I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got no new comics but I did get a hardcover collection:

  • “Sherlock Holmes Volume 1: The Trial of Sherlock Holmes”
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read recently.

    “Captain America: War and Remembrance” by Roger Stern and John Byrne

    My hardcover mania continues as I buy this Cap volume which reprints comics that I already have sitting on my shelf. In my defense it is a nice, new, and pretty printing and not old and rotting newsprint. And for another change of pace from the last two old Marvel books I reviewed I was a little disappointed by this one. It is good but I remember it being a little bit better.

    These issues originally came out in 1980 back when I was thirteen. I liked them then and, though I can’t remember the last time I read them, I reread them a few times in my youth. These issues are Captain America 247-255 and are generally considered one of the better Cap runs. For the most part they are.

    What Stern and Byrne did with the story was turn Cap into a more conventional super hero. They had him move to Brooklyn Heights in Brooklyn and establish a regular career as a commercial artist. Gone was the living in Avengers mansion or working for S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff. Cap had to work for a living, be on his own, and pay his way. He also got a regular cast of characters who lived in his Brooklyn Heights building.

    It was a try at grounding Cap as a real world guy. The complete opposite of today’s Cap as military man take. I’m not sure how well it worked but it was a nice break from the relentless downer of the recent “Death of Captain America” stuff that I read last year. Being that Stern and Byrne left after just nine issues, two of which were “Special” issues with Cap running for President in #250 and a retelling of his origin in #255, the supporting cast stuff was never developed a whole lot. Cap was always running off to fight crime.

    I’d even say that the supporting character stuff was the weakest part of the book. It didn’t work well for me. Cap had more interesting relationships with the people who knew him as Captain America than the people who knew him as Steve Rogers. Heck, he had a more interesting relationship with his cast of villains than with the people in his building. I couldn’t wait for him to go adventuring. But who knows where the supporting cast thing could have gone?

    This run on Cap has always been about unfulfilled potential . Stern and Byrne were just hitting their stride when they left the book. The Baron Blood story that they ended this run with (minus the origin re-telling) was the strongest of the volume. What great heights could they have brought Cap to if they didn’t leave after so few issues? Byrne’s art was terrific and Josef Rubinstein’s inks over him were really good. The table was set for Cap to become an “A” list book but that never happened. Instead we have a solid beginning to what could have been a classic run. Oh well.

    Overall this volume is still full of good stuff. Some of it may not work as well as I wished it did but Stern is a solid writer and Byrne’s art was always good during this period. Check it out.