Guest shots of Peter Parker/Spider-Man in alternate realities are one thing, you can check out titles such as Exiles or any of the Earth X series, and he can usually be found with powers intact. In this issue however, Peter has no powers at all, and never became Spider-Man.
Why? Well this story arc sort of re-tells the origin of the Marvel Age Captain America, the part where he was a human ice cube and was thawed out. In this arc, it seems the Nazis had won way back in WWII, as Nazi soldiers were the ones that had found Captain Popsicle and revived him.
Taken prisoner and shuffled off to New Berlin (In America), CA was given a choice by the Red Skull: Swear allegiance or die! You should be able to guess what Captain America did then... made a spectacular escape of course! Cap meets up with a rebel faction, made up of many familiar characters, giving a spark of hope to their cause.
If you think just the Red Skull and countless Nazis are enough of a threat, you might want to know that in this arc, considering the way history unfolded, the Nazi movement has the benefit of Tony Stark and Victor Von Doom! Their newest weapon? A time machine!
Cap has already met Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm (both without their abilities), and is taken to the underground rebel base. There he meets up with many familiar faces (at least to us) including Matt Murdock, Nick Fury, Henry Pym, Janet Van Dyne, Frank Castle, and Bruce Banner to name a few. Fury of course, remembers Captain America, but hes not the only one.
Cap soon meets the rebel leader, who is none other than James "Bucky" Barnes, much older of course. They brief each other on whats happened until Donald Blake brings news that Peter Parker was captured, who seemed to be working undercover for the rebels at Stark Industries. Stark technology being in the pocket of the Red Skull and all. A public hanging is scheduled at dawn.
The day breaks, and the Red Skull makes a morning announcement via broadcast. Peter is led to the hanging platform and put in the noose, the lever is then pulled and Peter drops. But before Peter can make that sudden stop, a precisely-thrown shield cuts the rope and Peter lands on the ground. Cap takes the fight to the Nazi guards as Johnny and Ben grab a groggy, drugged up Peter and take off like a bat out of hell.
Not wasting the opportunity, Cap makes his announcement to the crowd that the revolution starts soon. Witnessing this, the Red Skull doesn't seem to care about the feeling prisoners, he would rather have Captain America. To do this, he threatens to order his men to shoot into the crowd unless Cap surrenders. Cap willingly does so to spare lives.
Ben and Johnny are still on the run with no pursuit in sight, and they quickly find out why. Near-unconscious Peter has been wired with explosives. The Red Skull simply presses a button, carrying out the execution order himself as three would-be heroes are incinerated by the blast. Captain America is taken away.
Back at base, the others feel the loss, but there is no time to grieve when news of the Nazi time machine comes to their attention. James decides to immediately begin the revolution. The next day Matt Murdock confronts the guards at Stark Industries, shooting them with their own weapons, signaling the others to attack. Its total war as Reed and Henry attempt to break into Stark Industries while the others continue putting bullets to good use.
The door opens where Cap is chained up, and in walks Tony Stark. While he was thought to be a traitor, Tony was secretly under deep cover, and proceeds to set Captain America free. Cap and Tony are almost caught by some guards, since Tony's bluff didn't work, Cap's fists did. With all the action going on, Tony's heart begins to fail, he wont be able to keep up with Captain America. Giving Cap a device of some kind and urging him to go, Tony opts to stay and fight, defending an escaping Captain under a hail of Nazi gunfire!
YOW! Some story huh? This sort of (but not quite) reminds me of that other really good limited series 1602. We get to see a lot of our favorite Marvel characters presented in a new light, and when its done that way, you can never know whats going to happen.
Perfect example right here, not only does Peter Parker have no Spider-Man powers, but he was killed along with Ben and Johnny! Who knew that was going to happen? Seeing something like that done with beloved characters makes you REALLY want to see Cap tear the Red Skull a new one.
Even though Peter died, and he has very little to do with this arc, I enjoyed this issue a lot, really. I may be a true Spiderfan, but this Cap story is very well done, so I am rating it based on its own merits (as I do on any book I review), and not for its Spider-Man relevance.
I might have to go and get the other parts of this story!