The Death of Bucky!

By 1948, things were growing progressively more difficult for super heroes on the sales front. In te aftermath of World War II, other genres–crime, romance and horror chief among them–were increasingly popular, and the fad for super heroes had just about run its course. Over at Timely Comics, things were no different. As a bulwalk against this sales erosion and in an attempt to draw in more readers who might be attracted by a pretty figure, Timely decided to introduce a swath of lady crime-fighters, teaming them up with their biggest super hero stars. So the Sub-Mariner met and partnered up with Namora, and the Human Torch threw over his kid buddy Toro (who just vanished one day without explanation) in favor of a curvy lady without powers but who possessed a shapely yellow outfit and who called herself Sun Girl.

Like the Torch, Captain America already had a partner, and one that was better known than Toro ever was. So in order to give him a girl partner, the kid had to go–and this was the story that wrote Bucky out of the series (It wasn’t quite his last–we’ll get to that soon enough.) and introduced his replacement, Golden Girl. The Grand Comics Database credits William Woolfolk as the writer, with art supplied by Syd Shores and Ken Bald.

ADDITION: In the comments, Dr. Michael J. Vassallo conjectures that the inker of this story was possibly Vince Alascia.

You can really see the influence of the popularity of crime comics such as CRIME DOES NOT PAY on this story.

This is an amazingly brutal moment for a super hero comic in 1948. Virtually every costumed creator had a kid buddy partner, and while they might occasionally be placed in jeopardy, it was a rare thing to see one gunned down like this–and on Page 3 at that.

Betsy Ross had been introduced right at the start of the series by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby as a recurring love interest for Cap. She hadn’t been seen much in recent times, but that was about to change. (Also, how dumb must she be to not be able to connect Steve’s friend Bucky Barnes to Captain America’s partner Bucky?)

Based on pretty much nothing, Cap decides to inveigle Betsy Ross into becoming his partner. Both he and Betsy seem to have forgotten her work as a government agent during the war–here, she’s more about doing dishes.

Fortunately, Bucky’s skills can be acquired in just a few days…

One of the interesting quirks of the Golden Girl character is the fact that the editors had difficulty keeping er costume straight. When she appeared in CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS, it was yellow and green, as it is here. But in the Cap strips tat wound up running in places such as HUMAN TORCH COMICS and MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS, it was typically colored red and blue.

And that was it for Bucky–although he was around and active in the second Cap story in this issue, which must have been prepared earlier. But from this point forward, he was written out of the series–with one exception, which we’ll get to in the days to come.

2 thoughts on “The Death of Bucky!

  1. Tom, while that indeed is Syd Shores penciling this story, why anyone would think to add Ken bald’s name to the story is beyond me. The likely inker is Vince Alascia, who was Shores’ primary inker in this period. I say that with uncertainty, though. But it was not Ken Bald.

    Liked by 1 person

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