You Don't Have To Call Me Mister, Mister...
Last week, my main man Chad--whom you may remember as my source for inside info on World's Finest #289--took a trip up to New York City on vacation, passing the plane trip in the same way any right-thinking young man would've: By knocking out the new Captain America: Secret Empire trade.
If this thing isn't at the top of your must-read list, it needs to be. Aside from the fact that the back cover has one of the best sentences ever constructed in the English language ("The Secret Empire was rarely more secretive or empirical than in this classic arc..."), but Radical C hipped me to some of the most awesome lines in comics I've ever run across.
Steve Englehart, one of the best Batman writers ever, was behind this story, which centers around Steve Rogers retiring as Captain America after being framed for the murder of low-rent Batroc the Leaper simulacrum The Tumbler, but that's largely irrelevant. All you need to know is that in #171, featuring weird-ass dialogue by Mike Friedrich, Cap and the Falcon are battling new villain Moonstone when he drops this piece of knowledge on them:
Sort of a weird thing to say when you're just about to murder a super-hero. But far be it from Steve Englehart to drop a line like that without tying it into the rest of the story. That's just not how the Englehizzy rolls, yo.
In the next issue, Cap and the Falcon escape from Moonstone's clutches, beating feet back to Harlem and lamenting that they've lost their only link to the conspiracy responsible for framing Captain America for murder. They puzzle over it for a moment, and then lightning strikes in what may be one of the best panels of all time:
Oh man. There's so much awesome in this panel that I apologize in advance if your monitor can't contain it all. First, there's Cap's sweet abbreviation of Country Music to "C.M.," thus proving that he's "down" with the "cool" kids and their "far-out" "jive-talk," "man." Then, his impromptu quiz of the Falcon's knowledge of midwest museum exhibits, which comes straight from the set of the Batman TV show, complete with banging on the table and the immediate reflex-action response.
Even with all that, though, there is nothing, nothing better than the Falcon's huge thumbs-up. I have never in my life seen someone that excited about going to Nashville, but he looks like it's his life's dream.
So, since they're super-heroes on the run from the law, they do the sensible thing and hitchhike from New York to Tennesee, where we find out that Cap and the Falcon aren't the only country music--sorry, C.M. fans kicking around the Marvel universe. No sooner have they gotten off the back of the turnip truck when they run into everybody's favorite Irish X-Man, the shockingly hideous Banshee. Dear God, what is wrong with him?!
Blue Blazes! He looks like the bastard love child of Swamp Thing and Keith Richards. I feel it's important to note also that at this point in the story, he's hiding from the Secret Empire, which is why he chooses to remain incognito by wearing a blue raincoat over his bright green super-hero outfit and yellow calf-high boots. That's the kind of training you get as a secret agent in the Marvel Universe.
Of course, being on the run from the murderous Secret Empire doesn't stop him from enjoying himself:
Huh. And here I always thought Cap was a little bit rock and roll.