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Tales of Suspense 74
"The Final Sleep!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND February, 1966

Blazing Story: STAN LEE Burning Layouts: JACK KIRBY Blistering Artwork: GEORGE TUSKA Burnt-Out Lettering: ARTIE SIMEK Burning At Both Ends Reviewing:: STEVE CHUNG

(Originally Reviewed On 01/03/02)

On the cover, The Living Legend of World War II races across the terrain, as the combined terror known as The Sleeper threatens to destroy the world! (Holy Atlas Shrugged, Batman!)

After a battle with The Second Sleeper and determined to warn others about the third one, The Sentinel of Liberty heads for a nearby NATO installation, where security sees him arrive, and act to stop him!

The corporal of the guard is called, for the intruder is unarmed, but the soldiers notice how determined Captain America is, as he races for General Logan, just as the security personnel tackle him! General Logan arrives, demanding to know why it would take an entire platoon to tackle one intruder, then sees Cap, and wonders why The Avenger didn't just call? (Holy AT&T, Batman!) While Cap informs the general about the threat, in a nearby village, the citizens flee before the fiery approach of the The Sleepers!

The three Sleeper, a threat hidden by The Red Skull for the past two decades within Germany have returned, intent on menacing the world, as the last gesture of the Nazi regime! The walking Sleeper has merged with the batwing Sleeper, and as they fly over the hinterlands, the final connection is close at hand! NATO missiles are unable to attack because The Sleepers are soaring too low and the threat to innocent life, and those who remain in the village run in terror, while one man steps from his limousine, saluting the giant construct, confident that it will not harm him since he is an ex-Nazi...

He knows of The Red Skull's vow that the free world would feel the oppresor's boot once more, and the day has arrived, but as he salutes...ZZAPT! The Sleeper soars on, while Captain America tells Gneral Logan that The Sleeper is not designed to just support the cause of Nazism, but to destroy the entire human race! A Colonel is skeptical about Cap's words, but The General tells him to stow it and consider Cap's words gospel! Cap sketches The Sleepers, showing the two military men the area where the third Sleeper would connect... as the brain! Having a list of three towns taken from The Red Skull near the end of World War II, Cap resolves to visit the third town, where the final connection will take place! General Logan calls for a fully-equipped taskforce company to serve under Cap!

General Logan takes command of an armored tank division, whose soldiers haven't seen such an assemblage of firepower since D-Day! The Sleeper, now soaring high enough to be fired upon, missiles and jets attack the bizarre Nazi construct! The force rays crackle from The Sleeper's claws, a formidable defense against the jets. A word of command, and several field guns fire upon The Sleeper, which turns its force rays upon them!

In the third town, at the base of Von Uberholtz's statue, the third Nazi agent raises a letter ten degrees to the right, and as his heart gladdens at the glory that is to be his, the tremendous explosive release of The Third Sleeper makes any credit for his actions posthumous. A large metal head resembling The Red Skull soars above the town, propelled by pressurized air-fans! Its flight path crossing towards the other two Sleepers!

The Sleepers have merged, and aboard a nearby plane, Cap has witnessed the event, knowing that the steel head is in reality a giant bomb! Recalling the words of his arch-foe, Captain America tells the Colonel about how The Red Skull threatened the world's destruction should Nazism not conquer the world. In his mind's eye, Cap sees The Sleeper using its power of flight and force rays, fending off opposition while making its way to the north pole, where it would blast its way to the earth's core!

Once at the center of the world, the bomb would go off, causing a series of thermal explosions, a modern-day Gotterdammerung from The Red Skull! As The Colonel wonders if Cap is correct, The Living Legend of World War II is determined to do the one deed he was born to do, armed with a flamethrower... and luck! The bomb bay doors are opened, air speed is increased, course due north is held, and The Colonel gapes as Captain America tell him to stand back, for one chance is all he'll get against The Sleeper!

The plane maintains speed, heading lower... lower... steadying...now! "Geronimo!" Timed perfectly, Cap heads straight for The Sleeper, but there's nothing to grab onto, and begins to fall, but determined not to fail, as he reaches and grabs the wing...got it! Knowing what is at stake, how many have given their lives before him to defend their fellow men, Cap is determined to not let it be in vain!! Slowly, he reaches for the skull, attaching the flamethrower at the right angle...inch by inch! No matter what mad genius scheme of The Red Skull has been conjured forth, Captain America knows that The Sleeper doesn't have the power to think, only do what it has been programmed to do... and this is the fatal flaw in his deranged scheme!

The flamethrower is set, and Cap strives to fight the air pressure until the nozzle begins to ignite...Now! Done, Cap opens his parachute and gets out of range while he still can! The flame begins to sputter, and if it goes out, he'll have failed! The flamethrower won't last more than a few moments, but it must -- it must!! With no time to catch up to The Sleeper again, Cap can only hope that The Red Skull has not won this final battle -- ! It would make pointless what many have fought for -- for all-- WHOOM! It's over and The Sleeper has been destroyed! His actions haven't been in vain!! The world still belongs to the brave -- and the just -- and the free!!

The blazing story by Stan Lee is not hyperbole. The burning layouts by Jack Kirby are action-packed! The blistering artwork of George Tuska sizzles in the reader's eager palms. The lettering of Artie Simek chronicles the events on this solemn day!

Red, white, and blue, with the eagle's wings, and the "A" on his headmask. Who else could it be but Captain America?!?

A weapon of mass destruction, which destroys all in its path, even those who fancy themselves its follower, who meet a vile, final end.

Seeing the world's possible destruction, Captain America readies himself for the task of dispatching The Sleeper, armed with a flamethrower, his wits, and luck!

On the bottom panel of page nine, The steel skull seems to have a little mustache, sort of a Fuhrer's Face!

Only until the final possible moment does Cap light the flames, which bring down the legacy of The Red Skull. The bomb bursting in air, the torch of liberty has done its work, keeping the world safe from tyranny, and belonging to all who cherish freedom.

Ahem... the above may seem a bit corny, but Stan The Man certainly knows how to galvanize the reader into the story's happenings, and Cap has always been a favorite of mine, especially since his first name is Steve.

As General Logan put it in the story, "When Captain America sounds off, you listen, Mister!" Darn straight!

This review is dedicated to Tony Isabella, and Bob Ingersoll (authors of Captain America: "Liberty's Torch!")

Steve Chung
"The Final Review!"