These two issues comprise a mini-crossover (that technically began in the last issues of both titles) that brings Captain America together once again with Jack Monroe, the Bucky of the 1950s who later took up Cap’s former identity of Nomad, but went in a decidedly different direction with it. (Hint: the rifle.)
Captain America #421 opens with the same scene that closed Nomad #18, after Jack tried to kill the Slug, who was saved at the last second by Cap’s shield. (One notable and disturbing addition here: Jack’s prominently-displayed swastika armband.)
In case you can’t read Jack’s exclamation below, he accuses Cap of trying to kill him…
…which obviously puzzles Cap, but Jack doesn’t give him time to think about it, as he “cleverly” aims for where Cap’s shield isn’t. (Common sense, really.)
As he and Jack fight, Cap remembers the steps that led him from the end of the last issue to the beginning of this one, with internal monologue straight out of a noir film as he seeks out Doctor Faustus, who he learned has been “treating” Jack.
When Cap reaches Faustus, the villainous psychiatrist needles him about his history with partners, but Cap refuses to take the bait.
Faustus makes a meager threat to drive Cap away, which works about as well as you’d expect. Cap’s thoughts show how he assesses the situation…
…and adjusts his response accordingly, anticipating his opponents’ temporary cease-fire.
Unfortunately, Faustus did not approve the cessation of hostilities, so the hits keep coming, despite the casualties to his own men.
Cap takes out Waxman with his shield, and then offers a diagnosis of his own to the doctor.
(Apparently someone forget the squiggly flashback borders for a page.)
Faustus finally tells Cap that he used his powers of persuasion to send Jack after the Slug, and then presents him with a moral dilemma before claiming “protected status”…
…which Cap respects (sort of).
This trip down memory lane concluded, Cap snaps back to the present, finally aware that Jack is out for blood, which forces Cap to consider what he might have to do in his own defense.
While they battle, Cap tries to get to the bottom of what Faustus did to Jack…
…and realizes the confusion behind it all.
(However, it happened in issue #236, not #232—come on, Mike.)
That was easy—maybe too easy.
Cap tries to convince Jack that he’s not really a Nazi, and Jack eventually gets around to explaining how Faustus manipulated him.
Jack explains how Faustus recovered suppressed memories of his childhood, having been raised by Nazi sympathizers, and even though Cap is skeptical, he argues nonetheless that Jack is not his father, just as Cap is not his, citing his own father’s past behavior.
(This is a notable mention of his father’s alcoholism, first established in issue #283 and Iron Man #172, and admitted by Steve in conversation with Rachel Leighton in issue #371—and, more shocking, the first mention that he abused his wife, which was reaffirmed to some controversy years later in Captain America, vol. 7, #2.)
Cap sees that, despite Jack’s resistance, he’s getting through, so he persists, stressing the similarities and links between them (and mentioning, in passing, that he could totally take him if it came down to it).
The Slug uses the chaos to escape, but a couple members of the Wanderers, who were backing Jack up on his mission to kill the Slug for Faustus, trying to shoot him down. However, Cap takes out their weapons, and the Slug’s craft fails all by itself.
Slug’s thugs go after him while the Wanderers surround Cap, but he hardly works up a sweat with them—he had a tougher time with Jack than with the four of them. (Look at the nonchalance on his face in the third panel.)
Cap leaves to look for Jack, but has mixed feelings when he finds just his armband.
In Nomad #19, the Wanderers catch up with Cap as he catches up with Jack, and even though one of them, Flintlock, has a rifle in Cap’s face, it’s Jack he’s concerned about.
Even though Jack only took out an ankle, Cap still says it was too much—and Jack seems to sincerely agree before he leaves Cap to handle the rest of the Wanderers and continues after Faustus himself.
Cap saves Jack from Flintlock’s shot before he acknowledges Jack’s plan, as well as how urgent it is to wrap up the Wanderers so he can chase him.
That’s one sly look above, and this mood continues in their fight, as he toys with them physically as well as verbally…
…but still taking care of things quite expeditiously. (Did he actually manage to miss the guy’s toes below? Impressive.)
As he slips into Faustus’s compound in his “civvies,” Cap reflects on his recent experience as a werewolf—trust me, Cap, we can’t believe it either—before his thoughts turn to Jack once again, this time hoping to stop him from really going too far.
He arrives just in time to see Jack burst into Faustus’ observation room and threaten to kill him, prompting the same voice from afar that he heard when he tried to kill the Slug earlier.
Cap points out the difference between his ideal understanding of justice and Jack’s more vengeful version before Jack admits he wanted his repressed memories restored, but still holds Faustus responsible for the revelation. Cap reiterates that Jack can’t (or mustn’t) take a life in cold blood, and when Jack mentions his massacre in Nomad #4, Cap points out the circumstances were very different, making his actions then understandable if not excusable.
Jack relents, dissatisfied with the thought of Faustus spending time in a “cushy” prison while he has to live with the disturbing memories the doctor unlocked.
Jack’s series ends in a few months with issue #25, after which he returns to suspended animation, only to be revived several years later to become… the new Scourge? (This guy can not catch a break…)
Captain America (vol. 1) #421, November 1993: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Rik Levins (pencils), Danny Bulanadi and Dan Day (inks), George Roussos (colors), Joe Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Nomad (vol. 2) #19, November 1993: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Bill Wylie (pencils), Greg Adams and Scott Koblish (inks), Jim Hoston (colors), Jim Novak (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Both collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: Fighting Chance.
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Captain America #420, Nomad #18, and Thor Corps #1-2 (September-October 1993)
ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #368 and X-Men #26, Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective #3, and Infinity Crusade #6 and Web of Spider-Man #106 (November 1993)
NEXT ISSUE: Captain America #422 (December 1993)
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