Cover by Jack Kirby
Title: “Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles”
Synopsis: Mister Buda’s mystic talisman sends Captain America on a bicentennial journey through time to experience America’s history first hand.
Writer: Jack Kirby
Inkers: Herb Trimpe, John Romita Sr., and Barry Windsor-Smith (as Barry Smith)
Review: This 1976 treasury edition is a wonderful sample of Kirby’s mid-Bronze work, with all its inherent strengths and weaknesses on display. In terms of story, this one is all Big Concept, delivered with the nuance and subtlety of an assault rifle. And Kirby’s dialogue is now so wooden it almost sounds surreal; seriously, the cadence is so odd it’s enjoyable in its own strange way. The King’s art, on the other hand, is just spectacular, with his powerful, almost-abstract renderings seeming to burst forth from these oversized pages. Overall, a fine way to spend the Fourth of July!
Cool factor: Regardless of its shortcomings, it doesn’t get much cooler than the King and Cap celebrating the Bicentennial with a big, ol’ treasure edition!
Not-so-cool factor: A toss-up: The in-your-face moral of the conclusion or Barry Windsor-Smith’s overpowering inks. (The latter is surprising given that Smith’s early work was heavily influenced by Kirby. But, by this point, his ink work was just too ornate for the King’s bold pencils.)
Notable: Treasure edition. … Brief appearances by Adolf Hitler, Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, Geronimo, and other historical figures.
Character quotable: “It isn’t possible! It just isn’t possible! I — I’ve been ripped-off by Benjamin Franklin!” — Captain America, time-traveling and trippin’
Copyright ©2016 Off the Wahl Productions, all rights reserved. Each week, T. Andrew Wahl takes a look at a Bronze Age Fantastic First. For more reviews like this one, check out Wahl’s website, SequentialReaction.com.