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Captain America: Patriot #1: Review

Sep 2010
Karl Kesel, Mitch Breitweiser

Story Name:

Part One: Born on the 4th of July

Review & Comments

4 stars

Captain America: Patriot #1 Review by (September 25, 2010)
Review: An interesting idea for a miniseries: focus on a little-known character and show us there was more to him than we realized…if we had even heard of him at all. Here it is the Patriot, Jeff Mace, obscure Golden Age hero who was retconned into being the third Captain America. While he was merely a generic hero back then, Karl Kesel gives him a personality: Mace was an ordinary man with real determination who was increasingly overwhelmed by his insecurities about his lack of any real abilities. This issue fills in the backstory and brings us up to his recruitment as Captain America. Let’s hope the worry over his inability to fill Steve’s big shoes does not destroy him….

Comments: The Patriot, Jeff Mace, was introduced in HUMAN TORCH COMICS #4 (Spring 1941) and soon moved to his own series in MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS. His first modern appearance was in THE INVADERS #5 (March 1976) as a part of the Liberty Legion, a vintage team newly created by Roy Thomas, who loved that sort of thing. The other members of the Legion were Miss America, the Thin Man, Blue Diamond, Red Raven, Jack Frost, and the Whizzer. Mace dies of cancer in CAPTAIN AMERICA (Vol. 1) #285. What brings him into this site is the series retcon that was required by the revelation that Captain America (Steve Rogers) had been frozen in ice for twenty years. To explain who was wearing the red-white-and-blue costume for the rest of the Golden Age series, a story was presented in WHAT IF? (Vol. 1) #4 to clarify the suddenly complicated backstory. There it was revealed that Steve was succeeded as Cap by William Naslund, the Spirit of 76, who died heroically a year later and Jeff “The Patriot” Mace was tapped to be the third Captain America (as seen in this issue). It is estimated that Jeff was Cap in CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #58-75 (though, of course, no one knew this at the time). While Mary Morgan was a regular character in the Patriot’s series, her sole appearance as Miss Patriot was in MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #29.

Captain America: Patriot #1 Review by (January 18, 2011)
Patriot's involvement with the Liberty Legion is here dated from June 1942. The LL origin in the Invaders/Liberty Legion crossover claims to be Apr42. The headline with LL's clash with Red Skull refers to the crossover. I think the other LL exploits quoted here are invented, as are those of their individual members. It is possible that the Legion saving Rooosevelt from assassination is a corruption of Patriot's similar solo deed in MMC#54. This issue supplies a scene of LL disbanding at the the war's end, paving the way for Miss America and Whizzer to (re)join the Invaders as the All-Winners Squad. ***** Then we jump to the events of What If #4. This issue adds a scene where the FBI authorise Jeff to become Captain America, as Truman had made Spirit of '76 the 2nd Cap. Strangely this issue suggests that WI#4 took place July 4th 1946, at the start of John F Kennedy's run for Congress, whereas WI#4 itself has it during his contest for the Democratic nomination leading up to the poll on 18th June. The July date would fit with the cover date of the last Patriot issue MMC#74 Jul46. But if we apply the 3 month OHOTMU correction then the last Patriot story happened in Apr76, which is more consistent with WI#4 in the nomination contest.

Casey is a stranger case. He hasn't been seen or mentioned between the Golden Age and the current series. In the GA he was a fellow reporter, not a photographer. In the reprinted issues he doesn't have a first name. I suspect the modern identity Jack Casey photographer has been borrowed from another source. There was such a character in pulps/films/novels/TV from the 30s tp th 60s, who even had a Timely comic Casey Crime Photographer #1-4 Aug49-Feb50. As far as I know the GA Casey didn't join the Navy, but stayed in the Patriot stories until the end in 1946. ***** It is also worth mentioning that some of the exploits referred to in this issue can be connected to actual GA stories. The tank factory, the play "Swastikas over Europe" and the green-skinned spy are taken directly from MMC#22, 23 and 28. The first 2 are even given the cover dates of the comics. More interestingly #28 is placed in November 1941, 3 months before its cover date of Feb42. This could reflect the policy in the Captain America and Sub-Mariner 'histories' from the OHOTMU 2007 Updates, now available online within Marvel Universe, which in general dates adventures as 3 months earlier than their cover dates, which better reflects the actual publication dates, and also makes the GA mention of real events like Pearl Harbor and Wake Island more timely.

