This issue leads off a four-issue search for Captain America’s former partner, Sam Wilson (aka the Falcon), but not before some soul-searching on the part of the Sentinel of Liberty… with help from an unlikely source. (Let’s just say that when you need advice from this guy, you’re know you’re in trouble.)
Our story opens in Avengers Mansion, with Cap looking out the window like a young Steven Rogers waiting for the rain to stop so he can play stickball in the street with his pals.
Enter Steven’s pal Anthony, who learns that Cap likes to keep busy, even as Iron Man starts to try to sell him a time-share in Florida.
Seriously, though, it’s been a while since Cap mentioned his feelings of emptiness over not having a life outside of superheroing, and it’s appropriate for those feelings to return during a lull in the action (that won’t last long.)
But this period of rumination has particularly romantic undertones, although Tony is slow to pick up on it.
Here, Cap is referring to the recent “Who Is Steve Rogers?” storyline that began in issue #215 and was just lies, all lies—which he doesn’t know yet, but his comment above might suggest that he has suspicions. Also, it looks like he listened to Pop:
After the Beast rushes through the room, getting ready for a date, Cap hints at his romantic malaise again, but Tony still doesn’t get it…
…and tries to steer Cap a different way, emphasizing what America has to offer him other than a mission, and ending with a little tough love.
Just look at the final panel above—simple yet powerful—before Cap is called to action once again by some kids who decided not to wait for the rain to stop to play, especially when that means emulating their favorite heroes.
Some flowery exposition above and below highlights Cap’s constant state of readiness, bravery, and heroism, which quickly overwhelms his temporary lapse into self-indulgent reflection.
Stark terror? Nah, it’s probably nothing (but I tend to see a pun in every use of ‘stark’ for some reason).
Cap continues to impress… the writer, most of all…
…but naturally, he is his own worst judge. (“A surprise 9.1 from the American judge in the stars and stripes.”) But he still has the presence of mind to give his young charge a “rap with Cap.”
When the kid mentions the Falcon, Cap realizes what he should have been doing all this time instead of getting life advice from Tony Stark.
Thus begins a trip to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, which he finds abandoned and about to be demolished, but he is able to contact several people in S.H.I.E.L.D. who have no idea where Sam is. (How far the mighty have fallen!) The only clue comes from one of the “Super-Agents” Sam was training when last we saw him in issue #217, who tells Cap he went looking for someone named “Jim.”
Wait a minute, could it be…
No, I guess not.
Cap barely has a chance to wonder who Jim might be when the villainous Constrictor, sent by the equally villainous Corporation that has been trying to kill Cap since issue #213, happens upon him, which also makes Cap suspect that one of the Super-Agents sold him out. Below, we get a hint as to the composition of Cap’s shield…
…as well as the resilience of the man himself in the face of pain…
…and his acrobatic skill and ingenuity.
Their fight continues for two more pulse-pounding panels before the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility starts falling down around them, which is where we’ll pick up in the post, finishing up “The Search for Sam Wilson” with the Avengers, the Super-Agents, and a giant green guest-star whose secret is that he’s always angry.
(C’mon, I said giant.)
Captain America (vol. 1) #228, December 1978: Roger McKensie (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Mike Esposito and John Tartaglione (inks), George Roussos (colors), Diana Albers (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in black-and-white in Essential Captain America Volume 6.
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #226-227 (October-November 1978)