I have often identified the Incredible Hulk as "my first favorite character" but I don't think I've ever mentioned that Captain America is "my second favorite character" (in sequence, not in rank). I think I probably started collecting Captain America for good and all when Hulk #231 crossed over into Captain America #230. A friend of mine had a beat up copy of Captain America #227, and this was right around the time someone sold his comic book collection to the Armchair Adventurer bookstore and I was able to fill in most issues from #114 through Kirby's mid-70s return in one swell foop. I didn't take too much effort at that point to fill in the issues I had missed from #215-229. In any case, all these things happened right around the same time to the best of my recollection, and I continued to buy every issue of Captain America for many years to come. 

I was lucky enough to have bought the Stern/Byrne run in "real time" and I was on hand for the DeMatteis/Zeck/Beatty run shortly after that. Unfortunately, those two runs were not a one-two punch; more like a one-two punch with a feint between. I prefer re-reading comics in collected editions on good paper stock rather than pulling my originals out of their boxes if at all possible. The good news is: Marvel has a great line of "Epic Collections." The bad news is: I didn't find the Captain America Epic Collection Volume 9 (reprinting #247-266 and an annual) to be a particularly good buy for me.

First of all, the DeMatteis/Zeck/Beatty team took a while to coalesce and gel. Second, the Stern/Byrne run has been collected an reprinted so often I really don't have any need to own it again. Third, between the two runs was a series of fill-ins. The DeMatteis/Zeck/Beatty run didn't really kick into high gear until #267. the best news is that the Captain America Epic Collection Volume 10 collects #267-285 (plus an annual and a crossover), the very height of the run. I've got a ton of trade credit built up at my LCS, but I was waiting until the release of v10 to get both.

The only (slightly) disappointing aspect concerning v10 is that the cover of #280 (which depicts Cap beaten and in chains) was chosen as the cover of the collection. Better choices would have been #275 (Cap in full-on action mode leaping directly at the reader) or #284 (Cap on a rooftop with the American Flag below him, flapping in the breeze).

Although it hasn't been just too long since I last read the Stern/Byrne run, approximately five years A.T. (i.e., after moving to Texas) as I like to say, when I return I plan to begin this discussion with issue #247. 

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#265:

Finally John Beatty joins the team, and J.M. de Matteis takes a couple of issues off! [headslap]

De Matteis is spelled by David Anthony Kraft, and I doubt if I even noticed at the time. Mike Zeck draws the most muscular Spider-Man I have ever seen. There is a pin-up from Spider-Man Annual #1 (I think) in which a skinny Spidey is holding aloft all of the heroes who are stronger than he is on a platform, and the caption reads something like: "Don't worry, Spidey! You're just a teenager!" I would have seen that in a treasury edition, but I remember thinking that he'd finally grow into the promise of that pin-up!

The villain of the issue is SULTAN, (which stands for Systematic Ultimate Lawless Takeover of All Nations), a paranoid former SHIELD scientist bent on world domination. The action begins when Steve Rogers is teleported from a phone booth outside SHIELD's midtown HQ. Incidentally, this issue addresses the question I raised earlier about the security of SHIELD HQ's holographic wall. Apparently one must dial a secret code into the telephone outside in order to open the door behind the holographic wall. Usually, Cap is shown running through the wall at fill tilt. I don't remember the phone, but it makes sense that there would be some security. On other occasion, Cap must dial the phone, back up and get up a head of steam. But I digress.

Anyway, Spidey witnesses this abduction and throws a tracer on him just before he vanishes. Then two SHILED agents show up, and one is thrown through the wall Cap just opened. Spidey follows and is greeted by Nick Fury himself. Spidey tells him about the tracer, and Nick is able to trace it using SHIELD's equipment. Next thing you know, Spidey and Nick are about to enter SULTAN's secret HQ on Thunderhead Island, Maine by car. (I assume they travelled most of the way via helicarrier or flew under the car's own power.)

