A post from my long-ago Marvel blog in which I discuss rereading one of the very first Marvel novelizations: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE GREAT GOLD STEAL.
Just finished rereading, for no particular reason, “The Great Gold Steal”, one of the earliest prose adaptations of a Marvel character–this one Captain America–published in 1968. It’s best remembered for its pulpy cover painting, showing a dramatic figure of Cap, shield in one hand and gun in the other–one of the most realistic renditions of a super hero produced before the advent of Alex Ross. The image interface is still inoperative, or I’d share a scan of this cover with you.
What’s interesting about the book is how stuff we take for granted about Cap today just isn’t part of the canon yet–and how it predicts another character entirely. Rather than getting his powers from a simple Super-Soldier Serum, Cap “had steel rods inserted into the marrow of all of his bones”, making them virtually unbreakable, and possessed the ability “to heal from any wound in a fraction of the time it would normally take.” There’s also nothing special about Cap’s shield–it’s simply made of metal–and at one point, after losing it in a cave-in, he picks up another of his many spares at Avengers headquarters.
“The Great Gold Steal” was one of two Marvel novels written in the 60s. The other, “The Avengers Battle The Earth-Wrecker”, was done the year before, 1967, and I remember it being kind of weak. It may seem strange that the publishers chose these characters to feature, rather than Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four, but you’ve got to remember that, in the 60s, Cap was probably the best-known of the Marvel heroes, having been around in one form or another since 1941, and having starred in a movie serial in 1944 that was still being played, either in compilation form or as individual chapters one a day, on various independent television stations in that era.