In this issue, we learn what truly motivates MODOK’s hatred of Captain America, see some welcome confirmation of Cap and Falcon’s friendship and their new partnership, and get an important message about those who claim to support you in your time of need. (Thanks, MODOK!)
The issue opens with MODOK’s origin, which doesn’t add much to what we already knew—a random AIM employee who was experimented on and became a Mental Organism, Designed Only for Killing. The result is similar to current fears about artificial intelligence: as soon as AIM created an intelligence greater than themselves, with killer brain blasts just the icing on the cake, it (he) took over. (Hint to real-world scientists: don’t give your AI killer brain blasts.)
Here we learn the all-too-human reason MODOK hates Cap: envy and resentment for the latter’s idealized physical form. (I have certainly never felt that way toward Chris Evans, not at all.) And the standard ideological opposition, sure, but mainly envy and resentment.
The rest of the first half of the issue is spent watching MODOK create a living Bulldozer out of clay, another enormous, brainless automaton to battle our heroes—but this time, with a subtle twist. When we finally meet our heroes—on the thin sliver of panel at the end of page 11, continuing onto the half-page 12—we see a brief but meaningful exchange between Cap and Falcon. Most important, Cap shares his true identity, which, since he orchestrated the “death” of Steve Rogers back in issue #111, it is unclear how many people know. Also, Cap describes them both as loners (though I never thought of Sam that way), devoted to helping those who need it the most… or at least that’s what I assume he was going to say!
It seems like Cap was leading to something until they were rudely interrupted, but it seems the impending trouble only backs up what Cap was about to say.
So that’s why they call him Bulldozer… and one with a “mission.”
This is the twist I mentioned earlier: MODOK programmed the behemoth to claim to be destroying slums for the purpose of justice, defending the downtrodden against the forces of oppression and exploitation, and “earning” the support of the people.
Cap sees what’s going on, but only Sam understands it: the residents of the slums are grateful to anyone who seems to show empathy and support, but they don’t grasp MODOK’s true purpose. After all, it’s one thing to tear things down—literally or figuratively—and another thing entirely to have something to take its place, and AIM has no interest in the latter.
As the people and even the police question Cap and Falcon’s actions, MODOK reveals his true intentions, and sadly they sound all too familiar.
The lesson here is to beware of those who seem to sympathize with pain and suffering, for they may have their own agenda, and will use the legitimate anger of the people for their own ends, often acting to worsen it rather than address its causes (ending up exploiting the exploited.) Furthermore, as MODOK explains, those who try to reasonably and constructively address the real problems are seen as too dispassionate and are often dismissed as traitors to the cause.
Back to Cap, who calls IT for technical support.
As with the last issue, when MODOK orchestrated a battle between Cap and a robot duplicate of Bucky in which Cap was guaranteed to suffer whether he won or lost, MODOK thinks he has a failsafe plan here: even if Cap defeats the Bulldozer, he will be seen as an enemy of the people who believe AIM is on their side.
Cap uses Tony’s device to get Bulldozer to lead him to MODOK, and nails the problem with his plan… now if only the people outside could have heard him. (Sadly, the entire issue of Cap’s reputation in the minds of the residents of the destroyed slums remains unresolved. It would have been nice if he or Sam could have addressed them too.)
In the end, MODOK (and maybe Bulldozer, it isn’t clear) is defeated, if not killed (although we know better), but the most lasting impact of the issue is the formation of a new partnership: Captain America and the Falcon, as will be reflected on the covers of issues #134-222, as well as a later series (in 2004-2005) and in both their lives going forward.
Captain America (vol. 1) #133, January 1971: Stan Lee (writer), Gene Colan (pencils), Dick Ayers (inks), ??? (colors), Sam Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: Bucky Reborn, Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume Five
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #132 (December 1970)
NEXT ISSUE: Captain America #134 (February 1971)
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