(1970s) Captain America by Jack Kirby Volume 1: Madbomb

Written by Jack Kirby
Illustrated by Jack Kirby (with some help)

[And we finish off our salute to Captain America with some 1970s Kirby Cap. Now I love "King" Kirby's work, but I really find his return to Marvel work pretty lackluster, which is going to show in these reviews, which are from a time when I was a lot less interested in giving a complete picture and a lot more interested in ranting. Still, you can't see where you're going without seeing where you've been, so here they are, only slightly amended.]

Jack Kirby returns to Marvel after DC turned him out for the brilliant zaniness that was the Fourth World, and the results are very mixed.

This collection, featuring Kirby's first new Captain America story arc, was at least tolerable, which is more than I can say for Bicentennial Battles (more on that in a separate post). The plot features a villainous scheme to drive America crazy via a specialized bomb that attacks the brain. The goal? Handing over the country to a host of aristocrats, one of which just so happened to have an ancestor that fought one of the ancestors of Steve Rodgers. (This is a nice touch and one of the highlights of the stories collected here.) Cap and the Falcon go off to try and find the bomb, facing various perils in the form of grotesque Kirby creatures, an underworld of hapless people straight out of Apokalips, and a damsel in distress that really serves no purpose.

One bright spot is that the Falcon gets to be more than window dressing, ending up being the one who tries to take out the bomb itself before it goes off. Kirby hits the partnership thing just right, which honestly doesn't happen with every writer.

This first arc really tries hard to be an epic story, but ultimately fails because Kirby doesn't allow anyone into the process with him--not even an editor. All in all, this one's not bad, but Cap was handled better in other hands (like Roger Stern) shortly thereafter.