Madcap in Ghost Rider: Heaven's on Fire #4.
Art by Roland Boschi.
|First appearance||Captain America #307 (July 1985)|
|Created by||Mark Gruenwald and Paul Neary|
|Team affiliations||Masters of Evil|
|Abilities||Accelerated healing factor
insanity inducement (temporary, or permanent)
Madcap is a fictional character in Marvel Comics. He first appeared in Captain America #307 (July 1985). He has clashed with Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Hawkeye, Nomad, the Power Pack, Quasar, She-Hulk, and Spider-Man.
Concept and creation
Most of the villains Gruenwald introduced in Captain America were created to symbolize aspects of contemporary American culture and the world political situation. Gruenwald stated, "Madcap represents purposelessness, the disaffected youth of today who thinks 'What's the reason for doing anything?' The ultimate dropout generation."
Fictional character biography
Madcap (true name unknown) was originally a deeply religious young man. On the way to a picnic with his family and church community, their bus collides with a tanker truck full of Compound X07 (an experimental nerve agent developed by A.I.M.). Everyone aboard the bus, including his parents and sister Katy, are killed, leaving him as the only survivor, his body mixing with the Compound. When being told of the deaths of all his friends and family, his mind shatters, his belief in a rational universe swept away.
Leaving the hospital, he attempts suicide by throwing himself in front of traffic. He is injured but the wounds heal almost instantly. This pushes him further over the edge. After purchasing a toy soap bubble pistol from a dime store and donning a garish clown costume stolen from the Ace Costume Shop, the newly christened Madcap sets out to convince others that life is entirely without reason. Spewing absurdist philosophy, he runs rampant through the streets of Manhattan, causing mass chaos and a riot. Nomad tries to stop him, but Madcap uses his madness-inducing powers on him as well. Nomad recovers, tracks Madcap to a shack in an old fairground at Coney Island, and defeats him there.
Madcap is confined to a mental hospital but escapes. He gets back into costume and breaks up a shipment of illegal arms organized by the Rose. In the course of the fight he meets Dollar Bill, who runs a Manhattan public-access television cable TV show. The two film A Day in the Life of a Superhero, which is interrupted when Rose's underlings abduct Madcap. Taken to a warehouse, Madcap is tied up, beaten, and assaulted with an axe. Daredevil intervenes, but in the subsequent fight the warehouse is burned down, and Madcap ignores Daredevil's repeated appeals to get out of the fire. When his body is found, Madcap is declared legally dead but slowly returns to life while in the morgue. He returns to Dollar Bill's show.
While watching an episode of the show, a bored Katie Power and Franklin Richards of Power Pack decide that Madcap would be someone with whom they could go on an "adventure". Madcap agrees, but his idea of adventure is to cause chaos and confusion all over town and even go head-on to confront armed bank robbers. Katie and Franklin disapprove of his irreverent attitude, but it teaches the two pre-adolescents a lesson in responsibility.
Madcap encounters She-Hulk, and she defeats him on a day when she is trying to have a quiet walk in the park. Madcap is later captured by Vice and Triphammer of the Power Tools on the order of Dr. Karl Malus and is rescued by Hawkeye.
Madcap exercises his power at Grand Central Station. By the time Ghost Rider arrives, the entire station is rampant with people murdering each other and killing themselves. Ghost Rider saves whomever he can, then beats Madcap and subjects him to the Penance Stare. Madcap feels all the pain he has caused his victims and likes it: it is the first real sensation he has felt in some time, and he vows to continue, in order to experience the Stare again. He later tries to escape from the Vault, a prison for superhumans and is stopped by Citizen V.
Silver Sable, leader of the country of Symkaria, hires a team of super-powered heroes to help protect a mad scientist from capture by the group Heroes for Hire. Sable believes one of her employees is the aforementioned Nomad but soon discovers she hired Madcap instead. The teams confront each other in the monastery of St. Eboar's, deep in Symkaria. Deadpool and Madcap each learn the other is hard to injure and, delighted, fight on that basis. Deadpool is overwhelmed and teleports out. Madcap, despite his chaotic nature, obeys orders, guarding Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. His bad Monty Python routines are interrupted by Deadpool, who temporarily defeats him with a blow that seemingly snaps Madcaps his neck. Madcap returns minutes later to battle Deadpool once again. The entire incident, plus more, turns out to have been engineered by the villain Master of the World.[volume & issue needed]
Prior to the Secret Invasion, Madap once again encounters Deadpool, and in the midst of an altercation with Daredevil and Thor, Thor's lightning reduces the two to a large pile of ash. Though it initially seems that only Deadpool regenerates and survives, he eventually realizes the two actually regenerated as one being, with Madcap becoming one of the "voices" within Deadpool's head (explaining the appearance of a new, "extra" voice in Deadpool's appearances in Wolverine: Origins and Deadpool vol. 3). After Madcap's personality asserts itself sufficiently to use his own powers in a later altercation with Thor and Luke Cage, Deadpool convinces Madcap to manipulate the two affected heroes into tearing Deadpool's body in half, with one half regenerating fully as Deadpool, and the other as Madcap.
Powers and abilities
Madcap possesses two superpowers, as a result of the mutagenic effects of his exposure to Compound X07.
- He heals from any physical injury instantly, and even if he sustains enough damage to kill him (such as being flattened or having his neck snapped), or destroy him (such as being incinerated), he will immediately resurrect. Somehow linked to this is a total inability to perceive pain. It is not known whether he can regenerate severed body parts, because he usually reattaches severed parts of his body simply by holding them to the correct portion of his body. His rapid healing ability also gives him phenomenal endurance, as his body both eliminates fatigue poisons and heals muscle damage caused by overexertion almost instantaneously.
- Madcap has a specialized form of insanity-inducement that immediately affects those he makes eye contact with. He wears a garish purple-and-yellow costume and uses a distracting toy soap bubble-gun, called a "fun-gun" — to draw the attention of others towards him, so they can meet his gaze. He has the ability to stimulate the inhibition centers in other people's brains. People affected by his power act in a euphoric, outlandish, uninhibited manner that verges on or becomes insanity and can end up killing themselves. Madcap cannot control how the person acts. The duration of the state seems to be approximately 15–30 minutes, though Madcap risks making a person "pleasantly loony" permanently if he makes additional eye contact with them. This power can interact unpredictably with individuals already affected with mental instability; for example, exposure initially seemed to have no affect on Deadpool, but then resulted in his experiencing a brief period of clarity and sanity.
- Zimmerman, Dwight Jon (January 1988). "Mark Gruenwald". Comics Interview (54) (Fictioneer Books). p. 15.
- Captain America #307
- Captain America #309
- Daredevil #234
- Power Pack #34
- She-Hulk Vol. 2 #9; This appearance has a more comical tone. The Sensational She-Hulk series was a satirical commentary on comics; She-Hulk and other characters often break the fourth wall and address the writers and artists directly. The actual continuity of this issue is ambiguous.
- Avengers Spotlight #29
- Impossible Man Summer Vacation Spectacular #1
- Ghost Rider vol. 3 #33
- Thunderbolts Annual 1997
- Heroes for Hire #10-11
- Ghost Rider vol. 6 #33
- Ghost Riders: Heaven's On Fire #2
- Secret Avengers Vol. 2 #2
- Deadpool Annual #1