The regular ongoing Captain America series, which has been damned amazing since Brubaker came on board with # 1 a few years back has become Captain America & Bucky, and will retain its original numbering, focusing on the pair of heroes and their numerous adventures under the watchful eye of a new creative team. A brand new Captain America # 1 hit stands last Wednesday, again under the direction of Ed Brubaker with art by Steve McNiven, he of Civil War and Old Man Logan fame. It marks a new chapter for the Captain America saga. One that builds off of Brubaker’s already elaborate work and provides a new jumping-on point for new readers as well. It’s a strategy that has worked well for other books in the past, with Invincible Iron Man under Fraction and The Mighty Thor under…Fraction again.
The book begins in a cemetery where Cap is mourning the loss of an old friend. If you’ve been reading Fear Itself, you’re almost immediately convinced that it’s (**spoiler alert**) the recently deceased Bucky Barnes. But that’s not the case at all. In fact this introductory issue doesn’t address Bucky at all. Brubaker instead hits the ground running and plunges us into the story that, in a manner consistent with the rest of his run, is tied heavily to Steve’s adventures in World War II. The interplay between the past and the present is a defining element of Brubaker’s run. The Winter Soldier storyline would have had no impact if Ed and company hadn’t been able to skillfully craft the narrative in such a way that all the pieces fit like a jigsaw puzzle. Steve remarks that he sometimes still has trouble reconciling the fact that even after all these years he is still a man out of time. He’s displaced. Despite being the representation of America itself, the modern landscape is never fully going to be his home. While some writers take this and run with it in precisely the wrong direction, as was the case with Civil War Frontline, Brubaker’s Steve Rogers is a character who always tries to retain the elements of himself that shine brightest while trying to evolve to fit into a world that, quite frankly, does not deserve a hero of his caliber.
Some fans will be put off by the fact that the manner in which Steve becomes Captain America once again is not immediately addressed, but this is just as much a book for new converts from the film as it is for longtime fans. Brubaker is not one to ignore those elements, but they will have to be introduced organically over time so that everyone feels at ease. This is a very classically written book in that regard. Half of the fun will be having answers revealed over time as it is appropriate. Brubaker’s crime-fiction background shows heavily in his writing here. Little snippets surface to make the big picture appear clearly but they don’t come at you on every panel. Brubaker is a master of the slow burn, if his prior work on the title has shown us anything. I would expect that tradition to carry over here.
As for McNiven’s art, it’s as clean and crisp as ever and I can only hope that he’s got the issues finished because I would weep at the thought of a fill-in artist. He draws Cap with amazing skill and his artwork matches the tone of the book perfectly. You couldn’t ask for a better artist, though many in his caliber have worked with Brubaker on Cap in the past and I’m hoping that Steve Epting and Michael Lark get their turns on the new title as well. Rotate them all through the different arcs and you’d have as close to a perfect Captain America title as could be managed.
I strongly advise picking this up. Captain America is and has been one of Marvel’s best properties for quite some time now and this issue seems to indicate that’s not changing anytime soon.
So, not too long ago the news broke that Tony Scott, brother of Ridley Scott and maker of multiple films featuring Denzel Washington would be directing a feature film adaptation of Mark Millar’s latest magnum opus, Nemesis. I think most of you know how I feel about that book. It just doesn’t appeal to me. Frankly, I think it’s the laziest sort of comic writing. The more I think about it, the less redeeming value I see in it outside of Steve McNiven’s excellent artwork. Let’s not kid ourselves, that guy can draw and he can make the set pieces and action sequences that Millar concocts look breathtaking. But the book itself is pretty much a shallow husk. All of it seems like the sort of thing a kid playing in the sandbox would come up with, if that kid were Sid from Toy Story and he had been watching the Nightly News cover domestic terrorism four weeks in a row.
Now, as much as I dislike the book, and I do, I also hated KickAss in it’s initial print incarnation. I mean, it was trite and not very well written and Millar seemed to want to do eight different types of book at once and never really found his footing, which is why the overall tone of the book seems so shaky. But then, when that film was adapted to film by Matthew Vaughn I enjoyed the everloving hell out of it. The book remains a shaky modest attempt hindered by Millar’s ego and inability to sell his own product properly. The film seems to have a singular purpose and tone that helps keep the narrative moving and manages to fix a lot of the flaws in the book with the personalites of the people portraying their character. Case in point, Big Daddy. Nicholas Cage turned that character into something memorable while as a comic character he’s utterly forgettable. And let’s not even get started on HitGirl.
So can Tont Scott do the same thing? I would like to think so. I haven’t really enjoyed many of his last few films however. Pelham 123 did nothing for me, Domino was near unwatchable, and I could go on and on. But at the same time, Scott at least has a bit of depth and understands the internal motivations of any given character. He may be able to make these childish one-note characters come alive in a way that connects with me.
