Brace yourselves, ’cause Jolly Jack is feeling frisky – Tales of Suspense #92
There was no one better at depicting exaggerated physical combat than Jack Kirby. I don’t think that’s exactly a news bulletin, but I suppose it needs to be said as a means of introduction. His figures would twist and contort in ways that would make acrobats in the Cirque de Soleil green with envy, and would coil and uncoil with such ferocity you had (and have) to suppress the urge to duck when you see them in action. And there was perhaps no better subject for this sort of athletic expression than the mere (enhanced) mortal known as Captain America.
Before I get to Cap, though, I should note that the Iron Man half of this issue is interesting in that it finds ol’ Shellhead over in Vietnam helping the U.S. fighting forces test some ordinance. There’s some nice action in “Within the Vastness of Viet Nam,” but since the story is part of a broader arc I’ll refrain from any deeper comment. But I was struck by this full page blast from Gene Colan and inker Frank Giacoia — there’s something cool about watching Iron Man shake Vietcong out of a tree like a bunch of coconuts:
Look out below!
On to Cap. In “Before My Eyes, Nick Fury Died!” he returns to New York City and, while still at the airport, calls up his pals at Avengers Mansion on his iPhone ancestor:
I wonder what kind of apps that thing supports… Does he have unlimited text?
Anyway, as he’s on the way home in a taxicab, he passes by the S.H.I.E.L.D. barbershop. Nick Fury is calmly sitting inside about to get a trim and a shave (or have his stubble reduced, as the case may be), but Cap notices an assailant about to strike. He springs into action, but he’s not in time — the strange cyborg has already zapped Fury:
That lower left hand panel is great — the way Kirby draws Cap reeling backwards with his arms braced in front of him, you can almost feel him absorbing the force of the blast.
Cap recovers, and he and the cyborg/robot/whatever slug it out. As is so often the case, he’s outpowered, but his never-say-die attitude is fun to watch play out, even if it, as always, ends with his inevitable triumph:
He then dishes out the final blow. Remember what I said about the coil and uncoil?:
That’s almost worthy of a Walt Simonson “KRAKATHOOM!”
The best part? The Nick Fury that Cap saw blown to bits was just a decoy, and his hardscrabble do-goodery trampled all over a carefully arranged sting operation. D’oh!
The Gene Colan/Jack Kirby two-fer in these old Tales of Suspense comics, with the Stan Lee scripting, is always a treat. There are still a few out there that I haven’t read, and I’m really dreading the day when I polish off the last one and there aren’t any more of these old brouhahas for me to experience for the first time.
You can “Yap with Cap” and “Rap with Cap,” but don’t mess with him, at least not when Kirby’s doing the drawing.