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Captain America #298: Review

Oct 1984
J. M. DeMatteis, Paul Neary

Story Name:

Sturm und Drang: The Life and Times of the Red Skull

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Captain America #298 Review by (April 18, 2015)
Comments: “Death of the Red Skull” part seven. The title is the German for "Storm and Stress" an 18th century literary and musical movement which emphasized high emotions. This issue features an expanded version of the origin of the Red Skull in TALES OF SUSPENSE #66; this account would be enlarged in the five-issue RED SKULL limited series in 2011. Also includes the origins of Mother Superior/Sin/Sinthea Schmidt and the Sisters of Sin; later accounts would explain that Sin was rescued by Mother Night and raised by her. Oddest fact: Captain America does not speak a single word in the entire issue.

Review: The complete biography of the Red Skull is like traveling through a sewer in a glass-bottom boat; we see too much filth. J.M. DeMatteis gives us the villain’s point of view while keeping an eye out for the supporting cast: Mother Superior sheds a tear when her father rejects her as his successor. Very nice touch. Cap’s pity at the end brings us back into the real world so the story can reach its conclusion. One neat bit of editorial legerdemain: using the aptly named Deus Machina to age Sin to adulthood. Why? Because had she grown up naturally, it would have indicated that Cap and the Skull had been revived over twenty years ago, verboten by Marvel’s sliding time scale.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America #298 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

An aging Captain America and his nemesis the dying Red Skull finally meet face-to-unmasked face. Pausing to order Mother Superior and Baron Zemo out of the room, telling them to return Nomad to the dungeon, the Red Skull takes Cap to a reconstructed pre-war Berlin nightclub. There the Nazi villain recounts his origin: his birth caused the death of his sweet mother so his brutish father tried to drown him. Young Johann Schmidt was rescued by the doctor and the father cut his own throat. Raised in an orphanage, Johann learned to survive on the street, stealing for a living but also being the prey of bigger, tougher kids. A Jewish girl named Esther was kind to him, but when she spurned his advances he beat her to death with a shovel. When the Nazis came to power, Johann found himself a bellhop at a hotel where he came to the notice of Adolf Hitler, who trained him to be a model Nazi. Adopting the guise of the Red Skull, he became Hitler’s champion battling Allied superhero Captain America through the War, until he was buried alive during one such battle….


Nomad is returned to his cell and together he, Falcon, Bernie, and a comatose Arnie escape through a vent high in the wall….


When the Red Skull was revived from the sleep a mysterious gas had put him in many decades later, he resumed his feud with Captain America (or as he referred to it, “the dance”). He decided to sire a son and heir but the baby turned out to be a daughter; he planned to throw her into the ocean but instead decided to raise her to be evil. And since he wasn’t used to dealing with children, he put her in his Deus Machina device and aged her to adulthood.  Thus was born Mother Superior, who soon had the Sisters of Sin as followers. But then the Skull discovered he was aging quickly as the preserving gas was now wearing off and he was dying. The look of pity on Cap’s face makes the Skull resolve that instead of setting Cap and his pals free, he and Cap will die together, locked in their struggle forever….

Paul Neary
Bob Sharen
Paul Neary (Cover Penciler)
Paul Neary (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


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