This one-shot brings Captain America together with the latest Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch) for the first time (Cap having faced the O.G.R., Johnny Blaze, in Avengers #214). Although this story focuses more on the newer hero, it does provide some insights into Cap’s feelings on a number of issues (as well as some incredible pencil-work from Lee Weeks).
A lot happens before we get our first sight of our hero: Most importantly the Scarecrow, last seen in Captain America #280, is surgically enhanced to make him even more like his better-known DC Comics counterpart, and the Brooklyn police (including Captain Gerry Dolan and a Lieutenant Gordon, ha) face off against Ghost Rider, of whom they’re not sure what to think yet.
After the Scarecrow murders one police officer and abducts another (Stacy Dolan, daughter of Captain Dolan and girlfriend of Danny Ketch), Cap arrives on the scene and makes it all about him—which, to be fair, the Scarecrow has already confirmed is true.
Dr. Rogers gives the police a summary of the Scarecrow’s psychological history, especially his worship of his mother and hatred of his father, the latter which he has refocused on Cap.
Cap promises to get to the bottom of it when they see a shadowy figure on a nearby rooftop…
…on a motorcycle. After dramatically pulling the fire escape ladder down, Cap gymnastically ascends the outside of the building to confront the latest fella who stole the visual trademark of his World War II Nazi-fighting colleague the Blazing Skull.
Ghost Rider is impressed that Cap is calm and reasonable to him, giving the new hero the benefit of the doubt in contrast to his media coverage. Cap also makes a more general statement about superheroes and the way they are perceived by authorities, foreshadowing some arguments he will make during the Civil War, which are all the more powerful coming from someone who is presumably the most well-liked and regarded of the world’s superheroes.
After Cap and Ghost Rider realize they share an interest in this case, they team up and take up into the night.
The motorcycle buff asks the driver for some technical specs, but gets into a short discussion about the nature of fear instead.
When they get to Scaercrow’s childhood home, Ghost Rider heads to the roof while Cap takes the front door and immediately encounters his enemy, whom he finds much stronger than before—and well as feeling different himself.
As they fight, Cap starts to realize what’s happening—thanks to Scarecrow’s new fear-inducing abilities, or which Dr. Jonathan Crane would be jealous—and struggles to counteract them through sheer force of will.
Luckily for him, Ghost Rider uses his chains to pull Scarecrow to the roof, giving Cap a chance to compose himself before Captain Dolan shows up.
What a face! I assume Cap is still fighting the last vestiges of Scarecrow’s influence while dealing with the angry father—which he continues to do below as he urges Dolan to stay outside.
Dolan ignores Cap’s advice, and once inside he sees that the current occupants of the house were viciously slaughtered—which Ghost Rider also sees, and wonders if he will be able to restrain himself from killing Scarecrow in return. As for Dolan, his life is saved only by the last-second appearance of Cap’s shield.
(It is thrown vertically, sigh, but it looks cool.)
If Cap’s mad that Dolan went against his advice, he knows now is not the time for a lecture.
While Ghost Rider struggles not to kill the Scarecrow, Cap and Dolan find Stacy, apparently murdered, and the Rider turns to preventing Dolan from doing the same.
But they quickly realize Stacy is still alive and start to free her, which gives Scarecrow an opportunity to strike back. Cap takes point this time, using the villain’s pitchfork against him…
…before a bullet grazes Scarecrow’s forehead—a bullet fired by Stacy, whom the deluded Scarecrow thinks is his mother.
When Ghost Rider tries to snag Scarecrow in his chains again, the villain jumps out a window and impales himself on a fencepost. Cap declines to opine on Ghost Rider’s comment about vengeance, and instead asks Dolan if he feels better about his local “vigilante” now.
Redeeming superhero’s reputations, one at a time!
(And the final page reveals that Scarecrow survives, thanks to his surgical enhancements.)
ONE FUNNY THING
Earlier in the story, Ghost Rider intervenes in a grocery store robbery that went upside-down, after which the owner is literally scared to death by the sight of a man with a flaming skull. When Danny Ketch sees the newspaper headline the next day and gets upset, Stacy asks why, making a very reasonable presumption.
Calvin and Hobbes would not end until December 31, 1995—which had a definite effect on another superhero, Clint Barton, as we see in Tales of Suspense #100 (February 2018), by Matthew Rosenberg, Travel Foreman, and Rachelle Rosenberg:
Ghost Rider – Captain America: Fear, October 1992: Howard Mackie (writer), Lee Weeks (pencils), Al Williamson (inks), Gregory Wright (colors), Michael Heisler (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: Arena of Death.
ALSO THIS MONTH: Captain America #408, Infinity War #5, Fantastic Four #369, Quasar #39, and Wonder Man #14, Captain America Annual #11, Thor Annual #17, and Avengers Annual #21, and Punisher – Captain America: Blood and Glory #1 (October 1992).