Captain America: Red, White and Blue #1: Review

Oct 2007
Paul Dini, Alex Ross

Story Name:


Review & Comments

5 stars

Captain America: Red, White and Blue #1 Review by (August 5, 2013)
Review: Reviews of individual stories are found with the stories, here are my thoughts on the volume as a whole: an interesting project to celebrate the iconic hero in the wake of his “death,” several artists and writers not usually associated with Captain America present their views on the character and his meaning for the modern reader. What seems odd is that while many take a reverent tone, other tales are straightforward adventures, and many are subversive, showing the wide range of opinion this American icon brings forth. The handful of snarky tales (such as “Cap versus Rarebit” and “Red Raid”) while entertaining, tend not to fit easily into the “celebration” theme. On the whole, the collection is of high quality, with only a few clunkers, and the reprinted material merely underlines how special Cap is as a hero and as a symbol.

Comments: As the title suggests, the new stories are done with a red, white, and blue color palette, used creatively by the artists. The book includes two portraits of Cap: as a frontispiece, a scene of Cap eating in a diner by Peter Ferguson, in the style of Thomas Hart Benton; and separating the new from reprinted material is an action portrait by Alex Nino.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America: Red, White and Blue #1 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro
Captain America narrates the story of his origin, cast in the form of a horizontal blue bar across the top of the two-page spread, with vertical red and white stripes beneath, resembling Cap’s uniform. The color bars form the individual panels, each a realistic Ross painting with accompanying text. Easily brings us up to speed on who Cap is and what he stands for in a small space.

Story #2

The Legend and the Lore

Writer: Tony Salmons. Penciler: Tony Salmons. Inker: Tony Salmons. Colorist: Tony Salmons.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Storming the island of Monte Morte, the lead troops of the American First Division—the Big Red One—are pinned down by enemy fire. The Red Skull, in charge of the German defense, calls forth their greatest weapon, a cannon called Ragnarok. An American private called Shorty cowers in fear when he sees his commander fall in battle. Suddenly Shorty spies a man in a red-white-and-blue costume and carrying a shield rallying the troops and rushing the enemy bunker. Shorty follows as his comrades, inspired by Captain America, join in the charge. Cap seizes control of the Ragnarok cannon as Shorty lays down covering fire. The hero obliterates counterattacking enemy soldiers with the ray and pursues the fleeing Red Skull. Shorty follows to see the villain escape in an autogiro while Cap still pursues by motorcycle. Shorty never saw the Living Legend again but the Big Red One went on to build a legend of their own….

Salmons’ dynamic art (slightly resembling that of Howard Chaykin) makes this tale an adrenaline rush. So rushed in fact that it threatens to overwhelm the point, which is Captain America as inspiration! Nevertheless, a nice traditional effort for the first non-origin story in the book. PS The battle of Monte Morte, which is Italian for Death Mountain, is fictional but the Big Red One was very real.

Story #3

Why I Fight

Writer: Bruce Jones. Penciler: Richard Piers-Rayner. Inker: Richard Piers-Rayner. Colorist: UDON Studios.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

As Captain America battles the Japanese in the Pacific, he meditates on how he comes alive at night, the need for action being the spark that keeps him alive and clinging to his sanity as he fights for his country. In the daytime, he thinks of home like all the other men and dreams of the girl waiting for him, which also serves to remind him why he’s here. Cap doesn’t begrudge the ordinary men their movies and dreams, they are the ones with the harder jobs who need every diversion they can get. Later, a serviceman watches film of the earlier exploits of Captain America battling the Japanese in the Pacific, he meditates on how he comes alive at night, the distraction of movies being the spark that keeps him alive and clinging to his sanity as he fights for his country….

Moving realistic look at why service personnel put their lives on the line features realistic art of a very acrobatic Cap and a grim picture of war. Another one of the finest contributions to this collection. Note: the "girl back home" is movie star Jean Harlow (1911-1937).

