Captain America (1st series) #172

Issue Date: 
April 1974
Story Title: 
Believe it or not: The Banshee!

Steve Englehart (writer), Sal Buscema (artist), Vince Colletta (inker), Simek (letterer), Brand (colorist), Roy Thomas (editor)

Brief Description: 

Moonstone has beaten Captain America and the Falcon and intends to kill them, but his superior in the Secret Empire forbids this, as this would make them martyrs. Instead, he is to call the media. Moonstone takes the unconscious heroes to Central Park to be guarded by Secret Empire guards while he calls the press, but Cap and Falcon awake and manage to escape. They discuss their grim situation later. Thanks to the Secret Empire, Cap is believed to be a criminal. From remarks Moonstone made, they figure out their foes have a connection to Nashville. They hitchhike there incognito and run into the mutant Banshee, who is also on the run from the Secret Empire. However, Banshee believes that Captain America is a criminal and concludes they are after him. He starts a fight and is about to win when the X-Man Cyclops intervenes. Banshee flees and Cyclops takes Cap and Falcon to what’s left of the X-Men: himself, Marvel Girl and Professor X. Xavier reveals that many of their allies and enemies have disappeared and that he believes they and Captain America share a common foe.

Full Summary: 

Captain America and the Falcon have fallen at the hands of the Moonstone in his hideout. The villain gloats and intends to murder them, when a bespectacled man in a white suit forbids it. Moonstone identifies him as the boss. The man reminds him to call him Quent and tells him to not even think of killing those two. No matter what sort of ad campaign they ran afterwards, their deaths would make them martyrs, meaning heroes to a large segment of the American public. What do they do then? Moonstone asks. Quent tells him to call the media, the ones with a bias to their side. But do it somewhere else.

Moonstone takes his two unconscious prisoners to Central Park, where several of the Secret Empire’s guards are waiting. He orders them to guard the heroes, while he makes some calls. It shouldn’t be too hard. They have guns, after all.

The guards mock him behind his back, figuring leaders are all like this now: nothing but ego and power hungry. Guys like MacArthur and Eisenhower knew they were guys like you. But these new fellows think they are little tin gods.

In the meantime, Cap has regained consciousness and attacks. Having taken them out, he wonders where the Falcon is. He is unaware he has missed one of the guards in the bushes who is about to shoot him. Luckily, the Falcon takes out the sniper. Only a moment later, though, both are shot at by another sniper. The man is attacked by Falcon’s pet Redwing, allowing the two heroes to flee.

Nearby, Moonstone is waiting for the press to arrive when he notices a shuffle in the bushes. Cap and the Falcon run past him out of the park, not wishing to risk fighting his powers again.

Moonstone doesn’t chase them. He dare not be seen losing to them in public. He remembers the reporters coming and lashes out at the guards for their failure. He tells one of them to hit him from behind. He needs proof to explain to the journalists that Captain America attacked him from behind.

It has begun to rain when Cap and the Falcon finally reach Harlem. Once in Sam Wilson’s apartment, they discuss how to fight back. Cap recalls that sometimes Moonstone dropped references to Country music. And just before he nailed Falcon he said “that museum moon rock” had given him laser powers. And which city known for country music also has a museum with a genuine moon rock? Falcon agrees and suggests they go to Nashville. Hesitatingly, Cap warns Falcon this might become dangerous. There’s a lot of power behind this conspiracy. Sam pragmatically suggests he take a raincoat.

And soon the two of them hitchhike. They luck out. A truck driver bound for Little Rock takes them in and Nashville is on his way. He finds the two men somewhat suspicious but says nothing.

Finally, they arrive in Nashville and the very relieved driver lets them go. Sam tells Cap to lighten up. He nearly drove that guy into paranoia. Then he’d be just like him, Cap replies glumly, except he knows there are people out to get him.

Half a block ahead is another man who should be in hiding. Instead, he has just gotten a ticket for the Merle Haggard concert. He tells himself what could be safer, for who would believe an Irish-born Banshee to be a fan of American country music?

He bumps into Steve and Sam, and sees the Captain America costume under the coat. He has heard Cap is a criminal and figures he is out to take the Banshee down. Banshee drops his coat, revealing his own costume and vows they’ll never take the Banshee alive.

Cap and Falcon don their masks. They have no idea what Banshee is on about. Banshee emits an ultratrasonic scream at them, but Cap’s shield takes the brunt of the attack. Cap distracts Banshee with the toss of his shield and then hits him in the face.

Cap demands an explanation, to which Banshee threatens to blast him to kingdom come. However, he finds he cannot scream with his bruised jaw. He uses the little sound he can produce to float upward but Cap catches his ankle.

Falcon is somewhat embarrassed to be climbing a lamppost but the jet tips on his glider wings can’t lift him unless he already has some speed. He heads towards the Banshee and uses him like a trampoline to bring him down. Banshee angrily wishes that his jaw had time to recover. He sends a sonar scream at the building behind them, which almost collapses on them. The next sonic attack goes directly against them and they feel like their heads are about to burst. They try to reach him but collapse beforehand.

Suddenly, a blast almost hits the Banshee. He looks up to see his attacker is Cyclops of the X-Men. Cyclops shouts that he doesn’t want to hurt him but his optic blast can come much closer if he tries to make another run.

Not listening to Cyclops’ explanation, Banshee dodges him and then attacks with a sonic scream. Cyclops stumbles to his knees. For a moment, Banshee seems to be torn between running and staying but he runs.

Falcon and Cap recover. Suddenly, they are levitated by an invisible force. They fly east towards open country, until Marvel Girl sets them down before her and Professor X.

Xavier introduces himself and Marvel Girl to the Falcon. Cap angrily demands to know why mutants have declared open season on them. Jean begins to protest, but Xavier interrupts that he understands Cap’s anger. What happened today was the reverse of what he thinks. Banshee fought them as he fought Cyclops, because open season has been declared on mutants. All of his other X-Men, many of his allies and enemies, have been captured by a group bent on destroying them. It is difficult to tell friend from foe. Banshee mistook them and Cyclops for the latter.

Cap doesn’t want to seem unconcerned but he has his own problems now. If it’s help they’re after— Xavier explains that he believes they are being hunted by the same group. If that’s true, they’ve got all the help they can give, Cap promises. Tell him more…

Characters Involved: 

Captain America

Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Professor X (all X-Men)


Moonstone I, Quentin Harderman, guards (Secret Empire)

Story Notes: 

At the time the X-Men are without their own title.

Writer Steve Englehart had already started his storyline in Avengers (1st series) #110-111 when the Angel disappeared.

Banshee fought the X-Men in X-Men (1st series) #60.

Merle Haggard is a famous country music star.

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