Captain America #102 (1968)

It seems appropriate for my first post reviewing an older comic to be a review of a comic by Stan & Jack. No pair of creators has ever had a stronger influence on American comics than those two, both as a team and seperately. And, directly or indirectly, they have both had a strong influence on my comics reading habits.

Yeah, yeah, if you read comics you probably know all about Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, have heard about Stan and Jack ad nauseum. That’s all well and good, but how do their comics read today, in this case some 37 years later? (I was two when this comic came out, by the way – yet another sign that I’m getting old. But this isn’t supposed to be a personal blog.)

Captain America #102 is one of those kinds of Lee/Kirby comics that people think about when they talk about the team. It contains some wonderful and iconic art by Jack Kirby (inked by the terrific Syd Shores – one of my favorite Kirby inkers) and one of those stories by Stan Lee that reads as if it was made up on the spot. In fact, that’s one of the joys of reading a comic created by that pair; it probably was more or less creates spontaneously, in a bright burst of creativity. Therefore the best of their teamings have a brightness and freshness about them that many newer comics don’t have, a kind of spontanaeity that comes from the crushing workload that these two men took on for so many years. There just wasn’t time for a lot of polish; this was a disposable entertainment created for kids and created to make a buck. The two men did as well as they could in creating the stories, and sometimes created something brilliant. Other times they created the merely wonderful, such as this charming comic.

I really had low expectations when I picked up this comic. Mainly, it was one of a dozen or so issues I needed to fill my Captain America run from #100 (his first solo issue) to #225 (just after Steve Gerber, my favorite comic writer, left the series). But this comic was a treat from cover to cover. It was full of action and excitement, and the climax of the issue took an unexpected turn.

This is Cap at his most iconic.

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