Captain America #273-274 "Death of a Hero" (1982)
Writer: David Anthony Hall
Penciler: Mike Zeck
Inker: John Beatty
Colorist: Bob Sharpen
Letterer: Jim Novak

A Howling Commandos reunion sets the stage for a seemingly impossible kidnapping of General Sam Sawyer by Baron Von Strucker. Captain America teams up with Nick Fury's older S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, (ex-Howlers Gabe, Dum Dum, and Koenig) when Sawyer shows up at a SAC Command center where Hydra steals a cache of nukes. The rest of the former Howling Commandos show up and a firefight ensues between Hydra. Von Strucker escapes and S.H.I.E.L.D. tracks them down to Hydra Island, which has returned to the surface. They arrive and a plot of LMD and nuclear holocaust ensues. 

  • Continuity Notes
  • Cover appearance #273
  • Appearances by all the surviving Howling Commandos and Gen. "Happy" Sam Sawyer
  • Hydra Island was last seen in Strange Tales #158. The events of this story are not mentioned in S.H.I.E.L.D. (2) #21
  • Sawyer's death is one of the few in the Marvel that has yet to be reversed; in contrast this is one among many of Von Strucker's "returns" from the grave

Blockbuster story features the best of the Howling Commandos reunions and a rare event in Marvel history....the death of a long-running character that has yet to be retconned. The death of "Happy" Sam Sawyer proved a poignant and heroic storyline for a well-loved character and it's certainly a must-have for all Fury fans. The plotlines of the story must have been surprising then, but today seems continuity clumsy and clinched with its heavy reliance of LMD's and yet another "resurrection" of Von Strucker. Why Hydra Island resurfaced is never explained, and nothing in this tale was ever referenced when S.H.I.E.L.D. (2) went back to the island. The final epilogue is touching and Dum Dum utters an epitaph which fits Sawyer, and in fact all of them there, "Sam was never made for no wheelchair-you know that Nick."