web stats

CSBG Archive

Comics Should Be Good Top 50 Countdown! – #25

Here’s #25! Click here for the master list!


Captain America #25

The concept of the twenty-fifth issue of a comic being special is a relatively recent one, and the decade in which this idea particularly flourished, the 1990s, was not exactly a great time for big comic book issues (with notable exceptions, of course).

Surprisingly, though, the most notable twenty-fifth issue that I can think of happened in the current decade, with last year’s Captain America #25, which featured the death of Steve Rogers, the original Captain America.

What is particularly unique about this comic, outside of the excellent artwork of Steve Epting and the strong story by writer Ed Brubaker, is the fact that this issue, the death of one of the biggest characters in all of comics, is part ONE of a storyline!

That alone let you know this death was not your usual attention-getting case of a character being killed.

The media attention of this issue was quite impressive, a lot more, I think, than anyone expected, as how could Captain America’s death be considered that big of a deal when Superman was killed 15 years earlier? However, people apparently DID care, and that whole minor stuff about the Vice President was considered small news compared to the death of Steve Rogers!

It did not hurt that the comic was, in many ways, the finale to Civil War, one of the biggest superhero crossovers ever.

Other notable 25th issues include X-Men #25, where Wolverine loses his adamantium skeleton, Whiz Comics #25, where Captain Marvel Jr. first appeared, Animal Man #25, the penultimate issue of Grant Morrison’s tenure on the book, Saga of the Swamp Thing #25, the “first” appearance of John Constantine, Fantastic Four #25, with a notable Hulk/Thing fight by Kirby (when I asked some people, two people recommended FF #25 as their choice) and I’m sure a few other notable ones I’m missing (unlike those issues I’m intentionally missing, like Quasar #25, where Quasar gets a new costume, that lasted until his death!).


Nice preemptive strike there, Brian.

Of the ones you’ve listed, I’d probably have gone with Swamp Thing 25. Time has yet to us if last years CA25 is as important in the grand scheme as you’re suggesting.

Perhaps if it was actually the first appearance of John Constantine, but the quotes around first were to indicate it was just a drawing of Sting that Bissette and Totleben snuck into a background. When Constantine later appeared in the comic (also looking like Sting), that appearance has been wink wink nudge nudged into being the first appearance of Constantine – it really isn’t, though.

Maybe it’s just me, but – and I’m not dismissing Brubaker’s and Epting’s talents – Cap’s temporary “death” (let’s not kid ourselves) seems less historically-relevant than John Constantine’s debut, or even Captain Marvel Jr’s debut.

I mean… a superhero’s death that we KNOW FOR A FACT will not last can’t possibly be more important than a great comic character’s first-ever appearance, no matter how much “media attention” that so-called death may have generated.

Oh, and only after posting did I read Brian’s explanation about Swamp Thing #25. So scratch my comments about how important Constantine’s debut was – but Captain Marvel Jr’s first appearance still seems more relevant than Captain America’s “death”.

I mean… a superhero’s death that we KNOW FOR A FACT will not last can’t possibly be more important than a great comic character’s first-ever appearance, no matter how much “media attention” that so-called death may have generated.

Sure it can.

Note that you didn’t even know what issue Constantine debuted in (and I mean that not as a shot, but to point out that not a lot of people DO). Same with Captain Marvel Junior. Who knows when Captain Marvel Jr. debuted?

Everyone knows what issue DC killed Superman in, even though WE KNEW FOR A FACT that he was coming back.

Same thing with this issue – it is the most notable 25th issue.

When it comes to two or three issues and NONE of them are particularly famous, then yeah, it’d go to the creation/introduction that is most notable among them – but when a single issue is a good deal more prominent than the introduction of a character, I’m going with the more prominent issue.


All-American Comics #25: FIrst appearance of Dr. Mid-Nite
Brave & the Bold #25: First appearance of the Suicide Squad

I stand here once again burned by your knowldge of Quasar, Brian.

But in this case Quasar’s costume change to the star-cape really was the aftermath of a far bigger, incredibly cool costuem change. See, back in issue #19 he meets a cosmic superguy who, on a whim, changes Quasar’s costume. Except he RETROACTIVELY changed it, so any flashback to Quasar from then on features the Mark 2 costume, not the Mark 1.

