1984 · The 80s

September 1984: Captain America 300, Or Steve vs Red Skull I get it but can we have a better issue please?

Synopsis: Captain America #300 was written by J M DeMatteis and Michael Ellis with art by Paul Neary and Dennis Janke and opens with Jesse Black Crow, a wheelchair bound native american  is having hallucinations of Steve ‘Captain America’ Rogers and his recent struggles against the Red Skull. At the end of these visions he is transformed into a huge black crow which flies off.

Elsewhere, an aged Red Skull and a poisoned and artificially aged Captain America are engaged in what looks like their last battle. Red Skull has just blew up the house with several of Steve’s loved ones, his friends Jack ‘Nomad’ Monroe and Sam ‘Falcon’ Wilson as well as his girlfriend/fiancee Bernie Rosenthal, inside. This causes Cap to go ballistic and start pounding on his geriatric enemy. The whole battle has been arranged for the Red Skull to die along with Cap to take their battle into eternity. He has aged Cap, he has poisoned Cap and now he is ready to die along with Cap.

There’s also a subplot with a friend of Cap’s being in a coma, but then comes to only at the point of the Red Skull’s death.

 

At the point of complete and total rage, Cap refuses to kill the Skull, who instead died in his enemy’s arms. After reaching the house that he saw blown up, Cap also succumbs. And now we have the WTF portion of the show, Black Crow appears, now dressed in a bizarre costume and also walking. He uses magic dust and a glowing spear to restore Cap to life after some navel gazing about the spirit of America and it’s connection to Cap. Nomad, Falcon and Bernie find Cap holding the dead body of the Skull and Cap tells them that he wants to bury the past for good.

Notes: For the epic battle between the ancient enemies going back to World War Two and the death of one of them, this is not quite so epic. The art is not great, but serviceable to get the story moving forward. The comatose pacifist subplot felt a bit out of place, only because I haven’t read Captain America #292-299 for a long time, so he and Black Crow are something of a mystery to me. As I mention it, doesn’t Black Crow seem a bit culturally insensitive? But there is a core story here that’s very interesting. The Red Skull is dying, after years of suspended animation, he is ageing rapidly and he wants to take his most hated enemy with him. This is the story of a man who is so obsessed with his enemy, he can’t imagine his enemy getting on without him. This desperation, this hate is very clearly related and that core of this story is powerfully compelling. The point were Captain America yells that he’s fighting to live is a very Captain America thing to do. If this was 299 or 301 it would be a great little issue, but it feels out of place as a milestone 300. More enjoyable than last month’s comic I must admit.

Next Time: Another world, another galaxy, another hero locked in battle with a skull faced villain.

 

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