After the case of mistaken identity from the last issue, Cap finally get his own feature in Tales of Suspense (albeit slightly shorter than that of the “star” of the book, that infamous diva, Iron Man).
This first story is similar to Avengers #4 in that it showcases both his grief over Bucky and his fighting prowess, the latter in some amazing fight scenes courtesy of the King, Jack Kirby.
First… just look at this awesome splash page! What a way to kickstart a new set of stories.
Also, note that title of the story is “Captain America.” Of course it is!
AN AUSPICIOUS START
Our story finds Cap on duty at Avengers Mansion—and none too happy about it.
For you see, my friends, Cap is a man of action…
…who does his duty like a good teammate should.
But looking through his scrapbook was a mistake—but only for him, because it also serves to fill in new readers on a element introduced to his character in Avengers #4, namely his grief and remorse over the death of his teenaged sidekick, Bucky Barnes, in World War II, before he was frozen in the icy deep.
Even so, as we will see later, Cap made several attempts to find another Bucky, including young Rick Jones, whom we’ll meet later in this issue (and who was appeared regularly in Avengers since the first issue).
SHOW US WHAT YOU CAN DO
As in many of his first Avengers issues, Cap spends much of his time in the beginning of his Tales of Suspense run showing off his battle skills—often while giving free combat lessons to friends and foes alike.
Here, Cap’s moping is interrupted by a gang of thugs looking to steal the Avengers’ “secret plans,” knowing that Cap is there alone—“nothin’ but a glorified acrobat,” according to their boss.
Let’s see how that works out for them!
We get a reminder of Tony’s modifications to the shield, allowing Cap to control it magnetically, and also that Cap isn’t perfect and can be caught by surprise.
Cap does tend to get a little boastful while he’s fighting random thugs.
And as if fighting the real Iron Man in the previous issue weren’t enough… but this one gives Cap a chance to show off his judo training (and explain it while he does it).
Apparently Cap spent some time in Spain… maybe with Papa?
I think this next move is particularly clever, showing that Cap is not all strength and speed.
The strongest of the thugs, Bull, actually poses a threat to Cap, which gives him a chance to explain how he can withstand pain as well as deal it out (which we’ve already seen in several Avengers issues as well as his battle with Tony in the last issue of Tales of Suspense). This also complements his imperfection, seen earlier in this issue, which fits with his absence of “true” super-powers (aside from his enhancements from Project Rebirth).
The panel below is fantastic: Cap sitting among his vanquished foes like they were actually the sparring partners he expected to be fighting, and humbly saying his fellow Avengers would have put up more of a fight.
Our story ends with one of my favorite comics panels ever…
You and me both, pal… you and me both.
ONE UGLY MOMENT
Cap also appeared briefly alongside the rest of the Avengers at the very beginning of the Iron Man feature in this issue (drawn by Don Heck), making one of the worst comments of his long comics career.
You’re better than this, Cap. (You too, Stan, although sadly it’s not a surprise considering how he often wrote the Wasp and other heroines and supporting female characters in these early days.)
Tales of Suspense (vol. 1) #59, October 1964: “Captain America.” Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (words, plot, and pencils), Chic Stone (inks), ??? (colors), Sam Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Tales of Suspense #58 (October 1964)
ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #10 (November 1964)