At long last - The Captain America retrospective! Images appear courtesy of Marvel Animation Age, and a big thanks to Jon T for the help. Enjoy! ___________________ Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in World War II, Captain America is arguably Marvel’s oldest still serving superhero with only The Submariner coming anywhere close to equalling him. He’s probably the biggest name to never actually get his own animated series but he has appeared in a hell of a lot of shows throughout the decades, starting with his own short segment in The Marvel Superheroes Show in 1966. Technically speaking, Captain America was the first Marvel superhero to be animated as his segment’s aired first. As with all five segments in the show, the episodes were literally based on several of the Kirby comic books, right down to swiping the Kirby art and adding the odd bit of animation to make the characters lips move and adding whatever other cost cutting shortcuts they could think of the keep the budget as small as possible. It’s difficult to critique or evaluate the show because you know what you’re getting into the moment you watch it, if you’ve already read the comics you know exactly what’s going to happen and how it’s going to happen, which pretty much takes all the excitement out of it for me. Having said that, I usually enjoyed the show for what it was and managed to stomach most of it, which is more than can be said for the Hulk segments that aired in the same show. I tried to sit through the episode that was released on The Incredible Hulk DVD and failed to make it to the end of it. The personal highlight for me was the casting; Arthur Pierce is brilliant as the Captain and Steve Rogers. Sure, he’s putting on a cheesy tough guy accent but given the dialouge he was using is lifted right from Stan Lee and Joe Simon comics, it fits. Probably better than it should be allowed to. As with all the none Spider-Man/Fantastic Four 60’s Marvel cartoons, they can be a little difficult to sit through. I’m sure the hardcore fanboys absouloutly adore it but I personally enjoy it when the show goes with a slightly original route with it’s characters but that simply wasn’t possible, given the budget here. Having said that, I admit to having seen very little of the show but I do remember enjoying Captain America the best. As per usual, Cap would have to settle for guest starring roles in the 1980’s, beginning with The Capture Of Captain America in the 1981 solo Spider-Man show. One immediately notices the vastly superior animation in this episode when compared to the rest of the show as it was animated by Toei Doga in Japan rather than Marvel’s own team of animators in the states. It’s unsure whether or not Marvel spent a little more on the episode in hopes of luring possible network interest in a Captain America cartoon like they later tried to do with the stunning animation found in the Pryde Of The X-Men pilot a few years later but it was rumoured that they did try and get Captain America, Iron Man and even a Secret Wars show produced in the 80’s but couldn’t find network interest. Jon Talpur! Spider-Friends! Clarify! The episode sees Spider-Man blamed for Cap’s capture and our wall crawler dealing with the repercussions of his kidnapping – New York certainly wasn’t fond of it’s web slinger to the point where he actually made an attempt to infiltrate The Red Skull’s castle and free Cap himself. The Red Skull is a difficult character to do in animation. Nazi’s are a no-no in most cartoons – how do you get around that? It’s like doing a Spider-Man cartoon where the character isn’t allowed to crawl on walls. The Skulls plan here is to swap minds with his enemy, presumably to take advantage of Cap’s popularity and superior strength. Naturally, Spider-Man isn’t for this and attempts to stop the Nazi’s mad plans and giving him what for. Visuals wise – I love John Romita. Sr. I’ll say it everytime I have to mention solo Spider-Man or Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends in these retrospectives. The show is based on the legends models, so Cap is looking pretty good here. They’ve even managed to keep those silly wings on his head, which I could’ve done without but I’m sure the fanboys would’ve cried fowl something fierce had they got rid of them here. Cap would appear again in the 80’s, this time in Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends. Spider-Friends was all about having fun, and didn’t let things like logic get in the way. You might think that sounds stupid but watch an episode of the solo Spider-Man show and then an episode of Amazing Friends and it’s clear which is better by leaps and bounds. There’s nothing especially wrong with the 80’s show, it’s just that Amazing Friends is so much more fun and enjoyable to watch. Captain America is Iceman’s fancy dress costume of choice in the show’s opening, The Triumph Of The Green Goblin. He even opens with an amusing line; Bobby Drake: Captain America at your service ladies! Actually Mona, it’s me, Bobby Drake. I’m much more loveable than ol’ Cap! The same design and voice are used from the solo show and in case you needed reminding – John Romita. Jr = absolutely brilliant. Never question this fact; the universe will presumably rip in half from sheer shock. You think you could live with that on your conscious? No? Good, then never speak ill of Romita and all shall be fine. Cap would return in Seven Little Superheroes. Depending on your tolerate for cheese, you’ll find that this is either one of the very best the show has to offer on the show that finally made you decide that this show isn’t for you. The episode features seven superheroes being invited to a party in a mysterious mansion by an unknown host, who is later revealed to be The Chameleon who had just graduated from the Ron Burgundy School of poetry. Cap is actually defeated fairly quickly here – the whole point of Captain America is that he is the best hero Marvel has to offer, The prince of heroism – none of that comes across well in any of his appearances. The 80’s were a difficult times for cartoons and Captain America was no exception. Cap would make his final appearance in the show in Pawns Of The Kingpin but as he spent the majority of the episode brainwashed, we don’t really get to see much of what makes him Captain American. The episode gets bonus points for using The Kingpin, because The Kingpin is like the coolest supervillain ever. When I get a few free days I’ll start my Kingpin retrospective and simply go on and on about his awesome. You thought the Mysterio retrospective was bad, trust me true believe, you’ve not seen nothing yet! But things got much worse for him before the 90’s came, as Captain America was one of the few Marvel characters to be given his own movie. After looking at the horrendous results, I wish they didn’t bother. Clearly done on the cheap, the movie was marred with production delays before eventually being dumped direct to video. Some of the classic elements of Captain America are kept but the movie takes a lot of liberties with the character, such as having The Red Skull being the leader of an Italian crime syndicate rather than the ruthless Nazi we love to hate. The Skull himself undergoes plastic surgery when the movie gets to the 90’s (80s?) and looks really stupid for it. The “plot” of the film is pretty dumb – there seems to be a lot of emphasis on The President rather than Cap himself. The man out of time aspect is barely played upon and there’s nothing especially memorable about the film at all. Cap’s costume is also a particular source of embarrassment – the guy you get your photo taken with at Universal Studio’s looks better in the red white and blue. Matt Slinger is cast in the role and again, is quite forgettable. He later appeared in 24, the most brilliant show of all time and for the life of me, I can’t remember who he is. Then again, I’ve not seen season 6 yet. Post spoilers of it here and your ass is mine. Suffice to say, after the movie’s dismal failure; we weren’t going to be getting our animated spin off. The next decade of Cap’s appearance outside the comics would be plentiful, but never quite what many of us were looking for.