Chaykin wastes no time setting this story up: the Communists want to spread their agenda into America and Cap will be there to stop it. Just when you get to the point in the story where you think “Hey, Captain America wouldn’t do that!” you are presented with the fact that this isn’t THE Captain America. It’s the “fill-in” Cap from the 1950s.
Senator Joseph R. McMurphy, in the midst of a campaign to oust pinkos, comes into Cap’s sights by adding Nick Fury to his smear campaign. Cap calls for action as opposed to infighting. McMurphy takes it as an insult, an attempt by Cap to smear McMurphy and sets out to bring Cap down.
The subplot of the story involves a secret that all parties are trying to acquire, leading to a confrontation between Captain America and Nick Fury, who states, “I knew the real thing and I got no patience for phonies, fakes and outright frauds.” Which of course lands him a punch on the jaw from Cap, inexplicably deepening their bond against a perceived common threat.
One upside to this story was the appearance of Fury. This character helped lend credence and insight to the lead character. Additionally, a deeper sense of the larger Marvel Universe is alluded to as there is a Russian agent who may or may not be someone we all know.
Chaykin had a good idea heading into this story, but somewhere it got derailed by itself. It went from being intriguing and exciting to formulaic and predictable. The threats promised initially went largely unfulfilled. As much as I wanted to enjoy the story, I found it to be rather unsatisfactory.
Unsatisfactory might be a good way to describe the art. Chaykin has as strong a style as anyone in the business, but there is a heavy-handed reliance on computer-generated patterns and elements that is distracting to me. I found this to be the case on “Hawkgirl” and I find it here as well. Additionally, for no explained reason whatsoever, the shield changes pattern in the middle of the story. At that point, I noticed the story seemed to have lost its bearings. Like I said, there was potential, and I’d love to see Chaykin take another crack at the shield slinger.
Rounding out this massively-priced issue are two short reprinted stories of the 1950s Cap. Quaint and enjoyable, these could easily have been left behind to give Chaykin a chance to make his story more complete.