(Okay, make your jokes about the lack of frequency anyone flashes back to a Quasar adventure. I’ll wait.)

So at the end of issue 25 he’s up against a cosmic power, Maelstrom, and by whatever the cosmics ruls decreed, only an anomalous bit of matter could defeat him. Well, thanks to the retconned costome change, Quasar himself is an anomaly! The retcon that saved the world! And at the end he gets the mark 3 starcape costume.

I need for a book to do a Quasar flashback so that we can see them use that fact, Jeff!

That is right up Christos Gage’s alley! I hope he works it into an issue of Avengers Initiative!

This was a definite classic issue; one of my all-time favourite comics. The opening recap of Cap’s origin, especially, is lyrically powerful.

I was thinking, “All-American Comics #25: first Dr. Mid-Nite… but probably even better would be ASTONISHING TALES #25: first Deathlok, particularly with Deathlok’s imminent return.

But, not Shazam #25: first Isis.

How is the first appearance of Captain Marvel Jr. highly relevant? He isn’t a particularly important or well known character, and I doubt it was a particularly good story. Was he the first superhero side-kick? If so then I agree that it’s an important issue. If not then Cap’s death trumps it. Not only has he been dead over a year with no sign of return, but the story was incredibly good and caught everyone off guard, since no one expected him to actually die until the last page.

I don’t know. Unless a death has been permanent like…um….oh….uh Thunderbird! No. Green Arrow!! ROBIN? No. um…well, not Bucky anymore. He’s back and I didn’t think they’d ever go there. Harry Osbooornnneeee….. no……hmmmm…they brought Uncle Ben back in FNSM. Anyone?

So if they all come back when they die how does a death story have any impact?

Might make for a good blog. 50 best/worst death and returns.

DC Comics Presents #25 is full of bronze-age geeky goodness. The main story, with the Phantom Stranger as the guest, is the conclusion of one of the few ongoing subplots in the Superman family in that era, regarding Pete Ross’s son Jon, and the backup is the first “Whatever Happened To…” story, which featured Hourman’s first appearance in years.

#25 is a fairly popular final issue, too. (Untold Tales of Spider-man being one of the better books to make it only to that milestone and no farther…)

Captain Marvel Jr. is relevant as the first sidekick who dares not speak his name.

I guess I’ll stand up for X-MEN #25. We may look back on it now — having witnessed the horror that was adamantiumless Wolverine of the ‘do rag and lack-of-nose, the years of pointless teases promising the return of the SNIKT (Genesis? Seriously?), and a resolution that somehow supposed that Apocalypse and mutant Skrulls and a sword-wielding Wolverine were a match made in heaven — and rather have our OWN adamantium ripped out of our pores. And we may shudder at the onslaught of inanity that Xavier’s mindwipe of Magneto wrought. And the less said about Colossus, the better. But aside from X-MEN #1, there was no bigger single issue (in terms of status, though others had it beaten in sales) in the decade for the prototypical franchise of the decade. Sure, CAP #25 featured a death and was better written, but its impact to the Avengers franchise is relatively minor (has Cap’s death fundamentally changed the nature of WWHulk or Secret Invasion or the Initiative storylines in the way that Zero Tolerance did without Magneto or Onslaught without a fully-functioning Wolverine?); in fact, very little has been made of the absence of Cap outside of the CAP title itself, at least when compared to how often the X-books referenced X-MEN #25 for five years. It’s even debatable whether Cap’s death is that much a bigger deal in and of itself than what happened to Magneto and Wolverine (imagine if X-MEN #25 happened today after the X-films and many cartoons and upcoming solo films for Mags and Wolvie, and if it was released on a slow news week). Besides….Gambit hologram on the cover! Mon dieu, bub!

Hell, the return of Cable in X-FORCE #25 was a fangasm back in the day.

Props to FF #25, though. The second and best Thing/Hulk battle and also the beginning of the first major Marvel crossover. IMO, true beginning of the Marvel Universe, when Stan finally realized what had developed over the past 2-plus years and decided to run with it.

I can’t believe you forgot about Darkhawk.

