Characters Appearing: Bucky (Fred Davis), Golden Girl (Betsy Ross), Human Torch (Golden Age), Lavender, Patriot, Toro
Captain America Comics #66
Issue(s): Captain America Comics #66
This issue replaces Bucky with Golden Girl as Captain America's sidekick.
Their partnership will last through issue #74 (excepting issue #71). Golden Girl is Betty - now Betsy - Ross, who has been appearing sporadically since Captain America Comics #1. This is her first appearance as Golden Girl. It's worth noting that, retroactively speaking, Ross is the second Golden Girl. This was published and takes place after World War II, when Jeff Mace, formerly the Patriot, has replaced Captain America (although that wasn't the intention at time of publication, as we'll see). And that means it takes place after the Invaders series, when Gwenny Lou Sabuki was Golden Girl.
The impetus for the partnership switch is a crime boss named Lavender, who likes the scent of lavender!
In fact, she's in the process of stealing a shipment of ambergris, an ingredient in perfume (not mentioned: it's derived from the digestive system of sperm whales!), when Captain America and Bucky find her. In the course of that fight, Lavender shoots Bucky and escapes.
Betsy - described as being more a friend of Bucky's than Cap's - shows up to keep Cap company while Bucky is in surgery.
Note the thought bubble from Cap. In the retroactive history, the next Captain America substitute (the crazed 1950s Cap) is actually meant to have taken on an identity as Steve Rogers, but as far as i know the same isn't supposed to be true of Jeff Mace.
The doctor says that Bucky has a chance to recover (his chances would improve if you'd quit smoking in his room, doctor!), but Bucky passes out again after asking Cap to get Lavender for him.
Cap feels that he needs a partner to take on Lavender.
That may seem a little odd to fans of modern day Cap, but i guess Jeff Mace always worked with a partner. Plus, just by virtue of her having shot Bucky, Lavender is probably the most successful villain he'd ever faced. There's also the old "I'd never hit a woman" canard which would necessitate Cap bringing a child or woman along to do his dirty work. In fact, Cap is explicit on this last point.
So he later goes to Betsy's place. She's too busy doing dishes to give him her full attention. Which is probably for the best, because his line of questioning could sound kind of creepy.
It turns out that Betsy is uniquely qualified to be a crime fighting partner (which shouldn't be a surprise; she's been a government agent since her first appearance). Cap reveals his "identity" to her.
Bucky is Bucky Barnes, everyone. (Except he's not, he's Fred Davis, but that's a different story.)
Betsy agrees to become Cap's partner, and they spend the next few days training. She passes the the crucial "can you tackle that dummy before I drive past it in a car with flat tires" test.
Cap originally said he would help with the details of her costume, but Betsy now says that she came up with the design herself. It definitely looks homegrown.
They track down Lavender and defeat her goons. But the treacherous Lavender throws a knife at Cap after surrendering, and Golden Girl knocks Cap down to save him. This turns out to be a "foolish mistake".
I mean, gee, Cap, it's not like you let your first partner get shot by Lavender or anything. How was Golden Girl supposed to know that you knew she had a knife?
Golden Girl makes up for her mistake by locating Lavender again a few days later.
And Golden Girl is the one to knock Lavender out.
In the aftermath, things go in a direction that they (hopefully) never did with Bucky.
In an era with a level of sophistication that led to the (often derided) notion that superheroes needed teen sidekicks so that the readers would have someone to relate to, i wondered what it meant that Captain America and the Human Torch (who will be ditching Toro for Sun Girl around this time) were replacing their kid sidekicks with adult female partners. Was it an attempt to bring in more female readers? An acknowledgement that there were already female readers? Namora and Venus were introduced around this time as well. In this case, though, it seems that the goal at least in part was to give Cap a romantic interest. Jeff Mace and Betsy Ross will eventually marry (retroactively, per the Deluxe Marvel Handbooks).
As for Cap's original partner, he's pulled through by the end of the issue, but he's not recovered enough to return to active duty.
Bucky is actually active in the third story in this issue (which we should probably assume takes place before the main story) and he'll also be Cap's partner in issue #71 without explanation, and then we're back to Golden Girl until issue #75. There isn't a lot of "continuity" between stories so the changes in partners aren't really discussed. In fact, getting an explanation for how Golden Girl becomes Cap's partner is more than we'll get for Sun Girl and Human Torch.
Speaking of the Human Torch, i always find it interesting how often characters appeared in solo stories in other character's books. Here we are in an issue of Captain America, at a time when the Human Torch book was also being published, and yet the second story here is a Human Torch story. I guess it ensured that you got a lot of characters for your dime, but it seems like they might as well have just published a weekly Marvel (Mystery) Comics book.
Anyway, the Torch and Toro go to Africa to meet a friend, Dan Rivers, who is in the ivory trade. But he's been badly injured by a rival named Prester Jim. He returns to his daughter Lois mumbling about having discovered the secret elephant burial ground (which he wants just to loot the ivory) and then dies.
Prester Jim's gang attempt to kidnap Lois to learn the location of the burial ground, but the Torches fight them off. During a second attack, though, Lois' pet elephant is mortally injured. After the bad guys are stopped, we learn that the elephant's burial ground is a bed of quicksand.
In the third story, a woman named Patricia Walker is considering donating to the school that "Steve Rogers" works at.
Interesting choice of a name, considering that Patsy Walker had been a popular Timely feature for years now.
While Steve is with Patricia, Bucky comes across a group of men dressed as pirates fighting another professor.
Patricia later does a classic "remove the glasses and let your hair down to become a beautiful woman" move, really for no story-related reason.
As for the main story, it turns out that the professor was actually the leader of the group of pirates.
The story makes very little sense!
Also in this issue is a single page mystery puzzle featuring Skip McCoy.
Skip McCoy features appeared semi-regularly in Timely books. I am surprised that later writers never brought him in as an actual character, even for like a cameo in Invaders or something.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The continuity insert 2010 Captain America: Patriot series will retell some of these events, and that's the only reason i'm listing Lavender as a character. She doesn't otherwise appear again. This story takes place while the Jeff Mace, the Patriot, is Captain America and Bucky is Fred Davis.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Bootleg
Welcome back! Syd Shores did a great job.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | May 24, 2017 2:43 AM
Betty Ross? Patsy Walker? Seriously...
Posted by: Ataru320 | May 24, 2017 7:54 AM
Betsy Ross is believed to be the woman who made the first ever American flag, back in the 18th century. The Captain America character is no doubt meant as a homage to her. It is possible that the Hulk character was as well; that first Hulk tale was big on the Cold War.
As for Patricia and Patsy Walker, I assume it was some combination of an in-joke with a sly attempt at cross-promotion.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | May 24, 2017 8:48 AM
Golden Girl seems to have pinched the Whizzer's helmet.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 24, 2017 10:48 AM
Wow, that one panel of Golden Girl leaping legs-first next to Cap is slightly awkward. I guess the ridiculous anatomy of female characters was even happening back in the *forties*..!
Posted by: Wis | May 26, 2017 2:02 AM
Karl Kesel adapted the Lavender/ Sun Girl story in his Captain America: Patriot mini a few years ago. It reconciled elements of the story with the Jeff Mace retcon, and was very well done imo. I usually hate that type of retcon that throws out old comics (cf Chapter One), but the Jeff Mace thing is pretty well established by now, so if your main aim is to show the actual chronology of events in the MU Id guess that, for better or worse, the Patriot issues supersede these original comics in continuity.
Posted by: Hugh Sheridan | June 27, 2017 8:10 PM
That Patriot miniseries is fantastic!
Posted by: AF | June 28, 2017 12:26 PM
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