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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As far back as I can remember my copy was coverless. But then I was six when I got it.

I think I would have been underwhelmed if I'd read this King-Size mag when it came out and really believed that the stories within were "Cap's Greatest", at least to judge by the cover.  But then I only started reading Cap regularly with Steve Englehart's first issue, although I also started reading the Marvel Double Feature reprints with the 2nd issue, featuring what was apparently Cap's first meeting with Nick Fury since he was thawed and the first installment of the Them/A.I.M. storyline, which with a few breaks would take up much of the rest of Cap's run in Tales of Suspense, including the awakening of the Red Skull from his 20 year nap, the Super Adaptoid and MODOK, all of which make up my favorite Kirby Cap stories.

Randy Jackson said:

Tales of Suspense #68 - "The Sentinel and the Spy!"
Cover Date: August 1965
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

My rating: 5/10

I have to admit, I was really disappointed by the rushed, anti-climactic ending of the previous storyline. It reminded me of the ending of the Mangog saga in Thor, only worse.

The primary tale in the rest of the story was, well, underwhelming. I suppose it's a decent hook to talk of an experimental weapon like the vanishing ray, but I just never felt like there was anything really at stake during the tale.  Perhaps that was an after-affect of the disappointing ending to the brainwashing story, but it just never grabbed me, despite some nice visuals from Kirby.

Yeah, the abrupt way Cap's brainwashing was resolved caught me by surprise.  He was fully the Red Skull's thrall in the previous chapters, and yet when it came time to shoot the Allied High Commander, he ..... just couldn't.  It felt to me like Jack had a better resolution in mind and accidentally left it out, or realized too late he painted himself into a corner.  Either way, fixing it with the opening caption felt rushed.

The rest of it with Project Vanish was a bumpy ride.  Calling it underwhelming is being kind, frankly.

Randy Jackson said:

Tales of Suspense #69 - "Midnight in Greymoor Castle!"
Cover Date: September 1965
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

My rating: 7/10

This is one of those ridiculous plots that used to befuddle me as a lad watching the Adam West Batman! TV show--the villains  have the heroes helpless, and rather than, oh, I don't know, just shooting them, they cook up some elaborate death trap that  doesn't work. Ah well, that's the way it goes I suppose.

Anyway, the plot is ridiculous, there are tons of plot inconsistencies and unexplained things that simply have to be  accepted--and yet, it's fun. There's a good bit of action, although I would have liked to see Bucky put up more of a fight,  and there's enough of a cliffhanger to come back next issue.

I agree with your comments.  I'll just add I much prefer Dick Ayers inking Jack Kirby here than Frank (Ray) Giacoia in the previous installment.  More complimentary to Kirby's pencils than overwhelming them.

Possibly Jack and Stan disagreed about the resolution and Jack decided to just toss out a generic ending since he couldn't do what he wanted to do.

Tales of Suspense #70 - "If This Be Treason!"
Cover Date: October 1965
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby & George Tuska

There's a quick flashback to the last issue, as we see Captain America taking over the Nazi plane. He muses that he's aware that he's heading into a trap at Greymoor Castle. He also thinks that he hated running out on the Ranger force, but that the mission had ended and Bucky was in great danger.

Over at Greymoor Castle, the Nazis have received word that Captain America is on his way, and they suggest to Rawlings that Bucky is no longer needed. Rawlings objects, stating that he'll be useful when Cap arrives. He activates a switch, and the table that Bucky is strapped to becomes vertical. He's wheeled to another part of the castle to be put on display. Rawlings has booby trapped the table so that when Cap tries to rescue him, he'll be hit with a canister of sleep gas. The Nazis treat Rawlings with disdain for being a traitor.

Cedric's sister Celia enters the room, begging him not to go through with his treasonous act. He tells her that the only thing his patriotism has ever gotten him is his prosthetic hand. Celia remarks that she knows she's responsible for the loss of his hand, which is why she stays with him, but that it doesn't justify treason. Cedric is undaunted, feeling he is unappreciated by his country, but the Nazis want his talents. Major Uberhart suggests "silencing" Celia, which of course Cedric is opposed to. However, he angers the Major in his response.

