It’s a dark time for democracy. Specifically, it’s the 80s. (Aw, snap! That’s some biting political satire.) Steve Rogers, the Star Spangled Sentinel of… S’liberty? is called before the League of America’s Top White Old Men. Seems that, back in World War II, Cap signed a contract to work for the United States Government until released by order of the President. And the president never actually gave that order. Now, part of that is because everybody thought Captain America was dead for… a non-specific number of years. But what it basically boils down to is that America’s Top White Old Men own the name, costume and if you want to get really specific, blood of Captain America. Yeeeaah, so we’re gonna need you to come in Saturday, Cap. Cap obviously protests. “I work for the Avengers. I work for SHIELD. I’ve done nothing since I came back from being frozen but help the American people.”
“True.” reply America’s Top White Old Men. “But we don’t particularly want you helping the American people that aren’t us.”
In our reality, Steve Rogers retires as Captain America, starts wearing a black costume as was popular in the 80s and calls himself the Captain. Not to be confused with this asshole from Nextwave.
But, what if Uatu asks because I don’t think I’ve mentioned him in a few columns, what if Captain America told those White Old Men to go fuck themselves? Would that rock and be metal as hell? Maybe! Let’s find out together!
So Captain America tells the League of America’s Top White Old Men that he will indeed not be returning his costume, nor will he unquestioningly work for a bunch of rich assholes. So they try to have Cap killed, ordering the military guard at… I guess it’s the Pentagon? after him and telling them that it’s not actually Captain America, it’s a Communist spy. Cap easily dodges these guys and escapes into the night.
That night, Cap calls the Avengers up to tell them what the score is. He resigns from the Avengers because he’s really busy being a fugitive and doesn’t currently have time to help save the world from Kang or whomever. The Avengers (especially Namor who is right fucking pissed) all tell Cap they’ll stand beside him but he hangs up.
At this point, Freedom Force (who, despite basically being the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are apparently popular enough to get a blurb on the cover of this issue, showing you how popular anything connected to the X-Men was at the time.) bust into Avengers Manor looking for Cap. There’s a fight because Freedom Force wouldn’t know subtlety if it snuck up and bit the Blob on the ass and then Top Old White Men representative and total bag of dick water Henry Peter Gyrich shows up.
Gyrich is the government’s liaison to the Avengers and expects them to fall in line and sell Cap out. When they don’t, he strips them of any official standing and storms out. But not before being a sexist prick on the way out. Man, fuck that guy.
Back in Washington, the White Old Men begin training a squad to replace Captain America. The guy at the head of the class in this squad is John Walker. In our reality, he was the government’s choice to replace Cap. Here, he’s just another asshole who’s given the name and terrible costume of Super-Patriot. The other members of the squad are all given Bucky uniforms and can I just point out how in bad taste it is to have an African American wearing Bucky’s bellhop uniform. This really feels like a US Government you can trust.
And if that weren’t enough, one of the White Old Men, Rockwell makes a clandestine call to Smith, the top White Old Man, who smokes a cigarette in one of those Cruella De Ville holders and acts menacingly. Well, we’ve probably seen the last of him!
Cap meets with a bunch of other heroes at the Lincoln Memorial (Gee, Captain America holding a meeting at a symbol of patriotism? Who would have ever guessed?). These heroes in question include Falcon, Nomad, Vagabond and… ugh, D-Man. But none of them are important to this story so don’t worry about it. Instead, worry about Cap’s plan to restore the public’s faith in him by standing outside the Washington Monument (Another American symbol. How exactly has Cap not been caught yet? If he was really smart, he’d be hiding in Canada.) and telling them… well, something. Before he can start, Super-Patriot and the Bucky Brigade arrive!
There’s a lot of fighting as per usual. Cap’s buddies arrive to help out but the battle is finally ended peacefully by the arrival of Ronald Reagan. Thank God! President Reagan proclaims that Super-Patriot will continue to function as a government super hero while Cap is pardoned and allowed to fight crime however he wishes. It’s a lovely moment that could really only be better if Reagan turned into a snake monster again. No luck alas.
White Old Man Smith is watching all of this on TV and is furious that Cap’s getting away with it. Deciding to throw all his previous years of scheming away, (If it wasn’t clear by the cigarette holder and the severe racism, Smith is actually the Red Skull. A-fucking-gain.) Smith calls up Rockwell (Who has been at the meeting the whole time! I know, I was surprised too!) and tells him “Screw the plan. Just shoot that fucker in the fucking head.”
Well, that was easy.
Following Cap’s stupid death, Super-Patriot does indeed become Captain America. For a while. Eventually, Walker goes mad with power (as is tradition.), starts getting incredibly brutal and kills a bunch of people. The government hush it up because of course they fucking do and force Walker into retirement. After that, there is no Captain America and we cut to the Cap Memorial Flash Museum where we find Smith taking a stroll and laughing at having finally defeated his age old enemy. Well, that took a turn for the depressing!