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The Marvel Super-Heroes

Show Presents:

Captain America 

in The Return of Captain America

and Zemo & the Masters of Evil

     "My shield will stand against any foe when liberty and justice are threatened."

-- Hell Yeah!   

 

     

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"He's a maniac! Maniac! On the floor. And he's dancing like he's never danced before!"

 

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Sights &
Sounds:
Captain
America
(1966)
 Original Airdate:
  September 1, 1966
  Syndicated
 Episodes :: 13
 Grantray-Lawrence
 Animation /
 Marvel Enterprises
 

 
Cartoons
Smashed!
More Mighty
Marvel Animated
Mayhem...
Gantray-
Lawrence:

The Mighty Thor

Invincible Iron Man

Captain America

The Incredible Hulk

Marvel
Productions:
 

Coming in at a very close second as the most hideously obnoxious -- yet wonderfully infectious, comic book cartoon theme song is the overture to Captain America! (As translated by me complete with sound effects!) Feel free to sing along!

When Captain America throws his mighty shield!

KLANG! POW! ZAM! WAP!

All those who chose to oppose the shield must yield!

BOP! TWANG! CLANK! ZZAT! 

If he's led to a fight and a duel is due!

 Then the Red and the White and the Blue will come through!

When Captain America throws his mighty shield! 

KLANG! POW! ZAM! WAP!

Like I said, a close second; coming in right behind the theme to the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon. "Spider-Man! Spider-Man! Does whatever a spider can..."

Anyways ... our first episode, The Return of Captain America, opens in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, where a hi-tech sub searches the murky fathoms. Manning this sub are Earth's mightiest collection of heroes (-- well, this Earth anyway), The Avengers: Iron Man, Thor, Giant Man and the Wasp. When Thor (voiced by Chris Wiggins) spots something that looks like a body, floating in the water, Giant Man (Paul Soles) is able to retrieve it and hauls it inside. The body's clothes are in tatters, but underneath the shredded jumpsuit is a very familiar, and very patriotic getup. Recognizing him as the star-spangled World War II hero Captain America, the Wasp (Peg Dixon) says that can't be possible because he's been missing for almost twenty years.

Suddenly, the soggy figure jerks awake, shouting hysterically for someone named Bucky. After the Avengers manage to subdue him, but only after he stops struggling, the distraught figure recounts the last thing he remembers before waking up here:

Seems that in the waning days of World War II Captain America (Arthur Pierce) and his partner, Bucky (Bernard Cowan), were trying to prevent a drone rocket filled with explosives from launching. Alas, they were too late but race after it on a motorcycle. When they both leap for it, Bucky manages to hang on but Cap couldn't and fell into the ocean below. Above, Bucky detonates the rocket drone and is engulfed in the explosion; it's the last thing Cap sees before splashing down. 

Of course, the Avengers are a little suspicious of this story and demand proof that he really is Captain America. This leads to the old Mighty Marvel Misunderstanding Trick* and they have a little dust up, where Cap proves his mettle and wins their trust.

* The old Mighty Marvel Misunderstanding trick has been employed by Marvel Comics since the beginning. This scenario has allowed their heroes to unwittingly battle each other on more than one occasion.

Introducing themselves, the gathered Avengers explain that the war has been over for a while and the Allies won. But there is still a need for those who would fight the good fight for freedom and justice, and so, they invite Cap to join their ranks. He accepts and celebrates by taking a nap. (Hey, c'mon, it's been a rough day.)

Confused? Okay, quick Marvel History Lesson time ... You see, Captain America spent the time after Bucky's death at the close of the second World War to the present time in a state of suspended animation, frozen in a block of ice. After falling off that drone, he landed in the frozen North Atlantic. Somehow, his super-soldier serum enhanced body allowed him to survive.

