Page six above looks even more like Mort Meskin’s work to me than the previous page. Take particular note of the facial structure of the blue-suited man in panel two, and the faces of the Nazi spies in panels four, five and six. About two years ago, Steven Brower, Kirby lister Glen Story and I debated on the possibility that Meskin had worked on this issue, and we compiled a montage of faces from several sources including Meskin’s Vigilante and some of the pages from the Bund story’s page seven. (By the way, for those interested in learning more about Mort Meskin, Steven Brower has recently had a book published on the artist, entitled From Shadow to Light.)
First I will present the actual page above so it can be enjoyed in its entirety for its beauty. This is classic vintage Kirby, with a plethora of great poses that showcase the King’s ability to make a figure dynamic even when it is at rest for the most part. Check out Cap’s body language in the casual leaning back pose in panel five and the complex arrangement of figures in the room. Ditto the figure composition in panel seven. Then below, I have displayed the Vigilante comparisons.
The ears on some of the heads seem particularly similar to me, if we look at the head shot of the Nazi in panel six and compare it to the panel of Vigilante and to the lab coated villain above it. There is also a similarity in the mouth and jawline of the rightward face in the blue panel to the standing Nazi directly below it, which is positively Steve Ditko-esque. (By the way, Mort Meskin was one of Ditko’s major influences.)
Skipping page eight, we come to what looks like some Kirby inking on page nine above, in the aerial scenes with Cap leaping about on the Stuka dive-bombers. There is some nice tight technical rendering of these planes that looks like his hand, and the rear view of Cap in panel five is also very Kirby-like. Page ten below is another slick beauty that looks again to me to be Meskin inked.
Panel four, in which Cap is holding a limp thug by the scruff of his shirt is a tiny masterpiece of elegant detail, and the final panel with Steve and Bucky on the right is a display of the kind of wholesome American sentimental purity that Norman Rockwell’s work would typify.
The question is, if this work is not Mort Meskin than who indeed is it? Another mystery inker added to the batch.
The mystery continues.