Characters Appearing: Batroc, Captain America, Dum Dum Dugan LMD, Fixer, Iron Man, Nick Fury
Tales of Suspense
Issue(s): Tales of Suspense
The story has Nick Fury and Dum Dum Dugan recruiting Cap and Iron Man separately for the same threat, without telling them that the other will be involved.
The threat is an organization called DANTE, led by an Emil Stein. They've also recruited an "the best assassin in the world", a man called Beck...
.. and they have a cadre of goons in Iron Man-like suits.
DANTE are said to be "harder elements" from the East German secret police who went into super-crime after reunification.
Cap and Iron Man were fighting Batroc and the Fixer, respectively. They're treated as throwaway minor challenges to introduce the heroes (The Fixer himself doesn't even appear on panel; just his robots).
Cap and Iron Man are (somewhat uncharacteristically) enthusiastically willing to help SHIELD deal with them...
...even before Iron Man learns that they might be using his technology and Cap learns that they're led by Stein, who Cap has some (never-before referenced) history with.
When Cap and Iron Man find out that they've been put on the same mission, they handle it like adults, with no dumb fighting, and internal dialog shows how much they each admire each other. It lays it on a bit thick, actually (and this is only a sample of it).
During the course of their adventure, Cap is forced to don an exoskeleton (and that is - i think?! - a DANTE flying sled, not something Cap borrowed from the Punisher)...
...and Iron Man has to dismantle most of his armor (not enough for fans of the classic Tony Stark in his tighty-whiteys, though).
The idea - a bit clumsy - being to put each of the heroes in the other's shoes.
We also briefly meet a Tom Tojumi, who is said to be Nick Fury's Japanese counterpart.
Not much is done with him in this story, and he'll never be seen again.
DANTE's plot involves assassinating a Japanese tech mogul name Nishimura. It also turns out that DANTE were more interested in Stark's technology in regards with cybernetics (the technology that kept Stark's heart pumping) instead of armor, per se. Beck is upgraded into some kind of cyborg.
In the end the good guys win, but i guess they fail to prevent Nishimura's arm gets sliced off. Either that or he's shoved his hand into a mound of grass for some reason.
This issue is tolerable, but it's not as good as the other split book tributes (Peter David's Tales To Astonish and Kurt Busiek's Strange Tales). The painted art is... fine. Decades later, it's hard for me to appreciate the novelty of it, but it's more reminiscent of, say, Ken Steacy's work in Marvel Fanfare a decade earlier than Alex Ross. And it comes with the usual problems of stiffness and lack of flow, to the point where i'm not always sure what's going on. But, it's... fine. James Robinson's writing is a little too precious (Cap and Iron Man are VERY willing to Serve Their Country and also they have an almost worshipful respect of each other), and it feels removed from the Marvel universe (the introduction of superspy people and organizations that we've never seen before and will never see again). But it's a decent one-off story.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The story is generic enough that the MCP places it pretty much at publication date (which is something of a rarity for these prestige books). That does require it to take place while Captain America's powers are fading, but there are a few other stories where that is the case and the assumption is just that Cap doesn't mention his current status; it just needs to be placed before Cap starts wearing the armor). The story relies on Cap and Iron Man not being on the best of terms, which fits great for the publication date placement but could have fit in earlier periods as well. Also needs to take place before Nick Fury's "death" in Over The Edge.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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