For Your Consideration: Marvel’s Captain America by Dan Jurgens

by Robert Greenberger

Captain America by Dan Jurgens Vol. 1

Captain America by Dan Jurgens Vol. 1


Marvel has been rummaging through their library and gathering up almost every run of Captain America worth collecting to make certain there’s something for everyone in the ramp up to the July 22 release of Captain America: First Avenger. Nothing wrong with that since it gives fans of all ages plenty of choice stuff. We spoke a few months back about the Captain America Omnibus which brings the 1960s material back in one nifty volume, but this month we’re looking at another era entirely.

In the late 1990s, Marvel made the disastrous decision to send Cap and his fellow Avengers off to another realm in Onslaught; letting the Image Comics creators have their way with them with wildly differing levels of success. The experiment, though, came to a merciful end and our heroes returned to the proper Marvel Universe and Cap was granted a new lease on life with a brand new series. Mark Waid, whose stellar work on the series pre-Onslaught still lingered in fans’ mind, was the obvious choice to helm the third monthly series featuring the Star-Spangled Avenger.

Waid’s run, though, was fraught with complications and he wound up leaving the series, considering the assignment a mistake. His mistake, though, was Dan Jurgens’ opportunity and as 2000 began, Jurgens was paired with penciler Andy Kubert beginning with issue #25. That run is now being collected as Captain America by Dan Jurgens Volume 1 with the first ten issues included. The 256-page collection kicks off in style as Captain America, the living symbol of freedom, takes on the revamped Hate-Monger, who was at one time a clone of Adolf Hitler.

Jurgens, who was also the architect of the post-Onslaught Thor, also now being collected, was fortunate in working with Andy Kubert, who was truly coming into his own as an artist. Coupled with inker Dan Green, the book was visually strong. The current template of Cap’s visual appearance was being honed during this period and the work still looks fresh.

To his credit, the writer took full advantage of Cap’s deep supporting cast. Most of the stories pair the hero with his long-time partner the Falcon, but most of the stories in this collection also feature his lover, Sharon Carter, her boss Nick Fury (back when he headed the real S.H.I.E.L.D.), and even USAgent, a doppelganger who never quite fit into the Marvel Universe.

After that introductory three-parter nicely set the stage, Jurgens deftly shifts the setting to more all-out action. Sharon has gone missing and the trail takes the Avenger to the Savage Land in a four-parter that also guest stars Ka-Zar. There’s one fill-in issue by Brent Anderson, who brilliantly drew the Bruce Jones-written series more than 15 years earlier – something also well worth collecting. Cap and Ka-Zar, along with Shanna and Zabu of course, take on Count Nefaria in a fast-moving serial.

There’s a great one-off story uniting Jurgens with his Superman colleague Jerry Ordway, which allowed for a nice flashback to WW II, as Cap fought alongside Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos once more. After this, though, Kubert was gone and Jurgens took on the penciling duties as well, aided by his long-time inker Art Thibert.

Jurgens nicely handles the rise and fall of sub-plots so there’s a bubbling S.H.I.E.L.D. mystery that introduces the writer’s first all-new opponent in the series, Protocide, who takes center-stage in the final issues collected here (and will head-up the second volume whenever that comes). This villain is a Super Soldier prototype from a test group pre-dating Steve Rogers.

This may not be the most memorable of Cap runs, but the stories are serviceable and highly entertaining comic book reads in the best sense.

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Purchase Captain America by Dan Jurgens Vol. 1

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  1. Joseph Tages Says:

    This was a great run for both Dan Jurgens and Cap. After the Image fiasco, all four of the Heroes Return books were a breath of fresh air for readers. Dan took Cap to the basics here and along with Mark Waid’s earlier issues, both men made the character great again. Andy Kubert’s art was the icing on the cake.

  2. Westfield Comics Blog » C is for Commentary: Previews #271 Says:

    […] on about this material (that I’ve never fully read), or instead I could just direct you to this great column by Bob Greenberger. Now if they’d also get around to collecting some of the great Ron Lim-drawn […]