Story #4

An Epic Battle

Writer: Darko Macan. Penciler: Bruce Timm. Inker: Bruce Timm. Colorist: Bruce Timm.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

During the War, Captain America is accompanying American troops on their march through Germany. A distraught father comes to them for help: his young daughter is missing in the sinister castle nearby. Cap enters the dark and creepy mansion and is met by the master, Baron Leonhardt von Konigsblut, who transforms into a werewolf and attacks the hero. They battle violently through the halls of the castle until Cap hears the little girl scream. He races to the site and finds she has fallen into a well in the dungeon. Cap goes down to rescue her but as soon as he grabs her, the well wall gives way. Cap is saved by the werewolf who allows Cap to take the girl to safety ("What kind of monster do you think I am?") Cap asks Konigsblut why a man of honor would back the Nazis; the wolf replies that he backs his country. After Cap has seen the girl to safety, the two antagonists continue their confrontation….

The most conventional of the tales in the book is pretty much "Cap vs. the Wolfman," with nothing that couldn’t have been in the tale in 1972. Bruce Timm’s characteristic (and Kirbyish) art shows us what CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE ANIMATED SERIES would look like but is otherwise unremarkable.

Story #5


Writer: Paul Pope. Writer: Nick Bertozzi. Penciler: Paul Pope. Inker: Paul Pope. Colorist: Paul Pope.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Uli, a young student in a Nazi boys’ school on the eve of the War, is caught reading a smuggled Captain America comic book in class. He is sent to the headmaster for discipline—and it’s the Red Skull. The creepy villain demands to know who gave him the comic book. When Uli remains silent (wishing to protect the culprit, Grynszpan the kind cook), the Skull points the boy to a white oak in the center of the courtyard and relates how the tree marks the spot where the legendary Germanic hero Siegfried slew the fearsome Uberworm—and from the hero’s blood sprang the Aryan race while the monster’s blood spawned all the degenerate races. Admonishing the boy to hold to the ideals of racial purity, the Skull gives him a pistol with one bullet—to slay his own Uberworm. Uli spends the day wracked with guilt and torn between his conscience and his country’s ideals. That night he takes Grynszpan prisoner at gunpoint and marches him out to the white oak, where, deaf to the cook’s pleas, Uli shoots him down. The Red Skull, hearing the shot from his office, smiles, "It seems that boy may just make a fine Nazi after all."

Not so much a new story about Captain America but a look at the evil he fights: in this twisted tale we see the fanaticism at the heart of Nazi ideology and how groupthink and appeal to emotions can override our better judgment. While "Red Skull as schoolmaster" may seem an odd conceit, it personifies the Satanic temptation to hate, fear, and kill that which is different from us. Paul Pope’s spidery pen-and-ink style gives a creepy feel to the story as well.

Story #6

Cap versus Rarebit

Writer: Peter Kuper. Penciler: Peter Kuper. Inker: Peter Kuper. Colorist: Peter Kuper.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America, in furious battle with the Red Skull, knocks his enemy to the ground. Resting briefly, Cap discovers to his surprise that his shield now bears a swastika. Suddenly his uniform sports the sinister Nazi symbol. Then he rips off his mask to discover he is really Hitler! The Red Skull approaches him…and they kiss. Then Cap wakes up from his nightmare induced by rarebit cheese K-rations.

Two-page tale is a nice showcase for Kuper’s trademark airbrushed art but what’s the point of Cap dreaming he’s a Nazi? The Freudian and/or political implications seem quite insulting to the idea of Captain America—that the nation’s hero is no different from the fascists he’s fighting? This is the kind of thing that writers have addressed in detail, not tossed off in an edgy gag.

Story #7

They Just Fade Away

Writer: Jeff Jensen. Penciler: Frank Quitely. Inker: Frank Quitely. Colorist: Matt Madden.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

As Captain America muses on mortality and the fact that he has no friends from his generation, he recalls an incident from the war when army sharpshooter Wesley Richards shot a German soldier who was sneaking up on Cap with a knife. Cap remembers Richards as a nice guy who even treated the screw-up Steve Rogers with an affable respect. In a different world the two men could have been friends but Cap was sidelined for years while Wesley went on to live a long full life. Now Cap is at the bedside of the elderly Richards as he lies dying. Cap thanks and salutes the man who once saved his life. Richards returns the compliment by calling Cap an inspiration to all troops—who could even have straightened out the incompetent Rogers (whose name Richards can’t quite recall). Cap takes his leave and heads on to his next mission, taking out a neo-Nazi cell. He continues to fight the nation’s battles but has had to learn to watch his own back. The heat of battle is Cap’s little snatch of peace.

