This issue of Captain America launches the seven-part “Streets of Poison” storyline, in which Cap tackles the drug war and considers the role that “performance-enhancing drugs” have played in his own life. As a bonus, we get a few panels from a Spider-Man story the same month, in which Peter tries to impress MJ with his “VIP status” when he promises to introduce her to Cap. (“Does it work out?” you ask? Have you ever heard of the infamous “Parker luck”?)
At first glance, you might think the title below suggests the latest in Disney/Star Wars family entertainment, but it actually reads “sold.” More relevantly, it shows that Cap has reconciled himself to dating Diamondback after the events of the last issue.
But his plans are scuttled when he spots a Peeping Tom who loves his Young MC, and recognizes him as yet another former associate of Diamondback’s.
Cap has amazing recall of the warrants outstanding on the criminal set and keeps this information in mind as he chases “Boomer”…
…but unfortunately for Boomer, not everyone he runs into that evening is as considerate.
Despite his reasonable anger, Cap does not let it get the best of him—for the most part—being careful not to hurt the young men too much.
After they start shooting each other trying to get him, Cap appeals to their self-interest, which ends the confrontation.
After checking on the status of the wounded, Cap laments the multifaceted nature of the situation, including the drug angle.
This aspect comes home in a rather personal way when Cap returns to Avengers headquarters and discovers that Fabian Stankiewicz, their resident tech guru, is high on a new drug called Ice.
Cap ushers him into a rehab program, citing the Avengers’ zero tolerance policy based on preventing harm as well as sending the right message to the public… which leads Fabian to ask a very good question that motivates much of the story going forward.
Below, Cap gives the question quite a bit of thought, considering the possibility that the super-soldier serum was an early form of steroids used by athletes. Dismissing this concern for the moment based on the lack of side effects—which is not really the point, but he reconsiders this issue later—he begins to investigate Ice, realizing for the first time the scope of the drug epidemic in America and ties it to the distance for many between the American dream and the American reality, as emphasized in J.M. DeMatteis’s run on the book (such as issue #267).
Now aware, Cap dedicates himself to the drug problem—which is admirable in general, but leaves open the question of how to deal with it. (This is not a criticism: The drug problem is an enormous question that has proven extremely difficult in the real world, for practical, principled, and political reasons.)
Also, it means that Cap is taking even more responsibility on his shoulders, which we knows is a persistent problem—especially after he acknowledged the importance of taking time for himself at the end of the last issue.
After Cap gets Fabian to tell him the name of his dealer, Cap goes undercover—and even if “Kid Gloves” doesn’t realize who the ragged man is, he doesn’t buy Cap’s story.
But he inadvertently suggests an alternative, which Cap goes along with (which certainly circumvents his normal inability to bluff threats of violence).
When they get there, Cap drops the act, but John “James” Jameson finds it useful.
(Good thing Cap called him “James,” because “John” is such a unique name.)
Cap bursts through the window, but attracts the wrong kind of attention.
This explosion in the drug warehouse has important ramifications for the story going forward, as we will start to see in the next issue.
And in a story that must happen before “Streets of Poison” begins, Cap is donating his time at a library fundraiser, where he pretends to fight… Doctor Sivana? (Holy moley!)
Timing was never Peter’s strong suit.
Captain America (vol. 1) #372, early July 1990, “Sold on Ice”: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Ron Lim (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Steve Buccellato (colors), Joe Rosen (letters). More details at Marvel Database.
Collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: Streets of Poison
Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 1) #335, late July 1990: David Michelinie (writer), Erik Larsen (pencils), Terry Austin (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Rick Parker (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Cosmic Adventures
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #371 (June 1990)
ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #319 and New Warriors #1 (July 1990)
NEXT ISSUES: Captain America #373-374 (July-August 1990)
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