"The Bloodstone Hunt Part 4:
Blood in the Sea"
(17 pages; part 4 of 6)

Story - Kieron Dwyer (plot), Mark Gruenwald (plot, script)
Art - Kieron Dwyer
Inks - Danny Bulanadi
Colours - Bob Sharen
Lettering - John (Jack) Morelli
Editor - Ralph Macchio

Cover pencils - Kieron Dwyer
Cover inks -
Kieron Dwyer

Second Feature: U.S. Agent
Conflagration: The Night of the Scourge!" (5 pages; part 3 of 5)
Story: Mark Gruenwald
Art: Mark Bright
Inks: Don Hudson
Colours: Bob Sharen




The central focus and namegiving object of this six issues story arc are the fragments of the powerful Bloodstone, needed by Baron Helmut Zemo in order to fulfill his obsession and raise his father, Heinrich, from the dead. The ensuing hunt takes Captain America and his female side-kick Diamondback all over the world in order to stop Zemo and his mercenaries Batroc, Zaran and Machete - not to mention fights with cannibals, sharks, snakes, mummies and the undead...

In Captain America #360, halfway into the story, Cap battles Zaran and Machete in the shark-infested waters off Bermuda for the last fragment of the Bloodstone. When the sea predators attack, the two villains escape, leaving Cap to battle it out.

Meanwhile, Diamondback has located Baron Zemo’s yacht and, after a prolongued struggle with his psychic henchman Tristram Macawber, seizes the boat and greets the returning Batroc with the case containing the first two Bloodstone fragments - plus Zemo as a hostage. Trickery is thrown into the confrontation, and ultimately Diamondback retreats with her two pieces of the Bloodstone while Batroc remains in possession of the one found at the bottom of the sea.

Cap resurfaces and rescues the wounded Diamond, and while he signals for them to be picked up a mysterious figure with a skull mask and crossbones on his chest watches from a nearby boat.

  Once airborn, SHIELD's "bloodstone detector" sends them to Egypt, where Cap and Diamond discover an entrance to an underground crypt near the famous Gizeh Pyramids.

As they explore the ancient tomb, the floor suddenly drops out from beneath them and opens up to a pit of poisonous snakes…. to be continued


U.S. Agent
"Conflagration: The Night of the Scourge!" (part 3 of 5)

Beneath the mansion of power broker Curtiss Jackson, U.S. Agent is fighting a vigilante called Scourge of the Underworld who is on a mission to kill Jackson (hiding in his private lab where he hopes to be safe from the assassin). Things are not going well for U.S. Agent as Scourge brings half the building down, leaving U.S. Agent buried underneath the rubble and Scourge heading for Jackson's lab.... to be continued



Captain America #360 was published in late 1989, right at the end of an era which was still connected in many ways to the classic Silver and Bronze Age. Only a few months later, the 1990s would roll around - and Marvel (and large parts of the comic book scene along with them) would go increasingly bonkers, publishing what felt like a million (mostly awful) X-Men titles and half a million (definitely awful) Spider-Man titles and not much else, in a painfully endless stream of clones and mutants all sandwiched between chromium covers.

Mark Gruenwald (who started working for Marvel as an assistant editor in 1978 and stayed with the company for his entire career) was at the writer's helm for Captain America from 1985 to 1995, and during this run he always packed a huge punch of wild ideas and big thrill adventures into his stories, giving readers a rendition of Captain America who fought a varied and colourful gallery of costumed rogues while saving the world from peril. Gruenwald's Cap stories were as good as any of the best and would go on to become part of the "classic Cap" canon themselves.

In 1996, aged only 43, Gruenwald suffered a fatal heart attack; famously, his live long love for comic books resulted in his ashes, as per his wish, being mixed with the ink used to print the first printing of the TPB compilation of Squadron Supreme.

"The Bloodstone Hunt", of which Captain America #360 was part 4 of 6, feels very much like the Indiana Jones movie also released in 1989, a swashbuckling tale of adventure and espionage which at the heart of its plot is like a treasure hunt across the world for a prized, almost mythical object.

Gruenwald does it with bravado, producing an exciting storyline which never loses its pace. The story arc also introduces Crossbones, a villain which would come to play a central part in Ed Brubaker's Captain America saga in the 2000s.
  A large part of the accolades given to the "Bloodstone Hunt" goes to Kieron Dwyer (*1967), who co-plotted, drew and inked it.

