In this story, Baron Zemo sabotages Cap’s fitness exhibition by substituting his own henchmen for the sparring partners Cap expected to face—which Cap only realizes once they really put up a fight and start firing. This gives Cap a chance to cut lose, showing off his skills (and Kirby’s at the same time).
As he often does in these early issues, he teaches while he fights.
And Rick Jones shows off what he’s learned as well, especially regarding judo and the benefits of leverage over strength—and also knowing your own limitations (as seen in the last panel below).
Next, Cap shows off his skill with his shield, citing its offense and defensive uses, but this is less satisfying to me than it would be if not for the magnetic tomfoolery—it’s always more impressive when Cap manipulates the shield through skill alone.
In short time—10 pages, to be exact—Cap wraps up the thugs and leaves them for the police. This is such a great panel, with Cap nonchalant about his feat while Rick and the police are amazed, one of the latter supposing that it was one of the henchman who called them.
I also like the panel below, with Cap reassuring Rick that it was OK to call the police in, and a little expression of his humility in the “ol’ Captain America” remark. (Cap’s references to this age are always appreciated, for I too am old and weary.)
Of course, the story can’t end before Cap Skypes with Baron Zemo, taunting him and definitely getting a rise out of him (Elvis style).
Finally, Cap is sure to thank the chief of police who set up the call (and referring to him as “sir,” out of due respect). (Sometimes it’s the little things that best demonstrate virtue.)
ONE FUNNY THING (IN TWO PARTS)
These panels show Zemo’s henchman practicing combat against a fake Cap, but they still feature some stunning fight choreography from Kirby, as well as some language that would come to be familiar in the 1970s…
Almost a living weapon, you could say!
The more I look at it, this “iron fist” contraption reminds me of the mechanical gauntlets Crossbones uses against Cap in the opening scene of the Captain America: Civil War film (but without the blades).
BONUS #1: SGT FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS #13
The same month, Captain America and Bucky appeared in a World War II-era tale from Nick Fury’s series that reveals how he first met This tale from Nick’s WWII series show how they all first met.
The story begins with Nick, Lady Pamela Hawley, and the rest of the Commandos watching a newsreel of themselves in London, with Nick quite upset that they didn’t get the reception with the English crowds that he’d hoped for.
But when a certain Sentinel of Liberty shows up…
Little does Nick know that he’ll meet Cap soon, in the pub.
Despite Steve Rogers’ famous dislike of bullies, he doesn’t fight back—he doesn’t have to, once Nick steps in and starts a brawl that draws in the whole gang.
When next we see Steve, he’s suiting up with Bucky, preparing to head into Germany, and telling his young sidekick that he’s met Nick and, humbly, that he’d be proud to fight alongside him and the Howlers.
Once Cap and Bucky are in Germany they see an execution about occur, and as we know, if Cap sees a situation pointed south, he can’t ignore it. (Sometimes he wishes he could.)
Cap fights the Nazis while Bucky frees the American pilots… what a page by Kirby!
Later, Nick runs into Steve again on a train carrying slave labor to the Nazi build-up…
…but when Nick tries to sneak Steve a gun, he refuses, making Reb (one of the Howlers and, incidentally, a dead ringer for Cap) wonder why.
(Check out the strut on that German soldier!)
When Steve returns he’s in costume with Bucky at his side—and Nick is just confused. This is also a nice reminder that Cap was more attentive to his secret identity than he usually was later in his career (but see Jim Steranko’s upcoming issues for a development on that front).
Next we get a great example of Cap’s courage and resilience, catching a grenade and throwing it into a cannon, then taking a lot of the blast and still getting up afterwards.
This apparently changes Nick’s mind about Cap being a fundraising showclown.
Nick offers an apology, but Cap humbly refuses (much as he refuses thanks from a pilot he rescues from Vietnam in Tales of Suspense #61, as we’ll see soon).
In the last panels of the issue, we get the sitcom-ish set-up of Nick and Reb in a hospital room next to Steve and Bucky’s, with Steve again expressing concern over his secret identity.
Surprisingly, this seems to be Cap’s only appearance in Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, but it’s a valuable one for setting up Nick and Cap’s first meeting, as well as seeing how Nick formed a positive impression of Cap (after initially resenting the attention he felt Cap didn’t deserve). Of course, we’ll see a lot more of Cap and Nick in the Silver Age and on, especially once Cap becomes more involved in S.H.I.E.L.D.—and with a certain S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent who reminds him of a woman he once knew.
BONUS #2: TALES TO ASTONISH #59
What’s more, Cap appeared in a single panel in the Hulk feature in Tales to Astonish that same month, and it’s actually somewhat meaningful. As you can see to the right, Cap supports Rick in wanting to go to the Hulk’s aide, comparing him to Bucky loyalty to him. Of course, Rick is as sensitive as ever, referring to Cap’s “dead partner,” ensuring that Cap won’t miss Rick once he leaves.
Tales of Suspense (vol. 1) #60, December 1964: “The Army of Assassins Strikes!” Stan Lee and Jacky Kirby (words, plot, and pencils), Chic Stone (inks), ??? (colors), Sam Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #13, December 1964: Stan Lee and Jacky Kirby (words, plot, and pencils), Dick Ayers (inks), ??? (colors), Artie Simek (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Tales of Suspense #59 (November 1964)
ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #11 (December 1964)
NEXT ISSUE: Tales of Suspense #61 (January 1965)