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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Is it the next issue/instalment that they bring Cap's adventures 'back-to-the-present' with that splash page (IIRC) of the Scarlet Witch at his feet and the Avengers sat around listening to the Sleeper epic as if it were a bedtime story?

I remember finding that an incredible transition frame - both bringing Cap out of the war-stories (which my young self found dull) and reinforcing the fact that Cap's solo stories and the team book happened in the same time frame - it was an Avengers appearance that wasn't an Avengers issue.

That was Tales of Suspense #72, and he was regaling them with stories from World War II. The sleeper saga takes place in the modern day.

Richard Mantle said:

Is it the next issue/instalment that they bring Cap's adventures 'back-to-the-present' with that splash page (IIRC) of the Scarlet Witch at his feet and the Avengers sat around listening to the Sleeper epic as if it were a bedtime story?

           Oops Sorry,

I'll stay more current from here on in.

 Randy Jackson said:

That was Tales of Suspense #72, and he was regaling them with stories from World War II. The sleeper saga takes place in the modern day.
 



Randy Jackson said:

This page looks like it's based on something. We have Cap looking like a king sitting on his throne, Pietro standing behind him like a palace guard, Hawkeye bowing to the king while reporting something he's seen, and Wanda a servant girl kneeling at the king's feet. Considering how Etrigan looked like Prince Valiant's disguise from his first adventure, I'm guessing this is based on a Hal Foster panel.





Apparently even King Kirby took shortcuts when the need arose.  Hmm, yet later in the story Cap goes all solo against a menace whom he might've gotten his fellow then current Avengers to help him out with -- and the real reason he didn't was that this was Captain America's solo series and seems the main purpose of this first epic modern Cap solo story was to have him face seemingly impossible odds alone and succeed, thereby putting him closer to the level of Thor and Iron Man, not in sheer power, certainly, but to try to prove that despite being far less powerful he was still an A-Lister among Marvel's heroes and not just coasting on his Golden Age glory.  Well, for most of us, I gather, it didn't quite do it, but I wonder how regular Marvel readers of 1965 or so took to it.  In the long run, Cap became the only Timely/Atlas era hero to not only make a successful comeback but to also head a series which has essentially remained in print for over 50 years now (if we count from the beginning of these ToS tales at least and ignore the practice of the past decade of regularly cancelling a volume and starting over with a new number 1).  Overall, I don't think this story was that much worse and maybe even a bit better than some of the very early Iron Man & Thor stories -- it took a while for any of these series to really get good and only Thor achieved a significant run of great stories in the Silver Age.

Masterworks on Kindle INFO

For all your readers Randy - these issues of Cap in Tales of Suspense correspond with those Iron Man issues collected in Marvel Masterworks Iron Man 3.

I just downloaded then on Kindle (Amazon.co.UK) for a tad over £11 (Queen's shilling) ...only to find nearly 450 pages of content and it would appear -- EVERY Cap segment ALSO downloaded !!!!

It does not appear to be a conscious offer but yeehah!!

That's a sharp guess, Ron.

In Tales of Suspense#59 the gangsters found out where the Avengers were from the telephone book. Must have been a recent addition. Pretty sure in the Strange Tales story where Johnny and Ben fought Wanda and Pietro, they went to the Baxter Building because it was public knowledge where the Fantastic Four were, and didn't know how to contact the Avengers or where the X-Men were at the time when they decided to go straight. After being attacked by the Torch and the Thing, they decided to go back to Magneto until the Stranger made off him, and by then they knew where to find the Avengers.

Must have been during that first several months between the time the Avengers set up headquarters in Tony Stark's mansion and when the new phone book came out   Did Tony also splurge on a Yellow Pages ad?  "Do you need some professional heavy duty avenging?  We're the team to do it!  Call 555-4842.  Or if you're a former villain looking to reform, try out to join the team!  The Avengers don't discriminate against gods, green-skinned radiated freaks of nature, flash-frozen World War II veterans, mutants, former circus archers, former Russian spies, androids or African kings."

Did Reed make counter ads? "Why trust a bunch of masked men? Call us and speak to a real person willing to give you a real name, not a code word from World War II!"

"You'll get to flaming on and clobberin' time right away without having to wait for assembling!"

"Plus, our rampaging monster isn't wanted by the military!"

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