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This is part 3 in my continuing insane effort to try to read EVERY MARVEL COMIC EVER PUBLISHED. You can see previous posts using the tag "complete-marvel-run". We are tackling the older/longer series first, and going in "MCU Order".

The previous entries covered early Iron Man and Hulk series. This one will be focused on Captain America (plus some other random comics I read/finished during this period). This post will have significantly fewer screenshots than the last ones.

(Note: All volume nos. are based on the Wikipedia listings)

Captain America v2 (1968-1996)

Volume length: 355 issues

This is v2 because apparently v1 was published in the 40s by Atlas Comics (precursor to Marvel), and as far as I can tell are not on Marvel Unlimited. This volume starts from #100 because it continues the numbering from Tales of Suspense.

This post is coming in over two months late (I promised in the last post that the next one would be in 6 weeks!) because honestly the first part of this volume is kind of a slog. Took me forever to get through it. Lots of boring Cap-fighting-Nazis/AIM/Hydra kind of stuff, working with SHIELD and Nick Fury a lot, some nice fantasy/sci-fi action here and there, but no real character development of any kind. Steve Rogers is a straight arrow and a very boring character by himself and he didn't get many good supporting characters to play with in the early years.

Sam Wilson is introduced in #117, and for a while the comic was even titled Captain America and the Falcon. The book tackles some of the racial divide issues which I guess were prevalent in America during those years. (Anyone who complains that modern comics are too "woke" obviously haven't read this volume.) During this period, Cap's love interest was of course Sharon Carter, and this was also kind of boring, with Sharon needing to be rescued a few times and a lot of Steve whining about he and Sharon can't have a normal life together.

For me, the story took a turn for the better when Sharon was apparently killed in #237 and Steve Rogers goes off to make a new start for himself outside of his role as Captain America. (Still superhero-ing though.) He gets a new apartment and tries to start a civilian career as a freelance artist. This gets him a civilian supporting cast (where previously the Falcon was his only civilian buddy), including Bernie Rosenthal, who becomes Steve's second major love interest in this volume and to whom he eventually reveals his secret identity. Having the civilain supporting cast made for more interesting situations and character development and that trademark Marvel dilemma of "my superhero life is interfering with my personal life" that made Spider-Man comics so good. Steve's romance with Bernie ended when she decided to break it off to go to law school.

The next big milestone in this volume is Mark Gruenwald's 10-year run from 1985-1995, missing only 1 issue in between! Gruenwald's run was very good, and once I got there my reading pace significantly improved. He introduced some interesting characters and villains such as the infamous Crossbones and the Serpent Society (who would plague Captain America for the rest of this run) and John Walker, who would go on to become US Agent. He also introduced the concept of The Bar With No Name and The Scourge of the Underworld. A long-running and controversial plot in this era involves taking the government taking the mantle of Captain America away from Steve Rogers and Walker assumes the title role for a while. A lot of angry letters page entries during that time! That story arc makes me want to rewatch The Falcon and the Winter Soldier actually.

From the Serpent Society would emerge Diamondback (Rachel Leighton), who would go on to become a reformed criminal and Steve's third love interest. Rachel is my favorite of Steve's love interests and frankly is the most interesting because of her criminal past. Sadly, Gruenwald's run ends with Steve and Rachel never getting a proper good-bye, other than a note from Rachel when she leaves to trade her soul for a cure to Steve's Super Soldier Serum degeneration which result in Captain America's "death" at the end of Gruenwald's run. (I am unsure if they ever interact again after this volume!)

After Cap "dies", Mark Waid takes over the series for a while and to no one's surprise it is revealed that not only is Cap still alive, but so is Sharon Carter! Waid's short run sees Cap temporarily ally himself with his nemesis the Red Skull and Sharon being very angry at SHIELD for abandoning her. This run ends the volume, coinciding with the Heroes Reborn event.

