is played by actor Frank Grillo and as well has appeared in Cartoons and Video Games.
While many fans of Captain America would say that their favorite love interest for Steve Rogers would be Peggy Carter, Sharon Carter or even Bernie Rosenthal but for me one of my favorites was Rachel Leighton who was known as Diamondback who was a member of the villain team Serpent Society and who’s love for Steve added a great layer of drama to the comics as she was connected to bad guys and he is Captain America the symbol of all things good. I think what made Diamondback so interesting is that she was willing to risk everything for her love for Captain America and even could have faced death by her fellow Serpent Society members who where not pleased with her decision of following her heart and not the code of the society. And the worse part of it is that at times Captain America would ignore and push away Diamondback and it would break her heart and add so much drama to the issues. And when she went missing thanks to being kidnapped by Crossbones who was tormenting her I as a reader found myself being frustrated with Cap for not going out and looking for her. But the thing also about Diamondback that makes her my favorite is that she is a skilled fighter and can throw sharp diamond like objects at her opponents. She has went from bad to good and back again and even has been a member of S.H.E.I.L.D and while her relationship with Captain America is long over she really is one of the best love interest the hero has ever had in his very long running comic series.
I am a kid of the 80’s and 90’s and one thing that was everywhere was the “Just Say No To Drugs” phrase and PSA’s that was geared towards kids in order to try and keep them from trying and becoming addicted to them and growing up into a life of crime. The buttons with the Say No To Drugs logo was given out at school and we would watch PSA specials about the dangers of drugs and would even get visits from McGruff the Crime Dog and local police officers trying to do their best to warn us to stay clear. On TV the likes of Pee-Wee Herman, Mr. T, Peter Weller and who could forget the egg in the pan being your brain on drugs ad! I was raised by great parents who also did a great job of warning of the horrors of addiction and that is why I have stayed away from it all, and it’s crazy to think that the War On Drugs is still going strong to this day and that is all I have to say on the subject as this blog is about fun and not drugs! But really seeing as a kid the animated special “Cartoon All Stars To The Rescue” was awesome cause who didn’t want to see the likes of Slimer, Papa Smurf, Daffy Duck, Ninja Turtle Michelangelo and more telling you to stay off drugs. I also have to say the old WWF anti-smoking PSA’s was also great as the Ultimate Warrior eating cigarettes is crazy stuff to try and get kids not to smoke. Or Pee-Wee Herman telling viewers not to smoke crack…I mean the 80’s and early 90’s was a strange time indeed.
Who don’t love a classic arcade machine, and I am talking about the classic machines that took quarters or tokens that use to be located in almost every pizza parlor, movie theater and of course malls across America! And growing up it always seemed like only rich people and kids on TV had their very own arcade cabinet, but some 7 years ago I got my very own, and cool enough its one that I grew up playing as I am the owner of “Captain America And The Avengers” and this is the classic four player arcade that not only allows you to play as Captain America but also as Iron Man, Hawkeye and Vision as you battle against the likes of Ultron, Crossbones and Red Skull. The game was ported to Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis and while they are good they cannot compare to the Delta East Arcade version. And while this is one of two Arcade Machines I own (the other being Superman) they will not be the last as at some point I would like to get the Spider-Man four player game at sometime. Below is a picture of my Arcade machine being stored and used at a local media store.
Speaking of arcade machines I really do miss the days of the big classic arcades from my past I mean sure we have DK Effect and Scene 75 to name a few around here in Ohio but I miss the days of Crazy Cats and Cap’n Bogey’s two places that as a kid I was at lots! Crazy Cats we talked about before way back in my “The Cougar” update from 2014. So now lets talk a little about the mega arcade known as Cap’n Bogeys that was in Beavercreek off of Dayton-Xenia Road and also had some amazing miniature golf courses and even bumper boats! I can remember going here a good amount of time with my Parents and Brother as well as with my cousins Dino, Norman, Nick and Stephen. I would play so many arcade games while using their tokens like X-Men, Street Fighter II, Spider-Man, House Of The Dead and WWF games. I was a masker of their claw machine and would always return home with a handful of plush dolls with my favorite one I got being cartoon icon Snagglepuss. I never did ride the Bumper Boats and I do remember playing the Miniature Golf a couple of times, and the golf was fun but not as iconic as the course at Magic Castle a still going entertainment center in Kettering. But the thing about Cap’n Bogeys is that as a youngster it felt very magical as they had so many arcade machines and as well had food and a walk around version of Cap’n Bogey himself and that was awesome seeing. And for some reason in the early to mid 2000’s it closed and the legacy was gone, it sat empty for awhile with rumors that the old site was going to be turned into a updates Krogers and over years it sat empty until it was finally torn down and in its spot a neighborhood was placed. In 2021 Juliet and I even drove around Beavercreek and ended up finding the site that it once was, and nothing is left and homes really do sit in its spot. I miss Cap’n Bogey’s and wish that some day it will return and bring back the games, golf and boats to a new generation of gamers.
But enough of the flashback and love for arcades as this update is about Captain America and the Streets Of Poison and to be honest I am very happy to be bring another update about the First Avenger and this time on Rotten Ink’s big 10 Year Anniversary! I would like to say thanks to Mavericks Cards And Comics, Lone Star Comics and Game Swap Kettering for having these issues in stock and making this update possible. I also want to say thanks to Jack Kirby, Joe Simon and Marvel Comics for creating Captain America comics that have entertained me over the decades of reading them. I do want to also remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So with that let’s head to the streets of New York and see how Cap gets ride of the poison that is running wild in them.
Captain America # 372 **1/2
Released in 1990 Cover Priced $1.00 Marvel Comics #372 of 454
Captain America is ridding around his new Sky-Cycle and decides to swing by his lady friend Diamondback’s apartment to see if she would like to go for a ride, but before he can call on her he finds Serpent Society Member Boomslang spying on her, and when trying to ask questions the villain runs and makes a mistake as a youth gang opens fire and shoots Boomslang for being in their alley and Cap has to try and save his life, but the fight cause the teens to fire their guns wildly even shooting each other. Captain America returns to The Avengers base only to find that his friend and tech mechanic Fabian is addicted to a new drug called ICE that was given to him by a friend, and now he is hearing voices and is breaking down. Cap calls a place to try and get Fabien into a drug rehab place and suspends him from working with The Avengers as well as finds out the place and the name of his dealer, a man that goes by Kid Gloves who is around Queens. Once he tracks down Kid Gloves he gets the name Moosemeat who is another dealer who then tells Cap that the main distribution for ICE and other drugs is a warehouse…and Cap gets all this information making the dealers think he is The Punisher and would kill them if they don’t share it with him. Once at the warehouse he finds a young man calling himself Napalm who sets off a bomb blowing up the warehouse! Also while this is going on two gang members are at the sight of the shooting trying to break into the gangs hideout and are run off, and Bullseye escapes prison and even kills a guard while doing so.
