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Captain America in the Late 1970s: From Jack Kirby to the Hulk!

Updated on August 2, 2015

This collection of 27 Captain America stories from the 1970s is really two books in one. The first half of Marvel Essential Captain America Vol. 6 is dedicated to the singular vision of a single artist, while the second half is a comic-book series by committee.

The book begins with stories that were written and drawn by the legendary Jack Kirby, who co-created Captain America back in 1941. In the early 1960s, Kirby and writer Stan Lee started the Marvel Universe with the creation of the Fantastic Four, Ant-Man, Thor and Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos (among others). In 1964, they revived Captain America in Avengers No. 4.

In 1970 Kirby left Marvel Comics in an acrimonious departure over money and respect. He returned to Marvel in the mid-1970s, taking over as writer and artist of Captain America with issue No. 193 (January 1976).

This volume starts with issue 206 (February 1977) with Kirby at full throttle. His stories are jam-packed with action, memorable characters, outlandish plots and mind-bending concepts, many of which were completely unrelated to the rest of the Marvel Universe. But Kirby unrestrained by a writer wasn't great with characterization or dialogue, so the stories veer wildly with pacing that seems sloppy at times.

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Return to the Basics

he second half of the collection is very different from the first. After Kirby's departure Marvel made the decision to curtail the more outlandish plots that had been occurring, returning Captain America to his roots. The stories emphasize his roots as a World War II superhero, and the challenges he finds dealing with the contemporary times. There's several issues exploring his background, and his association with the spy organization SHIELD becomes more prominent.

The book ends with a multi-issue fight against a crime organization that crossed over in The Incredible Hulk comic-book series that was one of the better stories in Captain America from that era. The artwork in the second half of the book is handled mostly by Sal Buscema and helpers, and Buscema is one of those underrated artists who always produced good work but never got much acclaim.

If you are fan of Captain America you will be very interested in the two visions of the superhero in this collection.

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