This issue, the first installment of a two-part storyline, seems more like a Marvel Team-Up story: It features Spider-Man almost as much as Captain America, and even brings in Nick Fury for good measure. But for a straightforward superhero tale, this issue and the next contain plenty of commentary on Cap’s ethics, even if some of it is a bit over the top (even for me!).
Almost like a mirror-image of the opening of last month’s Marvel Two-in-One #82, this issue opens with Steve Rogers, dapper freelance artist about town, attracting the attention of some of New York’s finest thugs, who apparently didn’t notice his “finely-honed muscular carriage” or his “firm confident stride,” not to mention his “alert, fathomless steel-blue eyes.”
Wait, I’m sorry, one of them did notice his eyes.
Just as Steve watched a bunch of punks drag an ill Ben Grimm into an alley last month, Peter Parker sees the same happen to Steve here. (Poor Peter Parker: He actually met Steve outside J. Jonah Jameson’s office, not a party, in Marvel Team-Up #106.) But just as he’s about to change outfits and lend a hand…
…he wisely realizes his skills as a photojournalist are more useful in this instance. As for Steve Rogers, he’s wasting a perfectly good line on guys who can hardly appreciate it.
Yet he keeps going. (I’m not sure that particular right is actually guaranteed in the Constitution, though it might be hiding in a penumbra somewhere…)
His final point is a standard fairness-based argument for the duty to obey the law: You cannot expect to enjoy the benefits of the legal system, based on everyone else complying with the law, while you choose to break it.
Even though Peter has dreams of Steve’s fame—and cash for him, not to mention a Pulitzer for Aunt May to put on her fridge—Steve doesn’t want the press, especially if it endangers his secret identity.
After the tingle, Peter changes to Spider-Man and follows Steve, who makes a call at a pay phone (link for the kids), after which he starts to glow and then disappears.
Before Spidey can follow, he’s grabbed by a couple costumed goons who disappear into the brick wall, creating the “dilemma” referenced below, as we return to our freelance artist, who finds himself in a bizarre complex on the coast of Maine, facing hostile robots…
…sorry, biotron constructs. Steve didn’t need his shield against the street gang, but it comes in handy here (although I fear the haughty rhetoric again goes unappreciated).
So he becomes quiet and the exposition takes over for him, highlighting his experience and confidence.
Meanwhile, Spidey jumps through that brick wall himself, finding S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters on the other side, where Nick Fury fills him in on who the buff freelance artist was—casually revealing Cap’s secret identity, good job mister super-spy—as well as the fella behind Cap’s current kerfuffle, whom Cap meets on the bottom half of the page after he is finally subdued by the
robots biotron constructs.
Almost as if he knew about Cap’s side hussle, Sultan—I am not calling you S.U.L.T.A.N., forget it—claims to be an artist who didn’t get his NEH funding so he decided to destroy America or something. Of course, Cap takes him seriously, pointing out the immorality of what he’s proposing as well as the practical difficulties with destroying a country you want to take over afterwards. (Honestly, did Sultan even do the readings in Evil Poli Sci 101? This is basic stuff.)
Sultan is unswayed, and announces his plan to shoot nuclear missiles at targets across the country, starting with Washington, DC. Just as the first missile starts to fire up, Spidey and Nick join the fun, with Nick and Cap sharing some code that’s sure to bypass even Sultan’s keen intellect.
Nick tricks the biotron construct holding him by taking his shirt off—I wish I were kidding—and then it’s really a party, with Cap and Spidey happily joining in…
…with Cap continuing to waste some of his best material on a bunch of mechanized Christopher Walken wannabes.
At least Spidey appreciates it. (Just wait til Amazing Spider-Man #537, Pete.)
When the first missile launches, Nick hitches a ride, while Cap and Spidey stay behind to fight the biotech constructs. Cap tries to cover Spidey so he can get away, but Spidey isn’t hearing of it, and for all the right reasons.
Just like Victor von Doom, Spider-Man leaves a critical detail out of his calculations…
Has he, though? Come back next issue (and post) to find out!
Collected in Captain America Epic Collection: Dawn’s Early Light.
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #264 (December 1981)
ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #215 (January 1982)
NEXT ISSUE: Captain America #266 (February 1982)