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‘Decades: Marvel in the 50s – Captain America Strikes!’ review

Marvel takes us back to the early years of the Cold War with ’50s Captain America and Bucky!

Ah, the 1950s. What’s not to like? Nuclear anxieties, the threat of communist invasion, and the Iron Curtain ravaged this era. Marvel brings us back to this time through its latest Decades installment by giving us the tales of Captain America and Bucky!

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A time capsule for Historians and Readers

This Decades installment is another great glimpse into Marvel’s history. The comic book medium in the ’50s, much like other eras, was reflecting what was going on at that time and Marvel was no exception to this. The Cold War crept into everything and nothing was safe, including Captain America and Bucky.

It is fascinating to read and see how the ’50s comic book creators depicted the evil of communism vs. the good American democratic ideals. One obvious reminder of this is the Red Skull being a communist. Get it? Red as in communism and skull as in…yeah, you get the idea. Who’s a better depiction of America’s battles against the rise of communism and threat of nuclear annihilation for kids in the ’50s than Captain America and Bucky?  Yes, the man that literally has the American flag on his outfit.

Comic book and Cold War historians will find ample material for discussions on such aspects as the portrayal of popular political ideologies of the day, major Cold War events, and the stereotypical artwork for Asian characters. The introduction of this installment does mention that today’s readers might be uncomfortable with the art for Asian characters, which was acceptable back then.

Causal readers will also be able to pick up these aspects and might reflect on how far Marvel has come since this time.

Captain America being suspected of being a communist might be one story of this installment that might intrigue readers. In the 1950s fear of communist infiltration at all levels of American society plagued the public. From Congressional investigations under Senator Joesph McCarthy to the trial of Soviet spies Mr. and Mrs. Rothenberg, Americans lived in fear. Captain America being suspected as a communist is a reflection of the Red Scare. Even America’s most patriotic comic book defender couldn’t be free of its reach.

Why should you care?

The answer to the question lies in part in the introduction of this installment. A name in the introduction that will be easily noticed by comic book readers is John Romita Sr. The installment is filled with young Romita Sr.’s beautiful and iconic artwork. What’s not to love about Romita Sr.’s art? It’s comic book art at its finest.

Marvel comic book history is diverse and chaotic when you look back at it. Decades helps streamline the narrative and chronology for modern-day readers. This installment helps clarify some confusing parts of Marvel’s and Captain America’s history from the ’50s in a concise manner.  

Is it good?
Marvel in the '50s is a great look back at the era with Captain America. Historians will enjoy this book for its rich Cold War themes. Modern readers will also find it to be an insightful look into Marvel and Cap's past.
Comic book and Cold War historians will enjoy its depiction on a number of aspects from the era
Amazing young John Romita Sr's art
Helps modern-day readers understand Marvel and Captain America's '50s history

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