How Lee & Kirby's "Fantastic Four" Birthed the Marvel Universe, Part 1
Every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer while still acknowledging that the abandoned story DID still happen. Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of Abandoned Love. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.
This time around, we look at a little-known dramatic shift in Captain America’s status quo…
It’s funny, people often think of dramatic shifts in the status quo as being a somewhat modern invention, a post Silver Age idea, but as we will see from this week’s column, even back in the Golden Age, comic book writers were trying “shocking” changes to the status quo.
A few months back, I detailed how Stan Lee eventually dealt with the end of World War II in Captain America’s comic. Steve Rogers came back to the United States and began teaching at a local public school. Former government operative Betsy Ross (who appeared in Captain America Comics #1) showed up here and there.
This only lasted for only seven issues before Marvel (they were not yet actually called Marvel, of course) decided to try a new approach for the comic, which was in a sales slump due to the general late 1940s superhero sales slump and likely a more specific lack of interest in Captain America outside of the context of World War II.
So in 1948’s Captain America #66, Bill Woolfolk, Syd Shores and Ken Bald gave us a shocking change to Captain America’s status quo.
First, Bucky is shot in battle!
Then Cap, oddly enough, decides he really can’t work without a partner, leading to quite a change…
This was almost certainly part of Marvel’s big push for female superheroes in 1948, which I discussed in an old Comic Book Legends Revealed here.
Golden Girl was Cap’s partner for the rest of Cap’s series, which wasn’t that long, as the book ended as a superhero title with #74.
#71 had Bucky show up to confirm he was okay and then officially shuffle him out of the book…
The series ended for good in 1949. Five years later, Marvel decided to revive Captain America as an anti-Communist hero and in this story (drawn by John Romita) in #76, see how Betsy Ross’ tenure and Bucky’s absence have been completely abandoned…
Later Marvel writers established that it was the Patriot who was the Captain America whose Bucky was shot and replaced by Golden Girl. That version of Cap ended up marrying Golden Girl (there is a great Patriot mini-series by Karl Kesel and the Breitweisers that is well worth reading).
That’s it for this installment, if you have a suggestion for a future edition of Abandoned Love, drop me a line at email@example.com!
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