Captain America (3rd series) #8

Issue Date: 
August 1998
Story Title: 
Live Kree or Die! - part 2: Stuck in the Middle

Mark Waid (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Jesse Delperdang (inker), Jason Wright (colors), Digital Chameleon (separations), Todd Klein (letterer), Matt Idelson (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

In Brooklyn, New York City, two arsonists set ablaze the offices of Congress hopeful Andrew Bolt but are taken out by Captain America, only it’s too late to save the offices. Cap speaks to Bolt about his campaign and Bolt tells him that when Cap was revealed to be a Skrull, his reputation and credibility were in tatters. Cap then receives a Priority Red call from Warbird who is fighting the Lunatic Legion in an abandoned missile silo near Cape Canaveral. She tells him she has already called in some reinforcements so Cap heads there by himself. Warbird is then captured by the Legion, who are operating a kind of concentration camp, just like the ones in the war, gassing their prisoners and killing them in an appalling manner. Warbird is strapped into a glass cylinder hovering above the gas chambers, and has to helplessly watch the ordeal. The gas includes the Terrigen Mists, stolen from the Inhumans and the slaves here are Guinea Pigs in the Kree’s quest to create a gas that will ensure the mutation they seek. Cap arrives to save the day, releasing Warbird and the prisoners. She tells him what she knows, adding that the aliens have stolen an experimental generator in order to destroy humanity. When she mentions that she didn’t in fact call the other Avengers, Cap is furious but it is too late to argue as a squadron of Kree soldiers attacks them. While Warbird takes on the standard Kree troops, Cap fights a Kree bruiser called Bron Char who is powerful enough to knock Cap into a large room holding the deceased bodies of dozens of humans. This provides the stimulus Cap requires to unleash his full force against the soldier and he takes him out before running off to help Warbird get the other prisoners to safety. Again, before this is done, Carol tries to prove herself to Cap and flies off by herself to attacks the Lunatic Legion, though she is once again captured and brought aboard the rocket headed for the Moon, while Cap concentrates on the innocent prisoners. In Los Angeles, General Ulysses R. Chapman gives away military secrets on a television show, jeopardizing his own troops.

Full Summary: 

During World War II, the nazis brought unlucky innocents to prison camps where they were brutalized, treated like animals and eventually herded into sealed chambers. There, they were slowly killed in the most painful and agonizing manner imaginable. That was then, but this is now. The scene is all too familiar to those who know their history. Inside a prison camp, encircled by barbed wire fences and watch towers, many weary-looking human beings, gaunt and frightened are killed without mercy in the gas chambers. As their bodies fall, never to rise again, three Kree soldiers enter the chamber wearing protective masks.

Meanwhile, in the early evening in Brooklyn, two arsonists, one named Augie are preparing to burn the campaign headquarters of Andrew Bolt who was seeking election to congress. As they splash around the gasoline, Augie and his friend discuss recent events. Bolt has closed up shop but hasn’t yet removed the electronic equipment yet and the two criminals figure they can load up their truck with it and clear five bills easy. As Augie carries a monitor, his friend lights his cigar and tosses the match into the corner of the room which ignites the gasoline. They figure the fire will cover their tracks; no clues, no witnesses.

Suddenly, they stop in their tracks and turn to see, standing amidst the flame, the imposing silhouette of Captain America holding his new shield. “Going somewhere?” he asks before leaping with speed towards the men. Augie is taken out in one punch as the other cowers next to the a broken monitor, telling Cap he has a piece and he’ll use it. With his shield covering his body, Cap quickly makes his way towards him and he fires, only for the shot to deflect harmlessly away. Cap tells him that he’ll show him what he thinks of arsonists but before he reaches his assailant, he skips over the top of him, saying, “Uh-oh. Incoming.” The gunman thinks for a second that he has managed to scare Cap away but as he speaks, he is nailed with a blast of water from a fire engine and taken out.

