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Captain America Comics #3: Review

May 1941
Joe Simon, Reed Crandall

Story Name:

The Return of the Red Skull

Review & Comments

Rating:
3 stars

Captain America Comics #3 Review by (February 15, 2010)
a) The Red Skull becomes the first Cap villain to make a second appearance. Officially he died in this story, with another man assuming the identity in issue #7. Camp Lehigh is established as being near New York City. b) Sergeant Duffy is named for the first time. Goris Barloff is based on (and drawn to resemble) Boris Karloff; Bucky even calls him “Frankenstein” at one point. Captain America is an expert fencer. c) First mention of Bucky going to school. Despite the title, there are no mummies in the story.

New and Improved Comments: 1) The Red Skull becomes the first Cap villain to make a second appearance. Officially he died in this story, with another man assuming the identity in issue #7. Camp Lehigh is established as being near New York City. 2) Sergeant Duffy is named for the first time. Goris Barloff is based on (and drawn to resemble) Boris Karloff; Bucky even calls him “Frankenstein” at one point. Captain America is an expert fencer. 3) Text story with two illustrations. First published work of Stan Lee. 4) First mention of Bucky going to school. Despite the title, there are no mummies in the story. 6) This story can be found in Herodotus, The Histories, book 5.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America Comics #3 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro
The Red Skull lives, being immune to his own poison (see issue #1), and determined to kill with his greatest weapon, the touch of death. That night, the Nazi villain invades the home of Major Douglas and steals the plans for a new power drill; when Douglas hits the Red Skull the soldier dies instantly. Steve and Bucky arrive on the scene moments too late. Changing into their hero outfits, Captain America and his sidekick pursue the Skull and battle his henchmen but their leader gets away. The Red Skull uses the stolen plans to construct a giant serpent-like power drill which he uses to tear across the city, causing death and destruction. When it reaches Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, Cap and Bucky jump atop the mechanical monster to try to stop it but have to run when the police open fire. Meanwhile a gang of crooks tries to pull a scam by dressing two of the hoods as Cap and Bucky. Steve and the real Bucky show them the error of their ways by whipping them in front of a crowd. A harder lesson awaits: the Red Skull mistakes the hoods for the real thing and hangs them on a gallows. The real heroes arrive and battle the Skull’s men, and they are immune to the villain’s touch of death—in reality, electrified clothing—having worn insulated gloves. Escaping in the power drill, the Red Skull hurls a bomb at Cap but Cap throws it back, destroying the drill and, presumably, the Red Skull. 


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Story #2

The Hunchback of Hollywood and the Movie Murder

Writer: Jack Kirby. Writer: Joe Simon. Penciler: Jack Kirby.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Movie producer Mark Carstein plans to shoot an anti-Nazi film set in the Middle Ages at a castle near Camp Lehigh, using soldiers as extras. Shortly thereafter, a sinister hunchback murders Carstein to halt production, but the studio is determined to continue. Steve and Bucky are among the soldiers hired for the production. On the first day of shooting, an actor is killed by an arrow; Captain America and Bucky pursue the murderous archer but he is slain by the hunchback. Leading man Craig Talbot identifies the hunchback as Goris Barloff and the police go to arrest the horror star. Director McAllister helps Barloff escape and a short time later the hunchback tries to kill leading lady Carol Young. Foiled by the arrival of Steve Rogers, the villain barricades himself in the castle and Cap has himself hurled over the wall on a catapult. He encounters Craig Talbot whom he realizes is the hunchback. The two men fight a sword duel, as the actor confesses he is a Nazi sympathizer. Cap defeats him; Talbot is arrested and Barloff is cleared.


Story #3

Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge

Writer: Stan Lee. Penciler: Jack Kirby.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Private Lou Haines is given a dishonorable discharge from the Army by Colonel Stevens for lying, spying, and stealing. Late that night, Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes hear someone moving around outside their tent; changing into Captain America and Bucky, they go out to discover Haines and a couple of henchmen planning revenge against the Colonel. While Bucky deal with the thugs, Cap heads into the Colonel’s tent and overpowers the murderous ex-private. The next day, after finding the baddies bound for delivery to the police, Colonel Stevens questions Steve about what went on in the night but Steve claims to have slept though the whole thing!


