This issue of Captain America serves as an epilogue to the Deathlok story from the last three issues, wrapping up one plot thread while leaving another until the final few pages—pages that also connect with the cover, which includes an homage to DC Comics’ 1960s logo and “go-go chex,” the corner image reversed, and “Bernie America,” all thanks to Assistant Editors’ Month, a yearly excuse for tomfoolery at the House of Ideas. (There was a similar issue of Avengers the same month, #239, in which the team goes on Late Night with David Letterman, but Cap was spared that indignity.)
Luckily, in the letters column to Captain America #291, we get a key to the folks looking out the window, which include the issue’s writer, penciller, and inker:
Sadly, as indicated by “the former” in the key above, this issue is also the last of Mike Zeck’s magnificent pencils we will see here for a while, although he will get the chance to draw Cap quite a bit in Secret Wars coming in a few months, and he returns to this title in 1986 to draw Captain America Annual #8 and many more iconic covers starting with issue #321.)
Below we see our hero returning from the dystopian world of 1991 and wasting no time getting back to work. (Note that much of this issue, and especially the portions of it we highlight here, feature Cap’s inner monologue.)
In a way, this issue continues the storyline of the last three issues: Here, Cap is bent on preventing the apocalyptic near-future from which he just returned.
While Cap has the presence of mind to chastise himself for counting his chickens before they hatch…
…that doesn’t compare to the foolish hopes of anonymous thugs who think they stand a chance against him.
As he continues to fight his way to the source of the threat to the future, Cap reflects on the distinction between America as a concept and the people that make it up…
…and realizes that the private life he’s embaced since issue #237 is helping him be a better Captain America. (This also helps to resolve the identity crisis that was an undercurrent in his adventure with Deathlok.)
When Cap finally gets to his destination, he is greeted by a huge psychic robot (of course) that can not only read our hero’s thoughts, but influence them as well, instilling him with a fatalistic panic.
But after examining those strange feelings, Captain America quickly shakes them off by remembering the same people that he has come to appreciate since living amongst them as Steve Rogers—people who live and love while struggling through hardships and retaining their spirit.
As it turns out, the “psycho-rays” created the illusion of the robot itself in Cap’s mind; nonetheless, by destroying “the robot,” Cap destroys the device that would have led to the dystopian future. After explaining the events of this issue (and perhaps the last three) to a skeptical Nick Fury, Cap rushes to his next emergency… one named Bernie.
And what of Bernie Rosenthal? Last we saw here, she was making excuses for her boyfriend not showing up to dinner at her parents’ house. Thanks to Assistant Editors’ Month, we get a whimsical look at Bernie’s imagination while she ponders the dual nature of her love life.
Check out the issue yourself to see Bernie America and the Avengers take on Mo-Skull (seen on the cover), until Bernie’s sister wakes her up to let her know her beau has arrived.
What will Bernie’s parents think of Steve? You’ll have to wait til the next issue to find out.
Meanwhile, in the Falcon’s first series—written by Jim Owsley, otherwise known as Christopher Priest, who will write a Captain America & the Falcon series starting in 2004—Sam Wilson has a series of adventures in which he serves as a hero both in costume and as a social worker, advocating for the people of Harlem as they confront slum landlords, an overzealous criminal justice system, and the occasional supervillain, such as the sparkly Spidey foe on the cover to the right. (Note: This story takes place before Sam set aside his superhero identity to run for Congress.)
Captain America first appears in the series in the final panel of Falcon #3, looking for his former partner and meeting Sergeant Michael Tork…
…with whom he launches into an 80s buddy-cop movie in Falcon #4, with Tork apparently not knowing anything about the Sentinel of Liberty. At first it seems he may just be razzing Cap…
…but other times he is just clueless, which Cap takes in good humor.
Below, Tork learns that Cap not only knows how to fight, he also knows his stuff when it comes to operation strategy.
Below, Tork accepts Cap as his “muscle,” which continues to amuse Cap.
Soon, Cap and Tork open a door to discover a member of the gang called the Legion, holding a gun to the head of the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan (seen here recently in Avengers #231). Before they can act, though, Electro bursts in and subdues both Cap and Tork. Sam shows up soon thereafter and defeats him, and Cap pays his friend a subtle and well-deserved compliment.
The trio returns to where the president is being held captive, and Sam takes command of the situation…
…urging the Legionnaire to use this opportunity to tell the president how he’s failed the residents of Harlem. When the police arrive, the president shoos them away to keep listening, and later he holds a press conference alongside the Falcon and the police chief, who’s suddenly Sam’s biggest fan.
Captain America (vol. 1) #289, January 1984: J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Mike Zeck (pencils), John Beatty and Mike Zeck (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Diana Albers (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Not yet collected.
Falcon (vol. 1) #3, January 1984: Jim Owsley (writer), Mark Bright (pencils), Mike Gustovich (inks), Stephen Mellor (colors), Rick Parker (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Falcon (vol. 1) #4, February 1984: Jim Owsley (writer), Mark Bright (pencils), Mike Gustovich (inks), Stephen Mellor (colors), Clem Robins (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in Avengers: Falcon.
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Captain America #286-288 (October-December 1983)
NEXT ISSUE: Captain America #290 (February 1984)