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Adventures of Captain America #1: Review

Sep 1991
Fabian Nicieza, Kevin Maguire

Story Name:

First Flight of the Eagle

Review & Comments

4 stars

Adventures of Captain America #1 Review by (March 15, 2010)
Review: A more elaborate version of Captain America’s origin? Good thing this is 1991 and not the 21st century, so the expanded page count allows for a more detailed plot, instead of just stretching a 20 page story to four issues full of large pictures and minimal dialogue. Nicieza’s take on it is epic, if a bit tongue-in-cheek and Maguire’s art nicely straddles the line between realistic and cartoonish. In this issue we are introduced to various new characters including Cynthia Glass (a love interest!) and Colonel Fletcher, as well as learning that Steve was only one of a number of candidates for the Super-Soldier project. The treatment also turns out to be a more complicated procedure than previously portrayed (“Drink this and wait five seconds”). Steve appears to be stronger than standard (he can lift a motorcycle over his head) and we see him growing in confidence as his training progresses, proving he was a hero before he was Captain America. We also see Steve venturing out for his first unauthorized mission in a makeshift costume (predating BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM, though with better results). Most annoying aspect: substituting “k”s for “c”s in German kharacters’ dialog (fully dokumented). Unintended Foreshadowing: A black man as candidate for the project oddly anticipates TRUTH: RED WHITE & BLACK (2003) in which African Americans are used as guinea pigs for the Super-Soldier serum.

Comments: Issue #1 has an embossed cover. Quite a bit of period color, with mentions of Tim Tyler and Jesse Owens and authentic 1940 movies at the theater (THE SEA HAWK, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, THE MORTAL STORM, BLACK FRIDAY). Translations: Saurespritze = Acid Syringe, Blitzangriff = Lightning Attack, Zahnmorder = Tooth Murder. Blitzangriff is called Blitzkrieg (Lightning War) in the second issue. Eliot’s name is also spelled Elliot at one point (oops).


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Adventures of Captain America #1 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro
Late in 1940, Steve Rogers goes to the movies with his friends Pat and Eliot. He is so upset by the newsreel of the Nazi depredation of Europe that and irritated Eliot suggests he enlist. At the recruiting office, he is classed 4-F (unfit for military service); he is then approached by General Phillips who offers him a role in a mysterious project. He is flown to a secret location by Phillips and his aide, Lieutenant Cynthia Glass, where he becomes part of Project: Rebirth, under Colonel James Fletcher, nicknamed the American Eagle. He is introduced to the other test subjects, Harmon Furmintz (a brain and Jewish), Jack Windmere (a jock and African-American) and Gilmore Hodge (a bigoted jerk). After preliminary tests, Furmintz is revealed to be a hemophiliac and sent away. Hodge’s sneering causes a ruckus in which Windmere’s knee is broken, causing him to drop out as well. That night Fletcher and the project scientist Dr. Erskine decide to reject Hodge as too ignorant and unstable for their purposes; the next day Cindy Glass informs Steve that he has been selected as the test subject. Steve is elated—then begins a grueling regimen of drugs followed by closely observed physical testing. Erskine reveals to Fletcher that his formula was distributed among his various assistants, finally telling Fletcher the secret ingredient—Vita-Rays—just in case. The next day, a shy Steve is uncertain about telling Cindy his feelings for her so ends up relating why he wanted to serve his country, a tale which leaves her strangely quiet. As his training continues, Steve sketches a superhero costume (with cape!) while dreaming of his mighty adventures. The next day is the fateful one: before an assembly of VIPs, Steve is subjected to Vita-Rays and emerges a massive specimen of physical power. At his point a Nazi agent shoots down Erskine; Steve leaps into action and hurls the killer across the room, where he is accidentally electrocuted on a fallen cable. Realizing the assassin was smuggled in by a double agent, Fletcher orders Steve and everyone else into the safe houses. In Germany, the Red Skull orders his team of killers into action to uncover the secrets of the process. Over the next few days, Erskine’s assistants are killed by Der Saurespritze (who sprays poison gas), Blitzangriff (electrocution) and Zahnmorder (various pointy weapons) under the direction of the mysterious Agent X. Steve is ordered to go undercover as an ordinary GI at Camp Lehigh. Chafing under the enforced idleness, he uncovers a smuggling operation at the camp. Donning a wool cap and goggles (and dubbing himself "Mr. America") he pursues the crooks on a motorcycle. Entering their hideout he takes the smugglers prisoner at gunpoint—unaware there’s an axe-wielding enemy sneaking up behind him….

Kevin Maguire
Joe Rubinstein
Paul Mounts
Kevin Maguire (Cover Penciler)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

Plus: American Eagle (Jason Strongbow).

> Adventures of Captain America: Book info and issue index

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