Historical figures and sliding timescale problems

Early in the run, Steve takes on a new superhero persona called Nomad because he becomes disillusioned by the country's leadership, implied to be US president Nixon. Towards the end of the run, the US president is shown to look a lot like Bill Clinton.

Marvel's sliding timeline is problematic for characters like Captain America who are associated with a fixed point in history (World War II). For Cap himself the suspended animation period handles the timescale well enough, but he has supporting characters like Peggy Carter and Arnie Roth who were supposedly alive during World War II as well, so their stories don't make sense in 2023! (Arnie Roth eventually died of cancer towards the end of Gruenwald's run, and Peggy has since died and already been resurrected.)

Some tangents

My parents used to buy me random comics when I was a kid (let's say, less than 12 years old), just singles from various series, never sequential. It meant I didn't get to follow storylines, but I still loved those singles as a kid and read through them multiple times, and I'm always happy to find them in the wild. This volume contained 2 such issues - #268 (first appearance of Arnie Roth and a crossover with the Defenders), #305 (crossover with Captain Britain). That last one ended in a cliffhanger that I am glad to finally resolve now that I've read this run!

(Click photos to view full-size)

This issue was my introduction to characters such as Hellcat and Valkyrie
This issue was my introduction to characters such as Hellcat and Valkyrie

(I didn't have any Iron Man or Hulk comics from that time, so this is the first time this has come up!)

Also, I am glad the versions of these comics scanned and uploaded to Marvel Unlimited includes stuff like the letters page and the Bullpen Bulletins, I loved reading those as a kid, especially that checklist with all the issues released that month. I'm sure there where characters that I first heard about from those checklists!

(Click photos to view full-size)


Other Captain America volumes

The 2 below are the only ones I'm sure I've already read. We'll get to the rest at some point during the Complete Marvel Run for sure! Not yet covered: Brubaker's run (Winter Soldier), which I think I've also read, but not sure if completely or just partially.

Captain America v8 (2013-2014)

Volume length: 25 issues

I didn't read this during this time, but I skimmed some of the issues recently to make sure I remembered it correctly. I remember really enjoying this volume and it was one of the few times I enjoyed John Romita Jr's pencils (he worked on the first arc).

This volume is by writer Rick Remender and covers the time Captain America was stranded in an alternate reality called "Dimension Z" created by Arnim Zola. Time moves faster in Dimension Z, and I think Cap was trapped in there for around 10 years of his time and even raised a boy he rescued as his own son. Cap's eventual escape from Dimension Z spills over into real-world consequences; by the end of this volume, he has been re-aged and has lost his Super Solider powers. In the final issue he passes the mantle of Captain America to Sam Wilson.

Captain America v11 (2018-2021)

Volume length: 25 issues

I started reading this before I decided on doing this "complete Marvel run" nonsense and stopped somewhere in the middle. After finishing v2 above, I decided to finish reading this one as well.

This volume was written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and deals with the fallout from the Secret Empire event where a Hydra version of Captain America took over the USA. (I did read Secret Empire, but not sure if I covered all the tie-ins, so we'll get back to that at some point!) It's kind of a by-the-numbers "Captain America on the run" kind of plot against a host of his usual villains, but does have some notable events: The return of Peggy Carter and Sharon Carter being restored to her "normal" age, since she was aged up in Dimension Z during volume 8.

Other Current volumes

These are some other more current runs and limited series I finished reading recently

Iron Man v6 (2020-2023)

Volume length: 25 issues

This is a back-to-basics Iron Man run by Christopher Cantwell. It was moderately interesting and included a romance between Tony Stark and Patsy Walker (Hellcat). Not much to note.

Defenders v6 (2021-2022) and Defenders Beyond (2022-2023)

Volume length: 5 issues each, total of 10 issues.

