This is it, the conclusion to Captain America, the most expensive serial of all time and the first appearance of a Marvel Comics superhero on screen. This may seem to go by more quickly than previous entries simply because some of these climactic chapters feel a little plot-light. But first, a recap:
Captain America and Gail had gone to a gravel pit to find evidence on the Scarab, where they encountered Matson and another thug. After a fierce battle, Captain America throws Matson off a high platform, then shoots the other guy. Gail escapes before the thug can fall onto the dynamite plunger and blow up the office.
The radio announces that Matson isn’t actually dead, just gravely injured. However, he dies before Gardner can question him about the Scarab, saving the evil Doctor Maldor the trouble of killing him. Instead, Maldor has his men steal Matson’s body on its way to the morgue so the captive Dr. Lyman can bring him back to life with his machine. Dr. Lyman needs 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to bring a man to life, but Maldor has him covered with a special room-sized generator that throws off lots of sparks.
Unfortunately for Maldor, one of the morgue drivers wrote the license plate number of his killers in the dirt before he died. The number leads Gardner to Electronic Researchers Ltd, which is where Maldor has Lyman trying to bring Matson back to life. Captain America bursts in and gets into a fierce battle with a couple of lab techs while Matson revives.
Maldor sends Matson out a window and orders Lyman to bring the machine. But when Maldor is distracted by Captain America trying to enter the room, Lyman throws the machine at him. Maldor shoots Lyman and kills him instantly, which is impressive, since Maldor isn’t much of an aimer.
By this time, the lab techs have revived enough to get back into the fight. One of them ends up in the generator room, struggling with Captain America, while his buddy decides to hell with it and throws the switch to turn on the generator. There are lots of sparks and a scream.
Which brings us to Chapter 12, “Horror on the Highway.” Captain America leaps out of the generator room at the last minute, so only the tech is fried.
So someone other than Matson killed his buddy. Plus, this guy didn’t do it accidentally, which is better than Matson ever did. So Lyman is dead and his machine is destroyed, but Matson is back to kill more of the Scarab’s men in bungled attempts on Captain America’s life. Yay.
Meanwhile, Gardner actually has the second lab tech held prisoner, and he just happens to be the same thug that Gail gave the death stare during Lyman’s kidnapping. But Gardner can’t make a murder rap stick unless he can find a witness who doesn’t work for him. So he calls Doctor Maldor to see if he can also identify the thug.
Maldor sends instructions to the thug via his lawyer, and then goes down and fingers him for the kidnapping. Faced with murder charges, the thug confesses that he works for the Scarab, who is… Professor Lyman himself. He says Lyman had secret notes proving everything hidden in his home. Gardner suspects a lie, but takes the guy there, right into a trap set by Matson. Matson shoots the thug, Gardner shoots Matson’s partner, and then they both shoot at each other until they’re out of ammo.
There’s a long fistfight, and Matson escapes, jumping into a car with Maldor. This is followed by a long car chase (told you these were light on plot), which ends when Matson shoots out Gardner’s tire and his car goes over a cliff, falling into Chapter 13, “Skyscraper Plunge.”
Gardner jumps out of the car just before it crashes, and Maldor and Matson get away. Gardner has no more clues to follow up, but luckily he gets an emergency call from railroad tycoon Hillman, another backer of that damned Mayan expedition. Look familiar?
Six years later, John Hamilton would become famous in another comic book adaptation as Perry White on the Adventures of Superman TV series, starring George Reeves and Noel Neill.
Hillman has accidentally broken a priceless clay tablet from the Mayan expedition and discovered inside a copper plate, etched with half a map to the Lost City of Emeralds or something. Seriously, serial? Two chapters from the end, and you start a new plotline? Hillman asks Gardner for protection, and also warns that Doctor Maldor may be in danger, because his museum has a clay tablet that was a counterpart to the one Hillman broke.
Gardner warns Maldor of the possible threat from the Scarab, which leads Maldor to break his tablet, and sure enough…
Maldor takes the plate to Gardner and also plants a wire recorder, so he can learn where Gardner has hidden Hillman. That night, a thug breaks into Gardner’s office and listens to the device. After phoning Maldor with the hotel room number, the thug is caught by Gardner and shot.
