This story in this issue of Captain America, which concludes in Defenders with an aftermath in the next issue, is one of two follow-ups to issue #264 (the other one being Avengers #218), all written by regular Captain America and Defenders scribe J.M. DeMatteis.
In Captain America #268, after an introduction to the Defenders’ part of the crossover storyline, we first see Steve Rogers leaving a showing of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with Bernie Rosenthal, happy with his company but less with the movie itself, especially its lead character.
Steve explains his problem with the “amoral” Indiana Jones, which is a fair point—Indy is hardly meant to be a hero in the traditional sense—but, as Bernie points out, that shouldn’t detract from a great popcorn movie (that a young blogger-to-be watched for the first time at a drive-in from the back seat of his parents’ car and was horrified by the face-melting ending). More important than Steve’s film criticism is the middle-aged man in the panels above and below who seems to recognize him, and who will become much more important in issues to come.
Steve goes on to make a better point about
the Punisher Indiana Jones, which Bernie answers with something that disturbs him more than if she had whispered “Hail Hydra.” To her credit, she does not let him off the hook…
…and although he recovers slightly, their date is over. (Even our mysterious friend understood that much.)
Afterwards, Steve thinks about what happened and shows admirable self-awareness.
Just then he suffers a psychic attack and cries out, bringing Bernie and their friend and neighbor Josh Cooper to his side, but they’re both summarily dismissed because someone needs to play Superman.
Fine, fine, but none of this excuses his uncharacteristic rudeness to his friends. (Superman definitely would not do that, just saying—hey, I wonderful if Steve saw that movie…)
Cap recognizes the person behind the psychic blast, whom we will recall from issue #264…
…and who, we learn, Cap dropped off at S.H.I.E.L.D. along with Philip Le Guin, the little boy who was the other surviving psychic from that adventure. (Hmm… Ursula Richards and Philip Le Guin, is it? Clever nods to legendary writers Ursula Le Guin and Philip Dick thanks to Mr. DeMatteis!)
On his way to S.H.I.E.L.D. Cap receives another psychic blast, this time with a video attachment, which he asks Nick Fury’s people about.
Normally, Cap would apologize for that slip-up immediately, but instead he doubles down on it below. (You’ll be relieved to learn that he does apologize to her in issue #275, and not for the last time.)
Nonetheless, they retrieve enough information to tell Cap where to look, so he turns into Matches Malone and investigates the area.
When he finds what he’s been looking for, he happily ditches the disguise, using his sudden appearance to gain a second’s advantage…
…and after a brief fight, he find the man in charge, August Masters.
Someone else knows he’s here, namely Ursula and Philip, who try to alert the other heroes held on the premises: Valkyrie, Hellcat, and Gargoyle, of the Defenders.
Long story short: Those three Defenders were abducted along with Kyle Richmond, aka Nighthawk, to coerce Richmond to help calm down a former girlfriend, another psychic held by the fella below to… well, I’ll let him tell you.
Cap gets another chance to reaffirm his relationship to the American Dream, emphasized in the last issue, here with an added touch of his cosmopolitan patriotism that welcomes others around the world to share in that dream instead of driving them away or keeping them out. (I discuss this concept more in chapter 6 of my book as well as this post at Psychology Today.)
After an alarm sounds, letting Masters know that the Defenders have freed the psychics, Cap takes the chance to fight back, greeting the liberated captives and taking charge (much to the delight of Ursula).
Cap thinks about why Masters upsets him so much, but the would-be tyrant surprises him…
…and forces him to surrender, as heroes must when innocent lives are at stake. (Would Indiana Jones have done that, I wonder?)
In Defenders #106, Doctor Strange, Daimon Hellstrom, and Daredevil join the story, and we find out what Masters did with the surrendered heroes, which is effectively the last we see of Cap for most of this issue.
In the end, Kyle Richmond saves the day and sacrifices himself to make sure Masters and his plans are stopped forever, setting the base to self-destruct and imploring Doctor Strange to transport everyone else out before it blows.
…with Cap and the rest very confused, leaving Strange to deliver the bad news (as is often a doctor’s burden).
In Defenders #107, our heroes say goodbye to Kyle Richmond, with Cap giving a solemn benediction, but Hellcat finds it cold and impersonal.
But this is forgotten when one of Masters’ goons emerges and shoots Valkyrie in the back…
…necessitating a heroes’ funeral for two, which all current and former Defenders attend, along with Valkyrie’s fellow Asgardian.
Don’t worry: Both Valkyrie and Kyle Richmond soon return from the dead. (Honestly, it would be more shocking if they didn’t!)
ONE FUNNY THING (KINDA)
Guess how Daredevil introduces himself in Defenders #106.
This really calls for a good Clark Kent-style wink.
Defenders (vol. 1) #106, April 1982: J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Don Perlin (pencils), Al Milgrom, Rick Magyar, Sal Trapani, and Jack Abel (inks), George Rossous (colors), Sally Leferman (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Defenders (vol. 1) #107, May 1982: J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Don Perlin (pencils), Mike Esposito, Chic Stone, Sal Trapani, and Al Milgrom (inks), George Rossous (colors), Sally Leferman (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in Defenders Epic Collection: The Six-Fingered Hand Saga.
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #267 (March 1982)
ALSO THESE MONTHS: Avengers #218 and The Death of Captain Marvel (April 1982) and Avengers #219 (May 1982)
NEXT ISSUE: Captain America #269 (May 1982)