Captain America (1st series) #400

Issue Date: 
May 1992
Story Title: 
First Story: Operation Galactic Storm part 15, Murder by Decree!

Mark Gruenwald (writer), Rik Levins (penciler), Danny Bulandi (inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Christie Scheele (colorist), Ralph Macchio (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Iron Man, Sersi, the Black Knight, Goliath, Hercules and Crystal escape Hala in the Quinjet, and contemplate the fate of Captain America – and whether they will ever see him again. Captain America meanwhile was taken to see the Supreme Intelligence, who planned to have Captain America's consciousness placed into his. There is an explosion and Cap is placed in danger as the chamber around him seems to collapse. But when he wakes, he finds himself under attack six of his greatest foes – the Red Skull, Crossbones, Viper, King Cobra, Flag-Smasher and Batroc. They claim that they have been transported from Earth and brought here to kill Captain America. Every aspect of them seems real – their speech, their fighting abilities and their personalities. When the villains seemingly capture Captain America and Red Skull orders him killed, Batroc does something to help Cap, further adding to Cap's realization that these could be his real foes, as Batroc is no killer. Cap takes the other five down, and asks Batroc to remove his mask. Batroc complies, revealing there is nothing above his nose. Cap deduces that the villains were created from his memories, and they then fade away. The Supreme Intelligence is annoyed that Cap defeated him, and as he needs Cap to be deceased in order to absorb his consciousness into his own, he realizes that Cap's belief in freedom and independence will never enable him to succeed, so he tosses Captain America away and tells him he will not live long. Meanwhile, the Nega-Bomb moves closer to the Kree galaxy – and closer to wiping out the entire Kree Empire.


Full Summary: 

1st story:

The Citadel of Judgment in the city of Kree-lar, on Hala, capital of the Kree Empire. Captain America a.k.a. Steve Rogers is flung through the air by an explosion overhead. 'The roof's caving in!' he thinks to himself as he is unable to do anything but ride the shockwave that sends him and a lot of debris slamming towards a wall. He hits it, and is thankfully still conscious. But there is nowhere to go, and debris is still raining down on him. 'Going to be buried!' Cap realizes, and instant later, Cap is indeed buried beneath rubble, and bodies of the Kree.

23,000 miles above Hala, six Avengers who managed to escape Hala travel in their Quinjet in silence. No one has said anything since lift-off. Dane Whitman a.k.a. the Black Knight supposes that they all feel bad about having to leave Cap behind. He realizes Iron Man probably feels the worst, as he is the one who made the decision to take off, and is the one who knocked Clint out when he refused to ditch Cap. Crystal undoes her seat belt and floats over to Clint Barton a.k.a. Goliath, to check on the motionless Avenger. Hercules asks her how he is, and Crystal confirms that he is still breathing, while Sersi look on. 'Just how hard did you hit him, Iron Man?' Dane asks. Iron Man announces that he used what force he felt was appropriate. 'So that's it? We write Cap off for good?' Dane then asks. Iron Man tells the others that he will contact quasar as soon as he can, and have gim come back and retrieve Cap, but that their priority is to locate the Nega-Bomb Deathbird told him about and prevent it from detonating. 'That way we save Cap as well as every other mother-loving Kree in the galaxy' Iron Man mutters.

'And what if we fail? Outer space is one heckuva big place and if we don't happen to catch the bomb at the stargate, then how -' the Black Knight starts to ask, as Goliath wakes. He rubs his head and asks what happened. 'Hey!' he calls out, realizing he is aboard the Quinjet. Iron Man reminds the others that Cap was getting out of tight scrapes before some of them were even born, and he will manage. 'I'd be willing to be Tony Stark's fortune on it' Iron Man adds, while Tony is of course wearing the armor, and he wonders if he is just whistling in the dark. 'Can Cap survive everything the Kree may throw at him? Will the blood of one of the greatest heroes the human race's ever brought forth by on my conscience?' Tony wonders.