Before too long, the fire is dampened down and the police tell the crowds that the show’s over. Cap is standing with Andrew Bolt who thanks Cap for bringing the culprits to justice, asking him what brings him here. Cap replies that he was looking for him, and asks why his office was deserted. Bolt, clutching his briefcase replies that congress is out of reach for him after his campaign took a big hit the other day. He thought he was getting Cap’s endorsement but it was actually a Skrull impersonating Cap and the media is having a field day with the story. Cap looks at the Daily Bugle newspaper clippings and says he doesn’t know what to say. This is exactly the kind of damage he was afraid the Skrull would cause. He had used his reputation to shatter lives and he can’t have that on his conscience.

Suddenly, his Avengers communi-card makes a noise and he excuses himself for a minute. It is Warbird and she tells Cap this is Priority Red, she needs help fast. She continues to explain that she is under all-out attack by a band of Kree soldiers calling themselves the Lunatic Legion. Cap says, “Kree -- ? Location!” Warbird replies that she is at an abandoned missile silo near Cape Canaveral and asks him to grab a Quinjet and follow her signal - and hurry. He tells her he’s on it and asks if she’s called reinforcements. She says that they’re already called in but she can’t hold off the Kree for much longer, and asks him to get moving before signing off. As she is speaking, she is surrounded by troops and is engaged in a fire fight. Cap tells Bolt he has to leave but asks him not to give up the campaign yet, as he feels responsible for what happened and maybe he can help out. As he sprints away, he wonders why Warbird called him solo. Was she seeking his approval? She certainly thinks he doubts her field performance because her powers have been on the wane. She can last, but not for long.

Back in the missile silo, Warbird trades blasts with the Kree soldiers, but can feel that her powers are spent and knows she must lie low and wait for the cavalry. When she was in the military, retreat wasn’t in her vocabulary but that was when she had a squadron at her back. She knows if she can just make it to ground level she will be free, but in making her attempt, she is caught with a powerful blast from behind which knocks her unconscious with a cry. Kona Lor was the culprit, taking her out while she was occupied with two others and the three Legionnaires collect her.

Kona Lor says they should incinerate her where she fell as the sooner their enemies are vanquished, the sooner the Earth (or pitiable mudball as she calls it) is ground to dust by the Kree empire. Dylon Cir tells her to have a care as her temper threatens to destroy the greater good. He reminds Kona Lor that Warbird’s unique molecular structure is half-human and half-Kree and as such, may be a means to an end and they can use her. As they carry her to the prison compound located near Cape Canaveral, he adds that thus far, their experiments with the Terrigen Mists that they stole from the Inhumans have been a failure. Their efforts to discover the genetic key to evolving humans into a race of slave corps have been disappointing but perhaps Warbird’s physiology will provide the necessary catalyst for the mutation they seek. Carol is strapped into a chamber, a contraption with a clear window from which she can see out of. Kona Lor smiles and says that regardless of what happens, it will be fun to watch.

After they have left, Warbird opens her eyes and wonders where she is. She can hear screaming and turns her head to witness dozens of prisoners being gassed, and she is helpless to do anything about it, unable to break free of her bonds. She screams for somebody to help them but there is no-one to hear her. Suddenly though, Captain America crashes through the doorway using his shield as a battering ram and the prisoner’s faces turn from grimaces to smiles as they see freedom approaching. As they almost ignore the effects of the gas that is being pumped into the room, Cap breaks through the crowd and tells Warbird to stay calm, and uses his shield again to crack the chamber’s locks, freeing her. As the prisoners pour from the room towards freedom, Cap warns them to stay close and tells Carol that the Kree soldiers will be here any second and they has to get them to safety.