Story #4

The Queer Case of the Murdering Butterfly and the Ancient Mummies

Writer: Jack Kirby. Writer: Joe Simon. Penciler: Jack Kirby.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

The villainous Butterfly announces he will steal the fabulous Egyptian treasure from the museum. The curator, Dr. Vitrioli, receives the shipment of ancient relics and carefully locks them up. That night, the Butterfly swoops down on a guard, kills him with a sting, and carries off the treasures. That night, he returns for Cleopatra’s diamond, killing another guard. On a school trip to the museum, a bored Bucky finds a secret passage; wandering down to the basement he finds the Butterfly’s colorful costume but is captured by Vitrioli’s hulking assistant Lenny and locked in a sarcophagus. On his way to the museum to meet Bucky, Steve Rogers comes upon the Butterfly’s men robbing a bank and overpowers them for the police. At the museum, Vitrioli denies him permission to search for Bucky, so he hides until the place closes, then emerges as Captain America. He is attacked by Lenny whose thrown knife bounces off Cap’s shield; Cap, however, responds by hurling a dinosaur tusk which skewers the brutish henchman. The Butterfly swoops down upon him but Cap picks him off by hurling his shield. The Butterfly, mortally wounded by the fall, is unmasked as Dr. Vitrioli. Cap rescues Bucky from the mummy case and they leave before the police arrive.


Story #5

Atlantis and the False King

Writer: Jack Kirby. Writer: Joe Simon. Penciler: Mac Raboy.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tuk and Tanir have reached Atlantis (a land-based city) with the deposed Princess Eve, planning to help her regain the throne. She disguises herself, hoping to enter the city unkown but the usurper’s soothsayer looks in his crystal ball and discovers she is coming so the false king has the gates locked against her. But she knows a secret passage into the city and they come out near the throne room. Tuk and Tanir capture the king but the guards fill the room. When the Princess unmasks however, the overjoyed guards swear allegiance to her and the hated villain is imprisoned. Princess Eve offers to reward the two heroes but they must move on in their search for Attillan, Island of the Gods.


Story #6

The True Story of the Bald Head Message

Writer: Jack Kirby. Writer: Joe Simon. Penciler: Jack Kirby. Inker: Joe Simon.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Istiaeus of Miletus visits King Darius of Persia under the guise of friendship but really to spy for his masters. The King does not trust him so posts guards around his tent to ensure that Istiaeus is unable to send any messages back home. One of his servants, who had shaved his head to cope with the heat, falls ill and is confined for months. After that time, permission is sought for the servant to return to Miletus; he is searched but when it is clear he is carrying no messages he is allowed to leave. When he arrives back home, his head is shaved again and Istiaeus’ secret message is seen on top of this bald head.


Story #7

Satan and the Subway Disasters

Writer: Jack Kirby. Writer: Joe Simon. Penciler: Reed Crandall. Inker: Reed Crandall.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

A series of mysterious subway wrecks brings the Hurricane to Groton City for another confrontation with his archenemy Pluto. The hero finds an "Infernal Death-Box" at the scene of the latest wreck and trails a suspicious figure to the hideout of gangster Scarface Rispoli. Hurricane bursts in and subdues the baddies and learns that the mastermind is one S. Devile. After dropping the crooks and a Death-Box off at police headquarters, the hero heads to Devile’s penthouse to confront Pluto (Devile = devil, get it?). The villain gasses Hurricane and knocks him out then heads to where the city’s top officials are dedicating a new subway line. Pluto flips the switch which will send the train full of VIPs to a wreck but Hurricane arrives in the nick of time, sends the train down the right track, and knocks the villain into the darkness of night.

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Reed Crandall
Reed Crandall
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Bucky Barnes
Bucky Barnes

(James Barnes)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

Plus: Hurricane, Nazis, Pluto, Red Skull (John Maxon), Tuk Caveboy.