July 4, 2009

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Trebro Tees Off: (1970s) Captain America by Jack Kirby Volume 2: Bicentennial Battles

Written by Jack Kirby
Illustrated by Jack Kirby
Marvel

[And this time I'm downright brutal, hence the "Trebro Tees Off" tag. However, this set of stories really deserves it, as no matter how much I've refined my reviews, this one still would have been ripe for ridicule.]

Why oh why do I keep reading 1970s Marvel Jack Kirby? It's like sticking my hand into a pencil sharpener over and over again--I know it cuts the edge of my finger and causes pain, but I can't help myself.

Ahem.

At any rate, the titular mess "never before reprinted" (for good reason) is completely unworthy of Kirby. It's bad to the point that I wonder if maybe he was unhappy in general or didn't want to do the project or was given a stupid short deadline (maybe even a combination of these factors) and it led to sub-par stories. Or maybe he was just having one hell of an off-day. Either way, it's really, really bad.

We find Cap in the 616 America's Bicentennial. He meets a weird Indian mystic who takes him back in time. Soon Cap must fight copyright infringement at the hands of a deformed Benjamin Franklin (wish I was kidding folks!), inspires the murderer John Brown (still not kidding), and has other wacky hijinks in time until Kirby hits his designated page count and the whole thing just sort of stops.

That was nice and bad, which made the actual issues, 201-205 of the regular series, a bit less annoying in their mediocrity. Kirby apparently had a requirement to make every hero he touched after awhile face cosmic challenges, which works if you're in the Fourth World and Fantastic Four but fails miserably when your focal character is Black Panther, Jimmy Olsen, or Steve Rodgers.

In the two arcs collected here, Cap and the Falcon find a mental institution stuck in another dimension (where the Falcon endures an insulting mind wipe that almost as bad as that redesigned suit they gave him a few years ago) then face off against a futuristic entity that's taken over a human host. None of this is any good at all, and if I had only listened to Noah, I'd never have hurt my eyes with the ridiculous Kirby close-ups and my mental ears with the dulcet tones of Texas Jack, a useless side character that makes Foghorn Leghorn look like Shakespeare.

But none of it is as bad as the vision of mutated Benjamin Franklin, which still haunts my dreams...

Read this only if you are a Kirby or Cap completist. matter how much you like the man or the character, you're bound to be disappointed.