Welcome to Costume Drama, a recurring feature where we turn a critical eye toward superhero outfits and evaluate both the aesthetics and the social issues that often underlie them.
For this installment we're looking at one my favorite designs from the 1980s: the black costume Steve Rogers wore as "the Captain." As far as my research can determine, the costume was designed by Tom Morgan, who drew its first on-panel appearance in Captain America #337, although it obviously owes a lot to Simon and Kirby's Captain America design. Cover artist Mike Zeck also paid homage to Kirby with a cover based on Avengers #4. The storyline that introduced the costume, and this role for Steve Rogers, was by longtime Captain America writer Mark Gruenwald.
Writer. Editor. Artist. Comedian. Mark Gruenwald was a man of many talents, who wore many hats over the course of his life. Born in Wisconsin on this day in 1953, he grew up loving comics, contributed to various fanzines and comic-themed publications, and in 1977, published the first issue of his own Omniverse, a comprehensive dissection of alternate-universe continuities. The next year, he began working for Marvel as a writer and assistant editor, and quickly proved himself to be an essential asset to the company, both as an employee, and as an all-around morale booster – his high spirits and penchant for practical jokes are the stuff of industry legend.
If you were reading comics in 1995, then there's a pretty good chance you saw Combo Man. I suspect that for anyone around my age, just the sight of the ad above is enough to trigger a massive wave of nostalgia for that very, very specific time when Lady Octopus was debuting and we weren't sure just whose side the Scarlet Spider and his hoodie were on. If, however, you were doing something better with your time than reading about the Clone Saga or how Adam X (THE X-TREME!) might be the fabled third Summers brother, a little explanation might be in order.
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