This issue reintroduces a character from way back when (and possibly earlier), about whom Nomad has doubts. I won’t reveal now whether or not the character or any doubts about him contributed to Nomad’s poor state of affairs on the issue’s cover to your right, but our young friend does rub Captain America the wrong way too, so it is not his best day. As an added bonus, we get to see John Byrne draw Cap again—or rather Steve Rogers, with possible fiancée Bernie Rosenthal at his side—in an issue of Alpha Flight published the same month.
After some tomfoolery with Mother Superior and Baron Zemo, who were last seen in issue #290 but will once again be central to the story starting last in this issue, we head to Virginia, where Cap is visiting that forgotten character I so subtly alluded to above.
Yes, it’s Dave Cox, Sharon Carter’s friend who lost his right arm in Vietnam and afterwards become a pacifist, whom we first met is issue #163. And did Cap just happen to drop in to chat? Not exactly.
Dave’s wife Julie smoothly takes her cue to step out, and while Cap apologizes for the interruption, we can also see the despair in his body language, especially in the second panel below.
Let’s take a moment and check in on our villains, including our first glimpse of Mother Superior’s father, the Red Skull, who makes clear he has new plans to torment Captain America, plans that go far beyond anything Baron Zemo may have tried in the past.
While Zemo stands in the corner and thinks about what he’s done, Cap and Dave reminisce about their brief time together and their mutual loss of Sharon (whom Dave also loved). Cap also reiterates how they are not so different, despite Dave’s pacifism and Cap’s being a Super-Soldier and all, and how Dave differs from other pacifists he’s known.
Cap even suggests that he may have made the same choices had he been in Dave’s shoes, an admirable admission of the role circumstances and experiences play in crafting our moral characters. But as much as Dave likes hearing Cap say this, he’d rather talk about… her.
Cap confesses feelings familiar to many who have lost someone to death and experience guilt about moving on, feelings that Dave sympathizes with.
And… they’re not alone. (That’s creepy, and I don’t mean just the comically wide stances.)
Back in New York, Nomad makes Cap tell him where he’s been since the last issue, but Cap wants to talk about a much scarier topic than facing down a god-powered Doctor Doom.
But Nomad changes the topic again, and Cap ends up defending Dave Cox’s pacifism, emphasizing the moral courage it takes to follow unpopular convictions. (We should be glad Nomad never had a chance to press the issue of Arnie Roth’s orientation in issue #290.)
But even this discussion is interrupted by an armed robbery on the street, perpetuated by an overconfident thief who nonetheless recognizes he has limits… and Nomad proves he is beyond them, much to the consternation of his elder partner.
Below, Cap reminds me of Batman chewing out his second Robin, Jason Todd, after he took out his rage on a criminal… except in this case, the angry young man is more than just an exceptionally athletic street urchin. (Note that Cap is basically saying “with great power also comes great responsibility,” but fleshing it out with the importance of judgment in knowing exactly when and how to do it.)
Gotta love that no: to the point without being rude. (Also… does Nomad think he can fly now? Does he know he can’t?)
Typically, Cap is hard on himself for how he handled the situation—although doing it in public was probably ill-advised—and recognizes his preoccupation with Bernie is interfering with his performance (showing awareness of his own humanity). But before he can dwell too much, he finds Nomad…
…and the fella wot hit ‘im, who Cap recognizes as none other than Dave Cox, with a definite change in attitude, if the name and mace are any indication.
Earlier in the issue, Mother Superior and Baron Zemo abducted Dave with plans to transform him, physically as well as psychologically, which it seems they did, to rather spectacular effect… enough to subdue Cap and turn back to Nomad.
This, obviously, will be continued in the next issue.
Meanwhile, in Alpha Flight #10, Steve Rogers feels his Cap-sense tingle when a tall dark stranger passes by.
You better tell him about the great responsibility thing, Steve, quick!
Who was that unmasked man? None other than Guardian, founder and leader of Alpha Flight (and relative of the snikt snikt guy).
Yeah, whenever you need superhero advice, Spider-Man is definitely the first person I’d ask. (Good luck with that.)
Collected in: Captain America: Death of the Red Skull
Collected in: Alpha Flight Classic, Volume 1
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #292 (April 1984)
NEXT ISSUES: Captain America #294 (June 1984)