So yeah, another reading project. My Luke Cage project is nearing it's end, so I figured I'd start another.

As of right now, I'm not sure how far I'm going to go with this particular project. I'll definitely be covering Tales of Suspense #59-99. I may also cover guest appearances in other books that aren't named Avengers.

With that said, let's get this show on the road.

Tales of Suspense #59 - "Captain America!"
Cover Date: November 1964
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Captain America is stationed at Avengers Mansion awaiting any crisis situations. Jarvis leaves him a pot of coffee. As he  has little to do, he looks through one of his old scrapbooks.

Meanwhile, some mobsters are planning on taking on the Avengers. Their leader has two of them stretch a chain. To prove a  point, the leader--a guy named Bull--shatters the chain using karate! He explains that a chain can be broken if you find the  weakest link, and that link is Captain America, since he doesn't have any super powers.

At this point, a couple of the mobsters haul in Jarvis to ask him who's minding the store. Jarvis tells them it's no secret  that Captain America is there and that they could have found the information by using the telephone. Bull tells his men to  get their hardware as they're going to attack Captain America. They release Jarvis.

Back at the Mansion, Cap is looking through his scrapbook when he sees a photo of his former partner, Bucky. He feels pangs  of guilt. Suddenly he's attacked by the mobsters. They fight. The mobsters are well prepared, even having a man in an  armored suit. They get off a lucky shot (just a graze) while Cap is waiting for his magnetically attracted shield to return.   While he's knocked unconscious, they tie him up while they look for the Avengers safe.

They locate the safe and produce a torch to cut through the door. Cap regains consciousness at this point, and using the  heels of his boots--which are razor sharp--he cuts through his ropes. His feet are still tied, but Cap begins to fight  through the mobsters anyway until a stray flame from the torch cuts the rope around his legs free. The armored thugs grabs  Cap and boasts that he won't be able to break his grip. Cap breaks his grip and knocks him out.

At this point, the rest of the gang attacks. Cap recovers his shield, and despite all of them attacking at once holds his  own. The armored thug gets back in the fight, but can't touch Cap. Cap induces him to charge into a fireplace, knocking him  out again. Another thug plans to launch a sleep gas capsule. Cap blocks the gun barrel with his shield and forces the gas to   backfire.

Bull sends in his karate! team. However they're outmatched by Captain America. At this point, Bull charges and head-butts  Cap in the mid-section. He gets in another blow before Cap fights back, dropping Bull like a side of beef. He thanks the  thugs for livening up his evening and calls the police to pick them up.

My rating: 7/10

This is a good, if simplistic, reintroduction of the classic character in his first new solo story. Captain America has no  powers, but he's more than a match for as many criminals one can bring to an ambush. It's fun seeing Kirby allowed to draw  Cap as dynamically as possible, and the pacing is crisp and sharp.

There are some inconsistencies that are endemic to superhero stories however: why release Jarvis? If the thugs were willing  to attack Cap with guns before, why tie him up instead of shooting him? Also, why doesn't Bull ever get a last name?

All things being said, though, this is a solid effort.

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Looking at the cover I can see why they didn't color the Living Laser green. It wouldn't have looked good at all with the other colors used.

This is also probably why the Scarlet Witch's costume was green on her debut cover (X-Men #4). There was already a lot of red on that cover. 

Seems like if it was supposed to be the Laser he'd be shooting a beam at Cap, or at least we'd see a glow as he powered up before firing.

Captain America #106 - "Cap Goes Wild!"
Cover Date: October 1968
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

We open with Captain America fighting a bunch of costumed goons attacking a SHIELD building. The invaders are there to steal a metal box containing--something, and while Cap easily defeats them, they manage to get the box to a waiting helicopter, speaking of "Operation Replica". Apparently the box contained the secrets to SHIELD's LMD (Life Model Decoy) robots. The helicopter then converts to a jet and flies away rapidly (once again, I don't understand how these vehicles are supposed to fly, but I guess I should stop questioning it).

After the brawl, Cap is picked up by a nameless SHIELD agent (why they didn't use Fury or Agent Carter or Dum-Dum Dugan or someone else that the reading audience might be familiar with is beyond me) who fills Cap in on what was in the box. They return to Cap's apartment, where the agent shows Steve a film--a film that apparently shows Steve murdering a man in cold blood during World War II. He asks the agent who took these pictures, and the agent dells Steve that he doesn't know, but that Fury figured that Cap might like to find out for himself.  As the film was produced in Hollywood, Cap boards the next flight there.

We shift scenes to the "far east" where a caricature of Chairman Mao tells his underlings to begin "Operation Replica". As the guards outside wonder what's going on, we see the results of the operation--the creation of an exact duplicate of Captain America. The replica is shipped to Hollywood to kill Captain America.