Cap asks her to brief him on the Lunatic Legion and Warbird tells him that he already knows of the grudge they hold against humanity. To them, humans are responsible for the destruction of their exalted leader, the Supreme Intelligence, and this band have come to Earth seeking vengeance. She had followed them from Boston where they stole an experimental generator, bragging about how they could use it to destroy humanity. Cap asks if they’re based here and she replies that their actual base is on the Moon; they were just hiding in this missile silo. They are priming their rocket for a return to the Moon and it’s up to them to stop them, thinking they’d be better off with a small team. Cap asks where the other Avengers are and she tells him that she didn’t call them.

Cap is shocked and is about to reprimand her but before he can act, they are shot at by an approaching group of Kree soldiers. The fight quickly becomes up close and personal and as they dodge blasts and use their physical strength to fight the Kree, Cap asks Carol if it ever occurred to her that they could e in over their heads. She replies that he is never in over his head.

In Los Angeles, a television interviewer named Barry is interviewing five-star general Ulysses R. Chapman who, in a recent Now magazine ‘most admired’ poll, was ranked alongside Bill Gates and Colin Powell. He asks the General about rumors regarding military action against the tyrant monarchy of Moldovia, asking not about specific details however. The General replies that they have 35 black ops commandos poised to strike the King’s private compound in precisely five minutes; eight entering from the roof skylight, with the rest storming the west wing. If they’re lucky, the Moldovian soldiers won’t use armor piercing bullets against his men’s flak jackets. Barry looks shocked at the General’s reply.

At the White House in Washington D.C., staff there are watching his interview with horror as gives away their military operation live on air. Someone calls the president and tells him that the pentagon is trying to warn the soldiers but they’ll never get through in time. Barry leans into his microphone, still looking shocked and asks General Chapman whether he realizes the Moldovians are probably monitoring his program and hasn’t he just compromised the safety of all 35 soldiers? The General nonchalantly replies that the way he looks at it, there are plenty more where they came from. Two MP’s appear behind the General, ready to arrest him.

In Florida, smoke drifts across the highway near the missile sole, coming from a chimney in the prison compound. The compound is dwarfed by massive buildings housing a sophisticated-looking rocket the Kree intend to use to fly to the Moon. Kree Commander Ciry makes an announcement to his soldiers, informing them that all Kree must head to the main chamber. The Legion is under attack by two Earthlings attempting to liberate the test subjects and they cannot be allowed to leave the installation alive. He tells them to target all their weapons on the powered female while the gaudily-clad male will be dealt with by Bron Char.

As he speaks, Warbird and Cap are busy routing a number of them before Bron Char, a hulking figure who, knowing how strong a normal Kree soldier is supposed to be, would be able to land an extremely powerful punch smashes Cap’s shield which knocks him clear of the action. Leaving Warbird to contend with the smaller soldiers, Cap is rocked by the attack and his shield is a sorry-looking crumpled mess. He holds his shoulder as Bron Char approaches him and says, “So much for your shield, your face is next.” He towers over Cap and as he makes further strikes against Cap’s shield, he tells him that this is the sort of exercise he’s been denied on this planet of weaklings. He adds that Cap’s fate will be far more savage and brutal than that of the others. “Others? What others?” asks Cap as he is hurled through the side of the building.

He lands and stands up, noticing that all around him are the decaying bodies of dozens of dead humans, cast away after testing through the Terrigen Mists. He holds his head as the horror sinks in. Cap however, isn’t one to give up so easily and as Bron Char makes his way through the hole in the wall and says, “Pardon the mess, we haven’t had time to take out the garbage,” Cap looks determinedly at his more powerful foe and swings around quickly, landing an awesome punch to the giant’s gut. As he connects with several punches, one to the chin, another to the top of the head and a fourth to the face, toppling Bron Char, he tells him that he fights for a crumbling empire of cowardly sadists, slaughtered innocent men and women who did no harm while he, well, he fights for them.

