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Captain America: The 1940's Newspaper Strip #1: Review

Jun 2010
Karl Kesel, Karl Kesel

Story Name:

The Birth of a Legend!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Captain America: The 1940's Newspaper Strip #1 Review by (July 19, 2021)

Review: A Captain America comic strip in newspapers in the 1940s? I didn’t know there was one! Ah, that’s the catch: there wasn’t. Karl Kesel has imagined what such a thing would have looked like, compared to the real Superman and Batman strips of the era and he presents this series. Originally published as a daily webcomic on Marvel’s digital site, they followed the pattern of the newspaper strip: Monday-Saturday saw three-four panel installments with a triple-sized strip on Sunday in full color. The entire strip is in color here, a concession to the demands of modern marketing—and with a modern computerized palette here, not the limited output of the traditional four-color press.  

The story and art are perfect, with a constant steam of action a daily strip requires. Sure, there are a few odd moments: if this is a guarded top secret base, how come there seem to be very few soldiers in any scene that needs some? The story often gives the impression that Cap, Bucky, Betsy, and the scientists are there alone, though someone must cook the meals, since we see a cafeteria. But the place must be crawling with soldiers, except they all seem to be off-duty when needed. And the most mind-boggling moment of all: can you really imagine such an intense and bloody-minded man like the Red Skull impersonating the chatty and outgoing Mickey Flynn for even five minutes without becoming fed up and breaking character? But subtle characterization is not the domain of a daily strip and this tribute to the olden days of comics is a delight.

Comments: Story is set before America has entered WW2 i.e. before December 1941. Bucky is seen reading MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS, an authentic Timely product of the era. Includes an essay by Karl Kesel on the genesis of the project. Artist Rich Ellis is credited with backgrounds.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America: The 1940's Newspaper Strip #1 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

After a brief recap of the origin of Captain America, the story begins: Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes are summoned to duty as Cap and Bucky by the FBI. Their liaison, Agent Betsy Ross, picks them up and gasses them. They awaken in a top secret underground lab called Operation Firebird. There they are to help with attempts to recreate Cap’s Super-Soldier Formula. The guys are introduced to Dr. Todd who wants to study Cap in depth to see if the data collected will yield any results; while Todd is examining Cap, his prim assistant Miss Vinegar will interview Bucky (while she is clearly attracted to him). Later, Betsy Ross tells Cap that she blames herself for allowing the Nazi spy to enter and kill Dr. Erskine and won’t let anything like that happen again. Cap and Bucky take her to a makeshift dinner to cheer her up but an alarm goes off. A giant ape-like monster is running amok in the building. The two heroes knock it out and then it is discovered that it is Dr. Kellog, who was experimenting with vitamins to recreate the formula and tested it on himself, with unhappy results. Then Dr. Smythe, who was working on a remote-controlled robot soldier, vanishes and an outline of a red skull is painted on the wall of his lab. A search turns up nothing so Betsy calls in the FBI’s espionage expert, Mickey Flynn, a chatty and comical Irishman. A quick survey of the lab and Flynn concludes that the Red Skull had nothing to do with Smythe’s disappearance….

Karl Kesel
Karl Kesel
Butch Guice (Cover Penciler)
Butch Guice (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Bucky Barnes
Bucky Barnes

(James Barnes)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Red Skull
Red Skull

(Johann Shmidt)

Plus: Betsy Ross (FBI Agent).

> Captain America: The 1940's Newspaper Strip: Book info and issue index

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