So last week, we talked about Captain America and the Falcon #191, in which the Falcon’s trial for crimes committed before his hero career began ended with an attack by the Stilt-Man, who wanted to kill the Falcon, but instead exonerated him. The letters column of that issue contained multiple complaints that artist Frank Robbins was killing Captain America, and at the end of the letter column was a huge announcement: starting with issue #193, one of the original creators of Captain America, Jack “King” Kirby himself, would return to his creation, not only drawing, but also writing.
Well, this was a huge announcement. After all, not only had Kirby co-created Captain America, but he had also co-created virtually the entire Marvel Universe as the original artist on the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the Mighty Thor (in Journey Into Mystery) and the Uncanny X-Men. And after he had left Marvel, he had gone to DC Comics where he had created the Fourth World series of books including New Gods, Mister Miracle and The Forever People, as well as Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth. Yeah, the Fourth World books had had a relatively short run, but they had injected new life into almost the entire DC line.
So here was Kirby returning to the Marvel fold, but a newer, more experimental Kirby. It was exciting to think what new life he would inject into Captain America and the Falcon, a book that had become as stale as Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen when Kirby took it over and changed it completely.
So how did that work out?
The story opens with Captain America and the Falcon engaging in an arm wrestling contest. The opening caption tells us that the trial has recently ended, but Cap and the Falcon are trying to put it behind them by pretending it never happened, a not-so-subtle admission that Kirby is going to completely ignore recent continuity and do his own thing. Suddenly…
I’m surprised that Cap didn’t call Falcon “boy” just to really sell the insane hatred angle. But I guess it wouldn’t do to have your two heroes kill each other within the first three pages of the issue. So Cap and Falcon almost immediately recover from their insane hate interlude, only to have Leila go crazy and grab a knife. Not long afterward, a rock smashes through the window and Cap goes out to investigate.
Into Festival. Maddened crowds rush through the streets, breaking and burning everything in sight, with dialogue like “HEAVE! HEAVE! Turn the car over! It’s a load of fun! HAHAHA!”
Then Cap spots a mysterious device and goes over to investigate.
He destroys it with his shield and just like that, everybody sobers up. The Falcon joins him moments later, after saving a civilian just to prove he’s a hero, too, and they are joined by a mysterious man who claims to have knowledge of the Madbomb. Cap surmises the man is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, so he and Falcon go away with him to a secret base where they encounter some standard Danger Room-style traps before breaking into the main lab and meeting…
Wha? Where the hell is Nick Fury? Or Dum Dum Dugan? Or even Henry Freaking Gyrich? Seriously, Henry Kissinger? This is what the King gives us with his big debut? The Falcon calling Cap ‘Whitey’ and Henry Kissinger?
Seriously, I’m done. Even the threat of a a really big Madbomb, big enough to affect all of North America, or even the world…
isn’t enough to make me buy this comic again. Game over. Although the older me appreciates the parallels (that my younger self couldn’t) between the nicknames for the various models of Madbomb and the Fatman and Little Boy code-names for the first A-bombs. But seriously, after this, I was done with Cap. I did buy one other issue a few years later, but hated it, too, then got suckered into buying a Cap miniseries in the 90’s drawn by Kevin Maguire (that baited and switched to a different artist on the final issue–I’m still mad about that one).
And that’s it for this month. There’s going to a be lot of work behind the scenes, but don’t look for a new post until October 1, when Out of the Vault returns with our special month-long Halloween celebration.