Gardner races to the hotel room, where he runs across Matson kidnapping Hillman and his plate. Gardner switches to Captain America and gets into a huge fight, where the undead Matson not only manages to not kill his buddy, but throws Captain America out a window.
We’re almost finished. In Chapter 14, “The Scarab Strikes,” Captain America falls onto a pile of laundry bags in a truck parked just outside. By the time he gets back up to the room, Matson is gone with Hillman.
Gardner’s only clue is the wire recorder the thug in his office threw out the window. He has the lab check it over for clues. Meanwhile, Maldor decides to torture Hillman to get him to decipher the copper tablets. He has his men string Hillman’s hands up to the chandelier, while he grabs a whip and starts taking off his clothes. Second to last chapter, and the serial has just wandered into very different territory.
Or not. Maldor only takes off his coat before using the whip. Hey, wait a second, what happened to that hypno-drug he used on Gail way back in Chapter 1 to get information from her?
Meanwhile, the lab pulls a fingerprint off one of the wires that leads to Ed Graham, a low-life crook/radio repairman, and look who it is! Kenne “Horsecock” Duncan.
Notice the sign behind him? It’s a sign pitching Maytag appliances, which specifies “washers” and “ironers.” What’s the difference between an ironer and an iron? Check out this picture. That’s right, we’re educational here.
What Graham doesn’t know is that Gardner had his phone tapped, so he now knows where Hillman is being held. Captain America races there to fight the thugs after Maldor has left. Maldor gets an emergency radio call from his assistant, and realizes that Hillman can identify him as the Scarab. So he detours to the airport. As Captain America is engaged in another long fistfight with Maldor’s thugs, Maldor flies overhead and bombs the building to kingdom come.
And so we finally come to the final chapter: Chapter 15, “The Toll of Doom.” Captain America beats up the last thug and gets Hillman out of the farmhouse before it blows up. Maldor figures out that Gardner is Captain America and decides to use Gail Richards against him.
Meanwhile, Gardner has contacted a famous brain surgeon to operate on Hillman, who has suffered a skull fracture and may die before he can wake up and identify the Scarab. Gail is sent to the hospital to check on Hillman, but is intercepted by Matson, who takes her to the museum. And in this final chapter, as in the first, Maldor reveals to Gail that he is the Scarab. Only this time he doesn’t have hypno-drugs to make her forget, so things look grim for Gail.
Maldor threatens to use a special jungle truth serum on Gail that will drive her hopelessly insane, so she willingly confesses that she doesn’t know where Hillman is, but knows how to find him. Gardner has summoned a brain surgeon to operate on Hillman; when he arrives, he’ll be taken to Hillman’s location. When Maldor asks the name of the surgeon, Gail tells him it’s Dr. Rodlam Baracs.
Maldor sends one of his men to the D.A.’s office early, posing as Dr. Baracs and claiming he took an earlier flight. Realizing Baracs is a phony, Gardner sends Dr. Baracs off to the wrong hospital, but not until after letting him make a call to tip off Matson to the location. Gardner then traces the call to Matson.
Their final fistfight is mercifully brief, after which Gardner explains to Matson that Gail not only tipped him off with the phony doctor’s name, but also gave him the identity of the Scarab, since “Rodlam Baracs” is “Scarab Maldor” backwards.
Maldor gets a call that his men have been led into a trap at the hospital and decides to kill Gail by mummifying her in a special gas chamber. Captain America arrives, shoots Gruber the assistant and engages Maldor in an epic fistfight in Maldor’s office. And for an old guy with a monocle, Maldor can scrap.
Though he does make this little doggy-squeak-toy noise after one particularly hard punch. Meanwhile, before he dies, Gruber manages to turn on the mummy gas, so Gail doesn’t have long to live. But eventually Captain America defeats Maldor and saves Gail.
Much later, in Gardner’s office, he’s meeting with Gail, the Commissioner and the Mayor. Maldor’s execution is scheduled for midnight. As they’re congratulating each other, a clock outside begins to toll, so they go to the window for one final surprise reveal.
Holy crap, they’ve been in London the entire time! Dude, he’s actually Captain Britain!
Be here next week when we break the rules for Captain America’s next live-action appearance!