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.
MARVEL MASTERWORKS CAPTAIN AMERICA Vol. 13:
CAPTAIN AMERICA #231-236: I cannot tell you my reaction when I first learned of the deaths of Gwen Stacy or of Jean Grey, only that it was after-the-fact because I was not reading Spider-Man or X-Men (respectively) at the time. Consequently, those deaths didn't really affect me at all, one way or the other. The death that did affect me, however, was the death of Sharon Carter (which occurred in #233 but was not verified until #237). In this storyline, Cap confronts the National Force. Just substitute "Proud Boys" for "National Force" and you'll see how relevant the story remains. Pulling the strings of the National force is an obese man with ridiculous hair.
The rest of the stories in this volumes are basically "fill-ins" marking time until the new regular team of Roger Stern and John Byrne take over (in #247). I culled all of the remaining issues from my collection some 35 years ago except for #237. (I'll get to that in a moment.) #241 features the Punisher, and I purged that issue from my collection at the height of that characters popularity as a tacit rejection of all he stood for. Carmine Infantine provides the art for #245. One other thing of note in this run is the cover of #247, which features the name of virtually every Marvel staffer and freelancer at the time scrawled as graffiti on a subway car. The collection also include a Falcon solo tale from Marvel Premiere #49.
CAPTAIN AMERICA #237: This issue (plotted by Chris Claremont, surprisingly) provides the perfect transition from Roger McKenzie's run to Stern/Byrne's. It wraps up the loose end of the National Force arc, confirms Sharon's death, and introduces the new supporting cast (most of them, anyway) as Steve rogers moves to his new brownstone in Brooklyn Heights. #237 and #245 were also both featured in the 2018 anthology We Spoke Out: Comic Books and the Holocaust.
MMW Volume 13 continues directly into issue #247 (see page one of this discussion).
I liked the Daredevil guest appearances in these issues, as well as the choice of character for National Force's front man.
It would be natural to expect the Avengers instead of DD to go and rescue Cap from his predicament, but it would also be a bit of a cliche, as well as a mismatch of tone for this storyline. It was nice to see the two characters interact and somewhat surprise each other, and one has to assume that at some point the Avengers would simply not be available to help one of their own at just the right time.
By the same token, having Sharon's fate be left undetermined for four issues was unsatisfying in just the right way to be effective in a street level story of such as this.
There seems to be a dropped plot in issues #231-233. To the best of my knowledge we never learned who that shadowed person following Cap and running down a list of names that he suspected to be him was. Dan H believes it may have been meant to be a member of the version of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants that Cap fought in a recent Annual, perhaps Peeper.
"I liked the Daredevil guest appearances in these issues..."
I probably should have mentioned Daredevil guest-starred in #234-235. Roger McKenzie, the writer of this run of issues, was also writing Daredevil at the time.
"...as well as the choice of character for National Force's front man."
Ah, yes, the "Grand Director." (I probably should have mentioned him, too.)
"There seems to be a dropped plot in issues #231-233."
I never noticed that before (or simply forgot), but I think you're right. When I think of dropped plot threads from this era, I always think of Agent R (Veda's mother) and her unexplained disfigurement. When I re-read these issues yesterday for the first time in many years, I didn't remember that list of names but assumed it would be dealt with in #238-246. (It's been decades since I culled those issues from my collection.) I'm trying to read few comic books these days and have no plans to re-read those issues again at this time. In #231, the mystery man mentions "the brotherhood," but I think it's a stretch to assume that was a reference to The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
It is a stretch, but there is really no more obvious guess available.
Is it possible that Roger Stern and/or John Byrne wanted Cap to be unattached and asked that Sharon Carter be "removed"?
It's possible, I suppose, but I don't think it's likely. For one thing, her (off panel) death occurred 14 issues before Stern/Byrne took over. Jim Salicrup wrote the introduction the the MMW collection, but he wasn't very forthcoming concerning the removal of Sharon Carter; in fact, although he discussed other specific story points, he didn't even mention her death or the reasons behind it.
Seems like it was a rather haphazard means of disposing of Sharon Carter without much deep thought, although such tragedies do happen in the real world all to often. But then, it was yet another example of the "girlfriend in the refrigerator" trope. Sharon could have easily been written out of the mag without having to kill her off, but had to get a dramatic send off. Funny, although she was a key character during Kirby's late Silver Age run on Cap, and although she was still a regular supporting character in CA&TF before Kirby began his Bronze Age run, to my recall he pretty much entirely ignored her, never even referring to her or providing any reason whey she & Steve were no longer spending time together. And even after Kirby departs, she never made a strong comeback, seeming to return just to be killed off (at least until a much later writer decided she wasn't quite so dead after all).
