This is a wild two-parter in which Captain America introduces the Falcon to some of his friends (including some folks who weren’t his friends not long ago), reconnects Cap with Sharon Carter, and introduces an old Fantastic Four villain, all in the context of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde story.
First, Cap brings Sam to meet his pals in S.H.I.E.L.D.—at least they seem to be pals, much to the surprise of us careful readers—and we see that humility is yet another character trait that Sam and Cap share.
Nick takes them all deep underground to put Sam through the paces, sparring with Dum Dum Dugan, where they meet Doctor
…who’s sweet on SHIELD agent Juli a… <check notes> … just Julia, apparently. And like the stereotypical nerd resentful of the jocks, Gorbo’ll show ’em too, when he’s a big boy.
Good instincts, Julia.
After Sam makes quick work of Dum Dum, and gets the sought-over praise from the (other) old man, the old man wants to talk to someone he hasn’t seen since he left for a long drive in issue #128.
I admire Sharon for sticking to her position on devoting herself to S.H.I.E.L.D., even when Cap left… and Cap too, for seeming to understand.
Meanwhile, Gorbo has been working on his serum, and becomes even more deranged and vengeful after a visit from Julia goes wrong. After trying the formula that transforms him into a giant gorilla and then back into a man, Gorbo launches into a life of crime, attracting the attention of our resident superheroes, while making use of his newfound ability to talk to the animals (just imagine it).
It may be a small thing, but I always appreciate seeing heroes be careful not to hurt animals when possible, and Cap is no exception. (Batman, on the other hand… sigh.)
Gorbo escapes and transforms back to the original state, and when Julia turns him down for a date, choosing to watch Project Earth Dig instead, Gorbo swears to disrupt it. So of course, that’s where we find Cap.
Yes, that sounds like a great plan, nothing could go wrong… at least until Gorbo shows up. Cap instantly recognizes the importance of the project (even if he is a bit too optimistic about it) as well as saving it from a huge gorilla who wants to impress a woman.
Cap quickly suspects he’s more than just an animal…
…but he doesn’t have time to make use of this information before he and Gorbo take a fall for the worse.
Issue #136 opens with a short-lived but apparently deeply felt “death of Captain America” reaction scene. (When will they learn, nothing kills Cap—not for long, anyway.)
Funny how these guys seem more concerned about the future of Project Earth Dig than the death of the Living Legend of World War II. (“Get our PR flaks on this right away!”)
Of course, there’s at least one person more concerned about the big hero than the big hole… but to be fair, she may literally mean she can’t believe he’s dead.
And Nick is surprisingly sympathetic, the big softie.
When Nick and Sharon get to the wicked big dig, they meet up with Sam, and once they express their mutual remorse, Sam makes it clear he wants to take a dive as well.
Nick shows why he is a master manipulator (which we and Cap already well know, from issue #120, for instance), though here he does it for good reason, while letting a hero do what he has to do to save his partner.
As if this tale weren’t wacky enough, Cap and Gorbo’s rapid descent is interrupted by a mystery man on loan from the World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.
Mole Man is in a generous mood this day, and seems to find common ground with Cap…
…until Cap tells him what Project Earth Dig is for, which understandably irks the guy who lives down there. And Cap doesn’t seem to appreciate the problem with having radioactive waste dumped in your house.
Well, Cap may not lie, but at the same time, again, I don’t think he appreciates the threat to Mole Man’s land and people. But to his credit, whether on principle or simply to avert a war, he comes around. (And “mankind is sick of war”? How I wish this were true.)
Unfortunately, Gorbo, imprisoned while in his gorilla form by Mole Man, transforms into a human, slips his bars, and throws a monkey wrench into Cap’s hopeful plans.
Meanwhile, Falcon visits everyone’s favorite tech guy, Tony Stark, to get a rocket pack that would let him fly down to save Cap, and both heroes mix it up with Gorbo, once again in gorilla form. Once they subdue him, Cap sees Mole Man about to activate a weapon… but he’s not the only one.
Mole Man was quite understanding about all of this, wasn’t he? (More about the fate of Project Earth Dig in the next post. And oh yeah, Spider-Man too, apparently participating in a labor dispute.)
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #134 (February 1971)
ALSO THESE MONTHS: Sub-Mariner #35 (March 1971)
NEXT ISSUES: Captain America #137-138 (May-June 1971)