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Top Five Most Iconic Captain America Covers

Here are the top five most iconic covers featuring Captain America (with iconic being determined partially subjectively by what covers are called to mind when one thinks of Captain America, but first being determined with a prominent objective standard of whether a cover is homaged a lot or featured a lot in histories of the character). The notable exception is no covers from a character’s first appearance (which isn’t applicable to all characters, of course, just those who appeared on the cover of the comic they debuted in)! Here‘s a list of all characters featured so far.

We’ll finish off this month with one of the biggest names out there, Captain America!

But don’t worry, there will be another Month of Iconic Covers – when, I dunno just yet, but it WILL be back (and likely at least one more time after that)!

Enjoy!

First off, while I’m exempting first appearance covers from the countdown, it’s only fair, I suppose, to share them here before the countdown begins, so here is the first cover appearance of Captain America from his first appearance, Captain America Comics #1…

Artist: Jack Kirby

5.

Artist: Steve Epting

Like it or not, Cap’s death has become a fairly significant part of his character, and this cover is one of the more well-known comic book covers out there because of it.

4.

Artist: Alex Schomburg

One of the most iconic Red Skull covers also does wonders for Captain America, as this cover nicely summarizes the World War II era Cap perfectly by one of the legendary Golden Age cover artists.

3.

Artist: Jim Steranko

Steranko’s run was short but quite iconic.

2.

Artist: Jack Kirby

The first issue of Cap’s ongoing series.

1.

Artist: Jack Kirby

The return of Captain America to comics!

One of the most iconic comic book covers period!

82 Comments

Awesome list, with zero complaints.

Man, the Skull looked a lot different in the 40s different.

Personally, I would have left out that golden age cover, and went with this: http://image2.milehighcomics.com/istore/images/fullsize/14462577792.332.GIF

I’m glad to see this series finishing off strong. A lot of it seemed to be reaching, with characters who were really a stretch to see as “iconic” in any sense.

The inclusion of Captain America #25 is interesting. It’s an iconic design, certainly, and at present I’ll agree that the event has a somewhat iconic status. And yet, with Cap on his way back, will his “death” be just a blip, years from now? The stories seem likely to hold up, but will the fact that Cap “died” in them, itself, retain any importance?

It’s possible. I’d say the Superman #75 cover still has iconic status; that was a huge event even though the “dead” character basically just went into and came right back out of a revolving door. Not sure that Captain America will match S-guy, though.

Much like the Barry Allen selections, there are probably too many iconic Cap covers to choose from. The top 3 are all worthy, but are also very similar (especially #s 2 & 3). This one from What If… is iconic to me:

http://image2.milehighcomics.com/istore/images/large/95076770084.44.gif

Well done on this series, Brian. You put a lot of effort and care into it, and I’ve enjoyed the discussions brought up each day on essentially a subjective topic. Thanks.

I totally agreed with this list, but I can also think of at least another five covers that could easily replace Cap #25 (the Wolverine vs. Cap cover, a Jurgens cover of Cap in silhouette holding the American flag, Civil War #1, the Zeck cover of Cap with an uzi, and the “Captain America No More!” cover mentioned above- sorry I don’t know issue numbers). Still a fantastic list.

I don’t knnow how you can do a list like this and not include a single Cap-Wolf cover, but other than that great list.

Great list, but in the vein of the Barry Allen thread, shouldn’t this be the Top Five Most Iconic Steve Rogers thread? There’s been, what, 13 people named Captain America?

This is tough. All things considered, good choices, but wow. Just 5?

Honestly, Brian, the only sub I might make would be Avengers 16.

Also, looking through the golden age covers, it is AMAZING how often Bucky is depicted in peril/captured. Is that true with Robin in the Golden Age Batman covers too? This is the funniest one.
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/26-2.jpg Actually, at second glance, this is one of the awesomest covers ever. It’s got everything!

Seriously, though, there are so many iconic Captain America covers.I’m going to post links to a ton of them. Let’s put this into two catagories. Gallant:
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/avengers/56-1.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/109-12.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/132-15.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/230-16.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/231-13.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/250-13.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/254-4.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/269-9.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/284-5.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/303-13.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/321-13.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/332-20.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/350-17.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/354-12.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/383-18.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/445-3.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/453-15.jpg
The 2002 series had a ton of good iconic style covers too: http://www.coverbrowser.com/covers/captain-america-2002 As does the 2004 version. But most people know those.

Goofus:
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/204-13.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/220-9.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/222-12.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/355-20.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/407-20.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/433-12.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/443-15.jpg

Brian if this is overkill, just axe the links in the reply. I kind of went overboard.

The only one that I’d question is #3. Another option would be something from Gruenwald’s run. A very well thought of run by the late Mark Gruenwald.

Steranko’s #111 is the best.

I’m starting to think with characters like Batman, Cap, Spidey, etc… you could almost have a Top 5 per decade. There’s just so much out there.

“the Zeck cover of Cap with an uzi”

For me, one of those “what the hell is in this book?” cover moments that made me buy the book. Led to the strongest story arc of the Gruenwald era. I’ll take it over #25.

has anybody else thought that Namor looked like he was reacting to paparazzi in that Kirby Avengers cover? whenever i see it, that’s my first thought.

great list, though.

Cap is so iconic that he could probably have a top 50 list. He just lends himself to making bold, iconic covers. I personally would have moved #111 up to second place, but there are so many worthy covers it’s hard to take issue with your list. Besides covers like the already mentioned Annual #8, #332 and #321, you could easily make a case for covers like Avengers #16:

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=19164&zoom=4

Tales of Suspense #58 and 59:

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=18699&zoom=4

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=18760&zoom=4

Avengers #56:

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=22166&zoom=4

Captain America #109, 110, 112 and 113 (amazing that Cap #109-113 could easily be a Top 5 iconic cover list just by themselves):

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=22463&zoom=4

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=22526&zoom=4

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=22655&zoom=4

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=22718&zoom=4

And one of my favorite covers of all time, Captain America #78 featuring Cap: Commie Smasher!

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=11555&zoom=4

can not belive how the skull and cap looked in the forties and nice to see stenranko making the list even if he had a short run.

So what’s the story of the change in Cap’s cowl and shield between issues #1 and #3? Was it explained in #2?

And as iconic as the cover to #1 is, this is the first time I’ve really noticed that three Nazis are shooting Cap right in the back. Ouch!

Nice list, and I imagine it was hard keeping it down to five. If I was doing this list, I probably would have stuck in Avengers #16, probably in place of Captain America Comics #3.

I absolutely 100% agree with this list, except for the lack of Ron Garney covers.

The second and last issues, specifically.

I’ve enjoyed this feature quite a bit too. As much as I like these types, I feel like some of my favorites were the features with the lesser known characters, if only because that’s where I got to see some art I wouldn’t normally have. So here here for another round! Spider-Woman! Aqualad! Typhoid Mary! The Key! Just some thoughts… :)

The Cap with an uzi cover got me to start collecting Captain America, as well. And I stayed on until the title was relaunched. So I’d say Marvel got their money’s worth out of that cover.

Captain America really is Mister Iconic.

I love that the top two covers both feature Cap leading the charge as drawn by Jack Kirby and emphasize how critical his role as the leader of the Avengers is to his overall identity.

The Sternanko issues really are Captain America for me. Something about all the stylish ’60s Spy-Fi stuff is totally inextricable from the character in my mind. Maybe it is just symbolic of particular cultural moment.

Cover #4 is paging Dr. Wertham rather loudly.

Great list, great character, great covers, great artists.

What, no Heroes Reborn?

*cough*

Great list. There are many, many, many more that could be mentioned, but I can’t argue with these.

Great list, but in the vein of the Barry Allen thread, shouldn’t this be the Top Five Most Iconic Steve Rogers thread? There’s been, what, 13 people named Captain America?

But unlike the Flash, there’s only one iconic Captain America, and that’s Steve.

Cap’s hand is not iconic.

Cap 25? No.
Any Cap image by Zeck?
What the hell do you think? ;-]
DFTBA

Is this the last one! It’s over! Boo! (Well done Brian.)

