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Essential Captain America

Essential Cap: Golden Age Villains

Travel back to World War II and discover some of Cap's original baddies!

With the release of "Thor" on May 6, 2011 and "Captain America: The First Avenger" on July 22, 2011, Marvel.com presents the Essentials, a series of articles showcasing each character's expansive history and mythology  in the Marvel comics.

From character retrospectives to a look at memorable storylines and interviews with key creators, the Essentials will act as the perfect guide for fans both old and new! Look for new Cap Essentials every Monday and Thor Essentials every Thursday as we head toward the release of each film!

Captain America Comics #1 cover

By Jim Beard

While Captain America fought for liberty and justice during the halcyon days of World War II, he attracted his share of adversaries and challengers. But for every master villain like the Red Skull there seemed to be a dozen or more minor baddies whose stories might not be as well-known.

We aim to change that. For your edification and--hopefully--comic book pleasure, we now present a smattering of carefully-selected goofballs from Cap’s original 1940s adventures. Warning: extreme weirdness ahead! We warned you!

The Murdering Butterfly strikes

The Murdering Butterfly

A perfidious professor named Dr. Vitroli decided it’d be a real hoot to dress up like a giant stinging butterfly and steal the treasures of King Tut. He and his hulking assistant Lenny managed to make short work of Bucky, but when it came to facing Cap himself, well, let’s just say that one well-placed shield-throw later the Butterfly transformed into a real worm. Served Doc Vitroli right: he should’ve known that butterflies don’t have stingers!

The Butterfly buzzed around in CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #3, but you can catch him in MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GOLDEN AGE CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 1.

The Camera Fiend

The Camera Fiend

What makes all these educators and professional types turn crook? Bucky’s teacher Lucius Hall put on a creepy face and strolled around shooting people with poisoned darts from a gimmicked camera. His purpose in this madness? To snatch the British Crown Jewels, which just happened to be touring the States. Cap and Bucky smashed the Fiend’s lenses and filed him away in their photo album for good.

CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #6 originally presented the Camera Fiend, but he’s also found reprinted in MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GOLDEN AGE CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 2.

The Black Talon

The Black Talon

Now, here’s a bad guy with a bit of style. Once a lowly painter, Pascal Horta suffered an injury which cost him a hand. Fortunately, a doctor provided him with a new one--but unfortunately it once belonged to a murderer. You can see where this went, can’t you? Yep, the Black Talon started painting masterpieces of death which, of course, captured the attention of art-lover Captain America. Later, the Talon returned to vex Bucky and the Young Allies but the kids just didn’t appreciate art and shut his gallery of ghoulishness down for good.

The Black Talon, one of the few Golden Age Cap villains to return a second time, first showed up in CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #9 and then in YOUNG ALLIES Vol. 1 #2. You can view his work in both MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GOLDEN AGE CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 3 and MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GOLDEN AGE YOUNG ALLIES VOL. 1.

The Martians

Gool & The Martians

The Martians invaded Earth back in 1942 and…oh, didn’t you know? Well, seems their leader, the 10-foot tall Gool, liked the area around Captain America’s Camp Lehigh, but sadly for him and his tribe Cap didn’t much care for them. Especially when the hero learned the Martians weren’t Martians at all, but Nazis. Yes, Nazis dressed up like men from Mars to “break American morale.” But the Sentinel of Liberty sent them packing back to Germany…not Mars.

The “invasion” occurred in CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #15, but you can find it collected in MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GOLDEN AGE CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 4.

The Horror of the Seas

The Hooded Horror

Being horrific wasn’t good enough in the 1940s, it seems--one must also be hooded! Cap got all mixed up in a terrifying tale of a cult devoted to the goddess Lai-Son who occupied the little town of Valley Port. See, those pesky Nazis made trouble again with one of their officers impersonating the King of these sea creatures who follow Lai-Son and, well, the monsters weren’t so bad after all. The Hooded Horror just needed to be taken down a peg by Cap so the real King could be freed and order restored. If sea creatures living in a little American town could be considered “order," that is…

Look to CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #16 for all the weird and devilish details of the Horror That Must Go Hooded, or just pick up a copy of MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GOLDEN AGE CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 4.

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