1980 · The 80s

November 1980: Captain America 254: Or It’s not a stake, but it’ll do

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Captain America 254 was written by Roger Stern with art by John Byrne and Joseph Rubenstein and opens with Captain America about to be bitten by the Nazi Vampire (Let me repeat that part of the show NAZI VAMPIRE) Baron Blood. Unfortunately for the Baron, Cap is wearing his chain-mail like uniform and is able to hold off the vampire until the morning son starts to shine. We then get some exposition about WWI hero Lord ( Union Jack ) Falsworth, a World War I veteran, summoning Cap to help and we meet his daughter Jacqueline (Spitfire) Crichton and her son Kenneth. After Baron Blood leaves, we get a bit of Captain America questioning who he might be, even accusing Joey Chapman, a friend of Kenneth’s whose main crime was being a heavy sleeper. We then get some back history to the Baron Blood/Union Jack dynasty being explain to Chapman, while Baron Blood hides in his identity of Dr Cromwell, local GP and harmless old man, who is met by one of the Falsworth’s staff, whom he invites for ‘breakfast’.

 

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This girl collapses at work at Falsworth Manor, which at the time seems quite throw-away and we also get a nice look at what’s happening in Cap’s life as Steve Rogers, with his neighbours, including Bernie Rosenthal helping clean up his flat. Meanwhile, back in the UK, after lots of  searching and getting nowhere, Cap is at a loss, when he sees the wheel-chair bound Lord Falsworth suiting up as Union Jack, just before he has a heart attack. Doctor Cromwell is called and he wastes little time in getting himself alone with Union Jack and delivering a great gloating monologue. Unfortunately for Cromwell/Baron Blood, it’s not Falsworth, but Joey Chapman in the Union Jack suit. Chapman fights back and is joined by Captain America and the two battle Baron Blood to a standstill.  Realising there is no other way, Cap uses the edge of his shield to decapitate and therefore end the threat of Baron Blood. Captain America is visible shaken by this turn of events and things take a darker turn when Lord Falsworth passes away the next day at the funeral for Baron Blood, who was after all, his brother.

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We are left with the idea that Chapman will carry on the Union Jack name and there’s a bit of prose championing the  spirit of the british people as the family of Union Jack begins to mourn their losses.

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Notes: I have a soft spot for Union Jack, the current version is a more working class alternative to Captain Britain and the whole Nazi Vampire thing is a fantastic combination. The art is always a joy and Stern writes an old school Cap, but so well that he becomes likeable. I missed the last issue and I feel a lot of the story, but what I got was action packed, full of good plotting and above all fun. I’m sorry NAZI VAMPIRES!!!!! Cap takes the creature out with his shield, but you can see that as much as he is a soldier, he is a man of peace and it tortures him to do this, even to an un-dead monster. He wins over Joey Chapman and me as well to be honest. I’ve often thought of this era of Cap as too saintly, but in a few panels you see all the pain and anguish Cap goes through in the battlefield. We also have a fairly early appearance of soon to be love interest Bernie, who fleshed out a lot of this era’s Steve Rogers.

I enjoyed this comic and may one day go back and read more of this run, if for no other reason that to see this story in full.

Next Time: A dancing queen gets her own title.

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