Captain America and his war on drugs starts here with the first part of “Streets Of Poison” as he is super mad over his young friend being addicted and wants to stop those from poisoning others with their street trash, and starts following the slime trail to figure out who is the main supplier of drugs in New York. Captain America is a man who has so much going on in his life and is even at war with himself over falling in love with Diamondback a former evildoer who was a member of the Society Member, he also has to worry about being the hero America needs as well as a roll model for the countries youth plus getting his young friend drug free! Captain America once he sets his mind set on something he does not give up until he cracks the case and stops the evil that’s plaguing America. He has John Jameson the son of J. Jonah Jameson as his back up on this mission and acts as his ride as well as eyes when staking things out. Poor goofy Boomslang a super villain who not only gets caught spying on a superheroes lady, but is also shot by young kids in a gang for running down the wrong ally, this loser cant seem to catch a break and then also makes you wonder why Serpent Society has him as a member. Bullseye proves that he is deadly even being locked away in a prison cell with nothing he could use as a weapon, he is just one of Marvel’s most deadly assassins. The Street Gang is clearly the ones pushing the ICE on the streets and they are the ones who give it to the likes of Moosemeat and Kid Gloves, but makes you wonder who the hell is their head boss! I love that Captain America fakes being The Punisher dressed as an old homeless guy in order to scare the pushers, and the best part is they are the ones who gave him the idea by thinking he is the vigilante. One character that I always disliked during this era of Captain America was Fabian as he is always a goof-up who seems to always mess things up and always blames other for his issues like in this case he thinks that the pressure Cap and The Avengers is what caused him to want to do this drug to stay up longer so he can work on repairs and gadgets…he is a liar and a goon and the worst Avengers employee. The cover for this issue is pretty fun and has Captain America falling out of a window, and the interior art by Ron Lim is great and has that classic Marvel Comics look that I grew up with. This is a great way to start off a story arch as the stakes are high as drugs are running wild in the streets of New York and a new gang is moving in to start a war with Kingpin and we end with not knowing if Cap has been blown up! So with that lets find out how Captain America survived the explosion!
Captain America # 373 **1/2
Released in 1990 Cover Priced $1.00 Marvel Comics #373 of 454
Captain America’s friend John Jameson who drove him around on his quest to track down the main source of New York’s drug trade watches in horror as the warehouse explosions goes off and the fire engulfs it! He thinks quickly and calls Peggy Carter and alerts her to send the police and fire engines as well as to call in a member of The Avengers as he is not sure if Cap made it out alive! Peggy calls the authorities and then calls in Black Widow and as well calls Diamondback and alerts them of the bad situation. The Gang shows up and watches as their warehouse base burns down and think that Napalm set off the bomb cause The Kingpin’s men must have found them, and they now are ready for war. As Diamondback shows up at the scene she is in tears as John alerts her that no sign of Cap has been found, and just like that Captain America appears and says that he was able to jump out a window just in time, but the blast knocked him out for a bit on the roof from the building across the street. Cap is shaken by the blast but after a quick shower he heads back out on the street to crack this case, he has John wait in the van by the warehouse as he and Diamondback watch from across the street. Meanwhile one of Kingpins drug houses was blown up and this angers him and he hires Bullseye to find out who blew up his crack house and who is are the other crime family bringing drugs into his town. John spots someone going into the warehouse and Captain America goes in as Diamondback flies around above on the Sky-Cycle were she is attacked by Black Widow who thinks she stole it from Cap, as she does not know that he made it out of the explosion alive. Meanwhile Captain America in the warehouse sees a light and tries to sneak up on the person only to by accident makes a small noise that alerts the snooping shadow that turns out to be Bullseye who is looking for clues in order to get info on the creeps trying to take over Kingpins drug sales! Meanwhile Diamondback and Black Widow who are fighting on the Sky-Cycle crashes into the river.
