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 girl whose name the hero doesn't know for ages must have been Stan's idea, since we see the same thing with Clea in Dr. Strange. We only get her name in Ditko's last issue, as if he didn't want to leave without giving her a name.
 
Dave Elyea said:

Back in the Golden Age, most of the super-heroes' alter-egos were near-ciphers: Mild mannered reporter, bored wealthy playboy, earnest young scientist, etc. By those standards, Steve Rogers was possibly above average for the time, with a clear cut "career" as a slightly downtrodden Army private, seeming forever relegated to KP duty, and had a fairly complete supporting cast, with a kid sidekick (Bucky), a semi-platonic female companion (Betty Ross, who was herself a more fully realized character than her Silver Age namesake ever was), and a cranky "boss", Sgt. Duffy, who in many ways was Jonah Jameson to Steve's Peter Parker. Silver Age Steve Rogers never settled into any kind of civilian career for more than a couple issues in a row, and his supporting cast was mostly the Avengers, Rick Jones, and a girl whose name he didn't know for ages. Plus, while Steve more than reached the low bar that served for Golden Age character development, by the Silver Age, standards had changed, at least at Marvel (Steve would probably been more at home at Silver Age DC), and to my mind, no one has ever really figured out just how to give Steve Rogers the kind of "soap operatic" elements that the rest of Marvel used so successfully--poor Steve's biggest flaw was that he was too well adjusted, even with several decades missing from his life.


Ronald Morgan said:

Was Steve Rogers much more than a cypher before he turned up in the 60s? Were he and Betty Ross close in the 40s?

Not only did he lose those 20 (what is it now, 70?) years, but since then what had he done besides kill Baron Zemo? Was his relationship with Sharon going anywhere? Did he have any friends besides the Avengers? He couldn't even keep Rick, the only buddy of his I can think of before Sam, from running out on him. (A real friend would have thought Cap was acting weird and try to find out why instead of running off to play Billy Batson.) Action, action, action worked with Thor, but then he had a girl and four buddies to talk to. Maybe his Tales of Suspense stories would have worked better if the Kookie Quartet had turned up more often without taking over the show.

Richard Mantle said:

I'll take the ridicule -- I actually liked the original Falcon look.
I also liked the original Wonder Man look, the original Goliath (blue and yellow) and Goliath II (Clint in the blue) looks, along with the original Captain Britain....I could (and do) go on...

I'm with you. I liked Falcon's original outfit. I don't buy the idea that heroes can't be in secondary colors. Major League Baseball went through that a few years back. A lot of the teams suddenly adopted red and blue. You couldn't tell which team you were looking at. That seems to have reversed.

Dave Elyea said:

(Steve would probably been more at home at Silver Age DC)

Until they started trying to replicate Marvel, DC wasn't doing much soap opera. Their heroes did have supporting casts, however, and most had a variety of villains to interact with.

Rather than returning over and over again to his grief over Bucky's death (which to him was a recent event) they would have been better off having Steve lamenting other friends and relatives who had died* and all of the events he missed.

* Of course, when he was first thawed it was only a twenty year gap, so many of his friends and relatives (if he had any) would still be alive and kicking (as were Stan and Jack).

Are there any popular characters whose costumes are primarily yellow? Sometimes they have gold highlights (Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel).

I assume you're referring to heroes. Professor Zoom's costume is almost all yellow, of course. Booster Gold has a lot of yellow as well. Oh, and a certain vertically-challenged Canadian mutant.

Thanks, Randy. I would never have thought of Wolverine.

Luke Cage wore a yellow shirt in the 70s/80s.

The Whizzer was yellow too, and Spitfire yellow with red accoutrements. But they're not very popular. The Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl wore yellow on the torso.

Secondary colours-wise, no-one seems to have a problem with green: Green Lantern. Green Arrow, the Green Hornet, the Green Turtle, the Green Lama...

Both Iron Man and Daredevil were yellow but in both cases Stan decided he liked red better.

Except for the Thing orange has never caught on for either heroes or villains. Why has this secondary color been so heavily ignored?

Outside of athletic teams and their supporters, I rarely see anyone wearing orange. It's not a very flattering color. It wouldn't surprise me if it were chosen for Ben Grimm precisely for this reason.

Having attempted to join the army in December 1940 (going by the publication date of his first issue), Steve Rogers would have been at least 18 that year, or about the same age as Stan Lee, or maybe in his early 20s, like Jack Kirby would have been, and so after they revived him in the Silver Age they were telling stories about a man of their generation but who appeared to be 20 years younger.  Strangely, Lee & Kirby never did much with that angle although at least a few later writers would.  In the Ultimates, Mark MIllar, now writing a variation of the character who had been in suspended animation for over 60 years, touched on that aspect of Steve Rogers' dealing with his re-birth very well, I thought.

