CAPTAIN AMERICA #261-263 (1981): DeMatteis/Zeck run starts

At last! After a bunch of fill-in writers/artists, J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck are in place, getting started on a very long, very positive run on Captain America. And they start by introducing Nomad. Actually, it starts with Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson getting drunk and attacked by some muggers.

Impaired, Steve swears of liquor forever.

Because Captain America is nothing if not known for extreme, righteous overreaction. So in the first few pages, DeMatteis proves he knows the character and isn’t afraid to put him in new situations.

I think this is the first time I’ve seen any drunkness in a comic book?

Cap goes home to Avengers mansion and sees a news story of a new Nomad.

(Steve Rogers briefly took a turn as Nomad in Captain America #179, back when he was upset at his country’s government.)

After a brief history lesson, Cap goes out to California to meet this new character. They clash a few times, and as readers we see a shadowy character called “Teacher” who is directing behind-the-scenes actions by Nomad.  Nomad’s not a good guy.  He and a “Fake Cap” (a giant robot with a human brain called Ameridroid, last seen in Cap #221) who is being instructed by the Teacher, are part of a disinformation campaign to make Cap look incompetent and Nomad look like the bee’s knees.


Of course, The Teacher is Red Skull, who kills Nomad and captures Cap.

That’s pretty ballsy for your first Captain America story–to bring out Red Skull. Most creators wait to culminate their run with the biggest Cap villain ever.

The punchline, though, fails a little.  Skull is making a movie about Cap being a loser, so he can show it to Americans and have them turn on Cap.  That seems kind of silly, and a long way to go to justify this complicated a plot.

On the other hand, public disinformation is consistent with Nazi strategy.

And speaking of fake news, and bringing out Red Skull on your first issue…

…It was a robot.

Mike Zeck sells the hell out of this tale, and it’s good to see Cap being Cap again. Let’s take these last moments to appreciate the end of the story, and how well Zeck draws Red Skull.

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