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The Purple Death (February 5, 1944)
Republic Pictures/Timely Comics
Jack Kirby & Joe Simon (or: See IMBD Credits)
Golden Age Origin
District Attorney Grant Gardner and Police Commissioner Dryden were asked by Mayor Randolph to investigate a suspicious suicides among scientists and businessmen, all found holding a small scarab. The Mayor however wished Captain America was there to help them as he has in the past. Captain America was really Grant Gardner.
They discover that all of the suicide victims were members of a Mayan expedition. Professor Lyman was one of the last survivors and turned to his friend and fellow survivor Dr. Maldor for help. However, Maldor as the Scarab was behind the "suicides" which he planned to get revenge for his lack of recognition in organizing the expedition. He killed them using "Purple Death", a hypnotic chemical. Maldor decided to force Lyman to give him the location of plans for a "Dynamic Vibrator" - a device intended for mining operations but one that can be amplified into a devastating weapon.
Captain America stopped Scarab's minions from stealing the plans for the Dynamic Vibrator. So, Scarab tried to get a working device with several failed attempts, but Captain America continued to stop him at every turn.
Film Serial Appearances
- The Purple Death (25min 40s)
- Mechanical Executioner (15min 38s)
- The Scarlet Shroud (15min 33s)
- Preview of Murder (15min 33s)
- Blade of Wrath (15min 33s)
- Vault of Vengeance (15min 33s)
- Wholesale Destruction (15min 34s)
- Cremation in the Clouds (15min 33s)
- Triple Tragedy (15min 33s)
- The Avenging Corpse (15min 33s)
- The Dead Man Returns (15min 33s)
- Horror on the Highway (15min 34s)
- Skyscraper Plunge (15min 33s)
- The Scarab Strikes (15min 32s)
- The Toll of Doom (15min 33s)
- Only the film serial character Grant Gardner is in the public domain. All other versions of Captain America are copyright and trademarked to Marvel Comics.
- Notable differences between the serial and the comic are:
- His secret identity is District Attorney Grant Gardner rather than U.S. Army Private Steve Rogers.
- The "Super-Soldier Serum" origin is not used.
- His famous shield does not appear, replaced by a standard gun.
- Despite the fact that this serial was made in 1944, and Captain America regularly fought Nazis in the comics, the Nazis are not part of the story in any way.
- His sidekick, Bucky, does not appear.
- In Captain America V1 issue 219 (March 1978), it is revealed that a Captain America serial also exists within the Marvel Continuity. In this version, Captain America himself plays the role (in secret), taking the place of the stunt man who was shot during production due to the prop master being the Nazi spy Lyle Decker. Like the real-life serial, Cap's shield is replaced with a standard gun, his identity is changed, and his sidekick Bucky is absent.