Saturday, February 11, 2006

Comic Book Commentary: Ed Brubaker's Captain America

Captain America is a character that I have generally had very little interest in during my years reading comics. He never really appealed to me in the Avengers. His powers were unimpressive. I never bought into his character that he was just a natural born leader and fighter that all these other heroes looked up to. His own title never really interested me. I read it off and on during the mid to late ‘80’s. However, I was never able to really get into the story or the character.

My main issue with Captain America was that he was such a generic white bread straight laced character. Similar to the boring “say your prayers, take your vitamins, truth, justice and the America way” straight laced Superman. Except Captain America didn’t have Superman’s cool powers. So, here was this flat one-dimensional boring character without any really interesting powers. It didn’t make Captain America a compelling read for me. On top of that, Captain America was usually portrayed as a pinko bleeding heart liberal. That portrayal made absolutely no sense to me. This is a career soldier. Most of them are conservatives. On top of that, he is from the 1940’s and fought in WWII. A career soldier from the 1940’s is probably not going to be some bleeding heart liberal. I’m not saying he has to be this massive fascist military nut, but c’mon, he would probably be a conservative guy since he is from the 1940’s and is a career soldier. So, now not only was his character boring and one-dimensional, he was kind of a pussy on top of it. I always thought that Cap should be portrayed as more of a conservative ass kicker who was scarred from fighting in a brutal war here he saw men getting killed all around him. War is a traumatic event and is extremely scarring. Captain America never seemed to show any effects of being in a war.

Now, when Mark Millar (speaking of bleeding heart liberals) came out with Ultimate Avengers, I loved his Ultimate Captain America. This was the version of Captain America that I had been waiting for all these years. He acted like a guy form the 1940’s. He was conservative. He was a career military man who was a serious ass kicker. Ultimate Cap liked to beat the crap out of terrorists. He got pleasure from inflicting pain on them. This version of Captain America was by far more interesting than the regular Captain America. After reading Ultimate Avengers, I wished that Marvel would somehow shift the regular Captain America closer toward the Ultimate version of this character.

Well, last week, a friend of mine persuaded me to check out Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America. He guaranteed that I would like what Brubaker was doing with the character. I was highly skeptical, but I trust his opinion so I went out and bought issues #1-13. I got them all for cover price, so I couldn’t complain.

I just finished Captain America #1 and I have to admit that I am totally blown away! This is an excellent comic! I love Brubaker’s style. I really like his version of Captain America. Steve Rogers is much more angry, more violent and more scarred. He still has nightmares of the battles he fought in WWII. Brubaker’s Cap is much more developed and realistic. His version of Cap is also definitely an ass kicker. Steve Epting’s art is perfect for the tone that Brubaker is setting. The dark, grim and realistic look of Epting’s art makes Brubaker’s story just spring from the comic. I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series. I have high hopes for what Brubaker has planned for Steve Rogers. Captain America is finally relevant to me.

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