Saturday, July 16, 2011

Captain America #1

Even though I've been a fan of the character... well, practically since I started reading comic books in the '60s, I've always thought that Captain America would be a really difficult comic to write.

That's because he is, basically, a big Boy Scout - square, old-fashioned, almost incapable of making mistakes (sort of like Superman).

Shows what I know.

In the hands of a talented writer, Cap's adventures really come to life - and he's had some top wordsmiths crafting his stories over the years, from his beginnings under Joe Simon and Jack Kirby to his rebirth at the hands of Stan Lee, a brief fling with Jim Steranko, excellence by Steve Englehart, another brief but excellent run by Roger Stern and John Byrne, a vastly-underrated long run by Mark Gruenwald, outstanding work by Mark Waid, and now a long, rich run by Ed Brubaker. (No doubt I'm forgetting some fine writers in this "off the top of my head" list.)

Thankfully, Brubaker continues his excellent run on this (renumbered) series. He makes Steve Rogers a real person, relating to friends, mourning a loss, but swinging into action when danger arises.

This issue is a great jumping-on point - and just in time for the new movie. I'm amazed at how many times the comics industry has missed the chance to offer new readers (who might be drawn in by a film) a good place to start reading.

The issue starts with a funeral for a long-time friend of Cap's - an old ally from World War II. That sparks an attack from an old foe (though one that's new to us), and Cap finds himself - and his friends - targets of a deadly opponent.

Brubaker is working with artist Steve McNiven, and his work here is outstanding. Lush, vivid and dynamic, he 's equally at home in quiet character moments and raucous action scenes. Each character is distinct and alive, and the scenery is stunning.

So this series is off to an excellent (re)start here. Hopefully the movie is as good!

Grade: A-


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