Connect with us
Captain America Epic Collection: The Man Who Sold the United States
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Captain America Epic Collection: The Man Who Sold the United States’ struggles its way to both the US bicentennial and Jack Kirby’s return

Where Englehart and Robbins’ stories were watery but bombastic, Kirby’s skewed absolutely insane.

Coming out of Watergate – having witnessed a secret society in Washington and a suicide in the White House – Captain America was feeling very unpatriotic. His country had not only failed him, it had failed a whole generation of new American soldiers, had abandoned the hard-won American Dream Cap always believed he stood for. It was clear to him that believing in an ideal and living an ideal were separate things.  

Cap had to make a stand; with the United States Bicentennial coming up, however, that stand had to be quick. With the rest of American pop culture gearing up to celebrate the anniversary of the American Revolution in a red, white, and blue bonanza, it wouldn’t do for the star-spangled Avenger to be off in the weeds, fighting a revolution of his own.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!
Captain America Epic Collection: The Man Who Sold the United States

Marvel Comics

Steve Rogers’ original turn as Nomad, then, lasted an almost meaningless four issues. Just enough time for a kid to adopt the Captain America moniker and get himself killed by the Red Skull; not only was Steve meant to proudly wear the costume, he was all-but duty bound to ensure that nobody else wear it.

The issues following the landmark, politically-charged Secret Empire storyline feature this brief tun as Nomad, the return of the Red Skull, and a confusing revelation regarding the Falcon’s identity (is he a mind-altered Skull lackey?). Almost all of it, to an issue, have the feeling of being disposable.

Perhaps this was a reaction to the grisly conclusions of The Secret Empire, or perhaps writer Steve Englehart had grown leery of a book he would soon be leaving. Some of it almost certainly has to do with the replacement of solid Marvel superstar artist Sal Buscema with the much more rubbery, cartoony pencils of Frank Robbins, whose figures sprang about with high energy but whose Red Skull resembled a discarded wad of chewing gum.

Captain America Epic Collection: The Man Who Sold the United States

Already-been-chewed.
Marvel Comics

The important portion of Captain America Epic Collection: The Man Who Sold the United States arrives midway through the book: Jack Kirby returns.

Jack had defected to DC back in 1971 and got to work on Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen while he attempted to navigate the company to create his New Gods saga without editorial interference. Editorial absolutely interfered, canceling Jack’s books. Stinging, Jack returned to Marvel, to Captain America, and to Black Panther.

Where Englehart and Robbins’ stories were watery but bombastic, Kirby’s skewed absolutely insane. There is no transition time before things get full Kirby Weird: brain-shaped mega-bombs, giants playing ball with foam rubber boulders, cages of freaks; nearly everything of the preceding issues is summarily abandoned.

Captain America Epic Collection: The Man Who Sold the United States

Marvel Comics

A lot of Superman’s Pal can be seen in Captain America: secret (literally) underground societies, extreme sport death matches (in this case gladiatorial skateboard derbies), vast conspiracies.

Ultimately, Cap’s contribution to the Bicentennial is overthrowing a society of powdered-wig wearing monarchs with plans of using Madbombs to reduce the country to its pre-Revolution state. He stages a second Revolutionary War, essentially. It’s delivered with a hyperactive zaniness that only Jack Kirby could muster.

Captain America Epic Collection: The Man Who Sold the United States

Marvel Comics

The book concludes with Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles Treasury Edition, a massive special in which the Contemplator (here known as *tugs collar* Mister Buda) whisks Cap to different country-defining moments, as if to drill the American dream back into a man who had only recently been a Nomad.

Captain America Epic Collection: The Man Who Sold the United States
‘Captain America Epic Collection: The Man Who Sold the United States’ struggles its way to both the US bicentennial and Jack Kirby’s return
Captain America Epic Collection: The Man Who Sold the United States
A brief period of Nomad and some half-hearted drama concludes with Jack Kirby's zany return to the character.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Non-stop high-energy.
A dive into the ridiculous that only Jack Kirby could provide.
Though loveable, Frank Robbins' rubbery characters can be grating.
8
Good
Buy Now

Join the AIPT Patreon

Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:

  • ❌ Remove all ads on the website
  • 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
  • 📗 Access to our monthly book club
  • 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
  • 💥 And more!
Sign up today
Comments

In Case You Missed It

'Uncanny X-Men' #1 variant covers give new looks at Wolverine, Gambit and more 'Uncanny X-Men' #1 variant covers give new looks at Wolverine, Gambit and more

‘Uncanny X-Men’ #1 variant covers give new looks at Wolverine, Gambit and more

Comic Books

Ubisoft Star Wars Outlaws The Crew Ubisoft Star Wars Outlaws The Crew

Ubisoft continues to lose the trust of gamers after Star Wars Outlaws and The Crew controversies

Gaming

‘Hellboy: The Crooked Man’ director Brian Taylor confirms film did not use AI ‘Hellboy: The Crooked Man’ director Brian Taylor confirms film did not use AI

‘Hellboy: The Crooked Man’ director Brian Taylor confirms film did not use AI

Comic Books

'Ultimate Spider-Man' #5 to kick-off 'The Rise of Doctor Octopus' 'Ultimate Spider-Man' #5 to kick-off 'The Rise of Doctor Octopus'

‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ #5 to kick-off ‘The Rise of Doctor Octopus’

Comic Books

Connect
Newsletter Signup