The Major sends out a message to Captain America over a special frequency telling him where to fly to in order to save Bucky. He does so while using his great piloting skills to evade British night fighters. He knows he's heading into a trap, so he decides on a direct frontal assault. Smashing through a door, he finds Bucky strapped to the table. He's going to free Bucky, but Bucky attempts to warn him through his gag. Cap, sensing that Bucky is the trap, stops before the table.

Celia bursts into the room to warn Cap. The Major grabs her and uses her as a shield while he attacks Captain America. More Nazis show up, preivously disguised in suits of armor. However, Cap easily defeats them. The Major dons a gas mask and orders the rest of his men to attack. Cap is surrounded by flying bullets. He deflects them with his shield, then attempts to free Bucky, setting off the gas cylinder. Unable to resist the gas, he falls to the floor, and the Nazis tie him up. Major Uberhart is impressed with his skill and valor.

Back in France, the Nazis send an attack force at the town where the Rangers had landed earlier, forcing them to fall back to the beach. One of them says they've been lucky, as the entire platoon has survived, but then they notice that Private Rogers is missing. Sgt. Duffy wonders if Steve is a deserter.

Back at Greymoor Castle, the Major has Cap, Bucky and Celia tied up. Cedric tells the Major to release his sister, but the Major refuses. he tells Rawlings that now that they have Captain America and Bucky under their control, he and his experiments are no longer needed. He tells Cedric that he's lucky that his own life shall be spared. He plans to put the captives into a V-2 rocket headed towards London. Rawlings begs to let his sister go, but the Major ignores him. He tells Rawlings that his sister will be immortal when the rocket lands at 10 Downing Street where Prime Minister Churchill lives.

To be continued...

My rating: 7/10

So the actions of the characters are still absurd, but this is still fun primarily because of the plot. I still don't understand why the Nazis don't just shoot Cap and Bucky once they have them, but that's the only reason there will be a third part to this story.

Personally, I'm not sure what recapping Cap taking over the plane accomplished other than showing Cap in action, and it's not exactly exciting action.

The art is by George Tuska. We know he's a competent draftsman, so it's fine. I do think it's a bit of a step down from Kirby however. There's a dynamic missing.

Interesting the major assumes without Captain America and Bucky the Nazis will win so easily he thinks they can just cancel projects probably started by higher ups that he was only supposed to monitor without asking for approval to drop them.

Haven't read this is many years but I don't think they explained how his sister caused him to lose his hand. How do you accidentally make somebody lose their hand? Did she mix up his chemicals sweeping? Yell at him not to track mud on the floor making him drop something that exploded? Sneeze when he told her to hold the saw steady? And she seems to forget that by staying with him she's now also guilty of treason.

Isn't this supposed to be early in the War? Thought the V-2 rocket came pretty close to the end.  

Pretty much anybody would be a step down from Kirby.

I found it interesting that while Major Uberhart is a typical Nazi - evil and ruthless - he does, begrudgingly, have respect for Captain America.  Meanwhile, he makes no attempt to hide his disdain for Cedric Rawlings, who realizes far too late he is not in charge here.  You don't have to read the last chapter of this story to know it's not going to have a happy ending for everyone.

It's a little silly thinking that they could aim a V-2 rocket precisely at the Prime Minister's offices. Also, the Prime Minister wasn't sitting at his desk during the bombardments.

Agreed. Although a direct hit would have caused lots of problems, not to mention the terror aspect. I suppose it's more plausible than a giant snow cone machine, however.

Richard Willis said:

It's a little silly thinking that they could aim a V-2 rocket precisely at the Prime Minister's offices. Also, the Prime Minister wasn't sitting at his desk during the bombardments.

