Captain America #5 The Dragon of Death part1- by Norris Burroughs   Leave a comment


We now get to the Gruesome Secret of the Dragon of Death, the first Captain America story to deal with The Japanese as an enemy in World War II. There is no shortage of gross racial stereotyping here, but Kirby keeps it tasteful for the most part. We must remember that these caricatures are an product of the period in which the comic was produced, and try to judge the piece for its merits as a story, without condemning it by today’s standards of racial tolerance.

That said, the story has some decent artwork, with very little involvement by Kirby, but also features the first S&K Cap full-page drawing that is not also a splash panel. The actual splash page  above is a beauty, with a fantastic Kirby drawing of a dragon rearing out of the water, and a nice inset drawing of the villain, Captain Okada. This is actually a very restrained portrait of an Asian, showing little of the buck toothed, big eared simian yellow fanged demon often used to represent a Japanese foe. Kirby predominantly inks this page as well as drawing it.



Page two above, with Steve Rogers assigned to Hawaii looks like loose Kirby layouts, possibly finished by Avison and Shores, although another hand may be present. There is minimal attempt to depict any sort of racially authentic Polynesians here with the drawings of islanders, but that is to be expected. The drawings are adequate but not exceptional.



Page three above looks again to be loose Kirby inked by Avison and Shores. Perhaps there is hardly any  Kirby here at all, although he may be doing some rendering on the dragon in panel three.



Skipping page four, we move on to page five above, which looks very much as if Avison is doing a lot of work here, although probably from rough Kirby layouts. I believe that Avison’s hand can be detected most clearly in the faces of Okada and his henchmen, who although described as sinister looking are very far from horrific. The profile of Okada in panel five and a downward shot of the same character in panel six are very crisply drawn and inked.

As mentioned, there is not a lot of primo Kirby in this story, but page eight below is certainly worth the price of the book, with a cross section interior shot of the dragon ship that the King has lavished his attention on. This is Kirby’s baby from head to tail, as he lovingly divides the ship, section by section in masterful architectural detail.



Posted October 23, 2012 by norris burroughs in Uncategorized

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