Captain America

Started by Slash Man, Thu, 20 Jun 2024, 02:09

Previous topic - Next topic
I just wanted to make an all-encompassing Captain America thread, since it looks like there isn't a general one for his comics.

Fresh on my mind are the comics surrounding America's bicentennial; compiled in the Marvel Epic Collection Captain America: The Man Who Sold the United States. The real draw for me was actually the Nomad storyline, which I had built up in my head after hearing the period referenced that the four-issue arc was pretty underwhelming. Captain America abandoning his mantle for a new identity is groundbreaking on paper, but it wasn't very convincing in execution; they didn't commit to the bit. After all, it was only four issues.

I have to applaud Mark Gruenwald's later attempt at the same concept where Cap was forced to relinquish his title (rather than by his own accord). This arc lasted more than a year and really went out of its way to raise uncertainty as to whether the future status quo. This was in large part due to a focus on the replacement Captain America. Surprisingly, there is a replacement Captain America for the Nomad arc, but his tenure is very, very short-lived. It's actually a shocking bit of violence for the time, but I guess that's what Steve needed to get out of his funk.

I really wanted to like it, but the rest of Englehart's run is pretty unremarkable (his strengths are on full display on Batman, however). During the Red Skull encounter, a major retcon is introduced into Falcon's backstory. It's left up in the air whether it's true or not, but they ultimately commit to it. Which I can respect, as much as I don't like retcons in general (especially when you're retconning a Stan Lee story).

One standout issue is a one-off transitional story by Marv Wolfman. There's something about being a well done, back-to-basics Cap story that really made this a fun story.

Now, I was so consumed with reading this collection for the Nomad story that I neglected to even note that this period marked Jack Kirby's triumphant return to his co-creation. The art and action are immediately dialed up to 10; it's like Kirby never left. The stakes are appropriately high, and it's a perfect tie-in to America's real-life bicentennial.

Ironically, my standout story is from a story without much action to it. Cap is staking out an estate before S.H.I.E.L.D. can raid it, and encounters a terminally ill girl. I think the cover doesn't do it justice by proclaiming it as a tragic love story (it really isn't); the beauty comes from the interactions of two people missing a genuine human connection in their lives, and how they manage to help each other. For Captain America in general, it shows Steve's softer side for helping civilians in ways unrelated to his military training.

The Cap fans I know all say that the run of Cap comics are pretty unremarkable until Mark Waid came along in 1996 or so and gave the character a whole new lease on life.

After that, these fans say that Cap has had one of the most underrated runs in all of Marvel Comics.

Full disclosure: I have no horse in that race. As far as comics go, I always thought Cap worked best as a guest star. I got more out of some other character reacting to Cap than I did Cap himself. My view was always that he was only interesting in terms of how, say, Spider-Man, Jessica Jones, Daredevil or whoever views him.

Having said all that, I do enjoy Waid's Cap quite a lot.

I remember regularly getting Captain America comics in around issue #400 back in the day. Similar to "The Incredible Hulk" book at the same time, which was featuring the 'Professor Hulk', Cap comics were mostly one-and-dones for the most part.

If I am remembering correctly, I think the first continuing Cap story line I ever read, was when Cap had to face off against a brainwashed Jack Munroe aka Nomad. At the time, I was at least aware of the Munroe Nomad character, but that was about it. I do remember liking the "Fighting Chance" arc that was under Mark Gruenwald's long stint on the book, but it's been forever since I've read it.

Waid's run is good. I also remember liking Captain America Volume 3 for the most part. As that volume was being published around the post-9/11 era, and came across as being a Marvel version of a Vertigo book at times. Vol. 4 with Ed Brubaker on the Captain America book is exceptionally good.  I remember that was a book I really looked forward to each and every month.

"Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humour was provided to console him for what he is."

I went through the fighting chance arc recently as well; this was both due to it being the bookend to Mark Gruenwald's run (I'm committed to collecting and reading all those issues), and because I loved the Iron Man-designed Captain America exo-suit. Due to the cliffhanger that ended on, I think I'm going to have to get into the Mark Waid run.

I first got into the Captain America comics during the 'Heroes Return' storyline, starting with Mark Waid's Captain America Vol 3 #1 in 1998. I sent my mum to get the first issue for me while I was at school, and somehow she also managed to get the poster advertising Cap's re-launch that had been displayed in the comic book store window. I hung that poster on my bedroom wall for over a year.

One of my favourite Cap moments concerns a soldier named Stanley Klein, whom Steve encounters during the Battle of the Bulge. Cap saves Klein's life and briefly interacts with him during a wartime scene in Cap V3 #32.

For Klein, this was one of the greatest moments of his life and years later he recounts the tale to his grandchildren. In Cap V3 #25 Steve meets Klein again, this time in the present day, and to the old man's delight Cap actually remembers him.

I love the idea that a superhero like Steve would remember the name of an ordinary soldier he fought alongside half a century ago. In #35 Cap even rushes to be with Klein when he learns the old man's on his deathbed and comforts him during his final moments. It's little moments like this that define Captain America for me.

A one-shot Cap book I would highly recommend, was the Captain America "Mythos" book that was apart of the Marvel "Mythos" line back around 2008. With each book giving a highlighted history of the Marvel characters up to that point.

I kinda liked every "Mythos" book, TBH, but the Captain America one really stood out to me for some reason. It does go over his Golden Age battles alongside his sidekick, Bucky, and the Avengers finding his body frozen, just as it was depicted in the Lee/Kirby Avengers #4, but from what I remember, the story more-or-less focuses upon Cap's camaraderie with the troops he served with back in WW2. With a very melancholy ending representing Cap having attended several Veterans Reunion events where once it was plentiful and festive, has over the passage of time, dwindled down to fewer and fewer. Leaving Cap, I wouldn't say especially sad or anything, but very reflective about his brothers in arms and his memories of them.

"Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humour was provided to console him for what he is."

Steve's displacement from his own time is one of the most interesting aspects of the character and a great source of pathos. There are plenty of other WWII superheroes who were later succeeded by a present day replacement, but in Cap's case he's both the WWII version and the present day version. He really belongs in the past, and the fact he's cut off from his own generation, and has had to watch them age and die while he remains in his prime, is tragic. Sure, he's established strong bonds with the younger generation of heroes, but there's something special about the camaraderie he shares with his fellow WWII vets.

Cap piece by the late, great, Jim Aparo.

"Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humour was provided to console him for what he is."

Wizard Magazine took a swing at who they would have cast had a Captain America movie been released back in 1999.

I remember having thoughts about a Captain America movie back when I was a kid in the '90's, and I don't really recall having a overall pick back then... I do distinctly remember thinking Aaron Eckhart was pretty much a spitting image of how I would envision Steve Rogers/Cap to look like in real life after seeing "The Dark Knight" in 2008 (especially after having just seen RDJ in "Iron Man" just a few months earlier, and with Cap and Shellhead being depicted as roughly the same age in the comics and something of patriarchs in the Avengers). 

"Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humour was provided to console him for what he is."

Quote from: The Joker on Fri,  5 Jul  2024, 22:51Cap piece by the late, great, Jim Aparo.
Never knew he drew Cap, but that's a treat to see. He excels at drawing powerful jawlines.