Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Comics don't feature enough screaming beefcake on motorcycles these days.

No man has ever missed a meal in a Mike Zeck comic. It’s all broad shoulders, powerful arms, chests as wide and expansive as untilled fields of wheat – just an endless parade of titanic American bara with backs like grizzly bears, decked out in short-sleeve polo shirts. Any book illustrated by Zeck looks like if the Joe Wieder Invitational crashed through a J.C.Penney’s in the middle of Summer 1986. I don’t think there’s a single male character in any Zeck book who doesn’t own a long-sleeve rugby shirt with the fabric stretched out around the cuffs, where they keep rolling them up their ham-sized forearms.

Which makes Zeck pretty much the perfect artist for a character like Captain America, easily the most corn-fed farmstock superhero on the planet. Captain America is the one costumed crimefighter most likely to grab a cup of joe at the office coffee machine and say “Damn fine brew today, Janet.” He’s the guy I expect to be most excited that someone brought in danishes, but he’ll only have half a one because he had seventeen eggs for breakfast. At the gym.

Large men in comfortable clothes eating themselves silly. The American Dream.
All of which also makes him the perfect fit for a story which teams Captain America with a trio of all-American, rough-and-tumble motorcycle stunt riders in their debut appearance. In Captain  America vol.1 No.269 (May 1982, “A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste”), Cap finds himself joined by two-wheeled daredevils Team America – no, not the marionette movie by the South Park guys, but rather stars-and-stripes bedangled stunt riders Honcho, Reddy (First name, “R.U.”) and Wolf, whom you can tell is Mexican because he keeps code-switching the last word of every sentence just like all ethnic types do in comic books.

What brings the quartet together involves a performance at a benefit motorcycle stunt show attended by Nobel Prize winner and dirt track stuntcycle enthusiast Alfred Knopfler, This ends as most of these shows do, with a wormhole opening in time and space and a giant naked putty-yellow man-monster abducting the respected scientist, and then Undertaker jumps like twelve school buses. They’ll sell you the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge!

Cap and his hard-driving buddies follow the kidnap-happy cross between Homer Simpson and the Hulk through his wormhole (which sounds very intimate) and find themselves in what appears to be the Main Street USA section of Disneyland. At which point they’re suddenly confronted by the friendly visages of Albert Einstein and Mark Twain, thereby putting to rest forever the rumors that the two men were one and the same.

Actually, it turns out that the entire town is inhabited by the great men of history – and do I mean MEN, (wolf-whistle sound), including Shakespeare, Plato, Abraham Lincoln, Confuciius, Maciavelli, Socrates and Nietzsche. Gosh, can I get a little mustard to go with all this sausage?

Yep, we’ve come pretty far from an arena full of two-wheeled mudfuckers. In fact, I think you can argue that this would be the polar opposite of the community center arena on the night they book Truckasaurus. What it turns out to actually be, however, is the haven of notoriously cranky Marvel baddie and big-brained nuisance The Mad Thinker, a guy who’s happy to work under that sobriquet and that says a lot about him. The famous figures populating his personal burg are androids, replicating the greatest men in history, but it’s not enough for the Thinker – it’s never enough. Now he wants to steal living minds to full his androids’ empty heads, including Knopfler and even Captain America, because he can’t be picky apparently.

If you’re under the impression that this is really coming down hard on smart people and celebrating guys who drive around fast on mud, then boy have you unlocked the weird message of this particular story. Moreso, Team America – a trio of guys who so far have shown as much ingenuity and intelligence as an engine block – manage to save the day by wrecking everything, including literally the world’s most advanced androids. I guess it’s worth mentioning that this is accomplished thanks to The Marauder, a black-clad motorcyclist who rushes in an saves the day, then disappears when the individual members of Team America show up, but mostly I’m taken aback by the image of Wolf holding Abraham Lincoln above his head so as to smash him violently to the ground. Listen mister, the last time someone tried something like that, it ruined a perfectly good play.

Take that, nerds!

The end of the story returns Knopfler and his fellow Nobel Prize winners to their beloved extreme arena sports and Team America to its relatively obscure and brief existence. The entire experience was weirdly hog-heavy – by which I mean to refer both to the motorcycles and all the swinging dicks – but the one thing you can say about this weird adventure of America’s Star-Spangled Avenger … at least everyone looked fuckin’ swole while they did it.

Yeah, but you didn't count on MOTORCYCLES!

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