#4: Captain America: Holocaust for Hire by Joseph Silva.
Released April 1, 1979
The book is 191 pages long, although the story begins at page 9.
Joseph Silva is a pseudonym for Ron Goulart. From Wikipedia: “Ron Goulart (born January 13, 1933) is an American popular culture historian and mystery, fantasy and science fiction author. … (of) … many novelizations and other routine work under various pseudonyms: Kenneth Robeson (pen name), Con Steffanson (pen name), Chad Calhoun, R.T. Edwards, Ian R. Jamieson, Josephine Kains, Jillian Kearny, Howard Lee, Zeke Masters, Frank S. Shawn, and … Joseph Silva.” He also wrote (as Silva) #2 Stalker from the Stars.
The cover artist is Dave Cockrum, a comic book artist known for his legendary stints on Legion of Super-heroes and X-Men.
The book is “packaged and edited by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman.” Len Wein is the co-creator of DC’s Swamp Thing and Marvel’s Wolverine as well as joining him with Nightcrawler, Storm and Colossus as the All-New X-Men. Marv Wolfman is known for his excellent run on Tomb of Dracula. Within a few years of this novel he would write for one of the best comics ever created – Night Force – and co-create the New Teen Titans
Gratmens: character Jake Sheridan mentions “great teams” and includes Rodgers & Hart, Laurel & Hardy and Simon & Kirby. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created Captain America.
An African city is destroyed by an earthquake. We learn that it MAY have been a sonic device created by Dr. Gregory Crandall, a sonic scientist who has disappeared. We meet Dr. Crandall and his daughter being held hostage in a wintry villa.
Captain America, meanwhile, batters his way through New York’s underworld to find the doctor.
Also meanwhile, a Nazi (no spoilers, it is obvious with his mentions of a Fourth Reich and a Master Race), who we met in Chapter 1, was responsible for the African earthquake, as well as others throughout the world; makes a deal with a Texas millionaire.
Captain America reports to Nick Fury and Shield before heading to the chalet in which Dr. Crandall may be kept. They suspect the involvement of Cap’s old enemy – the Red Skull
Cap, Fury and Shield fight off the Skull’s forces in the chalet before the villain can escape with Dr. Crandall in tow. Some detective work leads our heroes on separate paths to Skull Island in the Pacific, but not before Nick Fury and the two reporters also investigating the story are kidnapped!
Can Captain America make it to Skull Island and rescue all the hostages before the Red Skull can use his sonic machine to destroy the world?
By page 45 we flash back to World War II and a ten-page origin story for Captain America. A little further along we learn the origin of the Red Skull. More pages are spent on the Skull’s story than Cap’s. Perhaps the average reader would not know about how the Red Skull became the Red Skull and survived after WWII. True, it showed the depth of evil within the Skull, but was not integral to the plot (compared to Doctor Doom’s thorough origin story in book #5 Fantastic Four Doomsday).
Nor is there much made of how Captain America still exists in the present day (he was frozen in ice near the end of WWII) and is only mentioned in a few lines. Perhaps the writer thought that was not as important or that most readers would KNOW that fact, but NOT know his origins.
Caroline’s escape from the chalet was VERY well-paced and exciting! Kudos to Silva!
Cap never takes off his mask – we never see anything about Steve Rogers and his private life. This echoes the comics at the time, too…
This book is the most pulpy of the Marvel Novel Series published to date. Perhaps it is the involvement of neo-Nazis wanting to conquer the world and our masked hero with no real civilian identity. Regardless, it was a fun read!
But something nagged me while reading the novel: a scientist was captured, our hero befriends the daughter of the scientist and, with the help of original characters and his frenemy from the comic book series (in this case, Nick Fury), confront and win over the mad dictator before he can use the scientist’s invention to rule (or if not rule, destroy) the world! Sound familiar? It was also the plot to Novel #3: The Incredible Hulk: Cry of the Beast!
Red Skull discussing New York City: “To crush them all beneath brick and stone and concrete, to send their steel and glass towers crashing down on them … “. Well, reading THAT was uncomfortable…
Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry
Characters mentioned are copyright their respective holders. Thanks to Marvel Comics and Pocket Books for the use of their images. Cover image was taken by the author.
I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated or credited.