The result was, as noted above, a run which is considered by many to be a classic. It's hard to refer to a nine-issue run as "definitive", but this is about as close to the word as such a limited number of issues can get. Stern and Byrne set up a new status quo and supporting cast for Cap, and even codified various aspects of his origin story, which had been floating around for years, into one cohesive tale. Along the way, they set him against a number of his classic foes -- and a few newer ones -- in a series of action-adventure stories evoking the sort of film serials Cap himself might have watched as a young man.
All comic book runs eventually end, but this one stopped far too soon, due to behind-the-scenes issues. Stern and Byrne each recall their departures differently:
Per Stern, he was having some health issues and Byrne was getting married, so editor Jim Salicrup commissioned a fill-in issue. This issue would cost Stern his "continuity bonus" -- an incentive Marvel paid out for creators who stuck with a title for more than six consecutive issues at a time -- and on top of that, Stern knew a fill-in would cost the series both story and sales momentum. So Stern walked, and Byrne followed in support of his friend.
|CAPTAIN AMERICA: WAR & REMEMBRANCE|
(To this day, no one other than Byrne seems to recall Shooter's decree about single issue stories, so in this instance it seems likely that Stern's version of the story is more accurate.)
In any case, the end result was that a run on CAPTAIN AMERICA, which was really shaping up to be something special, came to a sudden end with the departure of both writer and artist. But on the plus side, we'll always have the nine issues they did put together, which have been reprinted multiple times over the decades since, in both paperback and hardcover format. Beginning Wednseday, I'll take a look at these stories issue-by-issue, using the 2008 trade paperback edition of CAPTAIN AMERICA: WAR AND REMEMBRANCE.
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