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Captain America #347: Review

Nov 1988
Mark Gruenwald, Kieron Dwyer

Story Name:

Vengeance

Review & Comments

Rating:
5 stars

Captain America #347 Review by (June 22, 2013)
Review: The story turns dark with its sinister opening of Cap menacing Mrs. Lennox. Back to this in a moment after we cover some side details. There’s a tip-off as to who the mysterious mastermind is when the fake Red Skull is assassinated—and the obvious hint of the return of the Scourge of the Underworld. But the big story? The action-packed thriller pauses to show us Lemar Hoskins taking his GED exam, to gain him a high school diploma! Now we can move along with the main story without interruption. A dark vengeful John Walker, in Captain America guise threatens Hector Lennox’s mother, then goes after Jerry Johnson’s parent. This enrages Hector and worries Jerry so they set out on their own vicious path of vengeance—believing that they were the ones who had been wronged first by being rejected for the government superhero program. The look on Cap’s face when he confronts the men responsible for the deaths of his parents is the most god-awful thing I have ever seen in the comics on the face of an alleged hero. The fight that follows is much more brutal and violent than staid Marvel was offering at this time and perfectly mirrors the emotions of the players involved. (Comics today have a much higher tolerance for casual and graphic violence that some younger readers may not appreciate how shocking this issue was). And then it all ends with Cap locking his enemies—who were once his friends, mind you—in a grisly death trap—then smiling as they die…. How can Gruenwald top this for the most gut-wrenchingly intense scene in his Cap run? Let’s find out, shall we?

Comments: Part sixteen of The Captain saga which will run until issue #350. Death of Albert Malik, the Communist Red Skull of the 1950s. Left and Right-Winger survive in the hospital until issue #381. Fun geographical fact: there is no East Philadelphia; there is a North, South, West, Northeast, Northwest, and Southwest (plus Center City) but no East.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America #347 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

In a Chicago suburb late one night, an aged woman hears the doorbell; answering it, she is shocked to see Captain America, delivering a warning that the next time he sees her son Hector, he is a dead man. Fighting a heart seizure, Mrs. Lennox telephones her son in Las Vegas where he is training in boxing with his partner Jerry Johnson under the eye of manager Ethan Thurm. When Hector takes the call and learns that Cap has threatened his elderly mother he goes berserk vowing to kill his enemy. Ethan explains that this was to be expected after they revealed Cap’s identity as John Walker on television (issue #341) which led to his parents’ murder (#345). Hector is not dissuaded and he dons his Left-Winger costume and heads out….

At a meeting of the Commission on Superhuman Activities, the debate over the next course of action is heated, yet Director Rockwell is missing. He is in the jail with The Captain (Steve Rogers) threatening Steve with the consequences of withholding information from the government; Steve tells him he suspects a hidden vendetta and Rockwell departs. Steve begins to question whether his friends were right to smell a rat….

Next Captain America arrives in East Philadelphia to deliver the threat to Jerry Johnson’s mother but they have been bitterly estranged for years; she directs the hero to Jerry’s father….

At home, Lemar Hoskins achieves one of his primary goals in life: he completes his GED…. [For foreign readers, the General Educational Development tests are to allow students to earn the equivalent of a high-school diploma later in life.]

On their way East, Ethan Thurm tries to dissuade Jerry and Hector from doing anything rash but the vengeful Hector assures him they would only kill John Walker in self-defense….

In a prison in Algeria, a crack team of commandoes assaults the building and rescues a single inmate, an aged man called Albert Malik. After a brutal firefight, the commandoes bundle their charge into a helicopter which takes off. Malik gloats in his freedom; he is given the Red Skull mask he wore as a Communist agent back in the 1950s when the original Nazi Skull was missing. As he exults in his plans for new exploits, the pilot draws a gun and casually shoots him down. "Justice is served!" Douglas reports to his mysterious leader, who will not reveal to him the master plane; the villain does receive a call from the Scourge of the Underworld and is pleased….

Captain America (John Walker) arrives at an oil field near Dallas to locate Jerome Johnson’s father. Finding the man he delivers the same warning that he gave to Jerry’s and Hector’s mothers—but this time Left- and Right-Winger are there and ready to take on their former friend themselves. At this, Cap’s face breaks into the most frighteningly sadistic grin this comic has ever seen. The incredibly brutal fight that follows ends with Cap beating his foes into submission. When they plead for mercy, he shows them mercy: he ties them to a massive oil tank and gives them one of their flame torches while placing the other one against the tank itself. He tells them that if they can burn through the cables holding them before the flame ignites the petroleum, they can go free. Cap then walks off. When the explosion comes, he barely cracks a smile as he keeps walking….


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Kieron Dwyer
Al Milgrom
Bob Sharen
Ron Frenz (Cover Penciler)
Al Milgrom (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Red Skull
Red Skull

(Johann Shmidt)

Plus: Battle Star, Captain America (John Walker), Commission on Superhuman Affairs, Ethan Thurm, Left-Winger, Red Skull (Albert Malik), Right-Winger, Scourge (Scourge of the Underworld), Valerie Cooper.