CAPTAIN AMERICA #9-12 (1998): American Nightmare

Steve Rogers juggles for a neighbor’s kid.

And generally proves his babysitting abilities.

But no, that’s not the point of this 4-issue arc.

He also gets a photon shield “similar to the one U.S. Agent uses.”

Sigh. Cap is now borrowing from his inferior copycat lesser version? Sigh. At least Cap gets to fight him later in this story.

But U.S. Agent and the new shield are also not the point of this arc. Nor is the AWESOME fight with Rhino that goes on for two issues.

“Got your nose…” Cap’s never been funny before.

Anyway, the real point of this arc is that Americans are gradually going crazy, and Captain America seems to be getting that way, too. And the evil force behind it all is…

Nightmare! And he’s rarely looked so cool!

What gives Captain America the strength to fend off Nightmare’s spell is his belief in America–combined with Sharon Carter’s own patriotism. Together, their foundational beliefs send Nightmare away.

Yes, it’s symbolic. It’s a perfect Captain America story. It’s also a progression in this overall series, which has been about Captain America returning to the 616 after the “Heroes Reborn” debacle to find the Marvel Universe profoundly damaged and, gradually, fighting off imposter skrulls and working his way back into being the preeminent symbol of hope.

Well done, Mr. Waid and Mr. Kubert.

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