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Captain America #272: Review

Aug 1982
J. M. DeMatteis, Mike Zeck

Story Name:

Mean Streets

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Captain America #272 Review by (September 26, 2014)
Review: That grim cover only suggests what horrors lie inside as we meet Vermin, a gruesome human rat. Mike Zeck, an underrated artist, brings the grisly side of New York to life in this Cap horror adventure that got under my skin. The art ably supports the story by J.M. DeMatteis which takes a realistic look at the problems of the inner city and offers no solutions for these intractable issues only a glimmer of hope; in his day Stan Lee would have had something cheerier to say with the heroes hugging at the end. And then there’s Vermin—brrr—the personification of the urban hellhole. There’s isn’t much to the character but then there doesn’t have to be. He serves his purpose in this fine issue.

Comments: First appearance of Vermin.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America #272 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

On a late night rendezvous on the seedier side of Manhattan, Captain America wipes out injuring his arm when a woman dashes in front of his bike. She points him to a cab driver with his throat slashed. He races the man to a hospital and continues on his mission. He arrives as Steve Rogers at the Harlem community center where Sam (the Falcon) Wilson works. Jim, the nephew of Sam’s girlfriend Leila Taylor, is in critical condition after being shot as he was patrolling with his neighborhood watch group (seen in issue #270). An angry and frustrated Sam dashes out and as the Falcon he goes in search of someone in need. Falcon finds Angel, a young beating victim, on a roof and swoops down to help but he is confronted by the gang that beat him. They pull guns and Falcon and Redwing take them down….

Cap on his bike is searching for Sam and he is decoyed by a green robed figure in the street. When he goes to investigate the mystery man claws his face and dashes into a nearby slum house. Cap pursues the villain to the roof only to come face-to-face with his quarry—and a horde of rats. The rats attack and Cap jumps to another roof to escape. The baddie unmasks as a hideous rat-like man called Vermin; he is working for the same people who sent the giant robot against him in #270….

Elsewhere, Falcon finds the bitter young beating victim and sees him home and has a talk with his mother who describes the miserable dead-end life in the inner city. The boy suddenly reveals that he is the one who shot Leila’s nephew. Sam’s first reaction is to beat the kid but he stops himself in time….

Back on the roof, Cap with his injured shoulder is at a disadvantage against his vicious foe. Cap knocks Vermin off a fire escape and then starts beating him savagely but he stops himself before too long and takes the fiend to the hospital….

Sam and family learn that Jim will recover from his injuries and Sam announces that he has been approached to run for Congress—and he will, to help the district to recover.

Mike Zeck
John Beatty
Bob Sharen
Mike Zeck (Cover Penciler)
John Beatty (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Sam Wilson)

Plus: Leila Taylor, Vermin.

> Captain America: Book info and issue index

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