Archive for August, 2012

Captain America #247

August 31, 2012

Roger Stern & John Byrne
July 1980
****
Byrne, at his peak (see UXM), collabs w/ pal Stern on a classic aborted run. So much potential’s already evident in this tight first issue. The duo nix Gerber’s alt-origin for Cap as false memories for undercover work, then threaten an old Nazi w/ extradition to Israel before revealing it’s a robot!
[last issue: Captain America #246]
[next issue: Captain America #248]

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Captain America Annual #4

August 30, 2012

Jack Kirby
October 1977
***
The King’s swansong on Cap recalls his early X-work, as the hero competes w/ Magneto’s Brotherhood to recruit a mutant. Jack never got Magneto (presenting the villain as a ranting, 1D, would-be despot) but he shows how fertile the concept of mutants could be. Take the maguffin, a mite in a wristwatch who shares a mind w/ a behemoth! It’s as uncanny a mutant as any that Claremont would imagine.
[last issue: Captain America Annual #3]
[next issue: Captain America Annual #5]

Captain America & the Falcon #214

August 26, 2012

Jack Kirby
October 1977
****
Just when Jack has found his groove, he abandons the mag. Too bad—the mystery of the Night Flyer & his cybernetic equipment will remain! This super-assassin prefigures the uber-competent mercs of the ’90s, but his weirdo philosophy & his OCD set him apart as a late Kirby creation worth noting.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #213]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #215]

Captain America & the Falcon #213

August 25, 2012

Jack Kirby
September 1977
****
Once again, Kirby’s Cap run visits a hospital—it’s almost a theme! Steve, temporarily blinded & dreaming night terrors, rooms w/ a “defector” that a criminal conspiracy wants dead. Enter the Night Flyer, a psychotic assassin obsessed w/ perfection. So odd, he seems ‘ported in from The Fourth World!
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #212]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #214]

Captain America & the Falcon #212

August 25, 2012

Jack Kirby
August 1977
****
Cap, helped by his superspy sweetie & a Latina revolutionary, blows up his archenemy & a bioengineer in a living Nazi castle—but it costs him his eyesight! In any other hands, this long, 7-issue arc would simply be surreal fun, but Kirby’s dynamic artwork adds strum und drang to the hand-to-hand climax.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #211]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #213]

Captain America & the Falcon #211

August 24, 2012

Jack Kirby
July 1977
****
#211 has so much action, it can’t spare a panel for the Falcon. Arnim Zola hooks his robo-head to an ESP booster to manipulate the biomechanical walls of his castle! Funded by the Red Skull, the madman has saved Hitler’s brain for placement in Cap’s body—the ultimate Kirby horror in will negation!
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #210]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #212]

Captain America & the Falcon #210

August 23, 2012

Jack Kirby
June 1977
****
The Red Skull himself bankrolls Dr. Zola, that mad scientist w/ a face in his chest & camera for a kopf! But #210’s real juice is the doc’s bizarre monsters. Last ish introed a flying blob of dough, this has a surreal eye/ear guard, a roc, & a cyborg who argues that his sentience merits his liberty.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #209]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #211]

Captain America & the Falcon #209

August 22, 2012

Jack Kirby
May 1977
****
The King retains his crown w/ a fantastic new villain: Arnim Zola, a Moreau-like bioengineer w/ a Blemmyes body & psi-camera head! But Zola’s only the greatest creative burst of several in this ish, like his freakish protoplasmic blob. Meanwhile, SHIELD redrafts Agent 13 to assist on an X-File.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #208]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #210]

Captain America & the Falcon #208

August 21, 2012

Jack Kirby
April 1977
***
This jungle arc runs concurrent w/ Kirby’s offbeat run on Black Panther—prob’ly no coincidence, tho’ his Cap work feels less feverishly imaginative. In the rainforest of C. America, on the shores of the Rio de Muerto, Cap earns a female sidekick as he wrestles w/ one of Kirby’s rough-hided monsters.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #207]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #209]