Elsewhere, Cap wakes, and rubbing his head, wonders 'Where am I, to coin a cliché?' He remembers that when he passed out, he was buried beneath a pile of rubble, but his mind is hazy. He recalls the explosion, and before that, two Kree policemen – the so-called Accusers – led him from where the other Avengers were incarcerated, into the chamber of the Supreme Intelligence, newly-reinstated head of the thousand world Kree Empire, and on both sides of the chamber were bodies in tubes. Cap wonders if they are the bodies of the dead Kree whose minds the Supreme Intelligence has absorbed, and recalls how he addressed in him in English, his voice rang in Cap's head like a thousand metal hornets. He remembers what the Supreme Intelligence said: 'You who are about to die, I salute you! For only when you are dead can I -' but he never finished his sentence, as the next moment there was the explosion, and the wall of bodies blew in from both sides. Cap remembers catching a glimpse of the falling ceiling buckling before the shock wave caught him. 'And now this. So dim... I can't see my hand in front of my face' Cap realizes.

But, Cap decides that by the sound his foot makes when he stamps, it seems that he is in an empty chamber. Suddenly, 'Whoa – what -?' Cap wonders, as someone leaps at him: 'GOT YOU!' they shout. The assailant clings onto Cap's back: 'Now you're going to pay' he calls out, and Cap recognizes the voice – 'Cobra?' Cap asks. Glancing back, he finds that indeed, it is that villain who has latched onto him. 'That's King Cobra, you insipid Avenger!' the villain retorts, as Cap tells him that he can't be here. 'I'm on an alien world!' Cap exclaims, while realizing that whoever this is, he has a grip like the real Cobra, and the assailant smashes his tail into Cap's stomach. 'I don't care where we are or how I got here, Captain – I'm just grateful to be out of prison and to have another chance at you!' Cobra replies, declaring that Cap ruined everything by bringing down the Serpent Society like he did, and made him a laughing stock amongst his peers. 'He'll break a rib if I don't -' Cap thinks to himself, but before he can break free of Cobra's grasp, someone kicks Cap in the face.

'Bon jour, mon ami!' Batroc the Leaper exclaims as he stands over the now fallen Cap and Cobra. 'Batroc? Aw, come on, now I know I'm hallucinating!' Cap exclaims, as Batroc leaps into the air and tells Cap that if he is just an illusion, then he won;t mind when he lands atop his rib cage. Cap manages to plant his foot on the ground and twist, averting Batroc, who lands incies from King Cobra's side, but also freeing himself from Cobra's grasp. 'Thanks, 'Bat!' Cap calls out. He gets to his feet and faces off against his two foes, and tells them if they are not ullusions, then that leaves either impostors or androids. 'It leaves you pulp!' Flag-Smasher shouts as he suddenly appears, slamming his spiked mace into Cap's shield. Cap heard his foe's cap rustle, which is how he was able to raise his shield to defend himself. 'Not sneaky enough' Cap tells Flag-Smasher, slamming his shield into Flag-Smasher's face and knocking the villain backwards. Flag-Smasher wipes his face: 'First blood is yours, America. But victory shall ultimately belong to the ideologically superior! And that, you patriot – is me!' Flag-Smasher boasts.

Cap realizes that it does look like blood coming from Flag-Smasher's noise, but tells himself it does not mean he is human. Cap gets another surprise when he is snared by a rope, that wraps around his left arm, holding his shield. He turns and sees Viper on the other end of the rope. 'Oh, great. The Viper, too' he mutters. 'Don't think I will let you die before I get my piece of you' Viper declares, while Cap remarks that it looks like old villains night on the planet Hala. 'So how many of you are goingt to come slinking out of the shadows anyway? Don't be shy now. Come out, come out, wherever you are!' Cap calls out, and suddenly, the Red Skull and Crossbones emerge from the shadows. The Red Skull announces that he is happy to oblige – it is the least he can do for his most worthy foe on the day of his demise. 'What he said' Crossbones adds. Cap examines his deadly foes as they start to surround him. 'That's it? No Baron Zemo? Machinesmith? Sidewinder? Arnim Zola? Mister Hyde? I'm particularly disappointed Armadillo didn't make it' Cap jokes, to which the Red Skull tells him to cease his prattling, as it ill becomes him.

