In this issue, Captain America searches (again) for Rachel Leighton, aka Diamondback, whom he dismissed at the beginning at issue #365 to work with the Avengers in dealing with all the Acts of Vengeance just starting up at the time. Now that he’s done, and before the next line-wide crossover begins, it’s time to find the woman he just might possibly have some kind of feelings for. Plus: Cap delivers a touching message about courage and heroism in a solo tale featuring fellow veterans in Marvel Comics Presents and gives a hand to yet another vet, Nick Fury, in his old friend’s own book.
(One interesting note: The colorist on all three stories covered in this post, Steve Buccellato, also penciled the MCP story.)
In Captain America #369, the first place our hero looks for Diamondback—while wearing his cool trenchcoat, now standard for seedier places—is a strip club, where he wants to get information from the woman below with the radiant hands.
The woman is Asp, one of Diamondback’s former Serpent Society colleagues, who puts up quite a fight, although Cap seems most disturbed by the fact that she doesn’t trust him. (Maybe because he called her a “shady lady,” although it soon gets worse.)
Cap puts an end to their battle, delivers his message, and casually walks out. (Did I mention the cool trenchcoat? It’s actually growing on me.)
He almost got out clean, but he just had to say one more thing, and it’s much more substantial than “shady lady.” To Asp’s credit, she snaps back.
Cap has a right to his opinion, of course, and in his mind I’m sure he thought he was being supportive and encouraging, but it comes off as very judgmental and moralistic instead—especially when he says it to a former criminal who’s now operating on the right side of law, regardless of what Cap may think about how she’s doing it.
Cap also questions the propriety of the source of his information—Mike, how could you?—before his thoughts return to Rachel, and his lack of game in failing to get her digits before he ditched her for his fellow heroes.
Diamondback gets the message from Asp and then leaves her own for Cap, asking him to meet her later. Before he gets there, though, she follows Crossbones and the Skeleton Crew down a hole in the street near the meeting place—while thinking to herself about a connection between her and ‘Bones she does not want Cap to learn about. When Cap arrives, he takes the leap as well—without his cool trenchcoat, which might have gotten soiled.
Underground, Crossbones and the Skeleton Crew—including Mother Night and the Machinesmith-controlled Sleeper, seen below—mix it up with the Black Queen and her Hellfire Club troops (from the X-Men stories). Cap comes upon them just in time to catch the Black Queen, who would have gotten the best of our chivalrous hero…
…if not for the diamond she caught in the back of her head, and the warning its wielder gives Cap about the Black Queen’s true nature. (She’s a psychic vampire, by the way.)
The Skeleton Crew seem to disappear, but Cap suspects they are not truly gone, and Rachel helps confirm it—but he has to deal with the Hellfire Club goons first, which is more of a distraction than a challenge.
Just a gentle shove—they should be grateful he’s not Wolverine, right?
When the Black Queen brings the tunnel down on everyone in order to prevent Cap from learning where the Hellfire Club’s headquarters is, Cap uses his shield to protect himself and Diamondback, if only to have a chance to get one joke in before the end of the story.
We’ll see if they manage to escape in the next issue, but in the meantime, Cap has a second solo tale this month, this one in Marvel Comics Presents #47, wrapped in a great cover by John Byrne.
Inside, Cap gives a gymnastics demonstration for a collection of vets, doctors, and staff.
Wait… how is Cap a veteran of “more wars than can easily be counted”? I count… hmm… one. (I realize that later he was retconned into having participated in more, but at this point, I think it’s just World War II, not counting his brief visit to Vietnam in 1965.) Maybe they mean battles, which makes more sense.
After his dismount—for which the judges no doubt give him straight 10s—Cap starts deflecting the veterans’ praise for his war efforts, emphasizing (as he always does) that they deserve all the praise and recognition for their bravery and sacrifice. He also points out that he wasn’t Cap during the Korean War, without mentioning who it actually was…
…and refutes the blind vet’s pessimistic self-assessment, before everyone hears and feels a blast.
After a nurse tells him what’s going on, Cap launches into action, to more acclaim from his brothers-in-arms.
When he reaches the scene of the explosion, Cap finds the leader of the revolutionary “Fifth World Front” explaining to an injured doctor what they’re after…
…and Cap learns he has admirers even among those who would see him dead.
Another of the revolutionaries take a hostage and insists Cap “throw away his shield,” and he soon wishes he’d just asked him to drop it instead.
Cap expresses remorse at the sad state of his foes these days before the staff alerts him to other escaping revolutionaries with the nuclear material, of which he appreciates the danger.
The leader of the Fifth World Front shows he learned from his colleague’s mistake, successfully disarming the Avenger…
…but forgetting about the other heroes in the room, who give Cap a chance to reclaim his shield and use it to put down the head revolutionary once and for all.
After they wrap up the rest of the Front, the assembled veterans celebrate their latest victory and think back to past ones, with Cap driving home his original message (which seems unnecessary at this point!).
Finally, in Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #10, Cap helps his pal on a case against the anarchist cult leader Leviathan, appearing in shadow for the first half of the book but nonetheless recognizable, especially as he demonstrates a perfect water landing.
Nick seems used to giving orders, but Cap’s not used to taking them any more, so Nick plays the soldier card, which Cap accepts (but not without a slight jab).
When Nick finally confronts Leviathan, the madman challenges him to find a way to fight his “power of darkness” that enabled him to entrance members of the U.S. military into doing his bidding…
…to which Nick has the perfect answer (though it’s a bit sappy, especially for him).
Cap ignores Leviathan’s insults and instead addresses the beguiled and disgruntled military personnel, imploring them to remember their original dedication to their country and what it stands for…
..and then showing them how it’s done as he explains “righteous risk.”
After other SHIELD agents show up, the fight really gets going. Eventually, Leviathan seems to have the upper hand against Nick, and Cap has to stop Agent Pierce from rushing in so Cap can disable Leviathan more quickly (and with a bit more flourish).
Appropriately, he also gets the final word.
Captain America (vol. 1) #369, April 1990, “The Skeleton Crew”: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Ron Lim (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Steve Buccellato (colors), John Morelli (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: The Bloodstone Hunt
Marvel Comics Presents (vol. 1) #47, April 1990, “Old Glories!”: Len Wein and Deni Loubert (writers), Steve Buccellato (pencils and colors), Gary Talaoc (inks), Janice Chiang (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Not yet collected.
Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD (vol. 3) #10, April 1990: D.D. Chichester (writer), Keith Pollard (pencils), Kim DeMulder (inks), Steve Buccellato (colors), Richard Starkings (inks). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD Classic – Volume 1.
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #368 (March 1990)
ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #316 and Silver Surfer #36 (April 1990)