I can’t believe you forgot about Darkhawk.

I honestly was going to mention it as an example of 90s anniversary issues! That’s hilarious.

Props to FF #25, though. The second and best Thing/Hulk battle and also the beginning of the first major Marvel crossover. IMO, true beginning of the Marvel Universe, when Stan finally realized what had developed over the past 2-plus years and decided to run with it.

D’oh! Meant to mention that one, and now, through the magic of editing, I did!

I dunno, I thought the best thing about X-Men #25 was the debut of El Tigre. That dude had class. And a sweet cape.

Tom from West Chester

July 1, 2008 at 8:24 pm

How is the first appearance of Captain Marvel Jr. highly relevant?

I’m far from a Captain Marvel, Jr., expert so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Captain Marvel, Jr.’s solo book at one time (the mid 1940s or thereabouts) consistently the top selling comic book in the U.S.? That said I’d say he a significant and important character. (Also, and less notable unless you buy comics as an investment and not to read, I have a catalog from a few years back from Milestone Comics (I believe) where they claimed that a 9.8 CGC’d Captain Marvel, Jr., #2 was the most expensive comic book in the world. Not bad for not “particularly important or well known character.”)

That said I couldn’t tell you anything about any Captain Marvel, Jr. story ever written and I agree with Brian that Brubaker’s Captain America 25 is a more memorable issue #25. (As an end note, tt would have been easier to use the abbreviation “Cap.” for one of them but tusing the abbreviation hat would have made this confusing.)

Elvis Presley credited Captain Marvel Jr as the inspiration for his hair.

Also, CC Beck had a peak readership of maybe 10,000,000. CA 25 may have had a readership of 1% of that, maybe averaging a reader for every 2 or 3 copies sold.


July 1, 2008 at 10:03 pm

FF#25 would be my first pick, also, but I’m surprised that nobody’s mentioned my other contender Captain Marvel #25 (Mar-Vell, not Shazam).
It was Jim Starlin’s first ongoing title and he set up shop quick with his pet characters Thanos, Drax, Eros and Mentor. It took him a few issues to really get his own groove but it started in #25.

I wonder if Brubaker will be the one to bring Cap back, or if someone else will?

Whoa wait…. You mean the current series of Green Lantern No. 25 wasn’t notable…. I noticed it hasn’t been mentioned and it was only the conclusion to the biggest Green Lantern Story of sometime… For shame…. (Kidding) I also liked X-Force 25… I think it was the introduction of Exodus.

The undeniable mark left in the Marvel Universe due to Steve Rogers’ death that can not be disregarded. It affects every Avengers book to some degree, and the Marvel Landscape has changed. Without Cap as its the figurehead, the Avengers are disjointed, and lack the proper leadership currently. Secret Invasion and World War Hulk would be completely different if Cap was alive. I am not questioning whether the death will stick. I am questioning simply regarding this issue and his death, as the isolated event that had no effect on the Marvel Universe.

I honestly don’t get why people think Steve Rodgers will one day come back. For one, Brubaker’s run is so based in ‘reality’ that I think he’d be doing himself a massive disservice by magicking the character back to life – even if he wanted to (which I seriously doubt), I don’t see how he could without it deflating the great work that preceeded it. Maybe after Brubaker’s done with Captain America, then he’ll come back…but it doesn’t look like he’s leaving anytime soon.

Second, why bring back Rogers when the new Cap is so brilliant? Roger’s role, his symbol, had become worn and jaded, too much so to be culturally relevant in these times. The Winter Soldier represents the 21st century idea of America, playing as dirty as necessary to get the job done; no longer super-powered as it once was, but still capable of taking down the bad guys. His personal history is a great allegory for Americ’s bloodied history of recent times…I just think he’s the perfect character.

I’m a huge Cap fan, I am, but I think I’d lose a lot of love for the whole image and character of Captain America if Steve came back…which is perhaps why #25 is just so damn important. After the ‘death’ of Superman, the Heroes Reborn debacle…who’dve thought anyone could have made a title so much better by killing of the lead character and having the balls to truly reinvent it.

Go Brubaker, and go go Bucky Barnes!

Leave a Comment



Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives