Captain America #151-152 (July-August 1972)

These issues comprise the second half of Gerry Conway’s short four-issue run, introducing Mr. Hyde and the Scorpion to these pages, wrapping up Captain America’s brief career as a police officer, and introducing an important aspect of Cap’s mighty shield.

As issue #151 opens, we see who the mysterious speakers at the end of issue #150 were… and, no surprise, we see Cap in a funk over his lot in life (especially Nicky Fury demanding he join S.H.I.E.L.D. and then banning him once he turned it down).

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This ban also includes—absurdly—forbidding Sharon Carter from seeing him, which Cap inexplicably accepts without question. Dwelling on this, however, Cap misses the threat behind him.

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Eventually Cap realizes that Hyde and the Scorpion don’t know who he is, and then we the readers learn their true target. (Gee, maybe they could have given her a message from Cap.)

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Soon thereafter, Sam returns home after being called an Uncle Tom and a sell-out by fellow Harlemites, only to find his sometimes partner in need… and seems to appreciate the friendly face.

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“Dead men”? To make a long story short: As explained in this issue, Mr. Hyde and the Scorpion were presumed dead after a story in Daredevil #82-83, but it turns out those were androids. (This is why he calls the two he fought “duplicates” below.)

It’s a minor point, but I find Cap’s statement below of “better safe than sorry” interesting… it’s something that could easily be tested if he had to give up something else to do it.

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Cap soon finds out Hyde and Scorpion’s true goal…

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…and also just how quick Hyde can be. (Turns out Cap wasn’t careful enough.)

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Cap’s decision above is understandable, but his statement (“we’re beat”) and body language seem a bit too defeatist, not defiant enough. (I expected at least a “you won’t get away with this, filthy miscreant!”)

On the last page of the issue, we see how much Cap hates to let Hyde go with Sharon, first when Sam lets him know how hard it was to let Scorpion go…

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…and then when good ol’ Nick pushes the knife in even farther.

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In issue #152 opens, we see Cap go through quite the series of internal recriminations…

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…culminating in the nonsequential panels below (which bookended a recap page)…

…and arriving, as we would expect, at blaming himself (which is appropriate, given how easily he followed Nick’s order to stay with from Sharon).

Finally, he stops his search and reports for duty at the NYPD for what will be his final time, and learns disturbing news about Sgt. Muldoon.

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When Cap finds Sam and finds out he has leads into where Sharon is, he makes a fateful decision… Officer Steve Rogers no more!

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This decision shouldn’t be glossed over… assuming Cap took his police duties seriously, and not just as part of his search for meaning outside of being the Sentinel of Liberty, he chose in this issue to abandon them to pursue Sharon, to whom he declares a renewed commitment. (Unfortunately, I don’t think the writers took his police service seriously enough to address this as much as I would have liked!)

Below, we see the oddly worded “the man called Steve Rogers is gone,” as if that identity was vested entirely in his police role, and a fine display of generosity on the part of the Falcon.

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When our two heroes find Sharon, Cap seems renewed, as Sam notes.

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Below we see the first suggestion that Cap’s shield is stronger than anyone had heretofore imagined, a mystery that will be explored later.

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In the last panel above we get a welcome reminder that, for all his enhanced strength, speed, and stamina, even Cap has his limits, and he has reached his here.

Below, Sam holds Sharon back, realizing perceptively that Cap needs this win, perhaps because of how he feels he failed Sharon by letting her be taken in the first place.

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And even though Cap is drained, his iron will still prevails, coupled with some creativity. (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Conway’s fine exposition in these issues.)

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It looks like Mr. Hyde may be turn out to be the… Bane of Cap’s existence.

(No? Fine, no more jokes for you!)

Once again, Cap finds a way to prevail that compensates for his depleted state: skill rather than strength, followed by reclaimed strength channeled into one final blow, after which he is truly spent.

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At the end, Cap and Sharon are reunited, and he makes clear his gratitude to Sam, even though the big tough macho men don’t want to talk about it.

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ISSUE DETAILS

Captain America (vol. 1) #151, July 1972: Gerry Conway (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Vince Colletta (inks), ??? (colors), Artie Simek (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Captain America (vol. 1) #152, August 1972: Gerry Conway (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Frank Giacoia (inks), ??? (colors), John Costanza (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

All collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: Hero or Hoax?, Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume Seven


PREVIOUS ISSUES: Captain America #149-150 and Incredible Hulk #152 (May-June 1972)

ALSO THESE MONTHS: Avengers #101-102 (July-August 1972)

NEXT ISSUES: Captain America #153 (September 1972)

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