The “Captain America No More” cover is one of Cap’s most iconic due to the shocking image of a disconsolate Cap standing head down in front of the American flag, the red stripes bleeding symbolically about his feet. The story was incredible too, as government bureaucracy dictates Cap isn’t free, but must choose to do politicians’ bidding or quit. That issue closes this recent TPB release though the cover actually showcases Wolverine and Cap going at it. That story is good too, but hell, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Is it good?
Captain America: Justice is Served (Marvel Comics)
So what’s it about? The official summary reads:
Cap faces a Scourge on the Marvel Universe! A super villain serial killer is on the loose, marking every death with the enigmatic epitaph: “Justice is served!” As the bodies pile up, can the Living Legend take down this Scourge of the Underworld before there are no more criminals left to fight? And if Scourge wasn’t enough, there’s Blue Streak, Flag-Smasher and the Slug to contend with! Other heroes can be just as much trouble -like enthusiastic D-Man, savage Wolverine and misguided vigilante Super-Patriot! But the government itself might strike the final blow!
Why does this book matter?
This collection runs 512 pages and contains these issues; Captain America (1968) #318-332, Annual #8; Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #278; and pages from Marvel Fanfare (1982) #29, #31-32 which contain Scourge subplot pages. It’s a healthy sized collection that contains the buildup of Scourge as he kills villains and the second half dealing with the fallout of Cap murdering a terrorist.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
A classic existential crisis panel that also serves as a recap of previous events.
Appearing on comic shelves from May 1985 to August 1987 one should expect an older look and feel with this volume. Cap speaks with an almost too straight laced demeanor, thought balloons are used heavily, and the art tends to feel flatter like those seen in comic strips. That said, those are not deal breakers by any means, and if you’re up for a blast from the past sort of story you’ll enjoy this TPB heartedly.
Opening with Scourge, a mysterious masked figure who kills off villains across multiple series, the book has an excellent espionage feel. Captain America doesn’t even know the threat is out there while the killings take place, but in a clever way a villain lures Cap in order to seek protection. This story was clearly planned out for a good deal of time and it’s fun to see who is behind the mask. Scourge certainly has a goofy backstory, but given the time this story came out it’s all in good fun.
After this, a fun done in one adventure teams Wolverine and Cap together. The story has classic team up action and it certainly makes sense to be represented on the cover because it has a modern feel. It also allows these two heroes to reflect on each other which was most assuredly rare for the time. Plus, it allows Cap to say things he’ll take back later like, “You’ll never be an Avenger!”
I sure do miss classic Wolverine hair and attitude.
The rest of the TPB focuses on wacky sort of villains for Cap to take down that bring in a hokey feel. As Cap takes down a villain calling himself Flag-Smasher, a moment occurs where Cap must take out a terrorist with a machine gun. This killing haunts him throughout the rest of the volume and while one might argue he killed plenty of Nazis in WW2, the message of never killing is laid throughout. It helps make the majority of this book feel cohesive and ties nicely into the concluding issue where Cap must choose to work for the government or quit. Along the way he teams up with D-Man (who is introduced here) and fights against the crowd pleasing Super-Patriot.
A classic fight to say the least.
You might be asking yourself why he’d have to quit since he has worked for the government in the past, but the truth is the version of Cap in this volume is much more free. More than once characters refer to him as the protector of all of America and he pops up all over to do just that. Riding a motorcycle he parks in a van, Cap seems to be going across the country beating up villains in the name of the U.S.A. It’s a much more police officer sort of role for him and it’s fun to see this version of Cap given how he’s been 100% espionage-centric for well over a decade.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Way to be a square Cap!
There are plenty of cringe-worthy moments due to the older style. Take for instance a moment where Cap agrees to team up with Diamondback, only to refuse later because she keeps demanding they have sex. Instead of acting naturally, Cap refuses in a boy scout sort of way that’s probably meant to show how upstanding he is when he just comes off as awkward. The dialogue balloons and captions can also run very heavily at times bogging down the read and making it a slog to get through. Every time Cap drives up to his van and thinks, “Ah there’s my van” I wanted to scream. Sure, it helps remind us he’s driving to his van, but why must he think it!? Truly, these are little gripes you have to forgive due to an older style, but they do make this book feel incredibly dated.
Is It Good?
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this volume, but found myself enjoying it far more than I ever thought I would. Though the old school style of thought balloons and super conservative nature of Cap can be tiring, there’s a lot of exceptional stories Cap fanatics must read here. The Wolverine story is great superhero fun, Cap’s guilt of murdering is an early example of complex character storytelling, and a wicked ramp up to Scourge, a villain who kills villains, is a story that feels quite modern. On top of all that, the only way to read most of these stories is if you pulled back issues at conventions and that’d cost a pretty penny! All that combined, this is a fun read I would recommend to anyone interested in a few hours of Marvel history.