Detail from the cover of Tales of Suspense #68 (August 1965), pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Frank Giacoia, colors by Stan Goldberg, letters by Artie Simek
And that, give or take a cameo appearance in a circle by Bucky "Someday I'll Have a Major Motion Picture Named After Me" Barnes, is really just about all you need to know about Project Vanish. What, you want to know more? Well, read on, faithful fan, read on!
Travel with us now back to the dark days of WWII, behind enemy lines, where you'll find supervillain The Red Skull taking a short break from his hobbies of stabbing furniture with a knife to muse about Project Vanish! P.V., as we like to call it, is a super-secret powerful Allied weapon soon be to deployed against the Axis, and which Nazi agents must steal in order for Hitler to win the war. So, by this I can deduce that Project Vanish is...Vera Lynn?
Panels from "The Sentinel and the Spy!" in Tales of Suspense #68 (August 1965), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Frank Giacoia, letters by Sam Rosen
Special Nazi Agent Ernst Brawny is immediately summoned to the case, pausing only to attach his ultra-industrial strength deodorant. 'Coz there's only one thing that's worse than a low-down dirty Nazi rat, it's a low-down dirty smelly Nazi rat.
So here it is...Project Vanish! Oh man, it's just another big Kirby gun. Watch out you don't trip on that cord, pal! And leave the speechifyin' for when you get back to Berlin, dumbkopf.
So what does Project Vanish do? Why, it can melt a rifle into nothingness right out of the hands of Private Steve Rogers! Also, this is how Steve lost his left pinkie finger.
It might have been kind smart for the Nazi agent to keep the Project Vanish ray under wraps until he'd escaped the boundaries of the American camp, at least. But no, he just had to try it out right away. be careful with that thing! It's only under a ten-day warranty!
Even hitting it with Cap's faithful shield doesn't make the spy drop the ray gun! Wow, that thing must have a really good rubber grip on the handle. And yet, it doesn't have very good aim, because he missed Captain America who was standing two feet away. Oh, so this gun was developed for use by Imperial Stormtroopers, then.
It slices and dices guns, trees, even Sherman tanks! Now how much would you pay? Don't answer yet, because we're going to throw in another extra bonus...the full intensity switch! (Note: point away from face when using full intensity switch.)
Well, that's pretty much the end of Secret Nazi AGent Ernst Brawny and the still-in-beta-testing Project Vanish gun. Which the Allies will never, ever try to rebuild, uh uh, no matter how effective is was, and there's absolutely no way they would keep working on it to try and fix that pesky little bug of it blowing up when you set it to full intensity. Nope, burn the blueprints...Project Vanish is over!
Yet, years later: RETCON! At the National World War II Memorial, Cap tells the whole story (in conveniently recolored reprint pages) of Project Vanish to the great-granddaughter of the man who invented it (a man who also assisted in the creation of the Super-Soldier Serum that evolved Steve Rogers from scrawny to superior).
Panels from Captain America: Rebirth one-shot (August 2011); script, pencils, and inks by Karl Kesel; colors by Chris Sotomayor; letters by Dave Sharpe
ANd it looks like they did keep working on and developing Project Vanish until it was big enough to disappear the U.S.S. Eldridge. So that's where the Eldridge went! As I always say, have you tried looking in the last place you left it? Because it didn't just get up and walk off on its own.
So, please don't forget that the saga of Project Vanish is not just for entertainment, it's a solemn reminder to salute our WWII veterans, POWs, and brave men and women killed in action during the war.
And remember: buy bonds where you work or bank!