After this pivotal, cataclysmic, universe-shattering issue, nothing will ever be the same… as Steve Rogers and Rachel Leighton, otherwise known as Captain America and Diamondback, go on their first date. (“As friends,” wink wink.) A couple of Rachel’s friends from the wrong side of the law play chaperone, but not in the way you might think.
In the opening splash page, Rachel considerately fills the reader in on what Cap said to her just seconds before…
…and Cap explains, at some length, what he meant, going through the past with partners both in superheroics and romance. When Rachel suggests they be friends, Cap shows his philosophical side—and his cautious side—when he proposes a little conceptual analysis.
Now that that’s settled—kind of—Rachel next counters Cap’s workaholic side, teaching him about burnout and the benefits of social interaction (both things a philosopher needs to hear from time to time).
Even though Rachel never said the word “date,” Cap launches into reminiscing about it, acknowledging that he’s buried himself in work after breaking up with Bernie Rosenthal.
He accepts her invitation, but has one minor reservation. (Oh, Cap.)
You can read into the panels below what you choose.
While Rachel calls her best friend Tanya, aka Black Mamba, a former Serpent Society colleague, to help her with her “issue,” Cap asks for some help on his own from a fella who’s up-to-the-minute on 1990 fashion.
(I’d like to think Jarvis takes him to the Saville Row tailor from the Kingsman comics and movies.)
When Steve returns with his treasures and tells Peggy of his plans, she sweetly gives him her blessing (although she might not if she knew who Steve was going out with!).
Steve actually decides to leave the costume and shield behind… he must like Rachel more than he’s willing to admit.
When he arrives at the address Rachel gave him, Steve ponders several aspects of his secret identity, the topic of which hasn’t arisen for quite a while since he effectively became a full-time Avenger.
It’s strange, though, how he characterizes his fellow heroes’ protection of their secret identities as “paranoid.” Perhaps he doesn’t fully appreciate the dangers heroes put their loved ones; even though he has had more than his share of loss, they’ve all been people in his “line of business,” connected to Captain America more than to Steve Rogers.
When Rachel opens the door, she looks… “normal,” according to Steve. (Oh, Steve.)
(Hmm, Bleecker and Sullivan… that’s just a few blocks away from my favorite NYC Italian restaurant.) The two women in the cab are Black Mamba and Asp, another old Serpent Society friend, both of whom run interference for Rachel and her date throughout the night, making sure they see none of the trouble that super-types attract even in their downtime.
And thanks to Black Mamba and Asp’s help—including dealing with a hostage situation involving the Gamecock, which clearly did not merit Captain America’s intervention—Steve and Rachel are free to engage in sparkling conversation.
When they get to Bleecker and Sullivan, they find the restaurant closed—which is probably for the best, given why Steve chose it. (Say it with me: “Oh, Steve.”)
Below, Steve starts to open up to Rachel, telling her about his alcoholic father and his symbolic abstinence (since alcohol doesn’t affect his metabolism, infused with super-soldier-serum).
After dinner they go to a comedy club, where the performance is hijacked by another fourth-rate villain whom Black Mamba deals with, leaving the lovebirds to take a stroll down memory lane next, literally and figuratively, with Steve opening up even more about his past.
Clever Rachel shows Steve where she got her first kiss and is about to make a bold suggestion when Steve’s Cap-Sense kicks in.
And as we know, when things go south…
Rachel tries to pull him away, saying that it’s none of their business, but Steve sees the bigger picture…
…and is willing to deal with it as mild-mannered freelance artist Steve Rogers, until another Serpent Society member coincidentally shows up.
Anaconda grabs them both and tosses them into the car, where Black Mamba and Asp are waiting, their job complete for the night—leaving Rachel free to finish hers.
“Friendly kisses”… sure!
Most of us would simply bask in the glow of a great date, but not the Sentinel of Liberty, who has to go over all the angles and implications afterwards… and almost call his ex, which may be the most normal thing he’s ever considered doing (and without the excuse of being drunk).
Finally, as Cap lies in bed, he realizes—for the time being, at least—that he doesn’t need to pursue justice 24/7 and that he deserves to have some of the simple joys he fights so hard to ensure other people can have. (If he continued with this thought, he might even acknowledge that it might make him a better superhero in the end.)
Oh yeah, there is that… which is addressed in Rachel’s back-up story, where she and Tanya discuss the possibility of Rachel turning her back on crime completely, considering if that would mean giving up an important aspect of who she is, and her best source of her income, for a man who can’t accept her for who she is.
After Tanya leaves, Rachel goes through her own period of self-examination, wondering if Cap is worth changing her life for, especially when there’s no guarantee he will want to be with her anyway.
In the end, she calls Tanya, not to take her up on the offer of the bodyguard job, but to ask about a sales clerk position in a shop owned by another relative of a Serpent Society member. (It’s good to have friends!)
“Cap’s Night Out”: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Ron Lim (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Steve Buccellato (colors), John Morelli (letters).
“Girl Talk”: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Mark Bagley (pencils), Don Hudson (inks), Steve Buccellato (colors), John Morelli (letters).
More details at Marvel Database.
Collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: The Bloodstone Hunt