Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Nights Of The Living And The Dead!

Following the bicentennial storyline which initiated upon Jack Kirby's return, we get a few stories with decidedly science fiction twists. The first of these is a trio of stories about the mysterious "Night People". The saga begins with a host of peculiar robberies by even more peculiar people who appear and disappear at will.

They don't steal money, but a laundry list of assorted items which befuddle the police. The Falcon and his best girl Leila are discussing the case when suddenly the Night People appear and kidnap them both. Cap hears that the two are missing but doesn't have a clue as to why.

It turns out the Night People are inmates in an asylum which was some time before mysteriously transported to a distant dimension filled with small planetoids atop which the asylum now sits. Thanks to one of their number who was a genius physicist the crazies who now run the asylum (literally) are attempting to create a world to their liking and using device which allows them to travel back and forth to Earth they have been appropriating what they need, including a "superhero" in the form of the Falcon. They need help with the locals in the dimension, giant monstrous beasts which prowl the distances between the asteroids. Cap hooks up with millionaire Texas Jack Muldoon, who had previously befriended the Falcon to seek out his lost partner and to that end they both travel into the other dimension.

Once there they find the creatures are ready at last to attack the asylum in full force and along with the Falcon who has been brainwashed by the Night People, Cap and Texas Jack prepare to fend off the deadly attack.

Ultimately they succeed in finding a way to shift all the crazies off the asteroid and back to Earth and destroy the portal just as the "monsters" descend.

Once back on Earth, both Leila and Sam Wilson (The Falcon) are taken into the care of SHIELD's psychological unit. Also there is a mysterious corpse which nonetheless is ambulatory. This mystery is the next Cap must confront as the theory that the corpse is animated by an energy creature from the far future is proved true.

Meanwhile Cap, more accurately Steve Rogers is catching grief from his girlfriend Sharon Carter who rues the life they lead as heroes, always on call and unable to live a normal life.

Agron, as the creature calls itself tries to escape the confines of the SHIELD base and only Captain America and a somewhat recovered Falcon can stop him.  With the defeat of Agron both heroes are presumably going to have some time for their personal lives at long last.

But don't count on it.

These are solid adventures in the classic Kirby tradition, but neither of them is anything particularly special. Both stories have a somewhat atmospheric horror in the beginning but turn into straight sci-fi tales by the end. The Night People storyline might be a commentary on the how modern society deals with those who are insane and the movement to shift these folks into the larger society with little support and limited guidance. If that's the case, and I'm not at all sure it is, Kirby seems quite reluctant to suggest this shift from classic aylums is a good thing. The Agron story doesn't seem to be about much other than perhaps how Cap and Agron are similar if only in that both are seeking somehow to escape the isolated lives they lead and find another way to connect. 

More next time as we meet the Bio-Fanatic!

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  1. I have to confess that after years of devouring Captain America stories up to this point – this is the span where I gave the series up, actually buying some of these issues but finding them to be so bad that they were unreadable for me. They was just too at-odds and uninvolved with the rest of the MU at the time…. I’m guessing a second look today would change that opinion though.

    1. I cannot disagree with you. Despite my love for Kirby this turn on the Cap series left me pretty cold at the time. I was very interested in the back stories of Cap and Falcon as they had been revealed over the years and these books seem to throw all that out. When Kirby left the old threads were picked up again to some extent, so this run always felt like a bit of an intrusion.

      Taken on its own merits I find more to like, but I can certainly understand and even agree with the criticisms.

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