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A face only a mother could love – Captain America #133

May 17, 2010

This issue has some significance to the ongoing Captain America mythos because, at the end of the issue, the Falcon becomes Cap’s partner.  That’s all well and good.  It’s always nice to have landmarks in the run of a title.  But I could really care less about all that because of the other Marvel character on the cover.

The Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing.  Or MODOK to his friends.  Or underlings, as the case may be.

I’ve always liked MODOK – there’s something so damn goofy and oddball about the character.  The big head, the spindly little limbs, the failure of every one of his schemes despite his supposedly unmatched intellect – all these characteristics rolled together form a pretty righteous compost.

Thanks to the cover puffery, I knew going in that this issue was going to give me the origin of MODOK.  Nice.  What it didn’t tell me was that the issue, written by Stan Lee, would be pencilled by Gene Colan.  In the classic Cap/Iron Man duo, I’ve always associated Colan with the latter thanks to his excellent work on the early days of ol’ Shellhead.  So this was a nice surprise to my still-learining mind.

Colan’s shadowy art, which worked so well for him later with with his efforts on horror titles, was a nice match for MODOK and his ugly mug.  Here’s Colan’s take on MODOK from the title page:

He gives him even more of a mostrous feel.

The plot?  The previous issue had Cap dispatching an android Bucky Barnes sent as an Assassin by MODOK.  This failure prompts some reflection on the part of the big-headed one, including a flashback to his creation, but he soon devises a new way to destroy Cap.  MODOK’s plan this time around is a bit more convoluted – he creates a giant android, the Bulldozer, and unleashes it in Harlem, where it begins destroying the slums.  MODOK’s big plan, you see, is to discredit Cap by having this behemoth tear down the slums that are hated so much by those that have to live in them, and to therefore make AIM the champion of the common man.

Yes.  That’s the plan that his big brain came up with.  The phrase “Too clever by half” springs to mind.

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that Cap and Falcon defeat him (with a brief assist by Tony Stark).  By the end of the story MODOK is buried under rubble while the two heroes become partners. 

I’ve always appreciated the Falcon because he was an early black character that didn’t have “black” in his name, but MODOK was what made this issue for me.  Colan’s art was such a nice match for MODOK’s ugliness.  It was a pleasant surprise to find him working on this title – I just hadn’t had the chance to buy any Captain America comics from this time period until recently, and had no idea that he had such a great little run on it.

And one last note…  This isn’t a full-on return to the Blog into Mystery Casting Couch, but a few years ago there was an internet meme about a rather unfortunate fellow named “Brian Peppers.”  Do a Google search – has an entry on him.  He reminded me a little bit of MODOK.  Ouch.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 27, 2013 11:34 pm

    I actually own a page of original artwork from this issue, which I purchased a number of years ago from inker Dick Ayers. I later was able to get it autographed by Colan, as well. Definitely one of the best pieces in my modest original comic art collection.

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