The first appearance of Captain America’s most famous enemy.
COMIC BOOK REVIEW CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE RIDDLE OF THE RED SKULL. 1941 reproduced in 2011
Created by the legendary Joe Simon & Jack Kirby.
Given the Red Skull’s iconic association with Captain America, his debut story is surprisingly low key and actually somewhat finalized too – quite how the Skull could return is unclear. He is a fearful looking villain, a red grinning skull, in a swastika strewn German helmet. He is operating on American soil, attacking prominent generals and politicians. He makes them look into his hypnotic eyes and seems to frighten them to death with his fixed stare.
He quickly becomes a legendary bogeyman figure and the Captain is assigned to investigate his activity.
Despite warnings to stay out of this assignment, young Bucky Barnes dons his costume to do his own investigating and soon gets captured by The Red Skull, before Captain America saves him from death by hypno-stare too. The Captain and Red Skull tangle again when by chance, the Captain hears a gunshot fired by the wife of the latest murder victim of the Skull.
The Red Skull tries to inflict his death stare trick on Captain America but is foiled when Bucky intervenes. The heroes break the Skull’s facemask to reveal that he is just a man, and a trusted aircraft engineer at that. The hypno-death is actually administered by a needle filled with poison. The Skull has no supernatural powers at all. In his efforts to escape, his own needle in a tussle with Bucky accidentally stabs the villain. He dies. Bucky and The Captain seem to fallout over whether or not to claim the Skull killed himself rather than have to admit that Bucky played a part in his death.
That the Red Skull returned later is somewhat surprising. He is certainty an entertaining villain, but not one you could expect to come back. This is however a comic book fantasy arena and anything can happen.