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Captain America #312: Review

Dec 1985
Mark Gruenwald, Paul Neary

Story Name:

Deface the Nation

Review & Comments

3.5 stars

Captain America #312 Review by (July 4, 2015)
Comments: First appearance/origin of the original Flag-Smasher. The title is a pun on the political interview TV series FACE THE NATION. Letters page includes a replacement for the noseless Cap panel in issue #308, as well as a great deal of reader comment on the error.

Review: Dynamic cover serves to introduce an interesting if flawed new villain. Flag-Smasher! He enters smashing a flag! He exists to be a mouthpiece for a political position so simplified as to become a joke! In fact this is likely the talkiest Cap comic in his 70-some year career! Up front we have Cap going into an endless description of and reasons for his hotline. Then the villain recounts his origin in a three-page rant. Then it’s back to Cap to announce his new initiative with a two-page speech. Then it’s dueling chatterboxes as Cap and Flaggy debate ideology. The issue must have been an important one for Mark Gruenwald; the 80s were a cynical era but I don’t recall nationalism being a hot topic then. Fortunately we have Paul Neary’s art to present some very nice visuals—when he can work them in around the word balloons.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America #312 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Late at night at the United Nations, a villain on a jetcycle swoops down and with a mace smashes all of the flagpoles in front of the building. Guards appear and he announces himself as Flag-Smasher, opposed to the concept of nationalism. He hurls a grenade at the guards and flies off….

At home, Steve Rogers receives a huge check for back pay from the US Army; talking it over with fiancée Bernie Rosenthal, he recalls the boy whose letter alerted him to the presence of the Awesome Android in rural Ohio (last issue). Steve thinks that there should be some easier way for people to contact Captain America. Together they hash out plans for a nationwide hotline to allow people to get in touch with the hero….

Meanwhile on the coast of Maine, serpent-baddies Bushmaster and Diamondback are exploring a cliff-face former A.I.M. base in search of MODOK. They encounter automated traps but the place is otherwise deserted. They plant a time bomb to destroy the place and take off….

That night, Flag-Smasher smashes a flag manufacturer because his name says so….

Cap checks out the finished call-center in downtown Brooklyn, put together in only two weeks through the generous support of corporations and private citizens. Cap announces a press conference to kick off the site; watching on TV is Flag-Smasher, who reviews his origin for our benefit. His father was a diplomat devoted to world peace, and his son wanted to follow in his footsteps. When dad was killed in a senseless riot at a demonstration, son blamed the concept of nationalism and separatism, and devoted himself to bringing world unity through violence….

At the well-attended press conference, Captain America launches his citizen’s hotline, making it easier for the public to get in touch with the hero who embodies American ideals. Flag-Smasher crashes the event, destroying the flag behind Cap with incendiary bullets. Cap shoots down the jetcycle with his shield and the villain holds Cap and the crowd at bay with his gun while announcing his manifesto to the world. Cap insists F-S’s goals do not justify violence. When someone in the crowd calls him a commie, he goes berserk. Just then a SWAT team outside calls on Flag Smasher to surrender; Cap seizes the opportunity to assault the distracted villain and knock him cold. Cap explains to the crowd (and the readers) that diversity of ethnic origins is what makes America great and secretly swears to never make a public address again.

Paul Neary
Dennis Janke
Ken Feduniewicz
Paul Neary (Cover Penciler)
Bob Layton (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


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