Archive for January, 2012

Tales of Suspense #81: Captain America

January 26, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
September 1966
B-story: ****
This climax to the last 4 issues—like the arc as a whole—is frantic, almost out of control. Maybe that’s because the gadget at its core is too abstract: an energy cube that can power the Red Skull’s victory over mind & matter. Faced w/ the Red Skull Triumphant, Cap fakes submission & sucker punches him.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #80]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #82]

Tales of Suspense #80: Captain America

January 25, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
August 1966
B-story: ***
ToS #80 ties a few plot threads together in a loose knot, but the rocketing momentum compensates for that. Meanwhile, Heck’s thin-lined inking isn’t ideal for Kirby’s chunky style. The Red Skull betrays his terrorist allies & steals their invention: a “cosmic cube” that turns will into reality!
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #79]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #81]

Tales of Suspense #79: Captain America

January 24, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
July 1966
B-story: ****
Once again, the story’s driven by the futuristic, transistor-like designs of Kirbytech. A teutonic helmet broadcasts a hypno-ray that renders its wearer invisible! Its inventors, the yellow-clad sci-terrorists codenamed AIM, have also, ominously, resuscitated Cap’s diabolical archenemy, the Red Skull!
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #78]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #80]

Tales of Suspense #78: Captain America

January 23, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
June 1966
B-story: ****
With his mad, nearly abstract technology & breakneck pacing, Kirby takes creative control of Cap. Out of nowhere, a cyborg w/ chemical weaponry (built by science terrorists in yellow hazmat suits) surprises Cap & fellow war vet Nick Fury. So the Avenger joins Fury’s clandestine spy agency, SHIELD.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #77]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #79]

Tales of Suspense #77: Captain America

January 22, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & John Romita
May 1966
B-story: *****
Cap’s first essential tale since his revival, this mini-drama must be exactly how the supersoldier spent WW2. Flashback to the Liberation of Paris, when Cap loses his g’friend, a liaison with the Resistance. Marvel’s best romance artist, Romita, ghosts his passionate faces over Kirby’s layouts.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #76]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #78]

Tales of Suspense #76: Captain America

January 21, 2012

Stan Lee // John Romita
April 1966
B-story: ****
The rippling forms & sure rhythms of recent hire Romita match this mag’s heroic tone perfectly. And his chemistry w/ Lee renders memorable the swinging ’60s villain, a French bounder named Batroc (Batroque?). He’s been hired by a 007-style super-crime ring to steal an explosive isotope from SHIELD.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #75]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #77]

Tales of Suspense #75: Captain America

January 20, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
March 1966
B-story: ***
Ayers isn’t a good partner for Kirby: his pencils lift Jack’s shadows & strip the faces of emotion. Too bad, since a Fifth Ave shopper reminds moody Cap of his wartime romance—but she’s really a US superspy! Even better: a morally ambiguous merc w/ mad combat skills & an outrageous French accent!
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #74]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #76]

Tales of Suspense #74: Captain America

January 19, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & George Tuska
February 1966
B-story: ****
Former Nazis activate a contingency failsafe 20 years after Germany’s loss: a superweapon that may blow up the Earth! Its payload is a steel head modeled after the Red Skull’s kopf. Cap parachutes aboard to disable it using only an acetylene torch! Even Stan seems impressed at what Jack comes up with.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #73]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #75]

Tales of Suspense #73: Captain America

January 18, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & George Tuska
January 1966
B-story: ****
Like the thrilled reader, Cap can only watch as a giant robot links w/ a huge electro-kite to wreck the German countryside. The tech, like CA himself, is plausibly WW2 era—in a pulp way. Tuska’s professional pencils point to a synthesis of Kirby’s unique style w/ a more conventional look.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #72]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #74]

Tales of Suspense #72: Captain America

January 17, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & George Tuska
December 1965
B-story: *****
Cap shifts to the modern era, w/ Steve Rogers as the man out of time, suffering survivor’s guilt as vets do. But the past lives on, as a Nazi sleeper cell activates an old plan by that diabolical super-SS agent, the Red Skull. Awesomely, it involves giant robots out of a ’40s Fleischer cartoon!
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #71]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #73]

Tales of Suspense #71: Captain America

January 16, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & George Tuska
November 1965
B-story: ***
Part 3 of a story that sounds like a plausible WW2 Cap/Bucky mission and avoids both Golden Age & Silver Age formulas. Instead, the creative team delivers a rollicking adventure involving an English rocket scientist/Quisling who avenges his sister by rerouting a V-2 to hit a Nazi battalion in France.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #70]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #72]

