These two issues continue the storyline focused on the Red Skull that began in the last issue and serves as a gap-filler between the last biweekly summer story, “The Superia Stratagem,” and the line-wide crossover “Operation Galactic Storm” that starts in issue #398. The story itself is underwhelming, and much of these two issues deals with the Red Skull making all his Red Skull plans for nobody, but they do provide enough character moments to keep us busy.
Issue #394 opens up where the last issue left off, with Captain America and his German counterpart, Hauptmann Deutschland, staring at what appears to be the recently murdered Red Skull—and because Cap has just met “Haup” and already has reasons to be suspicious (from the last issue), he is open to the possibility that he is standing next to the killer.
Hauptmann Deutschland similarly suspects Cap is an imposter, after encountering one in the last issue who rescued the Skull from his trial in Berlin, but an imposter likely would not recognize the Scourge’s trademark signature on the wall.
After agreeing with his counterpart that the dead man may not be the actual Red Skull, Cap looks around and finds Mother Night and Crossbones have been recently killed as well… and tries to scratch an inch that proves elusive.
Cap reconnects with Hauptmann Deutschland and shares notes, finally convincing his counterpart that he is the real Captain America, before the authorities arrive and show the heroes security footage of “a” Scourge shooting Mother Night and Crossbones. Afterwards, Cap and Haup say their goodbyes, with Cap casting doubt on any certainty Haup has about what has happened.
(That’s a wrap for Hauptmann Deutschland, whom we will see again, but not for a while.)
Cap declares his standard of proof, but he doesn’t really mean it.
After he returns to Avengers Headquarters, Cap checks in on Rachel (who seems to have skipped leg day to do those sit-ups) and reminds her of the importance of pants (especially if you skip leg day).
Cap is surprised at Rachel’s career declaration, but is supportive yet cautious.
Next time we see Cap, he’s putting Sersi and Quasar through their paces in the gym while casually dismissing Sersi’s daily attempt at seduction.
“Oh Sersi!” <canned sitcom laughter>
Jarvis lets Cap know that Bernie stopped by, and she asks Cap out too…
…and continuing our episode of Three’s Company, Rachel shows up at just that very moment. Despite Cap’s tied tongue, both she and Bernie know what’s up.
Cap looks more frozen above than when he was actually frozen!
In issue #395, Cap trains with someone who’s allowed to flirt with him, though he finds it very hard to do the same in return (and then fumbles a clear opening to pay her a compliment).
Once again, Cap supports Rachel as she updates him on her progress toward her new job…
…but privately he wishes she weren’t so set on staying in the office. (If only Sersi knew he was looking for a sidekick!) And speaking of the office, Cap catches up on some administrative work himself while he sketches (in a welcome but unfortunately rare acknowledgment lately of his artistic bent).
Bernie shows her perseverance rivals Cap’s as she reiterates her request for a celebratory dinner… and when Cap finally comes clean about Rachel (while sketching her rather provocatively), Bernie invites her along too. (It’s easier to show her up that way.)
Saved by the bell… or rather Agent Freeman from the FBI, offering news to Cap that is surprisingly (to Freeman) no surprise (to Cap), because the Red Skull is currently in a body cloned from Cap himself (as revealed in issue #350).
Cap’s next study is less pleasant.
I’ll spare you the scene of the Red Skull seducing Madame Viper in a hot tub—as well as John Jameson clumsily hitting on Rachel, which is almost as uncomfortable to see—and instead we return to “Cap’s Office,” where he questions the new Thor about his recent performance in Thor #436.
Hey son, don’t invoke the concept of judgment with Captain America! There’s an entire chapter about that in my… umm… a book some guy wrote.
Cap keeps going before notifying Eric he’s getting a slight demotion, which he graciously accepts, before Cap offers to help him get better.
True to his word, Cap takes Thor out with him…
…to his favorite haunted house, armed with a search warrant they lawfully execute.
You know what makes this haunted house special? With apologies to Ms. Paltrow: It’s GOOP! Of course, this goop has a name: Doughboy, one of Arnim Zola’s creations, introduced by Jack Kirby in issue #210.
Of course, no one would hit goop with a hammer… no one except a Thor-in-training, that is. Luckily, Cap is there to stop him from supercharging the goop, which would have unpredictable results. (You might start putting jade eggs where they ain’t supposed to go.)
Just in the nick of time, the man behind this goop shows up…
…asserting that the Red Skull is truly dead and commanding Doughboy to dispose of the two Avengers, the results of which we shall see in the next issue.
Captain America (vol. 1) #394, November 1991, “The Crimson Crusade”: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Rik Levins (pencils), Bud LaRosa (inks), Renée Witterstaetter (colors), Joe Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Captain America (vol. 1) #395, December 1991, “Rogues in the House”: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Rik Levins (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Marie Javins (colors), Joe Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: The Superia Stratagem.
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #393 (October 1991)
ALSO THESE MONTHS: The Adventures of Captain America #2 (November 1991), Avengers #341-342, Quasar #28-29, and Amazing Spider-Man #354 (November-December 1991), Infinity Gauntlet #5-6 (November-December 1991), The Adventures of Captain America #3 (December 1991), and Marvel Holiday Special #1 (December 1991)
NEXT ISSUES: Captain America #396-397 (January-February 1992)