Monday, March 28, 2011

March Madness - - Decimal Points .1 - - March 28, 2011

I’m going to review several of the Marvel “Point One” titles  - - as described, they are intended to be a good “jumping on” point for new readers or readers coming back to these books after an absence (like me).  So, to fulfill their purpose  they need to give a non-regular reader a feel for both the tone of the book as well as the characters - - and give them enough background to follow the stories that come next, or even begin in # .1 issues. That’s a tall order.  Whether or not they succeed in accomplishing all of that is subject to interpretation and debate.  What all four books that I read had in common  = they were all great reads with excellent stories and art.  You will get your need for entertainment satisfied.  I’m going to review these in order of my personal favorites - - and none of them are runner-ups.  All are contenders.  This first one merits a grade of A+.

CAPTAIN AMERICA  #615.1 (Marvel Comics, May 2011) Writer: Ed Brubaker.  Artist:  Mitch  Breitweiser.  Color Artist; Bettie Breitweiser.  Letterer & Production: VC’s Joe Caramagna.  Cover Art: Daniel Acuna

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The cover painting by Daniel Acuna catches the eye immediately.  The form of Captain America leading the charge of U.S. Forces through a WWII battlefront just leaps to the front of the cover.  It almost looks like a photo of a clay animation model was transposed over the rest of the painting.  I can’t stop looking it over.

Without going into  a lot of “what has gone before” (tons of complex storylines there) and back history (boy, is there ever – all the way back to the 1940’s!) Brubaker conveys the importance  of what Captain America means to the Marvel Universe as well as the “feel” of what it means to wear the outfit and “be” Captain America.  It’s ambitious.  It’s powerful.  It’s inspiring. It may create a lump in the throat. 

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The sentiments work (and get expressed through an unlikely source/outlet) mainly because of the talent of writer Ed Brubaker.  He “gets” Captain America, and more than almost any other writer who has scripted his tales – Brubaker has put such a dramatic  interpretation on this character as if he (Brubaker)  is the sole creator and “owns” it.  Too many other writers would attempt this and the results would be sappy and melodramatic, far from convincing. Brubaker pulls it off because of his skills.

Now I’ve got a lot of reading ahead of me  - - my stockpile of Captain America books.  There was a time when CAPTAIN AMERICA was the one book that I had to read every month.  I  decided to take a breather after the two story arcs that followed “The Death Of Captain America”.  I liked those stories but felt that I didn’t “have to” read them each month.  So I collected the issues that followed, as well as THE MARVELS PROJECT and CAPTAIN AMERICA REBIRTH.   I wasn’t totally in the dark.  I knew that Steve Rogers was back and chose a different role as leader of the Secret Avengers while Bucky continued to wear the Captain America outfit.  I know that Bucky just experienced some major legal troubles.  Now I need to back-track and pick up all those details.  I believe some great reading lies ahead.

Mitch Breitweiser on art does a commendable job (as always).  I especially like some of the action scenes featuring Steve Rogers to the rescue.  Steve Epting really set the art standard for the modern Captain America book, and Breitweiser handles it in equally high fashion.

I also like where this title is heading, and all along have felt that the events I believe are soon to occur are inevitable.  How they come to the foreground again is the basis of this .1 issue, and well worth the reading.  I don’t want to spoil it for you with any crucial details - - I just want to persuade you to read it.

And while there may be several Captain Americas featured in this issue, Steve Rogers is front and center most of the time.  Make no mistake, he is who this book is about.  No matter what happens or who wears the outfit, Steve is the man - - and as far as I’m concerned - the central character of this book – now and forever, amen.

Captain America: The First Avenger

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