Inside Pulse 12

Retro-Reviews: Captain America Vol. 3 #1-11 & Sentinel of Liberty #1-3, 8, By Mark Waid, Ron Garney & Andy Kubert For Marvel Comics

Captain America Vol. 3 (Heroes Return) #1-11 (January ‘98-November ‘98)

Written by Mark Waid (#1-11)

Penciled by Ron Garney (#1-5), Dale Eaglesham (#6-7), Andy Kubert (#7-11)

Inked by Bob Wiacek (#1-4), John Beatty (#5), Andy Smith (#5), Scott Koblish (#6-7), Jesse Delperdang (#7-11)

Spoilers (from eighteen years ago)

I don’t know if it was always the plan for the Heroes Reborn stuff to only last for one year, but that’s what happened, and pretty quickly, Mark Waid and Ron Garney were back doing Cap, returning the character to the Marvel Universe, and taking a slightly new approach to the character, having him question the fame he had amassed for himself.  

This run started off well, but by the eleventh issue, I guess I was done.  1998 was a busy year for me.  I finished my first degree and moved home to work on my second.  Time was at a premium then, and my comics budget did not allow me to indulge many titles that didn’t just grab me.  After a while, I realized that Captain America was not grabbing me enough, and I jumped ship.  I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with these comics, but they are not all that memorable, and I don’t feel the need to chase down the rest of Waid’s run.  I definitely don’t care about the Dan Jurgens run that came after that.

Anyway, let’s take a look at this year of Cap, followed by the few issues of the Sentinel of Liberty spin-off book, also written by Waid, that I bought.

Villains

  • Osamu Akutagawa and Strikeforce Ukiyoe (#1)
  • Lady Deathstrike (#1)
  • Kang (#1, 10?)
  • Some shadow creature (#1, 4, 10)
  • Hydra (#2-6)
  • Supreme/Sensational Hydra/Skrull Leader (#3-7)
  • Batroc (#4)
  • Skrulls (#5-6)
  • The Lunatic Legion (#8)
  • The Rhino (#9-10)
  • Nightmare (#10-11)

Guest-Stars

  • Black Widow (#3)
  • Black Panther (#3)
  • Hawkeye (#3-4, 6-7)
  • Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter; #3)
  • Machine Man (#3)
  • Thor (#3, 5-7)
  • Tony Stark/Iron Man (#3, 6-7)
  • Namor (#3)
  • Dum Dum Dugan (#3, 10
  • Scarlet Witch (#6-7)
  • Bill Clinton (US President and future candidate for first husband; #6)
  • Mister Fantastic (#7)
  • Quicksilver (#7)
  • The Thing (#7)
  • Warbird (Carol Danvers; #8)
  • USAgent (#10)

Supporting Cast

  • Sharon Carter (#1, 3-4, 9-11)
  • Edwin Jarvis (#10)

Let’s look at the events of this series in detail, with some commentary as I go along:

