These three issues finish out the “Newfoundland Saga,” as Captain America solves the greatest mystery of his life: How he fell into the English Channel in 1945 but was discovered in Newfoundland in 1964. (Never mind the fact that we are also in the middle of “Who Is Steve Rogers?“, in which he also investigates his forgotten life before he became the Sentinel of Liberty.)
And oh yeah, the guy behind his past in Newfoundland has also built a 12-feet tall replica of him, an image of which opens issue #219 (and which looks more like a goofy Silver Age DC Comics cover, such as this one or, a bit more on the nose, this one).
But before we learn more about Giant-Size Man-Cap, Dekker tells a story that takes place during Cap’s WWII days, starting with he and Bucky being called by the president to investigate possible sabotage at a movie studio… the very one where “The Adventures of Captain America” is being filmed (in an homage to the actual movie serial from 1944).
(Interestingly, when Bucky eventually becomes Captain America in 2005, he wears a more streamlined version of this costume, with short gloves and a holstered pistol on his belt, as shown here.)
The president’s suspicions were correct, as Cap and Bucky discover when the “blanks” fired at the actor playing Cap were anything but, and the real Cap takes his chance at movie success (purely out of obligation, of course).
Behind the scenes, we learn that Lyle Dekker, one of the prop men on the movie, is secretly working for the Red Skull to sabotage it, both to hurt the war effort as well as damage the reputation of his enemy. Now that the real Cap is on set, Dekker and the Skull’s plans intensify, in the form of a real heat ray in place of a prop, prompting a heroic block from Cap (with an assist from Bucky).
Dekker then abducts Bucky and drives away with him, but Cap catches them and forces the truck off a cliff into the water. Unable to save both, Cap chooses to save Bucky, as we would expect, although he does regret not being able to save Dekker too.
Even when Cap and Bucky watch their episode of the serial when it was released, Cap still wishes he could have saved Dekker—although, according to his thoughts here, mainly because of the information he could have provided.
This issue ends with Dekker, very much alive in the present day, subduing Cap and preparing to use him to finish his giant duplicate, which we learn is called… the Ameridroid! (Because of course it is.)
In issue #220, as Dekker takes the longest time ever to execute a supervillain plan, he continues Evil Storytime with a solution to the Newfoundland Conjecture. (I hope editor Roy Thomas and writer Don Glut got a huge No-Prize from Stan for this.) The revised history invented to plug the geographical hole in Cap’s history is actually much more involved and convoluted than seems necessary, and is little interest to us here, so I will summarize quite a bit (hopefully less painfully than Dekker does for Cap).
The story proceeds as we all know well, until Cap actually falls in the water in the English Channel, only to be rescued by an “old friend.”
Dekker’s U-Boat sped to Newfoundland, where Dekker hoped to transfer Cap’s strength into his own body. But Cap escaped…
Apparently they didn’t search hard enough!
And glory be, this explains why Cap survived in suspended animation all that time as well. (I always thought the super-soldier serum was enough, but what do I know.)
Not only that, but it made all of us forget any of this happened… I mean, it made Cap forget. (So sorry.)
The issue ends with Dekker finally achieving his goal of acquiring Cap’s strength, not in his own aged body, but together with his consciousness in the body of Ameridroid, and leaving Cap at the beginning of issue #221 to go after him… after he frees himself. Of course, now he wishes he had his old super-strength—obtained back in issue #157 but confirmed gone in issue #218—but luckily he just as crafty with his shield using his feet as his hands.
To be honest, the rest of the issue is more interesting for Dekker/Ameridroid, who starts out sounding like a two-bit tyrant but has a sudden epiphany.
So it is mainly your size, then, Dekker, right? For all his fancy words below, it seems to come down to that.
So power can only be wielded successfully by… the large? (Better keep an eye on the Rock!)
The more Dekker talks, though, the more he comes to recognize how empty his ideal future is.
At first, he seems to be ready to lash out at Cap…
…but then turns his attention to the next tallest man in Newfoundland.
So he’s apparently forgotten about the power only the tall can wield effectively, and now only sees the social isolation it implies. (Just the size, of course, not the part about being a vicious tyrant. People just love that.)
If sanity returned to him above, the visit was short.
Once Cap catches up with Dekker, he’s ready for a fight, but Cap only finds a broken man, which triggers his trademark compassion and sympathy.
Pfft… who did he think he was dealing with?
Dekker just wants to beat himself up, but Cap’s not having it, reminding Dekker of what he’s overcome and what he has to look forward to, having regained his self-control and autonomy (in the Kantian sense) and being able to embrace his radical freedom (in the existentialist sense), ready to assume the responsibility and opportunity to create himself anew and with authenticity.
“…especially for you, Dekker.” (He totally should have added that.)
His Newfoundland adventure complete, Cap returns to his Manhattan apartment and realizes that the last three and a half issues have been a distraction from what was supposed to be his main storyline now…
…a storyline that will resume in the next issue and post.
Captain America (vol. 1) #220, April 1978: Don Glut (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), John Tartag and Mike Esposito (inks), George Roussos (colors), Carol Lay and Annette Kawecki (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Captain America (vol. 1) #221, May 1978: Don Glut, Steve Gerber, and David Kraft (writers), Sal Buscema (pencils), Mike Esposito (inks), George Roussos (colors), Irv Watanabe (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Not yet collected in color (until Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume Twelve is released, that is), but they are collected in black-and-white in Essential Captain America Volume 6.
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