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Tales of Suspense 92
"Before My Eyes... Nick Fury Died!!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND August, 1967

Marvel's Truly Titanic Twosome-- Reunited Once More!
STAN (The Man) LEE and JACK (King) KIRBY
Embellishment By: JOE SINNOTT
Lettering By: ARTIE SIMEK
Reviewing By: STEVE CHUNG

Originally Reviewed On 11/13/01

On the cover, Captain America leaps through the window of the barber shop which fronts for S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, with The Living Legend's objective to disarm the startled assassin of A.I.M., who has just completed his mission, with Nick Fury leaning in final repose on the barber chair. (Holy Close Shave, Batman!)

At Kennedy Airport, Steve Rogers has just returned from a jet flight, with grateful thoughts of being home, and an anxiety at putting together the pieces of his life!

Taking a seat in the terminal, Steve tips the brim of his hat, while seemingly reading the newspaper, and covertly contacting The Avengers via a tiny communicator! The happy face of Hawkeye greets him on the screen, and listens as he speaks of having just returned from a temporary S.H.I.E.L.D. assignment, and catching up with Earth's Mightiest Heroes, with Hawkeye welcoming him back to Fun City! Goliath greets Steve's visage on the screen and thanks him for the help against Diablo (Avengers #42), and he smiles, telling them that he'll soon arrive at Avengers Mansion. The Wasp can't remember hearing Cap so chipper, while The Scarlet Witch wonders if it's just a front, Goliath agrees, and Hercules tends to take Steve's words at face value. Under the sea and within an A.I.M. craft, a report regarding Colonel Fury is about to be handed over, with a plan of attack at 0800 hours!

Advanced Idea Mechanics still exists and hungers for revenge, as they listen eagerly to Sharon Carter, she who has seemingly defected from SHIELD, and has delivered the news to them on a tape recording! As she hands it over, ZZZST! the recording is vaporized, and it is pointed out to her that if she is lying, Sharon Carter will also share its final fate! Via the Ultra-Wave Transviewer, her loyalty to them will be tested, as radio commands are sent, and The Mechano-Assassin is released!

On the streets of New York, Steve Rogers notices that the citizens of New York are going about their daily lives, and even among them, he is an outsider -- an outcast -- a misfit! Only in the identity of Captain America does he have a purpose in life, but as Steve Rogers, he is just a name and a face, with no real ties, no home to call his own, and no one to dine with. He briefly recalls the girl from World War II who was lost, and then recalls the mysterious blonde agent from SHIELD. Hailing a taxi for Avengers Mansion, we leave Steve Rogers with his thoughts, while elsewhere, a dump truck has unloaded its cargo, which leaps into action... (Holy Tonka, Batman!)

Operator G-42 contacts A.I.M. and tells them that The Mechano-Assassin has been released, and in one minute, he will contact his victim! The Mechano-Assassin crouches with Kirbyesque rifle in hand, his crimson face leaving no trace of emotion. Along the back alleys, his shadow leaves its imprint, and in the window of a barbershop, The Mechano-Assassin finds the quarry it seeks! Inside the taxi, Steve sees The Mechano-Assassin crouched outside of the barbershop, as he demands that the cabbie stop, and after changing to Cap, and about to fling his shield, he is too late, for The Mechano-Assassin has completed its objective...

THTANG! Cap's shield misses, while The Mechano-Assassin whirls and sees him approach, then fires the rifle, as he narrowly dodges the blast! The Living Legend of World War II vows that he will pay for his actions, no matter how strong his weapon -- he'll pay!! After a noiseless impact with his shield, Cap is stunned, while The Mechano-Assassin pauses briefly, having not been programmed to slay Cap, and now enters what remains of the barbershop, to inspect its kill!

