Every so often you run into an issue of a comic that is so beautiful it boggles the mind. This issue of Captain America, published in 1968, is one of those issues. (This recap was previously posted on my inactive comics tumblr, lisereadscomics.
Previously in volume 1 of Captain America (#176, to be precise), Steve Rogers, disillusioned with corruption in the government, quits being Captain America.
In this issue, walking with Sharon Carter, Steve discusses the virtues of being a private citizen, now that crime-busting isn’t cramping his style when an arrow flies out of nowhere. Cap quickly finds himself pinned to a wall, but this is quickly solved by literally flexing himself out of his clothes.
How often do you think he needs to get new shirts? Every time you flex too much, whoops, there goes another one.
Steve turns around and gets an eyeful of the Villain of the Week:
The Golden Archer! In a stunning deep-v tunic ensemble. I’m not entirely sure what Steve’s “good lord” is referring to, because it could be a lot of things. The important thing to get from this is that when Clint Barton pretends to be a supervillain, he gets really into it.
Also that he has a poets’ soul.
Sharon and Steve beat a hasty retreat (out of fear that Steve will be recognized, apparently? Though I wonder how the denizens of the Marvel Universe tell Hank Pym, Clint Barton, and Steve Rogers apart out of costume. Being a blond man is a damn good disguise in this world).
Meanwhile, the Falcon fights crime, as he has been doing for the last two issues, alone, without Cap’s help.
Captain America is working out at the gym with some guy named Roscoe when he is attacked by a siren arrow. Cap, of course, doesn’t know anyone who uses trick arrows, and again attempts to pursue the Golden Archer, who eludes him easily. Steve is anything but okay.
Meanwhile, in San Rafael, some punks decide that anyone can be Captain America if they want to and start beating each other up for the right. I’m not sure how this is relevant, but it probably will be at some point. (Spoilers: it doesn’t work out.)
Steve is coming up on his last meeting with the Golden Archer, and is decidedly concerned about the fact that someone seems to know his secret identity. He is interrupted in his brooding, however, by Peggy Carter’s approach. He greets her from the balcony…
only to inform her that they cannot be together. Peggy is understandably a little upset, but Cap’s intentions to pursue her are thwarted by the Golden Archer firing at him. A chase ensues! Cap picks up a trash can lid to defend himself (because it’s like a shield get it). They pass by Falcon, who considers lending a hand!
Steve is blinded by a flash arrow (seriously, who uses trick arrows? I can’t think of a single person that might know Captain America and also Steve Rogers, not a single one) and the Golden Archer disappears.
But that’s okay, because at their next meeting, Steve makes a flying leap and tackles his mysterious adversary in a panel where I can’t pin down what’s making me laugh, but I’m laughing anyway.
(I think it might be the pants. Is it the pants?)
Steve is having a great time beating up on Goldie, as the commentary has taken to calling him, only to be snapped out of it when the archer surrenders, and Steve knows that voice! Sure enough, the Golden Archer unmasks to reveal:
At this point I have several questions, first among them how Hawkeye’s mask wasn’t poking out while he was wearing…apparently another mask. I also have questions about Hawkeye’s costume design, but I guess this one is relatively contiguous with his other choices.
Cap asks the entirely reasonable question as to why Clint thought dressing up as a supervillain and attacking him was a good idea. Clint explains that this is his way of showing Steve how fantastic superheroing is and how he should get back into it.
Steve insists that no, he is for real done with Captain America, and Clint suggests taking a new name. This is what leads to Steve taking on the name of Nomad.
It also explains a lot about the Nomad costume. I am divided on whether Clint should design everyone’s superhero costumes or no one’s.