The second part of “Streets Of Poison” has us the readers learning that Captain America survived the explosion only because of his reflexes and instincts causes him to leap out a window just in time, we also learn that he is acting a little off after the explosion and even finally gave Diamondback a big kiss only to not even mention it again, he also makes a rookie mistake by making noise while fallowing an unknown shadow who was snooping around a crime scene. Plus the words that Fabian said to Cap is sticking with him as he brought up that the Super Soldier Serum was like a drug, and he seems to think that maybe it is a drug that makes youngsters think that its cool. Diamondback is a one time villain who has turned hero that is confused by the way Captain America is acting and is also a little mad at him when he leaves her flying his Sky-Cycle without even telling her how to control it! Black Widow gets the call that her friend Captain America is missing after a massive accident and finds a strange woman driving his vehicle and she goes into hero mode and starts fighting without finding out answers. You have to feel back for Black Widow as she thinks her friend and teammate could be dead and is ready to crack heads to get answers to her quickly asked questions. Peggy Carter and John Jameson are doing what they can to help Captain America bust this drug ring and are for the most part doing a great job, I just wish John would rage out and turn into Moon-Wolf that would be awesome. Kingpin is really mad as he has just lost one of his drug houses by an attack done by another gang who has moved into his part of town and is selling the goods on the streets, and that other gang only attacked his drug house cause they think he is the one that caused Napalm to explode himself. Bullseye however is trying to get back into good graces with Kingpin and even takes a job of being a detective in order to find out who these people are selling ICE on the streets to they can be dealt with. And if you think about it both Captain America and Kingpin with their crews are looking for the same people, but both have their own reasons, and who are these people…we have not learned yet but we do know they hired a man named Moosemeat to sell drugs for them. The cover for this issue is ok and your typical late 80’s and early 90’s Marvel and is eye-catching for fans of Marvel. The interior art by Ron Lim is well done like before and he is another of Marvel’s underrated artists of the 90’s. So lets see what the third issue in this story arch has in store for us.
Captain America # 374 **1/2
Released in 1990 Cover Priced $1.00 Marvel Comics #374 of 454
Captain America takes a leg wound from his unknown attacker that we know is Bullseye and tries to figure out a way to not only get his attacker down but also survive! Meanwhile Diamondback along with the Sky-Cycle come out of the river and she flies away to help Cap at the blown up warehouse, while Black Widow also pops out of the water and badly wants a rematch. Back at the warehouse Captain America figures out the man in the shadows is Bullseye and when Diamondback appears the man who don’t miss his target runs away into the night. Back at Avengers headquarters Captain America is mad at Peggy Carter for calling in Black Widow on his private mission and then gets back at Diamondback and kicks her out of the building, something is wrong with Cap as his anger is out of control. Meanwhile the young street gang is now doing drive by shootings on Kingpins drug sellers, and this is making the crime lord very mad and he just might send Typhoid Mary to deal with it…that is if they can figure out who the other gang is. While Captain America is fuming and storms off to continue his mission alone, Bullseye is shaking down ICE users to follow that trail, Diamondback has changed her costume in order to blend into the night and follow Cap and even Daredevil is in town wondering why Cap is acting so weird, and speaking of Cap he is bulling a rich drug user and is proud of himself. John Jameson meets up with Diamondback and the pair are walking down the street and she informs him that she thinks Cap is on drugs and he inhaled ICE during the explosion and that the drug has bonded to his blood due to the Super Solider Serum, and as John agrees a car drives by and they shoot Diamondback!
In this third part of “The Streets Of Posion” we clearly see that something is not right with Captain America as he is very filled with anger and goes off even on his own friends as Peggy Carter, Diamondback and John Jameson all feel his wrath. It’s clear that Cap is on the ICE and that he is hyped up and filled with raw emotions and has no time for anyone who questions him or gets in his way. Captain America clearly is not his normal self as he is also almost enjoying being a jerk to his friends and loves scaring the drug sellers. Poor Diamondback is yelled out and talked down to by her boyfriend (Cap) all cause he is paranoid and thanks she is talking about him behind his back, and even after being made look bad she still stands by her superhero man and is trying to figure out his strange behavior. And for all these she ends up getting shot in the back while walking down the street, I am going to guess she will be ok cause what superhero don’t wear armor? John Jameson is a loyal friend to Cap, but also its clear he is getting a crush on Diamondback, and he is fighting his emotions about her. Kingpin is getting more and more bad that his drug ring is taking a hit as its under attack by a unknown younger cartel that has moved into New York, and you know that the war is really about to go down when Kingpin sends Bullseye and Typhoid Mary to deal with them. I also like that Daredevil has a cameo and he is clearly going to come into play as he as well had a run in with Cap (in Daredevil #283) and he knows that his hero friend is acting weird. The Drug War that is about to go off is going to get really bad as people are being shot and buildings are being blowup, just imagine when the two sides really go head to head! The cover is pretty great and eye catching and has Cap being attacked by Bullseye and the interior art by Ron Lim is fantastic again. So let’s see if Captain America can just say no to drugs and kick his accidental high in the next issue.