We now shift scenes to Hollywood, and one Infinity Productions. Various people involved in film are wondering aloud how Infinity got the money for their latest film with no actual explanation. We meet the Lucas brothers--Cyril and Willie--who run the studio. Cyril is extremely happy with the current direction of the studio, but Willie worries about what they had to do in order to afford their current picture. AS they argue, Cyril pushes Willie inside a production office so they can speak plainly. willie tells Cyril he knows that he's working with their current backers so that Willie can get the life-saving operation he needs and that they need those backers because otherwise they're flat broke. Willie says he doesn't want the operation if treason is the cost, but Cyril has big dreams.

Their bickering is cut short as they get a call from Captain America--one they were expecting. Cyril invites Cap over to the studio to discuss the film and any changes he wants to make, thereby setting the trap.

Cap arrives, and senses a trap but enters the studio anyway. There he's confronted by the LMD replica. They fight, and it appears the LMD has the upper hand. Distraught, Willie enters the fray attempting to stop the LMD, but is tossed aside like a rag doll. However, his interference allows Cap to get his second wind, and he's able to fight back.

Suddenly something happens to the LMD, and it starts malfunctioning. It runs away, but before Cap can go in pursuit, the nameless SHIELD agent from earlier tells him that the LMD is no longer a danger and will fall apart shortly. He also tells Cap that they allowed the "Reds" to steal the formula as it hadn't been tested yet.

Back in the studio, Willie is dead from his injuries and Cyril laments his death. Knowing the price of failure, he is unsurprised when a man with a gun enters the studio to kill him.

My rating: 5/10

This reads like an inventory story, and feels like one too. It's not atypical of Marvel plots of this era, but it's also not really that exciting. There's some nice fights, but ultimately the plot is pretty thin, relying on the action to carry the story.

The art is Kirby, so it's fine, and that bumps up the rating a bit, but otherwise this one is pretty tepid.

Sad to say, but seems Kirby was mostly phoning it in on Cap for the remainder of this run before Steranko's 3-parter, Romita's fill-ins and Colan becoming the next regular artist on the series.  Of course, Kirby still provided professional work, but by this point the stories are lacking in inspiration.  Could also be that Kirby was fuming over not getting the Silver Surfer solo series and that maddened Steve Rogers LMD represented his mood.  

We'd soon get a much more complicated story of an LMD impersonating a superhero in Iron Man. Was he supposed to kill Cap and take his costume? Otherwise why didn't they provide him with one? It would have confused anyone coming upon them fighting if they looked completely identical.

Why didn't Jack get the Silver Surfer series? Did he refuse to draw Norrin Radd and Shalla Bal?

He's still coming up with some great stuff in Fantastic Four. That series brought out the best in both Jack and Stan and it's sad seeing how far the FF sank even before they started making such a big deal about movie rights.

The title of this one puzzles me. It refers to Cap's anger at the climax, when he lets loose on the thing? It just sounded hip?

Silver Age Cap fought a lot of robots. I think his feature introduced four new supervillains - Batroc, the Tumbler, the Planner, and MODOK - plus the Exiles. I sometimes wonder if Batroc was originally supposed to be the Acrobat from the Torch's series in Strange Tales, now with a costume.

Kirby only found out he didn't get the Silver Surfer series after it was already a done deal, drawn by John Buscema -- Kirby wasn't given the chance to refuse to draw Shalla Bal.  Probably the main reason was that Stan Lee wanted to do an origin story that was very different from the origin story Kirby wanted to tell and that was in keeping with details provided in the first Galactus story.

Ronald Morgan said:

We'd soon get a much more complicated story of an LMD impersonating a superhero in Iron Man. Was he supposed to kill Cap and take his costume? Otherwise why didn't they provide him with one? It would have confused anyone coming upon them fighting if they looked completely identical.

Why didn't Jack get the Silver Surfer series? Did he refuse to draw Norrin Radd and Shalla Bal?

He's still coming up with some great stuff in Fantastic Four. That series brought out the best in both Jack and Stan and it's sad seeing how far the FF sank even before they started making such a big deal about movie rights.

Where is this noted? The Jack Kirby Collector?

Captain America #107 - "If the Past be Not Dead...!"
Cover Date: November 1968
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Cap is battling some unknown minions. They fire a weapon at him that downs him, and when he gets up he sees Bucky looking at him, accusing Captain America of killing him. Cap then wakes up and we see it was all a dream.

As it turns out, he's been having the same nightmare over and over again, and he's been seeing a Dr. Faustus, a psychiatrist he met. He calls Faustus, who tells him to meet him at 2pm that day.

After the phone conversation is over, Faustus talks to a small man (presumably) nicknamed Ferret. He tells Ferret that he's done a good job, and Ferret tells him the job's a cinch as he's Steve's regular bellboy. Apparently Ferret brings Steve the drugs prescribed by Faustus. Ferret's been giving Cap a nightmare pill every night, as Faustus has plans to destroy him. He gives Ferret stronger pills to give to Rogers this evening, as it will be the night that Captain America dies.

