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Captain America #444: Review

Oct 1995
Mark Waid, Ron Garney

Story Name:

Hope And Glory

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Captain America #444 Review by (August 15, 2017)
Comments: Preface to the following four-part story. The Avengers appearing here are Black Widow, Crystal, Deathcry, Giant-Man (Hank Pym), Hercules, and Quicksilver. The snarky reference to a Ford Bronco refers to O.J. Simpson's notorious police chase in 1992.

Review: “What's so special about Captain America?” is the question posed by the police detective. And for his dumb question he gets a lecture from the Avengers, involving an issue-long recap (no pun intended) of Cap's career related in the most laudatory language imaginable. And you know what? It's all true. Cap is the hero that all other heroes aspire to be (and if they don't, we'll ship them off to join Quentin Quire on his island exile). Hercules: “On Olympus, we measure wisdom against Athena, speed against Hermes, power against Zeus. But we measure courage against...Captain America.” This guy was even a role model for Greek gods. You can't oversell Captain America. Mark Waid really knows what he's doing here—and his interpretation will take off in volume 3 a few years after this. Ron Garney's art is likewise spectacular, though the little thin lines remind me uncomfortably of Rob Liefeld—but don't worry, Garney will soon come into his own.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America #444 Synopsis by Kevin Hollander
The Avengers (Black Widow, Giant Man, Quicksilver, Hercules, Crystal, and Deathcry) are called to Washington D.C. by FBI Agent McElroy. He explains that two hours ago, The President, three secret service agents, and a cameraman were kidnapped by armored terrorists and taken to the Jefferson Memorial. They have made only one demand: they want Captain America, no alternatives. Failure to comply will result in the demolition of the memorial and the deaths of all inside. Despite their best efforts, the FBI had difficulty contacting the Avengers. As it stands now there is 20 minutes left before their deadline.

Before McElroy can finish the briefing, Quicksilver races into the memorial and extracts one of the secret service agents. As he leaves an explosion is triggered, killing one of the terrorists. McElroy is livid that Quicksilver took a gamble; he tells them they're not just terrorists, they're human bombs. Their armor is laced with a concentrated explosive that is triggered by an energy field. If the energy field is breached, the armor detonates. This is why they were called in.

The cell leader announces to McElroy that Quicksilver's tactic will not work a second time. They have now linked their energy fields and if one is extracted, all of them will die. He reiterates the demand to see Captain America.

McElroy admits he doesn't understand what makes Captain America so special equating him with Joe DiMaggio, John F. Kennedy, and other historical figures from his father's generation. Black Widow has to hold back her team as they take great offense at McElroy comment. She states that Cap is simply the best there ever was. She begrudgingly tells him that Cap recently discovered the super-solider serum was actually killing him. All attempts to save him had failed. Two weeks ago, despite the fact he was dying, Cap left Avengers' mansion and hasn't been found.

McElroy becomes frustrated and states that there is no chance of saving the President. They explain that the one lesson they all learned from Cap was that there is always a way. Giant Man tells him of the time the original Avengers found him frozen in the Atlantic (Avengers #4). He should have been dead by all rights but instead forged a new life decades out of his era. Quicksilver reminds them of the time the original members left the group. Cap took charge of a new team that consisted of three wanted criminals: himself, Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye. Cap always manged to find a way to succeed despite overwhelming odds.

McElroy isn't convinced and sends in a decoy "Cap" to buy some time. Deathcry realizes as the decoy leaves that the shield doesn't have the right number of stripes and runs after him. The terrorists notice this quickly and fire at him, hitting him in the shoulder. Deathcry extracts the decoy and returns him for medical assistance.

McElroy is at his wits' end. With only 10 minutes left he is out of options and he's tired of hearing the Avengers tall tales about Cap. He states that he was only a man, not a god. Hercules steps forward and tells him that is irrelevant. The actions of Captain America are noticed by the gods themselves. In the Greek pantheon, they measure wisdom against Athena but they measure courage against Captain America. Humbled by the words of the demi-god, McElroy remains silent.

Black Widow and Deathcry form a desperate plan based on something she noticed when she saved the decoy. Hercules tunnels underneath the memorial. Crystal uses her elemental powers to create a waterspout from the Potomac River to lift the hostages out of harm's way and allow Giant Man to take them to safety. Hercules and Crystal then attack the terrorists with inorganic materials (water and granite from the memorial). Deathcry discovered that their energy fields were not affected by their bullets and reasoned that it was triggered by organic material. They are dumped into the Potomac, which shorts out their armor.

While the Avengers assess the damage done to the memorial, Quicksilver becomes lost in thought. He truly believed that Cap was still alive and would appear for this if he were capable. Since he did not, he is convinced he's truly dead. Because of this distraction, he is captured by the returning cell leader, placing him in a choke hold. With the armor shorted out, he is prepared to detonate it manually if it means taking out the Avengers. He begins to taunt them, claiming there is no way out.

At this point a familiar shield flies toward the leader and hits him in the back of the head, rendering him unconscious. The Avengers are speechless until McElroy steps forward to take credit for the save. Using the decoy's shield, he saved the Avengers and what remains of the memorial. The Avengers thank him for his assistance. Black Widow then explains to the press that Captain America did not show because he had succumbed to a "debilitating illness".

Elsewhere, these events are watched by two unidentified people. One has orchestrated this attack to force the Avengers to announce the death of Captain America. When asked what Captain America would think of this, they turn to a block of ice that's encasing his body and states that they should ask him that when he wakes up.


Ron Garney
Mike Sellers
John Kalisz
Ron Garney (Cover Penciler)


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