Monday, September 19, 2016

All-American

Essential Captain America Volume 2 (1968-1970/ Collected 2004): written by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Jim Steranko; illustrated by Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Gene Colan, John Romita, Joe Sinnott, Syd Shores, and others: The great transition period of Captain America begins here, as co-writer/penciller Jack Kirby gives way to Jim Steranko gives way to John Romita gives way, finally, to Gene Colan, who would stay on the book for a few years as penciller. 

Early red-giant-phase Stan Lee writes Steve Rogers, Captain America, as such an angsty bastard that the book occasionally shudders to a halt, bloated and inert and over-stuffed with bathetic self-pity. Redemptively, the art is good throughout, and Steranko's innovative lay-outs are such a  show-stopper that they've been collected and re-collected on numerous occasions. I don't know that the Gene Colan/Joe Sinnott art team ever entirely works for me -- Sinnott's inks normalize Colan's pencils a bit too much, make them a bit too smooth. 

It's 1968 when the collection begins, and Kirby and Stan Lee are clearly producing too much material at the time -- Lee's writing is well into its state of decay. Kirby is still great, but he's decreased the number of panels per page already, as he did on all of his Marvel books in the late 1960's. It makes for more interesting visual storytelling but also a real and notable decrease in content. Cap's African-American pal The Falcon makes his debut here. Once Kirby and Steranko leave, the new villains become ridiculous, as Lee flounders to create interesting villains and mostly fails. Recommended.


Doc Savage: The Spider's Web (2016/ Collected 2016): written by Chris Roberson; illustrated by Cezar Razek: Writer Chris Roberson nails venerable pulp hero Doc Savage much more effectively in his second go-round on the Man of Bronze's adventures for Dynamite Comics. Cezar Razek is a pleasant, straightforward cartoonist. I wish Dynamite would put an artist more, well, dynamic, on the new adventures of Doc Savage. So it goes. Any time Doc has to deal with an Earthquake Machine is all right with me. Recommended.

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