Captain America #309 (September 1985)

This issue sees Captain America return to New York City after his adventures in England and California the last four issues, reuniting with his fiancée Bernie Rosenthal, his crimefighting partner Nomad (aka Jack Monroe), and… his boss. Which one will he still be with by the end of the issue? Read on and see!

After three pages reintroducing Madcap, the stripey fella on the cover who fought Nomad in issue #307, we finally meet up with Steve Rogers, tipping his cabbie well and hoping his honey is home, while silently excusing himself for being away so long.

Of course, Bernie is happy to see Steve, who updates her on his adventures. Presumably ten hours later, she quickly tells him about her employment woes…

…and guess who makes it all about him again?

Oh Steve! <canned laughter>

No surprise what Mr. Bennett has to say—I particularly like the line “What business? I’m your business.” If he only knew.

Afterwards, Steve succinctly expresses the reason why we have to use moral judgment, before he explains how he uses it in this case and why he still regrets having to let any obligations go.

I really appreciate that we see him facing moral conflicts like this, not just in his work as Captain America, but also as “normal” Steve Rogers (even though, technically, this situation involves both).

Next, Bernie updates Steve about Arnie Roth’s farewell in issue #306, and Steve regrets not being there to see him off. When Steve asks about Jack, he gets a more distressing update…

…and he immediately goes into response mode, which Bernie quickly nips in the bud before assigning him another important task.

Come Monday morning, commercial artist Steve Rogers is in his boss’s office, apologizing for flaking on his last assignment and copping to his discomfort doing illustrations for advertisements, reiterating arguments against consumerism that he made in issue #292.

Bennett values Steve’s talent enough to overlook his inconsistency and keep him on as strictly freelance, but Steve feels he cannot promise even that, so he chooses to part ways entirely…

…and he is quite relieved. Not enough to click his heels, but still. (Wouldn’t that have been cool? That would have been cool.)

What does a newly unemployed commercial artist who also happens to be a superhero do with his new free time? Hit the gym, of course, followed by a snack.

Come on… Frank Capra himself would not be that corny. (Sigh.)

After Jarvis mentioned that Nomad stopped by asking where a lunatic (such as Madcap) would be found—why would he think Jarvis would know that?—Cap heads to Coney Island, where the two are locked in battle.

It might just be Bernie’s voice in his head, but Cap thinks through the matter of helping Nomad, weighing his general responsibility to help people with his specific responsibility to let Jack handle his own problems, and decides to hang back. (Note the deep shadows when he dramatically admits he has to do… nothing. Oh, poor Cap.)

After Nomad takes care of Madcap—a man who has embraced the absurdity and meaningless of life as described by the existentialists, but chooses the nihilistic path of “nothing matters” rather than the responsibility to create your own authentic meaning and purpose—he discovers Cap was there the entire time, and takes the perfect opportunity to announce he’s leaving the act to record his solo album.

Of course, given that he came to much the same conclusion himself, Cap understands, and the partners split up for good.

Jack will reappear several times in this title before moving to a miniseries and an ongoing title of his own in the early 1990s.


Captain America (vol. 1) #309, September 1985: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Paul Neary (pencils), Dennis Janke (inks), Ken Feduniewicz (colors), Diana Albers (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: Society of Serpents

PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #307-308 and Secret Wars II #1 (July-August 1985)

ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #259 (September 1985)

NEXT ISSUES: Captain America #310 (October 1985)

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