Jump ahead twenty years and we find the Avengers out in their handy submarine looking for none other than The Sub-Mariner, who'd been causing trouble recently with the surface world. Beaten back again, Cranky Prince Namor came upon an Eskimo fishing village, who worshiped a shadowy "god" frozen deep in a block of ice. 

Not to be outdone by a frozen deity, Namor (John Vernon) chucked the entire block of ice into the ocean, where the mini-iceberg was lucky enough to get caught in a warm current and drifted south, thawed out, and it's formerly encased prisoner was fortunate enough to be discovered by the Avenger's before he revived and drowned. And that's how Cap happened to be in the ocean.

Now back to the cartoon!

While Cap sleeps below, the Avengers return to port in New York, disembark, and face the paparazzi. Mobbed by reporters on the docks, the Avengers announce they've made a remarkable discovery as several photographers swarm closer. But one of them points something more sinister at our heroes. And in a flash of light and smoke, everyone is blinded. When the smoke clears, it appears the Avengers are gone, leaving stone statue replicas in their stead. Figuring it's some kind of trick the Avengers are using to avoid them the press clears off.

Sometime later, Cap wakes up and finds the sub empty and the docks deserted -- except for those strange statues. Noticing that the Giant Man and Thor statues have assumed defensive stances, this isn't the only strange sight confronting our hero. A lot has changed in the last twenty years and Cap is quickly overwhelmed. Feeling abandoned and out of place, a friendly cop helps him find a hotel room, where Cap sacks out until he hears someone entering the room. He first mistakes the shadowy figure for Bucky, but it turns out to be none other than Rick Jones (-- Marvel's side kick extraordinaire), who says the Avengers have been missing since the impromptu press conference on the docks and he hopes that Cap can help find them. Together, they scour the news footage in which Cap spots the sinister man with the funky camera -- that looks suspiciously like a ray gun. With the help of Rick's Teen Brigade, Cap manages to track the criminal down. When the bad guy introduces himself as The Bull, he tries to use the transmogrifying gun on Cap; but he proves too agile and captures the crook. 

Dragging Bull to the docks, he forces him to reverse the polarity on the gun, reverting the Avengers back to normal. They are thankful but Cap defers most of the thanks to Rick. So joyous are they, though, that they allow the crook to sneak off during the excitement. Told to head to Avenger's Mansion, to coordinate the search for Bull, Cap heads to the mansion where Jarvis, the butler, takes care of him. Meanwhile, in an old abandoned building clearly marked Old Abandoned Building (-- no, seriously, it says "Old Abandoned Building" on the marquee), Bull and his gang of thugs plot revenge our recently resurrected hero. And they must have paid a visit to either A.I.M., Justin Hammer or the Tinkerer because they have a bunch of new and deadly toys. Arming up with some high tech battle gadgets and armor, they kidnap Jarvis, and leave a ransom demand that Cap come to the Old Abandoned Building alone.

When Cap complies, Bull orders his men to attack. And despite the lasers, repulsor-rays, and napalm, Cap busts some heads and kicks some serious ass -- complete with spelled-out sound effects. (ZANG! FLOORG! FWIP! Just like in the old Batman TV series. I had to rewind it and freeze advance to make sure that one sound effect said "FOOP" and not "POOP.") The battle won, Cap returns to the Mansion and finds the other Avengers waiting for him. Still too overly modest, when Cap says he's just a little stiff after the rigorous battle the Wasp jabs "Not as stiff as when we found you earlier!"

Paging Dr. Wertham. Dr. Frederick Wertham. You're needed in the Innuendo Room. Stat!

In our second episode, Zemo and the Masters of Evil, we switch locales to the secluded South American jungle hide out of one Baron Zemo, who was one of the Nazis' top mad scientist and all around no-good-niks. (In fact, it was his rocket drone that Cap and Bucky were trying to stop.) When Zemo's pilot returns with the latest batch of scientific journals none hold the secret of removing Zemo's mask. Asked how he became permanently stuck under that hood, Zemo relates that, during the war, he was putting the finishing touch on his latest creation, Adhesive X, the strongest glue ever invented. (And the potential for evil glue is what exactly?) But Captain America was onto his schemes and raided the lab. During the mle, Cap threw his shield, shattering the container of adhesive, which spilled all over Zemo, permanently attaching the hood to his head.

