Captain America (1st series) #347

Issue Date: 
November 1988
Story Title: 

Mark Grunewald (writer), Keiron Dwyer (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Wright (colorist), Jack Morelli (letterer), Marc Siry (assistant editor), Ralph Macchio (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

John Walker - Captain America - visit’s the mother of Left-Winger and threatens her, telling her that the next time she sees her son, to tell him he is a dead man. Left-Winger and Right-Winger are both having a training session when Mrs Lennox phones her son to tell him what happened. This angers Left-Winger. In Washington, the entire Commission on Superhuman Activity, except for Head Commissioner Rockwell, is assembled, and discussing the troublesome Captain America. Rockwell is visiting the former Captain America, Steve Rogers, who demands to know why he is being held prisoner, and suspects that Rockwell has some personal vendetta against him, despite never meeting Rockwell until recently. Walker next visits Right-Winger’s mother, who isn’t interested in anything he has to say, and suggests he tell Right-Winger’s father. Battlestar sits an exam to get his high school diploma, while Left-Winger, Right-Winger and Ethan Thurm travel across the country to track Walker down. Walker arrives at the construction site where Right-Winger’s father works, and threatens him, only for Left-Winger and Right-Winger to arrive. A battle ensues but despite their best efforts, Left-Winger and Right-Winger are no match for their former friend, who captures them and ties them up to a large vat, with one of their flame-torch weapons laying near a leaking oil tanker, and the other Walker gives to them so they can try and burn their way out of the ropes they are bound in. Walker then leaves, and as he walks away, the gas tank explodes, with Left-Winger and Right-Winger still trapped. Walker manages a smile as he leaves them. Meantime, Albert Malik, the one-time Red Skull is freed from prison, only to be slain by the Scourge of the Underworld. Head Commissioner Rockwell reports to his mysterious superior that the members of the Commission are growing suspicious of him, but the mysterious superior is not revealing what his ultimate plan is. He then gets a call, learning that Malik is dead, and for some reason is very pleased.

Full Summary: 

Park Ridge, Illinois, an outer suburb of Chicago. It’s the dead of night, and a doorbell rings at a quaint two-story home. There is no answer, despite a light being on in the living room. The doorbell rings once more, and an elderly woman looks up from her sofa. She stubs her cigarette out into an ashtray while watching an episode of a game show on the television. ‘Now who in the world -’ the old woman mutters, before turning to her dog and asking him if they are expecting company tonight. ‘Think it could be Publisher’s Clearing House - telling us we’ve won a million dollars?’ the old woman asks. The dog begins to bark as it accompanies the old woman to the door.

The elderly woman tells her dog to settle down, as they get precious few visitors as it is. ‘You don’t want to go scaring them away especially if it is those sweepstakes people’ she points out. But as she opens the door, a look of horror spreads across the old woman’s face: ‘Oh - my - gawd!’ she calls out - as standing before her, is Captain America. ‘Mrs Lennox?’ the hero calls out. ‘Tell your son, Hector, that the next time I se him he’s a dead man’ Captain America, real name John Walker, warns her. The old woman falls backwards a little, and the dog rushes into the kitchen.

Mrs Lennox leans against the doorframe, ‘M heart!’ she calls out, before wondering where her nitro-glycerine pills are. She makes her way back into the kitchen and exclaims ‘That man was dressed up like Captain America! Could it have been the real guy? Here in Park Ridge?’ she wonders what he could possibly want with Hector and decides she best call her son and tell him what “that man” said.

Meantime, at Gleason’s Gym, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hector Lennox a.k.a. Left-Winger is sparring in the boxing ring with his partner, Jerome Johnson a.k.a. Right-Winger. ‘Left yourself wide open, pal! So I’m closing in!’ Hector exclaims as he punches Jerome hard in the face, knocking his mouth-guard out. ‘Looking good, Lefty! Can barely tell you pulled it!’ their manager, Ethan Thurm, exclaims, when suddenly, the phone rings. Ethan answers the phone, introducing himself as “manager, promoter and entrepreneur extraordinaire”. When the caller identifies themselves, Ethan calls out to Hector, who somersaults out of the ring and tells Jerome to take a breather as he has to talk to his old lady.

Hector takes the phone from Ethan, who tells him to make it quick, as he is expecting some important calls. Hector pulls his mask up and smiles, asking ‘Hey, Ma! How’s it - WHAAAT?’ he bellows as his mother relays her terrifying event to him. ‘Blast it!’ Hector shouts as he slams the phone down, shattering it. ‘Aww, man! Now how am I gonna call my bookie?’ Jerome thinks to himself. ‘Uh, Hector? Bad news?’ Ethan enquires. Hector smashes his fist through the whole phone box, and shouts ‘He threatened my mother, that swine! My mother! With her heart condition! I’ll kill him for that!’

