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Tales of Suspense 82
"The Maddening Mystery Of The Inconceivable Adaptoid!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND October, 1966

STAN LEE Authored The Script

JACK KIRBY Pencilled The Story

FRANK GIACOIA Inked The Drawings

ARTIE SIMEK Lettered The Panels

IRVING FORBUSH Sharpened The Pencils

STEVE CHUNG Wrote The Review

(Originally Reviewed On 10/17/01)

On the cover, The Living Legend of World War Two is bedeviled by images of foes from his past, and lurking in the doorway is The Adaptoid! (Holy View To A Kill, Batman! Cap has his shield up against ghouls, shadowy spies, rabid nazis, and mad scientists!)

On the splash page, Captain America and Bucky are leaping into action, as they dodge shots fired from nazi lugers! (Yup, sure looks better than when Liefeld did it in Heroes Retorn... errr... Reborn)

The splash page is but a snapshot from the album in the possession of Captain America, who recalls the events of which he and his boy sidekick undertook during the war, as faithful Jarvis arrives with some coffee, Cap tells him to leave it on the table, while the butler comments how Tony Stark would drink java at this time, as well. Cap comments how little they've seen of The Avengers' benefactor, and Jarvis has heard that his employer has undertaken many secret business trips. (Holy Man In The Iron Mask, Batman!) He sips his coffee and hopes that he is able to thank Stark for all he's done, and Jarvis is grateful to serve The Mighty Avengers. Cap prepares for a final security check before bed, and Jarvis offers to draw him a bath, but Cap decides on a shower, instead. As The Sentinel of Liberty strides through the halls of Avengers Mansion, he misses the excitement and dreads the time when inaction threatens his energy, and suddenly feels tired, then hopes that his age isn't catching up with him...

Cap vows to snap out of it, as he pushes aside a decoy pillar and gives the secret ready room a once over, he hears footsteps from behind the door, someone who can only be an enemy! Cap races forward, an and knows that his unseen foe is aware of his presence, then enters and warns him that the villain will have to answer to him, but the crack of a pistol is his only answer, and Cap manages to manuever his shield to deflect the near-fatal bullet, as he catches sight of his foe! The next moment finds the mystery villain leaping from the shadows and at this range, Cap sees that the intruder is none other than Agent Axis, the self-styled scourge of World War II, a man whom he has seen die personally! (Not to be confused with The Scourge of The Underworld, who did away with a bunch of fourth-tier super-villains and one-trick ponies in the eighties pages of Cap's own mag!) As if dreading his senses, Cap closes his eyes and delivers a solid right punch, then notices that his foe is gone... as if he were never really there...!

The mystery of how he could have seen a man who died twenty-five years ago is daunting indeed (Not if you live in The Marvel Universe, it's not!) and Cap wonders if this is some sort of delayed battle fatigue or if he is going mad?!? Turning towards the TV scanner, Cap sees the face of Fang, The Warlord, who died in the fight at Hiroshima, when the atom bomb went off! As he turns off the set, Captain America senses the presence of others who mean to pay him back for their defeats in the past, and he fights this haunting sensation, knowing that in beating them once, he can beat them again, then flees before they can catch him! Once in the hallway, he doesn't hear their voices, and figures it to be his imagination or hallucination, then dreads if it should occur again! Thinking that someone may be toying with him, Cap opens the room behind him, which contains the spare armor of Iron Man, then wonders what could be behind these attacks! The next moment, Cap finds himself behind the wheel of a speeding truck, with Bucky at his side, urging him to drive faster lest the nazis catch up with them, and amid the pinging bullets, it is the voice of his former partner which galvanizes him all the more...

Bucky suggests they use Maneuver B against their motorcycle-riding foes, then each leaps from the sides of the truck to deliver a surprise to their startled pursuers! In the fight, Cap figures that this is his real world and his time with The Avengers may have been just a impossible dream, and as they reach a barricade, the nazis open fire at them, and steer their motorcycles full throttle, then leap towards the nest, where Cap delivers some solid punches, then wonders what happened to Bucky...

