This issue is a big deal for several reasons. In general, it launches the short run (nine issues) by Roger Stern and John Byrne, which not only remains one of the premiere runs on Captain America to this day, but also leads to a tremendously rich extended period on the book featuring writers such as J.M. DeMatteis, Mark Gruenwald, and Mark Waid, and artists such as Mike Zeck and Ron Garney. Specifically, it explains away the “false memories” Cap was revealed to have in issue #225 and sets the stage for his canonical origin in issue #255—incidentally, Stern and Byrne’s final issue. Also, it introduces a new character who will become very important in Cap’s life—and even more in Steve Rogers’s—for years to come.
The issue opens at Cap’s personal running track.
While his fellow New Yorkers stare, gawk, and remark on his poise, Cap’s thoughts turn to his recent identity crisis, which began in issue #215 and led to the revelation of details of his earlier life in issue #225 that never seemed quite right.
I appreciate that he uses the certainty with which he maintains his moral principles as a benchmark for his general state of mind!
And of course, when Cap finally decides he’s had enough exercise and decides to hitch a ride on a passing bus…
…he pays. (And he pays a familiar face at that.)
His reflections continue as he scales the Manhattan rooftops, revealing the source of his latest discomfort over his newly discovered memories.
The last panel above reads as very meta, as if it reflected the intentions of Stern and Byrne (and possibly the editors) to put all the confusion about Cap’s past behind them so they can move on to his new status quo (established in issue #237) and further adventures stemming from it. (If so, I’d say they were successful, judging by the rest of their run and the stories by the creators that followed them).
Once Cap finally reaches S.H.I.E.L.D., he references the recent Avengers storyline (issues #190-191) in which government privileges were restored to them after a congressional hearing…
…but when he storms into Fury’s office, Cap finds Dum-Dum Dugan there instead, and over the next half-hour he fills his old friend in on his troubles of late. (He could have just shown him this blog, but whatever.) Luckily, Dugan is very sympathetic (and seems to know an awful lot about doctored military records), and he tells Cap that Fury was on the case already.
Unfortunately we don’t see which bridge or tunnel Cap and Dugan use to get to New Jersey, but when they get there, they find a treasure trove of Cap lore, including his original shield (about which Dugan asks the natural question) as well as something Frank Castle would love to get his mitts on.
When Cap finds the right entry, the secret behind the false memories is revealed. To be more accurate, though, they’re false to Cap but very real to someone else.
Once he realizes the truth, Cap’s real memories start to flood back, which will be elaborated upon in the retelling of his origin in issue #255, and Dum-Dum can already see the change in him.
And where was Nick Fury during all this? He was visiting Cap’s old foe Baron Strucker to extradite him to Israel to face trial for war crimes, but Strucker managed to subdue Fury and steal his flying car to attack Cap and Dum-Dum—who comes to appreciate Cap’s original shield!
Above we get any hint as to the composition of his round shield (which can absorb impact) by virtue of comparison to his original one (which cannot).
After Cap tends to an injured Dugan, he continues to use his original shield defensively…
…until he cleverly figures out a way to throw it after all.
After Strucker unveils his electrically-charged “Satan claw” glove to use against Cap, Nick wakes from his nap in the car and shows Cap that he also knows how to throw a frisbee (even before his morning coffee).
Cap shrugs off Strucker’s continued threats before he suspects the villain of being too calm to the face of defeat…
…and he discovers that this is not Baron Strucker at all, while we discover who is behind both robots Cap faced recently.
We’ll see more of Machinesmith, and his collection of broken life-sized action figures, in the next two issues (and posts).
Captain America (vol. 1) #247, July 1980: Roger Stern (plot, writer), John Byrne (plot, pencils), Josef Rubinstein (inks), George Roussos (colors), Jim Novak (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
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