Captain America Spiral-Bound | June 14, 2022
Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Stan Lee, Jim Steranko, John Romita Sr., Gene Luen Yang (Foreword by), Ben Saunders (Introduction by), Ben Saunders (Series edited by)
★★★★☆+ from 101 to 500 ratings
A Penguin Classics Marvel Collection Edition
Collects Captain America Comics #1 (1941); the Captain America stories from Tales of Suspense #59, #63-68, #75-81, #92-95, #110-113 (1964-1969); “Captain America…Commie Smasher” from Captain America #78 (1954). It is impossible to imagine American popular culture without Marvel Comics. For decades, Marvel has published groundbreaking visual narratives that sustain attention on multiple levels: as metaphors for the experience of difference and otherness; as meditations on the fluid nature of identity; and as high-water marks in the artistic tradition of American cartooning, to name a few.
Drawing upon multiple comic book series, this collection includes Captain America’s very first appearances from 1941 alongside key examples of his first solo stories of the 1960s, in which Steve Rogers, the newly resurrected hero of World War II, searches to find his place in a new and unfamiliar world. As the contents reveal, the transformations of this American icon thus mark parallel transformations in the nation itself.
A foreword by Gene Luen Yang and scholarly introductions and apparatus by Ben Saunders offer further insight into the enduring significance of Captain America and classic Marvel comics.
The Deluxe Hardcover edition features gold foil stamping, gold top stain edges, special endpapers with artwork spotlighting series villains, and full-color art throughout.
“Penguin provides introductory essays; superb analyses by the series editor, Ben Saunders; and extensive bibliographies.”
—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
“Stories become classics when generations of readers sort through them, talk about them, imitate them, and recommend them. In this case, baby boomers read them when they débuted, Gen X-ers grew up with their sequels, and millennials encountered them through Marvel movies. Each generation of fans—initially fanboys, increasingly fangirls, and these days nonbinary fans, too—found new ways not just to read the comics but to use them. That’s how canons form. Amateurs and professionals, over decades, come to something like consensus about which books matter and why—or else they love to argue about it, and we get to follow the arguments. Canons rise and fall, gain works and lose others, when one generation of people with the power to publish, teach, and edit diverges from the one before ... A top-flight comic by Kirby—or his successor on “Captain America,” Jim Steranko—barely needed words. You could follow the story just by watching the characters act and react. Thankfully, Penguin volumes do justice to these images. They reproduce sixties comics in bright, flat, colorful inks on thick white paper—unlike the dot-based process used on old newsprint, but perhaps truer to their bold, thrill-chasing spirit.”
—Stephanie Burt, The New Yorker
Writer-editor Stan Lee (1922–2018) and artist Jack Kirby made comic book history in 1961 with The Fantastic Four #1. The success of its new style inspired Lee and his many collaborators to develop a number of new super heroes, including, with Jack Kirby, the Incredible Hulk and the X‑Men; with Steve Ditko, the Amazing Spider-Man and Doctor Strange; and with Bill Everett, Daredevil. Lee oversaw the adventures of these creations for more than a decade before handing over the editorial reins at Marvel to others and focusing on developing Marvel’s properties in other media. For the remainder of his long life, he continued to serve as a creative figurehead at Marvel and as an ambassador for the comics medium as a whole. In his final years, Lee’s signature cameo appearances in Marvel’s films established him as one of the world’s most famous faces.
While sharing a studio with Jack Kirby, artist Joe Simon co‑created Captain America, a stirring symbol of American idealism and pride during the war-torn 1940s. Simon and Kirby would go on to form one of the most productive partnerships of the early American comic book industry. The two men co‑created comics in every genre—crime, war, horror, science fiction, Western, humor, and romance—for numerous different publishers between 1940 and 1954. Noted characters and series included the Sandman and the Newsboy Legion for DC Comics, Young Romance for Crestwood, and Boys’ Ranch for Harvey. Simon also wrote two autobiographies—The Comic Book Makers (1990), coauthored with his son, Jim Simon, and Joe Simon: My Life in Comics (2011)— essential reading for any historian of comic book history and culture.
Jim Steranko rocked the comic book world in the late 1960s with a revolutionary approach to design and narrative, influenced by the contemporary worlds of both commercial and fine art. Steranko produced very little comics work after the 1970s, but his illustrations would grace the covers of numerous science fiction and fantasy novels, as well as film posters and record album sleeves. He has also produced character designs for a number of filmmakers, including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola. His two- volume History of Comics was one of the first modern works of comics scholarship, and his film industry magazine Prevue enjoyed an impressive twenty- five- year run. Steranko was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 2006.
John Romita Sr. was born in Brooklyn in 1930 and attended Manhattan’s School of Industrial Art before entering the comic book industry in 1949. He drew many comics for Marvel (then known as Timely or Atlas) during the early 1950s before moving to DC Comics in 1958, where he established a reputation as a master of romance comics. In 1965 he returned to Marvel, inking Don Heck’s pencils on an issue of the Avengers. After a short stint penciling Daredevil, Romita Sr. was tapped by Stan Lee to take over The Amazing Spider-Man when original artist Steve Ditko left the book. Romita Sr. brought a new emotional warmth to the series, while his slick, clean craftsmanship took the title to even greater commercial heights. His renditions of the title character, as well as supporting cast members such as Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson, were considered definitive by a generation of fans. In the 1970s, Stan Lee appointed Romita Sr. as art director for the company; while in this position, he helped design numerous characters (including the Punisher, Wolverine, and Luke Cage). He was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 2002.
Gene Luen Yang is a MacArthur “genius,” the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and the author of the half-million-copy New York Times–bestselling graphic novel and National Book Award Finalist American Born Chinese. He lives in San Jose, California.
Ben Saunders is a professor of English at the University of Oregon. He is the author of Desiring Donne: Poetry, Sexuality, Interpretation and Do the Gods Wear Capes?: Spirituality, Fantasy, and Superheroes, as well as numerous critical essays on subjects ranging from the writings of Shakespeare to the recordings of Little Richard. He has also curated several museum exhibitions of comics art, including the record-breaking multimedia touring show Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes—a retrospective exploring the artistic and cultural impact of Marvel Comics from 1939 to the present.