I’ll tell you all one thing, I will thank God every day for the rest of my life that this film didn’t end up in the hands of Michael Bay…
Earlier today, I engaged in a debate about the merits of Old Man Logan on Twitter with Sex Food and Comic Books contributor and nerdress Satine Phoenix. It all began with a simple tweet:
To which, I responded:
All of which leads me to post this:
Please note that I’m only posting this because I’m incredibly bored and I think it’s funny. Satine is great and so is Joe, her co-conspirator over at SFCB. They run an awesome site and though our tastes may run in different directions sometimes, it’s nice to have someone to discuss these things with.
I kicked the blog off with a rundown of 2009’s best storyarcs, an entry that was hard as hell to write because honestly there were tons of good books last year and while I wanted to showcase only a chosen few, I didn’t want to leave out anything that needed to be showcased. On the other side of the coin, we have today’s entry, a look at 2009’s most abysmal outings. My criteria for this list is not quite as exclusive as the “best of” list, because sometimes you don’t need a story to be finished to realize it’s a piece of shit. Usually if it’s three issues in and you’d still rather pluck out your own pubic hairs with a rusty pair of tweezers, it won’t change by the end of the arc.
So here we go!
It started in ’08 but it ran through the first chunk of ’09 and as far as I can tell, I swear to God, Jeph Loeb is a sleeper agent, placed in the Marvel offices by DC to destroy their publishing lineup from the inside. It’s like a retarded 24 plot played out in slow motion so every mind-numbing detail can be drawn in until the mind can’t handle it anymore.
I’m not going to go after the book for being dumb. I mean, it’s an event book and nobody can make an event book NOT dumb. (I’m looking at you Geoff Johns.) My main problem with the book is that it is so sloppily written, and so disjointed that as a reader you sometimes don’t even know how bad it truly is until you go back and re-read the pages over again trying to figure out exactly what the hell you missed that led you to be so confused.
Also, the Blob eats the Wasp. That’s just wrong.
I’m probably gonna catch flak for this one but people, this shit was sub-par and the publishing delays only made it worse. The fact that the “epic conclusion” was a veritible anti-climactic letdown is all you really need to look at in order to see what a throwaway piece of tripe this storyline really is. Aside from some nice art, this whole thing was a wash, no matter what the sales say. People buy dumb shit all the time. Don’t believe me? Go talk to the guy who invented the “Snuggee.”
The truly sad thing is, everybody ate this thing up like it was the best thing since sliced bread when Jason Aaron’s excellent Weapon X book doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves. That book utilizes the continuity of Wolverine without being confusing, moves at a breakneck pace and is worth every penny while still managing to come out on a monthly basis. Old Man Logan was an uninspired and unoriginal idea that people went nuts over for a reason that eludes me entirely.
Let’s take everything that drove me away from comics in the 90’s and put it in a single book. That’ll work right? *facepalm*
I would say that my hatred of the Twilight phenomenon is completely rational. After all, how any sane person would look at the success of such a lazy and contrived series and still manage to think that our society hasn’t sunk into an irrepairable cavern of stupidity that is only 15 degrees off “Idiocracy” is completely beyond me. The fact that someone decided it would be a good idea to publish a comic book biography of the woman responsible for this crime against humanity simply edges me toward clawing my own brain out with an olive fork.
The fact that the book exists is enough to qualify it on sheer “WTF-factor” alone, but the book having art so bad that it borders on the laughable earns it a legitimate spot on the list. Not to mention that Stephanie Meyer is essentially the most boring person this side of John Kerry and thus the book itself is nothing short of a chore to read even if you never look at the art.
Comics Alliance basically said everything I ever could in the review they posted back when the book was released on shelves. The only difference is they still have the energy to mock the book whereas I can only shake my head and try not to vomit.
This should have been excellent, but then I remembered that Chris Claremont hasn’t written anything of any quality since the 80’s and by then it was too late. I had already added the book to my pull and was damned to read what may be one of the most effortlessly tired books in the Marvel publishing line.
The problem with the book is that it wants us to get all nostalgic for the days of Claremont and Byrne but the Claremont we all fell in love with is gone and what remains is a madman who is following up on his own work in such a manner that it’s hard to tell that the same person who wrote all those classic stories is able to give us such a winded and uninteresting take on the X-Men.
This one takes the coveted biggest disappointment award for 2009. Such a tragedy.
Like X-Men Forever, this one makes the list out of disappointment. Larry Hama writing a GI Joe origin story from scratch? Yes please! Wait… What the hell is going on here? What am I reading? MAKE IT STOP! WHY LARRY?!?! WHY?!?!
Yes, the former master of the Joes has turned in one of the sloppiest and mind-boggling Joe stories of all time. Considering that Hama is the man who made GI Joe what it is today, for him to do such a disservice to the franchise by delivering such a bland and cliche outing in the Origins book, it’s like watching your childhood hero bang a tranny hooker on the hood of your car. You’re willing to put up with a lot, given that he’s your hero and all, but this is JUST. GOING. TOO. FAR!
And there are others; Green Arrow/Black Canary continued the downward spiral for both characters, Superman didn’t even have Superman and seemed like the title had died but continued on only out of habit, Justice League of America languished in mediocrity, and there are others that fit the bill just as badly. The above are the ones that really stand out as the losers of ’09.