A Brief History of Team America, Part Two
The response to last night's post on the origins of the most spectacular terrorist-battling motorcycle racing team was, to say the least, shocking, mostly due to the fact that there are people out there who apparently want me to spend almost two weeks on a senses-shattering issue-by-issue review of the series.
Unfortunately, as much as I hate to disappoint, this one--like the rest of my erroneously-named Brief Histories--is only slated for two parts. But don't worry: With this extra-sized ISB spectacular, I personaly guarantee that your mind will be blown at least twice--three times if I manage to cram in El Lobo's date with a pre-teen from #11. It's a bold statement, but I'm confident that I can deliver.
After the mind-bending events of #1 and the follow-up from #2--wherein an assassin hired by HYDRA's plan to dispatch Team America is foiled when Cowboy stands on the hood of a jeep that is also plummetting off a cliff and lassos a convenient tree with the tow cable--Bill "The Thrill" Mantlo takes over as the sole writer (with the occasional plot supplied by Jim Shooter) until issue ten, and immediately decides to crank the level of awesomeness all the way up to twelve with five issues that spotlight each member of the team in solo action.
Well, each important member anyway. Len "Wrench" Hibbs doesn't get one, ostensibly for the reason that nobody wants to sit through a guy merrily fine-tuning a dirtbike engine for twenty-two pages. Sorry, Len.
In The Arcade Assassins from #4, Wolf first displays an interest in children (which we'll get to in more detail later--and how!) as he rescues a boy from his old neighborhood from the sinister mafia masterminds behind a local video arcade stocked with games that are hooked up to kids' brains to provide an extra level of challenge. This, incidentally, is the exact principle on which Sony's upcoming PlayStation 3 is going to operate, which goes a long way towards explaining the $600 price tag. Kid brains don't come cheap, bucko.
Also of note, this issue includes what may be the single most ridiculous deathtrap I have ever seen in eighteen years of reading comics:
As a noted expert on Super-Villain Tactics, allow me to assure you: an evil mastermind strapping someone into a rollercoaster along with a gigantic clown head smoking a cigar made of twenty pounds of semtex is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Fortunately, the Marauder shows up, tears ass all over the rollercoaster, and--after leaping six moving rollercoaster cars--snags the clown head and drops it unceremoniously on the arcade. Problem: Solved.
Honcho, meanwhile, faces down a deadly Triple Cross in #5, a story which includes betrayal by not one, but two former former government agents gone rogue, the aforementioned "drowning in the exploding basement" trap, and a scene where Team America's erstwhile leader leaps from his motorcycle, grabs onto an airplane shortly after takeoff...
...And punches his way through the windshield into the cockpit. Because that's how Team America rolls.
R.U. Reddy spends #6's Dead Water down in Louisiana, where, since he is in fact a comic book character, he is contractually obligated to run afoul of a swamp monster. But in this case, the monster is actually the swamp itself, in the form of a chemical compound designed to clean up oil spills that, through machinations beyond the ken of all but Bill Mantlo himself, gains sentience and is being auctioned off to various terrorist stereotypes by its creator, who is in this case played by Green Acres star Pat Buttram. Things look pretty grim--as these things tend to look--before the Marauder shows up, rides his motorcycle through a third-floor window, and kicks the hell out of everyone in a panel where Alan Kupperberg and Vince Colletta obliterate the concept of perspective:
Fortunately for Reddy, he manages to hijack a passing fuel oil truck and dump the whole thing into the swamp, where the electric current causes it to blow up and destroy the offending wetlands. Right on, Team America!
Finally, in #7, Cowboy returns to his hometown in the Lone Star state to face down Tony Rome, an expert car customizer who believes himself to be the reincarnation of Jupiter, and thus plans to rebuild the Roman Empire--CLAPCLAPCLAPCLAP--Deep in the Heart of Texas!
To achieve this goal, of course, he has a giant statue of Jupiter with a nuclear missile hidden inside.
Thankfully, the whole plot's foiled when the rest of Team America--along with Cowboy's old friend the sherrif--paratroop in with their motorcycles and rescue Cowboy shortly before an airstrike comes down like the Wrath of God and wipes Rome's villa--along with his atomic warhead right off the map. TEAM AMERICA!
At this point, the more math-savvy among you should realize that we skipped over Team America #3, and with good reason. It focuses on the mysterious Marauder, in all-out action in what is undoubtedly--as I said before--The Bill Mantloest Story Of All Time. And I know this, because this is the splash page:
Feast thine eyes, my friends, upon The Mayhem Organization! Led by Mister Mayhem, who was contracted by HYDRA to take down the Marauder and subsequently subcontracts the job out to his three top men, they are the single greatest underused villains in the history of Marvel Comics. I mean, just look at them! There's Mister Muscle, Mister Mind--no, not that one--and my personal favorite, Mister Magic--no, not that one--who has the vague, ill-defined powers necessary to battle a team of patriotic dirtbike racers to a dead standstill.
In order to trap the Marauder in Mister Mayhem's deathtrap-ridden fortress, Snidely and the Brain over there literally zap them with a magical laser beam and trap them in...
Mister Muscle is apparently there for the sole purpose of lifting that thing up and putting it in the back of Team Mayhem's van. Regardless, with every member of Team America neutralized, held in a state of living death, and headed for certain doom, the Marauder quickly appears and--with flames roaring from his motorcycle's tailpipe--slides through Team Mayhem's hidden trapdoor in the middle of the interstate, and rides through a maze of deadly threats like spinning buzzsaw blades, giant pinball machine bumpers (?!), and a giant pink cyborg with laser-eyes before being subjected to Mister Magic's arcane assault in the most mind-shatteringly awesome page since Power Man and Iron Fist #75:
ATTENTION, MARAUDER: YOU ARE NOW FREAKING OUT!
Fortunately, the Marauder's able to make a fighting comeback by mentally controlling his motorcycle to run Mister Magic over, and then frees the rest of Team America so that they can take Mister Mayhem out in a pitch-black motorcycle laser gun death circle, a sentence that rocks so hard I'm amazed I could type it without my keyboard exploding with a sound like the first four Black Sabbath albums.
That's it--if I go on any further, I risk permanently blowing your mind. And you know what that means?
YOU demanded it!
Tomorrow Night on the ISB:
Thursday Night Comics Reviews!
BUT BE HERE FRIDAY, as the ISB celebrates its 599th Post with the Unprecedented Third Chapter in The Senses Shattering Saga of Team America!
The Incredibly Creepy Romance of El Lobo--Exposed!
HYDRA'S Middle Management--WE RIP THE FRIGG'N LID OFF IT!
Iron Man! The Ghost Rider!
Truly, THIS ONE'S GOT IT ALL!
BONUS FEATURE: El Lobo Demands A Pin-Up!
Kids, hang it up in your locker! Adults, frame it for the office! Don't ask--JUST PRINT IT!