Several years ago, I began the Kirby Kinetics blog series with a study of one of Captain America’s fight scenes. The King was often at his best when working with the continuity of the nearly balletic contortions that he would put his star spangled star through. So, I find myself continually returning to this particular subject on a regular basis.
Whenever Kirby was in the mood to draw up a rousing slugfest, he would pit Captain America against an equally strong or acrobatic opponent. In this case, however, the villain in question known as the Tumbler was actually fighting an “Adaptoid”, an artificial being that had taken Caps place. The Tumbler was of course unaware of this and was surprised at how easily he was able to defeat the faux-Cap, but when the genuine article escaped from captivity, he of course kicked the Tumbler’s butt decisively.
This twist gave the story a bit more depth than if it had just been a simple one-on one contest. Above on page 2, Kirby gives us his best in move-counter-move continuity, as the Tumbler first decks the Adaptoid-Cap in the second panel, whereupon the imposter Kicks the acrobat into the air in panel three. The agile Tumbler somersaults in panel four and deftly lands in the fifth panel.
The battle continues apace for several pages, while the Tumbler stops to tell us his back story, and we then cut to the actual Captain America in the next room, struggling to escape from his bonds.
Page seven above continues with a nice three-panel sequence wherein the Tumbler lifts the fake Cap aloft and tosses him into a wall, which splinters on impact. We see the scene as though we were on the other side of the barrier, watching the helpless figure crashing towards us. (Note the presidential sound effect) As the Tumbler gloats in victory in panel five, we are set up for the real Captain America to explode from behind the shattered wall with a smashing roundhouse right, knocking the Tumbler into our laps.
The following page above is notable for the last two panels starting off an exceptionally cinematic example of sequential action. In panel five, the tumbler lands just behind a table, which Cap pins him to the wall with in panel six. On the following page, seen below, the sequence continues as the Tumbler jackknifes backwards, throwing the table at Cap, who ducks and is on his opponent in the second panel.
Kirby has choreographed the action with remarkable fluidity, rotating his figures to accentuate the continuity as well as the dynamism. Cap’s left faced crouching position in panel one leads the reader’s eye to his forward leap at the Tumbler in panel two. The reader easily connects the action to panel three as Kirby rotates Cap’s figure to a dramatic combination of three-quarter back shot and profile, as the hero draws back his fist to strike. Kirby completes the sequence with the hero again knocking his opponent towards us and out of the panel.
At this point circa mid 1966, Kirby was at the height of his powers. He was focusing his energy on just three books per month and it showed, in some of the most solid and exciting production of his long career.
All pages from Tales of Suspense #83
Jack Kirby, plot and artwork Stan Lee plot and script, Dick Ayers inking