Jack "King" Kirby's return to Captain America in the 70's was marked by many new ideas for the series, pitting Cap and the Falcon against all sorts of foes, but not any we'd met before. It would be a winding path down the "River of Death" before that would change.
The story of the "The Swine" begins simultaneously in New York City and in a small Central American dictatorship where Comandante Hector Santiago proves to be a sadistic and murderous leader. He is brought to the attention of Cap and the Falcon when a friend of theirs is accosted by Santiago's police who seeks to return him to the wretched land. The heroes step in and soon Cap is on his way to check into the dictator's nefarious activities.
He finds a lush land not totally unfamiliar to the experienced jungle fighter and battles both against Santiago's military forces and the beasts of the wild at the same time.
A cousin of Santiago's named Donna Maria turns against the despot and she is pitched into a pit alongside the Living Legend to become victims for a hideous creature.
It seems more than nature is at work in the "Rio De Muerte" as it is called and Cap has to fend off monsters of all kinds. Meanwhile the Falcon concerned for Cap's welfare checks into things among them something SHIELD has been worried about for a while, something dubbed "File 116" which talks about monsters appearing all across the world.
Cap and Donna Maria survive their ordeal but Santiago himself falls victim to the monster he set upon his victims ending his vile career. Then the pair meet the mastermind behind the monsters of the river and the man behind File 116, Arnim Zola.
Doubtless the best new character Kirby created during his 70's Cap run, Arnim Zola is a memorable creation with his headless body and chest-projected mug.
The Nazi geneticist uses his creations "Doughboy" and "Primus" to capture Cap and Donna Maria and transports them to his lair far away in the alps. Meanwhile the Falcon still investigates File 116 himself and finds a monstrous nest and an even more stupefying monster bird.
Back home Sharon Carter, who has been carping about Steve Roger's continued career as a superhero is conscripted by SHIELD to investigate the funding for File 116 and that brings her face to mask with the man behind the plot, Cap's old enemy The Red Skull. The ultimate goal that Zola and his master the Skull seek is about to be revealed.
It turns out that while Hitler's body died in flames (either as a result of bombs or the Human Torches that is unclear) his precious brain had been preserved for the intervening decades and the pair were seeking to develop a new body for their noxious leader.
Now that Cap has fallen into their clutches, they see his Super-Soldier powered form as the ideal for their plan. It's a wacky scheme, but as with all things Nazi seems to make more sense to the perpetrators than anyone else.
Cap and Donna Maria the battle the Fuhrer's current form dubbed "Nazi X" which holds his encased brain.
It all comes to a head, so to speak, when our heroes on their various missions come together in Arnim Zola's living castle, one more example of his wild experimentation. Cap in a struggle with some of Zola's creations is blinded.
But that blindness does not stop him from confronting his old foe the Red Skull, and together the heroes save the day again and deny the wretched Adolph Hitler his new day to shine.
As Kirby's run on the hero winds down, we find him on the mend in hospital sharing a room with a person identified only as "The Defector". Sent to assassinate this mysterious Defector is The Night Flyer, a high-tech assassin who prides himself on his perfect techniques.
But that perfection is put to the ultimate test when he confronts both the Falcon and a recovering Captain America. The Defector survives but the Night Flyer does not as for the moment at least the world is once again safe from threat.
And that wraps up the final Captain America run by Jack "King" Kirby. It had been nearly two years and during that time Kirby had reestablished some aspects of the luster he once brought to the game, but there's no denying that his work on this run of Cap is not his strongest. His dialogue seemed especially out of tune as he put hip lines in the mouths of both Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson, lines that jarred.
As usual Kirby is more adept at the visuals than other things, ably abetted by primary inker Frank Giacoia. Mike Royer does arrive about half way in this run and one issue is done by Dan Green. The artwork is still full of Kirby vigor, but the story alas seems a bit aimless at times.
There are still two more annuals the King produced which we haven't discussed. Look for those next time.