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July 3, 2006


I Love (Captain) America (Covers)

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Who doesn't love this comic? I've never heard much praise for the cover, but I enjoy this one. The protagonist is slightly hunched forward in a way that makes him look compact and explosive. I like the little scenes around Captain America, how they support the cover's theme and give a preview of what's inside without this becoming a "story" cover. They're imaginatively staged, too -- look how Captain America is placed. There's a compelling swirl of energy to the visual stops and starts on this cover, which anchors the center figure.

*****

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Marie Severin's covers are hit and miss for me. I tend to like them when she concentrates on a single image, like the body here, or when a graphic element interrupts the stereotypical late '60s/early '70s Marvel staging of two (or more) bodies facing off against one another. I like the way the bottom of the logo reinforces the line created by Captain America's shoulders.

Note the weird way the flag colors are tiered here. I can't find this particuar order of colors on any other Cap cover. In general, I've always found it odd that when you look at a bunch of Captain America covers how little difference a multi- vs. single-color logo makes in one's initial inventory of how well it works. Even Daredevil's logo makes more of an impression, and that guy's blind.

*****

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I like the idea more than the execution, mostly because I don't quite believe the fist. I admit the way Captain America looks in real trouble here goes a long, long way to selling the idea, though. Most cover text seems unecessary to me, but when you're selling to little kids as Marvel probably still it was at this point it's good not to count on their catching the visual cues by themselves. It's enough for a little kid to think, "Wait, is that the Hulk?" look down and find out, then think, "It is the Hulk. Holy crap."

*****

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This one's a lot better looking in one's hands than as a jpeg onscreen. I always liked the way Captain America's colors popped against the subdued background color here. The secondary design elements are extremely well-realized and intriguing; check out that creepy Bucky, or that weird face in the bottom left hand corner. Also, that Red Skull depiction kicks ass.

*****

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I'm not a fan of most of the 1940s Captain America covers. I find them way too busy, without the compensating virtue of lurching over into the gonzo fury the best "fighting boys" covers offered. Like Golden Age Daredevil, Captain America sure did like parachuting in on people, except hanging in the air kills Captain America dead as a compelling action figure and his costume is wat too goofy a graphic element to look good just placed onto the page. I'm not sure why there wasn't more simple replication of the panel-breaking action for which the character was best known.

I like the above cover okay. Characters looming over a city is easy visual shorthand to communicate dominance in one's endeavors. It's almost always used for villains, although speaking of Captain America I remember a cover in the 1970s I think drawn by John Romita where Spider-Man plays this role over Captain America and the Falcon. Unlike most heroes, I think this works for Captain America if you don't oversell it. Part of his "sentinel of liberty" image means Captain America doesn't always have to play the plucky underdog. You have to assume if he's fighting crime, crime is being fought. Another thing I like is the way the drawings of the criminals reinforce the feeling of turmoil they must feel as Cap lords it over them. When heroes are confronted with giants looming over buildings, their reaction is usually just to put up their hands up like it burns them. You gotta respect the guy who shoots back.

Those thigh muscles are pretty crazy; I have no idea who this artist is, but I don't think it's one of the super-prominent ones of that era.
 
posted 11:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
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