The Best Bicentennial Suspense Story

May 24, 2005

Captain America and the Falcon: Madbomb TPB
Writer/Artist: Jack Kirby

By Avi Green

Following his early 1970’s stint at DC Comics, during which time he created the New Gods, Jack Kirby returned to Marvel to work on some more comics stories, including one for his most famous creation, Captain America. And for issues 195-200 of Cap's own solo series, he put together one of the best suspense stories for the Star-Spangled Avenger and his partner in crimefighting, the Falcon, in which they had to stop a Cold War plot to devastate the United States through…madness!

The story first begins as Cap and Falcon are in the apartment of the latter’s girlfriend having coffee during a break from crimefighting, and it’s then that the “madbomb” first suddenly hits with menacing force, causing a whole street full of people to go destructively berserk, tearing down the whole neighborhood block. Cap is lucky to succeed in destroying it before it can cause any really serious damage, even to him. And that’s just the beginning of the great story ahead, as both he and the Falcon are then approached by a S.H.I.E.L.D agent who directs them to a special army base, where they’re given an explanation of the sinister plot that’s been discovered to launch a giant madbomb attack on the whole United States on the eve of its bicentennial since the declaration of independence in 1776, courtesy of an underground gang led by a ruthless supremacist named Taurey, who’s descended from a British collaborator during the war with Britain in the 18th century, who was riding to inform the enemy of an American raid, and was defeated in a duel by a forefather of Steve Rogers, who is none other than the Star-Spangled Avenger, of course!

Until then, Cap and Falcon’s first assignment is to investigate the disappearance of several S.H.I.E.L.D agents in a section of the Arizona desert, and soon come upon an underground society that deals in brainwashing people for world domination, and even features Most-Dangerous-Game style violence fights, with many of the contestants using advanced skateboards to combat the rival teams with in a giant kill-derby inside this underground society. And Cap too must take part in this kill-derby in order to retrieve his shield after it gets stolen by one of the kooks taking part, until the US Army can locate and raid the underground HQ to stop the baddies. This offers us one of the best action episodes that Kirby’s written, with plenty going on.

After bringing down the underground HQ of the villains, Cap and Falcon’s next assignment is to search for a scientist who’s involved in building the madbomb, and this leads to a mansion in upstate New York that’s being run by Taurey’s mob, and it’s here that Cap meets the daughter of the scientist, who’s suffering from a potentially fatal illness, and most of the staff running the place, while not literally treating her like dirt, is still far from being kind to her. Cap works out a plan to spirit her away from the mansion the next day, while Falcon and the feds take care of raiding the mansion, and the two get to know each other, even if it’s far from being the love story the title makes it sound like. And pretty soon, when the scientist himself escapes from the Taurey gang, who’ve decided to bump him off, seeing him as having outlived his usefulness, the heroes are ready to take on the bad guys full force for the showdown, and rid the country of the madbomb threat that menaces it once and for all.

This was one of Kirby’s best works as a writer and an artist, though there is one flaw he performed in the latter task: it’s the part where Cap is taking some papers from the secretary of state, and the word balloons are applied to the wrong figures, or the figures themselves are reversed. Other than that, it’s all very well drawn in his trademark “swipe art” fashion, and the scientist’s daughter is drawn very well too in Kirby’s good-girl-art style.

And even today, it comes as one of the best suspense stories set around the time of America’s bicentennial.

Copyright 2005 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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