Welcome to this episode of TEX's BACK-ISSUE QUEST,
Where I select key issues from my collection to take you back to those days of old. Today, in celebration of Independence Day, we're going on a trip in our favorite rocketship, right into the late 1960s with...
Above, you see my copy of "Captain America" vol 1 #100, published in 1968, written by Stan Lee and illustrated wildly in that Jack Kirby style!
Captain America returned in 1963 in "Avengers" #4, and he was a regular there. In October of 1964, Cap made his first appearance in "Tales of Suspense" in issue #58, and by issue #59, he and Iron Man were sharing the comic as the two headlining superheroes.
This rip-roaring issue brings together Captain America and Black Panther to stop Baron Zemo from using his solar ray to obliterate the the United States of America. Talk about terrorism! On to the fun facts!!
FUN FACT 1: The man Cap and Black Panther thought to be Baron Zemo was revealed to be an imposter in this story.
FUN FACT 2: This story, that was started in the final issue of "Tales of Suspense" #99, marks the first team-up between Captain America and Black Panther.
FUN FACT 3: Marvel was ahead of the game when it came to progressive storylines. Not only was Captain America teaming up with an African king (Americans didn't like kings, and people of African descent were struggling to realize the benefits of the Civil Rights Act of 1964), but in this issue Cap even gets Black Panther to consider being Cap's own replacement in the Avengers! A Black African king to replace America's Star-Spangled Avenger?! Mind blown.
FUN FACT 4: Black Panther next appeared in "Avengers" #51 as Captain America's replacement to the team.
FUN FACT 5: A throw-a-away villain named the Destructon makes his first appearance in this issue. As far as I know, he's only made two appearances in the 616.
FUN FACT 6: With the popularity of superheroes exploding once more in the 1960s, Marvel began to move away from their old science-fiction, fantasy and horror titles, phasing them out totally or rebranding them. That's what happened to "Tales of Suspense" - with issue #100, it became Captain America. And Iron Man? He got himself a one-shot co-starring the Sub-Mariner before getting his own title soon after. Yes, fanboys and fangirls, there was a time when Iron Man was a second-tier Marvel hero, and Captain America was top of the heap.
FUN FACT 7: This issue begins Captain America vol 1. And you're asking, "Well, TEX, wasn't there a previous volume of Captain America" started in the 1940s? I'm glad you asked. The previous volume was called "Captain America Comics," so Captain America vol. 1 is correct.
FUN FACT 8: Stan Lee used what came to be called the Marvel Method in which he'd dictate an outline of the story (not write a script) to the artist, and the artist, through his imagination realized the comic - including subplots and dialogue, which Lee would then edit. So this comic was written by Stan Lee AND Jack Kirby.
Captain America is hands down my favorite Marvel superhero. He is a man of peace forced into battle, the ultimate war-fighter who would rather resolve problems through kindness and diplomacy. Some see Captain America as a jingoistic symbol of America, but he is anything but that. Cap has morals, and values, but doesn't demand that anyone else follow his path, he just sets an example and because of his strength of character, he ends up being a leader. And in those cases where the American government has been wrong, he has stood up to it, even at the cost of losing everything he loved, just like a TRUE patriot. Captain America is not just the ultimate soldier, he is the fictional embodiment of the ultimate American spirit. To me, he is the ESSENTIAL superhero.
If you want to see what I see in Captain America, start reading in the Silver-Age (1960s) until his death in 2008. You'll see that despite his lack of physical superpowers, he is, of all the Marvel heroes, the most noble, kind, just, patriotic and courageous. Even the gods of Asgard stand in awe of Steve Rogers. If you are looking for a Superman in the Marvel Universe, look no further than Captain America.
So, what is your favorite Captain America moment?
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