Saturday, July 09, 2016

Today in Comics History: Steve Rogers got 99 birthdays but a myth ain't one

I think last week we had a number of people declaring that Captain America's canonical birthday is July 4, which makes some amount of symbolic sense. I'd actually set it on April 4th if it was me (think about it), but here's some evidence for breaking out the red-white-and-blue streamers and Fudgy the Whale ice cream cake today:

Page from Captain America: The Great Gold Steal novel (July 1968), by Ted White

A follow up to the previous year's Bantam paperback original novel The Avengers Battle the Earth-Wrecker, The Great Gold Steal is a lot of fun, pitting Cap against dastardly deeds in downtown Detroit New York, and I kinda pictured Steranko's Cap as the protagonist throughout it all. I highly recommend hunting down a copy if you're interested in that sort of thing, and who among us wouldn't be? Nazis, that's who. The Red Skull will not care for this book.

Still, try to avoid wincing when you see the dedication page. I'm pretty sure that Ted White had his heart in the right place (putting Kirby first is a sign of that), but I'd recommend taking the penof your choice — I'm partial to the Bic Banana, myself — to cross out "Stan Lee" and write "Joe Simon." There. As would later be heard in Marvel Comics: Justice is served.

Stan does provide a cheery and enthusiastic introduction, which you can absolutely hear in his voice. I'm just sorry that Captain America is no longer described as being "The Dazzling Human Dynamo" or having a "Glory-Studded Name." Also, as this is not a Choose Your Own Adventure book, we do not "fight side by side with the living legend of World War II." This has been another installment of "Fact-Checking Stan Lee." There will be another one in a wee bit, and yes, this will be on the test.

Here's another mention of Steve's birthday, and honestly, I'm pretty sure it is invalidated by 75 years of comics, not to mention that it doesn't say word one on his indoctrination into Hydra at a very young age*. (*Subplot liable to change due to Cosmic Cube activity.)

Fun fact: This book has jaunty referential footnotes from Stan Lee, just like the comics! You tell 'em, Steve-Stan!

"Then came Pearl Harbor, and war." says the book.

Panel from "According to the Book" in Battle Stories #5 (Fawcett, September 1952), pencils by Carl Pfeufer (?), inks by Edd Ashe (?)

("Then...Korea!" is a registered trademark of Mike Sterling and

Stan's not always on the ball, however, judging from this Maxwell Smartesque "missed it by that much" footnote:


Still: happy birthday, Steve! Happy, happy, happy Hydra birthday.


J. Kevin Carrier said...

I seem to recall Ted White saying that he did originally dedicate the novel to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, but Marvel insisted that it be changed. This would've been around the same time that Simon was suing Marvel over ownership of Cap, so they presumably weren't eager to print anything acknowledging Simon as co-creator.

Bully said...

I hadn't thought of that, J.K. Really good point, thanks!