Herr Zemo cuts this story short when he spies an article saying his old enemy is alive and well and kicking butt with the Avengers. Still blaming Cap for the whole mask thing, and everything else that's gone wrong for him, Zemo's hatred proves so irrational that his stomping fits and tantrum are very disturbing. (See illustration in the sidebar. That or he's contracted dance fever from the Iceman.) Thus, Zemo conspires to form the Masters of Evil to take out the Avengers and, more importantly, to kill Captain America. 

Rounding up the individual Avenger's most deadliest foes -- the mysterious Melter, whose heat beam can melt Iron Man's armor, the Radioactive Man, who can withstand Thor's enchanted hammer, and Giant Man's nemesis, the Black Knight and his lance of doom -- Zemo is soon ready to roll ... Elsewhere, unaware that evil is conspiring against them, the Avengers go about there business. When suddenly, New York comes under attack as Zemo's henchmen, armed with sprayers filled with Adhesive X, coat the entire city in the gunk's sticky embrace. With the city held at ransom until Captain America surrenders, the Avengers (-- sans Giant Man and the Wasp --) counterattack. Coming upon the Radioactive Man first, Thor's hammer is still useless against him. And when the villain tries to blast him with the adhesive, the Thunder God dodges the spray but Cap's feet are coated with it, sticking him to the street. 

As Thor leads the bad guy away Iron Man (John Vernon) tries to free Cap until they're interrupted by the Melter, who blasts away at Iron Man with his deadly beam. With no time to mess around, Iron Man uses his repulsor rays to cut a circular chunk of the asphalt loose around Caps feet and drags the whole thing to safety. When Thor rejoins them, they make a strategic withdrawal to regroup. The first thing to do is free up Cap free, so Iron Man tries all the solvents he has but nothing works. He then hits upon the idea of asking Paste-Pot Pete for help. As his name implies, Pete is an expert on adhesives, who owes Iron Man a favor. A villain by trade, he was last seen helping the Frightful Four fight their Fantastic counterparts.

How Iron Man convinces the villain to help remains a mystery. More recently Pete has been trying to convince the world to stop calling him Paste Pot and use his cooler code name The Trapster! At last check no one's cooperating.

Luckily, the solvent works. With Thor ready to attack them head on, Cap calms him down and forms a sound counteroffensive that's executed beautifully when the Masters of Evil return to Zemo's rocket for more Adhesive X. Unknown to them, however, Cap switched the barrels out, filling their sprayers with the super-solvent instead. Thus, when the villains get back to gumming up the city they are shocked to see their spray freeing those already stuck. The second phase of Cap's plan calls for the heroes to switch villains. And as Thor makes quick work of the Black Knight and his winged steed, Cap and Iron Man manage to cocoon the Radioactive Man in a lead lined straight jacket. That leaves the Melter, who does a number on Iron Man's armor until Shell-Head tricks him into blasting a hydrant, causing a spray of water that shorts out the bad guy's deadly ray. 

Then, while Iron Man and Thor haul the other villains off to jail, Captain America ferrets out Zemo and then all hell breaks loose. The fight is fairly even, but soon Cap has the upper hand -- until Zemo's pilot shoots him. Thinking they've killed him a victorious  Zemo retreats into his rocket to escape. They launch just as Thor returns. Using his enchanted uru hammer, Thor creates a vortex and Zemo's ship vanishes into the ether. Luckily, the bullet only grazed Cap's skull, knocking him out, but he wakes up in time to see the ship disappear. Asked if Zemo is dead, Thor says no: the vortex only caused a distortion in time and space. So Zemo is still alive, but where, or even when he is is anyone's guess.

