A trio of takes on the Sentinel of Liberty from his co-creator!
1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.
Join us this month to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.
During Jack Kirby’s decades-long career he certainly created a number of memorable characters, but none can match Captain America when it comes to longevity. Along with his partner Joe Simon and the talented artists who worked for them, Kirby delivered CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 to Timely Comics in 1941 and continued working on the series through issue #10. During that time, Kirby not only drew Steve Rogers’ origin as the Army reject who wound up becoming the symbol of all things American when given the Super Soldier Serum, he additionally introduced the likes of Bucky and The Red Skull.
As later established in AVENGERS #4, Bucky died thanks to a plot by Baron Zemo that also left Cap floating through the ocean in a block of ice. He remained there until 1965 when Kirby teamed up with Stan Lee—who also contributed to CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS—to reintroduce the Sentinel of Liberty to a new generation of readers! The thawed out Super Soldier quickly became a stalwart member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
After bringing Steve Rogers back, Lee and Kirby decided to tell even more Cap stories, this time in the pages of TALES OF SUSPENSE, starting with #58. While some of these adventures took place in the present, others drew on some of that raw material from the first run of Cap comics and retold them for a new audience, complete with new art that showed off how Kirby’s work had evolved in that time.
TALES OF SUSPENSE gave way to CAPTAIN AMERICA #100 in 1968. Between the two books, Kirby helped introduce characters like Batroc, Doctor Faustus, Sharon Carter, The Falcon, Peggy Carter, M.O.D.O.K., and more. Kirby drew the series through issue #109, and then returned for #112, which he reportedly drew in 24 hours.
In the mid-70s, “The King” returned to the castle he helped build and did one more stint with his bravest of knights: Captain America. Kirby took over as writer-artist-editor of the title with 1976’s #193. Without missing a beat, he launched the Avenger and his partner Falcon directly into classic adventures like “Madbomb,” which dealt with the dangers of weaponized hate.
During this time, Kirby created one of Erik Larsen’s favorite moments during “The Swine,” not to mention the still-relevant Arnim Zola. Ultimately, the King’s reign on CAPTAIN AMERICA would come to a close with 1977’s issue #214, leaving behind not one or two, but three legendary runs on the character!
Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.
Captain America Comics #2
In his second appearance ever, Cap gains an iconic piece of his arsenal!
Every day we celebrate Captain America’s 75th anniversary by looking deep into the Marvel Unlimited archives and going through some of Steve Rogers’ most thrilling adventures. Happy diamond anniversary Sentinel of Liberty!
When you think about Captain America, you’re probably picturing the classic costume: red boots and gloves, a mostly blue body suit and mask with white embellishments, red and white stripes on the chest, and of course the iconic shield! However, the original design differed in a few ways. The basics appeared on the initial cover of CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 from 1941, but the mask used to be a completely separate piece instead of an attached cowl and the shield came in a more pendant-style shape!
You might think that Cap spent much of his early career running around with the original shield thanks to a variety of flashbacks and other stories told during the Great War, but in fact, the weapon only lasted one issue!
That’s right, by the time the Sentinel of Liberty kicks off his second issue—CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #2, also from 1941—he rocks the round shield! The only difference from the current one: it features a blue circle in the center encompassing the star and a blue stripe on the very edge instead of the usual red and white color scheme. So, why did Cap switch things up? We don’t know! The change never comes up in his three stories found in this issue, it’s just there.
The stories themselves include “Captain America and the Mystery of the Deathless Monster,” “Trapped in the Nazi Strong-Hold,” and “Captain America and the Wax Statue That Struck Death.” In them, Cap and Bucky take on some huge creatures, dress up as an old lady and a fancy boy to catch a potential traitor, and a capture a killer who uses wax faces to ply his evil craft.
As always, these older tales might be a little difficult to get through thanks to a variety of unfortunate depictions and well-trod story elements, but it’s also fun to look back and see what Captain America used to be like in his earliest days. He’s a bit brash, throws out some then-current pop culture references and yet always looks to do the right thing. As an added bonus, this issue also includes Bucky cramming his partner into a girdle!
Though the shield switch never comes up in CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #2, the story eventually came to light. In the pages of the 2010 limited series CAPTAIN AMERICA/BLACK PANTHER: FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, the Star-Spangled Avenger teams with T’Challa’s grandfather Azzari to battle Red Skull and Baron Strucker in Wakanda. In the process, the Skull dons a huge suit of armor and crushes the old pendant shield in his metallic hand. After securing victory and returning home, Cap receives the round shield from his new friend, which comes partially constructed of vibranium.
Captain America drops the shield completely along with his identity as he becomes Nomad for the first time in our next installment!
Saluting Captain America
Rewind to 1941 as Captain America, Bucky, and the Red Skull make their debuts thanks to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby!
Every day Marvel.com celebrates Captain America’s 75th anniversary by looking deep into the Marvel Unlimited archives to showcase some of his most thrilling and important adventures.
Anyone familiar with Captain America knows his origin: skin-and-bones Steve Rogers undergoes an experimental process to make him a super soldier so he can fight in World War II. The process works, granting him super abilities, but a saboteur kills the scientist and destroys the machinery so he winds up being the only one. Still, one Captain America proves plenty as the red, blue and white clad patriot uses his shield to bring peace to the world during a time of strife. All that and more stands on display in CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby from 1941.
At the time, Simon took inspiration from real world villain Adolf Hitler as well as medieval and Roman mythology to come up with Red Skull and Captain America. He teamed with Jack Kirby to bring the icon to life, the first of many for the company that came to be known as Marvel.
To a modern reader, one of the most striking elements of this story is how concise, to-the-point, and up front it is. The first eight pages not only show scrawny Steve Rogers getting injected with the serum, but also the spy’s actions followed by his quick death. That still leaves enough space for Rogers to don his costume and shield and also have Bucky figure out his secret identity on the very last page!
From there, the patriotic duo go up against Nazi agents and mentalists Sando and Omar, the chessboard aficionado Rathcone, and even the Red Skull as they all attempt to spread the Fourth Reich’s influence to U.S. shores. Captain America and his Hitler-punching first cover pre-dated America’s involvement in World War II by about a year so Cap and Bucky spent their time doing much of the same until the United States joined forces with the Allies to put a stop to the Axis powers in 1942. At that point, the costumed heroes joined the war effort overseas.
This first issue not only establishes Steve’s patriotism and his dedication to being Captain America, but also plenty of characters and ideas that continue to be explored by creators to this very day. It’s a must-read for any and all fans of the Sentinel of Liberty, especially given the pristinely preserved and colored version available on Marvel Unlimited!
After Joe Simon pitched Captain America to Timely Comics, publisher Martin Goodman wanted a 45 page book, stat. Simon contemplated using a slew of artists to get the job done, but Kirby took it all on himself and produced a masterpiece right on time, as always thanks in no small part to a legion of inkers finishing the book as pages came hot off of Kirby’s table.
Next time, the clock spins way ahead to find Cap dealing with a post-9/11 world thanks to writer John Ney Rieber and artist John Cassaday.