Thursday, August 19, 2010

Marvel Treasury Captain America's Bicentennial Battles

Story and Art by Jack Kirby
Inks by Herb Trimpe, John Romita, and Barry Smith

I really can't claim to know anything about Jack Kirby as a man, but I have to question what he did with what limited recreational time he must have had, but much of what I've read of the work he did in the 70s leads me to assume he might have hung out with Timothy Leary or William S. Burroughs. I mean, it's 1976. The U.S. is celebrating its' bicentennial birthday so why not have Marvel's most recognized patriot travel through time and visit America through some of it's most important moments as they are happening? Ok, sure, I'll buy this plot.

Captain America shows up at the domicile of one Mister Buda, who appears to be some sort of mystic. Against his will, Captain America is transported to Hitler's hideout where he relives a moment from his life where he and Bucky fight both Hitler and the Red Skull. Before he can wrap his head around seeing Bucky again, Captain is transported back to present day. He tries to leave Mister Buda's place and with a parting handshake, Buda imbues Cap with a "psychic talisman" which proceeds to take him on a journey through time.

Cap mixes it up with some gangsters in the 30's, meet Benjamin Franklin, intercedes on the behalf of Geronimo with the U.S Cavalry and oh so much more! 83 pages(with pin-ups!)chock full of Kirby zaniness. It really is a pretty neat, though oddly executed idea. And with 3 superstar artists handling inking duties, you'd think the strongest area would be the art. Well it is and it isn't. You'd think with him starting his career aping the man, Barry Smith would be a natural inking choice for Kirby, but by this point he is well on his way to developing his own style and it is very apparent here. The opening pages are pure Smith and it is a bit strange, but the melding of the 2 styles sort of works, though the results look little like Kirby. I believe Trimpe is the next one up and his inks really seem to bring Kirby's artwork down. Some of the faces look odd and the whole thing has a bit of a rushed look to it. I think the big winner out these guys is John Romita. He manages to keep Kirby's work intact while giving it a nice polished look.

If this is any sort of prelude to Kirby's run on the Captain America ongoing, I am in for a treat. Though, I can only hope for a musical dance number featuring Cap in that series! I think this predates the ads I saw in some of the 80s Marvel books for a Cap Broadway Musical by almost 10 years. Truly, Jack Kirby was ahead of his time.