Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Captain America #40 Review

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Penciler: Steve Epting

Ed Brubaker's Captain America continues to be one of Marvel's strongest books, and Brubaker has definitely shown himself to be one of the best and most consistent comic book writers today. While writers like Morrison, Bendis, Loeb and Claremont are hit-and-miss, sometimes brilliant and sometimes dreadful, Brubaker seems incapable of writing an issue that isn't engaging and enjoyable.

In this book, we basically get two fight scenes, which normally I find quite annoying. However, Brubaker details the fights so cleverly that it makes for a highly engrossing issue. Bucky (whom I still can't bring myself to call Captain America) and the Grand Director (also dressed as Captain America) fight on a rooftop. It is a very interesting battle because the Grand Director is so strong. Here one really gets the feeling of what it might be like to fight someone with superpowers. At the end of the day, Bucky is just a very strong human. The Grand Director tips into superhero territory, knocking Bucky through bricks. One doesn't usually feel the strategic decisions being made in comic book battle, but Brubaker, as usual, lets the reader in on every thought and makes the fights seem tactical.

On the other hand, we have the fight between Sin and Sharon Carter. For the first half of the book, Brubaker builds tension by having Sin, who comes across as quite insane, threaten Sharon. When the fight finally begins, we really feel that threat. Even though we know it is unlikely Sharon will be killed, the threats create suspense in the battle later. Finally, the battle begins when Sin figures out Sharon would not actually kill her hostage, and ends up as a wrestling match over the knife that Sharon cannot hope to win. The actual stabbing of Sharon happens offpanel, but makes perfect sense in light of the fight.

I do have one complaint: I do not want Sharon Carter to lose her baby, and that stab wound looks very dangerous. It is bad enough that they killed Captain America, but then to dangle his son or daughter in front of the reader only to kill him or her crosses the line from tragic to just manipulative and mean. The number of miscarriages as a result of violence in comics is too high, and I'd like to see Brubaker not place his female characters in that particular refrigerator.

However, this is a great book. It is well written, taut, and highly engaging. I look forward to reading this book week after week, and I am always excited when I see it has arrived.

B+

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