Sunday, November 22, 2015
The saga of the original Nomad is a favorite of mine for certain. The notion that a stalwart like Captain America could quit his job as hero number one and walk away had been tried. But to do it for such an extended period was remarkable in the 1970's. Such things are so commonplace today they lack the potency this storyline mustered back then.
Cap has quit and that leaves it up to the Falcon to battle the threat of Lucifier, an alien who has been stranded in another dimension and who finds his way back to Earth by possessing the body of a street punk named Rafe. Later that power proves too much for one body and Aries of the Zodiac is found in jail and suddenly we have two Lucifiers to deal with.
Falcon battles his two new foes and eventually saves the day, though truth be told the villains seem pretty much to take themselves out as Lucifer's powers prove wildly unstable. With Cap retired the word is out and some strictly small timers think it might be cool to put on the red white and blue. In this issue a baseball hero tries it and promptly breaks his arm.
Steve Rogers has been retired and that makes his girlfriend Sharon Carter happy, but no one else much likes it including the Golden Archer. The Archer is in fact Hawkeye and he gives Cap the idea that just because he's not going to be Captain America, it doesn't mean he can't still be another superhero.
So the stage is set for the debut of the Nomad.
One of the fun things about this story are the methods Steve Rogers uses to develop his new identity, from his search for a name to his construction of a new costume, complete this time with a cape.
That cape offers up one of the best moments in comics when he ends up battling a reformed Serpent Squad.
The next month features a Nomad surprise as he shows up briefly in The Avengers.
In the next issue Nomad battles the Serpent Squad led by the nihilistic madwoman Viper (formerly Madame Hydra) and Krang from Atlantis who brings with him the Serpent Crown. It's wild ride and Sub-Mariner shows up too.
Then Nomad chases Viper and Cobra to Seattle where they battle for a final time, a battle no one really wins. This issue also saw the debut of artist Frank Robbins who takes over for regular Sal Buscema. While Sal's steady line is missed the energy Robbins brings to the page is heady indeed.
While Nomad has been battling the Serpents, Falcon has been breaking in a new partner, a kid named Roscoe who wanted desperately to be the new Cap. It ends tragically when the Red Skull turns up and murders Roscoe.
This tragic turn of events convinces Steve Rogers that he must return to the role of Cap and so Nomad is no more.
Falcon and Cap take the battle to the Red Skull (with guest art by Herb Trimpe) and the Skull's secrets slowly are revealed as he sets about to murder several people with a deadly red dust.
It turns out that the Falcon has been one of the Skull's longterm plots, first concocted and situated as to present as a perfect partner, Sam Wilson, who is revealed to really be small time crook "Snap" Wilson is under the mind control of the Skull and turns on Cap.
The story ends abruptly as the Skull is defeated, but the dilemma about Falcon is left rather open. Steve Englehart left the writing chores and this story more stops than ends. It's a shame that such a properly robust run should end so anti-climatically.