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Captain America #439: Review

May 1995
Mark Gruenwald, Dave Hoover

Story Name:

O'er the Ramparts We Watched

Review & Comments

4 stars

Captain America #439 Review by (June 7, 2017)
Comments: Story wraps up the plot from issues #425-427. Danny Bulanadi and Scott Koblish share inking duties on this issue. The titles for issues #438-443 are lines from the American National Anthem. Final appearance (as of 2017) of Dead Ringer. Mike Farrel's exploits as a Watchdog were seen in issues #385-386. Nighthawk (apparently) died in DEFENDERS #106. And Cap's campaign will begin next issue.

Review: Very 90s issue features impossibly bulging muscles on the men and absurdly inflated breasts on the women, plus the usual leather jackets, belts with pouches, and gritted teeth. Wraps up the saga of Mike Farrel and Dead Ringer rather nicely with the latter's origin laid out for us. The oddest aspect of the tale is the multiple narrators, Cap, Falcon, and Bernie, which doesn't really add anything to the story besides a break from the usual Third-Person Omniscient narrator, which is refreshing. Pretty cool if the 90s tropes make it look a bit silly in places.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America #439 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Falcon spies the presumably-dead Nighthawk soaring through the skies and pursues; Nighthawk notices this unwelcome companion and fires a beam which sets a building on fire, forcing Falcon to stop and tend to the problem....

At the Brooklyn Heights HQ of Captain America, Cap is planning a campaign with the aid of SHIELD's Contessa Valentina, who will provide him with ordnance but not manpower. Cap gets a call....

Elsewhere, Bernie Rosenthal is a prisoner of the new Super-Patriot who is her old pal Mike Farrel; Mike explains that after his involvement with the Watchdogs vigilante group, he was persuaded by Cap to turn himself in and cooperate with the authorities. The result was a prison term that ruined his life; now he wants revenge. All of a sudden, his partner Lou a/k/a/ Dead Ringer arrives as Nighthawk and demands an explanation for Bernie's presence. He detects that Mike is weakening in his resolve to take vengeance against Captain America....

Responding to his earlier phone call, Cap meets with Falcon who tells him that he saw a dead hero; Cap responds by telling his old friend about his health troubles, staggering Sam....

Meanwhile, Superia tells her unwilling servitor Diamondback that she has discovered a cure for Cap's condition if Diamond is willing to risk her life as a Guinea pig to test it....

Cap gets a call from Bernie calling for help. He heads to the scene, unaware that it is a trap....

The gravely-ill Arnie Roth collapses and Free Spirit and Jack Flag rush him to the hospital....

Dead Ringer bullies Mike into preparing to spring the trap on Cap; he ends up relating his origin to Bernie: When he found his father dead from a heart attack, he touched the body and was instantly transformed into his father, down to the clothes. After a while, he decided to use his (mutant?) ability to mimic the life of someone powerful. He started robbing the graves of dead supervillains, and by taking a finger from the bodies he has the ability to impersonate them again and again. Cap bursts in and the surprised Dead Ringer takes on the form of Daredevil foe Death-Stalker. Cap's new weapons prove useless against a foe who can turn intangible. In the melee DR reveals his ultimate plan—to kill and add Captain America to his repertoire of identities. Shocked, Mike stops DR from killing Bernie by grabbing his deadly hand, allowing Cap to clobber the villain but also sacrificing his own life. Bernie informs Cap that Super-Patriot was their old friend Mike Farrel...

The final page shows us in parallel, Mike on the floor, Arnie Roth on a hospital bed, and Diamondback in the lab, as Superia proclaims that her antidote works....

Story continues in AVENGERS 386.

Dave Hoover
Danny Bulanadi
Ashley Posella
Dave Hoover (Cover Penciler)
Dave Hoover (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)

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