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Captain America #326: Review

Feb 1987
Mark Gruenwald, Paul Neary

Story Name:

The Haunting of Skull-House

Review & Comments

3 stars

Captain America #326 Review by (September 10, 2015)
Comments: Special Halloween issue. This story is a sequel to the “Death of the Red Skull” arc in CAP #290, 293-300. Cap encounters a framed portrait of Johann Schmidt without his Red Skull mask; I believe this is the only time in comics where we have seen his real (young) face. Dr. Faustus is confined to a wheelchair and mentions being crippled in his last encounter with Cap. That was in CAP #236 where there is no mention of serious injury to the villain; Faustus then faced Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four in MARVEL TEAM-UP #132-133 where he can walk with no trouble. Is there an unwritten adventure for Cap and Faustus? John Beatty and Kent Williams share the inking duties in this issue. Oh and the title is a play on the novel The Haunting of H1ll House by Shirley Jackson.

Review: A big battle issue masquerading as a psychological horror story. Yeah, the idea of Cap being manipulated into suicide is a scary one but the way this is handled is just your typical slugfest for the most part. What we learn is that Cap is really struggling under the guilt of the killing of the ULTIMATUM agent. Hope he gets over it soon as it’s starting to become monotonous. And the supernatural ending falls into the category of “it was all a dream—or was it?” trope, one of the less satisfying ones. Pedestrian treatment of a promising idea.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America #326 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

On Halloween night, Captain America returns to Skull House, the sinister mansion where he fought his last fight with his archenemy the Red Skull (issue #300). He is there to investigate reports of lights seen in the deserted house. As he explores he is suddenly greeted by the ghost of the Red Skull, inviting him to the rathskeller. There, in the replica of a cabaret, the Skull’s ghost taunts Cap for having corrupted himself by the murder of an enemy and reveals that Cap can only redeem himself by committing suicide. Next appears the ghosts of the ULTIMATUM agent Cap shot in issue #321, the Porcupine (died in issue #315), MODOK (killed in #313) and Scourge of the Underworld (died #320). These villains, who all died in Cap’s arms, open fire on him. There follows a chaotic struggle with Cap taking on four enemies, one of whom is a giant head, while they try to entice him to kill himself. Cap eventually brings the ceiling down on them, worried that he will be killing even more enemies. The villains vanquished, Cap sees Bucky Barnes, his late partner, with Sharon Carter and Steve’s parents, all of his deceased loved ones—and they begin imploring him to kill himself to atone for his murder of the enemy agent. Cap realizes he is being manipulated and violently rejects the option of suicide. At this we see the real enemy: Doctor Faustus; his scheme having failed, he shuts off the hallucinogenic gas which has made it possible for him to manipulate Cap’s perceptions and he tries to make his getaway. Faustus is stopped by the real ghost of the Red Skull, outraged that he would use the Skull’s home as a trap for Cap. As Cap searches for the exit, he finds Faustus in a state of shock, with Cap wondering how he got those claw marks in his neck….  

Paul Neary
Ken Feduniewicz
Mike Zeck (Cover Penciler)
Bob McLeod (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


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