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Comic Book / Captain America (Tales of Suspense)

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Captain America is a 1964 comic series from Marvel Comics, published as one of the stories in the split-book Anthology Comic Tales of Suspense. The series was initially written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Jack Kirby, with inks by Chic Stone.

This was Marvel's first solo series for Captain America, a patriotic superhero who'd been created for Marvel's predecessor Timely Comics by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in 1941. Captain America had already been introduced to the shared Marvel Universe in team book The Avengers, which established that he had been frozen in ice since World War II (the 1950s Captain America, Commie Smasher! stories published by Atlas Comics, another of Marvel's predecessors, were initially ignored).

Tales of Suspense was already running an Iron Man series, starring another member of the Avengers, and was swiftly moving away from its original role as an anthology of one-off science fiction tales. The new Captain America series was preceded by his guest appearance in Iron Man, which introduced Cap to any regular readers who didn't also read The Avengers - and then Tales of Suspense immediately became a split-book with the two heroes, dropping the science fiction tales completely.

The Captain America stories continued until the final issue, #99, after which solo Iron Man and Captain America books were launched to replace it. However, the new Captain America comic kept the ongoing Tales of Suspense numbering, starting with #100.

The Captain America stories in Tales of Suspense contain the following tropes:

  • And You Thought It Was a Game:
    • An exhibition battle between Captain America and a team of athletes becomes very real after Baron Zemo's assassins replace the athletes. This acts as a mirror to the story's Action Prologue, in which the same assassins seem to defeat Captain America - but it's then revealed to be a training exercise, with one of their comrades wearing the costume.
    • Thereā€˜s a very similar situation a few issues later, acknowledged by some Lampshade Hanging in captions. Cap's asked to demonstrate how he'd fight his way through a prison riot. He doesn't realise that the riot's a real attack on him - the prisoners have already escaped their cells and the Deputy Superintendent he spoke to is an imposter.
  • Continuity Nod: In the first story, while fighting off an invasion of Avengers Mansion, Captain America is unimpressed by the elite Karate Team that attacks him.
    Captain America: Who taught you amateurs your karate... Millie the Model?
  • Early Instalment Weirdness: Cap's shield is initially loaded with magnetic controls designed by Tony Stark, allowing it to act as a remote control Flying Weapon. They're gone again by the fourth issue, apparently because Cap thinks they spoil the balance of the shield.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": One early antagonist, a Sumo wrestler who's now a Viet Cong general, is only ever referred to as the General.
  • Flying Weapon: Captain America's shield is initially fitted with magnets and remote controls by Tony Stark. This lets it spin around foes in circles, allows it to be recalled from the floor, and lets it hover I n mid air to block missile attacks. However, all of these tricks rely on Captain America having time to use the control unit.
  • Killed Off for Real: As far as this series is concerned, Cap's sidekick Bucky is a Posthumous Character who died many years ago. Marvel did eventually avert this and resurrect him, but that was decades after the Tales of Suspense series finished.
  • Lampshade Hanging: A couple of issues after being deceived into an exhibition fight that's actually cover for an real attack, Cap is deceived into fighting in a prison security test that's actually cover for a real attempt to kill him. The opening captions explain that he clearly didn't learn his lesson from the previous story.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The World War II flashback stories show that private Steve Rogers was a clumsy idiot. Which was a deliberate move to prevent anyone suspecting that he was also Captain America.
  • Open Sesame: One prison break story has the prisoners foiled by a huge security door, which they hope to open using Stark's magnetic technology. It's actually voice controlled and the key phrase is "Captain America".
  • Posthumous Character: Cap's sidekick Bucky was killed during World War II. The first story has Cap looking at an old photo album and mourning him, but we don't actually get to meet Bucky until the flashbacks in later issues. Although Marvel eventually decided to bring him back, this series treats him as Killed Off for Real.
  • Right Behind Me: Captain America ends up on the wrong side of this. When an ornately costumed parade precedes the General into a Viet Cong base, he shares his thoughts aloud. At which point the General, who's actually standing behind Cap, picks him up and throws him across the room.
    Captain America: It looks to me as though the General has seen too many Cecil B. DeMille movies! Only a glory-hungry, power-mad potentate would employ such a retinue! Who is—?
    Jim Baker: Cap! Look out! Behind you—!
  • Shoot the Television: Zemo monitors American news channels for news of Captain America's defeat. Instead he finds a message from Captain America, to Zemo himself, telling him that he's a coward and his assassins have all been arrested. Zemo, a Sore Loser, shouts in rage and shoots the screen.
  • Shout-Out: Cap thinks the villainous General's seen too many Cecil B. DeMille movies, noting that only a power-mad, glory-hungry leader would have such an elaborate, ornately dressed retinue accompanying him.
  • Sore Loser: Baron Zemo, who decides to Shoot the Television in a fit of rage after hearing Captain America call him a coward.
  • Strength Equals Worthiness: A variation. When Captain America barters with the Viet Cong for a prisoner's release, he asks to see the General. The major he speaks to insists that Cap proves his strength in unarmed combat against two of the major's men before any such meeting can be arranged.
  • Underestimating Badassery: In the first story Bull's gangsters decide to rob Avengers Mansion at a time when Captain America's the only Avenger in the building. Their view is that he's just an acrobat with no powers and a shield, so how much trouble can he be? By the end of the story, they find out the hard way.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: After the first few stories, the series retold Captain America's origin and following issues switched to tales of Cap and Bucky during World War II.