Captain America & the Falcon #207

August 20, 2012

Jack Kirby
March 1977
***
Kirby re-examines his fave  theme of despotism & its annihilation of the spirit. Unlike the Madbomb Affair, this long arc in Central America doesn’t emulate an earlier classic; it’s a grindhouse flick w/ Monroe Doctrine undertones. Far from America protection, Cap serves justice to a Hispanic warden.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #206]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #208]

Captain America & the Falcon #206

August 19, 2012

Jack Kirby
February 1977
****
Kirby plots #206 well, mirroring a romantic dinner w/ a banquet of torture. The former, a rocky double-date w/ his partner, has Cap trying to repair his relaish w/ Sharon Carter. The latter occurs in Central America, where a banana dictator works men to death (shades, most currently, of Pinochet).
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #205]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #207]

Captain America & the Falcon #205

August 18, 2012

Jack Kirby
January 1977
**
One year into his Cap run, Kirby’s action sequences rattle the reader’s teeth as much as ever, but they lack the gonzo creativity that drives his best ’70s work. Here, CA & Falc brawl in the streets w/ an energy being from the far future. His eyes crackle w/ Kirby dots but he’s just a big bruiser.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #204]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #206]

Captain America & the Falcon #204

August 17, 2012

Jack Kirby
December 1976
****
More “Theater of the Weird”, as Kirby puts it. At SHIELD’s psych ward, brainwashed Falcon faces a walking cadaver motivated by a disembodied intelligence. But the real drama is elsewhere, as Sharon Carter insists Cap hang up his shield. Their scenes vividly depict a couple arguing past each other.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #203]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #205]

Captain America & the Falcon #203

August 16, 2012

Jack Kirby
November 1976
**
One of Kirby’s weirder tales, this arc explores an insane asylum adrift in a dimension akin to the Negative Zone. The inmates may be mad, even violent, but they’ve also established a colony, one of the King’s “outsider enclaves.” Still, it collapses when Cap must rescue all from a horde of monsters.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #202]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #204]

Captain America & the Falcon #202

August 15, 2012

Jack Kirby
October 1976
***
Jack saturates #202 w/ ideas, but they’re all vaguely familiar & a bit too loose-limbed. The strongest, most sinister one has Falc & his gal brainwashed via ECT! This element of techno-coersion reiterates Kirby’s interest in totalitarian indoctrination, tho’ his villains here are pathetic, not evil.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #201]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #203]

Captain America & the Falcon #201

August 14, 2012

Jack Kirby
September 1976
***
From a pocket dimension, a lunatic fraternity of criminal vagabonds strike—kidnapping the Falcon’s lady! Only Kirby could’ve dreamed up the Night People, a weird fusion of tropes from Dickens & Poe. It’s not formulaic but it’s not quite good either. Kirby may’ve lost his grasp on solo superheroics.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #200]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #202]

Captain America & the Falcon #200

August 13, 2012

Jack Kirby
August 1976
***
Cap stares down the royalist conspiracy’s leader; the Falcon destroys the WMD that would’ve driven America insane. And so the 8-issue Madbomb Affair ends, a formulaic superspy arc. Tho’ Kirby drops plot threads & skimps on character, his stylized art & superb pacing adds tension to the operation.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #199]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #201]

Captain America & the Falcon #199

August 12, 2012

Jack Kirby
July 1976
***
Great as Kirby is (you can feel the heat of the cover’s explosion), his bicentennial arc centering on a royalist conspiracy just isn’t catching fire. The best part’s the Madbomb, an ingenious piece of Kirbytech whose mechanical brain drives men to violent insanity & whose inventor defects to SHIELD.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #198]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #200]

Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles #1 of 1

August 11, 2012

Jack Kirby
June 1976
****
Kirby fetes his first & most popular hero as well as the US Bicentennial in a King-size special. The issue’s plot sends the Man Out of Time thru his country’s history, courtesy of a mystic yogi. Its best moments see Cap connecting w/ the downtrodden, like miners, Indians, & an escaped slave, or shaking his head at a lunar war & at patriotic pomp. Like a lot of Kirby’s work in the late 1970s, it’s uneven but sections inspire awe. Take the first dozen pages: Windsor-Smith’s inking adds dimensional contours to Kirby’s pencils. This Cap kinda resembles Jack’s WW2-era collab w/ Joe Simon!
[see also Captain America & the Falcon #198]

Captain America & the Falcon #198

August 10, 2012

Jack Kirby
June 1978
****
Kirby modulates his tone for this episode in the Madbomb Affair. Cap helps SHIELD capture the WMD’s inventor by romancing the man’s fatally ill daughter. Lovely scenes in moonlit room & on a secluded beach, plus some delicate emotions & sensitive expressions, imply Kirby’s past in romance comics.
[see also Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles #1 of 1]
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #197]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #199]

Captain America & the Falcon #197

August 9, 2012

Jack Kirby
May 1976
***
Artwise, Kirby’s return to Cap is cool. But storywise, he digs up the most preposterous tropes of the super-spy subgenre, incl. a secret HQ populated by thousands of conspirators. Cap doesn’t find the “madbomb” maguffin nor does he snare his shadowy foe, but he does help the US army seize the base.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #196]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #198]

Captain America & the Falcon #196

August 8, 2012

Jack Kirby
April 1976
***
Less of a storyteller than an idea man, Kirby delivers a high-concept setpiece. To win back his shield, Cap skateboards in a deathmatch derby run by a burly black gal named Tinker Belle! Kirby may be idiosyncratic but he’s an alternative to Marvel’s dull house style, plot-heavy & Romita-based.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #195]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #197]

Captain America & the Falcon #195

August 7, 2012

Jack Kirby
March 1976
***
Kirby’s first Cap arc is one of his standard 1970s anti-fascist “It Can Happen Here” plots. From a bunker out west, latter-day aristos plan to enslave the populace w/ thought slogans, demagoguery, & lobotomies! It may lack subtlety, its plotting may be formulaic, but wow what art!
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #194]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #196]

Captain America & the Falcon #194

August 6, 2012

Jack Kirby
February 1976
***
Cap stumbles onto a royalist conspiracy in modern America. It’s anti-aristo, a four-color parable for populism. But Kirby follows Englehart’s more relevant view of 1970s politics in Cap, so good it renders this take corny & broad. On the plus side, Sam Wilson gets snarky over the Am Rev & slavery.
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #193]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #195]

Captain America & the Falcon #193

August 5, 2012

Jack Kirby
January 1976
****
Kirby rings in the Bicentennial w/ a return to his first major creation. Cap stops a NYC riot caused by a Madbomb. This Kirbytech, w/ nicknames that echo the A-bomb, is the secret weapon in an anti-US conspiracy. The intel comes from H. Kissinger himself, a SHIELD liaison hiding in a deathtrap lair!
[last issue: Captain America & the Falcon #192]
[next issue: Captain America & the Falcon #194]

Captain America Annual #3

August 4, 2012

Jack Kirby
January 1976
****
Kirby returns to Marvel w/ a Cap Annual. It captures excellently his expressionistic, mature style: slick Kirbytech, crackling energy, hideous monsters, rugged bodies, a pace set by the rhythm of a 2×3 grid that explodes into awesome splashes! The plot, more old-fashioned, pays homage to 1950s B-movie sci-fi, as Cap & a farmer get caught btw a megalomaniac energy parasite & hunters on a UFO.
[continued from Captain America & the Falcon #192]
[continued in Captain America & the Falcon #194]
[last issue: Captain America Annual #2]

[next issue: Captain America Annual #4]