  • In an American-themed restaurant in Tokyo called Uncle Sammy’s, the terrorist Akutagawa and his Strikeforce Ukiyoe take the patrons hostage, railing against the encroaching influence of Western pop culture and capitalism on his country.  Just as one of his strikeforce is about to burn the American flag, Captain America appears and fights them; Akutagawa is able to escape.  On the street, people respond oddly to Cap’s appearance, and there are many references made to what is to happen that night.  Cap doesn’t know how he’s in Tokyo; his last memory is of the fight to stop Onslaught.  We learn that Lady Deathstrike is behind Akutagawa’s crusade, which is happening due to the fact that he did not follow his guru into death years before in protest of relations with America.  Cap spends the day trying to buy himself a trench coat to hide his uniform.  He discovers that there has been a movie made about his life, and he figures out that Akutagawa is going to attack its premiere.  As the Strikeforce is setting nerve gas canisters (because that’s what terrorists in Tokyo do pre-9/11), Cap arrives and starts to take them out.  The movie is playing in the background, and it seems like more of a documentary than the big budget action film we were promised.  Deathstrike appears on the scene and she fights Cap; the patrons of the theatre are locked in with the combatants.  Cap is distracted when he learns that he’s been missing for a year, but still manages to take Deathstrike down before calling Akutagawa’s bluff.  In Istanbul, Sharon Carter is fighting some guys when she learns that Cap is still alive.  She is apparently working with SHIELD again, and books a trip to New York.  In Wisconsin, what looks like a living shadow leaves a high-tech looking room.  Somewhere else, Kang talks to himself.
  • Cap is at some military installation that has been attacked by Hydra.  He plays a neat trick with his shield, knocking out the last Hydra goon after tossing the shield in the air, and pretending to whistle to call for it (this is the first of a number of scenes focusing on the shield that foreshadow the end of the issue).  We learn that another Hydra group has stolen a nuclear sub and are going to use it to attack the US and to introduce a virus into American computers or something.  Cap learns that the Navy is going to sacrifice the sub and its crew, and convinces the guy in charge to give him twenty-one minutes to fix the situation.  We see Cap enter the sub through the torpedo tubes (with no explanation of how he got there), and begin to take apart the Hydra goons, with the help of the sub crew.  Cap has the sub dive to avoid being bombed, and then breaks the controls.  He sends the crew to evacuate, and takes the Lt. Commander to assist him in scuttling the vessel so the virus doesn’t spread.  He takes out more Hydra goons with cool shield tricks.  He sets the sub to explode, and sits with the Lt. Commander in a torpedo tube, assuring her that his shield will take the brunt of the blast and propel them.  They are blown free, but the straps on the shield are broken.  Cap chooses to grab the Lt. Commander over the shield, and then dives after the one-of-a-kind weapon.  He almost reaches it, but the pressure at that depth begins to crack his and the Lt. Commander’s helmets (she’s unconscious) so he decides to leave the shield and surface.  It’s actually a very effective scene, and Garney does a great job of showing his emotions.  He ends up in a liferaft with the other sub crewmembers, and when one asks after the shield, he says it’s gone.
  • The Statement of Ownership for 1997 lists Captain America as having an average press run of 217 000, against newsstand returns of 86 000.  When did these stop getting published?
  • Hydra has made a threat against the Smithsonian, which has been evacuated.  They are calling for Captain America to come there.  We learn that two young teens snuck off from a school group, and are now trapped in the museum.  Cap is at Avengers Mansion, trying out a new shield given to him by Tony Stark, but he has trouble managing its ricochets, and wrecks a living room.  Tony is a bit miffed, and claims that the shield will not be as good as the original, but there is no discussion of finding the perfectly good replacement Cap had when he was the Captain (which I think USAgent has?).  Cap goes for a walk, and is disturbed by the crowd he gathers (even though he’s in full uniform and it’s the middle of the day, near Central Park.  He hears about the Smithsonian and takes off.  At Hydra headquarters, we learn that the new Supreme Hydra is a bit of a jackass, as he crawls around dead MODAM’s mouth and cuts the arm off one of his followers.  Cap arrives in DC, and enters the museum.  He avoids a few death traps, and meets the two kids (who apparently have avoided the two Hydra goons that almost grabbed them, and probably some death traps of their own).  Hydra chases them, and Cap has to throw his shield, which does not return to him.  He takes a bullet in the back of his shoulder protecting the kids.  Sharon Carter goes to the old SHIELD barbershop base and has a contentious interaction with Dum Dum Dugan.  The Hydra guys are happy about stealing Cap’s shield while the two kids escape.  They catch them and are about to kill them when Cap shows up again rocking his first shield, which he grabbed from a display about the Invaders.  He takes out the Hydra guys.  The director or some other suit gives him the shield, which is a replica of the original, but somehow still bulletproof against modern assault rifles.  Supreme Hydra is upset that Cap wrecked his (nonexistent) plan, and wants to hire Batroc.
  • Cap and Hawkeye stop another Hydra attack in Times Square.  Afterwards, Cap is uncomfortable with the amount of acclaim and recognition he gets from the crowd.  He and Hawkeye go to Avengers Mansion and dump their gear, and then walk around the city, where everyone is excited about Cap.  Hawkeye keeps giving him a hard time.  We see that Sharon has rejoined SHIELD so she can access their files and learn why she was abandoned by them so long ago.  This leads into a Fury/Agent 13 miniseries I’ve never read.  Cap learns that Batroc is in Rockefeller Center, and goes to fight him.  He learns that Hydra has hired him, and the Supreme Hydra, now the Sensational Hydra, is watching from his base.  On some remote island, the shadow creature we saw in issue one kills two guys that work for the Red Skull.  One of them yells that “he’s back” but we don’t know who that refers to.  Cap goes to walk away from Batroc, refusing to fight, but Hawkeye shows up and attacks Batroc.  There is fighting until Cap defeats Batroc and he takes off.  Cap stops Hawkeye from shooting the villain.  The crowd lifts Cap on its shoulders, chanting his name, and this is what the Sensational Hydra wanted apparently.
  • Cap and Thor attack a Hydra base in London, as other Avengers take down other Hydra bases in an coordinated move, part of Cap’s new war with the organization.  We learn that Hydra is splintered, and that it’s only a small faction, led by the new Sensational Hydra, that is targeting Cap.  SHIELD agents take the Hydra agents into custody as Cap and Thor leave, but one of them is actually the Sensational Hydra himself, who kills the agent that spoke to Cap, and then flees.  Back in Brooklyn, Cap and Thor go to a diner and talk about Cap’s new problems with his celebrity.  Thor encourages him to embrace his fame.  We learn that the Sensational Hydra has taken hostages at the top of the Empire State Building.  Cap arrives to stop this, and is followed by a reporter.  As they climb the stairs and take out Hydra agents, Cap talks about why he is uncomfortable with being idolized.  It turns out that the reporter is the Sensational Hydra, and that he is also a Skrull, as are the hostages. They shoot the Hydra agents, and capture Cap in Skrull handcuffs.  The Sensational Hydra Skrull takes on Cap’s guise, and explains that he plans to use the hero worship of his fans to further his own goals.  The Skrulls leave Cap in a closet, and Sensational Hydra Skrull Cap parachutes down to the crowd, and informs the media that he intends, to borrow a phrase, to “Make America Great Again!”
  • Sensational Hydra Skrull Cap (SHSC) puts his plan, involving impersonating the real Captain America, to work.  He throws out the American flag Cap keeps in his bedroom at Avengers Mansion, before the Scarlet Witch points out how much physical mail “Capmania” is creating.  Later, Iron Man finds SHSC playing with the Avengers’ computers.  The real Cap, meanwhile, is still just left in a supply closet in the Empire State Building, captured in Skrull handcuffs, and making a ton of noise while trying to get free.  SHSC rescues President Bill Clinton from a ‘terrorist’ attack involving his two Skrull compatriots, and then uses the subsequent press scrum to arrange an announcement.  He endorses a candidate for Congress that Cap previously rebuked.  Real Cap frees himself from the Skrull handcuffs by tricking them.  SHSC makes an announcement on live TV that the Earth has been infiltrated by Skrulls, and reveals his two companions.  He whips the crowd into a state of fury (I wonder if this is the genesis of the Secret Invasion event), but then Real Cap arrives and SHSC turns to his Skrull form, fights Cap, and then flies away, after revealing just how much mayhem he has caused in Manhattan, where people are turning on one another.
  • Across America people are rioting because of their fear of Skrulls, and Sensational Hydra Skrull Cap is enjoying it.  Steve Rogers stops a man from beating up a woman, but won’t wear his costume, which frustrates SHSC.  Instead, Steve contacts Tony Stark and Reed Richards, who are building a Skrull detector (which would have been a useful thing to keep around before Secret Invasion happened), and leaves riot control to the Avengers, namely Thor, Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye.  Steve stops a crazed gunman and is joined by Quicksilver, who wants Cap to suit up.  They discover that SHSC is addressing the country as Cap again; the Skrull Detector reverts him to his Skrull form, and Cap arrives, in costume, to stop him, while Reed convinces the media that he is the only Skrull on the planet.  Cap takes SHSC out, and then gives a long speech about how he needs to use his position to fight intolerance as much as injustice.  It’s a long speech.  At the end, he goes and stands on the Statue of Liberty’s torch for a while, looking kind of smug.
  • Issue eight is the second chapter of the Live Kree or Die! crossover event.  We open on a concentration camp scene meant to evoke a Nazi deathcamp, but learn that it’s Kree who are gassing humans.  Some thieves try to rob Andrew Bolt’s campaign office, and set it on fire, but are stopped by Cap.  Cap learns that his Skrull imposter’s endorsement of Bolt’s campaign for congress tanked the man, and he promises to help.  Warbird calls him in to help her fight the Kree Lunatic Legion in Cape Canaveral.  She makes it sound like she’s called in the Avengers as well.  The Kree get the drop on her and knock her out.  The Legion is apparently experimenting with Terrigen Mist on humans, and want to see what it will do to Carol.  As she is engulfed in the Mist, Cap busts in, freeing her and the prisoners.  It turns out that this WWII modelled concentration camp has been built in an abandoned missile silo, because of course it has been.  Cap is angry to learn that Carol did not call in any other Avengers.  In LA, Army General Ulysses R. Chapman tells a Larry King lookalike confidential secrets about an American operation taking place in Moldavia, which puts that mission in jeopardy.  In the silo/camp, Cap fights a large Kree named Bron Char, who dents his imitation shield.  Cap discovers dozens of human bodies, and gets sad, then angry enough to defeat Char.  The rest of the Kree get ready to launch a rocket, which will burn everything still in the silo.  Cap decides that freeing the prisoners takes precedence to stopping the Kree, but still finds time to lecture Carol about her decision-making process (this is just before the Avengers kicked Carol off the team for being a drunk).  She goes off to stop the Kree on her own, and gets captured.  It looks like Cap got everyone else out in time.
