Tales of Suspense #79-81 (1966): 1st Cosmic Cube; 616 Red Skull

Captain America has no time for therapy.

He’s not losing his mind, but the Cosmic Cube is making him think he is.

This Captain America story really kicks ass because it brings Red Skull into the “current day” of the Marvel Universe, and debuts the “Cosmic Cube”–a mystical object that, ultimately, will become sentient. 

Through flashback, we learn that when Captain America blew up the bunker Skull was hiding in during WWII, Red Skull was exposed to an experimental gas that put him into suspended animation.

The parallels between this and how Captain America survived WWII are either brilliant connections between lifelong enemies or lazy writing. I choose to believe the former.

Now, Skull is the leader of A.I.M.

And AIM is building super-monsters.

The story shows Cap tracking Skull, and Skull supervising the creation of the Cube.

tales of suspense #80 1st cosmic cube

The last page of issue #80 says it all. Skull has completed his Cube and kills one of his own men, just to prove he can. Cap realizes his foe is now invincible.

And Cap’s psychological strength–which is where this story started–becomes his best asset.

Next issue is spent with Red Skull figuring out the extent of his power, throwing a bunch of things at Captain America until Cap finally gets close enough to knock the Cube out of Red Skull’s hand. The island they are on crumbles around them as Skull dives after his weapon.

The story ends with Red Skull seemingly dead, and the Cube buried.

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