Captain America

Captain America and Black Widow 640 (February 2013)

887778It’s another all action issue–there’s some talking heads for the planning and the various plot twists, but it’s an action issue. A bunch of slightly different superheroes–the Black Knight has a magical chainsaw and Venom can pilot a spaceship and Ghost Rider’s techy–attack some slightly different other superheroes who are now bad. Human Torch is a burning skeleton, I think.

It’s all confusing but very nicely illustrated. Francavilla has a great time with the battle scenes.

Otherwise, Black Widow gets the most important scenes. Cap gets none. His promise to the lizard people gets a summarized follow up. The multiverse thing gets even sillier.

Bunn fails at the one duplicate of the bad lady he needs to get right. The other one he does in this issue, he does well. But not the important one.

It’s not a success, it’s mildly disappointing, but at least it’s competent.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Captain America and Black Widow 639 (January 2013)

884584Apparently, in some realities, Captain America is a dick. Bunn gets how to write Steve’s honesty and morality. It helps here, but doesn’t fit with Bunn’s style otherwise.

I also didn’t get the guy in the Doc Ock arms was the Lizard. My bad. I just thought it was some creature. But no, it’s Curt Connors and he’s not too terrible a guy in this alternate reality.

Decent art from Francavilla. It’s mostly talking heads. The alternate Black Widow talks at length (as usual) about the multiverse. The big action is in the background or in extreme close up, so Francavilla never really shines . I guess I’ve gotten used to how he does the close up conversations.

Bunn giving Steve a promise to help people in the garbage planet dimension makes the comic immediately more interesting. Of course he’s getting home, but will he be able to keep the promise.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, John Denning and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Captain America and Black Widow 638 (December 2012)

Captain America and Black Widow Vol 1 638You can tell the Black Widows apart by their belts. I hadn’t realized that detail. My bad.

Once again the Francavilla art is good. He’s stronger on the distance shots than he is during the close ups. Not to knock him–he’s good all the time but there are a couple fantastic long shot panels this issue.

It’s another all action issue. It takes place over twenty or so minutes, approximately five times longer than it takes to read the comic.

There’s a tiny bit with the bad lady and her duplicates. The scene features Bunn’s best writing. He’s not good for the existing character stuff. He needs to be generative, not repackaging Steve and Natasha exposition. The other best writing bit, for example, is the two Black Widows talking. The bad one’s much more compelling.

It’s a technically competent issue; it’s a waste of time in the important ways.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Cort Petit; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Captain America and Black Widow 637 (November 2012)

877081Clearly I haven’t been reading Marvel comics for a while. Since when do they talk about a multiverse like it’s early eighties DC and what’s the deal with the big tripod monsters?

Confusion aside, it’s a fairly good issue. Bunn’s plot twist is somewhat unexpected–supervillain arms dealer only employs her multiverse selves; there’s none of the cool different back stories this issue, which is too bad.

Instead, Bunn and Francavilla do an action issue with some occasional confusing talking bits. There are two Black Widows and it’s unclear who is who… But it doesn’t really matter, since the issue moves so fast.

As far as the writing, Bunn’s got Steve telling a proctologist joke. It’s an odd moment, making one wonder if Steve’s really a multiverse double too. It’s not good banter for him.

It’s an interesting misfire–way too heavy on the dystopian sci-fi–with nice art

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Captain America and Black Widow 636 (November 2012)

877086I like Francesco Francavilla. He’s a little awkward with Captain America out on a mission and the superhero stuff, but he makes the talking heads interesting and he’s got a great rendering of Central Park at the open.

As for Cullen Bunn? He has a similar problem. The issue’s perfectly well-written, somewhat confounding stuff about an arms dealer seemingly with clones. Except all these clones have different memories, which Bunn covers in the narration. There’s a great bit with Hawkeye complaining about different dimensions.

But Bunn’s Steve Rogers lacks personality. He plays off people–Hawkeye, Iron Man, the bad arms dealer lady. Even when there’s a good line–Captain America liking Sizzler–it passes quickly. Does Steve Rogers really like Sizzler? There are Sizzlers in Brooklyn?

Bunn can probably get away with it, since the story’s intriguing (and he writes Black Widow well) but it’s unfortunate Steve’s so vapid.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Winter Soldier 9 (October 2012)

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I can’t believe I forgot about the Brubaker fake arc. It’s when he identifies something as an arc, but it leads directly into the next issue, which starts another arc. He usually uses a hard cliffhanger (and does so here too).

It’s always vaguely frustrating because Brubaker uses the expectations to fool the reader. It’s mostly a Marvel phenomenon for him and it’s always a little hostile.

With an extremely fast-paced issue–like this one–it leaves one wondering why bother reading it at all. The recap in the next issue will have all the pertinent information, since Brubaker doesn’t have a single character moment in this issue. It’s all setup for what’s next.

If Brubaker’s Marvel career has been rehashing the books he liked in the seventies, Winter Soldier is more just rehashing his own earlier Marvel work. Bucky’s got a nemesis. Big whoop.

It’s okay, albeit unrewarding.