The next moment finds The Mechano-Assassin surprised by Captain America, who has grabbed hold of his rifle, then uses a judo throw to hurl him aside, illustrating that strength alone will not keep Cap from stopping him! Even as he leaps, Captain America knows that his opponent has recovered too quickly and that he can't afford to take the offensive again! Even as he rains punch after punch, The Sentinel of Liberty can only wonder what his opponent is made of -- and moreso -- who made him?!? The next instant, Cap's eyes are blinded by a beam from The Mechano-Assassin's faceplate!

THOK! Cap dodges The M.M's punch, but barely raises his shield in time to ward of the next punch! A karate chop to his knee sends The Mechano-Assassin backwards, as a fierce slap sends him reeling...

WHUP! Cap is kneed, then slapped, and ZOK! sent backwards by his inhuman opponent! The Mechano-Assassin pauses, and Cap sees him approaching slowly, but these few fateful seconds were just what he needed! Cap clenches his right fist...

Then sends his opponent flying to the other side of the room, even as a familiar voice from behind congratulates him on his pugilistic prowess! Nick Fury tells him to watch, and both men see The Mechano-Assassin begin to disintegrate into his elemental form, having been programmed to self-destruct in the event of failure! When Nick mentions that A.I.M. is behind it, Cap can barely conceal his surprise at learning that the girl was to convince them that her betrayal was true, and with Life Model Decoys set up by SHIELD to fool them, but things went out of hand when Cap arrived to "avenge" him! Cap asks Nick where the girl fits in, and he tells him that she has probably been discovered by now, knowing that her life is in danger due to his actions. Nick is aware that Cap wasn't aware what was going down, then tells him that someone must invade A.I.M. and single-handedly save the girl, then wonders where SHIELD can find a volunteer, as Cap slowly begins to smile a grim smile!

A quintessential cover by Jack Kirby, which tells the reader all they need to know about the story inside, as well as making the frantic ones reach quickly in order to turn the pages.

In this period of time, Steve Rogers has a wardrobe which seems to be influenced by Frank Sinatra, complete with hat and brown suit. Upon seeing him, Goliath, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Jan are pleased that he's back, while new member Hercules is in a foul mood among mortals.

The Mechano-Assassin is one spry automaton, and no doubt the young readers who glommed at the art, wished that they had some rollickin toys to play with in the form of action figures of The Marvel Super-Heroes.

Reading this adventure, the art of Jack Kirby appears to be about capturing the moment before and after the action has taken place, the attempt and consequences skillfully captured by his pencils.

This is the infamous story where at the bottom of page 9, Cap utters, "Only one of us is gonna walk out of here under his own steam --, only to have page 10 finish it with -- and it won't be me!"

In these Tales of Suspense, Nick Fury seemed more subdued than in the pages of Strange Tales,where he would go up against the likes of A.I.M., Hydra, Mentallo and The Fixer, The Demon Druid, and Baron Strucker.

In the letterspage, Tony Isabella from Cleveland, Ohio writes that Cap is best in 30 page stories but this issue's classic can easily go forty. Both parts, so far, have been excellent both in story and art. The Red Skull, like Dr. Doom and Hydra, is one of those villains that can't be overused. He is the greatest!

Well, it's been 34 years since that missive, and I wonder how Mr. Isabella feels about those cogent comments now?

I mean, it's been 11 issues of that Fantastic Four miniseries, and so far, Dr. Doom has been throwing sand into the faces of the cosmic beings in order to gain their trinkets, and lord it over, while Reed and The F.F. were wondering who was behind the thefts at The Baxter Building? Sheesh! Stan and Jack would have done it in three... four, tops!

Have villains been overused? My mind immediately leaps towards The Joker, whose Last Laugh has the super-villains in hysterics over in the DC side of the racks.

When does a writer, editor, or company say, "Enough is enough!" Is it up to the reader, the retailer, or distribution when it comes to things like this?

This review and Mails of Suspense is dedicated to Tony "The Tiger" Isabella

Steve Chung
"Before My Review... Nick Fury Died!"