This issue continues the story of racial hatred on the part of the Grand Director and his National Force begun in the last issue, including some very odd Dark Knightish behavior on the part of Captain America, a solid page of introspection on his part, and most immediate, an answer to the fate of Peggy Carter, apparently blown up in a car explosion shown at the end of the last issue as well as the opening of this one:
Actually, “omniscient” narrator, she did… if you look closely above, you’ll see she was able to dive out of the car as it blew up. Cap sees this too, and leaps to her aid, swearing vengeance while executing an interesting move on the poor car below.
The National Front… er?… found it interesting as well, as Cap leaps over the flames to reach Peggy, whom (as we find out in the next panels) he finds unconscious and in shock.
Cap tries to call S.H.I.E.L.D. for help but runs up against the same heightened security he learned about personally in the last issue, after which he shows his unparalleled skill with his shield, using one of my favorite moves: throwing it past someone only to have it circle back and hit them.
Once the authorities arrive, Cap remains protective of Peggy and has a Hawaii Five-O moment with the police officers taking in the National Front agents. (The woman at the top of the page may represent a bit of confusion on the part of the public regarding what side of this racial fracas Cap is on, which would serve to foreshadow later developments in the story. Or she may just be a big fan.)
It seems there is some cynicism or resentment toward Cap on the part of some in the NYPD as well as S.H.I.E.L.D., which Cap will reflect on later—and while the sergeant puts his young colleague in his place, it is all for naught…
…as the National Front guys go up in flames (with Cap using his shield and his body to protect the officers), which brings up tragic memories for the Sentinel of Liberty.
And sadly, it still does.
I always say, every comic book needs a cabbie who sings Irving Berlin tunes… and this issue has one! What’s more, he takes Cap taxi-surfing at no charge (out of gratitude, naturally).
(Not quite the same as surfing a fighter jet, but he’s working up to it.)
The page below is chock full of thoughts (literally), ranging from Sharon’s whereabouts and safety, to the state of Cap’s relationship with her, to his being a “man out of time” in a morally ambiguous age, to how the whippersnappers (like the police officer earlier) see him today, to the Mary Poppins-esque feat of hiding his shield under his jacket as he prepares to go undercover in his old NYPD station.
Cap and the police commissioner nail the scourge of white nationalism perfectly in the two panels below.
The commissioner continues along the same lines, even suggesting complicity higher up in the police department or city government, until he realizes Cap pulled a Batman on him.
Cap continues his Caped Crusader impression with Carl “Pigsticker” Peel in an alley, dangling the potential informant off a balcony until he spills what he knows about the National Force…
…but even after Carl names the Falcon’s old sparring partner Boss Morgan as another possible source of info, Cap drops him anyway. (Harsh.) And to make things even stranger, Carl actually does turn himself in as Cap “demanded.”
After fighting his way through several of Morgan’s “associates” and smashing through his door, Cap holds his shield to Morgan’s throat—and for Morgan’s sake, I hope the shield doesn’t have its “razor edge” this issue!
Setting aside Cap’s insinuations about Morgan’s exploiting the people of Harlem for his own gain, it’s left vague exactly why Morgan would know anything about the National Front, other than keeping an eye on them out of sincere concern for the same people—as we see when one of Morgan’s men bursts in with news.
When the focus shifts to the Grand Director, we learn several things about him. First, while he seems devoted to his goal of racial cleansing, he does have qualms about the cost, with the thrown-away insight that blood is neither black nor white. Second, we find out about the mind control devices that turned the protesters in the last issue to his cause (as “righteous” as he believes it to be). Finally, perhaps most important, we learn he is not operating on his own.
(You should recognize the silhouette, especially given the clue about expertise in mind control, but I’ll not spoil his identity until the comic does.)
At the same time, fires in Harlem presumably set by the National Force invoke a reaction from the residents (soon to be joined by Morgan’s men), and Cap finds himself between them and the National Force… and their newest recruit.
I’ll sure they’ll talk it out by the next issue, but we’ll find out for sure in the next post.
Captain America (vol. 1) #232, April 1979: Roger McKensie and Jim Shooter (writers), Sal Buscema (pencils), Don Perlin (inks), George Roussos (colors), Elaine Heinl (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in black-and-white in Essential Captain America Volume 6.
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #231 (March 1979)
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