  • A baseball player goes nuts and attacks his fans.  Sharon Carter just happens to be there, and she draws a connection between this and what happened the issue prior with the American army general divulging secrets on TV.  Steve also wonders about this as he heads back to the building he used to live in, in Brooklyn (we saw him live in this place in Waid’s first run, but I don’t know if this is the same building that Mrs. Kappelbaum used to own; it looks similar, unless all Brooklyn buildings come with skylights).  On his way, he speaks to a caricature of an Italian grocery store owner who complains about an ugly apartment building being built across the street from his shop.  Steve gets all Al Waxman (Canadian TV reference), showing that he knows all the neighbourhood shop owners’ names, and talks about progress.  Getting to his building, he thought-narrates that the Avengers have maintained the building in his absence, and that his stuff is in storage.  It looks like Cap owns an entire small apartment building, only lives in the top of it, and no one feels the need to rent it out.  How gentrified was Brooklyn getting in ‘98, cause this seems crazy to me.  Anyway, he learns that a family of Puerto Ricans has been squatting in his apartment, and he makes friends with them.  Sharon shows up, and she and Steve go to the other room to engage in some romcom style banter, before she gives him a new energy shield to replace his lost one.  The two go out (without telling the family that they are gone), and Sharon says she thinks General Chapman’s outburst and the baseball dude’s craziness is probably linked.  Cap takes her to the site of the apartment building that is being constructed, where he wants to talk to the realty company’s owner about him hiring the man living in his apartment, and others, paying them in apartments in the new building.  The guy freaks out, rants like Donald Trump about only caring about himself, and has apparently hired the Rhino to trash the partly-constructed building.  The new energy shield makes it easy to hold off the Rhino’s charges, but he still ends up trashing the whole building.  Sharon has cleared the workers except for one.  Cap and Sharon return to help him, just as the whole structure comes down on them.
  • Cap, Sharon, and the construction worker escape from the collapsed skyscraper by busting into a basement level, where they find the Rhino waiting for them.  Cap fights him, working to exhaust him by having him use up all of the oxygen in the room (which somehow doesn’t affect anyone else) despite the fact that there is a clear opening to the surface where rescuers wait for them.  Cap and Sharon return to his apartment, where Cap continues to worry about his squatters, the Ramirezes.  He sees that their son is studying case law.  Cap and Sharon head out, and Cap gets weirdly angry for a moment, before returning to normal.  On Skull Island, the shadow we’ve seen before is frustrated.  A figure who is probably Kang refers to the shadow as ‘Herr Skull’ and asks it to join him.  At Avengers Mansion, Cap and Sharon monitor the growing number of cases of patriotic Americans being driven mad.  Jarvis tells them that the USAgent has gone nuts and is trying to steal a stealth jet to attack the country of Rhapastan.  Cap tries to stop him, but has to force the jet to crash into the water to make it stop.  Later, at SHIELD headquarters, Dum Dum Dugan meets with our heroes, where they discover that all the affected people have been asleep when they’ve made their attack (which means that Cap must have nodded off while walking down the street and talking to Sharon earlier).  To test this, Dum Dum and Sharon put Cap to sleep.  He finds himself in Nightmare’s realm, while in reality, his sleeping body tries to choke Dum Dum.
  • Cap, possessed by Nightmare, rips his way through the SHIELD agents on the Helicarrier, as Sharon pursues.  He steals an experimental jet, and Sharon gives chase in another one.  In Nightmare’s realm, we see that he has Cap’s spirit trapped, as he explains his long plan to use people who believe in the American Dream to gain control of the waking world.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense.  We learn that Nightmare Cap is going to use a nuclear weapon to trigger nuclear winter, which is somehow part of Nightmare’s plan.  Sharon ends up shooting down Cap’s jet, and they fight in the air as they descend in parachutes.  We check in with a few supporting characters like Mr. Ramirez and Councilman Bolt as they show they are also under Nightmare’s control.  In Nightmare’s realm, Cap bursts his bubble and attacks the spirit creature.  Nightmare Cap infiltrates a missile silo, and acts like a jerk.  Sharon pursues, and shoots him in the leg and shoulder.  She threatens to shoot him in the head, but decides instead to kick him in the face, but ends up (somehow) in Nightmare’s world, where she starts to fight Nightmare.  He shows he and Cap that in the waking world, they are now going together to set off the nuke.
  • The Statement of Ownership for 1998 lists Captain America as having an average press run of 227 000, with average newsstand returns of 73 000.

