Review: Captain America (1944) – Preview of Murder & Blade of Wrath


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Chapter 4 – Preview of Murder

At the end of the last chapter, Captain America was fighting a henchman inside a container while the firebolt was about to fry the pair of them. Could it be the end of Captain America? Don’t be ridiculous!

After Cap makes his timely escape, The Scarab doesn’t waste time crying over lost firebolts. He knows the heroes will be on to him if he uses it, so he writes it off. Unfortunately for him, there’s the little matter of the remote-controlled truck left outside the platinum refinery that the good guys may get their hands on. Still, no time for that, The Scarab also has to attend the reading of a scientist’s will, along with Professor Dodge. See how busy a super-villain’s life can be?

Typically, there’s nothing but bad news for The Scarab. Dodge gets the house and the Mayan jewels and The Scarab gets control of the museum, which he had already. While Dodge moves into the house, DA Grant Gardner (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone he’s Cap) figures he’ll hide in the remote-controlled truck and ambush The Scarab. Still, this villain’s a smart guy and alerts his TWO henchmen to the danger. They capture Gardner, and The Scarab figures he’ll put explosives on the truck and ram it into Dodge at the house. A Dodge Ram? It’s not a bad plan, actually.

Except Gardner escapes, with one henchman killing the other by accident for good measure. Gardner doesn’t get much chance to gloat though, because he has to stop the truck and has no time to waste! Well, except time to take his clothes off and change into his Captain America suit. It’s not all bad though, because now he gets to ride the motorbike we’ve been waiting to see! In Indiana Jones fashion he heads for higher ground above the fast-moving truck and leaps onto it! He makes his way to the front and takes the wheel, punching out the remote control (just like in Batman Returns, actually) but it may be too late.

As Cap furiously tries to stop the truck, it barrels into the house and explodes! Death, it seems, is certain…

Chapter 5 – Blade of Wrath

…Except it never is. Cap’s got more lives than a cat with a lucky rabbit’s foot.

Still, after all this excitement Professor Dodge figures he’ll get out of town for a while and go on a cruise to South America. That makes sense. He’ll also be wanting to take the Mayan jewels with him, which doesn’t. The Scarab hates to part with them, and so drops them off along with a henchman who kills Dodge and steals the jewels back. Wow, talk about possessive.

DA Gardner (Captain America minus the costume) gives chase, but it’s all a dead end in more ways than one. The fingerprints match the thief but he’s now been shot in the head; the person who killed the thief left no clues other than a garage receipt; the garage guy says he left the car for the thief at his old work, but the business where the thief worked say he hasn’t worked there in a while. Sigh. It’s one of those days for Gail Richards, who has to do all the leg-work.

She contacts Gardner, who doesn’t believe the thief’s old employer and comes up with a cunning way for her to essentially tap the business phone. This may violate constitutional rights, but it’s a good thing because one of The Scarab’s henchmen pops in and takes Gail prisoner. These two henchmen (Really?! There’s two of them?!) demand she reveal Cap’s secret identity, and when she refuses they put her head-first into the guillotine. The blade nearly slices her, but she still doesn’t give up the secret. Could she be any more awesome?

Cap races to her rescue (hang on… if the villains really wanted to know his identity, maybe they should realise he drives the same car as that District Attorney Grant Gardner?) and gets into a brawl with the villains. But as they fight, the blade rises higher and higher above Gail… and drops!



Two solid episodes, two amazing cliffhangers… what more could you ask for? The fight scenes still look good, the story is holding up and thankfully Cap isn’t swinging on a rope in either of these installments. It may be a little formulaic by now, but it’s something that works. No silly mentions of vibrators, no firebolts, not even Purple Death!

But what – you may ask – about the remote-controlled truck? Yes, I’ll concede it’s a little silly and as expected it broadcasts a picture of itself seen from another viewpoint. So, uh, where’s the camera then? Never mind that. What’s important is that the sequence really is like the truck-stealing scene in Raiders mixed in with Batman Returns when his Batmobile went screwy. Just a whole lot shorter.

It’s incredible how well these episodes have held up, and if anything this serial is becoming more fun to watch. It may not be the pinnacle of superhero excellence, but it’s a whole lot more fun and action-packed than Daredevil, X-Men 3, Wolverine and so on. They’re dated, but more than decent.

And Gail’s facing decapitation! What an ending! I just can’t wait to see what happens next…

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