Jerome goes over to his friend and asks ‘Who, Hec? Who threatened your Ma?’, to which Hector exclaims ‘Walker did! John Walker! Ex-buddy turned Captain Creepo America’. ‘Him? He threatened your Ma?’ Jerome asks. Hector explains that it was he who Walker threatened, but seeing as his mother doesn’t know he is super strong, she is scared out of her wits for him. Ethan tells Jerome and Hector that he wouldn’t put threatening their folks past Walker - especially after what happened to his folks on account of their actions. ‘After all, if you hadn’t stormed the stage in Washington and revealed the new Cap’s identity on national teevee - those redneck Watchdogs wouldn’t have known enough to kidnap Johnny’s parents and they wouldn’t have gotten themselves blown away’ Ethan points out.

Hector puts his mask back on and Jerome tells Ethan not to pin that rap on them, as they didn’t know the Watchdogs would kill Walker’s parents. Jerome reminds Ethan that it was his idea to get revenge on Walker for ditching them - his best friends - when he and Lemar got that stupid government gig. Ethan replies that he wasn’t counting on John-boy being so stupid that he couldn’t look after his own Mom and Pop. Hector declares that putting the scare into his sixty year-old mother is going too far. ‘We’re going to have to do more than just publicly humiliate Walker now - we gotta stop him for good!’

Washington DC, the meeting room of the Commission on Superhuman Activity. Nine of the ten members of the Commission are present, seated around the board room table. ‘We should just cut Walker loose! Disavow all of his actions and let him hang out to dry. He’s unsalvageable!’ Henry Peter Gyrich declares. But Adrian Sammish tells him that Walker is a trifle overzealous, but still a good soldier, pointing out that the way he beat the Resistants single-handedly is proof of his usefulness.

At the head of the table, the glamorous Doctor Valerie Cooper remarks that Walker almost blew that for them, as they wanted some of the Resistants to escape so they would lead them back to their stronghold. ‘Fortunately, operative Mystique was able to salvage the situation’ Val reveals. Sammish announces that the Resistants business won’t mean a thing when the news leaks out, and he is certain it will, that their new boy is responsible for the deaths of a dozen of those Watchdogs. Avengers’ Liaison Raymond Sikorsky suggests they just own up to their mistake and recommission the original Captain America, Steve Rogers, now that he is in their custody, they may be able to cut a deal with him.

However, General Haywerth declares that Rogers is twice the maverick Walker is, so is useless to them. Henry Gyrich declares that neither of them is suitable for so important a role as Captain America, and that all of these renegade super-types must be taught they cannot act outside of society’s law. While Orville Sanderson, Wesley Werner and Martin Farrow remain silent, George Mathers checks his watch and wonders what is keeping Head Commissioner Rockwell, as they cannot decide anything until he gets here.

At that moment, Head Commissioner Douglas Rockwell stands before the cell that is housing Steve Rogers, now known as the Captain, and is halfway through a sentence: ‘-until you tell us what we need to know!’ he declares. Steve replies that his lawyer has not yet been to see him, and that unless their nation’s laws have changed in the week that he has been holed up here, he has the right to counsel. ‘You’re in no position to make demands, Rogers. I told you your lawyer would be here all in due time!’ Rockwell barks. Steve points out that there have been so many irregularities since he turned himself into the Commission, that he is beginning to think the Commission is acting without official sanction. ‘Are you making accusations?’ Rockwell asks, to which Steve declares that there is something personal about this, but that as far as he knows, he never met Rockwell before the day he turned in his original shield and uniform. ‘But for some reason, you, or whoever you work for, has something personal against me’ Steve declares.

‘Paranoid, aren’t we?’ Rockwell sniggers, before turning and walking away, announcing that he is late for a meeting. ‘But don’t worry, I’ll be back!’ he calls out. Steve sits down on the cot in the cell and wonders if he made a mistake opposing the Commission from the start. He recalls that it wasn’t that he thought the government had the moral right to strip him of being Cap, but he did think they had the legal right. Steve reminds himself that he believed the president condoned the action taken against him, thus fighting the Commission would be the same as waging war against the government itself, in his view. Steve stands up and goes over to the bars, clutching them, he tells himself that most of his friends - Falcon, Nomad and Bernie, tried to tell him something stank about the situation the Commission forced him into, but he refused to listen. Steve wonders why - and whether he secretly wanted to stop being Captain America? Was he too tired to fight? Did he now know how to fight this one? He wonders if he is being treated unfairly, illegally, what can he do about it at this late stage?

