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Captain America's 1960s Adventures in Color: A Marvel Comics Review

Updated on November 19, 2014

Marvel Masterworks: Captain America -- The Return of Marvel Comics; World War II Superhero!

Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume 1 reprints the superhero's adventures in Tales of Suspense No. 59-81 in full color. This was Captain America's first series in the 1960s after the character was revived in the Avengers comic book. It's a real blast as Stan Lee develops a direction for the character, who had been frozen in ice (literally!) for two decades. And Jack Kirby's art on the World War II adventures is a lot of fun!

Marvel Masterworks is a series of books from Marvel Comics that usually reprints eight to 10 comic book issues in full color on high-quality paper. Because Captain America shared Tales of Suspense with Iron Man, and therefore had only half a comic, this volume contains stories from 23 issues.

This second printing of Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Vol. 1 (ISBN: 978-0-78514298-0) was published in 2011.

Tales of Suspense No. 74
Tales of Suspense No. 74

Captain America, With an Emphasis on Action!

Stan Lee In Search of a Theme

Captain America received his own series starting in Tales of Suspense No. 59 in November 1964, after being re-introduced to the comic book world earlier that year in Avengers No. 4. In that issue of the Avengers, the Sub-Mariner stumbles across Captain America frozen a block of ice, being worshiped by the locals in the Arctic. He throws the frozen Cap into the ocean, where the Avengers find and thaw him out.

Writer Stan Lee, in the introduction to this Marvel Masterworks edition, said he faced a challenge when it came time to write the Captain America series. The superhero didn't have a unique superpower like the other Marvel characters of the time, so Lee decided to compensate for Captain America's lack of power by ''giving him as many eye-popping, breathtaking, sense-staggering, mind-blasting action scenes in each story as we could possibly dream up!''

And, boy, did they! Each issue has Captain America running from fight to fight, battling gangs of hoods and bad guys for pages at a time. The stories fly by because of all the action, making this book a very quick read.

Shown here is the cover of Tales of Suspense No. 74.

Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume 1 - Buy it on Amazon Today!

Tales of Suspense No. 66
Tales of Suspense No. 66

Captain America Fights the Nazis!

The Red Skull and Bucky!

The first four tales in this volume are one-issue stand-alone stories that, as Stan Lee says, are filled with wall-to-wall action -- Three start with Captain America jumping toward the reader on the first page!

Then Lee and artist Jack Kirby return Captain America to his World War II roots, first retelling his origin and then having him fight the Nazi for another eight issues. During the nine issues, Lee and Kirby bring back Captain America's teen sidekick Bucky as well as Captain America's arch-enemy the Red Skull.

The four issues that re-introduce the Red Skull contains the villain's evil origin, with an appearance of Adolf Hitler, and is a really good tale.

Kirby, who co-created Captain America in 1940, really excels during these World War II tales, and makes the red Skull truly menacing.

I think the World War II tales in this volume are worth the price of the book by themselves.

Shown here is the cover of Tales of Suspense No. 66.

Tales of Suspense Comics

True collectors may want to buy the original comic books, and one of the best places to find copies is on eBay. Captain America appeared from Tales of Suspense No. 59-100. Issue No. 58 has Iron Man fighting a Captain America impersonator -- maybe Marvel was testing the waters?

Also, keep in mind that Marvel alternated putting Captain America and Iron Man on the cover starting with issue No. 70, so even though an issue from No. 70 to No. 99 may not have Captain America on the cover that doesn't mean he's absent from the book!

Tales of Suspense No. 80
Tales of Suspense No. 80

Captain America Joins Forces With SHIELD!

Nick Fury, Agent 13 and a New Direction!

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby decided to return Captain America to the 1960s in Tales of Suspense No. 72, cutely opening the story with Captain America in the Avengers HQ surrounded by his teammates who comment on the World War II tale he apparently just finished narrating.

Even so, Captain America isn't done with the Nazi threat yet! This starts a three-issue tale starring the Sleepers, a superweapon that was set up 20 years earlier by the Red Skull. The story is OK, but the ending is kind of flat and the weapon is defeated too easily after a long buildup.

But then Lee found a direction for the strip. He has Captain America become involved with SHIELD, an international law enforcement agency run by Nick Fury. Captain America and Nick Fury met during World War II, when Sgt. Fury had been the leader of a commando squad.

These comics were being published in 1966, when stories about spies like James Bond were extremely popular, and with Captain America being an ex-soldier it made sense for him to become an ally of SHIELD.

The stories began to flow more, with some continuity at this point. The volume ends with a three-issue tale that reveals that the Red Skull also survived World War II and is back to menace Captain America! The issue shown here is Tales of Suspense No. 80, with the Red Skull in a most-threatening pose.

This collection of stories is fast-paced and any fan of Captain America will enjoy it!

Marvel Essential Captain America

More Stories, But Only in Black & White!

The stories in Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume 1 also appear in a separate book called Marvel Essential Captain America Volume 1.

In fact, the Marvel Essential collection also includes Captain America's stories from Tales of Suspense No. 82-99 as well as the first three issues of the newly-renamed Captain America series (No. 100-102). In addition to these 1960s tales, there is a bonus reprint from the early 1940s.

