Venus #18 - Feb 52
"Tidal Wave of Fear" - Bill Everett
Young Men Comics #24 - Dec 53
"The Return of the Human Torch" - Russ Heath with Carl Burgos
"Back From The Dead" - John Romita Sr. with Mort Lawrence
"The Sub-Mariner" - Bill Everett
Young Men Comics #26 - Mar 54
"Captain America Turns Traitor" - John Romita, Sr.
Yellow Claw #3 - Feb 57
"The Microscopic Army" - Jack Kirby
Well, this is second half of my "The Golden Age of Marvel Comics" trade. These are later stories - i'm not sure that they really should qualify as "Golden Age". They're all post-WWII stories, or stories where the timeline really isn't important. Following the "it's in continuity unless contradicted by a post-FF #1 story, i'm including some pretty far out tales, including the first story, which features Earthlings living on Uranus amongst the Uranians and traveling back to confer with Earth's scientists. To my knowledge there's never been any other indication that there was life on Uranus in the MU, but we'll see (Update: The Agents of Atlas series has brought all of this into continuity). As far as summing things up i'll try to put my individual ratings after each review and then give an overall summary in the regular place.
Venus #18: Venus, goddess of love, fights Neptunia, daughter of Neptune, and stops her scheme of selling houses near the seashore, wiping them out with tidal waves, and then building and selling more houses.
Considering Everett's post WWII treatment of women (See Astonishing #5 and Young Men #24), it's actually quite surprising to see a female lead who is smart and capable.
The art is pretty cool too - it's drawn romance comic style but it's action oriented.
Young Men #24: This issue is a 'return of the WWII era heroes' story written in the 50s. There's a Human Torch story, a Cap story, and a Sub-Mariner story. All three feature summaries of the characters origins and their WWII exploits, so they are somewhat useful in that regard but the stories themselves are pretty bad and yet i'm sucked in by their craziness.
The Torch story is the best - apparently having been captured and buried in the desert by gangsters four years earlier...
...the Human Torch is revived by atomic testing.
He rushes back to the gangsters' lair (still hanging out at the same lair) and defeats them...
...and then learns from the police that his kid sidekick Toro has been brainwashed by Korean communists. They fight, the Human Torch beats Toro and brings him back for deprogramming. Then they go rescue a girl and mercilessly slay her kidnappers in a fiery explosion.
The Cap story is mainly interesting because of later retcons. The "Steve Rogers" that appears in this story is not the original, but he's sort of obsessed with the original to the point of having plastic surgery and changing his name.
Similarly, "Bucky" is actually Jack Monroe who would go on to become Nomad. And the Red Skull is a fake, also - he's really a Russian spy. (This will all be revealed starting with Steve Englehart's Captain America run beginning with Captain America #153; as far as we know just from this story, it's really the return of all of the original characters).
The Skull goes to capture the Secretary of the UN, and Cap - a schoolteacher - and Bucky - posing(?) as one of his students - come out of retirement to defeat him.
The Namor story is kind of odd. Betty Dean, who used to be a policewoman, is introduced here as "an attractive blond" who is reading the newspaper to "her pretty roommate" who is sitting around in her lingerie applying make-up.
The news is that ships have been sinking near Cuba, and Betty gets the idea to call Namor, who she has been out of touch with. She gets in contact with him, and he shows up at her door in a suit door calling her "Betty, honey!".
Namor's so stable and pleasant, it just seems odd, but it supports the idea that Namor is in fact bi-polar, as put forth by John Byrne many years later. They travel to Cuba together and the Sub-Mariner fights some robots from Venus who have been causing all the trouble.
The government doesn't believe Namor's story about the robots, but Namor makes the excellent point that if he can exist, there's no reason why robots from Venus couldn't.
Young Men #26: Cap is brainwashed by an evil liberal college professor into thinking that communism might not be that bad. Actually, he was faking - he happened to see a red medal with a hammer & sickle in an x-ray of the professor's belly before getting brainwashed so he was able to resist.