Captain America # 375 **1/2
Released in 1990 Cover Priced $1.00 Marvel Comics #375 of 454
Diamondback took several bullets to her back and lucky for her she was wearing a bulletproof vest, while she is hurt she is not dead and John goes inside a small store to check on the people inside. Meanwhile Captain America shows up at a nightclub and attacks a pusher named Jerkweed in order to get info about The Kingpin. Meanwhile at the gangs hideout Bullseye has found them and takes one hostage and gets him to squeal about who is the moneyman behind the new drug cartel in town. Captain America arrives at a small Italian restaurant were Kingpin and his men are having dinner and pushes the crime boss for answers on who is running the rival drug gang, the meeting turns up no answers and worse once Captain America leaves he runs into his friend Daredevil who shares his concerns on how Captain America has been acting, this does not go well. As Daredevil talks Cap’s anger and paranoia kicks into full gear and he attacks Daredevil and the pair fight in the streets and go back and fourth trading punches and attacks. As the fight goes on Captain America gets frustrated and ends the fight beating up Daredevil pretty bad and leaving him on the ground in pain, as Cap walks away footsteps come closer to Daredevil and its Crossbones!
The fourth part of the “Streets Of Poison” has Captain America getting closer and closer to busting the new drug family and all the while he himself is being over taken by the very drug he is fighting to get off the streets and he don’t even see his own trip into madness and paranoia. Cap in this issue not only beats up street punks and hired goons but also looses his temper on a fellow superhero that he beats up and leaves dazed on the streets. For some reason Captain America thinks that The Avengers want to silence him and take away his hero card and even at one point thinks they are sending Daredevil after him so that he can become the new Captain America! And speaking of poor Daredevil he just is coming to check on his friend and see if he can help and gets beat up for doing so, but I will say that while Daredevil looses the fight he at least put on a good showing against Cap. John Jameson is spending his time watching after the injured Diamonback who was injured after being shot several times in the back by a druggie gang. Bullseye is getting very close to figuring out who the main man is who is running the gang that is challenging the power of his boss Kingpin, and I feel bad for the ones in charge and Bullseye plays for keeps. The issue really is one that focuses on just how crazy Captain America is becoming due to inhaling that ICE, he is turning on his friends, making up conspiracy theories in his own mind, becoming more violent towards those he thinks are the bad guys and has become way to focus on his goal and even seems to forget what really pushed him to look into this new street drug. Plus we now see that Crossbones is involved in this madness and makes you wonder who’s side he is on as we know he is not with Cap but is he working on his own, is he with the new drug kids on the block or is he one of Kingpins. The cover for this issue is action packed and has Cap leaping at Daredevil like a madman and I can say is very eye catching for readers of Marvel, the interior art by Ron Lim is great like before. Let’s see what Captain America goes crazy on next and let’s see how Crossbones fits into this drug war.
Captain America # 376 **1/2
Released in 1990 Cover Priced $1.00 Marvel Comics #376 of 454
Daredevil is on the ground as Crossbones mocks the fallen hero, and even lifts his mask to get a peek at the man behind it. Crossbones then heads off to the Italian restaurant and busts in as he has been hired to kill Kingpin! Crossbones almost kills the crime boss, but he is saved by Daredevil who ends up fighting the assassin as Kingpin makes his exit. As the cops are called Crossbones makes a break for it as Daredevil as well retreats as he is really hurt from his fight with both Captain America and Crossbones. Diamondback and John are ready to try and find Captain America now that she is slightly better and even run into Black Widow who ends up joining them in their hunt to try and get Cap help! Meanwhile Captain America is coming down hard in a ally as he is feeling bad and even hearing voices, but he thinks he just needs some sleep and pushes himself even harder to get up and solve this case. Meanwhile Crossbones who has failed his first attempt at killing Kingpin gets a call from his boss the man who sent him and it’s the Red Skull and he is not happy that he failed. Meanwhile Kingpin tells Typhoid Mary that they need to bring in Bullseye so that he can track and kill Crossbones and get him to rat out whom hired him. Meanwhile Captain America is ruffing up more drug addicts when Black Widow and Diamondback find him and end up having to fight the drugged out Cap and after some intense fighting Black Widow is able to knock him out with a widow sting, and along with John the two ladies take the out cold Cap back home. Meanwhile as Red Skull is having a meeting with Crossbones about his failed attempt to take Kingpins life, outside the window is Bullseye who is about to try and take the Skulls life.
