Synopsis: Captain America 280 was written by J M DeMatteis with art by Mike Zeck and John Beatty and opens with c-list villain the Scarecrow (no, not that one) murdering an older gent called Buckley.
The next day Steve (Captain America) Rogers is doing a parkour run, ruminating over the recent changes in his life and his more positive outlook, mostly this serves as a bit of a ongoing subplot recap as he heads to the offices of the Coalition for an Upstanding America, a pressure group setting up boycotts and publicity campaigns on moral issues. There’s no problem there, free speech and all that, but their promotional art contains the likeness of Captain America and Steve is less than happy about that, especially when they haven’t asked, or received written permission and he tells them so. While in this meeting, we learn that members of this coalition are being murdered by the Scarecrow.
Realising that there’s only so much he can do as Captain America, he leaves and changes into his Steve Rogers clothes and meets with Arthur Bennett, who’s doing the PR for the coalition and wants to hire Steve in his capacity as freelance artist.
Through his internal monologue Cap makes a clear delineation between this coalition’s ‘morality’ and his own softer speechifying and while he is in thought, he sees crows going into the window of Arthur Bennett’s office and when he investigates, he finds Scarecrow trying to kill Bennett. The attack is so vicious that Cap has to let Scarecrow go, or leave Bennett do die of his injuries. Cap does the right thin,g, but Scarecrow does escape.
The next morning, the new network run by the Coalition for an Upright America and the Scarecrow takes everyone at the studio hostage. (The crew the members of the coalition’s board, Arthur Bennett and in civvies Steve Rogers) Scarecrow rants against hypocrisy, both his reverend father’s and the coalitions, even playing a recording to show that the coalition was simply doing this for the money. Cap diffuses the crisis, with a very low key fight and finally puts Scarecrow on his ass. As this happens the Scarecrow’s brother steps forward to point out that none of the personal stuff that Scarecrow says was real and he came back from prison completely unhinged. With both sides in a shambles because of lies and delusion, Captain America walks away in disgust.
Notes: A decent issue, the story shows off the idea of a corrupt ‘religious right’ group, whose idealised versions of ‘moral’ strength against vague ‘indecency’ was very much a tale of its time. Captain America being used as a figurehead makes so much sense, almost as much as his reaction to someone doing it. Cap isn’t particularly left or right wing, conservative or progressive, he is for everyone and isn’t a mouthpiece for any one group that represents their own views of what America should be.
Using the Scarecrow as this issue’s villain is smart. Going from a joke to insane mass murderer is very 1980’s and makes the comic about the story and not any fight scenes.
J M DeMatteis shows off Cap at his speechifying best, making the letterer and casual reader work hard and Mike Zeck does a great job, with Steve’s inconsistent face being my only quibble.
Overall not a fantastic issue, but a solid one and done story that I was happier for having read.
Next Time: The Thing meets Ben Grimm and there’s Nazis.