East Philadelphia, Captain America - John Walker - stands in the corridor of a very run down apartment block, and tells a doughy woman in a nightgown with a baby in her arms and a young child clutching at her knees that the next time she sees her son Jerome to tell him that he is a dead man. ‘What? You mean that little snot ain’t dead yet? Look Mr Tights, why’nt you go tell his good-for nothing father! He may give a flying fig for Jerry - but I sure as heck don’t!’ the woman screeches as she slams the door in Walker’s face. A very unimpressed Walker turns and strides purposefully down the ruined corridor.

Meanwhile, in Alexandria, Virginia, Lemar Hoskins a.k.a. Battlestar wonders what Johnny is doing tonight. He is worried about his friend, as he thought his victory against the Resistants would pep him up - but it didn’t, he just hasn’t been himself since his folks passed away. Chewing on a pencil, head against his other hand, Lemar realizes that his thoughts are wandering again. He ells himself that he has to concentrate, or he is never going to make it out of here. He turns his attention back to the paper in front of him. ‘Let’s see…’ he begins as he reads out the questions to himself, such as what year the United States declared its independence. He knows that is easy - July 4, 1776.

The next question relates to the number of amendments to the Constitution, but he is unsure as to whether there are twenty-one or twenty-two. “Which of the following men were never president? Thomas Jefferson, Calvin Coolidge or Ben Franklin?” is the next question, and Lemar decides the answer is Ben Franklin. Lemar is a little puzzled at the next question, which asks what country sold the United States the Louisiana purchase. Suddenly, the teacher calls out to the class of adult students and tells them to put their pencils down and pas their papers forward. ‘Oh, man, I hope I pass this final. If I do, a high school diploma will be mine!’ Lemar thinks to himself.

Later, ten thousand feet over Nevada, inside a plane, Ethan Thurm sits between Hector and Jerome, who stares out the window, while Hector tells Ethan that he didn’t have to tag along, as they are big boys and can handle themselves. ‘Nonsense, Hector! You two are my most valued clients!’ Ethan exclaims. ‘Where you go, I go! That’s what a manger’s for!’ he adds. ‘Only ones, too’ Jerome thinks to himself, while Hector adds that if Johnny does threaten his pop like they think he is going to, then they will haveto make sure it is the last thing the slime ball ever does. ‘You do mean that figurativel, don’t you Hec?’ Ethan asks, concerned. He adds that he can post their bail for disrupting the peace now and then, but murder charges are different. ‘Relax, chubbs! All we want to do is stop him from threatening our folks!’ Hector declares, adding that if Walker gets uppity and forces them to kill him, it will be a simple matter of self-defense.

Meanwhile, in a federal prison in Northern Algeria, prison guards do their best to stop an army of soldiers storm the prison, searching the cells for someone in particular. ‘Stop them!’ one shouts as bullets fly in all directions. ‘Fuchs - check out C-Block. The soldier races along, and blasts the lock off one of the cells, where, inside, dressed in prison jumpsuit, rats on the floor, is an older man who shouts ‘What is all the commotion? Who are you? Speak or I’ll kill -’, but the soldier announces ‘Rescue party, sir!’, to which the old man declares that it is about time, as he has been rotting in this cell for months. The soldiers continue to fire at the guards, as the old man is led from his cell, his eyes unaccustomed to the light. He picks up a gun from one of the dead officers, and declares ‘This swine won’t be needed this’, while one of the soldiers reports that the chopper is on its way.

The prison officers follow the soldiers out of the prison, and shout ‘Stop them! Malik must not get away!’ As the chopper lands, the soldiers tell Malik to run for it while they hold the devils back. ‘Yes…yes…you do that, men!’ Albert Malik declares. One of the soldiers helps Malik into the chopper, but he shouts ‘Unhand me, you idiot! I am not some invalid!’. Another soldier is shot down, while the one who helped Malik into the chopper tells him that he meant no disrespect, as he climbs into the chopper, only forMalik to kick him out: ‘Your weight will only slow us down, mercenary dog!’ he shouts. The soldier falls and is struck down as he lands. The chopper takes off into the air, and the guards continue to fire at it, ‘Aim for the gas tank!’ one of them declares.

