Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Captain America #19

Captain America #19, August 2006, Marvel Publishing
writer: Ed Brubaker
pencils: Steve Epting
inks: Steve Epting & Mike Perkins
colors: Frank D’Armata
letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
assistant editors: Molly Lazer & Aubrey Sitterson
editor: Tom Brevoort

A quick disclaimer: In re-reading my previous posts, I realize that my first few reviews have been fairly critical. I feel compelled to say, I love comic books. I wouldn’t have tackled this challenge if I didn’t. Further, I enjoy reading all comics, and I can usually find something to enjoy in all comics, even if the overall package doesn’t appeal to me.

That said, I began my Independence Day with Captain America #19, the second in my extended holiday weekend patriotic comic blitz. Ironically, this issue was the second part of a multipart story, thankfully not associated with Marvel’s multi-title “Civil War” storyline. No, this issue’s “previously” blurb brought me to speed fairly quickly, and the ensuing tale struck me as a bridge from one critical happening to another, though with enough entertaining moments to maintain this individual tale’s integrity.

See, rather than dig up an old Cap yarn, I thought to by the latest issue available, as if I were a novice to the medium looking to celebrate the Fourth with a little comics inspiration. Although the story takes place in Britain, Cap’s inherent heroism in the face of both hand-to-hand combat and political antagonism is dynamic and respectable. When a bomb blows Cap and his crew off of a boat, his first response to the teammate that saved them, “You got the crew off first?” Then, later, when some British Secret Service fat cat threatens to remove Cap from the case, the super-soldier replies with true American grit, “No offense, but I don’t work for you.” Nice.

I wonder if true Cap fans are loving Brubaker’s run. The core of this story seems ripped from a Kirby classic: the Red Skull is back, trying to raise a race of Master Men, while Captain America investigates the rogue return of his long-dead sidekick Bucky. The major players may appear a little different, but they’re present, in full force. Unlike the regurgitation from yesterday’s Fighting American issue, I can tell the creative team wants to do something with these characters, rather than just honor them with a contemporary lens. Also, Epting’s art is reminiscent of my only other encounter with Cap, during his post-9-11 relaunch a few years ago. This realistic, expressionist tone best suits a comic rife with action and introspection, with “pow” and politics, then and now. Compared to The Fighting American’s bright primary colors, these hushed tones speak to the ambiguities of Cap’s mission. Sometimes, the American Way isn’t the most well lit path.

So, yes, I liked this issue. I would buy the first and remaining parts of this story, just to see how it ends. Just like a good Fourth fireworks show, I’m left wanting a little bit more. Assuming every comic book will be someone’s first, no matter what day it is, that’s a good sign.

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