Cap exits the makeshift morgue to find Warbird who has successfully dealt with her foes and she tells Cap that the Kree are boarding the rocket and if they don’t stop them, the rocket’s launchflame will fill the silo. Cap collects his broken shield and joins her as Dylon Cir and Lt. Kona Lor oversee preparations for lift-off. Kona says that they’ll have to risk letting the one named Captain America escape. He replies that it is a little gamble but the generator is now operational and by the time he alerts the Avengers, they’ll be too late to stop the next phase of their plan. There is but one matter left to address.

As the prisoners run for the exit gates, Warbird takes off and heads towards the rocket but Cap reminds her that the Avengers always take care of innocents first. Getting them out is their first priority and catching the Kree must wait. There aren’t enough Avengers here to stop them and save these people. Carol replies that he acts like it’s her fault and he looks at her, asking, “Isn’t it? Don’t hand me any ‘small team’ nonsense! You didn’t call the Avengers in because you wanted to impress me! You wanted my approval, but it’s not coming” Warbird says she knew it, and adds that he always had it in for her, he thinks she’s not good enough for the team. Cap remains calm but tells Warbird that he knows her powers are in flux, just like most Avengers’ powers have been in the past at one time or another but he adds that she’s right, she isn’t right for the team if she isn’t a team player. He has made a promise to the American people to be more active against the nation’s problems and if that’s where he’s going to put his attention, then he needs to know that the Avengers, his Avengers can act as a flawless unit. If she wants his approval, the she should get her head together and start acting like and Avenger.

The rocket prepares for lift-off, the countdown being down to seventeen tockmarks. Warbird tells Cap that she’s got the message. He should get these people out and asks, “You want to see an Avenger?” She quickly turns and flies towards the rocket, her blasts at the ready as Cap, powerless to prevent her says that’s not what he meant and she should stop trying to prove herself. His words fall on deaf ears though and Warbird reaches the rocket where several soldiers are boarding. One sees her arrival and tells them to ready the stasinet. As she comes within range, he shouts fire and Warbird is trapped in the stasinet, a kind of traction beam which holds her. The Kree are happy at their progress and Dylon Cir tells one of the soldiers to tell Moonbase to prepare the laboratory for dissection.

Cap shouts for Warbird as the last few prisoners make their way out of the silo and into the open. Cap wonders what happened to her judgement as she walked right into that one. He doesn’t want to abandon her but she has left him no choice. He tells the prisoners to run as the rocket finally blasts off. The silo is destroyed and the prisoners thrust to the ground but with no further casualties, Cap asks a man nearby if he is all right. He replies that he’s okay but asks about the woman, wondering if she’ll be okay. Cap tells him that she’ll be fine, he has his word.

Characters Involved: 

Captain America, Warbird (both Avengers)

Andrew Bolt

two arsonists, one named Augie

fire and police crews


inmates in Kree prison camp

Dylon Cir, Lt. Kona Lor (both Lunatic Legion)

several Kree soldiers including Bron Char

Voice Only:

Kree Commander Ciry

Story Notes: 

This issue is the second chapter in the four-part crossover called Live Kree or Die.

Cap lost his round shield in Captain America (3rd series) #2 and picked up the badge-shaped shield used here from an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institute. This was later swapped for a shield given to him by Sharon Carter in Captain America (3rd series) #9, a limited-range photon accelerator, a force field synth which simulated a Vibranium matrix, meaning it could store and return energy.

The Skrull impersonated Cap in Captain America (3rd series) #5-7.

The stealing of the Terrigen Mists by the Lunatic Legion is seen in flashback in Quicksilver #10.

The television interviewer, Barry, looks uncannily like Larry King. The General’s strange behavior was part of an ongoing storyline over the next few issues called ‘American Nightmare.’

As the Kree rocket prepares to leave, Dylon Cir is talking to Commander Ciry but it is actually Lt. Kona Lor who is standing beside him, probably an art error.

This is the second time in two issues that Warbird has disobeyed Avengers standard procedure which is to protect innocents first, and deal with the bad guys after.

Issue Information: 
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