Saturday, July 15, 2017
Cap's Tales Of Suspense!
When it became clear to Stan Lee and his boss Martin Goodman that Marvel's latest uptick in sales was going to last a wee bit longer, it was evident that it was time to dust off their most famous Golden Age hero, Captain America. It was handy indeed that Cap's co-creator Jack Kirby was on hand to effect the revival.
Marvel had already brought about the revival of its other big Golden Age greats with the revised Human Torch as part of the Fantastic Four. Forget that he was a human teenager and not an adult looking android, when he kicked off the flames it all looked much the same. When it came time to test drive a Cap revival, they did it as a false flag operation in Strange Tales, the mag which hosted the Human Torch's solo adventures.
Likewise the Sub-Mariner had been revived and made into something of a villain in the pages of Fantastic Four. He performs that role when he chances upon the frozen form of Cap and gives him a refreshing drink in the Atlantic where he is found by the Avengers. He is their first recruit and now is considered a founder. He became the face of The Avengers for many issues going forward.
But eventually it came time to give him his own solo gig. That came in the pages of Tales of Suspense, a comic which had been the stronghold of fellow Avenger Iron Man for many moons. Now the two shared the comic.
Cap's early adventures were written by Stan Lee and drawn with gusto by Jack Kirby. The earliest stories are big on action and low on character. Steve Rogers is pretty much a cipher with only a few minutes each day reserved to mope about the demise of his buddy Bucky.
Eventually the team of Lee and Kirby get around to re-telling Cap's origin and that kicks off a whole series of stories which are set in World War II.
In fact the first three stories of this shift are retellings of actual stories from Captain America Comics #1.
But with the origin of the Red Skull all that changes and we get new material and an insight into Cap's most deadly and implacable foe. He takes control of Cap for a bit, but that proves to be a failure.
Cap is called upon to solve a few mysteries too along the way, though Nazis always seem to be at the bottom of it.
After many more WWII adventures, the series shifts its attention again to the modern day but the threat comes from the last great war and the evil mind of the Red Skull, who unleashes his deadly Sleepers onto the world.
Cap is able to defeat the Sleepers but it doesn't mean he's done with the Red Skull who becomes, in classic Marvel tradition, unkillable.
Soon Cap is getting new baddies to battle such as the charming and deadly Batroc the Leaper.
He teams up with Nick Fury to battle THEM.
But it is the Red Skull again who is the real enemy and was never more deadly than when he got his vile mitts on the Cosmic Cube.
An offshoot of that technology birthed the splendid Super-Adaptoid who combined the powers of the Avengers to battle the Living Legend.
Again it's the Red Skull who is the villain along with Power Man and Swordsman, as Gil Kane steps in to pencil several issues of the run. They are mighty dynamic in their own right.
New menaces rear up, like the loathsome MODOK who has taken over the deadly AIM operation.
But soon enough Jack Kirby is back, this time with Joe Sinnott in tow as they describe what the world becomes when Steve Rogers reveals to the world that he is Captain America. It might make his dating life a bit simpler, but it has its own problems as we'll see soon enough in Cap's won mag. Actually it was the same comic, renamed as Cap took over the venerable Tales of Suspense.
More on that next time.