So I guess I’m never going to know what happened with the nuclear missile, Nightmare’s plan, the Ramirezes’ fortunes, or what was up with Kang and the shadow of the Red Skull.  I think I’m okay with that though.

Waid was doing some interesting things with Cap during this part of his run.  I liked the way he examined Cap’s feelings about his celebrity, as it coincided with the rise of celebrity culture.  It was nice to see Steve Rogers show up in the book again too, with the suggestion that he was going to start getting his own life again.

Having Cap lose his shield was interesting, but there was not a lot of time given over to exploring how he processed that loss, or changed up his approach to things.  The triangular shield (which is now making it’s own strange comeback in Captain America: Steve Rogers) was never really talked about, and I would have expected at least a few scenes where Cap would have tried to throw it, like he would have his standard shield.

His relationship with Sharon Carter was a little strange too.  I couldn’t tell if they were meant to be together, or if she was just a negative misanthrope all the time.  

One of the things that I remember bothered me about this run was that Waid went to the ‘evil mind control’ well twice in a year.  Sure, when a Skrull impersonated Cap, he wasn’t under mind control, but having a Skrull manipulate him just a few months before Nightmare did the same was kind of boring.

Garney’s art at the start of this run was not as decompressed as his work usually is, and his replacement on the book, Andy Kubert, provided his typically serviceable but not exciting work.  He’s a good artist, but he’s rarely someone I can get excited about, so as I lost interest in the story, the art didn’t do enough to hold me.