Captain America is out of control fully in this fifth part of the “Streets Of Poison” storyline as the ICE drug that’s in his blood has turned him into a true wild man who is focused on solving the case but has very much lost touch with reality doing so. Captain America who has last issue beatdown Daredevil almost as well takes the heads off Black Widow and Diamondback the two heroes that are trying to help him. Captain America has not slept in days, has not bathed and looks like a homeless superhero by this point and has zero clue that he is in fact been infected with drugs that he inhaled. Poor Diamondback and Black Widow are forced to fight and fight hard in order to bring their friend down, and once they have him down they have to try and sneak him away in order to protect his image and his reputation. Daredevil as well has been beaten pretty badly and you have to feel for him as he stumbles his way home to rest up after saving the life of his biggest enemy. Kingpin can not catch a break himself as being the big crime boss of New York gives you lots of enemies as not only is their a new drug operation in town, but now he has hits placed on his life by the Red Skull and as a reader you have to wonder if Red Skull is also the main man behind the new drug business. Crossbones and Bullseye are two very deadly hitmen who are on a path to fight each other on their respected bosses orders, and what a great fight this will be! Also now its even more clear that John is having major feelings for Diamondback and is doing his best to fight them off, but I think good old CarWolf will fail the test. The idea also that superheroes had to team up to bring Captain America down because he needs to get drug rehab is something I am sure readers of Cap would never think would happen. This issues cover is pretty great as it shows many of this stories main characters with only Red Skull missing and also has a classic EC Comics feel to it with the side character bar, Ron Lim as always rocked the interior art and I have to say this is a great and fun Captain America story that I have had a blast this far rereading after all these years. So lets she what is in store for Captain America in the next issue and if he can get clean in order to bust this case wide open.
Captain America # 377 ***
Released in 1990 Cover Priced $1.00 Marvel Comics #377 of 454
Bullseye busts into the hotel room and puts a bullet into the head of the Red Skull, and this of course angers Crossbones who goes onto the attack with each assassin getting the upper hand back and fourth finally Bullseye spits a tooth into the eye of Crossbones who was choking the life out of him, and then drives a digger into his harm allowing him to escape. Crossbones is pissed that he failed his boss who he thinks is dead on the floor, but he soon finds that the Red Skull is alive and that a robot dummy was the one to take the bullet. Bullseye calls the Kingpin and tells him the hit is done, Kingpin tells Bullseye that the money is waiting for him in a hiding spot and that he needs to disappear for three months or until he calls for him again. As Kingpin hangs up the phone he tells Typhoid Mary that he does not believe that Red Skull is dead. Meanwhile Crossbones gets a call from the real Red Skull to meat him at a bunker so that they can get plans ready. Meanwhile Captain America is out cold at The Avengers medical lab as his friends gather around him waiting on Hank Pym to show up to look at the effects of ICE in his blood, Black Widow takes her leave and builds a friendship with Diamondback before she does so, as both ladies have troubled pasts. Meanwhile Captain America is having a terrible nightmare about the Super Soldier Serum being a drug and that the drug is who made him, he wakes up in a feverish rage and trashes the medical room, as he is having a breakdown his friend Hank Pym comes in and talks him down and says he will help him get clean of ICE. The only way they can get the drug out of Captain America’s system is by giving him a total blood transfusion and that means he also looses the Super Soldier Serum…and he agrees to have it done. Meanwhile Red Skull has Crossbones call Kingpin in order to stop the drug war as he is the one behind the ICE and they pair meet at Yankee Stadium and speak for the first time in many years. Meanwhile the now drug free Captain America against doctors orders gets out of bed and heads out to solve this case and before he leaves he tells Peggy Carter that this is something he has to do as he has to know if the man or the drug made Captain America who he is.
