With Captain America set to conquer the silver screen and further whet Marvel zombies’ appetites for Joss Whedon’s Avengers movie, I thought it appropriate to highlight Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s work on another star-spangled hero.
Captain Freedom debuted in Speed Comics #13 (Harvey Comics, May 1941) as yet another publisher’s response to the commercial success of such patriotic characters as The Shield, Uncle Sam and – of course – Simon and Kirby’s Captain America.
Credited to “Franklin Flagg” (the writer’s real name is unknown, sadly, but the art to most of Captain Freedom’s adventures is by Arthur Cazeneuve), Harvey’s defender of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was a crusading newspaper publisher who decided he could better aid the American War effort by dressing up like a walking flag.
The good Captain was frequently aided on his adventures by a group of courageous newsboys known as “The Young Defenders.”
Captain Freedom proved popular enough to become Speed Comics’ cover feature and lasted until the magazine was finally canceled in 1947. His adventures were pretty much standard punch-em-ups, but at one point the Captain unexpectedly found himself elevated to the A-List after Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were hired to draw a number of covers featuring Harvey’s star-spangled avenger.
Simon himself depicted the Captain in Speed Comics #17-#21 and #23 while Kirby and Simon teamed up for a striking cover to Speed Comics #22. It probably goes without saying that the covers outshone the Captain’s adventures inside the comic, but that’s a comic-book tradition that persists to this very day.
Here are the Simon & Kirby covers to Speed Comics. Be aware that some of the following images contain racial stereotypes that were considered acceptable in their day but are decidedly offensive now.