Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Paneled Goods: Batroc zee Leaper!

So who was that French speaking dude that Captain America mixes it up with in the opening scene of The Winter Soldier?  Why, that's Batroc zee Leaper!  A savate kickboxing mercenary who has been crossing paths with Cap since his introduction in 1966's Tales of Suspense # 75 from creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  Back then, Captain America and Iron Man weren't popular enough for their own titles so they shared Suspense with each getting 10-12 pages of paneled adventure.  In their first meeting, Batroc is hired to steal Inferno 42, a high explosive strong enough to melt the entire city.  But when a nameless female Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes off with it, Batroc and Cap team up to retrieve it before it goes boom boom.  Batroc's introduction would include many of his character trademarks like his vicious kicking skills, mustache twirling, French accent, purple and yellow bodysuit and penchant for teaming up with Cap when something nefarious comes up.  The price for his services?  A cool $1 million bucks.  Oui!

Also in my collection is a two parter from 1980's # 251 and 252 by the incredible Captain America duo Roger Stern and John Bryne.  The two only teamed up for 9 issues but provided one of Cap's most memorable runs where he faces Machine Smith, Baron Von Strucker, Dragon Man, Batroc, Mr. Hyde, Baron Blood and even find time to update his origin while introducing his New York City apartment neighbors and love interest Bernie Rosenthal.  Here, Batroc is hired to break villain Mr. Hyde out of prison for $5 million smackers.  But Batroc almost chokes on his champagne when he realizes the offer was a bluff as Hyde plans to hold New York City herself hostage with a commandeered oil tanker turned device of mass explosion.  Again, Cap and Batroc team up to take on a bigger threat with Bats seemingly escaping until Cap runs into his escape boat with a submarine.  Non!

Next in my collection was one of Captain America's most fun runs, 1989's #357 - 362 by Mark Gruenwald and Kieron Dwyer.  "The Bloodstone Hunt" starts off with Batroc's crew breaking into a museum to steal the skeleton of a former caveman turned monster hunter via a strange alien stone.  Working with international killers Machete and Zaran, Batroc's team has been hired by Baron Zemo to find the fragments of the Bloodstone in an attempt to bring his dead father back to life.  Here, Batroc is up to his usual antics: jump kicking fools in the face and hitting on the women.  He craves recognition but not a paycheck as this job is only paying $10k for the bones or $100k for each of the 5 stones.  Looks like the economy in the 80's wasn't so hot.  This is basically Cap's version of being Indiana Jones as he jets around the world with female sidekick Diamondback from the jungle to the desert to the far east fighting mummies, Mayans, Japanese cooks and more.  The bromance continues as Cap saves Batroc's crew from human sacrificing Mayans while Batroc returns the favor and warns Cap that a shark is about to take a bite out of his Star-Spangled behind.  Yeah, they fight sharks too, like gentlemen.  When Zaran wonders if Batroc has a soft spot for the Avenger, Bats flying jump kicks his ass and reminds Zaran to never accuse him of being anything but a ladies man.  Ces't la vie!

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