Captain America Omnibus, vol. 1 collects Captain America #100-113 and the Captain America stories from Tales of Suspense #59-99, all of which were originally published between 1964 and 1969. Like most of Marvel's Omnibuses, this is a beautiful edition, with brightly colored, low-gloss archival paper, finished boards with silver foil stamping, a flexible sewn binding, and a detailed credits page and table of contents. Like Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1, this volume also reprints the original letters pages with each issue. Bonus material includes a Charlie America origin story from Not Brand Echh #3, original covers for Captain America #100 and #105, original art from Captain America #112, cover reproductions for Marvel's Greatest Comics and Marvel Double Feature (reprint books), and cover art for Essential Captain America, vol. 1. Also included are two Stan Lee Introductions (taken from Marvel Masterworks), which are--like all his prose--superlative-laden and largely uninteresting. John Morrow's Introduction for the book's final third (also from a Marvel Masterworks) makes for better reading, but the real treat here is Jim Steranko's tell-all Afterword, in which he muses on the faults of the Captain America series and describes, in great detail, his approach to art.
Story-wise, the Captain America Omnibus delivers a lot--over 800 pages worth--of sometimes great, sometimes mediocre stories. Though the credits list Stan Lee as writer for every issue collected here but one, much of the best writing bears Jack Kirby's distinct vision; the excellent run that ends the book also appears to have been plotted primarily by Steranko. When the stories are good, they are inventive, action-packed, and notably weird. Many of these, such as the classic Three Sleepers tale and the first Cosmic Cube epic, have since become essential parts of Captain America's mythology. At their worst, however, the stories are direction-less and rather generic tales heavy on fight scenes. It's clear from the early issues especially that Lee and Kirby didn't always know what to do with Cap in Tales of Suspense. As Steranko pointedly observes of their run in his Afterword, "Captain America was a hero without a cause." Steranko's own stories start to correct this at this volume's end. Psychologically complicated and featuring a Captain no longer stuck in the 1940s, these are arguably the best-written in the book.
As for the art, it's absolutely beautiful throughout. Kirby provides much of it (inked, to different but always great effect, by a variety of terrific inkers), though in some early issues he delivers only the layouts. Gil Kane and George Tuska also pencil quite a few stories. As great as these artists' work is, however, it's the three issues penciled by Steranko that really stand out here. Featuring experimental layout design, unusual use of color and symbol, and a psychological (and slightly psychedelic) approach to storytelling, Steranko's art singlehandedly propels the Captain America books out of the WWII nostalgia that had previously been their defining feature.
If you're a collector, you can't go wrong with this volume. Teenage and college-age fans newer to Captain America (perhaps turned on to him by the Captain America movie) may be better off starting with Burbaker's Captain America Omnibus, Vol. 1, but any longtime fan of the Captain will certainly love this.