J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

“A Startling Historical Paradox”

Boston 1775 celebrates this Independence Day with another peek at comic-book depictions of the Revolutionary period. In this installment, Captain America enters into the nagging controversy over how the first American flag was designed.

Jack Kirby created Captain America with with Joe Simon in 1941, as the U.S. of A. was preparing to enter World War 2. Their comic book redefined the visual language of superhero storytelling. Though Cap wasn’t the first all-American costumed hero, he was the most popular and the longest-lived.

In the early 1960s, as part of its explosive rebirth, Marvel brought Captain America back to life. Kirby was once again the illustrator, and Stan Lee wrote the dialogue. (Lee had started in comics by penning a Captain America story in prose.) In 1970, Kirby left Marvel for its cross-town rival, DC Comics, but five years later he came back. He was thus able to write and illustrate Captain America during America’s Bicentennial, creating stories about the 20th-century icon visiting his country’s past.

Such as when the country was looking for a national flag...
For the rest of the story, I’m passing you over to Bully, who says Comics Oughta Be Fun! On Flag Day last year, Bully offered this peek at Cap’s mind-blowing encounter with Benjamin Franklin. It was published in 1976 and collected by Marvel in Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles.

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