Archive for November, 2011

Captain America Comics #5 (part 1)

November 30, 2011

Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
July 1941
A-story: ***
B-story: *****
A circus is a venerable setting in comics; this issue has the standard Cap accessories, being a front for Nazis assassins. But the B-story is a ’40s Cap classic! The Japanese Navy fits a dinosaur head onto a U-boat and… attacks Pearl Harbor! Plus a splash shows a cutaway plan of the massive sub.
[C/D-stories: Captain America]
[last issue: Captain America Comics #4]
[next issue: Captain America Comics #6]

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Captain America Comics #4 (part 2)

November 29, 2011

Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
June 1941
C-story: ***
D-story: ***
With the lithe athleticism of their forms & hurtling pace of their tales, Simon & Kirby’s work would stand out in any era. Even ho-hum adventures like this pair—one involves a gang of counterfitters, the other a mad scientist & his monster—have a flair that lifts them above most Golden Age comics.
[A/B-stories: Captain America]
[last issue: Captain America Comics #3]
[next issue: Captain America Comics #5]

Captain America Comics #4 (part 1)

November 28, 2011

Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
June 1941
A-story: ***
B-story: **
The 14-page length gives each plot room to ramble, for better & worse. The A-story slips away from a socially dubious premise (the city’s ragged homeless are a Nazi front) to wreck a U-boat. All in a night’s work, but exhaustion leads to Bucky’s dream of Cap & Agent Betty Ross v. Ivan the Terrible.
[C/D-stories: Captain America]
[last issue: Captain America Comics #3]
[next issue: Captain America Comics #5]

Captain America Comics #3 (part 2)

November 27, 2011

Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
May 1941
B-story: ***
C-story: **
A Hollywood bigwig, who echoes the mag’s interventionist stance, gets killed for producing an anti-Nazi flick. So Rogers gets himself cast as a knight on a costume drama’s location shoot. The backup, pressed for space, has Bucky expose a crook (also fascist) who flits in a colorful butterfly outfit.
[A-story: Captain America]
[last issue: Captain America Comics #2]
[next issue: Captain America Comics #4]

Captain America Comics #3 (part 1)

November 26, 2011

Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
May 1941
A-story: *****
You can almost hear the punches land in these super-adventures! The Red Skull returns from the dead—fortunate, as his great visual makes him Cap’s worthiest enemy. Skull pilots a subway-like driller thru Ebbett’s Field, kills a couple hoods who pose as Cap for cash, & even aims to overthrow Hitler!
[B/C-stories: Captain America]
[last issue: Captain America Comics #2]
[next issue: Captain America Comics #4]

Captain America Comics #2 (part 2)

November 25, 2011

Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
April 1941
B-story: ****
C-story: ****
Jack & Joe encore the cover of #1 by sending Cap & Bucky across the pond to rescue a lend-lease booster. Hitler & Goering are nincompoops but their threat is clear, esp in a panel depicting Paris under the Nazis. The C-tale offers gothic thrills in a wax-masked killer, plus a regiment of super-tanks!
[A-story: Captain America]
[last issue: Captain America Comics #1]
[next issue: Captain America Comics #3]

Captain America Comics #2 (part 1)

November 24, 2011

Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
April 1941
A-story: ****
The casual racism of WW2 blemishes an otherwise astonishing adventure. Cap’s female FBI agent helps him hunt down a Nazi with control over nine-foot ghouls imported from Tibet. Their gaunt, hairless, bullet-proof hides make the skin creep; so, in a different way, do their Asian eyes & yellow skins.
[B/C-stories: Captain America]
[last issue: Captain America Comics #1]
[next issue: Captain America Comics #3]

Captain America Comics #1 (part 2)

November 23, 2011

Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
March 1941
C-story: ****
D-story: ***
Layouts send the eye pinging around the page while subjects pop out of their panels. Captain America, AKA Steve Rogers, defends the home front from a creepy collection of fifth columnists—incl. a Poe-inspired Red Skull. Cap’s backed by kid-sidekick Bucky; their chummy camaraderie is a highlight.
[A/B-stories: Captain America]
[next issue: Captain America Comics #2]

Captain America Comics #1 (part 1)