In the few reprinted stories Jeff Mace is accompanied by 2 friends Mary and Casey. Mary isn't given a surname, and is at least once referred to as Jeff's fiancee. She definitely doesn't appear to be a fellow reporter. It is possible that her surname Morgan is revealed in unreprinted issues. Unofficial online sources agree (official Marvel online sources are silent on the subject) that Mary's first appearance was in MMC#29. But the Mary in that story seems to be the same as the one in the HT issues. I suspect this myth grew up because for a long time MMC#29 was the only reprinted Patriot story available. Although it is possible that she was absent between the HT stories and here. What is unarguable is that Mary gained super powers in MMC#50. She was a mad scientist's test subject. The illustration reprinted online in the International Catalogue of Superheroes shows that she was dressed during the experiment in a costume that pretty much matches that in the current issue (I don't know where the costume came from). The name Miss Patriot was only used in the next issue blurb which says that she will be Patriot's sidekick. However this didn't happen and her powers were ignored. This issue uses MMC#50's cover date of Dec43 for the event. It rationalises the absence of Miss Patriot in later issues by saying that Patriot rejected her as a partner, but she became an independant superhero. In the GA stories Mary just carried on as Jeff's friend. Throughout the GA stories (I believe) Mary never knew that Patriot was Jeff Mace. Whereas here we have the unconventional idea that Mary was co-conspirator in his double life from the start. But it also appears here that, although Jeff and Mary remain reporters with the Daily Bugle, they have led increasingly separate lives since Jeff became Patriot.

Back in the Golden Age of Timely Jeff was indeed a reporter, but not for the Bugle which hadn't been invented yet. I don't know that he took on radio broadcasting, in either of his identities. And of course the idea that Cap wasn't Steve Rogers all the way through the 40s and 50s is completely a modern Marvel invention. As is the Liberty Legion. Patriot wasn't even inspired by Cap. His initial appearance in HT#4 dated Spring 1941 is about the same time as Captain America Comics #1 in March that year. But Cap isn't mentioned, and the text origin story claims to have taken place a year earlier. Jeff's costume was a newspaper promotion stunt (which at least makes a change from the masquerade party costumes that features in many other GA origins!). The current issue uses all the modern additions to Patriot's legend, but includes more things from the original run, in particular Mary Morgan, Jack Casey and Miss Patriot. Casey has never been mentioned in any reference source that I know of. Mary and Miss Patriot aren't in the 1980s versions of OHOTMU. But they crop up in 2004's OHOTMU: Golden Age.

The available reprints show that his costume was different from the modern one, with bare arms, legs and midriff, and a helmet that didn't mask his eyes. By MMC#29 the bare midriff had gone. The online Grand ComicBook Database says that in MMC#43 his helmet grew to surround his eyes (at least for several issues). Roy Thomas explained in a text piece in Marvel Premiere #30 that he extended Patriot's costume to cover his arms and legs. This constitutes the image that is now applied retroactively to Patriot's whole career. Roy created the modern Patriot in 1976/7. In the Invaders/Marvel Premiere(Liberty Legion) crossover he recapped the origins of other Legionnaires, but all he said about Patriot was that he was inspired by Captain America. And in What If #4 he made Patriot the 3rd person to take on the role of Captain America (which he confirmed as happening in the real Marvel universe in Captain America #215). These facts are duly included in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe in 1984, which also says that he made regular radio broadcasts as Patriot. Marvel Premiere indeed has him making such a broadcast, but it seems more like a one-off. OHOTMU also says Jeff Mace was a reporter for the Daily Bugle.

