9 April 2016

Revisiting Jim Steranko's Captain America

Timed for the release of the second Captain America film, Marvel are having a sale of Captain America comics. I learned about this on Saturday morning via a tweet from ComiXology and went to their website to see what was available, hoping to pick up some Jack Kirby copies leading up to issue #200 which I bought when it came out in August '76.

I might still do that but my casual searching first uncovered the short Jim Steranko run (issues 110, 111 and 113) from 1969. I was not reading the original American comics then, only the black and white UK reprints in comics like Pow!, and I have only managed to acquire one tatty original for my collection. I have bought most of his work in some form or another since then, sometimes more than once, and this was an opportunity to buy his Captain America issues in a digital form.

A few clicks later then all I had to do was wait for them to download onto my iPad. So much easier than going up to the top floor to look for a pint copy in one of the bookcases, I did not even need to get out of bed.

Jim Steranko is a genuine comic book legend, despite working on so few comics, because of his distinctive and original drawing style. Even today these comics look fresh even though they were drawn almost fifty years ago.

The obvious things to note are the use of panels, cropping, varied viewpoints including at an angle, heavy shading and rich detailing of machinery etc.

One thing that has changed, and for the better, over fifty years is the storytelling. These issues, written by Stan Lee, are verbose (note the additional text in the top right corner of the page above) and the story is full of gaping plot holes, such as when all the baddies leave Captain America alone in the assumption that one robot would finish him off.

Perhaps with another artist the story's weaknesses would have made it unreadable now (it was good for its time) but the Jim Steranko artwork did more than rescue the books, it made them classics that I was delighted to read again. A wonderful start to the weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Matthew - our drummer (Claudio) is a massive comic fan - please discuss when you see him next. Also just to say we really appreciate the time you to take to see it as it is, whatever you are watching! Looking forward to hearing what you thought of Who Are You? last night - best regards Andy Tunstall (Who Are You? and Sabbatage)


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