Captain America – Top 5 Creative Teams

The character Captain America is not only the greatest superhero to ever don the red, white, and blue, but also the only hero from the Golden Age strictly born out of patriotism that survives today. That alone says something about the strength of the character, and in a small way about patriotism in general. That being said, Captain America has had some very thought-provoking story lines over the years, and a select few men have been responsible! Here are my choices for the five best of all time!

 

 

5. Joe Simon (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist)

There are two reasons I have these gentleman on this list (and where). First, I don’t believe you can have a list like this without the creators of the character. Not having read very much material from the Golden Age is why this team isn’t higher on the list. The fact that these men created one of the most iconic characters ever, but that they had him punching the ultimate personification of evil (Adolph Hitler) in the face is absolutely fantastic.

 

4. Stan Lee (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist)

In his second run with Cap, Kirby really cranked up the visual feasts. He took Cap to new heights that haven’t been reached again and probably never will be. The stories in this era (Silver Age in Tales of Suspense, and then his own title) had more intrigue and spy material than straight up war angles, and that fit perfectly with the Cold War going on at the time.

 

 

3. Roger Stern (writer) and John Byrne (artist)

If you sit back and think how great this run was and that it only encompassed nine issues, that alone tells you how great it truly was to read. Any creative team that can produce a serious story about Cap considering running for the presidency and you believe it, has to be near the top of any list. And just the creepy Baron Blood issues alone are incredibly good!

 

2. Ed Brubaker (writer) and Steve Epting (artist)

To say that Captain America (and a lot of the Marvel Universe) needed updating after the turn of the century is an understatement. The shot in the arm was delivered by this awesome team. And yes, this is a list of Cap creative teams, but this team bringing back Bucky, and turning him into Steve’s worst nightmare was pure genius. No one has come close to this level of writing since.

 

1. Steve Englehart (writer) and Sal Buscema (artist)

From issue #153-181 (with almost no interruptions), Steve and Sal gave the readers everything they could possibly want. The political intrigue, racial bigotry, disturbing truths about a government he trusted, etc. The best part though, was Cap’s friendship with the Falcon. He and Sam Wilson grew to be best of friends, and an awesome crime fighting team! The villains were a big part of this run as well- Dr. Faustus, the 1950s Cap and Bucky (click here for details), Red Skull, Yellow Claw, Serpent Squad, Baron Zemo, Moonstone, and more! All the while having guest stars like the X-Men, S.H.I.E.L.D., Black Panther, Iron Man, you name it. This creative team pulled out all the stops (even Cap quitting!), and that is why they are number one!

 

 

Honorable mentions; first, to the team of Jack Kirby (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist)! His return to Marvel in the mid-1970s ushered in some incredible trippy stories starring Cap, and even if the stories don’t grab you, the mind-numbing artwork will! Also, Stan Lee (writer) and Gene Colan (artist). Awesome run with more action than you can ever want, and a signature art style that is absolutely unique!

 

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Daredevil 124, 1975 “In The Coils of The Copperhead!”

Back again, and this time I have another shot of Daredevil for you! The silly villain this time around is called “Copperhead.” It seems that Daredevil has competition out there in the form of a person imitating a character from a pulp book from the 1930s. This man has no regard for life (sort of like the Punisher), and lays down judgement on wrongdoers all over the city. It’s up to Mr. Murdoch to try to stop this renegade, if he can! Copperhead is no joke…OK, he is but he does have poison tipped darts that he shoots out of his gun, and a diamond hard mask to protect his identity! Plus, we get some political drama with Foggy as well in this issue!

I’m not quite sure why, but the issue is written by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman (he was the steady writer around this time, and Wein the editor). No matter though, as both guys gives us the straight forward dialogue you came to expect from this title in the Bronze Age. The artistic team is one that I’m torn over. Gene Colan (pencils) is without a doubt my favorite penciler of all time. He’s so uniquely talented, you’ve got to love the guy’s work. The inks are provided by Klaus Janson. His work with Frank Miller on Daredevil in the 1980s is fantastic, as is his solo work. He just doesn’t seem like the best match for Colan’s pencils. The colors are provided by Michele Wolfman, and the letters by Joe Rosen. We also get a great cover by the team of Gil Kane (pencils) and Frank Giacoia (inks)!

 

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Doctor Strange 12, 1976 “Final Curtain!”

It’s no secret that Doctor Strange is my favorite character. His 1974 series is undoubtedly one of the most underrated series of all time. From start to finish it’s incredible. And let’s be honest, with creators like Steve Englehart, Gene Colan, Roger Stern, Jim Starlin, Tom Sutton, Marv Wolfman, Rudy Nebres, Paul Smith (and more!), you can’t go wrong! This particular issue deals with the Doc, as he’s about to be in conflict with Eternity himself, for the soul of his recently deceased master, the Ancient One! A flashback of the insidious Baron Mordo, and the Doc and Clea see the world die!