In the Golden Age, Patriot's only appearances outside of his main run in Marvel Mystery Comics #21-74 were in Human Torch #4, 5a and 5b. But that long run made him one of the most durable characters, after the big 3 and the Angel. HT#4 had a text origin for him as well as a strip. In HT#5b he guest starred in an issue-long Human Torch/Sub-Mariner battle. Such crossovers were rare in Timely comics. Patriot's only other GA meeting with other heroes was a text story in MMC#25-26 featuring every current member of the MMC roster. There are big differences between Patriot in the Timely stories and Patriot in modern Marvel from Invaders #5 on. Unfortunately not many of his GA appearances have been reprinted. Apart from the HT issues in his GA Masterworks, there is only Patriot's story in MMC#29 reprinted in Marvel Super-Heroes #16. But we can tell a lot from these, and various mentions by people who have seen other originals. Captain America: Patriot is based on the modern version of Patriot, but enriched with elements from his original stories.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America: Patriot #1 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

July 1941: at a Brooklyn shipyard, Captain America interrupts a band of Bundists (German-American supporters of the Nazis) in the act of sabotage. The battle is witnessed by Daily Bugle reporter Jeff Mace who stops the last remaining baddie with a well-timed punch. Cap congratulates Jeff, calling him a patriot….

Back at the Bugle, he is berated by publisher Simon Goodman for involving himself in the news he is supposed to be covering. Later, he chats with his colleagues, reporter Mary Morgan and photographer Jack Casey. Mary jokingly suggests he don tights and become "Captain America’s stateside sidekick." Jeff mulls the idea and when Mary reveals that her wealthy father has hired goons to bust up a union meeting at one of his factories, he asks if she knows someone who makes costumes….

That night a masked hero called The Patriot appears from nowhere to drive off a gang of toughs threatening striking workers at a shoe factory and the next day, Jeff Mace shows up for work with a bettered face, the result (he claims) of a barroom fight. Mary coyly asks Jeff if he thinks we’ll see the Patriot again, while presenting him with some cake….

Over the next several months the Patriot makes a steady career out of battling homegrown threats to the nation and when Pearl harbor is bombed, America enters the War. As many Bugle staffers join the military, Jeff, rejected for service because of his flat feet, longs to do more. After this, Patriot begins making appearances at rallies and other patriotic events, giving speeches on radio and lending support to war-related causes. Then he joins the Liberty Legion, a team of heroes who protect the home front while the Invaders fight in Europe. As the only team member without real superpowers, Jeff feels he is not contributing as much as the others, but it is pointed out to him that his patriotic costume leads people to believe he is the leader of the group. In December 1943 he meets with Mary, who has been the guinea pig in a mad scientist’s experiments and ended up with superpowers. She wants to be his partner as Miss Patriot. Feeling insecure about his own abilities and position, he rebuffs her (also apparently missing the fact that she is in love with him). When the War ends in Europe, Miss America and the Whizzer are invited to join the Invaders…but Patriot is not. The reason given is that his similarities to Captain America would be confusing to the public….

July 1946: Jeff Mace is being questioned by FBI Agents Ross and Skinner about the death of Captain America. Jeff had learned that the Invaders (now the All-Winners Squad) were in Boston to prevent some villains from assassinating a politician and replacing him with a robot double. As the heroes searched the city, Jeff donned his Patriot outfit and checked out the North Church. There he found Cap gravely injured after a battle with a robot. He tried to save his hero but Cap died anyway. The agents explain to him that the man who died was the second Captain America…and they want Jeff to replace him. Jeff replies that he can never be Captain America but he can carry on in his name….

Mitch Breitweiser
Mitch Breitweiser
Bettie Breitweiser
Mitch Breitweiser (Cover Penciler)
Mitch Breitweiser (Cover Inker)
Bettie Breitweiser (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

Plus: All-Winners Squad, Betsy Ross (FBI Agent), Liberty Legion, Mary Morgan, Miss Patriot (Mary Morgan), Nazis, Patriot (Jeff Mace), Whizzer.

> Captain America: Patriot: Book info and issue index

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