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Captain America Theater of War #2: Review

Dec 2008
Howard Chaykin, Howard Chaykin

Story Name:

America First!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Captain America Theater of War #2 Review by (December 5, 2013)
Comments: Senator Joe McMurphy is based on Senator Joseph McCarthy, with his aide “Ray Kahn” a stand-in for McCarthy’s sidekick Roy Cohn. TV interviewer Ed Murtaugh is based on Edward R. Murrow. Google these names for the historical record. Natasha Romanova’s defection is a bit premature since this tale long precedes the early days of Iron Man when she was still a villain—though it really can’t be the same woman who is still appearing in Cap’s comics (can it?). “Back from the Dead” is reprinted from YOUNG MEN #24 (first 1950s appearance of Cap, later retconned to be a different person); and “The Man with No Face” from CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #77.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America Theater of War #2 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

1955: In a small Midwestern town, a pair of crooks rob a bank and gun down the sheriff. Suddenly Captain America appears and battles the thugs, but a black-clad woman in the crowd draws a gun and shoots Cap in the back. We discover that this is a training exercise in Russia, in a duplicate American small town, with Soviet agents playing the roles under the supervision of Natasha Romanova, the Black Widow.

In America at this time, Senator Joe McMurphy is delivering a fiery speech denouncing the evils of Communism and the American leaders who think they can negotiate with the Soviet Union. The real Captain America muses on the wisdom of McMurphy’s views while clobbering a gang of Commie spies. This Cap is not the original Steve Rogers, however, but a patriot who discovered the Super-Soldier Serum and volunteered to become the new Steve Rogers—and the new Captain America. CIA Agent Nick Fury is called before McMurphy’s Senate Committee and asked to give the names of men in the government he knows to have Communist leanings; Fury refuses, since he served with those men in the War and their service gives them the right to vote as they please. Later on TV, the news reports that German scientist Dieter Prochnow is offering a Nazi weapon to the highest bidder. Both the Americans and the Soviets are suspicious but neither can afford to ignore the possibility that it’s true.

Cap gives an interview to TV newsman Ed Murtaugh in which he endorses McMurphy’s patriotism but questions his tactics, saying that the Senator’s harassment of Nick Fury and other solid American is merely doing the Soviets’ work for them. The angry McMurphy retaliates by smearing Cap as a Communist in the media. That night, McMurphy’s aide Ray Khan cuts a secret deal with Prochnow for the weapon. Also that night, Steve Rogers breaks into McMurphy’s home and discovers a secret room full of proof that McMurphy is really a Russian spy. As Cap he reveals this info to Nick Fury, but Fury does not believe him—and finds him a poor substitute for the real Steve Rogers. Cap rushes to the airport where he manages to capture Khan but McMurphy gets away in his plane, having duped the US into paying a high price for the superweapon then stealing it for his Soviet masters. Cap parachute-drops atop the Senator’s jet and makes his way inside where he battles the villain’s henchmen. Cap recovers the briefcase with the weapon plans but McMurphy escapes by parachute.

Captain America is honored at a reception by President Eisenhower and later joins Nick Fury for a meeting with Natasha Romanova, the Black Widow. She wants to defect to the USA and offers McMurphy as a prize….

In the Russian "Midwestern town" used for training purposes, McMurphy is describing the delights of American life (women, the weather, women, Chinese food, women, etc.) to a new undercover agent, when Captain America comes up behind him, punches him out, and takes him back to the US for trial.

Story #2

Back from the Dead

Writer: ?. Penciler: John Romita. Penciler: Mort Lawrence. Inker: John Romita. Inker: Mort Lawrence.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

The villainous Red Skull plots his next evil deed, secure in the knowledge that his wartime nemesis Captain America is now dead. Elsewhere, history teacher Steve Rogers relates to his class the origin of the heroic Captain America. After school, Steve stops young Bucky Barnes from beating up on classmates who mocked the story about Cap. When they hear on the radio that the Red Skull has returned and taken hostages of the UN delegates, Steve decides to come out of retirement. He and Bucky dons the familiar costumes and easily clobber the bad guys. The headlines report that the great Captain America has returned!

Story #3

The Man with No Face

Writer: ?. Penciler: John Romita. Inker: John Romita.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America and Bucky are aiding Officer Wing of the police in cleaning up crime in Chinatown. Wing explains that normally law-abiding Chinese are being forced to support the Reds through threats to their loved ones back in China. Threats are enforced by the Red hatchet man known as the Man with No Face; Wing himself has a twin brother in China who is being threatened. Wing is lured into a trap by the Man with No Face; Cap and Bucky intervene and overcome the gang but the hatchet man gets away. Cap pursues him over the rooftops and corners him. Unmasked, the Man with No Face is Wing’s brother! The villain throws himself to his death from the roof. Seeing that the fall destroyed the bad guy’s face, Cap decides not to inform Wing of the killer’s identity.

Howard Chaykin
Howard Chaykin
Edgar Delgado
Howard Chaykin (Cover Penciler)
Howard Chaykin (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

Plus: Bucky (Jack Monroe), Captain America (1950s Version), President Dwight D. Eisenhower (Dwight D. Eisenhower), Red Skull (Albert Malik).

> Captain America Theater of War: Book info and issue index

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