Inside the chopper, Malik smiles, and declares ‘We made it! I’m free again! Ha-ha! There’s not a prison in the world that can hold me!’ and he boasts that he is too cunning, too ingenious, too well prepared for the likes of his opposition. Calling out to the pilot, Malik asks where his mask it. The pilot motions to a box on the floor of the chopper, and Malik opens it, placing his mask on, he tells himself that the American archer and his insipid cronies thought they had put him away for good, but they are just arrogant fools, and it was only a set back. With his mask in place, Albert Malik, alias the Red Skull, boasts that unlike the preening Nazi who originated the role, it is he who has the last laugh on his enemies. ‘While he scurried about launching one ridiculous master plan after another, I toiled in anonymity, establishing one of Europe’s largest criminal empires!’

Malik is paying no attention to the pilot as he crows that when he learned that the original Skull had died, he decided to resume his identity, and recalls that he first assumed the identity in the 1950’s when the original was in hiding. The pilot suddenly calls out to Malik, informing him that he has something else for him. Malik, with his grinning mask in place, spins around - and calls the pilot a cretin and declares ‘You will henceforth address me as -’, but he quickly realizes that a shotgun is being pointed at him. An instant later, the pilot fires, and blasts Malik out of the chopper, causing his mask to fall off in the process. ‘Justice is served!’ the pilot - a Scourge of the Underworld - shouts.

Meantime, in Washington DC, in the office of Head Commissioner Rockwell, Rockwell speaks via communications monitor to his mysterious contact who is hidden in the red shadows of his location. ‘That I’m under a lot of pressure here, sir. The other Commission members are getting suspicious…’ Rockwell utters. ‘Oh? About what, Douglas?’ the mysterious contact Rockwell looks very uncomfortable as he replies ‘About Steve Rogers, sir. I’ve been holding him for over a week now and the Commission wants to know what we’re going to do with him’. Rockwell asks his superior to just tell him what the ultimate plan is, he would happily go about expediting it.

‘I told you before, Douglas - I will disclose that to you when I want to you to know it, and not a moment before’ the mysterious man in the red shadows replies, before excusing himself, announcing that he has a call on another line. ‘B-but, sir!’ Rockwell utters, but the call ends. Taking his other call, he exclaims ‘Yes…ahhh… “Scourge”… I was expecting your call. You’ve eliminated him? Excellent. Carry on’ he declares, before puffing away at his cigarette, and laughing wickedly.

Outside Dallas, Texas, construction workers stop in their tracks as Captain America strides through the worksite. ‘Whoo-ee! Its that Captain America guy! What’s he doing here?’ one of them wonders, deciding that Captain America is bigger than he would have thought. A man in a green shirt hasn’t noticed Walker’s arrival, and tells his worker ‘Go up and tell them that I need -’, before realizing that his worker is not paying attention. ‘I ain’t messing with him!’ another construction worker decides as he runs away. Walker goes over to the man in green and asks ‘Are you Jack Johnson?’, to which the man replies ‘Uh…yeah. That’s me’. ‘Tell your son that the next time I see him, he’s a dead man’ Walker announces. ‘Huh? Uh…sure, I’ll tell him’ Jack replies.

Suddenly, ‘Got a message for me, Little Boy Blue - give it to me yourself!’ a voice calls out. Captain America turns to the direction of the voice, only for a massive chunk of metal to be thrown at him. Walker manages to somersault to safety, and gets up, while Left-Winger and Right-Winger rush towards him. ‘Awww, I’m sorry, Captain Johnny - did that miss you?’ Jerome asks. ‘We ain’t gonna!’ Hector exclaims as they lunge towards their former ally. Eyes wide, spit dripping from his mouth, Walker tells them that he was hoping they would drop by, before he punches them both hard in the face, causing them to coil backwards, blood dripping from their mouths. Walker holds Hector high over his head, and throws him into a stack of metal barrels. ‘Next?’ Walker exclaims, only to be smacked in the face with a very large pole, courtesy of Right-Winger. ‘Next I’m taking you apart, “pal of mine”!’ Jerome exclaims.

Captain America skids along the ground, but he isn’t bothered by the attack, he just grins and looks up, blood dripping from his mouth, he tells Hector that wasn’t bad, and that he almost felt it. ‘You ain’t gonna be able to feel nothing when I’m through with you, Johnny!’ Jerome exclaims as he tries to smack Walker again, only Walker holds his shield up to block the attack, which recoils down through the pole. Walker then grabs the other end of the pole, and using his incredible strength, pulls the pole upwards, flipping Right-Winger up into the air. ‘How strong are these dudes?’ one of the construction workers wonders.

