Captain America and The First Thirteen #1: Review

Mar 2011
Kathryn Immonen, Ramon Perez

Story Name:

Cherchez La Femme

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Captain America and The First Thirteen #1 Review by (September 14, 2011)
Comments: Second story reprinted from TALES OF SUSPENSE #77. A later retcon makes Peggy Carter the aunt (and eventually great-aunt), rather than the sister, of Sharon Carter.


Captain America and The First Thirteen #1 Review by (September 15, 2011)
Now reunited with Cap, Peggy recovers. She adjusts to the fact that Steve is now with Sharon, and herself joins SHIELD. She later becomes one of the Avengers' support staff, until they are dismissed in Avengers Annual 1999 after her employers disappear into the Heroes Reborn universe. The next time we see her is in CA v5 #49 where she is in a retirement home. And (after the current comic came out) we have her funeral in CA v7 #1. In CA v5 #49 and also in a flashback in CA v5 #25 Peggy is referred to as Sharon's aunt rather than her sister. The gap between WWII and the present day has grown too large for them to be sisters. (Note that the 'photographs' on the intro page to this issue are images taken from these flashbacks.) These 2 issues also make another change in Peggy's story. She wasn't mentally ill after the war, and she and Sharon were very close. The last page of this issue in 1945 with Peggy and Steve not recognising each other is compatible with her not getting amnesia, just never finding him before he 'died'. Flashbacks in CA v7 #1, set in already-liberated Paris in 1944, clash with the above stories. In the earlier continuity Peggy had amnesia by then. In these flashbacks Peggy dumps a character known as Codename: Bravo for Cap, whereas in ToS#77 and the current comic she has been with Cap for a long time before then. Also everyone including Cap knows Peggy's real name. (CA: Man Out Of Time #4 also has Cap remembering his lost love as Peggy Carter, and trying to find her soon after his revival in Avengers #4.)

This issue is set much earlier, while Cap is working with the Resistance in Occupied France in 1943. No-one ever refers to Peggy by name, supporting the idea that she was only known by her codename. Both Peggy and Sharon being Agent 13 is a big coincidence, suggesting Sharon got to pick her own number. I don't remember Peggy's codename being revealed as Agent 13 (or as anything) before this issue or the Cap film. Muddying the waters is another WWII Agent 13 in ToS#64. This was a retelling of the 2nd story in Timely's Captain America Comics #1, where this character was the 1st appearance of Betty Ross. Complicating things further ToS#63 has Agent R in its origin story, who in the Timely original was known as Agent X-13. This has led some to propose that Agent R/X-13 was actually Betty Ross. Or that Agent R/X-13 and/or this Agent 13 were Peggy Carter. Any of these may have been Stan and Jack's original intention, but the Indexes say that they are both one-off characters. The Marvel Chronology Project currently doesn't have ToS#64's Agent 13 as Peggy, but there has been discussion in its forum about making the link based on this issue. CA#161 introduced a woman under the 'care' of Dr Faustus. In #162 we learned that she is Peggy Carter, Sharon's older sister, and she is Cap's lost love. It transpires that she wandered Europe until she was reunited with her family. Her amnesia had transmuted into a more jumbled state of mind and she was put into psychiatric care. We learn that she had been an American working with the French Resistance, and that Cap never knew her real name, only a codename. Hearing that Cap had died made her mental state worse. In her fragile state she was denied knowledge of the 50's Captain America or of the original Cap's revival. We are also told that Sharon joined SHIELD to meet Cap.

The idea of Captain America's WWII girlfriend was introduced in a single panel flashback in Tales of Suspense #75. This person could just as easily have been Cap's long-running Timely associate Betty Ross (not to be confused with Bruce Banner's girlfriend) as the not-yet-introduced Peggy Carter. Indeed this person knows him as Steve, which doesn't fit with either scenario. But in the same issue Cap sees the girl he will come to know as Agent 13 of SHIELD, and then as Sharon Carter, and she reminds him of his wartime love. The whole of the Cap story in ToS#77 was taken up with a flashback to wartime. It is during the liberation of France in 1944, and the Allies are approaching Paris. Cap is working with the French Resistance. In particular with one woman, and they are in love. Despite this she doesn't know his secret identity, and she is never named. In fact one would assume that she is French. They go their separate ways, and the woman is captured by the Gestapo. Cap is involved in the liberation of Paris, during which the Gestapo prison is bombed, and the woman escapes with amnesia. Cap never finds her again (before being plunged into suspended animation).

