Review: Captain America

At the start of the year the death of a beloved American comic book icon got a lot of press coverage. It was the death of Captain America, a figurehead in the comics world since his creation in 1941. But this was just the beginning of new chapter with the series still continuing after his death in #25. There’s a lot of players involved in this storyline and they all have an interest in control of a possible new Captain America.

First, lets look at the events surrounding his assassination. It was the aftermath of the Marvel comics event Civil War. The U.S. government had decided after years of civilian deaths and private property destruction that those people with powers should have to be registered and enrolled into programs where they would either learn how to control their powers or be kept locked up. Cap rebelled against this while his former friend Tony Stark aka Iron Man became the chief proponent of the registration act. A great battle occured with heroes against heroes and in the end it was Cap, looking around and see the death and destruction caused by the fight, who turned himself over to authorities to end it. He was being escorted into the courthouse in New York City by agents of SHIELD (the top level governmental security force in Marvel) when a sniper hit him from a building across the street. This wasn’t the shot that killed him though. His on-again-off-again paramour Sharon Carter was one of the agents escorting him. She heard a signal word in her head and shot Cap point blank in the stomach. Because of the chaos caused by the sniper’s bullet no one notice, not even Sharon. Instead she began to remember it is bursts of images in the following days.

Also present was Cap’s former sidekick from the 1940s, Bucky Barnes. He was presumed dead during the final days of the war but had been taken by Soviet scientists and turned into a killing machine by them. It has only been in the last year that Cap discovered that the super soldier calling  himself The Winter Soldier was Bucky. In the sky was another of Cap’s ex-partners The Falcon. Both men have taken a strong interest in tracking down Cap’s killers. The identity of the hand behind the killing has not been kept secret from the readers. It’s Cap’s long time arch-enemy The Red Skull. The Winter Soldier put these pieces together and last week in #30 he tracked down Red Skull and confronted him. The battle was cut short when Red Skull uttered one word: “Sputik”. This turned out to be a word the Soviets had programmed into Winter Soldier as a shutdown command. It was also revealed in this issue that Sharon Carter is pregnant with Cap’s child and that Iron Man was sent a post-mortem letter by Cap stating that there needs to be new Cap and that Iron Man’s top prioroty is saving Bucky.

Writer Ed Brubaker has been raising his stock since he started getting top tier writing chores. He delivered an amazing run on Daredevil as well as Batman. His forte seems to be the more grounded heroes. He’s not going for the “out there” cosmic material but stories involving an element of crime and heroes who push their physical limits. There’s definitely pieces of the fantastic in his writing with the flamboyance of the Red Skull and the impossible technology of SHIELD but there’s a bigger emphasis on the characters. Steve Epting’s art is not something that would normally pop out to me but it’s a very dark, fluid style that is a perfect match for this book. It’s always a treat when you have a writer/artist team that click like this. Definitely one of the best books out there. Rare that a comic that no longer features its title character can be said to be so good.

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~ by Seth on September 24, 2007.

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