Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Writer: Mike Carlin (#305-306), Mark Gruenwald (#307-309)
Penciler: Paul Neary

Q. How do super heroes while away all that boring time between issues when there's no crime to be fought?

A. What time between issues?

Although these five monthly editions were published across nearly half a year, and tell three different stories, they cover just one week in the hectic life of Captain S America. Between #307 and #308 he even squeezes-in a fourth case fighting the god-like Beyonder in Secret Wars II #1!

At this rate, an entire year of issues would only cover a fortnight of Cap's busy schedule, so it's a good job that mild-mannered Steve Rogers is one Marvel character who remained popular for two decades following.

Popular with readers, that is. For this manic week more broadly chronicles Rogers' loss of his regular job back in his real world. The very first frame of #305 features him hard at work on Tuesday on an art assignment that his boss needs for Friday. Well, his excuses six days later (four months later for us) in #309 don't go down so well.

Which is a shame, because he has a really reeeeeeally good series of explanations, if only he could somehow work out how to tell them without blowing his secret identity wide-open. Hey - it could be done...

Steve Rogers: "I'm sorry Sir, but on Tuesday and Wednesday I was 3,500 miles away in London fighting Modred the Mystic with Captain Britain. Then I lost my luggage and on Thursday I had to go try and stop the Beyonder over on the West Coast in LA, while at the same time defeating Thunder-Sword with the X-Men and the New Mutants. That took me into Friday when I had to help Armadillo out of being blackmailed by the evil Dr Malus, by which time it was Saturday when I flew back here in a borrowed West Coast Avengers Quinjet, and it was only then that it first occurred to me to phone you."

Mr. Bennett: "Hm. Sure, whatever. I'm sorry, I just can't get over London getting destroyed last week."

(we'll come back to this)

In fact, Rogers is probably quite smart to keep stum about his activities as his alter ego. After all, his boss Mr Bennett, quite apart from gulping back his reaction to London's destruction, (still coming back to that), might actually be British and spot just how ludicrous the details of the above story would have been.

After landing at Heathrow Airport, Cap jumps on a tube train bound for "Victoria". (there's no such line) He is observed by a local who exclaims "Cor!" (there's really no such word) Then he discovers flagpoles to be a "universal commodity". (well okay then)

Stone the crows, these two capitals of Somalia both take place in that weird American version of Her Majesty's Kingdom that we Brits always consider so top hat, mate.

Sure enough (it's in this paragraph), over the course of the story, London is pretty much laid to waste as a Hollywood ticksheet of famous landmarks all get smashed to bits. St Paul's Cathedral, Big Ben (twice, in #305 and then again in #306, just to be sure I guess), Tower Bridge, Regent's Park tube station, (#306 page 9 panel 1) Harrod's, and finally the graveyard of the Tower Of London, where in a sort of inverse example the dead get reanimated.

Forget the Marvel heroes' shock at the World Trade Centre's destruction in Amazing Spider-Man #477 - tell me that Captain America hadn't already been through Ground Zero in this one:

One thing nobody would have been able to fault Rogers' account on though would have been his description of Captain Britain's costume. It had only recently changed in Marvel UK's ill-fated Captain Britain Monthly, and to see it reproduced so authentically in a US mag was, well, something of a relief.

Marvel UK's stories had always felt to me to be a bit apocryphal and somewhat outside of the main Marvel canon, and despite the consistency of the above-mentioned outfit, these issues still feel weird. This version of Brian Braddock is so mild-mannered that he's a bit of a defeatist, needing Captain America's encouragement to overcome the odds, and doesn't seem to have anything else going on in his life. In other words, it was now the Marvel US issues that seemed apocryphal, especially given how Britain forgets that he can control his costume when someone else is wearing it.* Oh well, low expectations met then.

* See Captain Britain Monthly #3 - maybe that makes it Marvel UK's fault? -- Steve.

Well, I exaggerate. I thoroughly enjoyed these issues (aside from the "dramatic look back at the Invaders of World War II" promised on the cover of #307 which turned-out to be just one flashback panel), and have found both Captain America and Nomad to be characters with whom I could connect. Nomad because of his insecurities, and both of them for being role models.

When their crime-fighting partnership breaks-up at the end, it's really because they are both so interested in doing the right thing.

And you can't set a much better example than that.


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