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Cap Flies Air Gangster

I love comics. And specifically, I love old comics. And even more specifically, I love old comics I’ve never read before, because you absolutely never know what you’re gonna find. Case in point: this year at the San Diego Comic Con, I found myself trying to put together a full set of Jack Kirby’s 1970s CAPTAIN AMERICA run, which led to my accidentally buying this: CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON #192 (December 1975), the last issue before Kirby began his run.

And here’s the joy of diving into a vintage ‘70s comic completely blind: you have no idea what kind of madness lies within, such as “Mad-Flight!”, written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Frank Robbins, with inks by D. Bruce Berry. So here’s the story: Cap is bummed because he feels like his partner the Falcon has changed somehow (don’t ask me what that means – it’s all very vague). In Los Angeles at the time, he decides he has to get on the next flight to New York to confront Falc. When he’s told there aren’t any flights, the woman at the counter suggests trying to buy his way onto a departing charter flight (which is insane enough already):

Then get this: Cap just abuses his power as a SHIELD agent to muscle his way onto the flight, rather than waiting four hours for the next commercial flight. Dude. Not cool.

Serves him right, though. As Cap climbs aboard, he finds that the flight is full of gangsters. Not just organized-crime types, but the kind of double-breasted, fedoraed, ridiculous-looking gangsters that you only ever saw fighting Dick Tracy. I mean, come on.

The guy sitting next to Cap is nicknamed “Heels” because he keeps extra guns in his platform shoes. For real.

Turns out, the charter flight is organized by none other than evil psychiatrist Doctor Faustus, who plans to use some stolen Stark Industries weapons to hold the city of Manhattan for ransom, presumably with the help of the criminal world’s leading fashion victims.

At the sound of this, Cap’s had all’s he can stand, and decides to slip into uniform and fight 30 or 40 gangsters in a small cramped passenger cabin. Me, I would have just waited till we landed in New York and maybe looked for the nearest pay phone to call the cops, but hey, this must have been the kind of strategic thinking that led Cap to a couple of decades snoozing in an iceberg.

By the way, Cap’s anatomy this issue is startling, to say the least:

Another by the way: so Dr. Faustus’ superpower is literally that he’s a smooth talker? Really?

And then there’s this. Remember Cap’s seatmate “Heels”? Turns out he also had a spare gun hidden in his hat. Not in a secret compartment in his hat. Just under it. So this guy’s walking around all day balancing a revolver on his head. I guess everyone needs a hobby.

Anyway, “Heels” fires a round through the window and the jet decompresses, with Dr. Faustus sucked out the window Goldfinger-style. Yikes.

Anyway, Cap lands the plane and manages to tip off the cops that he’s got a plane full of thugs by radioing in that his flight number is 911. Clever.

So to sum up, sure, good comics are good. But for me, bad comics can be great.

Did I mention that the guy had a gun under his hat?

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