As the creative tag-team of Steve Englehart (writer) and Gene Colan (pencils) was beginning to wind down, one might think that the material might suffer, but this is not so. Both men brought their “A” game until the end of the run. It’s to be expected though, as both were consummate pros throughout their comic book careers. Another link in the awesome creative chain, is Tom Palmer (inks, colors). His work alongside Colan is legendary, even if you only look at this title or Tomb of Dracula. Yet another name synonymous with Bronze Age royalty is Tom Orzechowski (letters). He was a constant at Marvel and definitely earned his place among these other greats with his diligence. Throw in Marv Wolfman (editor), and the credits are full of amazing creators that gave their best!

 

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The Spider: Scavengers of The Slaughtered Sacrifices (2002)

When you have a character that has been around since 1933, it’s kind of double-edged sword if you try to modernize him. Most creators don’t though, and that’s a good thing. Sure you might miss out on the youth that doesn’t care about pulp characters, but you will hit your target demographic. The character in this story is called The Spider. He’s Richard Wentworth, a rich, playboy type guy, that uses his wealth to help him in his fight against injustice…no, not Batman, The Spider! When Harry Steeger created this character, the only other big time pulp characters were basically The Phantom, and The Spirit. Steeger did a good job at using the momentum those characters had generated, but The Spider definitely stood out from them.

Fast forward to the year 2012, Dynamite Entertainment put out some promotional material stating a new series starring this character was soon to be published. It definitely piqued my interest, and the series paid off with great talent (David Liss, Colton Worley, Alex Ross, Francesco Francavilla, and others), that brought intriguing stories, incredible artwork, and quite frankly, a breath of fresh air to the medium.

This introduction got me thinking that perhaps there was more material that I could feast upon? The first book I encountered was an immediate buy. Why? Because when I saw Don McGregor (writer) and Gene Colan (art) at the top of the book (The Spider: Scavengers of the Slaughtered Sacrifices – 2002 Vanguard), that’s all it took. I knew nothing about the story but had faith in Don’s reputation, and of course, it didn’t hurt that my favorite artist was also one of the creators either. If you like crime, action, Noir, and a twist of the macabre, then this is a book you must seek out right away. It’s like mashing Tomb of Dracula and Batman meets Ghost Rider. No joke, it’s that cool.

 

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The Wedding of Dracula (1991- Originally 1974-76) “Blood Rites”

It’s time once again, to spotlight the best comic book title from the Bronze Age! Yes, you read that correctly. Not the best horror comic, THE best comic book, period. The Tomb of Dracula ran for 70 issues, from 1972 until 1979, and was without a doubt one of the best series ever. This little reprint book from 1992 has three issues in it. Two of the issues are back to back (45-46) and one is a standalone (30). The two consecutive issues revolve around Dracula using his influence on a satanic cult, and getting married. Good stuff, but I love the standalone issue better. That one shows Dracula reminiscing about some adventures he had in the past. One in particular where he meets a blind girl is quite fascinating.

The dream team of Marv Wolfman (writer), Gene Colan (pencils), and Tom Palmer (inks and colors), was in place for a while when these issues were published. They were on a roll by this point, and churning out fantastic stories. You add John Costanza (letters), and the crew is complete. This creative team would go on for 70 issues total in this series, and Wolfman and Colan would do more Dracula work in the future as well (Tomb of Dracula, 1991-92 – Epic, and The Curse of Dracula, 1998 – Dark Horse). Whatever the format, get out and grab one of the best books around!

 

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Tales of the Zombie 6, 1974 “Child of Darkness!”

The Marvel black and white magazines from the Bronze Age are nothing short or astonishing. The painted covers, great creators, and over-sized goodness are just a few reasons why I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to grab more every time I hit a convention. One of the books at the top of my list, is Tales of the Zombie. This particular issue only has two stories (most had more), but they’re great ones! The first is a Simon Garth tale, and as you can imagine, it involves something eerie. A prominent couple that leaves all their wealth behind to move into a voodoo infested swamp! The second tale involves Brother Voodoo! Yes, Jericho Drumm himself, as he battles The Black Talon!

As far as creative teams go, this book is tough to beat. The Zombie story has Steve Gerber (writer), and Pablo Marcos (art)! Both men made their names in the 1970’s, and their work still resonates to this day. The second story is brought to us by Len Wein (plot), Doug Moench (script), and the art team of Gene Colan (pencils) and Frank Chiaramonte (inks). The fabulous cover is by the late Earl Norem. He did a few of these great covers for Marvel’s magazines, and really seems to have been an unsung hero of the industry.

 

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Marvel Double Feature #19, 1976 “A Time to Die–A Time to Live!”

As time marches on, back issues from the Silver Age and even the Bronze Age are creeping up in price. The scarcity of these gems is becoming a fact, and it drives the prices up. This is why I choose to go the route of reprints (the majority of the time)! Yeah, sometimes the colors are muddled with or the covers are tweaked, but I can live with that, as long as I get to read these marvelous books. In this fantastic issue, we get not only get a Captain America story, but also Iron Man! Both are classics, and have great creative teams behind them.

