Captain America #143 (November 1971)

cap 143 coverThis extra-length issue brings us a story of racial tension stoked by an external force (as we see often in this early 1970s era of social relevance in comics), with Captain America and the Falcon in the middle of it. More interesting, we see their own relationship reflect some of the more general conflicts happening in “the world outside your window.” And, we get the return of a classic Cap villain—that’s him on the cover (that’s him in the spotlight, stealing my religion).

The issue starts where the last began, with Cap, Falcon, Sharon Carter, and Nick Fury returning from their battle against the Grey Gargoyle. As we see, Cap and Sharon are enjoying their reconciliation, while Sam just wants to go home…


…and Cap’s Spidey-sense (super-soldier-sense?) is acting up. (A lot happens later, so it could mean anything.)

We also see that Cap is staying on the police force, even though the case the commissioner drafted him for (dealing with the Grey Gargoyle) is finished. (And we get to see Jack Kirby Sergeant Muldoon again.)


Of course, there is always another case, and this one involves Reverend Garcia, whom we met when Steve first took to the streets in blue.

Meanwhile, Sam gets dragged to a black power meeting by his new friend Leila, and meets the movement’s leader Rafe, who mocks Sam’s efforts as a social worker as too passive and compliant.


But it turns out Rafe is not “the man”—the mysterious fella below is—and Sam quickly realizes the danger in his incitement to violence.


The masked men defeat and capture Sam and… well, you’ll see soon enough.

Steve and Sharon are enjoying some long overdue time together, with the promise of romance in the near future, until they witness an event that draws Cap back into action.


Good thing Cap was heading to Reverend Garcia’s boys club anyway… and of course he finds trouble there.


As the fight continues, and Cap tries to get Garcia to leave, the masked leader reveals his true agenda: not helping the black community, but inciting violence and racial hatred, not only for its own sake, but also to strike at Captain America.


Unfortunately, they have achieved their goal of fostering racial violence, as Cap and Sam find out soon enough.


Good advice, Cap… we’re not due for a civil war for 35 years yet!

As the Falcon, Sam fares better in calming down the crowd, in order to give him and Cap a chance to get to the bottom of things.


When Cap and Sam find the masked men, they discover their true (racial) identities, which comes as surprise to Rafe, Leila, and their supporters… but wait until they see who “the man” actually is. (You’ve guessed it, right? Of course you have.)


It’s… Joh(a)nny!


As the fight, Cap seems surprisingly defeatist, as if the Red Skull’s confidence could ever surprise or concern him.


Luckily, he catches himself, and devotes himself to defeating the Skull (even if he hopes for his foe to make a mistake, not the most assertive strategy).


After Cap and Sam escape from the Red Skull’s laser death-trap, thanks to Redwing—who saves the two many times in coming issues, as we’ll see—the Skull escapes in a rocket ship, and our heroes turn back to the violence in Harlem… which is all fine now, no thanks to them.

Above, Rafe and Leila declare a truce, but make clear that the issues are not resolved—a point Sam also makes to Cap, in response to his “little something” crack, in a more personal way below.


Cap follows his partner, presumably to try to patch things up, when he sees Sam with Leila, and turns it into a lament over his inability to keep a crimefighting duo together.


But maybe he’ll find a new partner in Vegas? (Doubtful.)


Captain America (vol. 1) #143, November 1971: Gary Friedrich (writer), John Romita, Sr. (pencils and inks), Tony Mortellaro (inks), ??? (colors), Sam Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: Hero or Hoax?, Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume Six

PREVIOUS ISSUES: Captain America #139-142 (July-October 1971)

ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #93 (November 1971)

NEXT ISSUE: Captain America #144 (December 1971)

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