Friday, 15 November 2013


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

If, like me, you're of a certain age, you probably still think of
barcodes on comic covers as a fairly recent intrusion.  Fact is 'though,
that they've now been adorning the fronts (and, occasionally, the backs)
of our favourite four-colour comicbooks for a total of 37 years.  The
little striped box appeared for the first time on issues dated May/June
1976, although (in America at least) they went on sale in February/
March of that year as they appeared on newsstands a few months
ahead of the actual date on the cover and in the indicia.

So, to my eyes, a comic still doesn't look right if it's been de-
faced with that oblong zebra pattern in the bottom lefthand corner.
No, for me, comics were purer and less compromised when they were
free of that ugly little intruder that defaced the art which called to me
from the spinner-racks, even if I've now known it for a far longer period
of time throughout my life than I have without.  Curious how our ideas of
how things should be done are established from such an early age, isn't
it?  I still consider Lsd (pounds, shillings and pence) as 'real' money
and decimal currency as a relatively recent usurper, although it's
now been around for more than four fifths of my life.

So what's that got to do with CAPTAIN AMERICA?  Not
much - except it may've been the sixth issue of JACK KIRBY's
Cap where I first noticed (and resented) the barcode box.  (It was
either that, or SUPERMAN #296.)  I was glad to see Jack back at
MARVEL, even if  his output at this time didn't quite live up to
his first tour of duty at the much-lauded 'House of Ideas'.

Diehard Kirby fanatics were ecstatic to see Jack resume the
reins of the character he'd helped co-create back in the '40s, but
readers used to the more sophisticated and ambitious tales of writers
like STEVE ENGLEHART were less than enchanted by the King's
more direct action-adventure orientated stories.  However, Jack pro-
duced 22 issues of the shield-slinging AVENGER (and two Annuals)
- which was, I believe, the longest-lasting title of his return term -
before leaving Marvel for the second and final time.

Anyway, without any further ado, let's look at the first 11 covers
of Jack's Cap.  The remainder will feature in an upcoming post.


(I should point out for American readers that, to differentiate
U.S. Marvel comics on sale in Britain from their black and white
U.K. editions, the 'Marvel Comics Group' banner was replaced with
'Marvel All-Colour Comics' when the plates were altered from cents
to pence.  They were still printed in the States 'though.)


baab said...

You would think some bright spark would have suggested putting the bar code on the back of the comic.

This series looked like the DC comics Kirby had just finished working on.
Omac meets The Losers.

I really liked it but at some point during this run I just stopped being impressed.

Kid said...

I think they explained at the time that it had to be the front because ads on the back didn't always have the appropriate space, Baab - although in later years it was sometimes placed on the back, especially if it was a double page illo on the cover.

Nick Caputo said...

I was pumped when it was announced that Kirby was coming back to Cap, even though I really enjoyed Engelhart's run (and liked Frank Robbins art on Cap's run. Some of my favorites were actually inked by Kirby's inker, D. Bruce Berry!).

While Kirby's Cap didn't live up to my expectations, there were some great ideas in these stories. Kirby's ambitious bi-centennial story was interesting, although by the end he lost focus. I thought the beginning of the Night People story was offbeat, but didn't care for the wind-up. I liked the fact that Kirby kept the Falcon, making him a strong character and an equal to Cap (although Redwing was nowhere to be found). I found it odd that Kirby never even had a cameo of Nick Fury (or any of his Shield crew) even though Shield was part of his storylines. Instead he had other "officials" standing in for them. These were choices Kirby made that didn't make a lot of sense and alienated readers. Still, there was some nice work withing these pages, and Frank Giacoia did a nice job on issues he inked (although I would have liked to see Sinnott ink an issue or two. Even Joe wondered why he wasn't assigned one of Kirby's books.

Kid said...

You're right, Nick - it was strange that Fury never appeared. It was the same in The Eternals - when the Hulk appeared, it was a cosmic-powered android, not the real one. I'd have liked to see Colletta ink an issue or two, as well as Sinnott.

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