This low-key anniversary issue of Captain America manages to use the main story to pay tribute to the title character and also continue the larger storyline in which this issue fell. There are two other stories in the bonus-sized issue, neither featuring Cap; our hero does, however, appear briefly in this month’s issue of Namor the Sub-Mariner, participating in a search party for the title character, while not being his usual optimistic self.
The story in Captain America #400 begins with our hero in the middle of the destruction of the Kree citadel, thanks to a supersized Clint Barton in Iron Man #279.
Meanwhile, his teammates are flying away from the planet, albeit still conflicted about leaving their missing leader behind, with the Black Knight imagining that even Tony feels bad about it. (I mean, look at the anguish on his “face”!)
To be fair, Tony is thinking about a massive Shi’ar bomb headed toward the Kree galaxy, and makes a plan to send an Uber (Quber?) for Cap in the meantime.
Tony outwardly expresses his faith in Cap’s experience and resolve to get him by, while inwardly he considers the fact that he might have sentenced his idol to death—which he would have to live with, poor guy.
Let’s get back to Cap: After he comes to and remembers being taken to the Kree Supreme Intelligence’s chamber before the “explosion,” he is jumped from behind…
…by the last person he’d expect (or one of them, at least), who is eager for some revenge.
Soon another old foe appears…
…soon joined by Flag-Smasher, all while Cap tries to figure out what’s going on, given that all three look, sound, and act like the real thing.
The trio becomes a sextet with the appearance of Viper, Crossbones, and the Red Skull himself, to which Cap responds with “this all you got?”
The Skull wonders about the people who brought them here, but Cap’s not in the mood to give information, defiant as ever.
Crossbones goes first, and says something that suggests he may be who he seems to be, but then Cap reminds himself he needs to focus right now on fighting, not figuring out what’s going on.
Cobra tries to join the fight but Batroc, true to his distinct sense of honor, keeps the fight fair.
Eventually, the six villains get the best of Cap, but can’t stop bickering among themselves (often the downfall of evil collectives).
Just before the Skull can gas Cap, Batroc comes through again…
…which starts a chain reaction, with Cap taking each foe out in turn like a master billiards player. (But he still wishes he had “practiced”!)
Cap stops at Batroc, whose help he appreciates, and together they start to get to the bottom of this entire episode.
After Batroc unmasks, Cap’s suspicions are confirmed, recalling a notable scene from the original intergalactic conflict that inspired the current storyline.
The creepy tentacle above belongs to the Supreme Intelligence, who gives Cap the Kree version of the slow clap, followed by explaining what he had planned for Cap if he had been defeated…
…becoming part of the Supreme Intelligence itself. But not only did Cap not fail and die, he demonstrated resilience and individuality that are not well suited for assimilation—I mean, absorption. (Eww.)
(I’m sure the Supreme Intelligence meant “short time” as in “not immortal.”)
We’ll see where Cap ends up in the cataclysmic finale of this event in Avengers #347. In the back-up stories to the current issue, the Falcon and USAgent fight Flag-Smasher and find Dennis Dunphy, the one and only D-Man, alive (as suggested in issue #384), and we learn about Diamondback’s background with Crossbones (whom she almost kills, but stops because “Cap would never understand”).
Meanwhile, Namor is missing, and in Namor the Sub-Mariner #26, Cap is part of the group looking for him, which includes Jim Hammond, Danny Rand, Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, and Namorita, who assures the rest her cousin is still alive.
Cap tries to keep spirits and hopes up…
…but as the shadows fall just right, Dark Cap counsels Namorita to be
optimistic realistic. (I was kidding about the Dark Cap thing, but maybe it’s not a joke!)
Surprise! He’s not dead—he’s in Canada. [Insert your own joke here.]
Captain America (vol. 1) #400, May 1992, “Murder by Decree!”: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Rik Levins (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Christie Scheele (colors), Joe Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Namor the Sub-Mariner #26, May 1992: John Byrne (writer), Jae Lee (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Glynis Wein and Pat Garrahy (colors), John Byrne and Steve Dutro (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Namor by John Byrne and Jae Lee Omnibus.
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Captain America #399 (April 1992)
ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #347 and Thor #447 (May 1992)
NEXT ISSUE: Captain America #401 (June 1992)