Tim Callahan continues his occasional look at superhero comics before their seminal runs by turning his attentions towards the little-remembered Robert Kirkman-written Captain America “Disassembled” arc:
Then, the issue stops. The lights come up, and instead of Robert Kirkman and Scot Eaton (or Joe Quesada) appearing on page to say, “Thanks for sticking with us as we clearly didn’t know what to do with this series, see you next month when Ed Brubaker comes in to actually make this series worth buying once again,” we get Nick Fury and company laying down the truth.
It turns out that this whole story arc has been a set-up, and the mission Captain America thought he was on was actually the ruse of a guy named Mark Nolan (now in shackles, all of a sudden), who used holographics and S.H.I.E.LD. tech to plot the demise of that very organization. Red Skull’s super-armor was stolen S.H.I.E.LD. tech too. And Nolan’s big plan was something to do with using Captain America to do something or other and blah blah blah. It doesn’t matter. Even Nick Fury obviously gets sick of bothering to explain it all. The story’s done. The series has come to an end.
The whole raft of “Disassembled” tie-ins (There were arcs in Cap, Thor, Iron Man – all three of which were cancelled as a result, with Cap and Iron Man relaunched the month later and far better for it – Fantastic Four and Spectacular Spider-Man as well as the core Avengers arc, as far as I remember) were a weird thing, looking back: For the most part, odd filler that didn’t really tie-in with Bendis’ story that much, nor thematically, and that seemed particularly disappointing in terms of quality when compared with what followed. In a lot of ways, it’s like a last huzzah for the loosey-goosey Jemas era before the more focused, continuity-heavy Quesada era began… but do many people really have fond memories of these books, I wonder…?