Blah Blah Blog – The Great Gold Steal

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.

Thursday, 9:17

April 28, 2007 | 1:00 AM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General

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.

More later.

Tom B

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6 thoughts on “Blah Blah Blog – The Great Gold Steal

  1. Until comparatively recently, I still had my copy and discovered my memory was actually correct on something – There were at least two printings of this book, for my copy was list priced at 45¢. Since 1968 (though I remember it being 1967 that I bought it new in Miami, Oklahoma) I managed to hold onto it through floods, a fire, and innumerable moves – only to lose it to mice only a few years ago.

    Ted White told of changes to his dedication and how the Avengers novel had almost killed the sales of his book. IIRC, this was a few years ago in Alter-Ego. I’ll try to find it as soon as I can.


  2. I remember having this book when I was a kid. I would have been 13 years old in 1968. My memory was jarred when I saw that great cover painting. I don’t particularly remember the story. I have no idea whatever became of the book.


  3. And to prove that grandchildren can make you Senile, I completely forgot that I had already read this post – even commented on it! – and was frustratedly trying to find some 2007 posts on this here blog right here.

    I still like the novel, despite a few weird flaws such as steel rods replacing living marrow, off-the-rack Cap shields, and a Red Skull with no (warped) ideals – merely a love of money and no idea what gold weighed. And only comic book masks fit over skull-heads, pointy Batman cowls, as fat of jowls as could be drawn!


  4. You should know that I wrote this book in the fall of 1966, for intended publication in early 1967 by Bantam Books. When I wrote it, it was totally faithful to the extant Marvel universe, and it was vetted by Roy Thomas. I’m not responsible for subsequent changes to the character.

    And I’m not responsible for Otto Binder’s dreadful Avengers book, which Bantam published first. It tanked, and Bantam sat on my book for more than a year before finally publishing it. (It was supposed to come out a month after Binder’s.)

    As far as I know, there was only one initial printing by Bantam, and it sold well but did not sell out. Had there been a second printing (with a different price) I would have received an additional payment from Bantam, per my contract.

    Liked by 1 person

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