These two issues track Captain America’s hunt for
the Bloodstone Rachel Leighton, aka Diamondback, after Crossbones abducted her (following the destruction of the Bloodstone), and the story is split between Cap’s search and Diamondback’s escape. Do those wacky kids finally get together in the end? Wait and see! Plus: A bonus tale from Marvel Comics Presents, featuring the return of a rarely seen Golden Age hero, and a few pages from Damage Control, the (second) miniseries about the Marvel Universe’s clean-up crew.
In issue #363, after Cap returns to Avengers Island, he updates the team’s security chief, Michael O’Brien, on the resolution of the Bloodstone case before switching his focus to Rachel, whom Michael tries to warn him against, but to no avail.
Later, Cap reflects on his new preoccupation, their history together, and the fact that he may attracted to her, although “she’s not my type at all,” presumably referring to her criminal background. (This is in obvious contrast to someone else we know, of course.)
Eventually, Crossbones gives Cap a ring, summoning him to Madripoor, the center of lawlessness in the Earth of the 616.
In turn, Cap summons his pilot, who is awfully hung up on rank, especially considering Cap’s is only honorary.
(Why do I hear that question in Peter Graves’ voice?)
Although a parachute would clearly weigh him down too much (plus deny him that killer line he uses on Jameson)…
When he finally comes face-to-face with Crossbones, it looks like a shootout is about to occur, but instead Cap finds himself in a trap… but not necessarily the one he was expecting (although it does not put a damper on his characteristic defiance).
They fight for a few pages at the beginning of issue #364, but Cap finally gets the upper hand, threatening Crossbones with the same sore throat he delivered to the mummy in issue #361.
Crossbones calls his bluff, and then… gives up? “I could beat you, but I feel I’ve already won this battle, and I don’t want to embarrass you any further.”
Again, Cap knows he’s walking into a trap, but doesn’t anticipate the dirty pool of getting his sore foot stomped.
But that isn’t the real trap.
Not Cap’s best moment… could his emerging feelings for Diamondback be making him sloppy?
He redeems himself partially by carefully analyzing the situation…
…although his diagnosis is inconclusive.
Crossbones calls in to his boss—no surprise as to who it is—while Cap makes clever use of the vibranium in his shield.
And the question of whether there was actually a bomb underneath his feet is answered.
By this time, Diamondback has freed herself—albeit at the cost of most of her costume—and is afraid the explosion involved Cap, until he appears and has to submit to the hug Rachel has been threatening for many issues now.
Excellent choice of movie quote, Rachel!
Next, in a short tale in Marvel Comics Presents #34, Captain America is called to… somewhere around Washington Square Park or NYU, I think… by a “mysterious caller,” and Cap’s narration, reflecting on events to come, is ominously self-incriminating.
Hey, it’s the Thin Man, named after the Dashiell Hammett novel and subsequent classic film starring Myrna Loy and William Powell, and who was a member of the World War II-era Liberty Legion. (Please do not confuse Bruce Dickson with either Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of Iron Maiden, or Bruce Dickinson, famed record producer who inspired the classic “more cowbell” SNL skit.)
Of course, you knew all this… but he goes on, implicating another WWII-era character, this one introduced in Invaders Annual #1.
Dickson basically calls Cap naive—and he may be right—before he leads him to the war criminal’s house.
Maybe they should get Spidey to help? (Just think, Schmidt could be Aunt May’s kindly neighbor… the story possibilities are endless!)
Cap and Dickson confront the former Agent Axis, but before Cap can finish questioning him, Dickson just goes and shoots him.
It gets worse, Cap. At least Agent Axis confesses his identity…
…before basically saying “nyah nyah nyah, you can’t catch me.” (Aunt May would be so disappointed.)
Well, Cap wouldn’t kill him, of course, but we can’t be so sure about the Thin Man.
“Come on, I’ve seen Reed Richards do that a dozen times. Be original, man!”
I’m glad Cap’s getting a kick out of this before he makes an unforced error, “out of reflex.”
I call foul: No way would Cap reflexively hit the victim of an attack, regardless of who he is (or who the attacker is). Didn’t he just ask Dickson if he was insane after shooting at Schmidt? You can’t tell me he wasn’t expecting another attack.
Of course, now he realizes his mistake…
…but he wonders if he would have acted differently had he had time to think about it. The answer is yes, of course, but what’s more, he should have acted differently even without time to think about it. (Very strange characterization here.)
Finally, in Damage Control #1—which the editor kindly tells happens around the same time as Captain America #363—Cap rushes to the scene of a breakout at the Vault (which seems to happen all the time).
Cap arrives just as the Wrecking Crew managed to break themselves out of their failed breakout—which Damage Control had some role in, then called Cap for help—and just in time to give them a lesson on the meaning of freedom.
He uses his shield to take out two more—including one who knows full well what’s coming—but falls to the fourth, who has a simple explanation for doing it.
In the second issue, Cap oversees the replacement of Avengers Mansion to its original site (after it was attacked and sunk with Avengers Island in Avengers #311), and lets Mr. Porter of Damage Control know what he thinks of their hand in the breakout.
Hey, I never said they were seminal appearances!
Captain America (vol. 1) #363, late November 1989, “Moon Over Madripoor”: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Kieron Dwyer (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Gregory Wright (colors), John Morelli (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Captain America (vol. 1) #364, early December 1989, “Man Trap”: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Kieron Dwyer (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Bob Sharen and Gregory Wright (colors), John Morelli (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: The Bloodstone Hunt
Marvel Comics Presents (vol. 1) #34, late December 1989, “Past and Present Sins”: Sholly Fisch (writer), Jack Sparling (pencils), Randy Emberlin (inks), Marcus McLaurin (colors), Janice Chiang (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Not yet collected.
Both collected in Damage Control: The Complete Collection.
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Captain America #361-362 (November 1989)
ALSO THESE MONTHS: Avengers #310 and Fantastic Four #333 (November 1989), West Coast Avengers Annual #4, Thor Annual #14, and Fantastic Four Annual #22 (November 1989), Amazing Spider-Man #323-325 (November 1989), and Avengers #312, Fantastic Four #334, The Mutant Misadventures of Cloak and Dagger #9, and Quasar #5 (December 1989)