The End

I don't think any character in the old Marvel Universe has been killed, presumed dead, revamped, overhauled, or retooled more than Captain America. He's had several comic book runs. Made numerous cameos in other Marvel animated adventures. Had a couple of his own kitschy 1970's live-action television movies, and one truly odious feature film. Curse you Albert Pyun!

This version is a wonderful time capsule of Marvel's early days, and has a nice retro-vibe going for it. The stories are basically condensed versions straight from the comic books. (In this case The Avengers #3 and #4.) Cap's cartoon was featured with several other heroes; Thor, Iron Man, Sub-Mariner, and the Hulk that premiered on the syndicated The Marvel Super-Heroes Show back in 1966, complete with yet another whiz-banger of a theme: "The Merry Marvel Marching Song". ( Click here if you want to here it.) Most people remember these old cartoons coupled with their local affiliate's after-school kid's shows, usually complete with their own costumed hosts. Alas, our local host -- the helmeted Commander NTV, whose masculine voice was betrayed by the *ahem* dangerous curves of her jumpsuit -- didn't have this cartoon. But we did get the old George Reeves Superman show so we'll call it a wash. 

Again, the biggest complaint is the crude animation style, known as Xerography, where you actually copied pencil sketches straight onto an animation cell. My complaint isn't the lack of movement, really, it's the horrible overuse of the same images over and over and over. This really comes to light in the scene after Captain America wakes up on the sub. Here, Thor starts talking, and through the sub's window, you can clearly see Cap's body still floating out in the water because they used the same animation cel from before.

I freely admit I'm a Captain America guy. I've defended him against hundreds of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals in faded Bat-Man and Spawn t-shirts -- the ones that smell funny, with worse goatees than mine, and have had that same shirt on for so long you can see chest hair growing through the tattered mesh, at the local comic shops. I've followed his core title, off and on, for over thirty years. Where I enjoy Cap the most, though, is his almost constant presence among the ranks of The Avengers. I enjoy how he's got the respect of almost every hero in the MU, and they'd follow him anywhere. 

Now, there's a very profound scene in the middle of the first episode of the Captain America cartoon, where our hero, the human embodiment of the American ideal, wandered the streets of New York in a shell-shocked daze. When Cap was frozen, America was at the top of her game. We'd help win the war and were about to enter the baby boom of the '50s. Twenty years later, things had definitely changed. The cartoon came out in 1966, and the comic book it was gleaned from in 1964. America wasn't in the best of shape then, and was threatening to fall apart at the seams; it's President had just been assassinated; there was civil injustice, unrest, and cultural clashes; the generation gap was as large as it's ever been; and the country's involvement in a skirmish in a certain southeast Asian country was about to spin out of control. Here, Cap is feeling out of place -- outdated, and feels "I don't belong here." And then the cop finds him, and after realizing it's the real Captain America, he's emotionally overcome and states "I'm glad you're back Cap. The world needs you now more than ever." Then he turns away so Cap can't see he's crying.

I know about four or five years ago there was some rumblings about getting all of these old cartoons out on DVD, an official 5-Disc set was even announced by Buena Vista, but for some reason the plug got pulled -- I assume over some lingering copyright issues with the new round of Marvel feature films. Until that day comes, I guess we'll just have to stick with our old VHS tapes and the wonders of YouTube. For more on the history of these Gantry-Lawrence toons, please feel free to check out my other review on The Sub-Mariner

Captain America (1966) Grantray-Lawrence Animation :: Famous Studios :: Marvel Enterprises / P: Grant Simmons / D: Grant Simmons, Doug Wildey / W: Doug Wildey, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Joe Simon / S: Arthur Pierce, Paul Kligman, Paul Soles, Bernard Cowan, Peg Dixon, Gillie Fenwick, John Vernon, Chris Wiggins
Originally Posted: 05/29/02 :: Rehashed: 06/10/11

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.

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