This issue sees Captain America visit Madison, Wisconsin, to investigate anti-immigrant activity and to visit a certain Bernie Rosenthal… and guess who else shows up? Yes, it’s John Walker, Super-Patriot, seen on the cover fighting the Sentinel of Liberty—and revealing his true power level in the process. Plus: The government starts looking into a certain “Steven G. Rogers,” setting in motion the process that leads us to the cataclysmic issue #332. (Wondering about the middle initial? Just wait.)
After a few pages of Lemar Hoskins and the other two “Buckies” harassing Middle Eastern students at the University of Wisconsin (I assume) and vandalizing the international house (misspelling “foreign” and “foreigners” in the process), all in Cap’s image, the man himself shows up at Bernie’s place. He feels rather anxious about seeing her again, and acknowledges his discomfort with what he calls “emotional uncertainty” (which shows an admirable level of self-awareness).
(“Last Halloween”? It was last month!)
Bernie introduces him to the gang—including Paul, whom we met in issue #323—before alarming the “comic book artist from Brooklyn” with a poor word choice.
Yeah, I think she should have gone with “clip file” to begin with, but it matters little as they put the small talk behind them and reconnect…
…if only for a second, before Paul—of course it’s Paul—interrupts with news of the incident at the international house. Steve is not surprised, suggesting Bernie go with Paul (!) so he can check things out as you-know-who.
Shut up Paul. No one asked you. (Actually, doesn’t “Paul” look familiar?)
When Cap arrives at the scene of the vandalism, he is surprised by the “welcome” he receives…
…as is Bernie. (But Paul isn’t, which figures.) The crowd covers all the bases in its shouting as Cap heads inside with the students and the police.
It turns out Cap does understand the reaction to his appearance, as he is fully aware of what the Buckies are up to…
…and, naturally, is saddened by the “support” he’s receiving based on it.
When he gets back to Bernie’s, Steve gives Paul a classic Clark Kent excuse, then ignores his expert political speculation—of course, much better than Bernie’s opinions about Cap—before Bernie plays the hero and rescues Steve.
Steve reveals he understood the earlier reaction, although he had hoped it would be different—but when he mentions Walker, Bernie lets him know of his appearance at an upcoming “AmericAid” concert, a benefit to help the homeless (perhaps inspired by Farm Aid, which began in 1985).
We will hear more about that million dollars later… but let’s join Cap at the concert, where he uses the Avengers membership to get backstage (although the security guard draws the wrong conclusion about why).
Is that Prince at the bottom of the panel with Tina Turner?
When Cap catches up with Walker, the younger man makes a cheap “old man” joke…
…before they get down to brass tacks, with Cap accusing him of complicity in the Buckies’ xenophobic vandalism.
Walker doesn’t back down and instead tries to lure Cap into a fight, which he easily resists…
…until Walker presses the issue.
It doesn’t take Cap long to realize how strong Walker is and adjust his fighting approach to it.
The two engage in some very specific trash talk, with Cap questioning just how sincere Walker’s super-patriotism is…
…while Walker elaborates further on the theme of Cap’s age, particularly as it relates to his ideals and principles, to which Cap gives the obvious response.
After a couple pages of fighting, Cap is feeling the pain, from both his physical injuries and what he sees as sloppiness in battle.
Eventually he begins to have doubts about whether he will prevail, but he doesn’t find out, because Walker bails on him… but not before leaving a parting gift, which again Cap fails to avoid.
Cap remains the better man, handing Walker back his shuriken, and then returning to his sulking and self-recrimination…
…which he also expresses to Bernie when they get back together afterwards.
(Geez… I guess Walker really beat the Robert Redford looks out of him!)
Bernie offers to talk but doesn’t force the issue, and then reveals her thoughts about their relationship to us…
…which comes as a surprise to this reader, who was sure they ended their engagement when Bernie moved away in issue #317, based on the note she left him.
Oh, before I forget… the million dollars Steve Rogers received from the government back in issue #312 raises some red flags in the halls of the Internal Revenue Service.
Wait, Steven G. Rogers? The loyal reader will know that Steve Rogers has no middle name, but that he was given the middle name of Grant along with false memories of growing up in Maryland with a brother, as explained in issue #247 (reversing the strange history shown in issue #225). It makes sense, then, that his name could still be Steven G. Rogers in the government database.
Anyway… our intrepid IRS agent looks into the past of Steven G. Rogers, and realizes that he is none other than Captain America.
Let’s see… You could just leave it alone. Just an idea. But, of course, he doesn’t. (I wonder if he knows Paul?) The “investigation” continues in the next issue…
Captain America (vol. 1) #327, March 1987: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Paul Neary (pencils), John Beatty (inks), Ken Feduniewicz (colors), Diana Albers (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: Justice Is Served
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #326 (February 1987)
ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #277 and Marvel Fanfare #31 (March 1987)
NEXT ISSUE: Captain America #328 (April 1987)
I know politics make people nervous but I like that Gru reminds us, as Roger Stern once did, that Steve Rogers was a New Deal Liberal (which is not the same as the “centrist” Democrat politicians in charge today). I don’t think Cap is political, I think he’s moral, but the politics that most closely mirror his morals are those most often associated with the populist left. Mainstream and quite popular during his youth in the Great Depression (and with comic book readers in the 60s and 70s) but now considered by many to be far-left nuttiness.