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Captain America (1st series) #404

Issue Date: Early August 1992

Story Title:
(1st story) Man and Wolf: Part 3: Children of the Night

Staff:
(1st story) Mark Gruenwald (writer), Rik Levins (penciler), Bulandi, Hudson, Kryssing (inkers), Joe Rosen (letterer), Gina Going (colorist), Ralph Macchio (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description:
(1st story)
In New York, Bernie Rosenthal heads to Avengers headquarters to see Cap but discovers that he is out on mission. While she is there, she sees Jarvis, who invites her to go for a walk in Central Park with Dennis Dunphy and himself. Back in the Massachusetts town of Starkesboro, Captain America and Druid face off against the horde of werewolves. Using his spells of invisibility, Druid is able to cloak himself and Cap from their view after a short battle. Further inside the city limits, Cap and Druid attempt to discover what is going on and, in doing so, see human townspeople in the street during the day. Once they reach town hall, they enter to learn more but are suddenly attacked by Wolverine, who is now under the mind-control of Dredmund. Eventually, Wolverine is able to overpower Cap but, before he finishes him off, Moonhunter arrives on the scene and knocks Cap out with his darts. Dredmund then shows up and orders Cap to be taken to Nightshade’s lab for transformation. Inside the lab, Nightshade prepares to inject Cap with a serum. As she does, she tells Cap to get ready to howl.

Full Synopsis:
(1st story)
The red, white and blue Avenger and his ally, the occult master Doctor Druid, have come to the quite village of Starkesboro, Massachusetts, looking for Cap’s pilot John Jameson, who they fear has become a werewolf… But if one of the twenty-three growling werewolves that now surround them is Jameson, he has yet to identify himself.

Readying himself for battle, Cap points out to Druid that they (werewolves) are closing in, about to pounce, is he ready for them. Druid replies that he’s as ready as he’s ever going to be. Attacking the werewolves, Cap says to Druid that they should show them they’re not sheep. Druid comments no, not sheep. For sheep cannot levitate out of harm’s way. He does not possess Cap’s physical prowess, but he will attempt to aid their cause in his own inimitable manner. Continuing to fight the werewolves, Cap states that any help is appreciated. Levitating above the fray, Druid thinks to himself that he’s high enough to be out of range of their beast jumps, but low enough to still be a tempting target. Now that he has captured their undivided attention, it will be elementary to mesmerize their bestial minds.

Connecting with a punch to the jaw of one of the werewolves, Cap thinks to himself that so far none of their fangs or claws has managed to penetrate his battle-suit but it’s going to be tough to wade through this many beasts without sustaining a single scratch. He really doesn’t want to know what kind of infection you can pick up from one of these things. Their advantage is superior numbers. His is that, despite their natural ferocity, not a one of them is a very accomplished fighter. He still doesn’t have the slightest clue if one of these beastie-boys is his friend John. He sure hopes not.

Just then, Druid sends the werewolves he mind-controlled into the fray and for every wolf with whom they make eye contact with think of them as four. As he continues to fend off the werewolves attacks, Cap sees the wolves attacking each other and wonders if it is Druid’s doing. He then asks where he hovered off to. Nearby, Druid states that, once he’s alight, he’ll be able to direct his full concentration toward the wolf pack below and find a way to extricate the Captain. Before long, Captain America finds himself floating into the air and then disappears into thin air.

Elsewhere in Starkesboro, in the laboratory of Dr. Nightshade… Observing Wolverine lying strapped down on the table, Nightshade informs Dredmund (who is standing in the shadows) that it’s the most peculiar thing. This particular subject… Dredmund informs her that he is Wolverine of the mutant X-Men. Nightshade continues that the treatment just hasn’t been taking on him so far, no matter how concentrated she makes the dosage. At least part of his mutancy must be his resistance to outside mutagenic agents. When Dredmund asks her to show him, Nightshade injects Wolverine with another dosage. After she does so, Wolverine morphs into a white wolf for a brief moment and then transforms back to his original form. After observing that, Dredmund states that they will have to give this oddity the special treatment. Bring him around. Nightshade says all she has to do is remove the valium drip, and within but a few moments he’s awake.