Want to echo other’s sentiments on what a great job you’ve done on these lists (all though the fact that you featured Question and Adam Strange helped a lot). For Cap, probably would have replaced #4 with “Captain America No More.” But man, if there was ever a case where learned men could disagree…

I agree with all the others that ‘Captain America No More’ should be on here somewhere.

Brian,
LOVE this series of iconic covers
I can’t find fault with any of these choices, but Cap 332 merits at least an honorable mention. I think the characters with a 70 year history like Cap really need to be top 10 to cover each era… irrr…No. Pun. Intended.

Oh, and this.

You beat me to it, Steve. This list is pointless without Capwolf. :D

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

September 30, 2009 at 4:31 pm

I dunno, I’d say Cap v.1 #250 is more iconic in its way than Cap v.5 #25; and also that Cap v.1 #113 is a more iconic Steranko Cap cover than is #111.

“So what’s the story of the change in Cap’s cowl and shield between issues #1 and #3? Was it explained in #2?”

I believe that the folks at MLJ (the Archie people, whatever they were known as at the time) threatened legal action because of Cap’s similarity to their character The Shield. Timely agreed to change the shield to round in order to differentiate the two characters.

Geez, I woulda put Captain America # 200 on the list somewhere. That was THE Captain America image used on merchandise for a goodly number of years.

I’d have left off #4, that one’s pretty dull, and not iconic at all and included something from Zeck.

all good otherwise though, even though i’m not the biggest Kirby fawn (gasp!) it’s hard to argue with Avengers #4.

Actually, I thought # 4 was a REALLY good call. It pops up a lot in historical reference and Alter-Ego type magazines as THE representative/historical Captain America cover.

I’ve been enjoying this whole series. Sorry to see it end. This is the first post that I feel has an actual omission, Cap #193…

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=29459&zoom=4

It has a classic Kirby Cap that was used on merchandise for years after it’s release.

So what’s the story of the change in Cap’s cowl and shield between issues #1 and #3? Was it explained in #2

If you check out the Comic Book Legends Revealed archive, I believe I did a legend on that very topic!

Isn’t the cover at #2 kind of an homage of sorts to the one at #1?
I’d just go with the Avengers cover and add another one in–they are quite similar, and they’re both Kirby–so it’s not like you’re knocking somebody off the list.

No Zeck? NO ZECK AT ALL? A hand? A f@cking hand? And no Zeck.

No Byrne? Cap For President? No BYRNE?

Why was Kitty Pryde even on this list is another question I have. Why not, I dunno, MOON KNIGHT, who’s had some FANTASTIC covers over the years? Or … or … Ghost Rider, who’s had a movie based on him? (Granted, a movie starring Nicholas Cage, so there’s that. But I thought it was crap-tastic and it actually was. For a movie starring Nicholas Cage.) Kitty Pryde? But No Zeck.

Do you even LIKE comics, Brian?

1 through 3 are good, the others lame. Is that really the best you got? Better bring better next time.

[…] been a while, so I hope you enjoy this little homage to the Top 5 Classic Cap covers over at ComicBookResources.com and two great Kirby creations! With the aid of his trusty satellite, Brother Falcon, weakling Steve […]

An Elseworlds/What If? take on #1: http://wp.me/pBLmC-5z

Man, I love me the crazy imagination of King Freakin’ Kirby!

I’m a child of the 70’s and 80’s, so give me John Byrne or Mike Zeck covers any day. Those guys did wonders for Cap back then.

Brian quoted:
“So what’s the story of the change in Cap’s cowl and shield between issues #1 and #3? Was it explained in #2?”
… and noted:
If you check out the Comic Book Legends Revealed archive,
I believe I did a legend on that very topic!

Or read page 134 of Was Superman A Spy? ;->

Cap could have had a top ten (or at least Top Four with ten vote-in contenders for no. 5, like Wolverine had). Mike Zeck alone could have his own top ten.

But this list is good. My only complaint is no issue 193 which, as mentioned, has the most duplicated image of Cap ever, courtesy of Mr. Kirby. That one should blow “death of cap” out of the water.

I’m glad this feature will be back eventually. It’s been great fun. Thanks for all the hard work (and weathering the complaints and suggestions, too!).