Just to confuse everything even further, I have been reminded that in ToS#75, as well as Cap's memory of his WWII love who knew him as Steve, Sharon Carter remembers that her sister had a WWII boyfriend called Steve Rogers. This establishes that Stan and Jack planned the whole older sister subplot, but it got forgotten about until Steve Englehart revived it in CA#161. But it also contradicts the idea in ToS#77 of lovers who didn't know each other's identities (or at least she certainly didn't know his).



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America and The First Thirteen #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson

In Occupied France in 1943 an American woman referred to only as Agent 13 (but the intro page tells us it's Peggy Carter) is working with the French Resistance. They are liaising with Captain America to get hold of plans for a Japanese thermal ray from the Germans. Cap meets a Frenchman Marc who seems to have a successful identity as a German officer, and who quite legitimately has the ray and its plans in his possession.

The plot is a bit tangled, but here's what I think happens. Cap is supposed to make it look like he steals the plans. But the Germans are suspicious, so Agent 13 somehow makes them think Marc has been captured and is being interrogated, to preserve his cover. German troops attack the meeting. Cap KO's Marc, presumably also to preserve etc. And then defeats the Germans.

Now the Resistance have the plans and the device itself. They also have Marc, because unfortunately Cap hit him too hard and now he needs surgery.

It is at this point that we learn that Cap and 13 have a history of collaboration, in more ways than one.

We also meet a deadly female Resistance fighter Anna, who joins Cap and 13, plus Henri and Serge, in a plan to get Marc and the thermal ray plans to England by stealing a German fighter plane. Which they do, and Anna flies it off in it.

Cap and Agent 13 reminisce about their affair. And then part company to continue their separate duties.

The final page is in liberated France in 1945, where Steve Rogers in his GI uniform and Agent 13 in an old woman disguise pass each other in the street and don't recognise each other.

The intro page mentions that after the war Peggy joined SHIELD.


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> Captain America and The First Thirteen : Book info and issue index


Story #2

If a Hostage Should Die!

Writer: Stan Lee. Layouts: Jack Kirby. Penciler: John Romita. Inker: Frank Giacoia. Colorist: ?.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Steve Rogers watches a TV documentary on the Liberation of Paris in which Captain America is the central player. The narrator is puzzled that Cap’s expression seems to be one of near-panic rather than jubilation and has no answer. Steve, however, knows the circumstances: it was the loss of his wartime love, whose name he never knew. He recalls the aftermath of the D-Day invasion, with the desperate Nazis fighting back against the advancing Allies, and Cap himself arriving to lead the French partisans to victory. Cap meets up with his beloved Agent Thirteen, and they confess their love for one another. When duty separates them, they vow to each other that they will not be separated in the end. But further missions intervene, and Thirteen is captured by the Nazis and she is marched before a firing squad. The French underground attacks at this point allowing prisoners to escape and Thirteen leaps on a Nazi officer to prevent him from shooting at the fleeing partisans. A shell lands in the courtyard at that moment, knocking her unconscious. As the Nazis are being driven from Paris, Cap learns that his beloved was captured and races to Gestapo headquarters, where he is unable to find her. As the Allies celebrate the liberation of the city, a distraught Captain America masters his fear and hopelessness and allows himself to be honored as a hero. It is revealed that the explosion has rendered Thirteen amnesiac, and in the present we find Steve brooding, having never learned her fate.

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Ramon Perez
Ramon Perez
John Rauch
Greg Tocchini (Cover Penciler)
Greg Tocchini (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

Plus: Nazis, Peggy Carter.