One of the best tales in the book, this one gives us a Cap who has managed to live with loneliness as he attempts to find a connection to his generation. Quitely’s art is stunning, this five-page story using balance and a complex series of visual parallels to make it a delight to read.

Story #8

Red Under the Mask

Penciler: Vatche Mavlian. Inker: Vatche Mavlian. Colorist: Jose Villarrubia.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

1954: Captain America is summoned before the Senator Joseph McRooter’s Committee investigating Communists in the military. The naïve Cap is shocked at McRooter’s aggressive and hostile questioning, insinuating that the hero can’t be trusted and demanding he remove his mask. Cap’s lawyer demands a recess to consider the matter; he is granted 24 hours. That night Steve Rogers meets with FBI Agent Betty Ross who shows him McRooter’s file; her suspicion is that the moderate Senator was murdered and replaced by a lookalike determined to bring down America. At the next day’s hearing, when McRooter demands that Cap remove his mask, the hero leaps over the table and unmasks the Senator as the Red Skull, whom he beats down and he raises the flag and proudly announces his name as Captain America!

Senator McRooter is clearly based on Senator Joseph McCarthy and the plot follows the Army-McCarthy hearings which took place from April to June 1954. This unsubtle tale reads like a parody of a historical incident, casting a complex issue—McCarthy’s immoral and illegal tactics vs. the valid threat of Communism—as one of Good Guys vs. Bad Guys with tongue planted in cheek. Side note: it isn’t clear whether this is the 1950s Cap (he seems too naïve and affable for that) or the original Steve in an alternate version. Besides, Betty Ross was Golden Girl long before this and the Nazi Red Skull was in suspended animation during this period. So I’ll go with this being the original and the story as non-continuity

Story #9

Red Raid

Writer: Yann Leppenetier. Penciler: Phillippe Berthet. Inker: Phillippe Berthet. Colorist: Nick Bertozzi.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

November 12, 1953: a miniaturized Captain America is sent into a patient’s cortex with 12 minutes to locate and neutralize a dangerous brain tumor. What he discovers is a device that injects some sort of enzyme into the brain (he isn’t sure); it has been planted by sexy Soviet agent Red Bra, whose reinforced bodice can repel even Cap’s shield. As she captures Cap with psionic energy and prepares to castrate him, Black Mamba joins them in the cortex and uses her telepathic powers to cause Red Bra to imagine the one she loves is before her. The villainess sees Josef Stalin—who slowly morphs into Steve Rogers! Red Bra unmasks as Sharon Carter who kisses the image of Steve; this drains her of energy and she dies from ecstasy. Cap races to destroy the sinister device, but is requires a numeric code to shut down. Cap plays a hunch and punches in a number—and the device shorts out. Cap and Black Mamba escape back to the real world in the nick of time. A doctor explains to Cap the importance of this mission: the patient is a comic book writer, who has been questioning capitalism in the pages of OL’ SCREW (standing in for Disney’s UNCLE SCROOGE). The comics have been recovered and will be disposed of in Europe. Outside, Cap is met by Black Mamba who wants to know what the code for the device was. An embarrassed Cap reveals it was the date of his and Sharon’s first kiss.

Two stories in a row mocking Cap’s opposition to Communism in the 1950s? Haven’t these writers heard of Josef Stalin? Anyway, it’s clear from the first that this is a fantasy—and a hilarious one at that—but the problem comes when Cap wakes up and the art and writing don’t change; reality is just as silly as the dream. And again, the continuity is kept vague: it’s clearly the original Steve Cap, with anachronistic appearances by Sharon Carter and Black Mamba. Entertaining, but with no clear point—other than to play some Freudian games and goof around. PS There seems to be no historic significance to the date November 12, 1953.