One blink and he's back in Avengers Mansion, unable to separate dream from reality, then decides to leave the mansion and turn himself in to the authorities for an evaluation, knowing that someone with his abilities may be a threat to those he would serve. The sound of marching men stops Cap in his tracks, as he sees Sgt Duffy leading a squad through Avengers Mansion, and as Cap rushes to greet his old sergeant, Duffy turns his head and tells him that there's a war on and if he sees that goldbrick Steve Rogers, he'll have him up on desertion! Another look from Duffy and Cap hears the suggestion that he go see the medics, but Captain America is in a deep struggle of his own! Aware that the events he is experiencing is no more than a dream, the knowledge does him little good, especially when Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch appear by his side, as he falls!

The two urge him to regain control of himself, but Cap knows that the two of them are in Europe after taking a leave of absence from The Avengers, and it would be impossible for them to be here in Avengers Mansion! As he loses consciousness, The Scarlet Witch wonders if she and Pietro have arrived too late to help, and Quicksilver tells him to use his will to fight that which assails him! It is now Jarvis who is holding Cap, and no sooner does Cap realize this than he loses consciousness completely! As Jarvis tends to the fallen Avenger, the scene changes...

Miles away, a SHIELD field team have found the cave entrance to the headquarters of A.I.M., then tread softly, as the base has seen an explosion, and search for survivors in this sequence from Strange Tales #149. Count Bornag is carried from the cave, and A.I.M.'s top man may not be long for this world. Another SHIELD agent screams that Nick Fury be radioed at once, as they've made an amazing discovery, that of the most dangerous anti-SHIELD of all! It resembles a mummy case, but one belonging to a futuristic one! (Holy King Tut, Batman! You think Rama-Tut, Kang, or Immortus is behind this one?) There is a resemblence to the Life Model Decoy case which they have at SHIELD (Supreme Headquarters International Law Enforcement Division, dammit!) and Count Royale is mumbling something about The Adaptoid being loose, now able to complete its mission, and win final victory for A.I.M.! (Advanced Idea Mechanics!)

Jarvis sees that Cap is placed in bed, seeing how well the hypno-sedative placed in the coffee has taken effect. (Holy Starbuck, Batman!) Before his mission can continue further, this Jarvis opens the closet and checks out the unconscious butler of The Avengers, as he prepares to complete his mission for A.I.M. His very form becomes one of sheer, undiluted energy, and the change to his natural state is completed, and the blank, featureless, artificial form of The Adaptoid is on the scene again!

The Jarvis which Cap met this evening was actually a living, thinking panto-graph... capable of making exact copies by tracing the original! (Holy Rich Buckler, Batman! He's a walking, talking light box!) With no need for the identity of Jarvis, The Adaptoid turns his attention to Captain America, the energy ray providing an outline of his latest victim, then a burst of final energy assuring a perfect duplication! No longer a non-entity, The Adaptoid has assumed the identity of Captain America, who then takes the shield from the real one, who will need it no longer!

A most memorable cover which no doubt has readers in anticipation of this latest tale of suspense, and for the unforgettable appearance of The Inconceivable Adaptoid (Well, The Smiling One did conceive him, along with The King, didn't he?)

When these Tales of Suspense stories were reprinted in Marvel Double Feature in the '70s, Frank Giacoia did many new covers for them.

The reference to Tony Stark by Cap and Jarvis was interesting, as it showed how his fellow Avengers regarded both him as Iron Man and as the millionaire benefactor/industrialist.

Agent Axis would be introduced in the pages of The Invaders by Roy Thomas, who recalled the appearance in this story, and incorporated it there. Agent Axis would meet his apparent death at the hands of The Thin Man in the pages of Marvel Comics Presents when the villain returned to the land where T-Man got his powers, and destroyed it after the war!

I believe that Fang The Warlord appeared in Captain America's title during the forties, or maybe not.

A subtle cameo by Shell-Head's suit of armor makes it a smaller Marvel Universe after all!

Some fine fighting action during World War II by Cap and Bucky.

A cameo by Sgt Duffy, who would have Steve Rogers peeling taters during the war.

At the time of this story, the true Wanda and Pietro were in Wundagore investigating a way for Wanda to regain her mutant hex power, near where The Puppet Master had discover his radioactive clay, and where The High Evolutionary had begun his experiments.

The Adaptoid is a fun foe, reminding me of Amazo and The Composite Superman, or for that matter, The Mimic, one of those foes who has the abilities of those heroes who would face him.

The Adaptoid, along with Spragg The Living Hill, must be the easiest character to draw, well them and The Invisible Girl when she's invisible, that is.

This Review Is Dedicated To JK Carrier

Steve Chung
"The Maddening Mystery Of The Inconceivable Review!"