'So what's on the program? We all fight, six against one?' Cap asks. 'Sounds right to me' Batroc exlaims, but the Red Skull announces that firstly, they talk, and tells Cap that it is because of him they are here. 'Inconveniently wrenched away from our affairs on Earth. Our alien abductors tell us that we must kill you before we will be permitted to return' the Red Skull reveals, adding that he dislikes being ordered about, and asks Cap what he can tell him about the Kree. 'They brush after every meal' Cap replies. '' the Red Skull scowls, before snapping his fingers and instructing the other villains to kill Captain America. Viper, Cobra, Batroc and Flag-Smasher look at the Red Skull and say nothing, so Crossbones shouts 'Pansies. I'll do this myself' and pushes past Cobra as he moves towards Cap: 'Yo, Big A. Remember these?' Crossbones asks as he pullls the pieces of material that hang from the back his mask. 'You managed to get over on me last time we went at it by yanking my new mask askew. Well, sweetums, I just want ya ta know you ain't gonna be able ta pull the wool over my eyes twice. Dig?' Crossbones warns Cap.

Cap decides that only the real Crossbones would know how he defeated him last time, and wonders if this really is legit. 'Are these really six of my most formidable foes teleported here for the express purpose of killing me?' Cap asks himself, curious as to why the Kree would go to such great lengths. Cap blocks Crossbones' punch with his shield, then he defends himself against a kick, and Cap admits that everyone here is a dead ringer – right down to fighting styles. He decides to stop questioning and go on the offensive, for if these six are half as good as the people they seem to be, then he is in for the fight of his life. 'No time to pull punches – I've got to take them down so they'll stay down!' Cap tells himself, but as he moves forward to strike Crossbones with his shield, the villain grabs it: 'Nice move, Cappy – goin' fer my throat with yer overgrown frisbee! Too bad I caught it!' This surprises Cap, 'Uh, that hasn't happened often!' the hero tells himself. 'Yer gonna let go of that thing, Cappy – NOW!' Crossbones shouts as he kicks Cap in the stomach, attempting to push Cap from the shield, but Cap won't let go.

Cap rolls with the kick and flips his leg around, kicking Crossbones in the face. 'I've finally got a clear shot!' King Cobra announces as he firest a blast at Cap, striking him in the back. Batroc smacks Cobra over the back of the head, telling him that was unsporting. 'It is much more interesting to see the two of them go at it one on one, non?' Batroc exclaims with his very thick French accent. Still holding his shield, Cap struggles against Crossbones. 'Stop playing with him, Crossbones! Crush him!' Red Skull calls out. Crossbones replies that he is working on it, but no shinola. Crossbones starts to fall back, and Cap knows that he has to get himself out of the way, or Crossbones will fall on his leg. He manages to get himself out of the way, and as he is on top of Crossbones, who still won't stop holding the shield, the others close in on Cap. 'Time's up, buffoon! Now let a real fighter show you how to demolish a foe!' Flag-Smasher boasts. But Batroc declares that if annyone gets the next bout, it shall be him. 'Idiots! I can finish him off with my cobra bites if you'll just stand clear for a moment!' King Cobra tells the others. Cap sees that they are finally making their move, and knows he can use that to his advantage.

'Each man grab one of his -' Batroc calls out, but Cap kicks the Leaper backwards, causing him to tumble into the others. In the confusion, Crossbones still maintains his hold, however, and, finally, the other three villains gather themselves, and each man holds down one of Cap's arms or legs. The Red Skull and Viper stand at Cap's head, and the Red Skull remarks, adding that it has been too long since he last behald this sight. 'Let me savor it' he adds, while Viper suggests they kill him at once, for every moment they delay, the chance increases that he will escape. 'This arm ain't going anywhere, Vipes!' Crossbones boasts as he holds down Cap's arm with the shield still attached. 'Once blast to his unprotected face, and he'll be paralyzed!' Cobra declares. Flag-Smasher announces that if he didn't hate Captain America even more than he hates the Red Skull, then he would not be a party to anything that Red Skull was a part of.

The Red Skull kneels down beside Cap's head and tells Flag-Smasher that vengeance makes strange bedfellows. 'Now then, Captain – I believe you know what this cigarette does' the Red Skull remarks, adding that it is what turned a face identical to Cap's own into this deathmask that now stares at the Skull in the mirror. 'I believe this would be an appropriate time to beg for your life' the Red suggests as he takes a puff of the cigarette. Suddenly, Cap's right arm becomes free as Batroc lets go. Cap immediately reaches up and punches the Red Skull in the face, causing his head to be knocked sideways, and he spits the cigarette at Crossbones, who falls backwards, gasping. His shield free, Cap slams it into the Red Skull, while Batroc leaps into the air. 'Flag – you're it!' Cap jokes as he slams his shield into Flag-Smasher. Cap wonders what will happen once he takes them all out. He knows that unless he disables them, they will keep coming after him. Suddenly, Viper's whip is wrapped around Cap's neck, and Cap sees that Cobra has him in his sights. Cap raises his shield as Cobra fires a blast at him – which is deflected upwards, striking Viper below her neck. She loses grip on the whip, so Cap grabs the end of it and tosses it at Cobra, striking him in the face. 'Think how good I'd be if I practiced!' Cap tells himself.