Suddenly, Johnny is knocked forward as Hector throws a barrel into him, striking him in the back. It doesn’t take long for Walker to get to his feet, but by that time, Left-Winger is racing towards him, telling him that he is not going to win this one. ‘There’s two of us and only one of you!’ he exclaims. ‘You knock one of us down, we just get back up again. And while one of us is recovering, the other one of us is wailing on you!’ Hector declares, as he punches Walker hard in the face, drawing more blood. ‘Like so!’ he shouts. Hector punches Walker in the stomach, and tells hi that Jerome would be willing to stop this, out of respect for their past friendship, only he would just have to lay off harassing their folks. ‘But me - uh uh! I want you mangled and bleeding!’ Hector exclaims as he hits Walker in the back of the head, forcing him to the ground.

But Walker flips upwards and traps Hector’s head between his feet, flipping him over, and forcing him to land hard on his face. ‘You always did talk a great fight, Hector!’ Walker exclaims as he kicks Hector hard across the construction yard, when suddenly, ‘Wanna play chicken, Cappo?’ Jerome calls out from inside a large tanker, which he drives straight towards Johnny. Johnny just replies ‘Sure’ and stands his ground. Jerome quickly realizes that Walker isn’t moving, as the tanker continues to speed towards him. At the last second, Johnny drops to the ground, between the wheels, so the tanker drives over him.

However, Jerome wasn’t paying attention to where he was going, and the flammable tanker crashes into a large piece of machinery, and begins leaking oil. Johnny rushes over and tells Jerome not to panic, assuring him that he will get him out. ‘Nnooo, John, gimme a -’ Jerome pleads as Walker picks up Jerome by his hair, then punches him hard across the face. John follows Jerome over to where he lands, and begins pummelling him a close range. ‘A break? Were you going to ask me to give you a break? I am!’ Walker declares, while Hector comes up behind him. ‘Crazy buzzard! What’s keeping him going?’ he wonders, as he grabs his flame-torch from his pouch on his hip, and lighting it up, strikes Walker in the back.

Walker cries out in pain, but only briefly, before grinning wickedly and turning to Hector, grabbing him by his wrist, warns him to drop the torch or he will break his wrist. A frightened Hector drops the torch, only for Walker to punch him hard in the face. Johnny holds Hector down and declares ‘Because of you two, my Ma and Pa died! killing you is not going to bring them back - but I’m going to anyway!’ he exclaims. Hector tells Johnny that they didn’t mean for his parents to die. ‘Show a little -’ he pleads. ‘MERCY?’ Johnny shouts. ‘Yes. I will show you mercy’ he decides.

And soon, Hector and Jerome are died up together, hanging by their ankles from a pipe, rope wrapped around then. One of the flaming torches is underneath them, lying near a trickle of oil from the tanker, and Johnny brings over the other one and puts it in Hector‘s hand. ‘With any luck you’ll be able to burn your way through that able - before the other torch ignites this oil tank’ he tells his former friends. ‘He’s gone total psycho’ Jerome exclaims as Johnny turns and walks away, leaving them tied to a large oil tank. Hector gets one of his arms free, and reaches down for the torch lying near the oil spill. ‘I think I can reach the -’ he exclaims, only there is a massive explosion a second later. Johnny’s face changes from stern and somber, to neutral, almost a smile, before he frowns again, and the fire continues to blaze behind him.

Characters Involved: 

Captain America IV / John Walker

The Captain / Steve Rogers


Dr Valerie Cooper, Martin Farrow, Henry Peter Gyrich, General Haywerth, George Mathers, Douglas Rockwell, Adrian Sammish, Orville Sanderson, Raymond Sikorsky, Wesley Werner (all Commission on Superhuman Activity)

Left-Winger & Right –Winger

Ethan Thurm

Mrs Lennox

Jack Johnson

Jerome’s mother and several children

Red Skull (unidentified and hidden in shadowy images)

Red Skull IV / Albert Malik

Scourge III

Teacher and adult students

Prison guards

Reed Skull’s soldiers

Construction workers

In Flashback Image:

Left-Winger & Right-Winger

Caleb & Emily Walker


Story Notes: 

Left-Winger and Right-Winger publicly outed John Walker as Captain America in Captain America (1st series) #341.

John Walker’s parents were very brutally slain by the Watchdogs in the classic Captain America (1st series) #345.

John Walker and Lemar Hoskins got that “stupid government gig” in Captain America (1st series) #333.

Walker defeated the Resistants in Captain America (1st series) #346.

Albert Malik debut in Captain America Comics #61 (Golden Age), and then in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5 (modern). As at time of summarising this issue, he remains deceased.

Albert Malik was imprisoned in Solo Avengers #6.

The original Red Skull died in Captain America (1st series) #300.

Left-Winger and Right-Winger actually survive this explosion, but have extensive burns to their bodies, and later commit suicide in Captain America (1st series) #381.

Issue Information: 
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