As you can guess from the cover, this issue elaborates on the backstory of Steve Rogers’s neighbor Anna Kapplebaum, who survived the Holocaust (with the help of a young Captain America, as recounted in issue #237). However, much of what we’ll cover in this post deals with Cap’s interactions with his community, as drawn by special guest artist Carmine Infantino, better known for his work for DC Comics, as penciller, editoral director, and publisher, but with some notable Marvel credits as well (especially on its Star Wars title). I will always associate Infantino primarily with the Silver-Age Flash, whom he co-created in 1956 and drew on-and-off through his final issue in 1985 (shortly before the character’s death in the Crisis on Infinite Earths).
The issue opens with the aftermath of the last issue’s fatal fight between Cap and the creature ironically known as Adonis, and after the police and emergency crews leave, we get a reminder of Cap’s perpetual mission.
As he walks away, he reflects on the still-recent change in his status quo, as of issue #237, that found him living in Brooklyn as a commercial artist—and this artist is starving.
(It’s not a New Jersey diner, but I’m sure it’ll do.)
I always appreciate seeing Cap (or any of the Marvel heroes) mingle with the ordinary folk of the Marvel Universe: The heroes always try to be nonchalant, and the other people are either starstruck or dismissive (like Slim and Jake below, respectively).
Note how Cap calls Slim’s bluff below…
…although the “answer” is a bit corny for my tastes!
Cap’s just about to tell someone a very long story, but he’s saved by an unexpected voice, who ends up being his guardian angel… while Slim does some redecorating on the front of his diner.
Meanwhile, Anna sees a Nazi doctor she remembers from the concentration camp, faints, and is taken to the hospital, where Steve visits her. Later he arrives home after getting a new art job, but he suspects foul play…
…and he’s right!
I assume his “birthday” is the one he discovered in the Pentagon files in issue #222 (along with the fake past that he “remembered” in issue #225) and which he probably gave on his renter’s application. It doesn’t matter, though…
What’s important is that his new friends are celebrating him as Steve Rogers, a joy he hasn’t known for many years (not that he can remember, anyway).
(And I think I have those same socks!)
Steve wonders where Anna is, and finds her apartment ransacked. The reader knows that she was abducted by men planning to relaunch the Third Reich using the Nazi doctor she saw earlier. The doctor is repentant and not cooperating with the young men, but his presence still upsets Anna, especially when he fails to remember her name after everything he put her through during the war.
The young Nazis want to kill Anna so she doesn’t interfere with their plans, but Captain America bursts in on their hideout, to the relief of both Anna and the doctor (whom the Nazi below is referring to as worrying about her), and Cap makes an important point about hate from both sides.
This relates to something I discuss in my book (pp. 54-58): the controversial virtue of righteous anger (or hate), especially when it’s targeted as injustice, and how it reflects on the person who feels it. The Stoics, especially Seneca, argue against any form of anger, believing that it corrupts the person who feels it regardless of its nature, while Aristotle believed that righteous anger was appropriate and virtuous, being anger for the right purpose at the right time in the right circumstances.
As the battle progresses, a Nazi hunter (and Holocaust survivor himself) arrives with his daughter, and one of the younger Nazis holds Anna hostage with a gun. The Nazi hunter has a heart attack and collapses, giving the doctor a chance to rush the Nazi and allowing Anna to pick up the gun and shoot it at the doctor who brutalized her during the war. Cap argues the same logic he used with the Punisher in issue #241 (and that Batman uses all the time), that killing will make her as bad as the man who killed her parents.
He dies with her name on his lips, but not by her hand…
…and Cap has the final words, presumably meant more for the woman who killed the doctor than for Anna, who has already learned that particular lesson—an unexpected one in the context of a story about Nazis, but a valuable one nonetheless.
Collected in black-and-white in Essential Captain America Volume 7.
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Captain America #243-244 (March-April 1980)
ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #195 and Daredevil #164 (May 1980)
NEXT ISSUE: Captain America #246 (June 1980)