I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got 2 new comics. That’s it. Nothing else. It was a slow week for me:

  • Buffy Season Eight – 9
  • Brawl – 2 (of 3)
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read this week.

  • Captain America: By Ed Brubaker Omnibus Volume 1
  • I was a Captain America fan for a long time. I bought every issue from about 1978 until 1998. It was the last mainstream super hero comic that I purchased regularly. But all good things must come to an end and Cap’s comics got really really bad so I stopped buying them. I’ve read some issues over the last ten years. The John Cassaday drawn stuff was okay but brief. I also remember reading some Dave Gibbons and Lee Weeks stuff that was good (also brief). But mostly it was dreck whenever I sampled it.

    Recently I’ve been hearing good stuff about Ed Brubaker’s run at writing Cap. I like his writing on crime books but I haven’t loved his super hero work so I never bothered to try his Cap. But nostalgia, curiosity, and a couple of spare bucks in my pocket made me finally pick up this big ol’ hardcover collection of the first twenty five issues (plus a couple of specials) of Brubaker’s run. It’s drawn by a variety of artists but the tone is set by penciler Steve Epting and colorist Frank D’Armata who do a lot of the book.

    This book is closer to Brubaker’s crime stuff than the average super hero story. It’s more like Captain America: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. than anything else. There are almost no normal people in this book. Almost everyone is a bad guy or an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. It gives it a kind of otherworldly spy novel feel.

    We get a few story arcs in this book and they all revolve around espionage and international intrigue. Plus a ghost from Cap’s past runs through it as the “Winter Soldier” story line unfolds. There is also a new main villain in an ex-Soviet general who now owns a multi-national corporation and plots to take over as much of the world as possible. He’s a plotter and a planer who always has something up his sleeve. Cap and S.H.I.E.L.D. try to stop him.

    The tone of this book is pretty dark. It’s well done and I liked it but there is not a lot of fun to be found. Plenty of action, violence and death but no adventure (except in some of the flashback stories). It’s very much a modern comic so you’d better like that sort of thing if you’re going to read this. It also suffers from what I consider the pitfalls of contemporary “realistic” comics.

    Mainly I find so much killing completely unrealistic. Crossbones and the Red Skull’s daughter go on a cross state murder spree and no one does anything about it. It’s treated like just another day. Cap and S.H.I.E.L.D. don’t care, no other super heroes care, and there don’t seem to be any cops on the case. Murder sprees tend to bring a lot of attention to the participants but not in “realistic” comics (or movies for that matter). Villains leaves trails of dead bodies behind them but never have anything pinned on them. Huh? Are all the cops in this world completely incompetent?

    Cap also mopes around way to much for my taste. It seems that every writer since Mark Gruenwald has written Cap as a mopey downer. I never understood this and it annoys me. I think every writer sees him as “perfect” and to counter that make him mopey. I’d like a new take please.

    Before I get too down on the book I’ll hit you with it’s strong points. The action and suspense are really well done. And there is a lot of it. We get S.H.I.E.L.D. missions, World War 2 flashbacks, and Cap kicking ass. Plus a giant robot. Nearly all the art is “A” level super hero stuff so it’s pretty to look at and read. But there is one glaring flaw.

    The “Civil War” crossover ruined this story! We get twenty one issues of story involving a large overarching plot with the aforementioned ex-general battling it out with Cap, Nick Fury, and S.H.I.E.L.D. and then it all gets derailed by the big crossover story that ran in a lot of Marvel books called “Civil War”. It’s like reading chapters 1-21 then 27, 34, 52, 74 of a book. It’s crazy. The last few issues make little sense and are of little interest without the rest of “Civil War” story which I haven’t read. “The “Civil War” issues essentially ended the big ongoing story too. And not in a good way.

    Despite it’s many flaws I still enjoyed reading this book. Maybe it’s nostalgia and maybe not. So if you want some good, but flawed, Captain America comics to read check out this Omnibus.