CREDITS

Broken Arrow, Part Three; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Brian Thies and Stefano Gaudiano; colorist, Bettie Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Winter Soldier 8 (September 2012)

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Once again, I’ve got to question Brubaker’s approach. He splits this issue of Winter Soldier between Bucky and the bad guy. The bad guy has kidnapped Natasha and he’s going to brainwash her. It’s unclear why he hates Bucky so much–Brubaker plays fast and loose with that logic a lot. He tries to “realistically” update seventies Marvel comics, but he doesn’t take into account the character motivations.

Except when Bucky’s fellow SHIELD agent wonders why Bucky would be dating Black Widow in the first place.

Bucky and SHIELD are trying to find Natasha, which provides some fight scenes. Nothing too fantastic, just Bucky beating the crap out of thugs. Again, logic. A super-spy is hiring thugs from waterfront bars? Because it’s the 1940s? Later, Bucky’s metal arm saves his butt. It made me question how good he’d be without it.

As usual, it’s great looking, fun and problematic.

CREDITS

Broken Arrow, Part Two; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Brian Thies and Stefano Gaudiano; colorists, Bettie Breitweiser and Mitch Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Winter Soldier 7 (August 2012)

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Brubaker uses Bucky as narrator here, but mostly Bucky just waxes on about Natasha. It’s filler. I wanted to make a joke about it seeming almost as romantic as Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman narration but it’s insincere.

Brubaker has no reason to try to convince the reader of Natasha’s skills as a super-spy. He’s just filling some exposition boxes.

Otherwise, the issue’s great. It’s Michael Lark drawing a superhero spy book. There are no super powers, so the threats are all a lot more grounded. Lark maintains the realistic mood while still doing the absurd action too. It makes Winter Soldier even more interesting to read, to see how Lark bridges the disconnect.

The issue probably does read a little fast and the busy middle of the night mountain highway seems a tad much, but it’s very exciting. Shame Brubaker felt he needed to blather on in the narration.

CREDITS

Broken Arrow, Part One; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Brian Thies and Stefano Gaudiano; colorist, Bettie Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, John Denning and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Captain America (1990, Albert Pyun), the director’s cut

Captain America actually has a few interesting ideas. First is how Carla Cassola’s scientist (she creates the villain, Scott Paulin’s Red Skull, and Captain America—played by Matt Salinger) almost serves as a surrogate mother to the two boys. Well, they’re supposed to be boys when they change. Cassola probably gives the film’s best performance; she manages to imply depth rather well.

Second is how Captain America is a failure. The script touches on it and Salinger tries, but there’s just not enough character development to show it. Instead of focusing on the titular character, Captain America often focuses on the supporting cast.

The film reunites Christmas Story stars Darren McGavin (who’s awful) and Melinda Dillon (who’s just bad). Of course, they don’t have a scene together. Neither do Deliverance alumni Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty. Beatty’s bad, but Cox has his moments. One wonders if he wanted to be an action star, as he gets to beat up a bunch of eurotrash.

Oh, that element’s another amusing one. All of Paulin’s gang are eurotrash. It’s sort of funny.

Salinger’s not always terrible, but he’s too physically awkward to be believable. Not to mention the costume being a disaster. His love interest, played by Kim Gillingham, is bad. Except in her old age makeup.

Michael Nouri manages not to embarrass himself too much.

Pyun’s direction is mostly weak, often obviously due to the minuscule budget; he’ll occasionally have a profound shot.

It’s fairly awful, but at least it’s interestingly awful.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Albert Pyun; screenplay by Stephen Tolkin, based on a story by Tolkin and Lawrence Block and characters created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby; director of photography, Philip Alan Waters; edited by Jon Poll; music by Barry Goldberg; production designer, Douglas H. Leonard; produced by Menahem Golan; released by 21st Century Film Corporation.

Starring Matt Salinger (Steve Rogers / Captain America), Ronny Cox (Tom Kimball), Ned Beatty (Sam Kolawetz), Darren McGavin (General Fleming), Michael Nouri (Lt. Colonel Louis), Scott Paulin (Red Skull), Kim Gillingham (Bernice Stewart / Sharon), Melinda Dillon (Mrs. Rogers), Bill Mumy (Young General Fleming), Francesca Neri (Valentina de Santis) and Carla Cassola (Dr. Maria Vaselli).


Marvel Team-Up 146 (October 1984)

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Oh, those young toughs, how dare they break up a date between Peter Parker and… Jack Monroe (Nomad). Seriously, they’re on a date. They meet in an alley, beat up some threatening toughs, then head to see Rio Bravo together. All while Nomad is supposed to be delivering art to Steve Rogers.

Unfortunately, it’s a star crossed romance, with Taskmasker showing up to train a bunch of gangs to fight superheroes. So Spidey and Nomad have to break it up.

The writing is occasionally weak, but it’s some of the better stuff I’ve read from Burkett. While it’s a complete waste of time, it’s not terrible. Even LaRocque is stronger than usual–it’s mostly action this issue, so no heavy lifting.

There’s some funny forced continuity to the other Spider-Man books here. Peter’s taking a break from the alien costume trying to kill him for his date with Nomad.

CREDITS

Hero Worship!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Greg LaRocque; inker, Mike Esposito; colorist, George Roussos; letterer, Diana Albers; editors, Bob DeNataleh and Danny Fingeroth; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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