The Ominous Octopus

Friday, November 23, 2012

Captain America And Sharon Carter

When Captain America was revived in the 1960's, they changed the name of the girlfriend character from "Betsy Ross" to "Sharon Carter".

Betsy Ross had been used in the original run of the comic and last appeared during the short-lived 1950's revival.

But both times, the girl character had been called "Agent Thirteen" before they said anything else.

In her first appearance, she looked like Dale Arden, and once Steve Rogers got the superman formula, he resembled Flash Gordon.
In the next story the girl is called Betty Ross. She appears to be about the same character, but has blonde hair.
 When the series was revived in the 1960's, TALES OF SUSPENSE #64 retold the same story with the same characters, only this time the blonde was called "Agent Thirteen". The story was still supposed to be set in World War II.
When the setting of the stories was changed to the present day, the girl was still called that.
This "Agent Thirteen" was named Sharon Carter, and later on they would say that the girl in their World War II story was her older sister Peggy. Which is complicated somewhat by the fact that in the actual wartime stories the girlfriend was called Betty Ross, and that it's also been said that it was still her in the 1960's World War II story.

Here, Agent Thirteen is also called "Irma", which could be a reference to "My Friend Irma"- Marvel had also published those comics.
Sharon Carter is featured on the cover along with Captain America's other allies.
Jack Kirby, one of the originators of Captain America who had drawn the stories in TALES OF SUSPENSE, continued to draw the early issues in this series. Steranko drew some issues, and then other artists. I didn't read a lot of the comics from this period. The first ones we had were the stories with the "Grey Gargoyle".

Sharon Carter in peril.
I always liked this story, but then, when I got some of the other comics from this period, there were some I didn't like so much.
The new Captain America series introduced a new sidekick, "The Falcon". The Falcon was black, and the stories began to involve racism. Somthing that had been a part of the old comics, as Captain America had fought the nazis, a racist movement.
CAPTAIN AMERICA #156 had a strange story where there was supposed to be another Captain America, a bigoted bad guy who fought with the "real" Captain America,
 and Sharon Carter, who was with the "real" one
along with Captain America's new sidekick the Falcon they helped fight Captain America and Bucky, the sidekick they had in the old comics..
Great emphasis is put on Captain America and Bucky getting beat up in this story.
I don't know if any of the actual villians in this period in Captain America comics were ever battered with such loving detail. It actually comes across as kind of funny, sort of like Popeye.
Actually the whole thing was like a story told by a crazy man. Captain America fighting Captain America makes even less sense when you consider that in the old comics Captain America was supposed to be the same guy all along and continued to associate with some of the same people up until the 1960's revival, at which point they simply disregarded whatever they wanted to do without.
Finally, it got to where it wasn't enough to just have Captain America and Bucky being bad guys, Sharon Carter had to be an enemy, too.
Sharon Carter somehow ends up on the same side as Captain America ( the bad guy ) and runs around shooting people and stuff like that
until all the bad guys just suddenly burn up
Including Sharon Carter, although this isn't made clear at the time.
As if Bucky hadn't been beat up enough already the last time, Captain America finally kills him.
But we're supposed to know this is OK because they're using Captain America as the bad guy again, and we are not to confuse him with Captain America being the good guy.
When about the same story was done over again in WHAT IF? #44, they no longer have the girl switch sides. Instead, they just have her being one of the bad guys.
And they're using the name "Golden Girl" again, whereas they ordinarily claimed that was a separate character from "Sharon Carter", Betty Ross. Bucky of course is one of the bad guys, as is Hawkeye ( one of the Avengers ).
Spiderman, Nick Fury, and the Falcon are in the story on the side of Captain America ( the other one, that is )
Although it isn't really clear that's the Falcon, since he's called "Snap Wilson", which was using a nickname ( he was Sam Wilson in the first place and "Snap" was something they came up with later on when they changed his origin story ). By the way, this story also has it that Captain America is putting people into concentration camps, just like Hitler. This causes the minority groups to oppose him and side with Captain America, although you would think that even if there were two of them that angle might cause some problems. Something like telling people during World War II that Hitler is on your side and will help you fight against the Hitler that started the whole thing to begin with.