Walking around the streets of NYC, Steve spots Sharon who seems to ignore him. He chases after her, and finally catching her discovers that it's not Sharon at all but another blonde woman he's never seen before. Steve realizes that he can no longer trust his eyes when he sees a policeman that looks like the Red Skull. He hurries away but doesn't see the woman and the officer removing masks and wigs that were used to deceive Steve.

At Dr. Faustus' office, Faustus is seeing Steve. Steve is telling Faustus his dream about being interrogated by Nazis when suddenly he is surrounded by Nazis interrogating him. The Nazis tell him they'll kill him just like they killed Bucky, and Cap argues that Bucky isn't dead. It ends with the Nazis shooting Cap as he wakes up on Faustus' couch.

Faustus tells him to go home and get complete rest, and to not forget to take the pills he's prescribing each night, which he will have delivered. After Steve leaves, the "Nazis" emerge from behind a false wall. As Faustus pays them for their work, one of them asks why he doesn't just slip Captain America a "Mickey"(a sensible idea) but Faustus replies that that is not his way, that he must destroy Captain America psychologically first.

Since there hasn't been enough action yet, we shift to Steve training against a SHIELD "plastoid" created by Tony Stark for the purpose. Cap finds himself operating in a sloppy fashion, barely able to defeat the automaton.

Ferret shows up, and Cap demands his pills, telling Ferret that Dr. Faustus told him that the pills would help him get rid of the nightmares and hallucinations. Steve takes the pills right away, and Ferret leaves, planning to tell Faustus of his victory over Captain America.

That night, Cap is unable to sleep. He gets up and notices that his hands have aged significantly. Looking in the mirror he sees his face has aged as well. Then he sees Bucky, who tells him that it's their chance to be partners again, as enemy agents are truing to steal the new missile plane. Bucky drags Cap to a waiting motorcycle.

Elsewhere, Faustus is overseeing some men preparing a plane, planning to recreate Bucky's death. As the plane is ready to take off, Cap and Bucky approach on the motorcycle. Bucky encourages him to chase the airplane up the ramp it was mounted on before launch and when Cap does there's a big explosion, and he thinks he's killed Bucky again.

Faustus and his men approach Cap now, thinking that he's been beaten. Bucky unmasks, revealing himself as Ferret. However, Captain America was playing possum, and takes out all of Faustus' men with ease.

Captain America then tells Faustus that he was stupid to think that Cap wouldn't suspect the pills of send them to SHIELD for analysis. Faustus asks about the aging, and Cap reveals that he's wearing a mask and gloves to simulate his aging. SHIELD agents show up to take Faustus away.

My rating: 6/10

This had some potential, but I think that Stan and Jack made a huge storytelling blunder by revealing Faustus as the bad guy from the beginning. If Cap had gone through everything without the reader knowing what was behind it all, it likely would have been a much better story.

The art is nice, and I did appreciate someone asking the question "why don't you just drug him and drown him or something?". Also, Faustus is a decent villain--maybe not an A-lister, but on a par with Mysterio for Spider-Man in my opinion.

There have been so many phony Buckies you keep waiting for the current one to reveal he's a fake or robot too.

I like the surreal sequences in this one. They're some of Kirby's best.

The previous issue's cover is similar to Daredevil #43's, which was also by Kirby and shows Daredevil fighting Cap in a ring. It turns out that issue came out the previous month.

I should have counted the Super-Adaptoid among the villains introduced in Cap's Silver Age feature. He's one of the robots, but not an automaton.

I've read about the Silver Surfer being taken from Jack Kirby in a number of sources -- Kirby apparently had an origin in mind that was fully in keeping with what he had already revealed about the Surfer but Lee & Buscema's version essentially ignored every previous tidbit about the Surfer's origin, primarily in that as intended by Kirby the Silver Surfer was a being of pure energy created by Galactus and hence having no prior existence.  Lee's version, as depicted in SS #1, Volume 1, shows that the Silver Surfer had a previous identity, as Norrin Radd, who looked like a typical Earthling of white European heritage, not that much different than Superman or Captain Mar-Vell, aside from being bald, and who was bored, bored, bored with life in the paradisical planet of Zenn-La, until Galactus comes along and threatens to gobble up Zenn-La until Norrin bravely confronts the planet-eater and promises to serve him, to go where no Zenn-Lavian has gone before, to boldly seek out new planets and offer them up to Galactus on a dinner plate if he'll just spare boring old Zenn-La.

From all I've read, Kirby was mighty peeved when he found out that Lee & Buscema had come up with this very different origin without even having consulted the guy, namely Kirby himself, who had created the character entirely on his own.  But then Lee was the boss and Kirby had a family to provide for and he couldn't just up and leave right away without another sure source of adequate income already lined up.

Ronald Morgan said:

Where is this noted? The Jack Kirby Collector?

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