At the same time that I was giving up on Cap, Marvel began to publish the Sentinel of Liberty series, which I only bought four issues of.  Let’s take a look at them in the same column:

Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #1-3, 8 (September ‘98 – April ‘99)

Written by Mark Waid (#1-3, 8), Ron Garney (#1-3)

Pencilled by Ron Garney (#1-3), Cully Hamner (#8), Pondscum (#8)

Inked by Dan Panosian (#1), Dan Green (#2-3), Nathan Massengill (#8), Pondscum (#8)

Spoilers (from seventeen to eighteen years ago)

This series really didn’t do it for me.  I love the Invaders, but even that story couldn’t hold my attention.  Anyway, let’s take a quick look at the four issues I did buy, for completism’s sake.

Villains:

  • Millennium Dawn (terrorist group; #1)
  • Agent 9 (#1)
  • Atlanteans (#2-3)
  • Nazis (#2-3)
  • Fen (#2-3)
  • Sons of the Shield (#8)
  • Wizard (#8)

Guest Stars:

  • Sharon Carter/Agent 13 (in the near future of 2001, Director of SHIELD; #1)
  • Nick Fury (Director of SHIELD in the past; #1)
  • Dum Dum Dugan (#1)
  • Human Torch (Jim Hammond; #2-3)
  • Namor the Sub-Mariner (#2-3)
  • Falcon (#8)

Here’s what happened in these issues, with some light commentary:

  • The first issue opens on July 4, 2001 (which would be about three years after the comic came out, making this a future story).  Cap is stopping a group of armored terrorists called Millennium Dawn from destroying Philadelphia.  He gets some assistance from Sharon Carter, which makes Cap flash back to some point years earlier, before Cap and Sharon knew each other’s real names (he called her Agent 13).  They fly on to a Helicarrier that has been taken over by SHIELD Agent 9, who has gone evil.  He has a number of agents loyal to him, who fight our heroes.  We learn that Cap has received an order from the President to kill Agent 9 (because he has too many American secrets in his photographic memory-fuelled brain), but Sharon is keeping this from him.  They also learn that Agent 9 must be working for the Red Skull.  As he tries to teleport the Skull and some of his associates onto the Helicarrier, 9 is stopped by Cap and Sharon.  He then tries to teleport himself away using the damaged teleporter, and Cap has to decide if he is going to kill him or not. In the end, Sharon takes the decision away from him, and they kiss.  In the present/future, we discover that Sharon has become the Director of SHIELD.  I don’t understand why Waid would set a story just three years into the future that has such a big status quo change, when he must have known that it would never happen.  That’s the first reason why I didn’t stick with this book for too long…
  • In 1942, we see the original Human Torch heat himself up to the point that he could burn in water (which doesn’t make sense), where he begins to attack some Atlanteans.  Nazis come to rescue the Atlanteans, and we see that Namor and Cap are being held prisoner.  Flashing back a few days, we see the trio of heroes that were the backbone of the Invaders protecting a British shipyard from Nazi attack.  It turns out that the whole thing was a plot to capture the Torch and take him under the ocean; Namor pursues.  Cap returns to the US to get reamed out by the General that picked him to become Cap, and Namor appears to take him to Atlantis, where they discover Nazi swastikas everywhere, and that the Atlanteans have formed an alliance with Nazi Germany.  They are discovered, attacked, and subdued just as we return to the opening scenes of the comic, and the Torch attacks.  Cap figures out that he’s being controlled by a Nazi, just as the new leader of the Atlanteans appears.  Namor appears deferential, and Cap is surprised to learn that the woman is Namor’s mother, Fen.
  • The Atlanteans have been holding Cap prisoner for days (luckily his 1940s era helmet has enough oxygen for days; more on this soon), and he’s been using this time to cut his way out of his chains with his shield.  Apparently the Atlanteans don’t smite metal, which does not explain their weaponry nor their aircraft.  The freed Cap manages to elude his Nazi pursuers, and goes to the building that houses the Nazis in Atlantis (it has air in it).  He goes looking for the scientist who reprogrammed the Human Torch, but also discovers that the Nazis have been keeping Allied prisoners of war in Atlantis for experimentation.  Namor confronts his mother, learning that she has always viewed him as handicapped by his half-human heritage.  Cap shows up, in a room where neither Atlanteans nor humans need breathing apparatus somehow, and even though he doesn’t speak Atlantean, challenges Namor’s view of his mother.  He lets Namor know about the POWs, which angers him.  There’s a fight wherein the Nazis wear oxygen helmets, but Cap doesn’t need one, and where the art strongly suggests that events are taking place in oxygen, not under water.  On the ocean’s surface, General Phillips tells a Navy Admiral that Atlantis exists.  The Human Torch arrives at the fight, attacking his usual allies.  Fen realizes that the Nazis have duped her into distrusting the Americans.  Cap leads the Torch to the POW room, and the appearance of so many helpless men makes the Torch reject his new programming.  It looks like everyone is going to unite against the Nazis, when one of them opens a vacuum chamber filled with new androids like the Torch, which burst into flame and attack.  Note that this room must be filled with oxygen, but all of the Atlanteans are fine.  This issue felt completely sloppy, and ultimately pointless, and I dropped this title, not even bothering to come back to see how the story ended.  I still don’t care.
  • I was done with this book until I saw that Cully Hamner was coming on board to draw an issue that focused on Cap’s relationship with the Falcon, set in the time when Sam still wore his original green outfit, and didn’t have wings yet.  So a bunch of people in Harlem have been committing terrorist attacks against a mayoral candidate.  In response to this, the Sons of the Serpent have changed their name to the Sons of the Shield, and are claiming that Cap is endorsing their organization.  This has been increasing racial tensions in Harlem, which the Falcon is trying to stop, as is Steve Rogers, who was apparently a cop for a while.  I didn’t remember that at all.  The Wizard provides some locals with high-tech weapons, and a man blows up a church during Sunday service.  The guy who blew up the church (who is black) rouses the crowd to attack the Sons of the Shield office just outside of Harlem.  Cap goes to defend them, while one of the Sons hands out high-tech guns to the crowd, who turn them on the building.  It looks to the media like Cap is siding with the racists, and Falcon’s not able to change anyone’s opinions.  The Sons guy turns off the guns by remote control, and Cap is able to calm the crowd by dousing them with water.  The guns are turned back on, and Cap is shot and appears to be disintegrated.  The Sons guy uses this to his advantage, which angers Falcon.  Later, we see that Sam is wearing Cap’s uniform.
  • The next issue wasn’t drawn by Hamner, but by Doug Braithwaite, who I’ve always liked, but not enough to want to read the end of this story (because we all know that Cap’s not dead, right?)

