Thursday, August 2, 2012

Captain America & #634

I love this cover so much; it’s been my work wallpaper for months. Simply fantastic!

Anyway, comics like this make me think about my hobby in general. I know when I pick up a comic book that Captain America is going to win. So is Iron Man. Put them together? Yeah, their opponent is going to end up stomped by the end of the narrative. BUT, the reason I read is to see “will it be a good fight?” Too often, writers think that the expansive history of a comic universe is just a shortcut to some good costumes. Show the villains standing in a crowd, not doing anything, then have a couple pages of them getting slapped around by the protagonist. I mean, its fun playing spot the villain, but there has to be some meat to make that work.

Cullen Bunn gets it. Batroc ze Lepair and his Brigade are the featured bads in this story, and they act like they deserve the spotlight. Batroc has been amped up in recent years, but he takes on Cap and IM two or three times this issue and Cap simply can’t beat him! It’s great! Not that Cap loses anything, but that the villain actually seems competent! I also absolutely love the way the new Machete is just an angry dialogue machine. She is talking violent smack from page one till the end. It’s just a joy to see villains doing their job well. (Especially pros like Batroc’s Brigade.)

And Bunn has a neat idea to make the story work, too. Iron Man’s armor is on the fritz, so he’s got a sweet new set built from a weapon-convention showroom. So we’ve got original powers with a new look. To make things even more interesting, each power only works once or twice before burning out. Suddenly, Iron Man and Cap are at the same power level. All this, plus a great new mastermind. Great stuff.

I wish the art was a tad tighter. Barry Kitson’s pages look great (as always), but he’s getting a lot of help from Jay Leisten. It’s always a bad sign when you can go through a book and see which pages Kitson spent more time on. Batroc looks good in every panel he shows up in, while Iron Man and Cap don’t look quite as impressive when they go maskless. When in uniform? Cap looks good; it’s just odd seeing how Kitson’s time was spent on this one!


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