With this issue of Captain America we launch into “Operation: Galactic Storm,” an event that crosses between seven titles featuring the two teams and their members with solo books (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Quasar, and Wonder Man), although Cap appears more in his own title and Avengers than the others (and not at all in some). Besides being a fun successor to the Kree-Skrull War (twenty years earlier!), “Galactic Storm” raises some significant ethical issues about the moral compromises one considers in battle, leading to some weighty debates between Avengers in upcoming posts.
Captain America #398 starts with Rick Jones’ dream, in which the entire population of the Kree homeworld of Hala is wiped out. This is followed by the sight of his former partner Captain America, showing remorse and (Rick assumes) responsibility over what happened, before he suddenly has the Kree’s leader, the Supreme Intelligence, for a head.
Luckily Rick wakes up—because who wants to imagine Cap having a weird head—but wonders what’s up with the wacky dreams. So he asks Delphi of the Pantheon (never mind, it’s a Hulk thing), who urges Rick to get in touch with Cap, despite his understandable reticence.
Speaking of our hero, he finds he and his former love Peggy Carter are both early birds this morning.
After she slyly references her single status—you always miss the shots you don’t take, right?—Peggy mentions that she hasn’t seen Rachel Leighton in a while. Cap asks to see John Jameson to ask him about Rachel and gives Peggy a good-night peck before his morning routine is interrupted by a call from Rick.
FYI: Rachel is in quite a pickle at the moment, having been abducted by Crossbones in recent back-up stories (after being hit on by John, which was almost as bad). Cap story will converge with Rachel’s again in issue #409—he has a lot to do before then.
Cap accepts Rick’s Zoom invitation, and happily there doesn’t seem to be any awkwardness between them.
Cap has Peggy summons John to the quinjet, and while en route to meet Rick, Cap asks him about Rachel, but John is defensive and evasive, accusing Cap himself of playing favorites.
Cap refuses to take the bait, and instead expresses concern for his friend, but John either feels hurt by Rachel’s rejection or guilty for moving on her in the first place. (Perhaps both.)
After John drops him, Cap continues to wonder about him…
…before turning his concern to an earlier partner, based on ancient history (at this point). Cap wears his cool undercover trenchcoat but is surely mortified when he discovers it matches Rick’s jacket.
Again, their banter above seems relaxed, even when Cap mentions Rick’s tell-all memoir Sidekick. (And I assume Cap ordered both breakfasts for himself, as is only right.)
“The man in the mask, whoever you might be,” she giggles with a snort before screaming at the sight of the big green arm.
And welcome to Operation: Galactic Storm, Cap!
If you look closely, you’ll see a smaller fella behind the big fella, and it’s the former that Cap battles below. An onlooker is understandably upset that his truck is damaged in the ensuing melee…
…but if this is the same guy, he seems to have forgotten pretty quickly.
Cap tosses Rick the key to his ride to help him get away…
…and he tricks the two mean green invaders into fighting each other for a change.
Rick did get away, but at the end of this issue he is captured by the Shi’ar, and as West Coast Avengers #80 opens, they interrogate him for information about the Kree. Meanwhile, Cap calls his west coast colleagues for help in his fight; the comic makes clear that Cap and Iron Man are not on good terms (although I would think this has less to do with Armor Wars, which was a long time ago, than Tony’s subsequent ruse about no longer being Iron Man, which fooled exactly no one).
After they pick him up, Cap updates the West Coast Avengers on the two-for-the-price-of-one nature of Warstar (who no one yet realizes is an agent of the Shi’ar, not the Kree) before turning his attention once again to finding Rick.
Rick has inadvertantly led the Shi’ar to the site where he first met Mar-Vell, but they encounter a Kree Sentry that threatens to harm Rick… except his guardian angel shows up just in time.
Good thinking, Rick!
Finally, Hawkeye has a chance to deliver a quip, and Cap realizes what this whole story boils down to.
Only twenty more issues to go, Cap (give or take)!
Warstar returns, and the Scarlet Witch points out that they apparently never looked behind them as they flew after Rick…
…while Wonder Man gets a little snide in response to new guy Living Lightning’s even more snide comment. (Son, you’d best mind yourself.)
Tony’s also too obstinate to listen to Cap when he tried to explain what to do to help defeat Warstar. (Yes, this will be a theme throughout the story, with much larger implications to come.)
For now, though, they do manage to get along and work together, as shown by their exchange at the bottom of this page, in which Cap doesn’t even register Tony’s early impertinence.
Cap even takes advice from Simon after saving him (which may make Simon want to reconsider his earlier comment, hmm?).
Cap’s old-fashioned chivalry shows through when he tackles Oracle, the Shi’ar commander holding Rick.
The Shi’ar escape with the Kree equipment they wanted, leaving Rick behind, so Cap calls Quasar to fly into space after them. This leads into Quasar #32, where the title character meets Starfox in space, finds two captive Kree warriors (Captain Atlas and Dr. Minerva), and gets ambushed by the Shi’ar Imperial Guard.
Back on Earth, Rick just wants to go home…
…which Cap resists, until he finds a bodyguard for his former partner, one whom Rick’s not too crazy about.
At the end of this issue, Captain Atlas uses the Nega-Bands stolen from Mar-Vell’s corpse, the same ones Mar-Vell used to switch bodies with Rick, to… well… switch bodies with Rick. So, in Wonder Man #7, Simon finds himself fighting a confused Captain Atlas while Quasar meets Rick in space. They switch back and forth and a few more times before Simon finally defeats Atlas, and both are brought back to the West Coast Avengers’ headquarters, where Quasar makes a very lame joke before Cap admits they don’t have anywhere to hold miscreants.
That’s Wanda at the end, sticking up for Wonder Man, who is a bit taken aback by it, given his longtime unrequited crush on her. (Junior high school sure was crazy, wasn’t it?)
Cap brings the temperature down a bit with his powers of earnestness and summarizing (although Simon’s assent is hardly necessary).
We get one more bit of childish interaction between Simon and Rick before Cap separates them for good, deciding to send Rick home at last.
The story continues in Avengers #345, where the rest of our combined team joins the fight.
Captain America (vol. 1) #398, March 1992, “It Came from Outer Space”: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Rik Levins (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Christie Scheele (colors), Joe Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
West Coast Avengers (vol. 2) #69, April 1991: Roy Thomas and Dann Thomas (writers), Paul Ryan (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Bill Oakley (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Quasar #29 (December 1991): Mark Gruenwald (writer), Greg Capullo (pencils), Harry Candelario (inks), Paul Becton (colors), Janice Chiang (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Wonder Man (vol. 2) #5, January 1992: Gerald Jones (writer), Jeff Johnson (pencils), Jan Anton Harps (inks), Joe Rosas (colors), Pat Brosseau (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
All collected in: Avengers Epic Collection: Operation Galactic Storm.
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Captain America #396-397 (January-February 1992)
ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #345 and Iron Man #278 (March 1992)
NEXT ISSUE: Captain America #399 (April 1992)