Monday, December 11, 2017

Seeking Help from Dr. Faustus

Marvel Super Action #9 (Marvel, August 1978, 35 cents)
"If the Past Be Not Dead" Script: Stan Lee, Pencils: Jack Kirby, Inks: Syd Shores, Letters: Artie Simek.

My coverless copy of this reprint book offering again the November 1968 Captain America #107 is also missing several pages. This review is based on only 13 of the 18-page story, already two pages shorter than the original publication.

Without Captain America's awareness, Dr. Faustus has prescribed him a nightmare tablet every evening in order to drive him mad. Already coping with the many changes that occurred while he "was in suspended animation for two decades," Steve Rogers is seeing people he knows on the street: a Sharon Carter lookalike and a police officer who looks like the Red Skull.

Seeking help from Dr. Faustus, Rogers is taken prisoner by Nazis—only to be revived by Faustus. "Snap out of it!" Prescribing more pills, Faustus plans to end his "little game" that night. Rogers wakes to find himself aged, now elderly. "I've grown old—overnight!" Bucky arrives to enlist the elderly Cap to stop enemy agents "try to steal our new missile plane!" To Faustus and his lackeys' surprise, Rogers mind is not yet broken and shattered.

What an awesome story. This is why you should read coverless comics when you come across them. Who knows what you'll find. Kirby's artwork is wonderful: four-panel pages (p. 7 and p. 14), p. 11's Red Skull, the Nazis on p. 13, the elderly Rogers on pp. 21-23 (astounding with a page turn!), and pp. 27-28—and that's not even the complete comic! This is a great issue.

Marvel Super Action was an odd little reprint book that lasted 38 issues. After a 1976 non-reprint black-and-white one-shot magazine, the 1977 series reprinted Captain America starting with #100 before changing to Avengers reprints to pick up where Marvel Triple Action left off. Unfortunately, the reprints often shortened the original stories—so even if reprint book back issues are less expensive, you sometimes won't get the full experience, coverless or otherwise.

Availability: Captain America #107 has also been reprinted in Essential Captain America, Vol. 2Marvel Masterworks: Captain America - Volume 3, and Captain America Omnibus, Vol. 1.

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