In many ways, Captain America is a character that’s still incredibly relevant today: a guy who stands up for the right thing and, of course, punches Nazis. The timeless message he conveys is a big part of why this character has had the longevity he has — 80 years of punching Nazis and standing up against injustice is nothing to sneeze at. Captain America Anniversary Tribute #1 is a great tribute to the character, honoring his roots and all that he’s stood for throughout the years.
The book does a great job of emulating those early Cap stories in its art and panel framing. It’s cute almost, seeing these panels recreated in modern art that honors what came before it. In many ways, Captain America Anniversary Tribute isn’t just honoring Cap stories before the modern age, but comics as a whole. It’s a neat glimpse into the past of how these stories were written and drawn.
The book is a bit uneven as a tribute to all of Cap’s lore, encompassing mostly the early years. So you get a lot of famous stories being told, including Steve becoming Cap, Cap meeting Bucky, and some early tussles with the Red Skull. There’s even a retelling of the classic Avengers story where the team finds Cap in a block of ice, complete with gorgeous artwork from Terry and Rachel Dodson, Alex Ross, and more.
It’s a bit of a shame that major beats in the character’s history weren’t touched on, including the work Ed Brubaker did with the Winter Soldier arc or Steve’s untimely “death” at the hands of a brainwashed Sharon. Characters like Sharon Carter, Sam Wilson, or post-sidekick era Bucky don’t really get a spotlight at all in this tribute, which feels like a shame considering their place in his long history. The goal was clearly to only shed a spotlight on said issues, but as a tribute issue to the character, because of that, it feels a bit lacking.
On the other hand, Captain America Anniversary Tribute isn’t just a fanfare for Cap, it’s a tribute to the iconic work of Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, and Stan Lee. In that respect, this issue does everything it sought out to do.
All in all, Captain America Anniversary Tribute is a cute issue that embodies the comics the past and honors a timeless character. For readers who wanted to know about Cap’s early years but haven’t gotten the chance to read the old school comics — or people who jumped on board after the MCU revitalized the character — this issue is a great starting point for Captain America. For longtime readers, it’s a fun tribute to a beloved character, packed with tons of moments that will feel familiar.
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