Cameos by the Human Torch, Toro, and the Sub-Mariner...
...who along with Cap are lured to the Oaklake University by a call from the professor to lecture on the merits of fighting communism to students.
They arrive to find out that the university only needs one lecturer, and Namor and the Torch agree that if someone's going to rant about Communism, Cap's the man for the job. Except for the brainwashing.
Pretty awful stuff.
Yellow Claw #3:
The Yellow Claw uses the fantastic powers of modern science to shrink down an army that he plans to use to invade America.
Jimmy Woo also gets shrunken down and he defeats the microscopic army in a really cool and somewhat unconventional fight sequence drawn by Kirby.
Then the Yellow Claw gets away, already moving on to a new plan. He also gives his niece a piece of his mind.
This isn't terrible!
Overall pretty bad, sometimes in a cute or "that's how it was at the time" sort of way, sometimes just bad.
Quality Rating: C
Historical Significance Rating: 5 - First appearance of the "Grand Director"/1950s anti-Commie Captain America, Jack Monroe/Nomad, the Communist version of the Red Skull. early Yellow Claw appearance
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place in the years after World War II. By the time of Young Men #24, it seems that Cap's second replacement, the Patriot, had retired, making room for this third replacement to appear.
- In Young Men #24, the Human Torch thinks back to his discovery of Toro in Human Torch #2 (Fall 1940 cover date), but he oddly says that it was after the war; the date was 1949.
- The Cap portion of Young Men #24 recaps Cap's origin from Captain America Comics #1 (and uses the name Reinstein for the scientist).
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: The Golden Age of Marvel Comics
Inbound References (6): show
Characters Appearing: Captain America (Grand Director), Fritz Voltzmann, Human Torch (Golden Age), Jimmy Woo, Neptunia, Nomad, Red Skull (Communist), Sub-Mariner, Suwan, Toro, Venus, Yellow Claw
marvel boy: ugh
venus: how come neptuna has powers over the sea that she got from her dad, but venus, also a goddess can't do anything except grab neptuna and give her a good shake? granted, power over the sea versus the power of love and beauty - it's not much of a fight. but she should have powers. she should be able to use them to influence neptuna. make her feel love for people instead of just making a lame ass plea.
torch story: how do toro and the torch keep their flames on while underwater?
cap story: ok, buckyII's keeping a low profile in his civilian life by a) beating up any kids who say anything against cap and b) goes by the name of bucky. now, it was bad enough with the original bucky used "bucky" as his superhero name. this kid isn't even the real bucky.
also, how come professor rogers drives away with bucky, a young boy and his student, all the way into the city and nobody calls this in? without knowing their secret identities, doesn't this relationship seem just a little too close to anyone else at the school?
the fake red skull is a total loser. he sees cap and starts screaming like a little girl. the real red skull should come and kick his ass.
namor story: anyone notice that in the scenes where they're stranded on the island, betty dean's shirt is unbuttoned all the way to her navel? i can't tell if she's wearing another shirt underneath it but there's sure alot of skin showing.
not only does he call her "betty, honey", she calls him an "old sea dog" and namor doesn't seem to mind that at all. years from now, we'll find out that was a fake namor.
capt america comics: he swallows the medal when he first turns spy and it's still in his stomach? i don't think so.
black knight: what about this lovely black knight story? black knight plays the ponce-y nobleman so nobody suspects who he really is. i saw this trick in the scarlet pimpernel. it worked out pretty well until magneto figured it out.
yellow claw: jimmy woo must be awesome if they figured he could take all those mini soldiers on his own. especially considering they had no idea how many he would have to face.
you can tell which chinese characters are bad guys and which are good guys. the bad guys are sporting the gigantic teefs.
Bill Everett wrote the stories he drew. Stan Lee very likely wrote the Captain America stories, and he probably wrote the Human Torch story this time as well.
The 1944 Captain America serial was edited down and rereleased in 1953 as "The Return of Captain America". That may have prompted the fifties Timely superhero revival to begin with.