This issue picks up where the last one left off, following a violent confrontation between the neo-Nazi group holding a rally on Long Island and the Jewish Protection Organization who were protesting it, as well as Bernie Rosenthal realizing that Captain America is actually the man she loves, freelance artist Steve Rogers. We deal with the aftermath of these events—especially Bernie’s revelation—before we pick up another thread, namely Baron Zemo and Arnim Zola’s plans to defeat Cap, which have played out behind the scenes for several issues.
We open with Cap complimenting the local police for their handling of the conflict, especially the “rioters,” by which he means those protesting the neo-Nazis. (I discussed the disturbing notes of false equivalence, as well as the issue of violence in protest, in the post on the last issue.)
We soon discover that the leaders of the two groups are still lurking, one who pulls a gun on him…
…and one who doesn’t, although Cap still gives him the stink-eye. To be fair, though, this may be because Sam Bernstein is Bernie’s ex-husband. (That’s right: Her name, if she took his when they were married, was Bernie Bernstein.)
Sam concedes the point Cap made in the last issue about his hatred for the neo-Nazis making him comparable to them (which, again, I disputed in the last post).
Now it’s the former Mrs. Bernstein’s turn, and she delivers her message with no words at all.
Good thing Cap is an old pro at soul-searching and wandering the streets… much more so than confronting his romantic problems, as we well know.
Kudos to Bernie for not letting him getting away with this, and to Steve for admitting his fear, which she finds more than a bit surprising.
As is his wont, Steve uses this latest conflict to try to back out of the relationship—by gallantly offering her a way out, of course—but she once again refuses to accept it.
After Bernie tells Steve she hadn’t been ready to tell him about Sam, they lean in for a kiss… when S.H.I.E.L.D. shows up. Finally, Bernie understands why Steve suddenly “has to leave” so often, but it doesn’t mean she likes it.
When Cap arrives at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, the adventure part of our tale begins (and extends through the next two issues as well). Nick tells Cap that his childhood friend Arnie Roth and his boyfriend Michael Bech—who were under the care of S.H.I.E.L.D. after a recent adventure—were abducted by two of Cap’s foes, also being held there. Understandably, Cap lashes out at Nick, but also recognizes that Arnie and Michael are targets only because of their ties to him.
Luckily, the abductors sent a note…
…and Cap makes it clear he doesn’t want S.H.I.E.L.D.’s help any more. (Does Nick listen? What do you think?)
While Cap waits at the appointed place and time, he reflects on his own state of mind, and offers a twist on the saying that “a single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”
A strange being picks Cap up in a futuristic airship and takes him to a castle in Mexico, where he is attacked by creatures seemingly growing out of the walls, giving Cap a clue as to the identity of at least one of his foes. Before his suspicion is confirmed, though, he discovers Arnie…
…before the entire welcoming party reveals themselves.
More of this in the next issue, of course… but we’re not done! In this issue and the next two, we also get a back-up story featuring Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon. Even though there’s no Cap content in these stories, Sam is an important enough part of this title that we’ll discuss the main point of these stories: Sam’s past as the criminal “Snap” Wilson, which was brought up by a newspaper reporter in the last issue at Sam’s press conference to announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.
After Sam storms out in anger, his sister Sarah tells Sam’s girlfriend Leila and his campaign manager Carol Davis about Sam’s history with Cap and the Red Skull and his multiple personalities.
Sam is thinking about the same thing, still upset…
…to the extent that he endangers an innocent bystander and her young child, but quickly saves them…
…thanks to his Captastic training, of course. (Ok, so we do have some Cap content after all!)
Nonetheless, he still loses his temper when another bystander criticizes his recklessness, which seems to trigger another side of Sam Wilson… a side he does not want to revisit, especially now.
Captain America (vol. 1) #276, December 1982: J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Mike Zeck (pencils), John Beatty (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), John Morelli (letters, main story), Michael Higgins (letters, back-up). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in Captain America Epic Collection: Monsters and Men.
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Captain America #275 and Marvel Fanfare #5 (November 1982)
ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #226 and The Incredible Hulk #278 (December 1982)