Rating: 3.5 Stars (out of 5)
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Steve Epting
Note: A preview of the first several pages of this book are available by visiting the page linked to in the title of this post.
I can’t believe it either: I not only read a Captain America book but I’m not hiding that fact either. Ed Brubaker’s excellent Sleeper from 2004 made me a fan and I’m always curious when an adored writer of mine takes over a mainstream superhero icon led me to this point.
My favorite part of this story is really the first couple of issues with the Red Skull. I had never read any stories with him in it, especially since I don’t read too much Captain America period. Ed Brubaker portrays him here as a very likeable freakish villain. Brubaker handles the Cosmic Cube excellently only allowing the characters and reader a murky understanding wherein somehow it feeds off of misery.
The major problem coming to a book like this after it’s been out for a while is how it’s very difficult to not already know who the subtitle refers to. Since this first book, collecting the first 7 issues, is a buildup to that revelation you’re robbed of some excitement and the final reveal, presumably in the next volume, will also most likely fall flat. However the concept of Cap’s former child sidekick growing up with a twisted psyche from all the deranged shit he was exposed to in WWII is good enough and nicely depicted by Brubaker and his more than capable artistic sidekick Steve Epting.
Another big issue I have with the book is how Epting depicts so many characters with constantly scowling faces, especially on the gorgeous Agent 13 (yes, I find females in comics attractive, just like some people find Jessica Rabbit sexy). I don’t like it when superhero books don’t take themselves seriously at all (à la Warren Ellis’ Authority) but they also don’t need to be so serious they always look like they’re “pinching a break” as a former colleague would observe.
Those two things aside, I like this one and will be looking to pick up volume 2: Captain tosses his shield at S.H.I.E.L.D. tossers. I hope that Bucky is one sick fuck now and that someone that has a major hard-on for sticking it to the U.S. government for the horrible crap they made him grow up with; mostly because I *hate* that the former marketing ploy of introducing adolescent superhero sidekicks still isn’t blotted from the collective memory. At least Brubaker gives the whole concept a good kick in the teeth.
*Matty Pepin generously provided this book indirectly through a birthday gift. My hat’s off to you, where ever you are, lost in Dolphins pre-season football land. Keep on cheering you crazy fin fan.