Suddenly, Wolverine awakens and pops his claws. Dredmund exclaims remarkable and orders Wolverine to look at him. When Wolverine asks Dredmund who the #$%& he is, Dredmund tells him that is not something he needs to know. All he needs to know is found in his (glowing) eyes. Examining Wolverine, Nightshade points out that he appears to be under. Dredmund says of course he is. No man can resist him. He then orders Nightshade to abandon her efforts to make him one of the moonchildren. He is feral enough for their community as he is. Instead, why doesn’t she see if she can discover what makes him resistant to her chemicals. That would be a useful capacity to synthesize. As he leaves, Nightshade states that she’ll take cell samples at once.

Not far away… Cap finds himself floating above a building where Druid is perched. Upon seeing Druid, Cap tells him put him down. Druid replies at once. Cloaking and levitating him seemed the most expedient way out of that pointless altercation. He mesmerized a few werewolves who carried the message to be unable to perceive him back to their pack. Whoever established eye contact with them were likewise affected. After Cap tells him that was quite ingenious, Druid states that the hard part was masking their scent from them.

Just then, Cap notices the werewolves heading back into town. Druid remarks that their base of operations must be there. He’ll see what he can do to keep them invisible. Cap points out that the sun will be up in a few minutes. He wonders if these are the kind of werewolves who only come out at… Stopping his thought process, Cap asks Druid if he hears something.

Nearby, Moonhunter is piloting his sky-cycle with one of the werewolves on the back. As he does so, he asks the werewolf, whom he calls Dougie, if this is where he said they disappeared. They gotta be around there somewhere. Just then, Druid uses a simple firework to catch Moonhunter’s attention and then proceeds to use his gaze to make sure he’s under their invisibility spell. Landing his sky-cycle, Moonhunter asks the werewolf that he means he can’t even pick up their scent? What good are the manges anyway? Getting back on his sky-cycle, Moonhunter tells him to stay there. He’s gonna get the rest of the town combin’ the area. When the werewolf tries to re-board the sky-cycle, Moonhunter tells him that he’s about ta revert an’ he ain’t got no clothes ta put on. Breaks his heart. At that moment, the werewolf begins to undergo a change…

At Avengers headquarters in New York City, a young woman walks up to the door at eight o’clock in the morning, wondering if he’ll be home for once. If she didn’t know any better, she’d think he was avoiding her. Seeing another young woman at the front desk, she asks a new receptionist. Simultaneously, the receptionist remarks that the security scanners identify the woman walking in as Rosenthal, Bernadette. The Captain himself put her on “clearance level 4 list.”

After she asks the woman if she can help her, the visitor introduces herself as Bernie Rosenthal, an old friend of Cap’s. Is he in this morning? The receptionist proceeds to inform her that he is not. She’s afraid that according to the status board, he’s “out on mission” right now. Just then, Jarvis arrives with Dennis Dunphy in tow and greets Miss Rosenthal good morning. When Bernie tells him hello, Jarvis asks her if she’s met Master Dennis and proceeds to introduce her to him. Bernie asks Dennis Dunphy – the Un-Limited Class wrestler? Jarvis informs her that he’s the same. Master Dennis is suffering from memory problems and speech impairment at this juncture. They are about to go for a walk in Central Park. Would she care to join them? Taking Jarvis’ by the arm, Bernie exclaims sure.

In Starkesboro, Massachusetts, Dredmund is in his study working on the moonstone when he suddenly tells Moonhunter to enter. Standing outside the door, Moonhunter knocks and then surprisingly asks if Dredmund told him come in already. Once inside, Moonhunter informs Dredmund that they have intruders in the city. They seem to be able ta mask their sight an’ smell from the townies. When Dredmund asks who they are, Moonhunter replies that he doesn’t know who the one is, but the other is Captain America. Angrily, Dredmund yells at Moonhunter and asks him that he thought he told him he’d disposed of him. Moonhunter replies that he guess he underestimated him a bit. He did have another priority at the time. Dredmund angrily tells him that his incompetence is duly noted. Fortunately for him he has someone who will not fail him. He then tells him to go; he has taken the matter out of his hands. When Moonhunter asks him to reconsider, Dredmund angrily tells him to go.

Meanwhile, on the streets of Starkesboro, Druid tells Cap that, if that poor wretch Moonhunter left at the main road is any indication, any or all of these townspeople running about may indeed be werewolves, transformed back to human by the rays of the morning sun. Cap says this may be where they live, but where do they come from? Are these all supernatural werewolves or what? Druid replies that there is a heavy pall of mysticism over this town but the impression he gets from these wolf-people is that there is something else underlying their transformations.

