Like so many of us I spent my childhood reading comics, anything I could get my hands on. My prime comic years were the mid to late 70s but I read many older comics thanks to a local shop that had a huge pile of used books, 5 for a dollar. As the years went by I lost interest, turning my attention to books and R rated movies. I tried to stay in touch during the early 80s but the move to glossy pages, expensive comics and even more expensive graphic novels left me behind. Now that I own an iPad I’ve decided to give comics another chance. As I rediscover comics I’ll be posting my thoughts on titles old and new, from the perspective of a former fan returning to his roots.
Captain America was usually in my second tier, I’d start reading Cap after I was done with Iron Man, The Hulk and Green Lantern. But I’m promoting Cap to the first string after reading the King Size Annual Captain America #4 from 1977. Why, you ask? Just check the credits: Written, Drawn and Edited by Jack Kirby. I always loved The King’s art but he came up with some crazy stories too, and this one doesn’t disappoint.
The story starts off with Magneto getting the drop on Cap, who answered an ad in the paper: Unique and talented mutant seeks home environment and care from concerned and sensitive persons or agencies equipped to help.
That’s right, Captain America answered a want ad, he claims he was interested in protecting the mutant but I think he just needed to make some cash. Magneto also answered the ad, figuring if there was a mutant who better to care for him? Well it turns out that a truck driver placed the ad after finding a mutant named Mister One. He knows it’s a mutant because he’s a tiny little freaky dude who lives in a wristwatch! Also he’s paralyzed. And telepathic.
Just look at that freaky little guy. And I love the next panel, quintessential Kirby with the the two faces in total shock, each only partially in the frame.
Naturally Magneto wants to get his hands on the little guy for some nefarious scheme so he steals him and makes his escape. At this point we learn Mister One has a buddy, Mister Two, a powerful giant who protects Mister One and wants to save him from Magneto.
After some cardio training with Captain America the two become uneasy allies in a quest to rescue Mister One from Magneto and his “all-new brotherhood of evil mutants”.
So let’s run down the new gang,from left to right: Slither, the snake dude who strangles people. Shocker, who shocks people. Lifter, a strong dude who lifts things. And Burner, who, um, burns things I guess. With names like that one may suspect these guys are the comics equivalent of Red Shirts, and one would not be wrong. There’s another mutant there but we can’t see his face. What’s that all about? Why that’s the Peeper, and with a name like that you know his super power is kind of lame:
That’s right, he can see really far. Sure he makes a good lookout but it’s kind of lame.
Lethal beams, you say? Well ok, that’s probably a handy skill to have when you look like Charlie Brown with giant eyes.
During the course of the battle, Cap realizes that Mister One and Mister Two are two beings that share one identity, one soul if you will. Each needs the other to survive, with the mutant’s identity jumping between bodies as needed. When Magneto kidnapped Mister One he broke the bond, leaving Mister One near death. Mister Two is killed in the ensuing battle and his soul returns to Mister One, who Magneto previously inserted into a tiny alien ship in order to unlock the power of the universe, or something.
Mister One’s suicidal tendencies are a stroke of luck for Cap, who was getting his ass kicked by the mutants after they took out the giant and the useless SHIELD agents who tagged along.
So let’s recap today’s adventure: Cap discovered a unique new mutant but let Magneto kidnap him. His rescue attempt was a complete failure, resulting in the death of Mister Two and multiple SHIELD agents. Mister One died after detonating an alien bomb (probably resulting in some kind of radioactive contamination), destroying the valuable alien technology and killing Magneto’s alien gang and any surviving SHIELD agents. In fact everyone was killed, except for Magneto. It looks I’ll be moving Captain America back down to the second tier.