No fewer than THREE Captain America omnibus editions ship this week:
Comic book titan Dan Jurgens' complete CAPTAIN AMERICA run! In action-packed adventures, Cap must somehow stop the war efforts of the Hate-Monger, a villain with ties to Hitler himself - and save Ka-Zar from the monstrous murderer Count Nefaria! But when Steve Rogers comes face-to-face with Protocide, he learns that everything he knew about his origin is wrong! And what happens when Steve's girlfriend, Connie Ferrari, gets caught in an A.I.M. plot? Then, the entire free world is at stake when the nefarious Red Skull hijacks the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and threatens nuclear annihilation. The only one that can stop this diabolical plan is the Sentinel of Liberty. There's just one problem: Captain America is...dead?! Featuring Nick Fury, U.S.Agent, the Fantastic Four and the Howling Commandos! Collecting CAPTAIN AMERICA (1998) #25-50 and CAPTAIN AMERICA ANNUAL 2000-2001; and material from CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE LEGEND.
The story that stunned readers, sent shockwaves through the Marvel Universe and made headlines worldwide! Captain America has been assassinated! And now Sharon Carter, Bucky Barnes, Falcon, Black Widow and Iron Man come together in a desperate attempt to keep Cap's dream alive. But Steve Rogers' death was merely the first step in the Red Skull's wicked machinations. As the Skull's true plan kicks into motion and chaos takes hold of the United States, only one man stands in its way - but is he up to the task? Only recently known as the Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes is called on to live up to the dream in ways he never imagined. Eisner Award-winning writer Ed Brubaker combines action, suspense and human drama in a saga that ties together all eras of the star-spangled Avenger's history! Collecting CAPTAIN AMERICA (2004) #25-42.
Marvel celebrates the 80th anniversary of the legendary red, white and blue Super-Soldier Captain America with a second omnibus hardcover of vintage 1940s Timely tales! Across twelve giant-sized classics, Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes battle Axis invaders, fifth columnists, weird terrors, robotic menaces and the iconic super villain the Red Skull! The World War II-era action takes place both stateside and in the European and Pacific theaters of battle! Foes include the reanimated murderer Killer Kole, the lethal and lovely Queen Medusa, and Black Talon and Black Toad! Each 64-page issue is jam-packed with adventure, including superstar backups featuring Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch, and diamonds in the Golden Age rough like the Fighting Yank, Roddy Colt, "Headline" Hunter, the Secret Stamp and Stan Lee's whimsical feature, "The Imp!" Collecting CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #13-24.
For those who don't know, S&K's last issue of Captain America Comics was #10. (They also did the Captain America stories in All Winners Comics #1 and #2.)
The artists who continued CA in this period imitated the S&K style. Some of those involved had been inking Kirby's work. One of the artists was Syd Shores, who inked some of Kirby's CA stories in the late 1960s and did other work for Marvel in that period.
#13 was the first issue with a post-Pearl Harbor cover. I don't know which issue had the first post-Pearl Harbor stories.
Some of these issues had two Captain America stories, some three. I'm surprised to learn some number were 20 pages. Two - in #16 and #19 respectively - were even 24.
"Battles the Reaper!" from #22 is the story that was reprinted in the 1970s in Invaders #10.
The supporting features were as follows:
#13 The Imp, Headline Hunter, The Secret Stamp
#14 The Imp, The Secret Stamp
#15 The Imp, The Secret Stamp
#16 The Imp, The Secret Stamp
#17 The Fighting Yank, The Secret Stamp
#18 The Fighting Fool, The Secret Stamp
#19 Human Torch, The Secret Stamp
#20 Sub-Mariner, The Secret Stamp
#21 Human Torch, Dippy Diplomat, The Secret Stamp
#22 Human Torch, The Secret Stamp
#23 Human Torch, The Secret Stamp
#24 Dippy Diplomat, The Secret Stamp
"Headline Hunter" was about an Axis-fighting foreign correspondent. The feature had started in #5.
"The Secret Stamp" started in #13. The title character was a boy superhero who sells war stamps.
"The Imp" started in #12. It was about a evil-fighting imp, and was written in rhyme by Lee and drawn in an excellent bigfoot style by Chad Grothkopf.
The Fighting Yank, in #17, is a serviceman-superhero, and a different character to the Standard superhero of that name.
The Fighting Fool, in #18, is a different character again, a non-superhero Australian serviceman.
There were sometimes short items, and of course the issues also carried text stories.