Cap is inside, fighting a group of robots called "biotrons." SULTAN's goal is to fire an ICBM at Washington, D.C. The missile is fired and Fury latches on with a device invented by SHIELD's tech wiz, Sidney Levine (aka "the Gaffer"). Expecting to land in the ocean, Spidey swings himself and Cap outside the underground HQ in pursuit, only to discover that the island itself is flying! The issues ends in a classic comic book...

CLIFFHANGER: Cap and Spidey find themselves falling from a height of 10,000 feet!

#266:

Spidey saves himself with his web, and Cap probably would have died had not SULTAN sent a squad of Biotrons in pursuit which Cap was able to defeat, in free fall mind you, and to commandeer one. Although on a pre-progammed flight, SULTAN's IBBM is pilotable, and fury is able to get aboard and take over. Too bad it's a decoy. The real bomb is Thunderhead Island itself! Cap and Spidey defeat SULTAN, and he keels over, apparently dead. Suspecting a "deadman's switch," Cap and Spidey escape, but are shocked to discover SULTAN's intelligence in a biotron's body waiting for them.

The island flies over the mountain and explodes over the horizon, apparently destroying Washington, D.C., and SULTAN's "identification module" attempt to flee the scene, but just then, a shot blasts it to bits. It's Nick Fury! He piloted the missile into the sea and called for a lift from SHIELD, which also blew up the island over the Atlantic Ocean.

A nice little action-oriented two-parter.

I haven't read this (Captain America Annual #5), but based upon your comments:

Jeff of Earth-J said:

The story begins with Cap thwarting a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, but it quickly seems to evolve into a gang war between crime bosses Gamble and Ferrini.

This 1981 book was prescient. The first terrorist attack on the WTC was in 1993, a bomb that destroyed sublevels of the building and caused fatal and non-fatal injuries. As far as I can tell, there were no previous attacks. Maybe there were threats.

Scythe was atypical bored rich kid who eventually joined the army for something to do. While in Viet Nam, he discovered that he got off on watching people die. Upon his return to the states, he hired Hanson (someone he served with) to be his butler. Hanson hired mercenaries to kill muggers and other small-time criminals while Hanson filmed them for Scythe to watch. The criminals got bigger and bigger as time went by.

This sounds like the trend that followed the war. Every work of fiction was portraying Vietnam veterans as either crazy, drugged-out, murderous or all of the above. Hopefully the story has one or two decent vets.

This public misperception caused people not to be hired for jobs. The Greatest Generation members at veteran organizations wouldn't let Vietnam vets join. These thing didn't happen to me because I already had a job to return to and I didn't try to join vet organizations until many years later, but these were real problems.

"This 1981 book was prescient."

What seemed even more prescient at the time of its release was the 1993 crossover between X-Force and Spider-Man which also featured a threat on the WTC.

"Hopefully the story has one or two decent vets."

No, that section consisted of only two panels (a shot of him shipping out and a montage), three if you include the headline "Viet Nam War Over." I saw the inclusion of the army as a means to a literary end in that the war provided the means by which the "Deathwatcher" discovered he enjoyed watching people die.

"This sounds like the trend that followed the war."

Decide for yourself: "In an effore to escape the suffocating ennui that had taken over m,y existence, I enlisted in the Army. But even that was little help. My blase attitudes kept me cast in menial duties--and can you imagine anything less intriguing than a fouled latrine? But at last there came salvation--I was assigned to a tour of duty in Southeast Asia! And it was there that something very strange occurred: I found myself fascinated by on basic , elemental phenomenon--death! Whenever I witnessed someone dying, my pulse would race, my adrenalin would flow, and for the first time in years a felt... well... alive! But then, just when I had found a cure for the infernal boredom that threatened to engulf my whole being, tragedy struck! The war ended!"

#267:

At last! DeMatteis, Zeck & Beatty... "Together Again for the First Time!"

As the story opens, Captain America has accepted an invitation to speak to the student body at DeWitt Clinton High School.Surprisingly, the first student to ask him a question is... Karen Berger! (She asks him out on a date.) Beyond the humor of that coincidence (?), the situation quickly becomes serious as a shooter fires several shots. He is subdued, then spits on Cap. Later, Cap's motorcycle ride takes him to Hell's Kitchen where he meets three local boys and three young men. One of the men and one of the boys are brothers, and Cap gets spat on again by the older one. 