These are limited series by Al Ewing and Javier Rodriguez; I actually read Beyond first, but that just made me want to go back and read the first one. Each series brings together a random assortment of heroes to go deep into the Marvel cosmology, travelling through the previous incarnations of the cosmos and the different layers of the multiverse. It's pretty good and all high-level stuff and deep cuts, and I love how in Beyond, they include footnotes telling you all the references they made during each issue!

Marauders v1 (2019-2022)

Volume length: 27 issues. This volume's title has nothing to do with the X-Men villain team.

Marauders was one of the first set of series launched after Jonathan Hickman's ambitious House of X relaunch of the X-Men storylines. This volume consists of the Kate Pryde leading a pirate ship crew to go around and rescue mutants held by countries hostile to Krakoa. It's mostly a fun book with an eclectic complement of X-Men characters (Pyro and Iceman on the same team?!?). It ends without solving the mystery of why Kate Pryde is unable to use the Krakoan gates

A.X.E. Judgment Day (2022 Event)

Total: 16 issues (A.X.E. titles only)

This was Marvel's big crossover event for 2022, headed by Eternals writer Kieron Gillen. "A.X.E." stands for "Avengers X-Men Eternals". The storyline initially revolves around the Eternals new leader Druig declaring war on Krakoa over their resurrection protocols, but quickly turns into a global crisis when an Celestial decided to pass judgment on the entire planet. This was actually pretty good as Marvel crossovers go, the tie-ins mostly made sense and some badass story beats happen especially on the X-Men side. And they even stick the landing, the ending was pretty good!

X-Terminators v2 (2022-2023)

Volume length: 5 issues

This is a silly limited series featuring a small team of women (Jubilee, Boom-Boom, Dazzler, and Wolverine (Laura Kinney)) get dragged into what is apparently a spat between ex-lovers. This volume's title has nothing to do with the previous X-Terminators v1.

Some Marvel Unlimited annoyances

During this period I had also started reading X-Factor v1, but apparently this volume is not yet complete on MU, so I had to stop in the middle.

Captain America #400 is currently on MU, but only contains the main story and not the backups. I complained to reddit about it!


Total length: 488 issues

The last entry was in mid-October, that means for this entry, it took me something like 13 weeks to cover less than 500 issues! A terrible rate to be sure; I was stuck on the first part of Captain America v2 for a while. (TBF, I also lost some issues due to not completing X-Factor yet...) I have to speed it up a bit if I want to complete the Marvel run at any reasonable rate. I think going for roughly 500 issues every 8 weeks would be a reasonable target, that means we can cover 3000 issues in a year. Marvel currently publishes comics at a rate of around 800 new issues per year I think, so we should catch up at some point (especially since I should have already read a fair number of the more popular series before.)

These entries always end up so long!

What's Next

I recently found out about this site which provides a complete Marvel reading order starting from Fantastic Four #1 in 1961! An interesting resource to be sure, but I think I will stick with my weird "MCU order" for now, it seems more fun.

That means next up is Thor, and the first volume is a hefty 376 issues, so that's a lot of ground to cover. After that is Avengers, which completes MCU phase 1!

Side note: Although I've been reading these long runs, I haven't been reading the Annuals, which may or may not be a mistake. Though it might be fun later to go through all the annuals across all series in their publish order?

Thu, Jan. 26, 2023, 7:25 p.m. / / blog / #comics #complete-marvel-run / Syndicated: mastodon twitter / 2213 words

Last modified at: Jan. 27, 2023, 1:31 a.m. Source file

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Reviews in this post
comics Captain America v2 (1968) Jan 26 2023 -
comics Captain America v8 (2013) Jan 26 2023 -
comics Captain America v11 (2018) Jan 26 2023 -
comics Iron Man v6 (2020) Jan 26 2023 -
comics Defenders v6 (2021) Jan 26 2023 -
comics Defenders Beyond (2022) Jan 26 2023 -
comics Marauders v1 (2019) Jan 26 2023 -
comics A.X.E. Judgment Day (2022) Jan 26 2023 -
comics X-Terminators v2 (2022) Jan 26 2023 -