Thursday, August 06, 2009

Captain America Reborn #2 – A Review

Captain America Reborn #2 (of 5)

Publisher Marvel Comics

Writer Ed Brubaker

Art Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice

Colors Paul Mounts

So what the heck happened? I should be enjoying this series, we have Ed Brubaker writing, Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice on art and we are seeing the story of how Captain America is returning from the dead. Brubaker has been killer on this series and made the Captain America book into a series that you wanted to talk about. It has not been perfect, but it has been interesting. Steve Epting with others has been doing a very good on the art and after Cap was killed we have been enjoying the evolution of Bucky going from kid sidekick, to cold war assassin, to taking over the reigns of being Captain America. In fact if anything the comic has been more about Bucky’s journey than about Steve Rogers. Still we have had enough about Steve and knew that he would be coming back at some point, so the story should be smooth sailing. The built in comeback is easy when you have the super solider formula running through your veins. So much was going right for this book and instead of this being a high point of the run it has turned into a convoluted conglomeration of an amalgamation of crap.

First off we have the cover were Cap is killing Hitler, Cap mentions the idea in the book, but nothing comes close to that inside the comic. Oh well there are about 3 or four various covers for this book floating about so I guess I should not care as covers are no longer the gateway to bringing new readers into a book.

Inside we get a castle shot and Steve is narrating, since we no longer use thought balloons narrative captions serve the same purpose but are not as dumb to current sensibilities, about remembering this WWII mission. Next is a double page spread of dwarf Captain America. The two page spread has Cap across the top of the page running through a barrage of bullets with his shield protecting him. The top half of his body is two or three times larger then his legs, it is an atrocious picture for artists of this caliber. That is one of the major problems for this book. Bryan Hitch, in my opinion, carried the Ultimates series from Marvel comics. His art was stunning and his work was the heir apparent to Neal Adams style, realistic with Kirby type of dynamics. The entire art job on this book feels rushed. Some of the shots are so/so; the work is often more Guice than Hitch and if I had to guess, I would bet there are a lot more hands doing some work on this book than are credited. These guys are so much better then this art job, that it is sad to see their names on the credits and then see this type of work. That is not to say this is a horrible art job. These guys still know how to tell a story, but when “A” level talent delivers a “C” level job it seems even worse then it is.

Next up is the actual story, if there is one. Somewhere in the midst of all that is happening is a story. As Captain America skips through his life we get to see him ride along for events and see some key moments in his life. Why he is stuck skipping around in just WWII is beyond me at the moment but that is the case. During this time we get to see the Steve Rogers who is an overly emotional and maudlin version of the hero. He is more concerned about what he can’t do and what all of this means. What we get is someone who is not even remotely heroic. The whiny Cap is not working for me.

Back in the here and now Bucky and the newly back to being Natasha are fighting the Dark Avengers. They are captured and brought before the so overused Norman Osborne. Norman is the only person in Marvel comics who is actually doing anything. He is fighting Nick Fury, running Thunderbolts, running the Dark Avengers, being the Iron Patriot, fighting off being the Goblin, having media battles with Clint Barton, manipulating the X-Men and now taking time out to show the world that Sharon Carter was the second shooter of Captain America. Norman is now forcing the Black Widow (Natasha) to make Sharon Carter turn herself in or else Bucky will die.

Of course I have forgotten that Mr. Fantastic and Hank Pym having being playing OB/GYN doctors with Sharon and have discovered something in her bloodstream that seems familiar. Next I’ll be waiting for Sharon to give birth to Steve and then he will rapidly age baby Steve and Cap will jump into his new body to start again. Why not, the rest of the story makes the same amount of sense. I forget to add that Norman has been recruiting Crossbones and Sin into his plans as he apparently is offering Steve Rogers body to the mind of the Red Skull.

Oh the excitement and the thrill. Every once in a while I think a writer goes off the rails because he is writing a comic book and remembers reading some of the wacky stuff they did in days of yore. He thinks that anything goes in comic books and that is why they are comic books. This is true, but you need to be writing Chew to get away with the FDA being a major crime busting force, you need to be writing Thor for the “war of gods”, you need to write LOSH to have everyone be called Kid, Boy or Girl. Captain America is not an anything goes plot line and I still expect better then this from Brubaker. I get the feeling Marvel wanted a nice book for Barnes & Noble that can be an evergreen seller and Brubaker is stretching it out to make it all work. Also it feels like any book that was away from Dark Reign is being dragged into it and Marvel is tying everything into a more cohesive MU, for good or ill. Regardless I’m still hoping by the end of this Brubaker will make it work and then we can go forward and forget the mess it was to bring back Steve Rogers. I just hope that we get to keep Bucky around as another Cap or something as Marvel is in desperate need of second generation heroes. In fact if you think of it Bucky fits the bill of a man out of time better then Steve Rogers does anymore. Steve has been back in the present longer then he was in the past and Bucky was basically a programmed entity that only had a limited life for the last 40 years, so he is more of the guy who is still stuck in the forties.

Overall Grade D – In many ways that is harsh grade as maybe I could have gone with a “C”, but this talent and this writer, who has been doing this series for almost five years now. should be doing a lot better, a lot.

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