Hey, just to add more for you to weather, have you considered listing iconic covers by ARTIST instead of CHARACTER? Basically doing lists like five most iconic kirbys, best ditkos, best byrnes, best alex rosses…

Never mind, if the characters whip up this much disagreement, the artists will send folks over the edge…

thanks again.

Re “This is the first post that I feel has an actual omission”: Really…you felt the other 29 x 5 = 145 covers were perfect choices? I think we’ve just found Brian’s biggest fan or his clone. ;-)

So many iconic covers. I might go with the #1 and #3 choices and CAP #332 (Cap in despair), AVENGERS #16 (the changing of the guard), and CAP #193 (protests in the streets). But it’s definitely a tough call.

Those who want Byrne or Zeck covers, name the covers you’d put in and the ones you’d take out. I looked at those covers, and I’m sure Brian did too. Artistically they’re mostly superior to these covers, but artistic isn’t iconic.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

September 30, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Rob — Captain America #250.

Great choices! We’ll see if Captain America 25 will stay so important.

To deal with my oncoming depression about this month of iconic covers ending, I compiled my own lists of Jean Grey and Dazzler’s most iconic covers (yes, Dazzler). Very happy these will be back and I can leave it to a pro.

CAP #250…in place of which cover? I might put this in the top 10 along with Byrne’s “Cap for President” cover. But you’ve got to make tough choices when you’re limited to five.

What about Cap Annual 6:

http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/marveldatabase/images/c/c2/Ca_ann_06.gif

I don’t think any other Cap cover has shown all four incarnations…

Mike Zecks’ Cap #332 cover should be on this list. Hell, i didn’t even get the #25 Epting cover, I got the stupid McGunnass bland pin up cover. #332 is perfict!

ROB, #332 is more iconic than #25. HELL, It sums up The Death of Cap better than that Epting piece. #332 is the ultimate “Cap No More!” cover! It is iconic for any death, resignation or illness.

Are you talking to me? I suggested CAP #332 also and didn’t mention CAP #25.

Good list and well done on this feature as a whole. Really enjoyed it. Glad to hear it will be coming back. I like the fact that it was not just full of the most popular characters like spider-man and Batman, but still sprinkled with big names like Cap, wolverine and Barry Allen.

I was a bit surprised to see cap #25 in the list, not that I’m against it or anything I like seeing the odd modern cover make the lists. But I thought the image in the comic of him jiust after being shot is what I think of when I think of that issue, still a great cover though. As others have pointed out it will be interesting to see if we still consider that cover iconic in say 5 years time.

this one should be included

http://www.milehighcomics.com/cgi-bin/backissue.cgi?action=fullsize&issue=14462577792%20275

also, Cassady did a bunch of really strong ones – here is one example

http://www.milehighcomics.com/cgi-bin/backissue.cgi?action=fullsize&issue=14467164947%204

oh – and get #25 off the list

I dunno, the #2 is like #1, but with more characters. I would have picked the “Vote For Cap!” cover from the Byrne run.

Kubert did some good ones also

http://www.milehighcomics.com/cgi-bin/backissue.cgi?action=fullsize&issue=14466440660%2031

and hey – don’t stop the list now – keep it going!!

WOuld have like some later Cover’s, on the other hand, with the newest Cover (nr. 5) I’m not so sure how iconic it will be 10 years in the future (when THIS particular death of Cap, will be history).

Michael Finn has a “one minute later” concept for his art commissions. Here’s a link for the illustration I completed to compliment your number 4 choice. Figured your readers would get a kick out of not only this one but the plethora of other “one minute later” covers up there :

http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryPiece.asp?Piece=329911&GSub=84159

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

October 1, 2009 at 5:44 am

Rob…Cap #250 IS the “Cap for President” cover.

Man, that Steranko cover has some f’ed up anatomy with Cap on it.

Great list though!

oh – and when they made up this list, they seemed to skip from Golden age to the Captain America series – forgetting about Tales of Suspense

http://www.milehighcomics.com/cgi-bin/backissue.cgi?action=fullsize&issue=85556731898%2063

http://www.milehighcomics.com/cgi-bin/backissue.cgi?action=fullsize&issue=85556731898%2070

http://www.milehighcomics.com/cgi-bin/backissue.cgi?action=fullsize&issue=85556731898%2080

(not saying all of these are iconic – just offering some examples)

Oh yeah, I met Capt 193, not 200.