The Shooter belongs to a group led by a charismatic individual who calls himself Everyman. He challenges Cap to a dual that night at the Statue of Liberty. Cap accepts the challenge and wins, but ends up getting spat upon for a third time this issue! To tell you the truth, I didn't remember a lot about this issue before I re-read it. that is to say, I remembered the gist of what i related above, but none of the details. For example, I had forgotten that Tigra was shown reading an old issue of ZAP! comics and waxing nostalgic for the good ol' days. Iron Man points out to her that the days of the late '60s and early '70s weren't all that good for a lot of people. This is another issue that is "pure DeMatteis," chock full of social commentary. So many of the issues and points of view raised in #267 are just as relevant today as they were in 1982, perhaps even more so. 

I'll often transcribe certain passages of comics I read verbatim, but in this case I'd be quoting the whole issue. I urge anyone who has ready access to this comic book to read it again in light of the contentious times of today.

Not a coincidence as it turns out.

Here are a few excerpts from Jennifer M. Contino/Sequential Tart.

The real Karen Berger (from Bleeding Cool, 2013)

Neat!

Thanks, Dave!

#268:

Prior to 1982, the only issue of Defenders I bought new was Giant-Size #1. By the time Captain America #268 was released, I think I had acquired all of the early issues up through the Avengers/Defenders clash, plus maybe a few beyond that. I knew Valkyrie and Nighthawk, plus I new Hellcat from Avengers, but I had no idea who this "Gargoyle" was. 

The cover blurb highlights "Steve Rogers' review of a smash movie!" The movie is Raiders of the Lost Ark.

STEVE: Honestly Bernie, I enjoyed the film--but I don't know if I approve of it...

BERNIE: What was there not to approve of? You told me you're a big fan of those old 1930s movie serials--and this was just like them!

STEVE: No, it wasn't. Despite the fact that he did some good along the way, this 'Indiana' Jones character was... well, he was essentially amoral.

BERNIE: But, Steve, it was only a movie! All in fun, y'know?

STEVE: I don't know. The heroes of my day stood for something. When I'd plunk down my ten cents and climb into the balcony at the--

BERNIE: Ten cents? You're not that much older than me, Steve. Fifty cents I remember--but ten cents? No way!

STEVE: That's... um... not the point, Bernie. I'm concerned abut the children who will be seeing this film and taking that man as their hero...

BERNIE:*sigh* You are sooo old-fashioned. I think that's why I love you.

Oops. Bernie just put that right out there. Steve responded with, "And I... care about you, too, Bernie. Very much," which, as responses to those three words go ranks just above Eric Forman's, "I love... cake."

DeMattheis didn't simply throw that movie review in for its own sake; it is thematically linked to Cap's actions at the end of the issue.

Just to clarify something else, that character I mentioned in a previous post as debuting in #270 is actually lurking in the background here.

There's also a scene I like in which Cap refers to SHIELD technician Gail Runciter as "Miss" and she corrects him "Ms." Later, during a tense moment, he pointedly refers to her as "Miss Runciter." 

The story is a direct sequel to #264 and crosses over into Defenders #106.

This is a solid crossover. By that I mean that both titles had separate stories running concurrently that end up being related. Too often, a good-selling title will cross over into a lesser-selling title for the obvious purpose of boosting sales, but that is not the case here. (It helps when the same writer is assigned to both titles.)

By 1982 I had completed my collection of The Incredible Hulk or I was just about to. Up until this point, I had "ignored" Defenders, but I decided to 'follow" the Hulk into backissue of Defenders right around this time. I also continued to buy new issues of Defenders from this issue forward. J.M. DeMatteis was also writing Marvel Team-Up at this time, so I started buying that series at this time, too. Many characters and situations crossed over between and among these three titles, in both directions. It is also at this time J.M. DeMattheis became my favorite writer.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I represent the American Dream! A dream that has precious little to do with borders, bounderies and the kind of blind hatred your ilk espouses!"