November 22, 2011

Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
March 1941
A-story: *****
B-story: ***
The eyecatching cover perfectly conveys the comic’s kinetic style: a dynamo in red, white, & blue socks der Fuhrer in the jaw as bullets ricochet off his shield. The A-story is Cap’s origin: a bubbling syringe transforms a scrawny GI into a burly soldier! B-story = a Nazi homunculus in vaudeville.
[C/D-stories: Captain America]
[next issue: Captain America Comics #2]

Journey into Mystery Annual #1: Thor

November 21, 2011

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
October 1965
A-story: ****
When Thor stumbles into Olympus, he starts a brawl w/ his counterpart, Hercules, Son of Zeus! Their fight’s pretext is contrived yet classic: who will yield to whom on a bridge? Low on plot & character, just a bout of heavyweight wrestling that ends in a draw—this is Jack’s show, Stan’s superfluous.
[continued in Journey into Mystery #121]

Journey into Mystery #120: Thor

November 20, 2011

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
September 1965
A-story: *****
B-story: ****
Lee’s editorial brilliance has sent Thor on one long, six-month adventure. #120 shifts the pace, seeding future plots while allowing the god to decompress on Asgard—& to find life has continued without him on Earth. The backup, on the other hand, just treads water (Thor’s space-boat launches).
[continued in Journey into Mystery Annual #1]
[last issue: Journey into Mystery #119]
[next issue: Journey into Mystery #121]

Journey into Mystery #119: Thor

November 19, 2011

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
August 1965
A-story: *****
B-story: *****
Stan rips off Shakespeare! An obese braggart is among the colorful volunteers for Thor’s quest to prevent Ragnarok. That’s the backup; the lead sees Thor struggle to beat the Destroyer, an ancient artifact forged by Odin to fight unstoppable foes. Tho’ Thor wins, his hammer is broken in battle!
[last issue: Journey into Mystery #118]
[next issue: Journey into Mystery #120]

Journey into Mystery #118: Thor

November 18, 2011

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
July 1965
A-story: *****
B-story: *****
Kirby invents a worthy foe for his divine hero: a giant, mystical suit of weaponized armor! Loki regrets siccing it on Thor & so, ironically, must save him by warning Odin. But the immortal father sleeps his annual rejuvenative sleep! Helluva cliffhanger. The backup involves an enchanted gauntlet.
[last issue: Journey into Mystery #117]
[last issue: Journey into Mystery #119]

Journey into Mystery #117: Thor

November 17, 2011

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
June 1965
A-story: *****
B-story: *****
Loki’s stashed his magic stones in Vietnam, hoping to entangle his step-bro in the war. The controversial locale allows the creators to spin a strong bit of anti-Red propaganda: a moving tale of fratricide. The B-story kicks off a multi-issue arc, as Loki & Thor team up to repair the Odinsword!
[last issue: Journey into Mystery #116]
[next issue: Journey into Mystery #118]

Journey into Mystery #116: Thor

November 16, 2011

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
May 1965
A-story: ****
B-story: *****
JiM‘s fantasy backups are often stronger than the A-tale’s superheroics, so it’s no surprise Thor‘s getting more mythical. Here, Loki uses enchanted stones to win a footrace thru a hellish realm. Kirby also offers up a crazy, Incan-like headdress; Odin’s regal bathtub; & Balder in a suit’n’tie!
[last issue: Journey into Mystery #115]
[next issue: Journey into Mystery #117]

Journey into Mystery #115: Thor

November 15, 2011

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
April 1965
A-story: ****
B-story: ****
Loki’s hatred gives #115 its theme as well as its engine. In the backup, he betrays the gods by rescuing a hunted giant. In the A, he incites Thor into a furious attack to draw him into a Trial of the Gods next ish. But first Thor takes leave to transmute his human foe, a super-jailbird, into helium!
[last issue: Journey into Mystery #114]
[next issue: Journey into Mystery #116]

Journey into Mystery #114: Thor

November 14, 2011

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
March 1965
A-story: ****
B-story: ****
Kirby can’t quite top his medias res opener: Thor smashing a superspy’s racer! His & Lee’s new supervillain, a plug-ugly convict who steals powers & texture at a touch, elaborates on Thor’s gargoyle foe. Loki springs this twist then kidnaps Blake’s good nurse (again). Also: a myth echoes Riding Hood.
[previous issue: Journey into Mystery #113]
[next issue: Journey into Mystery #115]