Yeah, you can’t have this list without #332 on it.

re: Matt D

I haven’t looked at all the covers you posted there yet, but that Cap #109 looks like a ripoff/homage to a Blue Beetle cover from the 40s.

i love how a lot of users on this site like to dismiss artwork if it 80% or more resembles any other thing that has been drawn in comics ever. if we start putting that kind of litmus test on new things – then there can be no new music, art, movies, books ever. except maybe s*** like that new Bruce Willis movie – because it is “original”

Keil:

It’s one thing to be inspired by something, it’s another to pay homage to it, and it’s a third to lift the concept. I look at cover homages in the same way I do at sampling music for hip hop. It’s okay to do it use to create something new, but at least have the decency to admit it and give the originator a little credit.

And not for nothing, but Surrogates was based on a comic book, and that both the move and graphic novel lift pretty heavily in style from other sources (I think so, anyway)

What about this?

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41EobP8hH1L._SL500_AA240_.jpg

and much as I hate the militarism of this one, given the time period, there’s also this:

http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america-2002/1-1.jpg

@ keil:

i love how a lot of users on this site like to dismiss artwork if it 80% or more resembles any other thing that has been drawn in comics ever. if we start putting that kind of litmus test on new things -

Brian stated exactly two (2) objective criteria for this list:
1. The cover cannot be the first appearance of the character.
2. The cover needs to have been homaged, or referenced, a lot.

By the standards of criteria #2, a cover is much less likely to be Iconic when it is an homage of another cover. These debates may get a bit nitpick-y, but then again this is a comic book blog. Nitpick-y is sort of the name of the game.

agree with Omar, Cap 250 is probably a pretty big ommission, they made buttons off of that cover. I would bet that more people who don’t read comics have seen the Cap for president button than any of these actual covers. Heck I have 4 Captain America shirts and one of them is the cap for president one(got that from my nephew) and it’s the only shirt that is taken from a cover. Sure people remember the button more than the entire cover, but still it’s iconic

I’ll defend Cap #25, as yeah, it’s a pretty iconic cover, that will sure to be parodied over the years..and has already.

However, despite my…more years I care to think of…involvement in comcis, I don’t think I’ve ever even seen Captain aMerica #3 (the Red Skull one) before.

I’d say the Cap No More, or Annual 11? (Wolverine) are more fitting, to be honest.

oh – and when they made up this list, they seemed to skip from Golden age to the Captain America series – forgetting about Tales of Suspense

Cap was in Tales of Suspense?!?

I had no idea!!!

I wouldn’t really change anything on Brian’s list — great job by the way — but this is one of Captain America’s rare covers from the 1950s, and, more important, a genuinely nice job by Romita: http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=11230&zoom=4 .

Cap was in Tales of Suspense?!?

I had no idea!!!

:-)

By the way, for those wondering about the inclusion of Captain America #3 on the list, in addition to all the other reasons given so far this issue also features the first published work of Stan Lee. Not that that’s shown on the cover, of course, but it’s another reason why this cover is fairly well known.

I love the very first Kirby cover… Don’t think Hitler was that “bulky” but besides that it’s a fun cover… And check out Cap’s shield LOL…

What about the death of captain america? cant belive that’s been left off!

I’ve had two posters with the cover of Captain America #171 on it. One hangs on my cubicle at work. Much more iconic than the cover of Captain America #3. The Cap image on 171 has been used many times in many places.

[IMG]http://i968.photobucket.com/albums/ae162/joeshaffer1/Bronze%20Age%20Marvel/Captain%20America/CaptainAmerica171CGC9_8.jpg[/IMG]

Obviously, being what it is, the very first issue is the most iconic Cap cover ever. That said, here are my top 3 other pics. These are the three that say the most about Captain America, what he represents, and even who he is.

http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america-2002/1-1.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america-2002/23-1.jpg
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/332-20.jpg

Got to put Zeck on here somewhere. “Deathlok Lives”?

[…] you’re curious, here are the top five iconic Captain America comic book covers, according to Comics Should Be […]

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