Speaking of creative teams, is there anyone that drew Captain America better than Jack “King” Kirby (cover and interior pencils)? Others have done fine work (Byrne, Romita, etc.), but no one seemed to really capture the essence of the character quite like the king! And who better to ink this story than “Joltin'” Joe Sinnott! Written by Stan Lee, and lettered by Artie Simek. The second story, was written by “Amiable” Archie Goodwin, the pencils by Gene “The Dean” Colan, inks by Johnny Craig (yeah, that E.C. Comics legend!), and letters once again by “Adorable” Artie Simek!

 

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Marvel Adventures #1, 1975 “The Tri-Man Lives!”

I’ll be honest, Daredevil isn’t one of my favorite characters. I don’t dislike him, but he just doesn’t get me aroused. There are a couple of aspects about his life that I do like (his terrible love life, his relationship with Foggy), but overall, I find him slightly dull. There is always one reason to check out some DD though, and that’s because of Gene Colan. He was the first consistent artist on the book, lending his pencils to over 80 issues of that title (the 1964 original run). He penciled one of the most socially significant stories of the decade in Daredevil #47, “Brother Take My Hand.” In this reprint book we see issue #22 shown again. The story centers around three villains, the Tri-Man, The Gladiator, and The Masked Marauder! Now, granted these guys aren’t the cream of the crop in the villain category, but Colan makes them look very menacing!

At this point, DD was still in his infancy, so Stan Lee was writing the book (as he was contributing to most scripts back then (1966). Initially, the book had a couple of different legendary artist (Bill Everett, Wally Wood), but it wasn’t until Gene “The Dean” Colan took over on the book that it had the great consistency it lacked. The inks in this one were provided by two men that were absolute stalwarts in the Silver and Bronze Ages. “Fearless” Frank Giacoia and “Darlin'” Dick Ayers, were both excellent inkers that are legends in the industry. The colors were provided by Stan Goldberg, and letters by Sam Rosen.

 

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Daredevil #47, 1968 “Brother Take My Hand”

With the Vietnam War in full swing, and the tragic deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, the atmosphere in the U.S. (and the world) in 1968, was less than inspiring. Many rallied to try to reinforce efforts against such atrocities, and Marvel Comics would add their little story to help ease racial tensions. It might seem to some that a story in a comic book is inconsequential but I beg to differ. Comic books were definitely on the rise in the late 1960’s, and were gaining ground with the youth of America once again. This story, by Stan Lee and Gene Colan is one that still resonates to this day.

In this tale, we see a soldier, Willie Lincoln, who’s a black man who was wounded in Vietnam, and lost his sight. He’s still trying to get his bearings with his blindness, and it isn’t going well. Daredevil has agreed to entertain the troops with some of his acrobatic maneuvers, and Willie is a huge fan of his. They hit it off great, and DD tells Willie to look up a friend of his when he gets back to the states. The friend of course, is Matt Murdoch! It’s a great story that really hammers home the point of no matter what the color of your skin is, we’re all the same.

Written by Stan ‘The Man’ Lee, pencils by Gene ‘The Dean’ Colan, inks by George Klein, and letters by Artie Simek! This is one that I own in a reprint book that was a tribute to Gene Colan. I believe the proceeds (or part of them) went to help Gene with some medical expenses. If you can grab a copy of this book or a trade containing this story, don’t hesitate!

 

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Valentines Day Special! “Panel Love”

In honor of Valentine’s Day, this post will show all the love in the Marvel Universe! No rhyme or reason (OK, other than starting and finishing with the Black Knight), just some good old-fashioned panels showing heroes and heroines of all different walks getting their love on! I found quite a few Fantastic Four panels, and believe it or not, some horror panels, but the variety is here for everyone! People all over the world…join hands…start a love train.., love train! Enjoy!

Art by Tony DeZuniga (RIP)

Art by Tony DeZuniga

Art by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer.

Art by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer

Art by Jack 'King' Kirby & Joe Sinnott

Art by Jack ‘King’ Kirby & Joe Sinnott

Art by Jack 'King' Kirby & Joe Sinnott

Art by Jack ‘King’ Kirby & Joe Sinnott

Art by Jack 'King' Kirby & Frank Giacoia

Art by Jack ‘King’ Kirby & Frank Giacoia

Art by 'Big' John Buscema & Dan Adkins

Art by ‘Big’ John Buscema & Dan Adkins

Art by George Tuska & Vince Colletta

Art by George Tuska & Vince Colletta

Art by Gil Kane & Joe Sinnott

Art by Gil Kane & Joe Sinnott

Art by Jack 'King' Kirby & Vince Colletta

Art by Jack ‘King’ Kirby & Vince Colletta

Art by Tom Sutton & Ernie Chan

Art by Tom Sutton & Ernie Chan

Art by Gene Colan

Art by Gene Colan

Art by Gene Colan & Tom Palmer

Art by Gene Colan & Tom Palmer

Art by 'Big' John Buscema & Jose Marzan

Art by ‘Big’ John Buscema & Jose Marzan

Art by 'Big' John Buscema & Jose Marzan

Art by ‘Big’ John Buscema & Jose Marzan