They’re the comics everyone is talking about, and now is your chance to hop on board before you get left in the dust! Marvel has announced Timely Comics, a new publishing initiative debuting this June! Timely Comics is a new imprint of titles specifically designed to get you caught up with hot new Marvel titles.
Reprinting the first three issues of select titles at a suggested retail price of $3.00,Timely Comics will take you on a path through the restored Marvel Universe! Whether it’s the formation of the Avengers, Daredevil’s fight for Chinatown, the birth of the Totally Awesome Hulk – Timely Comics has it all and so much more!
Look for these Timely Comics coming to comic shops throughout the month of June:
TIMELY COMICS: INVINCIBLE IRON MAN
TIMELY COMICS: ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT AVENGERS
TIMELY COMICS: ALL-NEW INHUMANS
TIMELY COMICS: CARNAGE
TIMELY COMICS: DAREDEVIL
TIMELY COMICS: DRAX
TIMELY COMICS: DOCTOR STRANGE
TIMELY COMICS: MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR
TIMELY COMICS: NEW AVENGERS
TIMELY COMICS: SCARLET WITCH
TIMELY COMICS: SQUADRON SUPREME
TIMELY COMICS: TOTALLY AWESOME HULK
TIMELY COMICS: ULTIMATES
TIMELY COMICS: UNCANNY INHUMANS
TIMELY COMICS: VENOM: SPACE KNIGHT
TIMELY COMICS: WEB WARRIORS
The titles that sold out everywhere and burned up the charts are back, so don’t miss out on them now! Your favorite new series awaits, so get 72 giant pages of action, adventure and excitement with Timely Comics – three issues for just $3.00!
Welcome back to People’s History of the Marvel Universe, where I explore how real-world politics (and weird bits of pop culture) was presented in some of my favorite bits of classic Marvel comics. In this issue, I’ll be discussing how Captain America made the transition from his Timely Comics incarnation to the Marvel era.
Timely Comics’s version of Captain America was (to be kind) rather crude, still in that stage where superheroes as a genre are still emerging from pulp, so there’s a lot of repetitious scenes where Cap and/or Bucky get tied to chairs because that’s the only way the author can think of to get to the plot exposition, most of the villains are pretty generic mobster types, and so on. However, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee were able to go back and sift through the old material to find the stuff that worked – Steve Rogers as Captain America, the uniform and the mighty shield, the Red Skull, Agent 13 – while ditching the stuff that didn’t work (the secret identity, Bucky to an extent, etc.).
At the same time, there were a number of strategies that Marvel used to make the transition work. First, in the very act of updating Captain America from the 1940s to the 1960s, Kirby and Lee made Steve Rogers a man out of time, giving a previously rather thinly-sketched individual a rich source of Marvel-style pathos and interiority. The Steve Rogers who emerged in the pages of The Avengers, Tales of Suspense, and Captain America is a veteran haunted by the memory of his losses during WWII, a rare example in which PTSD is given its place in that conflict. (Indeed, a lot of stories from this era involve Cap having vivid flashbacks or hallucinations that make him question his sanity.)
And that’s what I think people often get wrong about Captain America: while he was born into the “Greatest Generation,” he’s not an old man. Rather, because of his variable number of decades frozen in the ice, he’s a young man who’s traveled through time, bringing the passion and idealism of youth into a new era.
Second, Kirby and Lee kept much of the political edge of the original comics by making a foundational element of the new Cap comics that Nazism was not dead, but had continued into the present day as a hostile force that threatened liberal values, often hidden beneath reactionary causes and movements (hence the usefulness of HYDRA as a dark mirror through which to question and explore the national security state in Captain America: Winter Soldier). For example, early on in Tales of Suspense, they posited that Nazi agents were at work in modern Germany:
To argue that Nazis were hidden in German society, as if Himmler’s Operation Werwolf had really come to pass, was a pretty bold political statement in a Cold War world only five years past the construction of the Berlin Wall and in which the Western German government had yet to publicly grapple with the legacy of the Holocaust. But Kirby’s political acumen shines in these issues, grounding these stories in contemporary politics, as with this reference to West German laws banning the display of Nazi iconography:
Third, another thing that Marvel could bring to the table is a fully matured Jim Kirby. As I mentioned above, the Timely Captain America comics were too close to the pulp era to really be distinctively superheroic. But by the 1960s, Kirby was Kirby. And so what the Red Skull’s sleeper agents were out to awaken was not merely a coup against the Federal Republic of Germany, but a giant Nazi robot:
The Timely Comics version of the Red Skull had been a petty saboteur and sometimes assassin, very much within the wheelhouse of pulp antagonists. The new Red Skull (who’ll be explored in future installments) was reimagined as a full-on supervillain with a flair for giant robots, doomsday devices, world conquest, and grandiloquent speeches complete with cigarette holder. And so Kirby gave the world not just a giant robot menacing the free world, but a Nazi Voltron:
This was the secret alchemy that brought Captain America into the contemporary world of Mighty Marvel Comics: on the one hand, Jack Kirby’s larger-than-life visuals and Marvel’s attention to interiority gave Captain America new life, but on the other, the original political spirit of the Timely Comics was carefully preserved, so that what made Captain America unique is a superhero is that his power is essentially weaponized progressive ideology: