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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The statement from the Nazi officer on the splash page that the V-2 rocket would level half of London is optimistic on his part. It wouldn't, unless the story established some super-explosive. V-2 rockets did land in London without taking out half of it. Also on the splash, why would they be carrying Cap and his shield, his only weapon, when it should have been separated from him?

You're expecting comic book Nazi villains to be behaving sensibly?

The only reason I can think of to put the shield in the rocket would be to let everyone know that Captain America died in the crash. Otherwise, it would have been much more sensible to send the shield to the Red Skull or something similar.

Of course, it would have been really sensible to shoot Captain America and Bucky before putting them in the rocket in the first place.

Richard Willis said:

Also on the splash, why would they be carrying Cap and his shield, his only weapon, when it should have been separated from him?

Hey, if comic book supervillains or even ordinary bad guys behaved sensibly, most superheroes would be dead within a few months, or even killed within the first day they put on their costumes and went out to fight crime.  As it is, in super-character worlds, most bad guys use blasters that stun but don't cause serious bodily injury to the heroes and the few baddies who use regular guns have spectacularly bad aim or are mentally warped into deciding to go with a spectacular "death trap" rather than a shot to the head, not counting the few superheroes who can take a shot to the head and smile, like, say, Miracle Man, who just happens to be one of the very few heroes you really don't want to piss off as he might think twice before smashing your head in but only to consider it might be more fun to take you flying up to the stratosphere, kiss you, and toss you back to Earth.

Why did Steve Rogers have his shield and costume when he was frozen in ice and Bucky was killed? Because otherwise he would have had a much tougher time convincing the Avengers that he was Captain America. Comic book law confuses cause and effect. Physics must be very strange in 616.

Superman did that in an early story, took a guy into the air, dropped him, and said if he didn't talk he didn't think he'd be able to find him and catch him. Never read Miracle Man, but he sounds more like Captain Cleveland than Captain Marvel, who I don't recall did anything like that except in his serial, where he threw crooks off buildings and dams.

Come to think of it, his shield was against his front under his shirt. 

Yeah, he was frozen with the shield against his chest or stomach, under the shreds of his Army uniform*. When he jumps after Zemo's rocket his shield should have been noticeable under his army uniform since it is wider than his body.

* and I never understood why Cap and Bucky were wearing Army uniforms while going after Zemo.

There was a story that explained all that but it was really reaching. I believe Zemo tied them to the rocket, but they escaped, somehow got a motorcycle, and went after it. Apparently he thought having them die in their uniforms was funny or symbolic or something.

Miracle Man began as an ersatz British version of the Golden Age Captain Marvel, originally Marvel Man, whose publication began when Fawcett quit publishing Captain Marvel comics, which were still very popular in Britain and so the British company just made a few tweaks to the name, costume and origin, etc., and kept on going into the early '60s.  Nearly 20 years later, circa 1981, Alan Moore comes along and takes the long defunct character and puts him in a far more realistic setting and gives him the outlook of a god who while basically a good guy, doesn't have the same morals as a typical Silver Age hero.  As far as I know, Marvel Man was the first superhero comic Alan Moore wrote.  The same British magazine wherein MM first saw print also published Moore's V for Vendetta.

Ron M. said:

Why did Steve Rogers have his shield and costume when he was frozen in ice and Bucky was killed? Because otherwise he would have had a much tougher time convincing the Avengers that he was Captain America. Comic book law confuses cause and effect. Physics must be very strange in 616.

Superman did that in an early story, took a guy into the air, dropped him, and said if he didn't talk he didn't think he'd be able to find him and catch him. Never read Miracle Man, but he sounds more like Captain Cleveland than Captain Marvel, who I don't recall did anything like that except in his serial, where he threw crooks off buildings and dams.

He actually has the morals of a Golden Age/Pre-Code Hero. The Torch made a bad joke in the 50s revival when a Communist soldier attacked him from behind and burned to death, although we don't see it happen. "I've got an itch in my back." The soldier's bayonet melts as he charges him. "Can't take time to scratch now..." The soldier continues to charge him, and we see his rifle melt. "So...scratch one Red!" There's a puff of smoke behind the Torch with no sign of the soldier.

 Ron M. said:

There was a story that explained all that but it was really reaching. I believe Zemo tied them to the rocket, but they escaped, somehow got a motorcycle, and went after it. Apparently he thought having them die in their uniforms was funny or symbolic or something.

That was "Death Be Not Proud", from The Avengers # 56 (Sep., 1968).  Baron Zemo's rationale for putting Captain America and Bucky in ordinary G. I. uniforms was that, if and when their bodies were found, they would not be recognised as the star-spangled heroes and, thus, not be revered in death.

That makes sense, but it fails to explain why Zemo had the G.I. duds put on over their costumes.  Even if Cap and Bucky died with their bodies reasonably intact, their costumes would have been discovered eventually.

But, at least, give Roy Thomas credit for trying to patch up a huge hole left by Lee and Kirby in The Avengers # 4.

They'd especially notice the costumes once they'd realized one of them had a large round metal object on him. And Captain America and Bucky would have been revered anyway once enough time went by and people realized they weren't going to come back and must have died. Roy tried too hard sometimes to explain crazy stuff that really didn't make sense.

A good conclusion to the story.  Cedric got what he deserved, but too bad about Celia, who maintained a stiff upper lip throughout.  I'm glad that Cedric stayed dead.

The whole bit with Steve Rogers "deserting" just showed the silliness of having Cap maintain his civilian identity during the war.  I won't spoil it for those who don't know, but this does get resolved next issue.

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