Tales of Suspense #85-87 (January-March 1967)

tos 86 coverThese three issues contain self-contained Captain America stories that, while decent—issue #85 more than the other two—are frankly unremarkable from the viewpoint of ethics-based content, so I’ll move through them quickly.

Issue #85 finds Cap looking for Sharon Carter and finding himself facing…

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This means, of course, an issue of fantastic Kirby fight choreography, and we are not disappointed!

It turns out that Batroc kidnapped Sharon and delivered her to Hydra, who agreed to let the acrobat fight Cap on his own.

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And awa-a-a-ay we go!

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In the middle of their battle, Cap gets in an interesting comment on the nature of battle, the kind of which we hear applied to warfare more than the one-on-one combat he and Batroc are involved in.

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Even Stan knows when to step aside when Jack’s firing on all cylinders.

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You can always feel the blows, can’t you?

When Hydra attacks Cap, breaking the deal, Batroc feels zee terrible anger, showing his own sense of honor (and his feelings about the dishonor of others).

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He and Cap join forces to find Sharon and strike a blow against Hydra—a satisfying two-fisted blow.

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Yes, Batroc, with your help.

Their temporary truce and cooperation over, Batroc leaps ahead, leaving Cap and Sharon together (to be seen more soon).

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Issue #86 has very little of relevance for this fine blog: Cap infiltrates an enemy base in the East to rescue the undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent 60, whom Sharon was supposed to contact before she was captured by Batroc in the previous issue. In the panels below, we see Agent 60 suffering from PTSD, which Cap himself suspected was behind the hallucinations brought on by the Adaptoid (in Tales of Suspense #82).

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Cap does his best to reassure Agent 60, who loses his life in the final battle with the creators of the villainous Z-Ray, which Cap manages to destroy in the final pages of the issue—before he gets the bad news about his highly anticipated date with another agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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He might be overreacting just a little bit, don’t you think?

Issue #87 is odd in that it is yet another “imposter Cap” story, so soon after the Adaptoid impersonated him in issues #82 and 83, (Stan Lee didn’t scribe this tale—that credit goes to his protégé Roy Thomas—but Stan did edit it.) The story also features oddly cartoonish art courtesy of Jack Sparling, reminiscent of Kurt Schaffenberger’s excellent work on the more lighthearted books at DC such as Superboy and Lois Lane.

This time around, the imposter is the Master Planner in his first and last Marvel Comics appearance. Like the Deacon in Tales of Suspense #62, Master Planner wants to get hold of Cap’s shield for the Stark electronics he thinks are in it, but which Cap had taken out before the story with the Deacon. (A “master” planner indeed.)

While the plot is a retread and the villain is unimpressive (to be kind), there are several interesting things about the story. The first is the public’s reaction after the Master Planner, dressed as Cap, robs a bank with several henchmen—and opinions are mixed, to say the least.

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Of course, this also gets the attention of the real Captain America…

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…who decides to handle the problem in a unique fashion—as Steve Rogers (whose dual identity is apparently known only to the Avengers at this point, or at least in this story).

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This is a reminder also of how rare it is to see Cap out in “plain clothes” at this point in the comics (which he even mentioned in Tales of Suspense #75).

But it’s reassuring to see the police inspector’s willingness to give Captain America the benefit of the doubt, if only at this Steve Rogers guy’s urging.

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Needless to say, once Cap confronts the Master Planner, he finds him to be less than a master fighter, and takes care of him fairly quickly. As his foe switches to imitating a  Scooby-Doo villain, Cap adds insult to injury (and I really like the comment about the true power behind his shield).

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Tales of Suspense (vol. 1) #85, January 1967: “The Blitzkreig of Batroc!” Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (writer, plot, pencils), Frank Giacoia (inks), ??? (colors), Sam Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Tales of Suspense (vol. 1) #86, February 1967: “The Secret!” Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (writer, plot, pencils), Frank Giacoia (inks), ??? (colors), Artie Simek (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Tales of Suspense (vol. 1) #87, March 1967: “Wanted: Captain America!” Roy Thomas (writer), Jack Sparling (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), ??? (colors), Sam Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

All are collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: Captain America Lives Again, Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume Two

PREVIOUS ISSUES: Tales of Suspense #82-84 (October-December 1966)

ALSO THESE MONTHS: Avengers #36-38 (January-March 1967)

NEXT ISSUES: Tales of Suspense #88-91 (April-July 1967)


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