Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Classics - Captain America #100

   As Marvel hit its stride in 1967, a change in the company's distribution method allowed for a sudden expansion of the line, and they managed it by the simple method of taking all their "split" titles - Tales of Suspense, Tales to Astonish and Strange Tales - and giving both stars of each comic his own title!

   Half of those titles started with new numbering (a new #1), and the other half continued the original numbering of their "parent" title. (I have no idea why this is so.)

   As a result, Iron Man started out with a first issue, while Captain America continued the numbering of Tales of Suspense starting with #100.

   You get the sense that the expansion happened suddenly, as - instead of launching with a fresh new storyline - this story continues an ongoing adventure that teamed up Cap and the Black Panther.

   Of course, creative powerhouses Stan Lee and Jack Kirby didn't miss a beat. They tossed in a three-page recap of Cap's origin at the top of the issue and launched right into the battle with an army under the command of Cap's enemy, Baron Zemo (who was responsible for Bucky's death during World War II).

   Add in a beautiful Secret Agent and tons of action, and you have an issue that's a heck of a lot of fun from beginning to end.

   And in yet another example of Marvel's ability to thread its continuity together, the story serves as a launching point to send the Panther over into the Avengers title, as Cap's introduction paves the way for T'challa to join the team a couple of months later.

   The only thing about the issue that doesn't work for me are Syd Shores' inks, which somewhat overpower Kirby's pencils (not an easy thing to manage). I was (and am) a much bigger fan of Joe Sinnott's work on Kirby - I believe that's who inked the cover.

   The new, feature-length Cap title would go through some changes in the months ahead, as Kirby eventually gave way to Jim Steranko's short but iconic run, followed by a short run by the great John Romita - and then a long run by the legendary Gene Colan.

   Of course, as one of the few heroes to survive from the Golden Age into the present, Cap deserved the very best!

Grade: A-



No comments: