Marvel Comics Presents #80-81 (July 1991)

This is a very curious little story, not least because it is, as far as I know, the only Captain America solo story written and drawn by none other than Steve Ditko. As you see from the covers above (front and back), the main stories from these two issues were part of “Weapon X,” the story written and drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith that established how Logan had adamantium applied to his bones. What does this have to do with Captain America? In Grant Morrison’s run as writer of New X-Men, they revealed that the “X” in Weapon X stands for ten, and that Weapon I referred to Project Rebirth, the process that created… well, you know.

But this has nothing to do with Ditko’s Cap story, which begins in issue #80 in the middle of a discovery and a battle. The initial exposition box sets the stage, despite an unfortunate typo to start it off, and the thought bubbles are strikingly earnest.

Wargod manages to knock Cap out the window and then leave distinctly unimpressed after destroying evidence in Jake Bage’s files.

Luckily for Cap, Jake always made back-up plans…

…which gives Cap a lead to work with.

Cap is witness to a father-son disagreement between the Revers at Able Electronics about business practices, with the son Dan more desperate for a sale than his father Brad is, even if it means trading with a “hostile nation”…

…which apparently means “enemies of our marketing system” (although I suspect it should have read “market system,” as in capitalism).

Cap appreciates the father’s stance—a rare case of him commenting on the interaction of business practices with politics or national security—but is disappointed that Rever can’t give him any helpful information.

Cap then goes to visit Agent X-4, who is being attacked by Wargod and his men; after getting away, X-4 gives Cap a lead about General Hager (recently resigned) and Senator Weason, who are on opposite sides of the national defense debate, with the general favoring a strong, assertive military to project strength, and the senator arguing for a defensive rather than offensive stance.

After the scientists at Able install a sonic disruptor in Cap’s shield to disable Wargod’s mace, we see the general’s daughter Mora interrupting a conversation between Cap and the general, who would clearly fit in with the Commission in wanting Captain America to act under direct government command.

Cap seems oddly sympathetic to the general’s argument—which resembles ones made for registration during the Civil War years later, with which Cap strongly disagreed—but will hardly be convinced further by Mora knocking him out with gas (while thinking of Wargod).

By the time issue #81 opens, Cap has come to and is fighting Wargod’s goons, despite not being 100% himself, and eventually getting away. (Sorry, make that “War God”—it seems to be two words now.)

Meanwhile, at Able, Brad catches Dan planning to cover up the forbidden shipments (and the kickbacks he’s getting); he argues that they need the sales regardless of the identity or ideology of the buyer, which he says shouldn’t matter, but his father follows a higher standard of business ethics (which, to his credit, he doesn’t distinguish from ethics in general).

(I include the panels above for those interested in Ditko’s admiration of the libertarian philosophy of Ayn Rand, whose business ethics were more subtle than often realized; for more, see Christine Swanton’s chapter “Virtues of Productivity Versus Technicist Rationality” in the book I co-edited with Jennifer A. Baker, Economics and the Virtues.)

Below, Cap infiltrates War God’s lair and fights more of his thugs, being careful not to drop one too loudly before the rest appear anyway… and then letting them have him.

When Cap confronts War God once more, the villain has both the general and the senator captured, but in case the two men are in cahoots with War God, Cap offers to let them follow through on any conspiracy to trap him. (They decline.)

Cap notices War God’s blows are too accurate…

…and guesses that his shield and War God’s mace are linked somehow (possibly through the now-disrupted disruptor, I don’t know).

What is clear is War God’s identity…

…and she would have gotten away with it if not for you meddling Avenger! Mora reveals her true colors, and Cap celebrates another victory against budding fascism.


Marvel Comics Presents (vol. 1) #80, July 1991, “Wargod”: Steve Ditko (writer, pencils), Terry Austin (inks), Brad Vancata (colors), John Morelli (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Marvel Comics Presents (vol. 1) #81, July 1991, “Wargod: Part 2 – Final Blow”: Steve Ditko (writer, pencils), Terry Austin (inks), Brad Vancata (colors), John Morelli (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Not yet collected.

ALSO THIS MONTH: Captain America #387-388, Avengers #334 and Thor #434, and Infinity Gauntlet #1 (July 1991)

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