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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Fantasy Masterpieces #3

A new Captain America image by Kirby/Giacoia is on the cover of this book, which contains three Kirby reprints.

Two stories from CAPTAIN AMERICA #3 (1941) begin and end the book. First is "The Hunchback of Hollywood and the Movie Murder" (17-pages), which has a movie producer making an historical epic with clear anti-nazi overtones. He gets himself killed, but the film production goes on, with Steve Rogers and Bucky being hired as extras. They take advantage of the movie stage setting for a lot of fun scenes, including a horseback duel, a swordfighting scene and the storming of a castle...

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...before finally revealing the true villain behind the hunchback.

Ending the book is the awkwardly titled "The Queer Case Of The Murdering Butterfly And The Ancient Mummies", retitled for this reprint as the no less awkward "The Weird Case Of The Plundering Butterfly And The Ancient Mummies" (11-pages). This time there's a criminal gang operating out of a museum, which Bucky discovers on a class trip (Cap wanted to him to go to West Point some day. Poor Bucky...). Again, the setting allows for a lot of nice background touches which make the story much more interesting than its simple plotline.

Various hands were inking Cap in those days. The Kirby Checklist has the first as Joe Simon, the second as Reed Crandall, and Al Avison and Crandall doing general assists on the issue. Lots of minor art alterations in both those stories, making the hunchback less scary, changing a scene where Cap stabs a guy, as well as generally mediocre art reconstruction. Fortunately later reprints are more faithful to the originals.

Among the monster/suspense stories between the Cap reprints is the 13-page Kirby/Ayers "Beware of Bruttu" from TALES OF SUSPENSE #22 (1961). An interesting twist on the standard monster story of the era, as this time the story is about a scientist who is accidentally transformed into a monster (based on one in a comic book, too), so the story is actually narrated by the monster, as he's hunted and unable to communicate, and finds out a few things about life on the way. Definitely one of the better of these stories, and much more of a pre-cursor to Marvel hero concepts like the Hulk than those stories that just happen to use the name "Hulk" that are often passed off as "prototypes".

Published 1966

2 comments:

kirkm5computer001abc said...

I have a two volume set of some original Captain America stories. I'll have to check if this paticualar story is in one of those volumes. You could argue that the art looks primative;however there is a quality you don't see in some of the bad art in the war time books.

There is an honesty and integrity in the protagonist's expressions and in the way the art looks on the page.

As a kid I was very facinated in the comics that were printed in the world war two and fifties and sixties era. The DC 100 pagers and the DC version of the oversize tresury 1st editions are something I poured over again and spent countless hours on reading. I am going to have to unwrap the plastic on some of the old treasury first editions and relive those days again.

I loved the Marvel Tresury Edtions;howver DC gave you a historical overview and sample of what came before. I keep going back to my old comics and re reading them and it's like stepping back to a different era. When comics didn't have crome covers and they were ment for reading.

jon said...

We are trying to find good download movie trailer to take the kids this weekend. Good download movie trailer reviews are hard to find

I just stumbled onto your blog while looking. Seems to happen to me a lot since I am a knowledge mooch LOL

Thanks