Cap begins to ask what he means, when Druid tells him to be quiet. Though the townspeople walking by them cannot see them, they can hear them. Once the townspeople have left their vicinity, Druid asks Cap what he was saying. Cap states that he was just wondering if there might be a chemical basis for their lycanthropy. Years ago, he encountered such a pack of wolfmen. His best friend, the Falcon, even got turned into one of them. Reaching the town hall, Cap states that with any luck, the mayor of this city of werewolves will…

Just then, a man exits the building in a hurried rush. Cap says he doesn’t know if that was the mayor, but it may be worth checking there for census records or… Druid tells Cap to let him go first. If there are people inside who have not yet been mesmerized, he will have to deal with them. Entering the building, Cap points out that it’s dark in there. Druid then says someone’s in the shadows.

Suddenly, Wolverine, at the direction of Nightshade, leaps at Cap. When Wolverine tackles him to the ground, Cap is shocked as to who it is. He then thinks to himself that he hurled across the room before his eyes could adjust to the dimness and Druid could put the spell on him. With Wolverine’s hand wrapped around his throat, Cap calls him Logan and asks him doesn’t he recognize him. He then determines that from the wild look in his eyes, apparently not. Using his athletic ability, Cap is able to knock Wolverine off of him and into a nearby parked van. The breather doesn’t last long for as soon as he gets to his feet, Cap barely misses being slashed by Wolverine’s claws.

The nearby townspeople, in a panic, question as to who the guy in yellow (Wolverine) is. Deflecting Wolverine’s attacks with his shield, Cap attempts to tell him that he’s under some sort of spell and he needs to fight it. Dodging another claw slash that cuts the top off of a nearby fire hydrant, Cap thinks to himself that Wolverine does not have the look of a man trying to fight it. He then wonders what the devil happened to Druid. He might know how to “unensorcel” Wolverine. Looks like he’s going to have to take down his favorite feral mutant all by his lonesome. He’s considered unstoppable in a berserker rage. Add magic to that and what is he facing?

Realizing his situation, Cap says he dare not hold back. Wolverine is as dangerous as they come. Must put everything he’s got into this haymaker. With that, Cap connects with Wolverine’s jaw with a mighty punch, which sends him crashing into a nearby jeep. Slicing his way out of the jeep, Wolverine again leaps at Cap. As he does, Cap relents that he was hoping that impact might knock some sense into his head but it’s only made him angrier. It’s time he shift combat tactics, he decides.

Catching Wolverine in mid-air, Cap is able to gain the upper hand. To the nearby townspeople, however, it appears that Wolverine is fighting himself, due to Druid’s invisibility spell. As he engages Wolverine in hand-to-hand combat, Cap pleads with him to listen to him. He’s under somebody’s spell. He’s got to… Just then, Wolverine head-butts him and uses that advantage to turn the tide in his favor and pin Cap to the ground. Before Cap can adjust his position, Moonhunter arrives on the scene and shoots Cap in the neck with his darts. Turning towards Moonhunter, Wolverine growls at him. Moonhunter tells him to get a grip; here comes Dredmund. As Cap begins to black-out, he hears Dredmund telling Wolverine to stand up; he has performed admirably. He then gives the order to take Cap to Nightshade’s lab and prepare him for the treatment.

Later, Nightshade has Cap lying on a table, preparing to inject him with a serum. As she does, she tells him that he doesn’t know what a treat this is being able to ply her trade upon his exquisite physique again so soon. But unlike last time when he managed to thwart the effects of her mutagens, she assures him this time he will not. Captain… get ready to howl!

Characters:
(1st story)
Captain America, Dennis Dunphy (D-Man) (all Avengers)
Doctor Druid

Wolverine

Moonhunter
Doctor Nightshade
Dredmund Druid

Various unnamed werewolves and residents of Starkesboro, Massachusetts
Jarvis, unnamed receptionist (Avengers associates)
Bernie Rosenthal

Notes:
This issue also includes:

  • 2nd story – “Diamondback! Real World” depicting Diamondbacks’ time as a captive of Crossbones, her training and her subsequent entry into Avengers headquarters.

    D-Man was rescued by U.S. Agent and Falcon and put into Avengers care in Captain America (1st series) #400-401.

    Captain America encountered a pack of wolfmen back in Captain America (1st series) #164. In that same issue, his friend Falcon was transformed into a wolfman.

    Captain America thwarted Nightshades efforts back

    Issue Summary written by: Wendigo (David M.)


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