With Gene Colan’s art, you got the feeling of three dimensions and real objects and people in real motion. The use of shadows and speed lines, the flowing dynamism of the pencils, made things leap out at you from the thin comic book page. Smoke looked like smoke; night-time looked like night-time.
Colan was a great choice to depict one of my favourite storylines, the time when Captain America’s arch-enemy the Red Skull managed to get hold of the all-powerful Cosmic Cube and used it to switch bodies with the Captain. In typical super-villain megalomaniac style, the Skull plays with this altered reality a little too long, giving Cap the chance to meet the Falcon (that character’s first appearance) and turn the tables.
Captain America #117 from 1969 shows Cap holding the Cosmic Cube, evilly gloating at the Red Skull’s predicament, while we figure out that Cap and the Red Skull have somehow switched bodies. Look at the way Colan captures the sinister motivations in the Cap/Skull’s expression.