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Captain America #323: Review

Nov 1986
Mark Gruenwald, Paul Neary

Story Name:

Super-Patriot is Here

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Captain America #323 Review by (August 23, 2015)
Comments: First appearance of Super-Patriot John Walker who would become a significant presence in this title in the months and years to come. Also the first appearances of Lemar Hoskins, Hector Lennox, and Jerome Johnson, the future Bucky/Battle Star, Left-Winger, and Right-Winger (respectively). The Statue of Liberty was closed to the public for restoration in 1984 and reopened and rededicated July 3-6, 1986. This month Marvel had formal portraits for the covers of all of its titles, including this one, which at first I thought was by Wally Wood.

Review: And John Walker makes his debut…. A major theme of this title is how do we define patriotism and the best way to initiate that discussion is to confront Cap with a bogus or inadequate version so the two characters can play off each other. The longest-running of these would be John Walker—Super-Patriot/Captain America/USAgent—and he would be the toughest to battle. In this issue he’s mostly a blowhard, looking for easy fame but Cap shows that talking the talk isn’t enough if one doesn’t walk the walk. On the last page we see that Walker is clueless for now, thinking that the real Cap is also an actor, just one putting on a better show. For now all is quiet—the fireworks will come soon enough…. [Issue #332 is when, okay?]


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America #323 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

An unexpected visitor is doing acrobatics on the scaffolding surrounding the renovated Statue of Liberty; he startles the guards by making the impossible leap from the scaffold to the sea and swims away….

Meanwhile, Captain America is on his jetcycle heading back from his European adventure (issues #321-322) when he is suddenly flanked by two unidentified craft. Cap leaps into action and smashes his way into the cockpit of one only to find they are SHIELD ships sent to escort him to their HQ. Cap arrives to find himself questioned by Jasper Sitwell about this mission against ULTIMATUM. Sitwell says that Cap’s killing of the terrorist has created an international incident and the only way to fix it is for Cap to become an official agent of SHIELD. An irritated Cap says he’ll think about it….

The late-night visitor is revealed to be Super-Patriot (John Walker), a new hero seeking the spotlight. With his agent Ethan Thurm they are planning big things; they decline to stop and help an old lady being mugged as it wouldn’t be flashy enough to make the headlines….

As Steve Rogers, Cap stops by Avengers Mansion, declining a party offer from Dane (Black Knight) Whitman and Hercules. Elsewhere we see that Bernie Rosenthal is worried about Steve’s new problem…. The next day Steve comes across a rally for Super-Patriot and, curious, he stops to listen. Super-Patriot makes a big speech ridiculing Captain America’s use of guns and offers himself as the new champion of the nation. In the middle of the speech, he is attacked on stage by three bad guys defending Cap calling themselves the BuckiesBold Urban Commandos. Steve looks for an opportunity to slip away and don his costume but Super-Patriot easily vanquishes his foes all the while making a spiel about constitutional rights and patriotism. He hands them over to the police….

Later, as John Walker and Ethan Thurm are eating at a fancy restaurant, Steve, disguised by sunglasses, sits down with them and reveals that he knows the Buckies and the arresting officers were all hired as part of the show. He asks the new hero not to try any more publicity stunts that could endanger lives. Walker challenges Cap to a fight but the hero declines, leading Walker to lose his temper. On the way home, Steve is attacked by the Buckies and he fights them off but discovers they are much stronger than he could have expected. Now Cap knows what to tell SHIELD….

The next day Captain America goes on television to explain his actions in Europe, how he regrets having to kill for his country, and asks the public to forgive him. At home John Walker and Ethan Thurm are watching and are impressed with Cap’s P.R. man while waiting for their next opportunity….

Paul Neary
John Beatty
Ken Feduniewicz
Mike Zeck (Cover Penciler)
Joe Rubinstein (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


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