You can’t say for certain unless you check to make sure, but Joe Kubert’s career seems to span the entire history of comics. He appears at the very end of the Golden Age, makes a mile-deep impression on the Silver Age, then watches as both his sons Adam and Andy enter the industry, all will starting a school to teach the next of generations.
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“Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” reads the inscription on Mjolnir, the hammer of, you guessed it, true believers, the Mighty Thor. The trick, as any Marvel fan can tell you, only Thor himself can pick said hammer up, no matter how strong they are. Or so we thought for the 21 years between Thor’s (Marvel canon) creation in 1962 and the year of 1983 when… well, somebody else held the hammer and immediately gained the power of Thor.
Can a character become a genre? During the ‘70s and ‘80s, publishing house DC’s main competitor, Marvel, had phenomenal success in that arena with characters like the Hulk, and particularly Wolverine. With a story setting that had Dr Bruce Banner (the Hulk’s alter ego) wandering the cultural landscape of ‘70s America, Incredible Hulk became the perfect platform for a wide array of genres—everything from romance to conspiracy theory to epimythic struggles against polluters or the politically corrupt. Wolverine was even more successful. Breaking away from his comparatively sedate life with the X-Men, Logan saw himself unleashed to his full feral potential in the pages of Wolverine.
In 1985, with flagging interest in the Old West, DC experimented in the same concept with the legendary scar-faced, Old West bounty hunter, Jonah Hex. The original 1985 book ends on a serious cliffhanger, one only resolved in the successor title Hex, which explained that Jonah Hex had in fact been rocketed into the distant future, there to begin his surly, steely-eyed, scar-faced search for justice all over again. But this time, among the stars and in the new genre of space opera. Hex failed to find its audience, and soon enough, found itself cancelled.
During the dying days of the Cold War (when were there Cold War days that didn’t involve American deaths, many of them secret and on a distant soil), the Suicide Squad appeared out of nowhere and presented a new kind of storytelling to mainstream comics. Maybe experiments of this kind wouldn’t have been possible without the direct market, but the raw premise of the book was this—forget heroes, even superheroes, and think about the murky of half-truths and hidden-mirrors and psych-ops, and the heavy price paid by nameless, faceless Cold Warriors.
Captain America is one of the true icons of comicbooks and one of the most immediately recognizable characters of all time. As a symbol of Marvel Comics, he is barely behind Spider-Man and Wolverine and is at least up there with Iron Man and Thor in that Holy Avengers Triumverate, but Cap is made moreso by the fact that his existence actually predates Marvel Comics itself by twenty full years. Yes, Steve Rogers debuted in 1941 way back when “Marvel” was known as “Timely”.
You know the story. Scrawny soldier undergoes supersoldier serum to become the sentinel of lieberty alongside his youthful sidekick James “Bucky” Barnes before their plane goes down in icy waters and Bucky is killed and Captain America frozen and preserved in a big honkin’ block of ice until his thaw-out to just in time to join the Avengers.