I’m not sure why anyone thought that Cap could support two ongoing titles (hear that Marvel, now that you’re doing it again?), and Sentinel of Liberty didn’t last past the one-year mark.  It looked like it had a rotating stable of artists, and even Waid didn’t write every issue.  I’m not sure why there would ever be a need for a series that tells random stories from random moments of Cap’s history that really didn’t do anything to reexamine the character from a more modern perspective, or to help rectify continuity issues in his past.  These stories all felt like fill-ins to me.

Anyway, that was it for me and Captain America for a while (Waid was replaced by Dan Jurgens on the main title, one of those writers/artists who I respect, without particularly enjoying), at least until one of my all-time favourite artists drew a three-part miniseries featuring him in 2002.

If you’d like to read any of the columns about Captain America that preceded this one, you can check these links.

#266-300 – JM DeMatteis and Mike Zeck’s classic run

#301-306 – Mike Carlin’s placeholder run.

#307-332 – Mark Gruenwald and Paul Neary’s run

#333-350 – John Walker as Captain America run (Gruenwald and mostly Dwyer)

#351-386 – Steve is back as Cap; Gruenwald, Dwyer, and Lim’s runs

#387-413 – Gruenwald and Levins, at least until I dropped it

#449-454 – The back half of Mark Waid and Ron Garney’s first run

Volume 2 #7-11 – Heroes Reborn (James Robinson issues only)

If you’d like to read any of the stories I talk about here, you can follow these links for trade paperbacks that encompass some of these issues.

Captain America: To Serve And Protect (Captain America (1998-2002))

Captain America: American Nightmare

Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty

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