Story #10

American Dream

Writer: Mark Waid. Penciler: Mike Huddleston. Inker: Bill Sienkiewicz. Colorist: Jose Villarrubia.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Baron Zemo’s booby-trapped drone plane explodes, killing Bucky and sending Captain America into the icy waters of the North Sea; as he sinks beneath the surface and his body is slowly frozen, images pass through Steve’s mind. First he sees a normal vision of himself and his partner battling the Red Skull side-by-side. Then a middle-aged Cap is rescued from a Communist bomb by his still-youthful partner. An older Steve Rogers, running for President, is saved from an assassin by young Bucky who sends him to fight his would-be killer. An elderly Steve, trapped on a bridge, is pulled to safety by his partner. On his deathbed, Steve tries to say goodbye to his ever-young friend who encourages him to hold on a bit longer. As four shadowy figures appear, Bucky says it is his time to leave and reminds Cap he will always be his partner. As the ice is thawed, Cap sees that the people surrounding him are the Avengers, amazed at who they have rescued. As they break the news that he has been in suspended animation for decades, Giant-Man tells him he must have had one hell of a guardian angel watching over him….

Poignant tribute to Bucky revealing Steve’s feelings for him as his ever-present back-up is complemented by the surprisingly gritty artwork which keeps the tale from becoming overly sentimental.

Story #11


Writer: Karl Bollers. Penciler: Dean Haspiel. Inker: Dean Haspiel. Colorist: Matt Madden.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

A hipster Nick Fury calls the jive-talkin’ Afro-wearing Falcon to search for Captain America who has disappeared in the ghetto on a mission against the Red Skull who is planning to enslave the country using Nightshade’s new formula for mind-control. Falcon heads to the ‘hood and finds Steve Rogers all pimped out and unaware who he is. The Red Skull appears to explain how he captured and brainwashed his arch-enemy to suppress the good side of his personality and sent him to work the streets…. This turns out to be a movie thrown together by a cheap exploitation producer—and Cap and Falcon watching it are aghast. Cap cancels the motion picture deal and the heroes walk out on the still clueless producer.

A weird and wacky effort which gives Cap the 70s blaxploitation treatment—but what’s the point? Cap complains about selling out the flag for profit but the treatment is so exaggerated it’s hard to tell what the story’s target is. It doesn’t help that the caricatured Cap looks only a little different from the "real" Cap seen at the end.

Story #12

The Pledge

Writer: Paul Storrie. Penciler: David Lloyd. Inker: David Lloyd. Colorist: Chris Sotomayor.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

A bunch of working men are hanging around their favorite bar after a long day at the factory when they are riveted by a new report on the television. Reverend Alvin Marshal was shot by a group of white supremacists, apparently for his remarks denouncing Captain America as the symbol of an earlier America marked by segregation and oppression. The men at the bar quickly divide along racial lines and begin arguing over whether the black clergyman’s accusations are true. The crowd is on the brink of violence when Cap appears on TV to address the nation: he makes it clear that he does not condone the actions of the gunmen, and stresses that he upholds the ideals of the Pledge of Allegiance, which speaks of a united society, not one torn by warring factions. The men at the bar, abashed, settle down and begin acting normally again….

A good, if a bit heavy-handed, tale of Captain America as standing for a country where we unite around a common ideal. The sentiments are nice—and needed—but the story still feels like a lecture.

Story #13

A Winter’s Tale

Writer: Scott Sciencin. Penciler: Pascual Ferry. Inker: Pascual Ferry. Colorist: Jose Villarrubia.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America battles the Red Skull, who uses the Cosmic Cube to alter realty//suddenly Cap is a disturbed homeless veteran unable to find work and struggling with paranoia. He is victimized by a band of local children, one of whom steals the Rubik’s Cube from his backpack. Cap pursues the kid who runs into an abandoned building. He interrupts a drug deal and the punk is about to gun him down when Cap arrives on the scene, his reality shining through long enough for him to rescue the boy before the hood opens fire. The dying vet manages to clutch the Rubik’s Cube//and everything is returned to normal.

