Captain America vs The Captain
(or Steve Rogers’ trial by fire)
by Phil Perich for the Nuff Said podcast
All of my previous posts have been about my favorite storylines, most of them from my childhood. The following is my favorite Captain America storyline. It all began in Captain America #332 (August 1987). Thanks to some behind the scenes trickery by the Red Skull (at this time presumed dead), a certain organization known as the Commission told Steve Rogers that he as Captain America HAD TO work directly for them, acting as an agent of the US government. At this time in his career, Steve was just a superhero who worked with the Avengers. After 24 hours of long hard thought, Steve quit the role he had created and filled since World War 2.
The Commission now found itself in a tight position. Find a new Captain America before the american people found out. They eventually went to John Walker, the Super Patriot, who had become a very public Captain America hater. After going through a strength augmentation procedure months earlier, John had set out as the Super Patriot to eclipse Captain America as America’s #1 patriotic symbol, while also gaining fame and fortune. After stopping a terrorist bombing of the Washington Monument, the Commission went to John and offered him the role. John and his friend Lemar underwent months of training to become the new Captain America and Bucky (later Battlestar). During the press conference to announce their new roles as Captain America and Battlestar, John and Lemar are attacked by 2 of their old friends who felt left behind and betrayed by them. This took place in Captain America #341 (May 1988).
Meanwhile, after weeks of soul searching, Steve Rogers decided to carry on as a superhero. After receiving a new black uniform from his friend D-Man and a new shield from the Black Panther, Steve continued on as The Captain. The Captain had back to back to back adventures during this time with little to no breaks. It was during this time that Steve discovered that he was one of the few worthy enough to lift Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer. This occurred in Thor #390 (April 1988).
Things started to go bad for John Walker. After the press conference, the whole world discovers he is the face behind the Captain America mask. Because of this a group called the Watchdogs kidnap John’s parents. Months earlier, John had interfered in the Watchdog’s activities, arresting several of their members. The Watchdogs tell John that they will release his parents only if he surrenders himself to them. They attempt to hang John from a noose. when John attempts to escape and capture the Watchdogs, they open fire and kill John’s parents. This is the last straw. John snaps and kills the Watchdogs, but the damage is done. John’s mind is lost to madness.
The Commission panics, not sure what to do with John. It’s at this point that Steve is reforming the Avengers, who had disbanded months before. It’s also revealed that the Red Skull is alive, his mind now in a cloned body of Steve Rogers. After revealing his continued existence, he tricks John into fighting Steve in the classic Captain America #350 (February 1989).
After the fight (which Steve wins of course), the Red Skull escapes. The Commission, who has discovered the Red Skull’s trickery and his inside mole in their midst, offer Steve his role of Captain America back. There is later another press conference to announce Steve’s return where John is seemingly killed by a lone Watchdog agent. It is later revealed that the Commission faked the assassination to give John a new identity as Jack Daniels, the U.S. Agent who worked for them as their “Captain America”.
If you have the chance you should check out this classic storyline by Mark Gruenwald. It is my favorite Captain America storyline. Thank for taking another trip down memory lane with me. Share your thoughts with me, on this story or any other. Any classic storylines you want me to cover?
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You can hear me discussing and reviewing all things Marvel every week with my cohost Charlie Esser (@charlieEsser) on the All New Marvel Roundup and Superconnectivity podcasts.
I also blog about DC Comics in my other blogs, the BatFan Cave and Flash/Arrow blog, both of which can be found at www.southgatemediagroup.com
Thanks everyone, until next time…Nuff Said!!!