These two issues pick up the “Streets of Poison” story begun in the last, which ended with Captain America caught in an explosion in a warehouse where he was investigating a new drug called Ice. We won’t see much of the Black Widow, who, as one of the covers above suggests, “meets” Diamondback, but we will enjoy Cap’s battle with Bullseye, as well as a quick glimpse of Bullseye’s more usual foe, tying into Daredevil #283 as well as the next issue of Captain America.
Issue #373 opens with the aforementioned explosion, and after John Jameson calls Peggy Carter to let her know about it, she tries to call up reserve Avengers, finding only Black Widow, but then remembers another interested party, who rushes to the scene as soon as she can.
John tries to comfort Rachel…
…but attracts unwanted attention from someone they’re otherwise relieved to see.
Wait, are jealousy and territoriality among the virtues of Captain America? Hardly… and we’re just getting started.
Cap explains what happened behind the scenes of the explosion, ending with what is almost a Duke Ellington song title. (Maybe he’s OK after all!)
John seems more concerned with the case than Cap is at this point, who is starting to resemble another John, one who recently wore the stars and stripes.
After showering—and putting the same costume back on, I guess, eww—Cap touches base with his friends, barely acknowledging Peggy or her good news about Fabian (following the revelation of his addiction to Ice in the last issue), and eager to get back in the field, plan or not.
As he and Diamondback scope out the warehouse, Cap opens up about the concerns raised last issue about his super-soldier serum being a performance-enhancing drug—a discussion which, although sincere, bothers Rachel nonetheless, adding to his other strange behavior since the explosion.
Cap and Rachel take off on his sky-cycle but Cap bails early…
…leaving Rachel open to an aerial ambush from the Black Widow, while Cap follows the man John alerted him to: Bullseye, on assignment for the Kingpin, investigating what was a rival drug operation before it went boom. Perhaps due to the aftereffects of the explosion, Cap is less careful than usual, giving Bullseye a temporary edge…
…which he uses to good effect, throwing two projectiles at Cap, one to be blocked and the other to find its target. (Have to hand it to him, that was clever.)
In issue #374 we see that, of course, Bullseye’s shovel did hit its target—even better than he could have known, given Cap’s past injury.
Bullseye starts throwing everything he has at Cap, who compensates for his injured leg…
…evading his eagle-eyed foe while he plans his next move.
After Cap gets to his feet, Bullseye gets a bead on him again, and it is his accuracy that reveals his identity to Cap, who compares him favorably to the thugs he and Hawkeye fought back in issue #317.
Cap continues to get his mobility back through the pain… just in time to flatter Bullseye before Diamondback arrives (having escaped the Black Widow in the last issue after they both ended up in the Hudson River on the sky-cycle).
After Bullseye flees, Rachel updates Cap on her fight with Black Widow, which leads to a very tense confrontation with Peggy…
…that may be Cap’s most extreme behavior since the explosion, judging from Peggy’s reaction.
This only continues after Cap overhears Rachel expressing her concerns about him to John…
…after which his attention quickly reverts to the drug problem. He and John debate the best approach: John prefers to address the deeper problems that lead people to abuse drugs, while Cap mocks his plan and sets a more direct path of shutting down the suppliers instead.
John comes to agree that Cap is not himself—I assume based on his general behavior rather than his approach to the drug problem, which seems fairly characteristic of him, if expressed in a particularly harsh tone—and wonders what the Avengers can do when their leader is compromised. Meanwhile, Rachel is not taking her rejection lying down, keeping her faith in Cap while adopting a vastly improved costume (in my opinion).
A couple days later—after the events of Daredevil #283, the “little episode upstate” Cap refers to below—our hero’s thoughts reveal his growing paranoia as he decides to try John’s approach, although not in the compassionate spirit John intended.
A little more brusque than the “Rappin’ with Cap” PSAs from Spider-Man: Homecoming, Cap’s lecture to the owner of the limo emphasizes the social costs of the drug trade over the personal costs to the user himself.
The issue ends with Rachel and John figuring out that the explosion in the drug warehouse must have affected Cap adversely, just before being gunned down in the street. (We will learn their fate in the next issue.)
One more thing: Here’s Daredevil’s own remembrance of his upstate team-up with Cap, cued by a legal question regarding the flag that reveals he has his own suspicions about Cap’s mental state…
…which inspires him to pay Cap a visit, also in the next issue.
Captain America (vol. 1) #373, late July 1990, “After Blow”: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Ron Lim (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Steve Buccellato (colors), Joe Rosen (letters). More details at Marvel Database.
Captain America (vol. 1) #374, early August 1990, “Falling Out”: 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
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Captain America #372 and Amazing Spider-Man #335 (July 1990)
NEXT ISSUE: Captain America #375 (August 1990)