Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cap on Drugs (Captain America 372-378)

Mark Gruenwald took a unique approach to his anti-drug storyline "Streets of Poison". After Cap is exposed to major amounts of "ice" during a drug bust, it bonds to the super soldier serum in his blood, leaving him permanently high, and increasingly paranoid and sleep deprived!

Anti-drug comic book stories are pretty much always corny and cringeworthy. In real life the very real dangers and down sides to drug use often aren't immediately apparent to users, but comics and TV shows generally have to compress the storyline so that drugs are always doing real destruction immediately, and in doing so the stories damage the credibility of their message. This story isn't much better, but at least it takes a fresh approach. And it's always worth remembering that the folks who manufacture and import these drugs aren't doing it out of a benevolent desire to spread good feelings throughout the world. (A friend of mind in college had his head chopped off by a couple of young marijuana dealers.)

Interestingly, in the end Cap's problem is solved with a complete blood transfusion. Even without the super soldier serum inside him, Cap finally manages to defeat the Red Skull's loyal henchman Crossbones. I don't know if this story was ever undone. Writers in the 70s and 80s were generally pretty clear that Cap didn't have any superpowers anyway, and that the serum had merely pumped him up to the height of human perfection, with Cap taking it from there. On the other hand, these days Brubaker seems to suggest that Cap is at least somewhat super strong. It doesn't matter much, but I wonder if some story I haven't read yet explains the apparent contradiction.

[Postscript, okay the super solider serum regenerated itself inside Cap by issue 384.]

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