Characters Appearing: Arnie Roth, Batroc, Bernie Rosenthal, Black Crow, Black Widow, Captain America, Crossbones, Crystal, Fabian Stankowicz, Free Spirit, Henry Pym, Hercules, Hiram Riddley, Jack Flag, Jarvis, Moonhunter, Moonstone (Lloyd Bloch), Peggy Carter, Quicksilver, Sharon Carter
Captain America #443
Issue(s): Captain America #443
It's official: Captain America has 24 hours to live. The Black Crow says so.
The titles of the past several issues have been the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner, for what it's worth.
Cap was in the middle of chasing Nefarious (the original Moonstone who now has Count Nefaria's powers) when Black Crow gave him the news. Cap decides to let Nefarius go to focus on things that will matter on his final day.
He heads back to his Brooklyn headquarters and summons his support crew: Jack Flag, Free Spirit, Fabian Stankowicz, Zach Moonhunter. He tells them about Black Crow's premonition (without mentiong Black Crow) and gives them access to his computer network and stipend, asking them to continue it for him. This is not something that will get continued anywhere (e.g. not in Mark Waid's Captain America, not in the Avengers). The next time we'll see Jack Flag is in Thunderbolts #110. Free Spirit and Moonhunter never appear again (prior to the 2015 soft reboot, anyway). Stankowicz has one more minor appearance in a 1999 Avengers annual.
Cap then goes to a prison ("a penitentiary somewhere") to visit Crossbones.
He doesn't tell him that he's dying, but he tells Crossbones that no one is beyond redemption and he should find something good in himself. Crossbones laughs him off.
For what it's worth, Gruenwald writes in an essay in this issue's lettercol that he considers Crossbones the greatest villain that he's created for Cap, and i agree (but only because the Serpent Society doesn't count as a single villain!). But i would have liked to see a little more nuance in the above scene. Instead of Crossbones just admitting to a cartoonish evilness worthy of Carnage or something, i would have liked to see him just sort of quietly chuckle and say that Cap wouldn't ever understand him or something. But, regardless, nice seen seeing the two of them interact.
Cap then checks in with a few old friends: Bernie Rosenthal, Arnie Roth, Falcon, Ram Riddley. The visits are kind of depressing - Falcon is "peeved" at Cap for taking him out of his neighborhood for the AIM island story, Arnie succumbs to cancer after Cap leaves the hospital, Ram's mother was recently shot in the head on her way to church. On a more lighthearted note, Cap gets a visit from Batroc.
Batroc wanted to tell Cap about the serial killer who was killing costumed figures in South America, including his partner Machete. When Batroc hears that Cap dealt with that last issue, Batroc insists on joining him for a drink. Cap tells him that he's dying and asks Batroc to redeem himself.
We don't see Batroc's response. Cap goes upstairs to lie down, and the Avengers later find his empty armor on the bed.
A pretty good retrospective, better than the usual collage of flashbacks. It carries extra weight since, even though we know Cap will be back, this is the end of Gruenwald's long run and he will pass away not long after that.
In the lettercol, we're told that while Captain America won't be appearing in The Crossing, "it does denote a renewed focus on continuity and story between books" and will also contain a "major clue to Cap's fate". There's also the retrospective from Gruenwald; i've quoted some of it at the bottom of the entry for Captain America #310 because the thing that stood out to me most in the essay related to the Serpent Society.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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