#269:

"Introducing: Team America." 'Nuff said? Let's see...

Honcho. Wolf. R,U. Reddy. The Marauder. I remember Team America. "Want to see more of Team America and the mysterious Marauder"" asked the issue's final caption. "Then check out the fabulous 1st issue of their own magnificent Marvel mag--on sale February 3rd!" I'm not sure I necessarily wanted to see more of Team america at the time or not, but I must admit I did like them better than Ghost Rider (even ghost Rider written by J.M. DeMatteis). But I dutifully bought [what ended up being] all 12 issues of their own title. I have very rarely liquidated any my my comics and not regretted it, but Team America (along with U.S. 1) is an exception to that rule. The gist of the title is which one of the team members, even after they added two more, was the Marauder. Hints and clues (and red herrings) were laid as to which it could be. If one carefully followed them all (which I did not, even then), one by one each was eliminated as a suspect. As it turned out (IIRC) [SPOILER] any one of them cold have adopted the persona at a given time. [END SPOILER] I wonder what ever happened to them? 

The main plot deals with the Village of Ponder, set up by the Mad Thinker and populated by android replicas of Samuel Clemens, Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Plato, Abraham Lincoln, Confucius, Machiavelli, Socrates, Nietsche, etc. His plan was to transfer Cap's mind to an android replica so he could talk to it whenever he wished.

Traditionally, I think of captain america as a speech giver. Back when Richard Mantle's "And There Came Another Day" discussion was a going concern, I kept waiting for some of those speeches to pop up in Avengers but, for the most part, they were absent. I realize now that many of those "speeches" I remember were from the J.M. DeMatteis run of Captain America.

ASIDE: Has anyone heard from Richard Mantle lately? Does anyone know how to contact him? That last he posted to that discussion was on April 5th, that he was "self isolating/symptomatic." I hope he's all right.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: An article in the newspaper reports that a group of neo-Nazis held a rally at a Long Island high school. when Anna Kappelbaum suggests that the President should "lock them away," Steve rogers responds: "Anna--you don't mean that! Having lived through the horrors of the second world war, you can't mean that. the first thing the Nazis did was take away freedoms--deny men their rights. If we want to keep the torch of liberty burning, we must be unafraid of ideas--however noxious. We have to believe that people are wise enough to make the right choices." 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

The gist of the title is which one of the team members, even after they added two more, was the Marauder. Hints and clues (and red herrings) were laid as to which it could be. If one carefully followed them all (which I did not, even then), one by one each was eliminated as a suspect.

This reminds me of the DC title The Secret Six. In the original 1968-69 seven-issue run we were invited to find out which member was secretly their antagonist Mockingbird.

ASIDE: Has anyone heard from Richard Mantle lately? Does anyone know how to contact him? That last he posted to that discussion was on April 5th, that he was "self isolating/symptomatic.”

Thanks for pointing this out. He is one of the Legionaires who accepted me for sending notes. I just sent him one asking how he is. Unfortunately, I don’t know another way to contact him.

About Cap #268: At the time (and today), I disagreed with Steve. Indiana Jones was not amoral. He was obsessive, self-centered and sexist but no more than Steve Rogers was. But Indy wasn't a hero. He didn't want to fight the Nazis, he wanted to find something before they did. He was a seeker, a digger, a champion of history. And he would be a Marvel hero, too in the Further Adventures of Indiana Jones.

Cap's crossover with the Defenders led to not one but two traumatic "deaths" for the Non-Team though both would be negated, one sooner than later.

About Cap #269: I too have a complete set of Team America. I even spoke to Jim Shooter about its finale at a convention (that and Karate Kid and Hank Pym!)! It wasn't the worst concept but those guys needed to be more than stereotypes! They added Cowboy, Wrench and Wrench's wife to the group.

After their series ended, they were classified as mutants and appeared in New Mutants briefly to control the Marauder persona. It once possessed Danielle Moonstar! They were later redubbed "The Thunder-Riders" in The Thing and worked as stunt riders.

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