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Captain America #335: Review

Nov 1987
Mark Gruenwald, Tom Morgan

Story Name:

Baptism of Fire

Review & Comments

5 stars

Captain America #335 Review by (March 8, 2013)
Review: Oh man, that cover! The new Captain America in action and he looks like he’s gone berserk! Inside, the story is a bit more nuanced, with John Walker facing moral dilemmas. Ratting out old friends? Fighting a group whose goals he agrees with? Not knowing if the whole thing is a test of his ability to follow orders? And it’s clear that he can’t trust the Commission since the only honest and competent member, Valerie Cooper, is pulled from the leadership role in favor of another official. Fine tale combines action, plot, and character deftly to show a man in conflict—and we’re just waiting for him to crack. Meanwhile, what of the original Cap? Tune in next issue to find out!

Comments: Part four of The Captain saga which will run until issue #350. Steve Rogers does not appear in this issue. First appearance of the Watchdogs.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America #335 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

As the story opens, the new Captain America and BuckyJohn Walker and Lemar Hoskins—are running through a gauntlet of deadly obstacles in the training room. When they are finished, the entire Commission on Superhuman Affairs greets them with the news that they are ready for their first field assignment. Walker takes an oath to uphold the laws of the nation—and to obey the directives of the Commission. After the heroes have gone, the Commission head informs Val Cooper that she will been overseeing their continuing training from then on and that their field activities will be coordinated by Adrian Sammish….

That night, a right-wing survivalist group called the Watchdogs, based in the American Southeast, burns a pornographic bookstore and shoots down the owner when he tries to defend his property. Soon after, Captain America and Bucky are given the first assignment: to infiltrate the Watchdogs ands shut them down. The new Cap’s first (unspoken) concern is that he agrees with many of the group’s socially conservative views, though not with their criminal methods. His second concern (also unspoken) is that the Watchdogs have been active near his hometown of Custer’s Grove, Georgia and he fears being recognized or having to turn in a friend….

The next day, John Walker arrives in his home town and visits the local barbershop where he expresses various right-wing views to see the reaction from the barber Harold. A few days later, John and Lemar spring their plan to find their quarry: Lemar poses as a pornographer interviewing candidates for a Playboy-style spread on "Chicks of the South." During the session, John bursts in and picks a fight with him for corrupting the local women (including a high-school girlfriend of John’s). The two stage a battle which gets them locked in jail—with Harold posting bail on behalf of the Watchdogs. John’s actions have convinced them that he would be right for their organization and he is invited to an initiation ceremony. There, disturbed that he is pledging allegiance to a group whose moral stands he believes in but has also been assigned to fight, he dons the costume, ready to join that night’s mission to burn down a library that carries objectionable books. As they are about to head out, the leader calls for their prisoner to be brought out: a drugged Lemar. They plan to have a couple of the Watchdogs lynch him while the rest are at the library. John is torn between carrying out his mission and rescuing his pal and chooses to go with the group. On the way to the library, John sneaks off and returns as Captain America, defeating the vigilantes and holding them for the police. He then rushes back to the camp to find that Lemar has survived the lynching thanks to his augmented muscles and beaten his captors. Heading back to the base, Cap suspects that the whole mission was set up as a test by the Commission—and begins to wonder if the original Cap quit because he couldn’t trust them….

Tom Morgan
Dave Hunt
Bob Sharen
Tom Morgan (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Bucky (Lemar Hoskins), Captain America (John Walker), Commission on Superhuman Affairs, Valerie Cooper, Watchdogs.

> Captain America: Book info and issue index

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