It’s a question that comes up with any long running series – without consuming the whole thing, how do I get a good overview. Well, in the case of Captain America I opted to read a portion of the original run (whose first issue famously depicted Captain America punching Hitler) as well as some of Captain America’s run in the 1960s (where he becomes the lost in time superhero that we all know).
Given the volume of Marvel superhero movies that have been out in the last ten years, Captain America is a good place to start. I mean, this was one of (if not the) first major Marvel superhero comic to come out. With Superman and Batman making their debuts some 2 years earlier, I can see how (in 1940) the idea of an All-American superhero doing battles against Germans would have been appealing.
It’s interesting to read Captain America from two different decades, where the enemies shift from Nazis to Communists. Nazis still appear in later issues thanks to the evil Red Skull and Captain America’s own flashbacks – but, on the whole, the enemies do move with the times.
Having read this series from two different eras, I have to say that I am more of a fan of the silver/bronze age Captain America. In the original run it became a bit samey to have him as the army man in a clear good versus evil battle. Instead, in the later runs, there is more interesting psychology as he reacts to being a man out of his time period (due to being cryogenically frozen), his survivor’s guilt and how he deals with everyone he knew no longer being around.
I also liked this period better because, at least for a while, Captain America stories were paired with Iron Man stories – although the two didn’t always meet. It’s also in this later period that we see him interact with other Avengers like Hawkeye, Wasp and Scarlet Witch. Reading these make me think that I’ll enjoy reading the Avengers comics, but that may need to wait a while.