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Captain America #1: Review

Jan 1998
Mark Waid, Ron Garney

Story Name:

The Return of Steve Rogers, Captain America

Review & Comments

5 stars

Captain America #1 Review by (November 30, 2010)
Waid & Garney are back on Captain America!! This issue once again proves that they can do no wrong with this character Pushing Cap into the realm of icon with all the celebrity trappings is a new and interesting choice. Lady Deathstrike was possessed by the ancient spirit in WOLVERINE (1988) #114.

Captain America #1 Review by (November 30, 2010)
Waid & Garney are back on Captain America!! This issue once again proves that they can do no wrong with this character Pushing Cap into the realm of icon with all the celebrity trappings is a new and interesting choice. Lady Deathstrike was possessed by the ancient spirit in WOLVERINE (1988) #114.

Captain America #1 Review by (April 14, 2012)
Review: The word “iconic” has now become diluted in meaning. According to the dictionary it means “being considered to represent or symbolize particular opinions or a particular time” since it derives from icon, a picture used in worship. Now it has come to mean “fairly popular or well-known.” I’ve heard Jason’s hockey mask described as iconic, what does that represent beyond the fact that a lot of people have seen the Friday the 13th movies? But if anyone in comics can be described as iconic it is Captain America. He dresses in the American flag and stands for the nation’s ideals and values, originally during a time of international conflict when the issues were a lot clearer. But how do those ideals translate to a shifting an uncertain culture? This is the challenge every new creative team must face when taking over the character. With this issue, Mark Waid and Ron Garney return to the title and address that very issue. In an audacious move, the first issue is set in Japan, where the question of national culture and ideals is put to the test: the villains believe that American influences are corrupting the Japanese way of life—and Captain America agrees with them, in part. But by coming face-to-face with his own status as an icon, he begins to wonder at his role. This question will play itself out over the first seven issues of the title and makes a nice comeback for the great Waid/Garney team.

Comments: Cameo by the Fantastic Four. The film about Cap appears to be a documentary, unless we’re only seeing a prologue. The ending is a bit of a cheat: Kang never again appears in an issue of Captain America (as of 2/2017); the revenge he is planning must be against all the Avengers.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America #1 Synopsis by Kevin Hollander
Our story opens in Tokyo, Japan. American culture has taken root in this country. While many citizens are thrilled to be able to wear American fashions and eat fast food, there are those that prefer Japan remove this influence from their culture.

At an American-themed restaurant named "Uncle Sammy's", Japanese terrorists known as Strikeforce Ukiyoe have taken over the establishment. The leader identified as Akutagawa announces that the American influence is corrupting their culture and all they have struggled to achieve will be lost if decisive actions are not taken. They are prepared to do what is necessary to purge the American influence from their country. When they attempt to burn the American flag in protest, a familiar red-and-white shield flies across the restaurant and knocks the terrorist unconscious. It careens off three others before returning to its owner - Captain America.

Akutagawa is shocked at this development as are the customers who flock around a very confused Cap. The terrorists use this to their advantage and leave the building, stating that he'll die tonight. When Cap makes his way outside, they have disappeared into the crowd. When he tries to enlist the help of local authorities they assume it is part of tonight's celebration and humor his report.

Frustrated, Cap begins to familiarize himself with his surroundings. He's aware he's in Tokyo, but his last memories were of fighting Onslaught in Central Park. He claims that this was "yesterday". He struggles trying to read magazines and newspapers as his Japanese is very limited. He eventually stumbles on a picture that explains (in part) the event that Akutagawa mentioned. Cap just misses a televised interview with the Fantastic Four explaining that he (Cap), Iron Man, and Thor have been classified as Missing In Action following the battle with Onslaught.

Osamu Akutagawa meets with Lady Deathstrike to recruit her for his cause. When asked, he explains that Masao Hashikura's uncompromising stance against Westernization was his biggest influence. Hashikura and his followers in the Haru Society committed ritual suicide in public to protest Japan's new pro-Western direction. Lady Deathstrike explains that a recent possession by an ancient spirit reminded her of the importance of honor. She then corrects his story. Not all of Hashikura's followers went through with the suicide; he did not.

Akutagawa admits his cowardice and explains that he began this group to make amends for this failure. He explains that their first campaign would have been successful if not for Captain America's involvement. Authorities think this was part of a publicity stunt for tonight's event and do not take it seriously. Deathstrike is surprised to hear about this and suggests that they turn this to their advantage by using tonight's event to cover their activities.

Later that day, in an effort to avoid being surrounded by curious citizens, Cap purchases an overcoat capable of covering his costume and removes his mask. Walking around the streets as Steve Rogers, he discovers a giant Cap statue in front of a movie theater. This confirms what he saw on the magazine cover earlier: tonight is the premiere of a big-budget movie based on his life. He now understands why Akutagawa hates his very presence.

The palpable excitement surrounding "Capmania" makes Rogers squirm. He is uncomfortable with the celebrity surrounding his alter ego. The various Cap-products annoy him as he feels Captain America should be a symbol of freedom not monetary gain. His discomfort ends when he sees disguised members of Strikeforce Ukiyoe make their way into the theater using false movie credentials.

Once inside Strikeforce Ukiyoe make preparations to lock all the doors and release a nerve gas into the unsuspecting crowd. Cap makes his way inside and stops them but is attacked by Lady Deathstrike. Their fight becomes public and while he maneuvers her into destroying the relays on the canisters of nerve gas, the crowd is still unable to leave. The movie plays while Cap and Deathstrike continue to fight. Since the movie was recorded in English, Cap finally learns that he disappeared over a year ago. Despite the shock at this revelation, Cap eventually defeats Lady Deathstrike by pinning her under a lighting rig.

From the catwalk, Akutagawa announces that his preparations are complete and he is ready to go through with their plan and kill everyone in the theater. Cap sees an unlocked door near Akutagawa's position and realizes that he plans to escape after he releases the gas. He throws his shield into the door handle, barring his escape. Cap then calls his bluff. Despite his insistence, Akutagawa breaks down and can't go through with the plan. Later when the authorities have arrested Strikeforce Ukiyoe, Lady Deathstrike is noticeably absent. After interviewing Cap, the reporter - who knows that this is the genuine article - asks his audience how this elevation from hero to idol will affect him.

Istanbul: Sharon Carter (once again Agent 13) completes a mission and learns that Rogers is alive again. Her emotions are ... conflicting. She decides to book a flight to New York for some answers.

Wisconsin: A shadowy figure that represents the remains of the Red Skull peels himself off the wall and leaves the facility.

In an undisclosed location, Kang the Conqueror witnesses the return of Captain America and prepares his latest scheme against him and the Avengers.

Ron Garney
Bob Wiacek
Joe Rosas
Ron Garney (Cover Penciler)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Human Torch
Human Torch

(Johnny Storm)
Invisible Woman
Invisible Woman

(Sue Storm)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Kang the Conqueror)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)
Red Skull
Red Skull

(Johann Shmidt)

(Ben Grimm)


Plus: Lady Deathstrike.

> Captain America: Book info and issue index

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