Monday, December 3, 2012

Captain America #1

Captain America #1
Rick Remender, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, Dean White

I've stayed away from the majority of superhero comics for a while, but old habits are hard to break because they die hard, or something like that.  Anyway, I guess there's something to be said for the Marvel NOW! initiative/creative team shift, because it did its job and got me suckered into picking up a couple of titles.  Captain America has been the most fun one I've read so far.

After years of Brubaker skillfully turning Captain America into Marvel's premiere espionage thriller / World War II battle story vehicle, Marvel NOW! gives the ol' warhorse over to Rick Remender, lately known in the Marvel Universe for being the dude who turned The Punisher into a Frankenstein (The Punisher), had Fantomex shoot a kid in the face (Uncanny X-Force), a team of Avengers that no one knew about (Secret Avengers), and also something about Venom posing with AK-47s (Venom).  Remender's also writing Marvel NOW!'s flagship book, Uncanny Avengers, which as far as I can tell, is a book that capitalizes on nerd culture's fascination with mashups as a clever facade to hide its truer, more embarrassing intentions of trying to make us care about Havok.

Remender's written some good comics and some boring ones, but they usually tend to skew towards the better end of current superhero books.  Realizing he'll never be Brubaker, Remender decides that his strategy is to make Captain America about some outlandish sci-fi junk, and you know what?  It works pretty well.  He's not really breaking any new ground so far in terms of superhero comics, but it's fun to see Captain America being that true blue, never say die, born on the 4th of July, these colors don't run, U-S-A U-S-A! Captain America but with, like, spaceships and monsters.  Back when Brubaker was running things I seem to remember that Cap was a bit more subdued and calculating, but I guess with the growing influence of those Marvel movies that the kids like, Remender had to opt for a more in-your-face Captain America.  I mean, I'm sure it's due to a  bunch of things aside from the popularity of Marvel's movies too, but Remender's Cap does read a bit closer to Mark Millar's Ultimate Comics version (so far, without the jingoistic jerkiness).  At any rate, Remender's Cap seems to be less the master spy and hardened war veteran, and more the two-fisted tough guy, and it's a nice change of pace to see Cap in a new situation.  (Sidenote: according to this comicbook, Captain America WAS born on the fourth of July!  Which caused me, upon reading that bit, to remark out loud, to no one, "Oh, you're fucking kidding me," but in a totally fun, "ok, sure, I'll get onboard," sort of way, really!)

The Sci-Fi stuff Cap finds himself in is pretty standard fare: Cap gets kidnapped and drugged, and he wakes to a strange new planet filled with grotesque medical science, things growing in vats, alien monsters, etc.  Cap quickly escapes his captors with some quick moves and only the second incident of jumping through a window.  To be fair, the first incident involved Cap jumping INTO something, while this one involves Cap jumping OUT OF something.  It's a subtle distinction, but one that you'll be ready to make once you've been following Captain America comics for a bit, as almost every issue involves Cap jumping through windows or something.

If you were thinking it was all fun and games with yer ol' buddy Cap in Dimension Z, however, think again, Bucky.  By the end of it all, Cap is all alone in a strange new world with a baby in tow.  It looks like all this noodling around in another dimension is actually going to be a comicbook allegory for settling down and having kids.  Remender also promises to balance out all that high-octane action with some serious fucking GRAVITAS by way of flashbacks of Steve Rogers's depression-era childhood complete with struggling immigrant parents.  In this issue we even get a peek at some good old fashioned domestic abuse!  Don't worry, though -- by the end of it, lil' Stevie's battered mother manages to impart a valuable lesson about never giving up or something.  I mean we always knew that Captain America, like all the hard-working American auto-manufacturing plants he stands for, is a paragon of perseverance, BUT DID YOU KNOW HE LEARNED IT FROM HIS MOM AFTER SHE GOT SMACKED IN THE FACE BY HIS DRUNK IMMIGRANT FATHER?  FORGET WHAT YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW-- THIS IS MARVEL. . . NOW!

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