[Retrospective]Captain America 387-392: The Superia Stratagem

Bobby DerieBobby Derie Registered User regular

I don't think I can do justice to this one, but goldurnit I'm going to try.

Okay, first thing you need to know going in is that Captain America in the early 90s was a little weird. He had spent a good chunk of the 80s as "The Captain," there was A Very Special Issue dealing with a friend from Steve Rogers' childhood who turned out to be gay, Cap had to wear an exoskeleton at one point...don't get me wrong, Mark Gruenwald can write a good comic, and Cap mostly avoided the 90s nonsense until Heroes Reborn, but he was very much a fish out of temporal water in the 90s, and dealing with a resurgent Red Skull and having a new love interest in the sorta-reformed criminal Diamondback like he was playing a more Boy Scout-ish version of Batman. So naturally, crammed in to a six-month period in 1991, there's a storyline that almost brought us Captain America Rule 63.

This issue confused young me, and probably launched many a secret fetish in overly hormonal young readers.

The second thing you need to know is that there was this thing in the Marvel Universe called Femizonia.


It was a very typical Marvel kind of concept: in one future, women had basically taken over, formed their all-women nation, using advanced genetics to procreate and acquire Amazon-like superhuman physiques.

Seriously, those are Kirby-esque hairstyles.

For reasons I can't bother to look up, they elect to send one of their number - Thundra - back into the past to defeat the world's strongest male. Sort of like if Wonder Woman did a face heel turn and decided it would be a better example to young girls if she put Superman into a sleeper hold until he passed out. This was a good excuse for her to beat up on a lot of Marvel's male-dominated lineup, but I'm fairly certain she got beat by the Thing and ended up largely palling around with various all-female supervillain gangs. But the idea of a possible female-ruled future stuck around in continuity.

So Gruenwald picked up this bit of continuity, and then basically raided Marvel's back stock of female supervillains. He...had quite a few to choose from.

To be fair, some of those aren't technically villains.

The plot that unfolds is that a new character, Superia, has been inspired by Thundra (who is otherwise notably absent) to create Femizonia, gathering together all the superpowered female villains in her super hi-tech fortress/shopping mall (not even kidding, there's a shopping mall sequence) to be the core of her new Femizons. Also, she plans to co-opt all the males on the planet by turning them into women, starting with Captain America and the Paladin.

Cap and Paladin are rescued by Black Mamba and the Asp, who they convince to wear their costumes. Yes, it's Cap in drag. Gruenwald could not resist.

I'm skipping over a lot of how Cap gets dragged into this plot. And maybe focusing too much on issue #391, which features both Cap almost getting turned into a woman and dressing up like a pre-Catwoman Selina Kyle. But that was the great thing about comic books back then: some of the situations are so absurd, you literally can't make this stuff up. Her full backstory (never really explained) involves a device called a "time probe" and getting a book from future-Femizonia - presumably they knew sending a flash drive back to 1991 wouldn't be super-helpful - and eventually Superia appeared again as a bigwig at AIM.


Is there a moral to all this? Well, we've come a long way in 25 years. Jesus wept, has it been 25 years? Ghost I feel old. But seriously, you think about how women were treated in the 80s and early 90s - and this was, keep in mind, after all the women's liberation and equal opportunity stuff of the 60s and 70s - and this feels just really weird. Not terribly dated - except maybe the jokes; seriously, Cap in drag is going to linger with me - well, I take it back, it's really hard to look at this compared to today, when you have Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman being pushed as the premiere female characters...

Oh! That reminds me. Another Femizonia connection.


Yeah, Lyra the Savage She-Hulk, one of the Hulk's progeny, is a time-lost spawn of Femizonia sent back in time! Ghost, I love how convoluted continuity can be. This is the kind of stuff I'm going to miss after all is said in done, I think. The Marvel back catalog was just so rich in random zaniness.

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