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jack kirby captain america artwork (8)

The Mutant Massacre storyline from Chris Claremont’s legendary run on Uncanny X-Men remains fondly remembered by X-fans of the mid-1980s. Marvel collected it recently in a 320-page The Mutant Massacre. But before the X-men, Captain America faced the original mutant massacre in Jack Kirby’s Captain America Annual #4.

Magneto plays the villain here, with the fate of a horrifying but sympathetic mutant driving Kirby’s plot. Conceptually and visually, Annual #4 has much to offer. Just look at these splash pages! On the other hand, Kirby’s Captain America run in the 70s did little with Cap as a character. In this and other Kirby Captain America stories, Cap functions as a pretty generic action hero. The interest lies in Kirby’s penchant for exploring mind-blowing science fiction concepts, and rendering them as no one else can.

jack kirby captain america artwork (10)

Not nearly as far-reaching in scope and consequence as Claremont’s mutant massacre, Kirby’s The Great Mutant Massacre nonetheless planted the seed. Perhaps it even laid the foundation for Claremont’s development of widespread societal hatred of mutants in his stories. Would we have Days of Future Past without Kirby’s oft-forgotten Captain America Annual? Pick up a copy and judge for yourself!

jack kirby captain america artwork (9)