July, 1968

The very first novel starring a Marvel character, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE GREAT GOLD STEAL by Ted White is a fascinating book, if for nothing else but the way that the star-spangled Avenger was depicted. He’d only been revived for four years at this point, and many of the attributed of his character that we consider ubiquitous today hadn’t quite jelled yet. Thus, Cap carries a gun on the cool painted cover, has a closet full of ordinary shields at Avengers mansion, and his entire skeleton had been laced with a flexible steel compound in anticipation of a future popular character. In addition, this pulpish tale featured the Red Skull as its mystery mastermind, unaware that the character had also been revived in the present in the contemporaneously-published comics.

I’m not all that big a fan of super hero stories done in prose, as I feel that virtually all such attempts wind up as being a pale reflection of the original four-color source material. Super heroes were designed for the comic book page, and it’s there they work best. (The exceptions are inevitably those characters who were designed first for prose–the Shadow, Remo Williams and the like.) And really, this novel is no exception–it’s fun, but not as much fun as a Captain America comic book of the same vintage. Nevertheless, it’s a much better book than THE AVENGERS BATTLE THE EARTH-WRECKER, which was published at around the same time.

2014 Notes: Actually, THE AVENGERS BATTLE THE EARTH-WRECKER came out a year earlier. So it was the first.

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