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After a month of spotlighting the strange (if endearingly strange) history of comic books (and especially the Silver Age), I think it is worthwhile to show the comic books of the Silver Age that are simply great stories period. Here is an archive of all the Silver Age comics features so far!
Today we look at a story that is so iconic that we often overlook just how well done it was, the first Silver Age appearance of Steve Rogers as he joins the Avengers in 1964’s Avengers #4 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and George Roussos.
The issue kicks off with a neat contribution by one of Marvel’s other Golden Age icons, as Namor is the one responsible for Captain America’s return. This is our first retcon, as this is the establishment that Captain America did not “survive” the war (I guess the Strange Tales story with the fake Captain America got that point across, as well).
Here is one of the most impressive “dedication to cool moments” as the Avengers discover Captain America and he comes to…
Isn’t that just the greatest testament to Cap’s coolness? The dude awakes in the future, surrounded by fantastic looking people and he collects himself in, like, 30 seconds. “Yeah, whatever, I’m Captain effin’ America. You think I give a crap about this?”
And then, just for the heck of it, he demostrates how badass he is…
It is just striking to see how good of a job Lee and Kirby do in re-establishing Captain America.
Next comes the second retcon – the BIG one, the one that made “Bucky is dead” a sacred part of the Marvel Universe (which always amuses me that such a “you can’t retcon that!” idea was, itself, a retcon)…
That was done in ONE FREAKING PAGE, people!!! Amazing.
Then when the Avengers return to New York, they are immobilized by a bad guy so Cap is flying solo. I really love the way that Lee plays with the notion that this would be a really emotional thing for typical New Yorkers…
By the way, how amazing is the expression work that Kirby and Roussos do on that second-to-last panel!? Cap’s face lights up like a Fourth of July fireworks display!
And then, once again, though, Cap is so awesome that he just flips the switch and its all “let’s get the job done”…
Dude has essentially leaped two decades into the future and he just quickly adapts to the new technology and just gets the job done.
The rest of the issue is actually fairly weak, but these early pages are SO amazing that it makes the issue an instant classic.
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