"Golden Girl" as she is called here, is depicted as being cowardly and runs away when the fighting starts.
Leaving it up to his sidekicks to deal with everyone else, Captain America informs Captain America that this is going to be a fight between Captain Americas.
You can count on Captain America to win, because he's the hero in this story. As well as the villian. But why are most of the sidekicks from past issues on the side of the one that's supposed to be the impostor? Incidentally, while Nick Fury got to be one of the good guys in this story, it seems that later on he got a chance to be one of the bad guys, too.
Hawkeye was also killed eventually in another story, although they might have brought him back again, as they eventually did with both Sharon Carter and Bucky. As well as Captain America himself, who likewise eventually turned out to not be dead after all. Not only that, but they seem to have done it with "both" Captain Americas. The "other" Bucky, too. But I stopped reading these comics years ago, so I don't know all the details.
 I got rid of WHAT IF #44 right after I read it, same as the issue of the AVENGERS where Ant-Man hit the Wasp. I did keep CAPTAIN AMERICA #156, where Captain America first beat up Captain America, just because it's old. CAPTAIN AMERICA #233 I passed up because I didn't like the idea of Sharon Carter being one of the bad guys.
When Captain America keeps fighting his former companions as well as himself, it makes it look like the people responsible for these comics hate their own characters. It could also be that they think that they're somehow getting back at Jack Kirby, the co-creator ( with Joe Simon ) of Captain America who had gone to work for rival DC comics when all this stuff started. The character of Sharon Carter's last major involvement in a Captain America story was in Kirby's last work on the title in 1977. Not much was done with the character between that time and when they killed her off.*
My brother Dale says that they used to draw Sharon Carter off of actress Stella Stevens,
who was also in the Jerry Lewis movie THE NUTTY PROFESSOR and then was drawn in Jerry Lewis comics, too.

 "Gail Richards" has been used by Marvel for Captain America's fiance during World War II. This name was used in the serial CAPTAIN AMERICA ( 1944 )

and had also been used for Joan Blondell's character in the movie TOPPER RETURNS ( 1941 ).
The Captain America serial changed many details. In spite of made during World War II,  in his secret identity  he is a District Attorney named Grant Gardner instead of being a soldier named Steve Rogers. He uses a gun instead of a shield and doesn't have a sidekick named Bucky. The changes to the character of Captain America have frequently been remarked upon, but nobody ever seems to mention that they changed the girlfriend character as well. Betty Ross in the comics was ordinarily a blonde and was a secret agent, while Gail Richards was a brunette and was the D.A's secretary. 
The character of Gail Richards was played by Lorna Gray.

Lorna Gray

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lorna Gray
BornVirginia Pound
(1917-07-26) July 26, 1917 (age 95)
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Other namesAdrian Booth, Adrian Brian
Years active1937–1951
Lorna Gray (born July 26, 1917) is an American film actress known for her comic roles and later as a villainess. She is best known for her roles in Columbia Pictures comedy shorts and Republic Pictures serials.


She was born Virginia Pound in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Before appearing in films, Gray sang with a group in Cleveland called Ben Yost's Varsity Coeds, who performed primarily in movie theaters before the movie began. Although she had a film test at Universal Studios and a brief contract with Paramount Pictures, she made her first big film for Columbia Pictures.

Curly Howard shaves a wealthy socialite (Ann Doran) in Three Sappy People. Gray (center) looks on.
As a Columbia contract player she appeared in the studio's shorts and serials, including Flying G-Men (starring Robert Paige), Pest from the West (starring Buster Keaton), and You Nazty Spy! (starring The Three Stooges). When her Columbia contract lapsed, she found work at Monogram Pictures, where she worked with action star Frankie Darro.
Gray also starred opposite John Wayne in Red River Range and appeared in the title role in O, My Darling Clementine.
In her Paramount films, such as Hold 'Em Navy, she was credited as Virginia Pound, but she was given the name Lorna Gray by Columbia and she used it from 1938 until 1945, when she left Columbia and moved to Republic Pictures. She appeared as Lorna Gray in Republic's Federal Operator 99, but subsequently adopted the name Adrian Booth, which she has used ever since.[1]
She married actor David Brian and retired from motion pictures. As Adrian Booth, she was awarded the Golden Boot Award in 1998 and has been attending film festivals into her nineties.[1] She appeared as a guest at the annual Three Stooges convention held in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, on April 30, 2011.

Selected filmography


 External links

Lorna Gray as Gail Richards.
CAPTAIN AMERICA #219 had a story where the heroine of the serial is called "Adrian" because Lorna Gray was also known as Adrian Booth. However, this character was blonde like Sharon Carter instead of being a brunette like Adrian Booth.
There has also been a "Gail Runciter" in comics with Captain America.
This is about the same character as Sharon Carter under a different name, although it's the same first name as the serial character had. Since they brought Sharon Carter back, it's almost the same thing as having two of them. I just hope they don't decide that the Sharon Carter from the earlier comics is an impostor.
* When I checked, I could only find two brief appearances of Sharon Carter shortly after Kirby was taken off the title ( CA # 217 and #218 ), which was to follow up on what Kirby had done. The character doesn't seem to have appeared again until they started the story where they killed the character off.
Agent Thirteen Inroduction In TOS #64 - Animated Version
CAPTAIN AMERICA  serial trailer

Kirby Museum: Kirby Kinetics:
Lorna Gray - The Files Of Jerry Blake:
Gail Richards:
 Gail Runciter:
Sharon Carter "Killed" - Supermegamonkey:
Sharon Carter And Stella Stevens At Dale's Blog:
Stella Stevens:
Special thanks to my brother Dale for identifying the art as having been drawn off of Stella Stevens and making the collage comparing her with the comics character. 

No comments:

Post a Comment