Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Heartbreak: When Good Comics Turn Bad (Volume 1, 185-192)

So it's early 1975. I've only been reading Captain America and the Falcon (as the comic was then titled) a short time, but I'd been really digging it. Then Frank Robbins took over the art on the book, and it was like a punch in the gut.

I want to be careful in dissing Frank Robbins. Although he passed away in 1994, he may have family that still occasionally Googles him. And I think his art worked quite well in his syndicated newspaper strip Johnny Hazard. But as a kid I loathed his work on Captain America, and I still think his art was ill-suited for superheroes. In action scenes the characters looked to me like Spider-man having a fit. It broke my heart.

These issues also contain a major revision in the origin of Cap's sidekick, the Falcon. It's revealed that before he became the Falcon, Sam Wilson was actually a drug dealer and hood (who liked to dress as a pimp) and that his nice guy persona and link with his bird Redwing were created by the Red Skull, as part of a plan to mess with Captain America. There are some who feel that this did enormous damage to the character, and that the Falcon never really recovered from it, leading to his eventual dropping from the book. As I recall, a later writer made an attempt to mitigate the damage somewhat, but I'm not sure when. It is tough to forget that pimp suit:

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