Monday, January 29, 2018

Captain America Annual # 6

When Captain America Annual # 6 hit the spinner racks in 1976 I bought it, loved it, and then bagged and boxed it. Edited, written and drawn by Jack Kirby, it’s one of those later era Marvel comics that slipped under the radar. I won’t pretend that it’s a classic, because it’s not. I wouldn’t rate it as Kirby’s best, either, but it’s still worth considering. After all, this is Jack Kirby we’re talking about, and Jack Kirby is a force to be reckoned with. Kirby had returned to drawing Captain America with issue # 193 (January, 1976), but with a difference. This time he was writing and editing the series himself. Most historians seem to downplay this period, which is a mistake. Yes, Kirby’s early work at Marvel is among the best anyone had ever produced, but he was still a creative powerhouse when he returned to the pages of Captain America, and Captain America Annual # 6 offers 47 pages of Jack Kirby’s amazing imagination. The story is called “The Thing from the Black Hole Star” and its Space Opera all the way. Cap comes to the aid of a farmer who witnessed a flying saucer crash in his field. The being, who looks human enough, is under attack from a Combatron, a killer monster sent by the aliens in the pursuit ship. Once the Combatron is defeated, Cap is besieged by the Magnoids. Meanwhile, the alien they’re protecting has a sinister secret, and Cap is put to the test just to stay alive. “The Thing from the Black Hole Star” is non-stop action, with a dash of Golden Age philosophizing as Cap wonders if all aliens are evil. The point being, in Cap’s words, “we’re not alone in the teeming firmament…look to the stars Earth! Look to the stars!!” Jack Kirby was a natural at creating fantastic science fiction stories, and “The Thing from the Black Hole Star” is wild and fun. All of Kirby’s Cap stories from this era were reprinted in several volumes, but I believe they are now out of print and command premium prices. 

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