With these two issues we conclude the five-part tale of the Red Skull and the Cosmic Cube that introduced the Falcon to the Marvel Universe… at the same time that we say goodbye to another supporting character (who will go on to get mixed up—literally—with another Captain).
You’ll remember from the last issue that Cap—still looking like the Red Skull, except without his mask but with a custom mud mask, so now he looks like… Bruce Wayne (?)—proclaimed Sam to be the Falcon. So this issue we get… the training montage!
I like how Sam is starting to wonder who this mysterious stranger is and how he learned to fight so well.
Sure, Cap can call him Sam (at the top of the page), but Sam can’t call himself Sam. OK…
Meanwhile, the Red Skull—who, remember, looks the Sentinel of Liberty—is continuing to ruin Cap’s reputation by acting like an entitled jerk. (So much so that even Tony Stark would say “dude…”)
The Skull’s not stupid, realizing that he can’t use the Cube… at least not so obviously.
It’s always useful to remember, as he makes clear at the bottom of the page below, that the Red Skull doesn’t just want to kill Captain America, but also wants to ruin his good name (and damage American democracy in the process).
In issue #116, we saw the Red Skull dismiss Rick Jones as useless (after Sharon Carter effectively does the same, ouch), which is the last straw for our young hero, who abandons being the new Bucky and soon join forces (and identities) with Captain Marvel (as we’ll see in Avengers #72).
On the Isle of Exiles, Cap and the Falcon rally the island’s natives to fight the Exiles, but the Red Skull worries that someone else might kill Cap. So, as issue #119 opens, the Skull uses the Cube to return his appearance to normal, transport himself to a German castle he used to share with Hitler, and also summons our two heroes to face him there.
It’s gratifying to see Sam and Cap bond in their mutual heroism in the panels above, with Cap wanting to protect Sam and Sam vowing to stick by his side. Below, we hear Sam express the same fighting spirit as we often hear from his new partner…
…whom the Red Skull changes back and OMG he’s Captain America!
Yep, Cap and Sam do sound the same. (Cool.)
Oops… did I mention that MODOK and AIM have been working for the last couple issues to find a way to disable the Cosmic Cube before it can be used against them? Gee, that would sure make it easier for Cap and Sam to beat the Skull. What luck!
I don’t think many in the world even know who you are yet, MODOK, but sure, whatever.
After we introduce this element to our story, of course, it’s just a matter of waiting for AIM’s anti-Cube device to work… and then it’s over.
More like a lot of help from fate.
As often with supervillains, their egos are what dooms them in the end—when the Red Skull finally gets it in his head to use ultimate power to end Cap, that will be the end of him. (Of course, that would also be a supremely unsatisfying story, but it stretches the limits of credulity to have the Skull repeatedly gets his hands on the Cosmic Cube only to have it destroyed or simply knocked out of his hand.)
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #117 (September 1969)
ALSO THESE MONTHS: Avengers #69-70 and Iron Man #18-19 (October-November 1969)
NEXT ISSUE: Captain America #120 (December 1969)