These two issues launch the summer of 1992’s six-part biweekly storyline, “Man and Wolf”—and if you don’t know what this, you can all too easily guess. It’s not a particularly ethically deep story—especially compared to the last issue—but we still find things to discuss, more so in the first half than the second (which we’ll cover in one post).
In issue #402, after three pages showing a werewolf attack (and a Wolverine investigating it), we see Captain America working out beside his old friend Dennis Dunphy, recently found in the Arctic by the Falcon and USAgent and reunited with Cap in the last issue, but suffering some brain damage that renders him unable to speak—and go figure, this is one of the rare times Cap actually wants to talk, so he seeks out the Black Widow instead.
Cap opens up regarding his concern about Dennis, and Natasha plays Captain Obvious in return. (And who designed those distinctly uneven bars, Steve Ditko?)
Instead of calling Doc Samson for a psych work-up, he calls Doc Kincaid for a physical? (Hmm.) But more important for our purposes is Cap’s announcement of a long-overdue leave of absence—although, like the experience of many academics I know, it will not involve any relaxation. And for the time being, the Black Widow is running the Avengers, in whose title Cap will not appear until issue #360. (Not sure when Natasha advised him to do this, though; she might have been thinking it during their late night chat in Avengers #343, but it was Clint who suggested in the last issue.)
Now on “vacation,” Cap can get to work, beginning with checking in with Peggy Carter about Diamondback and John Jameson. From her, he learns about the recent werewolf incident, which Cap naturally thinks may be related to John, given his past as the Man-Wolf (referenced occasionally here since he became the Avengers’ pilot).
Cap finds out Dr. Connors (a.k.a. the Lizard) is also on leave, so he talks to Dr. Mifune instead, whose flattery he deflects before she fills him in on the recent history of the moonstone…
…which they discover is missing from the lab. (Uh oh.)
Next, Cap pays a visit to John’s famous father, who is surprised to learn where his son has being working and lets Cap know what he thinks of his teammates. (“Should be called the Menacing Avengers!”) Once he gets that of his system—drawing no response from Cap, of course—his thoughts turn to his son, and he earnestly pleads with Cap to bring him back.
Suspecting some supernatural forces at pay—and finding Doctor Strange indisposed—Cap calls on Doctor Druid instead, despite some bad blood between him and the Avengers (from the period when Cap was The Captain and not working with the team). Nonetheless, Cap extends an olive branch on behalf of the others before reflecting on his discomfort with magic and his hope that John is not involved with the recent werewolf attack.
A werewolf who looks nothing like John attacks, and I guess Cap just wants to be sure it’s not him?
To be fair, as Cap muses silently below, the transformation could have changed him radically, and it is really dark out, but even he comes around to the likelihood that this is not a werewolf he’s looking for (which is undoubtedly a relief).
The werewolf is lassoed by a masked fella on a skycycle, whom we readers met earlier in the issue as Moonhunter while taming a group of werewolves in a pit for a mysterious man named Dredmund (who will be revealed eventually to be the Demon Druid from way back in issue #187)
In issue #403, Cap tries to free the captive werewolf out of concern for her life…
…but his shield fails to cut the rope, so he jumps on his own skycycle and gives chase. After Moonhunter circles around and shoots it out of the sky, Cap executes some skilled aerial acrobatics to commandeer his foe’s ride instead.
They struggle for a bit until Moonhunter shoots Cap point blank in the chest (in a panel that always reminds of the cover of Daredevil #183).
Worry not, for Cap is OK, thanks to the high-tech “chain mail” inside his costume… I’m sorry, “combat suit.” (Accessories sold separately.)
Cap finds Doctor Druid, still recovering from the werewolf attack, and makes clear his policy on borrowing office supplies while on vacation.
Doctor Druid tracks the werewolf to a Massachusetts town named Starkesboro, first seen in a Doctor Strange story in Marvel Premiere #4. (I have to assume Cap lets out a little groan when he sees the name.)
Despite tracking werewolf aura to this town, Druid is still surprised that there’s magical stuff here… so imagine his surprise when they find more werewolves!
Before we wrap up for now, let’s check out a few panels from Diamondback’s back-up story in issue #402, in which she reflects on her continued captivity at the hands of Crossbones, during which only one thought keeps her going—the thought of someone whose example she wants to live up to and whom she dearly wants to impress.
“The Prowling”: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Rik Levins (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Gina Going (colors), Joe Rosen (letters).
“The Pit and the Pitiful”: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Larry Alexander (pencils), Ariane Lenshoek (inks and colors), Steve Dutro (letters).
(More details at Marvel Database.)
Captain America (vol. 1) #403, late July 1992, “City of Wolves”: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Rik Levins (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Gina Going (colors), Joe Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Captain America #401 (June 1992)
ALSO THIS MONTH: Infinity War #2 (July 1992)