Monday, June 16, 2014

Jack Kirby's Red Skull - a history

In 1941, when Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were young, enthusiastic comic creators they came up with Captain America and of all the colorful villains they pit him against, the Red Skull was the most enduring.

'An Ear for Music' from Captain America #7, Oct. 1941

In the first issue of Captain America the Red Skull was killing prominent government officials.

But rather than being a real Nazi with a skull for a face, he was just a man in a mask, posing as a Nazi in order to win lucrative government contracts.

But that wasn't the end of the Skull; It was only the beginning. He would return in issue #3.

And would return numerous times throughout the 40's and 50's drawn by numerous artists.

Captain America #74, Oct 1949, cover by Al Avison!

In the 60's Kirby was back at Marvel along with Cap and decided that the Red Skull should be brought back as well.

Tales of Suspense #65, May 1965

Though rather than bringing him back as Maxon the aircraft manufacturer, they made him merely a decoy for the real Red Skull, Nazi, Johann Schmidt.

from Tales of Suspense #66, June 1965

This time the Red Skull was the creation of Adolf Hitler himself.

Tales of Suspense #66, June 1965

To make him even more fearful they gave him the Cosmic Cube.

from Tales of Suspense #80, August 1966

This was the basic mythos that the Red Skull was based on and built on over the years. Many great creators have worked with and added to this mythos;

Gill Kane brought his dynamic pencil to the Red Skull in Tales of Suspense #89, May 1967

Marie Severin did an impressive cover for Captain America #115

Captain America #115, July 1969
While on the inside big John Buscema did some cool work;

Gene Colan had his turn at Red Skull as well;

from Captain America #119, Nov. 1969
To make the 300 issue of Captain America special, J. M. DeMatteis creates the ultimate showdown between Cap and the Skull.

Captain America Vol 1 #300 Dec, 1984. Cover art by Mike Zeck and Paul Neary

Even in this, the modern day, The Red Skull and Cosmic Cube still play a major role in Captain America's life and comic with Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting's immensely popular and influential run.

Steve Epting does and incredible job on art in his run with Ed Brubaker on Captain America vol. 5, #1 (Jan. 2005)
There are many other awesome appearances of the Red Skull throughout Marvel's history too numerous to count and I'm sure there will be many more. He started out as just another Nazi caricature out of WWII but he has outlived his 3rd Reich roots and has become one of the all time great villains of comic book history thanks in no small part to the greatness of Jack Kirby.

1 comment:

  1. i know a nun who teach the Red Skull a thing or two-Sister Vincent