Captain America

Unearthed: Captain America Comics #1, Part One

DATELINE: March, 1941! Right smack-dab in the middle of WWII, virtual unknowns Joe Simon and Jack Kirby produce the greatest piece of pro-America propaganda ever!

Here it is at last! BECAUSE YOU (might have) DEMANDED IT! The first appearance of Cap’n ‘Mer’ca! And it’s more slipshod than you might have imagined!

Guys! Look at it… LOOK AT IT! THIS is Jack Kirby? One of the most amazing things about comics is watching an artist’s work evolve over time. Some get more cartoony, like John Romita, Jr. or Frank Miller. But some just get better and better, like Kirby… but check out his work in this issue… whoa.

Hahaha! The Human Torch! Good one, FDR! BWAHAHAHAHA that’s so funny Marvel will actually make it happen at some point!

Dude, Super Grover, YES.

Jeezy creezy, are we sure she’s not actually Plastic Man, with that nose?

Into our lives comes Steve Rogers, not even a named character at this point. No backstory, no development, no personality whatsoever.

Jack’s anatomy is really dodgy at the best of times, but early on he hadn’t yet discovered his unique style, so it just looks kind of amateurish. But again, this was the state of comic book rendering at that time.

The Dogs of Democracy is my next band name.

Also, note that this guy’s name isn’t “Erskine”.

Captain America’s not bulletproof. Surely this guy had plenty of time to take Cap out well before he could… ah, but there I go again, putting reason ahead of comic book logic. I’ll shut up about it.

Okay, let’s jump ahead a bit: Steve Rogers is doing leadership stuff at Camp Lehigh and no one knows he’s Captain America. There’s a “mascot” named Bucky there. Watch how quickly this happens:

ONE PANEL LATER Bucky’s discovered Cap’s secret. Oh, sure, Cap could’ve just said “Hey, I bought this costume for a laugh, what do you think?” But they don’t pay him to think in THIS man’s Army.

And this dude, who regularly faces death on the battlefield, decides to make a sidekick out of the camp MASCOT. Keep in mind that Bucky’s likely the mascot because he couldn’t make it as an actualy trainee. Good choice, Steve-o.

And how old do we think Bucky is, anyway? 10? But holy crap, look at his THIGHS.

And now it’s on to their first adventure together! First, some backstory: a weird yellow dwarf has a stage show in which he predicts the future. … just go with it.

Steve has taken to wearing a black oval as a hat and Bucky’s got the gout.

The two of them have been expressing their doubts that this act is any kind of legitimate, but there they go, racing to save this bridge just ’cause Omar said so. That’s solid, Jackson!

And then, after the bridge actually does explode, they come back for some nice civil violence. See, our current paradigm of authority prioritizing punishment over prevention goes WAY back.

Attaboy, Bucky! Your priorities are in place!

Nice one, Joe! Hitler will never live down THIS nickname!

Bucky’s in the corner, gut-shot, Cap.

“Captain America only has one lover, Miss, and that’s the U S of A!”

“Will the U S of A do that THING you like, Cap?”

“Only every DAY, lady.”

“… are we talking about the same thing?”

Bucky: “Cap, we gotta go.”

You may have noticed the sheer number of graphic elements intruding on each other in this issue. It’s a stylistic choice that Kirby never really outgrows, but he refines it to a great degree as his career matures.

Join us on Wednesday for Part Two of Captain America Comics!