Marvel Fanfare #31-32 (March and May 1987)

This two-part story is quite a curiosity: Written by longtime Captain America scribe J.M. DeMatteis and plotted with penciller Kerry Gammill, it functions as a team-up between the Sentinel of Liberty and Frog-Man, an offbeat character introduced by DeMatteis and Gammill in Marvel Team-Up #121.

In issue #31, we first see Cap saving the man in the upper-left corner of the double-page spread below from a would-be assassin.

After Cap deals with the shooter—with notable cool, especially how he catches the knife—he learns the name of his target.

When he meets the visitor, Cap assures him that this experience should not taken as representative of America, but the guru does not seem shaken or upset in the least… although his polite invitation is turned down nonetheless.

And as he leaves the scene, Cap asks himself why he turned Ananda down, going as far as considering, against all odds, that he may have a touch of discomfort about foreigners—and dismissing it as “good old American xenophobia,” which I can only hope was meant sarcastically. (We can take it as a sign of his humility that he even considered this might be tje case.) Eventually, he acknowledges the value of Eastern philosophy, and decides he does want to meet with Ananda, even if only to dispel his creeping suspicion.

Time to meet the other member of our team-up:

Frog-Man has no powers, just charged springs in his shoes that allow him to… well… leap, of course. They don’t often do him a lot of good, though, as seen below when he intervenes in a mugging, saving the victim only to have the muggers turn on him instead. Luckily, he seems to have a guardian angel.

Frog-Man exaggerates his abilities a little a lot, while Cap nonchalantly takes care of one of the muggers.

Cap lets Frog-Man down easy—after flattering him by having heard of his previous adventures—before giving him a stern order to retire while he’s young (and alive), for his father’s sake if not his own.

Later, Cap visits Ananda, whose location comes as a surprise (not doing much to allay his concerns).

Ananda admits to curiosity about Cap that he suggests puts them on equal footing…

…but once they’re alone, Ananda lights incense that turns out to be hallucinogenic, and after Cap is weakened by it, the “guru” compliments Cap’s mind before revealing his own true identity, confirming Cap’s general suspicion. (He also lets us that he has met Frog-Man as well, whom he captured between the scenes shown here.)

Last seen on this blog in Avengers #204-205, the Yellow Claw takes advantage of Cap’s compromised state…

…eventually defeating him, leading to the opening page of issue #32

While the Claw recounts his storied past and reveals his evil plans to Frog-Man—whose other superhero friends, meanwhile, are being alerted to his present danger—Cap wakes up in a dungeon, refusing to give in to the pain and confusion of his situation.

Cap sees what appears to be a threat and prepares to meet it, even in his weakened and addled state, but the threat soon becomes a man, and a gentle one at that.

The kind stranger helps Cap out from under the influence of the drug, and then tells him what the Yellow Claw is planning: to use the collective psychic force of his followers to destroy New York City. And the man knows just what Cap needs to stop it.

After the man disappears, Cap gets to work, with the narration emphasizing his never-ending mission of service and sacrifice.

The next morning, two hundred thousand followers gather to hear their “guru” speak and give him their love and devotion, which he will channel into destructive force… until Cap appears on stage and then reveals the Claw for who he is. But is he too late? (Cue dramatic music.)

Cap engages with the Claw’s energy constructs—maybe he’s really a Yellow Lantern?—and after a valiant effort seems nearly beaten…

…until Frog-Man comes to the rescue, alongside Spider-Man, the Human Torch, Iceman, Angel, and the Beast. They all give Cap the chance to throw his mighty shield…

…and destroy the Claw’s big fancy hat, prompting him to flee to fight another day (and buy another hat).

Afterwards, Frog-Man’s father shows up, but much to the young hero’s surprise, he is not angry, and even Cap congratulates him for his efforts… which only goes to his big green head.

Later, back at the ranch, Cap reads the news reports of the adventure, and sees a familiar face.

Whatever happened to Frog-Man after this adventure? He shows up here and there through the next thirty-odd years of Marvel history, and of as the time of this writing is currently appearing in Iron Man as part of Shellhead’s motley crew gathered to fight Korvac.


ISSUE DETAILS

Marvel Fanfare (vol. 1) #31, March 1987, “A Plague of Frogs”: J.M. DeMatteis (writer, co-plotter), Kerry Gammill (pencils, co-plotter), Dennis Janke (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Diana Albers (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Marvel Fanfare (vol. 1) #32, May 1987, “Is This the Way the World Ends?”: J.M. DeMatteis (writer, co-plotter), Kerry Gammill (pencils, co-plotter), Dennis Janke (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Diana Albers (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: Justice Is Served


ALSO THESE MONTHS: Captain America #327 (March 1987), Avengers #277 (March 1987), Captain America #328 (April 1987), Avengers #278-279 (April-May 1987), X-Men vs. Avengers #1-2 (April-May 1987), and Captain America #329 (May 1987)

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