This issue wraps up the story begun in the previous one, in which Captain America faced Batroc the Leaper and Mr. Hyde and ended up in quite a pickle, as shown in the opening splash page below—and as you would expect, Cap remains defiant as ever.
Poor Mr. Hyde is frustrated by how strong Cap’s shield is—although its exact composition still remains a mystery at this point—so he just throws it away.
I usually mention when Cap somehow throws the shield vertically, but I suppose it could drop vertically, if thrown hard enough? (Damn it Jim, I’m a philosopher, not a physicist!)
In the last issue Cap questioned Batroc’s honor, which seems to have made him feel bad enough to trip the chain release without Hyde noticing, giving Cap a chance to show us his legendary perseverance and determination in the face of great pain.
(If you’re not hearing this song while reading this, I don’t know you.)
The job’s only half done, and while Cap works on finishing the other half, he reminds himself of the threat the ship poses for the city and its residents, which adds fuel to his resolve and efforts.
Driven by the urgency of the situation and the consequences of failure—I can’t improve on Roger Stern’s exposition—Cap does break the chains around him, but…
…it is for naught, as Cap falls unconscious into the water below.
After he discovers that Hyde is not bluffing about destroying New York City, Batroc continues to redeem himself by attacking his partner. While they duke it out above, our friends Bob and Terry try to pull
the sword from the stone the shield from the stern…
…but it only seems to summon its true owner from the deep. (“Super-metal,” hmm.)
As we saw in the last issue (and many times before), Cap again disavows the sneak attack in general while justifying its use in the particular, a sound judgment call in this case especially. (Sorry, Bob and Terry.)
When Cap gets to the upper deck he surprises Hyde, who finds Cap rather… disarming.
Cap is more ready for Hyde this time—although he must be even more exhausted than he was when they fought in the last issue—but I’m not sure if Cap thinking of himself as “an ordinary man” makes him humble or comically lacking in self-awareness!
Batroc joins the battle and reveals that he was concerned about Hyde’s plans the entire time, consistent with Cap’s characterization of him in the last issue as a mercenary, not a killer.
Cap and Batroc team up against Hyde, and when Hyde threatens to land a fatal blow against Batroc, Cap—sigh—flings his shield vertically into his face.
After trying to wrench a pipe loose to use as a weapon, Hyde covers himself with frozen natural gas and plummets off the side of the ship… followed by a man who tries to save every life if he can.
Cap lose not only Hyde but his camarade as well, and remembers that, even if Batroc is not a murderer, he is still very much a thief.
Compared to defeating Hyde, apprehending Batroc is très facile…
..and, appropriate for the Leaper, very funny.
The issue’s shorter-than-normal story is followed by a five-page feature on “The Life and Times of Captain America,” including a origin of sorts that focuses on his dual identity and the negligence of his Steve Rogers persona until recently. (Notice Private Rogers sketching at Camp Lehigh in the second panel.)
After pages detailing his new home (569 Leaman Place in Brooklyn Heights, for fans of Google Earth) and his new neighbors there, the final page covers his colleagues in his costumed life, including Sam Wilson’s girlfriend Leila Taylor, whom we haven’t seen in quite a while, and the two people dearest to Cap who were lost, Bucky and Sharon. (Should we tell him they both get better?)
Captain America (vol. 1) #252, December 1980: Roger Stern (writer), John Byrne (pencils), Josef Rubinstein (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), John Costanza (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in Captain America: War and Remembrance and Captain America Epic Collection: Dawn’s Early Light.
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #251 (November 1980)
ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #202 (December 1980)
NEXT ISSUE: Captain America #253 (January 1981)
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