This comic could very well have been an issue of Marvel Team-Up, which has featured Captain America teaming up with Spider-Man twice by this point (issue #13 and issue #52), except that it actually focuses on Cap more than Spidey, at least after the first few pages referencing the status quo of Spidey’s life at the time. As such, it’s an interesting little Cap tale that puts him in an unusual situation in which he faces one of Spidey’s foes (as you can see on the cover to the right).
We now return you to our episode of As the Web Spins, currently in progress, which ends with a glimpse of the star of the show (as far as we’re concerned).
Cap apparently isn’t up to date on Spidey’s status quo as “public menace who cares naught for your silly signs.”
Wait, the super-hero ethics book? Which one? Is it one of mine? (Given that I was six when this comic came out, probably not.)
More important, Cap comes off as awfully authoritarian with Spidey, in words and in action, and if he has a reason, he’s not telling. (Note the eloquent exposition in the first panel below, highlighting his resolve in the face of a stronger foe.)
Get outta the way, Spidey—we can’t read the sound effects!
Cap starts to hint at the reasons why he wants Spidey to leave, and although he’s still frustratingly vague, the wallcrawler starts to put the pieces together.
“I didn’t want to be here anyway! I was trying to leave all along, but you kept hitting me really hard.”
Below, Cap thinks to himself what he felt he couldn’t tell Spidey, although it reflects a disturbing lack of trust in his fellow hero. (Note, once again, the exposition, this time emphasizing his selflessness and skill; this issue is a good example of a guest appearance that highlights Cap’s virtues more explicitly than his own book usually does.)
Why didn’t he say there was a child involved? Way to bury the lede, Cap. (Plus, I love the page layout above, with the central figure “popping out” of frame, although it makes it very tough to snip panels. Just wait until later, when artists give up on rectangular panels altogether. Won’t that be fun.)
After Cap eschews subtlety to burst into the room like an anthropomorphic jug of sugar water, he suggests that the young lad might not know who he is, as if he were a shadowy urban legend like Batman rather than the living legend of World War II and frequent leader of the Avengers.
Ready for a shock, Cap?
Strange bodily reaction for Cap above—it seems less like he was blown back than his torso is being pulled towards Electro. (Electricity… who really understands it, right?)
Luckily for Cap, the public menace still didn’t do what he was told—which Cap points out, of course, although he’s not mad (or even annoyed).
Below, Cap tells Spidey not to joke, which, ironically, is almost funny.
At least Spidey respectfully acknowledges his audience with his movie reference. Obviously, Cap would be Bud Abbott, the straight man, and Spidey would be Lou Costello, the “doofus.” (Because Spidey’s a doofus.)
When Electro grabs the kid—which seems too easy—Cap finally reveals the true danger that prompted all the secrecy, but the villain doesn’t believe him.
Of course he’s serious—he’s the straight man, remember? (Seriously, though, Cap doesn’t like using deceit as a strategy, but he will when it’s necessary. Electro probably doesn’t know that, though.)
But when Electro tries to draw power from the power plant, he ends up overloading himself, generating one of my favorite sound effects.
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Apparently, Captain America does. (Sorry, Lamont.)
Below, Cap finds his shield and Spidey gives the guys in Yes an album title.
Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 1) #187, December 1978: Marv Wolfman (plot and script), Jim Starlin (plot and layouts), Bob McLeod (finishes), Michele Wolfman (colors), Annette Kawecki (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 18.