Following his first published work in Batman #413 in November 1987, Dwyer worked for both Marvel (including pencils on Captain America from 1987 to 1990) and DC, and his work generally seems to be somewhat underrated. His clear pencilling style, enhanced by his light inking, provides visuals which are full of detail and have a captivating way of working the plot and pushing the story onwards.

In the case of the "Bloodstone Hunt" Dwyer's artwork provides the cinematographic style which makes this Captain America story work so well, as exemplified by his rendition of the exotic locations in Egypt where some of the action takes place in front of the pyramids and inside underground tombs.


Original artwork by Kieron Dwyer (pencils & inks) for page 20 of Captain America #360 (scanned from the original)
and the same page as it appeared in print



The Bullpen Bulletin was one of those elements which for the longest time made a Marvel comic book a marvel comic book. It was still around in 1989, as was Stan Lee's famous soapbox (although this had been done away with in the early 1980s and only returned in late 1986).

Interestingly enough from today's perspective and enhanced with hindsight, Stan Lee is going on about nothing else other than various movie projects. The ones mentioned either failed to materialize or weren't a big success, but the box office hits would come, and it does seem like Stan "the Man" always saw and believed in the silver screen potential of the characters he co-created back in the 1960s.

The Bullpen Bulletins proper dealt exclusively with various comic conventions, a sign that fandom was expanding, including its comercialization.

A feature actually introduced by Mark Gruenwald (who took over the editorial reins of the bullpen bulletins in 1987) was the pro file, a short Marvel Handbook-style profiles of Marvel staff-members. In this issue, readers got to learn more about Renée Witterstaetter, who started her career as an assistant editor at DC Comics working on the Superman comics and later worked at Marvel Comics on Silver Surfer and Conan; wWhile at Marvel she was a colorist on many series including the Avengers, Spider-Man and Captain America.


Bullpen Bulletin


Letters page (click to view entire page)

  The Bullpen Bulletin is complemented by a letters page (somewhat awkwardly named "American Graffiti" at the time); the only other in-house content is a subscriptions page which features an interesting variety of titles available along with a rather lacklustre illustrattion of Wolverine's claws. A subscription for regular Marvel titles in 1989, by the way, would put you back $9.75 a year (i.e. 75¢ instead of $1.00 an issue).
The (in)famous "flea market adverts" were gone by 1989, replaced by comic convention organisers, comic book sellers and a few non-comics products.
Of these, the Nintendo ad has an interesting "writing on the wall" type of flavour when viewed today, but back in 1989, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons still held sway over pixel graphics video console games.



The "Bloodstone Hunt" has been reprinted more than once by Marvel, which can safely be taken as an indication of its quality and appeal; first in 1993 as Captain America: The Bloodstone Hunt, then in 2011 in a trade paperback titled Captain America: Scourge of the Underworld, and then in 2018 in the Marvel Epic series as Captain America: The Bloodstone Hunt, for which the solicitation reads as follows:


"Steve Rogers is back in the red, white and blue! With his familiar shield in hand, Steve battles alongside Nick Fury and takes on the Supreme Soviets! But his return to the mantle of Cap may come to a swift end as he struggles to survive Mother Night's camp of hate — while transformed into a scrawny teenager! And the erstwhile Cap, John Walker, makes his return as the take-no-prisoners U.S.Agent! Then, a classic caper begins as Baron Zemo targets the powerful Bloodstone — and Cap joins the hunt along with Diamondback! She's a foe turned friend, but could she be more? Before the saga is over, they'll face Batroc's Brigade, cannibals, sharks, snakes and even mummies! Plus: Crossbones targets Diamondback, Sub-Mariner goes wild and Magneto nearly kills the Red Skull!"

In 1988 German publisher Condor launched Captain America Taschenbuch, a digest size collection of Cap stories from the 1980s which was available three times a year and lasted for a total of 26 issues, until cancelled in 1996.

Captain America Taschenbuch #11 reprinted the first four issues of the Bloodstone Hunt in 1991 and concluded the run in issue #12.



The illustrations presented here are copyright material.
Their reproduction for the review and research purposes of this website is considered fair use
as set out by the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. par. 107.

(c) 2018

uploaded to the web 30 September 2018