Tales of Suspense #71 - ",,,When You Lie Down With Dogs..!"
Cover Date: November 1965
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby & George Tuska

Cap, Bucky and Celia Rawlings are being loaded into the V2 rocket inside Greymoor Castle. Cedric Rawlings tries to keep the Nazis from putting his sister in the rocket, but Major Uberhart insists. Celia herself tells Cedric to stop his useless pleading and face their fate with dignity. Cedric continues to plead with Major Uberhart, but to no avail. Uberhart tells his men to lock Cedric in one of the dungeon cells. Cedric swears revenge.

As the Nazis attempt to load Cap, they drop him on the ground. However, we discover that Cap has recovered from the sleep gas and shifted his body so that they would drop him. As they pick him up again, he breaks free and escapes, drawing fire. He sees his shield on the floor nearby, but the gunfire is too thick for him to retrieve it.

Major Uberhart orders him to surrender or they will kill Bucky. However, he has also recovered from the sleep gas and breaks free as well, creating a diversion. He grabs a pistol from a fallen Nazi and uses it for cover fire until he's at Cap's side. Cap is able to retrieve his shield as Bucky's ammo runs out. Cap uses his shield to take out most of the Nazis. However, Uberhart still has Celia Rawlings as a hostage and threatens to kill her if they don't surrender. Celia tells Cap and Bucky to keep fighting, and that her life means nothing. As Cap and Bucky contemplate the situation, she also says that she is a traitor for helping her brother. She then breaks free from the Nazis herself. As Captain America and Bucky make short work of the Nazis, Celia jumps on one of the Nazis who still has a gun. Bucky tries to stop her, but he's too late as the Nazi shoots her. Bucky takes him out.

As Celia lays in Cap's arms dying, she tells him about the radio message about the Rangers trapped over the Channel. Cap realizes that it's his unit she's talking about. Bucky goes to find Cedric to see if he can save Celia's life. He lets Cedric out of his cell who rushes to Celia's side. However, he's too late, and Celia dies.

Cap and Bucky gather together the Nazis for the MPs to collect. Cap tells Bucky about his army unit trapped over the channel and wonders what he can do to rescue them. Cap has a plan, and turns to Cedric Rawlings for assistance. He tells them he's happy to help as he wants to avenge his sister's death.

They go downstairs into the control room for the V2 rocket, and Rawlings programs it to go across the channel and destroy the Nazi reinforcements threatening the Rangers. The rocket is launched successfully, but a second explosion rocks the castle. Rawlings says that he's set explosives igniting the stored rocket fuel. Realizing he's gone mad, Cap and Bucky make haste to leave the castle, which is crumbling around them. Remembering the Nazis they left in the dungeon, they go to rescue them, but the explosions have opened their cell door. The Nazis immediately plan to kill Captain America and Bucky, but another explosion kills them. Shortly after leaving the castle, Cap and Bucky watch it explode.

Over the channel, the V2 rocket wipes out the Nazi armored force that had the Rangers trapped. The remaining Nazis retreat. We never find out in this issue if Steve Rogers is charged with desertion.

My rating: 7/10

So this story winds up pretty much the only way it could have, with Cap and Bucky alive to continue fighting the good fight, and Karma coming back to deal with Cedric and Celia Rawlings.  It was reasonably entertaining. I do think that perhaps it would have been nice to wrap up all the loose ends with the story in this issue, but what are you gonna do(the Steve Rogers desertion angle is dealt with next issue)?

Anyway, a reasonably well-executed superhero story. Not the best ever, but far from the worst.

We've seen the former killer finally realize what he'd done and kill himself and the crooks he served with the Gargoyle in Hulk#1 and Hu Sak in Journey into Mystery#117. If this had been an actual WWII story, Captain America and Bucky would have probably left the Nazis in the dungeon.

The final bit dealing with Steve Rogers' "desertion" would have been a much better finale to the Cap annual than tossing in a Batroc cliffhanger.

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