The synopsis straightens out the reality-warping plot for the benefit of you readers. A gritty urban drama overlays a typical Cap adventure; what gives it depth is the fact that for many veterans, the alternate reality is the normal state of affairs. If conditions were slightly different, Cap could have ended his life like this. A moving, intense story.

Story #14

Skull and Zemo

Writer: Evan Dorkin. Penciler: Evan Dorkin. Inker: Evan Dorkin. Colorist: Sarah Dyer.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

The Red Skull and Baron Zemo, portrayed as volatile children jabbering in a cartoonish parody of German, hear France mentioned on TV and fly into a rage. Deciding to storm France they begin by shooting all of their storm trooper who always fail them anyway and jump directly into the next panel which is France. There they scream and start laying into the citizens with fists and anything they can lay their hands on (while puzzling over how Zemo can eat while wearing the mask). Captain America arrives to point out that it is 2002 and Nazi villainy is outdated but the two mischief makers cite their popularity with the Marvel fandom and redouble their villainous efforts. Cap just wonders how he got into such a stupid storyline….

Hilarious homage to THE KATENJAMMER KIDS (look it up on Wikipedia) is a rollicking comedy that tangentially answers one of the puzzling questions about Cap’s career, namely, why are Nazis still popular villains so many years after the War? Answer: giving the readers what they want, no matter how stupid. Funny satire.

Story #15


Writer: Jeff Jensen. Penciler: Mike Deodato Jr.. Inker: Mike Deodato Jr.. Colorist: Chris Chuckry.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America reads a grotesque comic book denouncing him as a traitor for siding with a group of Moslems whose mosque was burned down. The comics were confiscated from a hate group in Maine and Cap insists on visiting the publisher of this slanderous material—he knows Captain America is a symbol rather than a man but can’t help taking it personally. He arrives at the home of the printer, who is surprisingly delighted to have a visit from Cap—until he suspects that the hero is angry. He quickly explains that his company is a left-wing organization, which prints up material appealing to hate groups—and infects it with anthrax to kill off the fanatics. Captain America is a symbol the hate groups are attracted to. Cap races to the site of a Ku Klux Klan rally where the latest shipment of infected literature has been sent. He bursts onto the scene, seizes the comic books, and consigns them to the flames. He hopes that the media will report that he saved lives and protected America’s freedoms but he knows better. Sure enough, the Daily Bugle calls Cap a supporter of the KKK; Steve reacts with disgust.

The man and the symbol. Captain America the man serves his country protecting the innocent and fighting for freedom and justice. Captain America the symbol ostensibly portrays the nation’s best values but can easily be distorted to serve the agendas of anyone with a cause, no matter how misguided. But what does Steve Rogers think of all this? He knows he shouldn’t take it personally but he is still human, and can’t help but feel frustration. A realistic tale of politics in the modern world is aided by Deodato’s realistic art—after the shock of that caricature on the opening page!

Story #16

Reprinted material

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

The following stories are reprinted from CAPTAIN AMERICA (1998) #50: "Keep in Mind," "To the Core," "Relics," "A Moment of Silence," Stars & Stripes Forever." Full synopses can be found there. The complete contents of MARVEL SPOTLIGHT: CAPTAIN AMERICA REMEMBERED are also included in this volume.

Comments: As the title suggests, the new stories are done with a red, white, and blue color palette, used creatively by the artists. The book includes two portraits of Cap: as a frontispiece, a scene of Cap eating in a diner by Peter Ferguson, in the style of Thomas Hart Benton; and separating the new from reprinted material is an action portrait by Alex Nino.

Alex Ross
Alex Ross
Alex Ross


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Bucky Barnes
Bucky Barnes

(James Barnes)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Sam Wilson)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Red Skull
Red Skull

(Johann Shmidt)


(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Betsy Ross (FBI Agent), Black Mamba, Giant-Man (Scott Lang).

> Captain America: Red, White and Blue: Book info and issue index

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