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Captain America #348: Review

Dec 1988
Mark Gruenwald, Kieron Dwyer

Story Name:

Out of Commission

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Captain America #348 Review by (July 3, 2013)
Review: Fast-paced and exciting issue will again underline the obvious: John Walker is no Captain America. His casual attitude toward the life of the hostage and his brutal attack on the villain show how increasingly unhinged he is becoming. And Mark Gruenwald skates around the political issues by making it clear President Reagan was unaware of, and does not approve, the Commission’s decisions. Flag-Smasher was an okay villain (one of the few Ed Brubaker didn’t bring back), a demented idealist, who, in this two-part tale, will decide that anarchy and evil are not the same thing and enlist the help of Captain America—the real one—to stop the Red Skull. Seems a bit odd, dragging in such a subplot this close to the end of the arc but Gruenwald makes it work.

Comments: Part seventeen of The Captain saga which will run until issue #350. Story continues in AVENGERS #298, where The Captain helps sort out a team crisis, though one can go directly to issue #349 without it.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America #348 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

In the Arctic, anarchist villain Flag-Smasher is on the run from two members of his own organization, ULTIMATUM, who are trying to kill him. As they race across the ice on jet skis the hitmen fire blasters but the cagey mastermind tricks one into accidentally shooting the other then dispatches the other. Appropriating the dead man’s survival gear, Flag-Smasher heads toward a scientific outpost 25 km away….

In Washington D.C. the new Captain America John Walker has been called before the Commission on Superhuman Affairs who are very upset at his disobeying orders in going after Left- and Right-Winger (last issue). Because he is unreliable, the Commission has decided to suspend him permanently and placed under arrest. Walker takes it all without a word…. Just then, President Reagan enters the room, demanding to know why he had not been told that Captain America had been replaced and what happened to Steve Rogers. Discovering the Steve is in custody in connection with the assault on the President in issue #344, Reagan asserts that Steve saved him and demands he be released. He then offers John Walker his best wishes and departs. The Commission members move ahead to release Steve while deciding to keep Walker out of the public eye until the new administration takes over on January…..

In the Arctic, Flag-Smasher seizes control of the ice station and sends a message to the authorities. In DC, Commission head Douglas Rockwell reports to his secret boss, who approves of letting John Walker roam free to besmirch the image of Captain America. He then orders a tracking device planted on Steve Rogers so they know where he is at all times. Valerie Cooper rushes in with a report that Flag-Smasher is holding the scientists hostage at the Arctic base and demands the Captain America come personally. They prepare to dispatch Walker….

In his prison cell, The Captain (Steve Rogers) has second thoughts about his choice to not oppose the Commission’s decision to replace him. He wonders if he has been subconsciously testing himself by making the wrong decisions for months. Suddenly the lights go out and Cap discovers the cell door is unlocked. Venturing out into the dark, he soon finds his shield and leaves the building, certain that he is being set up, but not knowing for what….

On their way north, Battle Star reads Flag-Smasher’s dossier to a silent and brooding Cap (Walker). Reaching the ice station, Cap parachutes in and enters the building. The villain is holding a gun to the head of a hostage but when Cap says he doesn’t care what happens to the man, Flag-Smasher knows this is not the real Captain America. A ferocious fight breaks out, with the baddie using his mace and judo to counteract the superior strength of the hero. Flag-Smasher’s exoskeleton absorbs all of Cap’s strength, leaving him vulnerable to a punch. Battle Star arrive son the scene and the villain threatens to shoot the unconscious Cap in the head if the hero’s partner does not deliver his message. In 48 hours the world will be plunged into chaos if they do not send the real Captain America. Realizing there’s nothing else he can do, Battle Star falls back and contacts Washington. But Rockwell responds that Steve Rogers has flown the coop and cannot be found….

Elsewhere, Steve is looking in on his hotline and finds a message full of gibberish. He decides he must head to Brooklyn to attend to the malfunction in his data system at once….

Kieron Dwyer
Al Milgrom
Bob Sharen
Ron Frenz (Cover Penciler)
Al Milgrom (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Red Skull
Red Skull

(Johann Shmidt)

Plus: Battle Star, Captain America (John Walker), Commission on Superhuman Affairs, Flag-Smasher, President Ronald Reagan, ULTIMATUM, Valerie Cooper.

> Captain America: Book info and issue index

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