In this issue, we learn if Captain America and Diamondback make it out of the collapsed sewer tunnel in which they were trapped, 1960s Batman show style, as of the end of the last issue. Unless the cover’s just a huge feint, they do, and then head to the Red Skull’s old haunts, where we’ll see if Cap starts to believe the real Skull has actually returned. Plus: A few pages from the original Human Torch’s miniseries, reviewing his WWII history and focusing, in this particular issue, on the Invaders.
We find out the fate of Cap and Rachel fairly early in Captain America #370 as they emerge from their underground prison, with Cap thanking the workmen who are too preoccupied with Rachel to notice.
Cap fills in the officer who didn’t bother the read the last issue…
…using a term that Diamondback wants confirmation about, actually getting him to admit (sort of) that he missed her and also convincing to him to “buy” her breakfast.
Cap takes the necessary security measures before taking her to Avengers headquarters, where she asks a very reasonable question. (Just wait until she meets “Alfred.”)
Rachel tells him about what she heard about the Red Skull before Jarvis arrives with a coffee upgrade and reminds Cap of an earlier engagement (which, of course, Cap intends to honor).
Apparently the meeting goes very long, and Cap echoes the thoughts of anyone caught in a meeting for “this many hours.”
(I’m not sure if Cap realizes that Eric Masterson is Thor’s current mortal side, soon to be Thor himself before becoming Thunderstrike.)
Cap returns to find Rachel cleaning up at poker before Peg announces activity at Skullhouse, and he worries that the Skull “pretender” is going after the real article’s stuff. He tells Rachel to stay put, but relents a little too easily when she resists.
The activity Peg reported is due to Crossbones and the Skeleton Crew, who found the Red Skull where Magneto imprisoned him in issue #367 and returned him home… where Cap and Rachel arrive not long after, under the watchful eyes of the villains inside, and are soon greeted by a creepy apparition.
Cap doesn’t fall for the hologram, but he does fall… and he and Rachel are saved by their effective teamwork. (They are partners, after all, “in the loosest possible sense.”)
Soon they come under attack by the Red Skull’s new Sleepers, from which Cap protects Rachel and curses himself for not anticipating them…
…before using some crafty acrobatics to get the upper hand (with some help from Diamondback).
The partners wrap up the robots, and Rachel has to ask for the praise she deserves.
After the Sleepers are… put to sleep… the Red Skullogram returns to lead them to a familiar face, bedridden but still unmistakenly genuine, even to a skeptical Cap.
Cap and the Skull have a short and surprisingly civil discussion…
…after which the partners leave, Rachel asking the obvious question—”we’re just gonna leave him there?”—and Cap ignoring it, lost in the implications of his greatest foe’s return.
“Oh, sorry Rachel, you’re still here?” Poor Rachel… your luck will improve in the next issue, though, I promise.
In the second issue of The Saga of the Original Human Torch, a miniseries written by Golden Age expert and Invaders scribe Roy Thomas that summarizes Jim Hammond’s World War II adventures—now that he has returned in the present day, as we saw in Avengers Annual #18 and West Coast Avengers #56—we see the formation of the Invaders…
…as well as an overview of some of their greatest battles…
…including their first run-in with a certain God of Thunder. (All of these scenes come from the first run of Invaders, covered at length on this very blog.)
After President Roosevelt’s death, the Invaders are sent on various missions, with Cap more ready to follow orders than young Bucky, who wants to be “in on the kill,” in what turns out to be inadvertent foreshadowing!
The Human Torch and Toro’s mission would culminate in the Torch killing Adolf Hitler, as first told in December 1953’s Young Men #24 and recounted in What If? #4 as well as the next issue of The Saga of the Original Human Torch, which also covers the replacements for Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes in the All-Winners Squad (as originally detailed also in What If? #4).
Collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: The Bloodstone Hunt
The Saga of the Original Human Torch #2, May 1990: Roy Thomas (writer), Rich Buckler (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Janice Chiang (inks). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Sub-Mariner and the Original Human Torch.
ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #317 (May 1990)
NEXT ISSUE: Captain America #371 (June 1990)