Comic Flashback April 1991 (Captain America #384)

September 17, 2021 Docs Corner, Reviews

     In the early 1990’s, Captain America had taken a turn storywise, into new more human condition themes. Characters like Diamondback and D-Man had started to provide Cap with a more family oriented future. And while the stories were interesting and in some cases tear jerking, they didn’t seem all that popular. During this time one issue snuck under the radar. An inventive story which pitted Cap against an unbeatable foe and unable to get backup.
     The cover of Captain America #384 threw a wonderful red herring at the readers with a “Guess Who?” arrow pointing at a guest character that was clearly Ice Man from the X-men. However, writer Mark Gruenwald (a man who clearly knew his Marvel history!) stunned everyone. The search for the lost D-Man, the mystery as to why his super serum was continuing to work, and Cap’s network of everyday people that heklped him were all continuing plot points but the story quickly leads us down a wonderful little rabbit hole.
     In a matter of one issue, Cap would be reintroduced to another Golden Age hero long missing from the pages of Marvel. For you see, that wasn’t Bobby Drake on the frozen ramp of the cover (I can hear all the X-men fans sobbing) but turned out to be Jack Frost!
     Referred to as the “King of Cold” in his first appearance in U.S.A. Comics #1 (August 1941) Jack Frost had no origin, no exposure to Gamma Rays, no radioactive spider bite. He simply showed up in the frozen North to watch a man die and decide to interact with humanity.
     Gruenwald’s story is touching as the icy hero relates that he has been frozen in the ice since the days after World War II (see any similarities here?) after tricking a giant ice worm into swallowing him and freezing the beast down until it’s heart froze over. Accidentally defrosted by Cap, both the hero and the giant ice worm are back. Cap watches helplessly as Jack Frost recreates the actions to refreeze the creature (and thereby sacrificing himself again) while Cap tries franticly to reach Thor for help.
After the frosty hero is once again lost beneath the frozen waters, Thor arrives and in a matter of three panels, gives us a plausable possible origin for the Golden Age hero. The story reads like sheer poetry. And Ron Lim’s pencil work do any amazing job (what does the inside of a giant worm made completely of ice look like?) This is definitely something to look out for in the back issue bins!