Richard Willis said:

Dave Elyea said:

(Steve would probably been more at home at Silver Age DC)

Until they started trying to replicate Marvel, DC wasn't doing much soap opera. Their heroes did have supporting casts, however, and most had a variety of villains to interact with.

Rather than returning over and over again to his grief over Bucky's death (which to him was a recent event) they would have been better off having Steve lamenting other friends and relatives who had died* and all of the events he missed.

* Of course, when he was first thawed it was only a twenty year gap, so many of his friends and relatives (if he had any) would still be alive and kicking (as were Stan and Jack).

I suppose a Silver Age DC Captain America would have a whole different set of editorial flaws--he still would have been light in the personality department, but he would have had a regular job of some kind, and at least a handful of recurring co-workers, one of whom would most likely be his frequently in need of rescue love interest.  He'd probably had a more fully stocked rogues' gallery, with more elaborate plots, but less actual action, since the villains would be more given to explaining their overly complicated machinations than engaging in combat, no matter what all those "Zap" "Pow" balloons kept saying.  There would have been less Bucky grief, as DC characters of that era literally choked down their emotions ("I'm the last survivor of my species *choke*--oh, look what those pesky reporters are up to now!"), but that's assuming that Bucky wouldn't have also survived, and gone on to join the Teen Titans, where he'd keep complaining about playing second fiddle to Robin, and basically replacing Speedy in the group.  In retrospect, it might have worked out better for Bucky than Cap if they'd been at DC.

Fred W. Hill said:

Having attempted to join the army in December 1940 (going by the publication date of his first issue), Steve Rogers would have been at least 18 that year, or about the same age as Stan Lee, or maybe in his early 20s, like Jack Kirby would have been, and so after they revived him in the Silver Age they were telling stories about a man of their generation but who appeared to be 20 years younger.  Strangely, Lee & Kirby never did much with that angle although at least a few later writers would.  In the Ultimates, Mark MIllar, now writing a variation of the character who had been in suspended animation for over 60 years, touched on that aspect of Steve Rogers' dealing with his re-birth very well, I thought.

Richard Willis said:

Dave Elyea said:

(Steve would probably been more at home at Silver Age DC)

Until they started trying to replicate Marvel, DC wasn't doing much soap opera. Their heroes did have supporting casts, however, and most had a variety of villains to interact with.

Rather than returning over and over again to his grief over Bucky's death (which to him was a recent event) they would have been better off having Steve lamenting other friends and relatives who had died* and all of the events he missed.

* Of course, when he was first thawed it was only a twenty year gap, so many of his friends and relatives (if he had any) would still be alive and kicking (as were Stan and Jack).



Dave Elyea said:

I suppose a Silver Age DC Captain America would have a whole different set of editorial flaws--he still would have been light in the personality department, but he would have had a regular job of some kind, and at least a handful of recurring co-workers, one of whom would most likely be his frequently in need of rescue love interest.  He'd probably had a more fully stocked rogues' gallery, with more elaborate plots, but less actual action, since the villains would be more given to explaining their overly complicated machinations than engaging in combat, no matter what all those "Zap" "Pow" balloons kept saying.  There would have been less Bucky grief, as DC characters of that era literally choked down their emotions ("I'm the last survivor of my species *choke*--oh, look what those pesky reporters are up to now!"), but that's assuming that Bucky wouldn't have also survived, and gone on to join the Teen Titans, where he'd keep complaining about playing second fiddle to Robin, and basically replacing Speedy in the group.  In retrospect, it might have worked out better for Bucky than Cap if they'd been at DC.


At least until the Bronze Age, when Bucky would become a heroin addict.

In my estimation, the most prominent Golden Age superheroes were Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Captain America.  Only the DC trio have remained in regular publication from their initial appearances to the present (WW probably due to contractual obligations for at least the first couple of decades of her history -- that is, if DC hadn't kept her in steady publication, the rights would have reverted to the estate of her creator).  Capt. A. was the first to be axed due to declining sales and Capt. M. survived a few more years before Fawcett Publications pulled the plug, giving up on their log legal case against DC.  I'm not sure if WW is still depicted as having been active in WWII, but certainly neither Supes nor Bats are treated in their fictional worlds as having appeared on the scene before Hitler launched WWII by invading Poland.  I haven't kept up with the modern Capt. M., but I'm pretty sure in the DC world he's not known as a Golden Ager either.  Due to the manner in which Lee & Kirby brought Capt. A back into action, he has become the most famous super-hero still prominently associated with both World War II and the modern era, and the only one whose most prominent foe is distinctly a surviving Nazi who was personally given his costumed identity by Hitler.  Of course, originally Cap was revived in time to take part in the Vietnam War but now that's too far in the past so he slept through that, as well as Watergate and the Reagan and first Bush presidencies.

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