By Matthew Forbeck
DK, out now
All you could ever want or need to know about the First Avenger – and then some…
Batman and Superman may have just predated him, but Captain America has been around for a considerable time. In fact, over three-quarters of a century have passed since Steve Rogers underwent the process that turned him into the Super Soldier, and, as Matt Forbeck’s meticulously researched and extremely well written and designed new book explains, he’s been around pretty much continuously ever since. Yes, we all know now that he disappeared at the end of war, and was found in the ice decades later (whether you’re going with Marvel or MCU continuity), but comics featuring Cap continued in the late 1940s and in the 1950s… albeit their adventures retconned by Marvel into adventures of someone other than Steve Rogers.
This book isn’t just about Steve Rogers – it’s about everyone who’s been Cap (or indeed Bucky) at any stage. And it’s not just about the fiction either; there’s plenty about the changes in outlook in the writing and editorial teams that have affected how Cap has been portrayed across the decades. Key issues from different runs are examined in more detail – full pages describing the plot, with four or five illustrations, along with factual backstory – and important storylines discussed. It is, perhaps not too surprisingly, chock full of spoilers, and there’s an incredibly useful timeline which interpolates later revelations into a chronological guide, alongside character profiles on some of the key players.
The book is lavishly illustrated – there are full double-page spread reproductions of classic artwork, new “hero” poses of good and evil characters, and many, many panels from the different issues. Cover reprints are credited to the artists, the other illustrations aren’t – which I appreciate is probably more a question of space, although personally I’d rather have had those indexed at the end.
Verdict: An excellent celebration of Captain America. 10/10