Tales of Suspense #70: Captain America

January 15, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & George Tuska
October 1965
B-story: ***
CA now alternates the mag’s cover w/ Iron Man rather than sharing it. Inside, Kirby’s obviously the creative drive behind Cap’s strip, even if he’s just providing breakdowns: so much action & momentum, plot threads get frayed! Our super-soldier gets pinned down by a Nazi squad in an English castle.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #69]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #71]

Tales of Suspense #69: Captain America

January 14, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
September 1965
B-story: ***
Bucky plays the perennial role of Boy Hostage when he’s kidnapped by a mad scientist. But the highlight of this backup is a gutsy firefight in Occupied France, tipping the ish towards the war genre. Working off Kirby’s breakdowns, Ayers has fine linework that suggests ’40s comics, esp. in the faces.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #68]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #70]

Tales of Suspense #68: Captain America

January 13, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
August 1965
B-story: ***
Cap breaks the Red Skull’s mind control—whew! Back on duty, he outsmarts a Nazi agent who’s stolen an experimental disintegrator. Kirby’s found a solid formula for this backup: ’60s superaction in a ’40s setting. Lee, however, doesn’t add his trademark exuberance or interior psychic tension.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #67]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #69]

Tales of Suspense #67: Captain America

January 12, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
July 1965
B-story: ****
Hitting the height of his creativity, Kirby creates the sort of WW2 Cap stories w/ Lee that you wish he’d done w/ Simon. All of ’41 Europe is his theater, from Hitler’s Berlin to blitzed London. Sidekick Bucky Barnes escapes a POW camp to rescue CA, who’s now the Red Skull’s Manchurian Candidate.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #66]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #68]

Tales of Suspense #66: Captain America

January 11, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
June 1965
B-story: *****
Lee & Kirby quit recounting 1940s tales to create original missions. The Red Skull brainwashes Cap, but not before he reveals his past. Hitler himself oversaw the training of a bitter German teen (an everyman, like Rogers was), but now the Fuhrer worries that his protege has amassed too much power!
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #65]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #67]

Tales of Suspense #65: Captain America

January 10, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
May 1965
B-story: ***
Not sure what the caption means when it says this tale is told in a Golden-Age manner—maybe Lee’s copy is less manic? Kirby has his usual frenzied action & unique, expressive style. He (re-)intros Cap’s Nazi nemesis, the lurid Red Skull, who’s sabotaging the US war effort w/ disguises & hit lists.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #64]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #66]

Tales of Suspense #64: Captain America

January 8, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
April 1965
B-story: ***
Cap & Bucky team w/ a blonde agent to sock a Nazi vaudevillean (& his freak) who sows terror by ‘predicting’ stateside attacks. Take the time to compare this 10-page tale w/ the 7-page 1941 original. It’s got the same headlong momentum & 2D characters but stronger pacing & almost grotesque artwork.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #63]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #65]

Tales of Suspense #63: Captain America

January 6, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
March 1965
B-story: ***
Rather than imagine new adventures for Cap, the creative team recounts his WW2 exploits. First up is his origin story: the bubbling serum that turns a scrawny civilian into a super-soldier, the chance drafting of sidekick Bucky, & finally, a brisk set of bareknuckle bouts w/ Nazi fifth columnists.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #62]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #64]

Tales of Suspense #62: Captain America

January 5, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
February 1965
B-story: **
Where last issue’s CA was simultaneously offensive & inspiring, this one is simply sloppy. As usual, it’s simply a brawl w/ a gang of thugs, this time as part of a maximum-security prison break. Kirby draws bone-jolting panels, but he compresses the action such that he loses the combat maneuvers.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #61]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #63]

Tales of Suspense #61: Captain America

January 4, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
January 1965
B-story: **
Cap may not see combat in Vietnam, but in this backup, he rescues a captured US pilot. The tale is a mess of Asian stereotypes—the Vietnamese general is a Japanese sumo wrestler—but that’s offset (a little, anyway) by that POW. Tho’ drawn as a white guy, Lee has had him colored w/ black skin.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #60]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #62]

Tales of Suspense #60: Captain America

January 3, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
December 1964
B-story: ***
In a redux of last issue, Cap proves himself a one-man army in a pile-up w/ jumpsuited thugs. They’re flunkies for a villain in a red hood (Marvel fans would recognize Baron Zemo, but Stan omits his intro, motivation, even a “see Avengers #” caption). Definitely a backup tale, but staged well.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue:  Tales of Suspense #59]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #61]

Tales of Suspense #59: Captain America

January 2, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
November 1964
B-story: ***
Almost 25 years after he & Simon created the super-GI, Kirby brings his rough-hewn ’60s style to a new Captain America solo series. He & partner Lee skip Cap’s recent brood & show him as a man of action. On sentry duty, Cap stops hoods from burgling the Avengers Mansion, w/o flashy superpowers.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #60]