Captain America #340 (April 1988)

This issue follows directly from Iron Man #228, in which the Captain and Iron Man fought about Tony’s attempts to get his tech back from the U.S. government—specifically, breaking into the Vault, a prison for superhuman convicts, to disable the Stark-designed armor of their Guardsmen. For all his claims to be a futurist, Tony either didn’t foresee that his disabling of the security system in the vault was going to open the door (literally) for the inmates to escape, or he didn’t care—we’ll find out more from the Iron Man himself in the next issue.

The opening splash page reminds us where the two “friends” were at the end of Iron Man #228. (And if you don’t hear this issue’s story title in the voice of Phil Lynott, then we cannot be friends.)

“With friends like these…”

As Cap comes to, he remembers their fight and his attempt to save the last Guardsman, who was suffocating due to the gas Tony released earlier—and Cap doesn’t seem to realize he did save him, because he runs off without checking! (“I WILL AVENGE YOU MY GOOD MAN!” “I’m feeling much better…” “IRON MAN WILL PAY I PROMISE YOU THAT!”)

Cap doesn’t think much about the ramifications of the Vault’s power outage either, because he’s not supposed to be there himself (and he’s no longer official anyway).

I guess Cap just has to think about Sam and he shows up—note his reflection in Cap’s shiny new shield.

Actually, it is a breakout, even if Cap doesn’t know it yet.

Oh, sweet naive Dennis… it’s interesting to have a character in the book who’s more earnest and gullible than Cap often is, especially to emphasize Cap’s growing cynicism and discontentedness.

Cap will reconnect with Tony, but not for a while, because they hear an explosion from the direction of the Vault and head back to investigate—which will give Cap even more to discuss with his old Avengers colleague when he sees him.

The Falcon tangles with the escaped felons while the rest are catching up on their bikes, and Dennis puts his innocence to good use, noting Cap’s sour mood before anyone else—a mood that leads him to take an extraordinary risk in the face of an oncoming truck.

“Yes, whoever could he be, this man who looks exactly like Captain America after he sat out in the sun too long? I simply have no idea.” I assume Titania would facepalm if she weren’t worried about crashing…

…or getting a shield in the neck (ouch).

Cap realizes this was harsh, but there’s a reason (if not an excuse).

Let’s check in with Jack, who’s very slowly and carefully scaling down the side of a mountain after Vibro, self-proclaimed “master of seismographic force,” as they each try to knock the other loose… until Vibro makes an unforced error.

Although he’s wrong to characterize Cap’s concern about causing undue harm to others as “wimpy,” Jack might be surprised if he had seen Cap almost take Hyde’s head off above… or if he could read Cap’s mind below after Hyde barely saves himself from going over the cliff with his rig.

Of course, Cap is more concerned with making sure Hyde faces justice in a new trial… or maybe just being beating him personally. (This is consistent with both Cap’s anger over what Hyde did to Jarvis, as well as his own struggles over the last few issues with his outlaw status, which he may be getting too accustomed to.)

This fight reminds me of countless battles between Daredevil and the Kingpin, after Matt is pushed to the limit and finally defeats Fisk despite their significant size difference by fighting more brutally than he ordinarily does.

Cap faces the real test after he plays matador to Hyde’s bull…

…and the big man goes over the side, while Cap calmly recommends he think about what’s he done before walking away.

Did you really think he was going to let Hyde fall? Sure, he wanted to, which is understandable, but the important thing is that he did what’s right instead of what would have made him feel good.

If you’re interested, in Batman and Ethics (pp. 144-147) I discuss how much Batman wants to kill the Joker although he never does, even saving his life on numerous occasions, much as Cap did with Hyde here. (And there’s a lot more history between Bats and the Clown.)

The issue ends with an old “friend” last seen in issue #316… well, Cap probably considers him more of a friend than Tony is right now. (He’s definitely showing more sincere contrition about what he did!)

Speaking of Tony, make sure to come back for the next issue when Cap pays him a visit (after a couple adventures with old pals in Avengers #290 and Thor #390). Plus, Lemar Hoskins chooses a new superhero name, and we’ll see a reader letter from this issue that contributes to explaining why, which we discussed earlier.


Captain America (vol. 1) #340, April 1988: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Kieron Dwyer (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Gregory Wright (colors), John Morelli (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: The Captain and Captain America: The Captain

PREVIOUS ISSUES: Captain America #339 and Iron Man #228 (March 1988)

ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #290 and Thor #390 (April 1988)

NEXT ISSUES: Captain America #341 (May 1988)

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