I want to start by saying this is one of the comics I remember as a kid buying off the shelves at Big Bear when I was a kid and have read this issue so many times over the years, man I miss Big Bear and Hearts and wish someone would bring them back alongside Hills and Gold Circle Department stores. Captain America in this issue goes through very bad drug withdraws and has to have his blood drained in order to ride himself of the ICE that contaminates it, and by doing this he is also stripped of his Super Soldier Serum the very thing that helped him become Americas soldier. And now he can truly find the answer to his biggest question if Steve Rogers made the hero or if the serum did. And man I feel sorry for anyone who gets in his way right now as he is clean and focused and has lots to prove to himself! Diamondback, Black Widow, Peggy Carter and John Jameson take a backseat in this issue and while they are around they play more background support characters here. And Hank Pym is the man who comes in and saves Caps life from being a junkie by draining his infected blood, but don’t worry he is also working on a way to strip the ICE or the Super Solider Serum from the blood in order to make Steve Captain America again by injecting it back into him. Red Skull being the mastermind behind ICE as well as the one who is the head of the other side of the drug war is perfect as he is such a cold blooded villain who would not care about killing and spreading his addiction to the youth and lost, he also is never to be trusted and I like that he and Kingpin are having a meeting at Yankee Stadium in order to end a drug war. Plus let’s be honest, each side has very deadly people on their payroll as Crossbones and Bullseye have unfinished business and throw in Typhoid Mary into the mix and this could be a very bloody battle for territory. Funny part is that Captain America if he figures out the location of all targets he is walking into a very dangerous situation as the stadium is filled with trigger happy goons looking to please their bosses. One of the biggest highlights of this issue for me was the opening fight between Crossbones and Bulleyes in the hotel room as both fight hard and both go to kill and wound, and they are each other’s equals making it a very well matched fight. The cover is awesome and features a sedated Captain America in the middle as Bullseye and Crossbones fighting! The interior art by Ron Lim is great and has one panel that has always stuck with me over the years and that’s Bullseye stabbing Crossbones in his arm! Great issue that held up so well for me and next is our last issue in this mini series, so let’s see how Cap closes this case or even if he can.
Captain America # 378 **1/2
Released in 1990 Cover Priced $1.00 Marvel Comics #378 of 454
Captain America on his Sky-Cycle is going through a plan in his mind of what to do when he finds the ones responsible for the drugs and who have started a violent war in the streets of New York. Meanwhile Kingpin is not having any of the plan of teaming with the Red Skull as he flat out says he would never work with a Nazi! And Red Skull is not bothered by this and makes a wager with the Kingpin and its simple they two fight in a hand to hand combat with this on the line if Red Skull wins he stays in New York and they are able to sell ICE with no pushback from Kingpins men, and if Red Skull looses her leaves New York and sells his drug factories to Kingpin for a small fee…they both agree and start the fight on the field of Yankee Stadium with both men showing they are skilled and know how to defend themselves, and the fight is also taking place in a bubble that Red Skull put into place to keep others out of the fight. Meanwhile Captain America notices the lights on at Yankee Stadium and lands only to be greeted by Crossbones who wants to smash The Avenger to a blood pulp, so while Red Skull and Kingpin are fighting on the field Captain America and Crossbones are fighting off it. Captain America is able to outsmart and out fight Crossbones beating him after a very tiring battler with a chop to his throat and done on the field Kingpin is able to use his size and skills to defeat the Red Skull, sending him packing for now out of New York. In the end Red Skull and Crossbones escape, Kingpin wins his New York turf back as well as gets the ICE market and Captain America returns to The Avengers base and learns that he can get the Super Solider Serum back if he wants it, and he Just Says No as he knows now that Steve Rogers that man is who makes Captain America and not the drug.
