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Captain America and the Falcon #14

Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2005
By: Shawn Hill



ďAmerican Psycho, conclusionĒ

Writer: Christopher Priest
Artists: Dan Jurgens (p), Tom Palmer (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot: Cap and the Anti-Cap in final battle, while Falcon is nowhere to be found.

Comments: For story purposes, the Anti-Cap was more of a co-star of this series than Falcon ever was. He was there from the first issue, and unlike Falcon, heís here in the last. Whatís the purpose of having two versions of Captain America in one story if not to contrast two disparate strains of symbolism about our schizophrenic country? If our time-lost Cap represents naÔve and simplistic irrelevance, and Anti-Cap represents the current paradigm of pragmatism over morality, then what did Falcon represent?

Heís not despairing and befuddled like Steve Rogers in most of the stories on this short-lived title, and heís not psychotic like Steveís drug-addled analog. What he is, from before his first appearance and presumably even now in his absence, is angry. Sam Wilson is an irritant, a goad, a guilty conscious and an uneasy friend to Cap throughout each step of the Anti-Cap story, from the drug-busting Cuban cartel that began the series, to the hasty frame-up that confronted Sam on their return to the states, throughout the sci-fi and spy fun of the MODOK story, and especially in the final kiss-off last issue.

Sam seemed the least puzzled by Steveís interlude with a suddenly promising Wanda, which coincided with odd flashbacks that showed his loyalty to the new Anti-Cap came from seeing the murderer as a victim of the same forces that forever altered Steveís life back in WWII. Anti-Cap, of course, turns out to be no Bucky at all, choosing expedience over honor at every turn.

Itís tempting to look at race in this story, though hard somehow to directly confront it. Samís anger makes him lash out at a Harlem civilian, dominating him to the point that a violent reprisal is the only way to regain self-respect. He takes a pot shot at Robbie Robertson, who Iíve always read as a Marvel analog for Sidney Poitier-esque peaceful assimilation (definitely more MLK than Malcolm X). He ultimately tells Cap that their partnership (a relic of the Blaxploitation seventies after all) is impossible, untenable for either because of their social and moral divergence. He allies himself implicitly with the Anti-Cap, as Steveís replacement, at least until Steveís life is endangered.

Thereís not much fun to be had in Falconís life in this story, which reads as loss after loss for Cap, who ends up more alone, though no more insightful, than when he began. Itís frustrating when your heroes donít see their own flaws, and when their dark passages donít lead into the light, but into a void, or at best into a grim and rainy twilight.

Also interesting: Itís a shame Priest wasnít matched by old-school talents like Jurgens and Palmer from the beginning of this series. Their clarity and complete command of super-hero anatomy would have worked both to clarify Priestís complex plotting and as an ironic contrast to his story about how old values are beautiful but misplaced post world-wide terror. Jurgensí Cap and Anti-Cap are startling contrasts fighting across rooftops and subways, and his morbid Paris a Gothic and moody treat.



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