But the Marvel Essential collection is in black and white, on paper that is of a much lower quality. So Marvel can put more stories in each Marvel Essential volume than is in a Marvel Masterworks book.

I feel something is missing without the color, but then again if you are just interested in reading the stories maybe the Marvel Essential version is fine for you. Here is my review of Marvel Essential Captain America volume 1.

Captain America in the 1960s: A Marvel Comic Book Review
Marvel Essential Captain America Volume 1 reprints Captain America's stories from Tales of Suspense No. 59-99 as well as the first three issues of the newly-...

Captain America Comics

Captain America has headlined comic book series pretty much since Marvel renamed Tales of Suspense after him with issue No. 100 in April 1968. He has also been a mainstay of the Avengers, appearing in many of that superhero group's comics. And he has guest-starred in many, many comics over the years.

In other words, there's a lot of Captain America comics for sale on eBay at any one time!

Are Teen Sidekicks Cool? - Stan Lee: Killer of Bucky Barnes

Kid sidekicks were very popular in 1940s comic books, with the most well-known one being Robin (junior partner to Batman). Captain America's sidekick Bucky was a boy who stumbled upon the hero changing into costume and then teamed up with him to fight the Nazis.

In the introduction to this Marvel Masterworks edition, Stan Lee calls Bucky Barnes ''perhaps the least unbearable of the teenage sidekicks who, for some mysterious reason, proliferated in the early days of comics.''

In 1964, Lee really didn't like Bucky. So when Captain America was reintroduced in Avengers No. 4 the readers were told that Bucky had been killed on their very last mission during World War II.

What Do You Think of Teen Sidekicks?

Captain America's Revival in Avengers No. 4

Read the Marvel Masterworks Edition!

Captain America Comics was a top-selling comic book from its introduction in 1940 until the end of the decade, when superhero comics fell out of favor. A short-lived revival in the 1950s pretty much failed. Captain America hadn't had a regular appearance in comic books until March 1964, when writer Stan Lee reintroduced him in the fourth issue of the Avengers.

Avengers No. 4 is considered a key issue of what is known as the Silver Age of comics, and boasts one of the most iconic covers. The story has been reprinted in several Avengers collections, including the Marvel Masterworks and Marvel Essential series of books. The Marvel Masterworks series, reprinted in full color, may be the best way to read Captain America's revival if it's unknown to you. Fortunately, I have already reviewed the volume where the story appears. Check out this review for more details!

The Avengers Debut! A Comic Book Review of the Marvel Masterworks Collection!
The Avengers Volume 1 was one of the first four collections when Marvel Comics began publishing its Marvel Masterworks series in 1987. Since then the company...

Marvel Masterworks: The Early Adventures - Comic Book Reprints in Color!

The Marvel Masterworks series began in 1987, with the publication in hardcover of volumes dedicated to the early issues of the Amazing Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. Over the years Marvel has come out with more than 170 volumes, including many in softcover.

The company also has reprinted many of the volumes in paperback, and sometimes changed the contents of the volume when doing so. So be sure you check exactly what you are getting when you buy a Marvel Masterworks volume!

Captain America the Movie!

Captain America: The First Avenger was released to movie theaters in July, 2001, and generated more than $368 million worldwide. Mostly set in World War II, it keeps the basics of the character's comic book origins while making changes to meet the needs of a film.

The movie helps set up the next film from Marvel Studios, The Avengers. The Avengers was released in May 2012.

Here is one of the trailer's for the Captain America movie.

Captain America: The First Avenger on DVD

Gene Colan's Work on Captain America

Gene Colan was one of the great comic-book artists that worked on Captain America, drawing issues No. Nos. 116-137. In the second one, issue No. 117 (September 1969), Colan made his contribution to comic history by creating Marvel Comics' first African-American superhero, the Falcon.

Although these stories aren't included in Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume 1, you may want to check out the appreciation I wrote about this artist, who passed away in 2011:

Gene Colan, Comic Book Artist: An Appreciation
Gene Colan developed such a moody, cinematic style during his six decades as a comic book artist that his work was as easily identified as the art of Jack Ki...

Of Comic Books and Family Vacations

About Goldenrulecomics

For more about who we are and what we have reviewed see here:

Of Comic Books and Family Vacations: Who is GoldenRuleComics?
Who is GoldenRuleComics? Actually, the better question is who ARE GoldenRuleComics! I am the father of a teenage daughter, and we live in New Jersey. I hand...

Here's your chance to speak up about Captain America, this Marvel Masterworks collection of comic-book stories, this lens or anything else you want to mention!

What Do You Think of Captain America? - Thanks for Visiting!

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    • Raymond Eagar profile image

      Raymond Eagar 4 years ago

      I read his comics .

    • FloridaDino profile image

      FloridaDino 4 years ago

      Can't beat Cap!

    • Yvette Munro profile image

      Yvette Munro 5 years ago

      What a wonderful lens. I grew up with comic books and couldn't imagine life without them.

    • profile image

      countsquid 5 years ago

      haha comic on a shirt