This issue continues the ongoing plot of the Red Skull, Mother Superior (his daughter), and Baron Zemo—as well as their new compartriots, the Sisters of Sin, seen on the cover to the right—against Captain America and his amazing friends. Their techniques take a distinctly psychological turn, building on what they did to Dave Cox in issue #293 and the bust of the Skull they sent to Bernie’s apartment in the last issue.
In fact, we open with a very dramatic portrait of our hero, devastated over Dave Cox, who in the last issue stuck to his pacifist principles and refused to kill for Mother Superior despite her psychic influence, which nearly killed him.
Of course, this only repeats the pattern of people close to him being in danger from his enemies, so Cap takes responsibility for what happened, even though he had nothing to do with it, because Mother Superior and Baron Zemo were using Dave to get to him.
He’s comforted by Dave’s wife Julie, who told him in the last issue that it wasn’t his fault, but rather Dave asserting his true self against all odds. Here, she reminds him of his normal inspirational self…
…and then responds to his admission of guilt and despair by urging him to disregard thoughts of responsibility altogether, which is a tough call for someone who overemphasizes his own responsibility for everything.
Next, we see Mother Superior and Baron Zemo abduct Cap’s childhood friend Arnie Roth before our attention turns to Cap’s girlfriend Bernie Rosenthal and his crimefighting partner Jack Monroe (Nomad) coming out of a movie theater after the special effects were a bit too real for a fella who grew up in the 1950s. When they meet Steve, however, things turn sour and he once again expresses concern about Bernie’s safety…
…which she reasonably connects to doubts about their engagement, which she thought she had put to rest in the last issue.
As if Steve doesn’t have enough to worry about… it appears the years are starting to catch up with him (and judging from Jack’s expression, he might have a clue why, about which more in the next issue).
And as if that’s not enough to worry about too, he stops by Arnie’s place, where his attackers were none too subtle about leaving a calling card.
Arnie turns out to be a robot that falls apart and melts, but not before leaving a message for Cap, inviting him to confront the Red Skull and his two partners in villainy. On the way there, Cap and Nomad take a moment to make their partnership official. (“Now Jack, before we can fight the Red Skull you’ll need to go to HR and fill out some paperwork…”)
Oh Cap… you know you’re going to regret this the first time Jack scrapes his knee on a case, right? (Of course you do… you know you do. Sigh.)
Once inside the Skull’s mansion, the newly minted partners meet the Sisters of Sin—who, for the record, do not include Mother Superior (who does later take the name Sister Sin before her name is revealed to be Sinthea, which naturally was shortened to
The Sisters have various powers, both psychological and physical…
…against which our heroes do have some success, until Sister Dream shows Cap a vision of a happy future.
It’s interesting that Cap would dream of this: Retiring from active duty makes sense in terms of his new engagement and his fears about keeping Bernie safe, but we know from stories past (most recently the Deathlok tale in issues #286-288) that he doesn’t feel complete without both aspects of his identity. Then again, at this moment, and given his sudden older appearance, retirement probably looks good!
Nomad notes Cap’s easy submission to Mother Dream’s influence, which goes hand-in-hand with his aging physique, and then proves his worth as a partner.
(“Li’l buddy,” heh.)
Cap’s impulsiveness continues as he faces Zemo…
…whom Cap easily defeats, but keeps wailing of him nonetheless, only to be stopped by Nomad before discovering it wasn’t Zemo at all.
As the issue comes to a close, Cap and Nomad find themselves trapped in Skull’s lair, while Mother Superior pays a visit to Bernie’s apartment… come back soon to see what happens next!
Collected in: Captain America: Death of the Red Skull
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #294 (June 1984)
NEXT ISSUE: Captain America #296 (August 1984)