Captain America Anniversary Tribute #1 is a one-off, special comic published by Marvel Comics. Commemorating 80 years of the super soldier, the issue contains three reimagined stories from Captain America’s publication history. The dialogue and plots are the same, but modern artists have been challenged to recreate the pages of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s original stories. Each page features the work of some of the most beloved artists.
“Meet Captain America” is from Captain America #1, published in 1941 and the artists involved in this recreation include John Cassaday, Peach Momoko, and Salvador Larroca among several others. Colours by Jason Keith and Laura Martin, with other artists colouring their own pages.
“Riddle of the Red Skull” is also from Captain America #1 and includes pencils from Carmen Carnero, Leinil Francis Yu, and 13 other talented artists. Colourists include Sunny Gho, Keith, Vega Guerrieri, and Dean White.
“Captain America Joins the Avengers” is from Avengers #4 and features artists such as Alex Ross, Steve Epting, Stephanie Hans, Daniel Acuña, Greg Land and Mark Bagley, as well as 20 others. The colourists are Keith, Marte Gracie, and Alex Sinclair. The letterer for all three stories is Joe Caramagna. Other creatives involved are credited at the bottom of this article.
The plot of all three stories has remained untouched, each comic is much shorter than today’s typical issues. The fact that the original scripts are older than some readers’ grandparents makes it unfair to critique their ability to withstand the test of time. That being said, there is still a sense of wonder and excitement that exudes from these updated pages.
Every artist brings something different to their individual pieces. There is huge excitement to be found seeing how each individual creator has adapted the classic artwork. There are many creatives credited inside Captain America Anniversary Tribute #1 that have been present in the industry for a long time, and their art styles are instantly recognizable. Fantastic artists such as Cassiday, Bagley, Yu, and Larocca (among dozens of other talents) need no actual introduction as their line art is all the reader needs to discern which pages have been pencilled by them. Thankfully, the transition between the artists isn’t jarring at all.
The different art styles utilized within each story enhance many of the pages. This is not to discredit the majesty of Jack Kirby, who is rightly considered the king of comics. But there are moments when one of the modern creators adds a deft touch to accentuate Kirby’s own details. The facial expressions appear to have more diversity, changing the emotion exhibited by Cap or Bucky. Red Skull looks menacing in the original comic, but today’s pencilers make him close to terrifying. The fight scene that erupts at the end of Avengers #4 arguably has more movement and energy as an old battle meets new techniques. Each creator’s take on their page appears to have been done out of affection and love towards Kirby’s original style.
Every creator picked looks perfectly suited to what is happening on their particular page, with some completely changing the atmosphere of the scene. Carnero opens the second story, with a style that has echoes of a spy thriller. But Yu’s coverage of a few pages in is much more fitting for an intense, brutal murder. Momoko’s faces are intensely creepy on page three of “Meet Captain America.” A character pulling off a fleshy disguise turns grotesque, feeling like panels from a horror comic. Acuña’s page in the Avengers remaster shows Captain America staking out a potential enemy, and he portrayed the mysterious situation beautifully. Hans is a superb choice for a flashback sequence. And Ross’ iconic paintings are wonderful for when a still frozen Cap is laid on a table in front of the newly formed Avengers.
Certain creators do their own colours, while some work with longtime partners. But for many of the pages, the colouring is provided by Keith. This is very helpful at maintaining some consistency in a constantly changing comic book. Keith adapts to the multiple art styles easily, able to accentuate each creator’s line art with a sense of individuality. Famously, the colours used in comics were limited due to the capabilities of the printer. Keith similarly restricts himself but still displays the fantastically bright colours of Cap and Bucky’s costume. When dealing with very particular styles added by the likes of Epting or Land, the colour artist adjusts the shades and tones.
The dialogue is probably the part of Captain America Anniversary Tribute #1 that shows its age the most. Kirby’s art is immortal and the sense of adventure will never die, but there are speeches and words that scream of the 1940s. This is not a negative, as it is incredibly charming and even comical to reread some of the fantastic vocabulary Simon used in his comics. It also shows how different Cap’s personality has altered over the eight decades of his existence. This changes even in the twenty years between Captain America #1 and Avengers #1. It is mildly disturbing to see his penchant for violence, or a threat to “tan the hide” of a young Bucky in their first meeting.
The lettering by Caramagna is easy to read throughout the book. The font of the text and colour of the text boxes are very reminiscent of the traditional letters.
Captain America Anniversary Tribute #1 is a lovely homage, combining the past and the present. This is a celebration of not just Captain America, but also of art and the creators that have impacted the character’s history. This is the comic book version of a jam session. Reimagining these timeless pages allows each artist to show their admiration towards Kirby whilst also being able to show off their own skills. It teaches readers how art has adapted over the years. There are over 50 creators involved, and each is of a superb caliber. Every page is delightful. Waxing lyrical about each brilliant artist would quadruple this article’s word count. This huge roster provides the reader with the opportunity to discover new creators they may not have been familiar with before reading. This is a very touching and clever idea that beautifully captures the soul of a comic book character, one that became one of the most important of them all.
Captain America Anniversary Tribute #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.
Other artists involved: Marguerite Sauvage, David Lapham, Declan Shalvey, Pere Pérez, Juann Cabal, Valerio Schiti, Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, InHyuk Lee, Kei Zama, R.B. Silva, Sara Pichelli, Jesús Saiz, Kim Jacinto, Adam Kubert, Joshua Cassara, Federico Vicentini, Mahmud Asrar, Jim Chueng, Joe Bennett, Ruy José, Alitha E. Martinez, Paco Medina, Chris Samnee, Rachael Stott, Greg Smallwood, Iban Coello, Natacha Bustos, Patrick Gleason, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, Adam Hughes, Javier Garrón, Elena Casagrande, Butch Guice, Pepe Larraz, Ray-Anthony Height and Jay Leisten.
Captain America Anniversary Tribute #1
Captain America Anniversary Tribute #1 is a lovely homage, combining the past and the present. This is a celebration of not just Captain America, but also of art and the creators that have impacted the character’s history. This is the comic book version of a jam session… There are over 50 creators involved, and each is of a superb caliber. This is a very touching and clever idea that beautifully captures the soul of a comic book character, one that became one of the most important of them all.
Screenwriter with a love of comics and movies. Once referred to Wuthering Heights as “the one with the Rabbits.”