Captain America looks over and sees that the Red Skull is stirring, so gives him a hard kick to the face. With the Skull, Crossbones, Flag-Smasher, Viper and Cobra defeated, Cap turns to Batroc and asks him why he let go of his arm. Holding his hands up as if asking Cap not to attack, Batroc tells Captain America that he may be a scoundrel, but that he will not stand for the torture of so worthy a foe as he. Cap tells Batroc that he needs some truth, and asks him if it is really him: 'You act exactly like I know the real Georges Batroc to act... yet we're billions of miles from Earth, and I don't think even the Supreme Intelligence is powerful enough to teleport you all that way'. Batroc replies that he is real, as far as he knows. Cap asks Batroc to do him a favor and remove his mask. 'What will that prove? You've never seen my face!' Batroc replies, but complies as Cap tells him 'I know. With his mask removed, Batroc's eyes and hair are revealed – to be blank. There is nothing above the nose. 'Yes! As I suspected! I conjured you up from my memory. Since I don't know what you look like beneath your mask, there's nothing there!' Cap exclaims.

Cap remembers Rick Jones once told him that he materialized figures from his memory while under the Supreme Intelligence's mental stimulation, and sees that his foes are fading away. 'I must have -' Cap starts to think to himself, when suddenly, a thick green tendril reaches down and grabs him – the tendril is connected to the Supreme Intelligence, and it pulls him towards the mighty Kree being. 'You have proven to be a most resourceful enemy, Captain America. Not even the combined might of those you deem your worst enemies could vanquish you!' the Supreme Intelligence declares, adding that is a pity, for he wanted to bestow upon him the ultimate honor any warrior can have – he wanted to absorb Captain America's consciousness into his immortal group intellect. 'But this can only occur after the cessation of your corporeal functions – your death!' the Supreme Intelligence explains.

The Supreme Intelligence reveals that he stimulated the latent reality-shaping potential locked in all terran minds, so that Captain America might give shape to his death-bringers. 'But still you would not yield! Still you would not fail!' the Supreme Intelligence shouts, while Cap tries to get his shield arm free. The Supreme Intelligence then announces that Captain America's insufferable desire for freedom, for independence, makes him an unsuitable subject for absorption. 'Begone, Captain America! In the short time you have left to live, contemplate how you squandered your chance for immortality!' the Supreme Intelligence suggests to the hero, who starts to fall into darkness. Cap wonders what the Supreme Intelligence means by “short time I have left to live”, and thinks that surely the Supreme Intelligence doesn't expect a mere fall from this height to kill him?

Meanwhile, a starship towing an unimaginably powerful bomb passes through an alien stargate and enters the vicinity of Earth's sun. The ship's captain orders a course be set for the second stargate a scan ten thousand miles away – on the other side of that stargate is the Kree Empire. It is there that the bomb is to be detonated – and the Kree Galaxy's five hundred billion inhabitants to die from its fallout...!

Characters Involved: 

Black Knight IV, Captain America, Crystal, Hercules (all Avengers)

Goliath II / Hawkeye, Iron Man (both Avengers West Coast)

Sersi (inactive Avenger)


Supreme Intelligence




In Cap's memory:

Batroc, Crossbones, Flag-Smasher, King Cobra, Red Skull, Viper

Story Notes: 

This issue is eighty pages long, celebrating Captain America's 400 issues.

In addition to the main story, it also contains:

2nd Story: Falcon & USAgent in “Out in the Cold”

3rd Story: Diamondback in the Origin of Diamondback “Crossing Back”

And a reprinting of Avengers (1st series) #4, the issue Captain America joined the Avengers


first story:

Captain America took down the Serpent Society in Captain America (1st series) #380-382.

The Supreme Intelligence stimulated Rick Jones’ mind to recreate classic heroes during the Kree-Skrull War.

Issue Information: 


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