Captain America in this issue not only kicks the drug that was polluting his body, he also finds the answer that has always bothered him and that’s if the serum is what drove him to be the biggest hero in Americas eyes or was it the drive, morals and standards of Steve Rogers! He also shows that even without his super strength he can still fight like a first class superhero when he takes on and defeats Crossbones is a fist fight, Captain America is back and while different he still is the man that America needs. But while Captain America finds himself, when you think about it he does not stop ICE or the New York drug issue as now Kingpin is in charge and will be selling the poison to those looking for a quick long lasting life changing high. The Kingpin while a crime lord and a guy who is responsible for many deaths, drug sales and over all bad deeds still has some morals as he in no way would ever work with Nazis and then beats the Red Skull in a fair fight to chase him out of New York so makes you feel odd as you find yourself cheering for him because of this. The one downside to Kinpin in this final issue is that he sends Bullseye away so he is not present for the big fight and he as well does not bring Typhoid Mary at all and she is one character I feel like they underused and wasted in this story. Red Skull is the one who has brought ICE to New York as he has a goal to kill America any way he can and he thinks what better way then watch Americans kill themselves slowly with his terrible addictive drug. He also has Crossbones a coldblooded gun for hire as his right hand man, so as you can see Red Skull means business and is truly a mastermind of crime. Peggy Carter, John Jameson, Hank Pym and Diamondback are all close friends of Captain America and care about him and all are helpless when it comes to helping him as he was on a mission to prove himself worthy of the name Captain America. I think Marvel Comics was taking a stand against the drugs that was running wild in the streets of New York at the time and was trying to make a statement that you don’t need drugs to be great and buying drugs helps put money in the pockets of organized crime, and most important that drugs are trying to ruin America. While Streets Of Poison is not one of Captain America’s most iconic stories it is one that I remember from my youth and one that I read when it was released way back in 1990, and one that I find myself still enjoying in 2022 so for me it has aged well. I would say that the story telling in this arch is a little sloppy in spots and has you as the reader fill in the holes, like the whole thing started with goofball Fabian being hooked on drugs and by the end of the story he is never mention. So in other words Streets Of Poison is not for everyone. It has Captain America appear in a Daredevil issue during so in order to get the full drugged out Cap you would need to read it as well. The cover for this issue is well done and has Cap punching Crossbones in the face, and again Ron’s interior work is great and captures the full mood of this story. Also you cannot go wrong with a fistfight between Red Skull and Kingpin going down at Yankee Stadium I wonder if Dandy their old Mascot was in the bleachers watching it all go down? Check out the artwork bellow to see Ron’s style and you can see what I mean about him having a great style that was perfect for Marvel Comics during that time.
So as you can see Captain America has kicked a forced on him drug addiction and tried to bring down two very big drug pushers and during the time played with the emotions of Diamondback and as well got help from his friends Hank Pym, Black Widow and Daredevil. This was a comic mini series that I really do remember reading as a kid and as I stated it held up pretty well after reading it again after these decades. And This was a great one to choose as you get so many villains as well as Red Skull, Crossbones, Bullseye, Kingpin, Typhoid Mary and even Boomslang make appearances with most beside the later playing big parts in this drug fueled story. Our next update however will take us out of the world of Marvel Comics and place us into the once created by Malibu Comics as we will take a look at another of there heroes who sadly is mostly forgotten by modern readers and I will be talking about Hardcase! So until next time read a comic or three, watch a superhero movie to two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you in a few weeks for an Ultraverse good time.