Friday, February 11, 2011

The J.M. DeMatteis Era (1981-1984)

Got a little distracted for a while, but I finished the J.M. DeMatteis issues. I'd actually read them all when they came out but I'd forgotten much of it.

The DeMatteis era doesn't always get a lot of recognition. It was interrupted a lot by other writers. It started off with a bang with art by Mike Zeck, but ended with weaker art by a Paul Neary. DeMatteis revived the character of Jack Monroe (the fifties Bucky) and made him Cap's partner as Nomad, which was kind of interesting. Mostly though he doubled down on the course set by earlier writers like Roger Stern and focused on giving Cap a real life, with a home and a job and friends. He made the supporting cast more than window dressing. We got to see his ex-partner Sam Wilson (the Falcon) a lot, which was nice. And he introduced the character of Arnie Roth in issue 270, a childhood friend of Steve Rogers (and probably the first recurring gay character in Marvel comics... though his partner Michael had to be referred to as a "roommate").

DeMatteis understood Cap and his history quite well. He understood that a guy wearing a flag suit is making a pretty strong statement, and it was going to result in pretty strong responses. My favorite issue was # 267, Cap vs. a poser called Every-Man.:

(What this loser doesn't know is that this is actually the third time this issue Cap's been spit on. Cap is just bored with it.)

At the end of the run, the Red Skull was killed off for what was intended to be the final time, and Cap was aged a few decades. I swear I remember reading DeMatteis say in an interview somewhere that if he'd have stayed on as writer he'd have kept Cap old and that it would have been "a very different book," but I can't find anything about this on the internet. It would definitely have been different.


  1. Well put and a welcome tribute to my favorite era of Cap!

  2. Dematteis speak a little about that on his blog here:
    His serie "the Times and Life of Savior28" published By Boom tell this story...

  3. Do you know the exact issue numbers for this run?