Captain America #42: The Man who Bought America part six

September 24, 2008

What follows is my review of Captain America #42 written by Ed Brubaker and pencilled by Steve Epting and Luke Ross which hits stores tomorrow but which we reviewed on the comicsbulletin.com website today. Originally there was an error in it (oops) but after Ed Brubaker himself pointed it out to me, I had my editor correct it. Just goes to show that these guys are reading our stuff!!

 

Story: After manipulating Sharon Carter into killing Captain America, the Red Skull and his minions hold her captive while they planted their own presidential candidate to assault America from within its system. Meanwhile, our heroes race to thwart their plans and rescue Agent Carter. There’s another man claiming to be Captain America running around loose complicating matters.

Analysis: Captain America, written by Ed Brubaker and penciled this issue by Steve Epting with Luke Ross, is truly Marvel’s blue chip comic. It never disappoints and always delivers with plenty of action, intrigue and good dialogue.

Why should issue #42 be different? Brubaker wraps up the various plotlines from “The Man Who Bought America” story arc with the precision of a surgeon without sacrificing any of the above mentioned elements which make this such an enjoyable comic to read.

From the fractured alliance of the Red Skull and the megalomaniacal psychiatrist Dr. Faustus, to the rescue attempt of Agent Sharon Stone who was pregnant with Steve Roger’s baby but captured by the Skull and his minions, to the explosive climax in which Bucky as the new Captain America attempts to thwart Sin’s plan, this comic is a marvel of modern storytelling and its pacing does nothing to detract from the way Brubaker crafts each individual character scene.

On the contrary, the tension builds until it is ready to explode off the page, and this it does eventually into the superb panels depicted by Epting and Ross.

It would take a lot of time to go into an intricate analysis of what makes their artistic style so good, but suffice it to say that the artwork is so consistently good on this title from month to month that it is almost not even worth noting. We have come to accept the fact that both the facial expressions of the characters and the explosive action sequences required for the narrative are always going to be expertly handled and they are.

Natasha, S.H.I.E.L.D., the Falcon and the rest of the supporting cast give the comic a vast array of story telling possibilities, but this issue was all about delivering a tightly crafted and explosive conclusion, and it doesn’t fail to deliver that.

One intriguing aspect was the inclusion of the Captain America from the 1950s, a character which got caught in the crossfire and truly believed he was the real Captain America. Brubaker’s use of this character shows that he isn’t afraid to use past Marvel continuity to help tell a good story, and he respects what other creators have done in the past. So rather than being burdened by continuity or ret conning, he builds on what’s come before with precision and great skill.

I also enjoyed the fact that over the course of this story line the character of Red Skull’s daughter, Sin, was fleshed out. Brubaker takes his time developing his characters over the course of the arc, and it pays off by his delivering interesting well structured characters instead of the clichés and caricatures of villains running around in a lot of other comics.

Final Word: This comic is moving in a new direction next month, and I cannot wait to see what Brubaker and company have in store for us as this past story arc was nothing short of brilliant.

 

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Superman drinks beer?

September 18, 2008

More Superman news this week. The cover of the latest edition of Action Comics has stirred up a minor controversy on the DC Forums. Looks like the issue has been recalled because of its depiction of Clark Kent having a cold one with his old man.

Evidently copies of the issue with the offending image were recalled as DC was afraid of the adverse effects it would have for kids to see big blue knocking back a cold one.

Personally, I think it would be out of character for a character who frowned on Lois Lane smoking in the first Christopher Reeve movie to be shown drinking beer. Dc has countered with an alternate cover (seen here) which has been redrawn with a generic soda pop label. Maybe Supes was driking root beer all along??

I was more disturbed by the annoying way in which the artist is going out of his way to make it a photo realistic style and portraying Superman to look more like Christopher Reeve. I understand this is his way of honoring his memory, but it really takes me out of the issue. I read comic mostly for escapism and I don’t want to be reminded of real life people, living or otherwise. I wish Action Comics would stop this practice.


Casting Superman

September 16, 2008

With the rising popularity of movies based on iconic comic book characters these days, I decided to do some research on the casting of the next possible Superman movie and have come to this conclusion: Everything’s up in the air and results are inconclusive.

It would seem like a no-brainer for DC and Warner Brothers to want to place their most iconic character on the big screen again, especially given Batman’s recent success in the record breaking The Dark Knight, and given Marvel’s success with virtually every film franchise they launch, but making a sequel to 2006’s mostly disappointing (in terms of box office receipts) Superman Returns seems as perioulous as wading through a kryptonite landscape.

It can’t be that hard can it? I have read all kinds of rumors online, everything from Bryan Singer being replaced as director of any future Superman sequels to Brendan Fraser being considered for the role.

I cannot speculate on wheter Brandon Routh who played Superman in the last film is out of the picture. A heavy contingency of the public support seems in favor of Tom Welling, the actor who has portrayed Clark Kent on Smallville for eight seasons. It would seem like a logical transition from the small screen to film.

The jury is still out. Rumors are that the studio is intent on a JLA film and the actor who portrays Supes in the JLA film (if it ever gets made) would also play the role in any Superman movies. There seems to be discussion about what the plot of a new Superman movie would be. Are you kidding me? Supes has some of the most interesting villains and adversary in comics next to Batman’s rogue gallery, not to mention an interesting back story and supporting cast. Darkseid, Parasite, Braniac, Mongul, General Zod, Doomsday, Bizarro, Metallo, the list goes on and on, you’re going to tell me they have no ideas for a movie?

It seems like there have been a gazillion Batman movies and it seems to me, it should not be this hard to make another movie about the world’s most recognizable superhero.


Metallica returns!

September 12, 2008

Trash metal pioneers Metallica have returned with a new album. It used to be that a new Metallica album was received by metal fans with as much fanfare as one crossing the street, in other words, it was a fairly mundane exercise.

Even though they have broken sales records and are credited with advancing the public’s interest in heavy metal, Metallica abandoned their trash riffs and thunderous approach shortly after releasing their infamous 1991 black album. While many of their older fans felt they sold out, I still liked the black album but it undoubtedly signaled the breakup of the band with many of their devotees and sent a lot of them scurrying to rivals Megadeth or seeking out Slayer or heavier sounding bands.

Now, Metallica has parted way with producer Bob Rock and Rick Rubin takes control of an outfit that is still tight and capable of churning out some killer metal tracks. I am not saying that “Death Magnetic,” the band’s 9th studio album which is being helmed by Rubin will be a return to glory, but it is being billed as briding the gap between “And Justice For All” and the band’s current incarnation.

Whatever, all I have to say is I listened to the first track and it sounds pretty good. Nothing that will blow you away like “Master of Puppets” or “Fade to Black” but still pretty good. But don’t take my word for it, listen to it yourself. in the end for me at least, the true test of wheter this album lives up to the band’s legacy is not who the producer is, or even if it includes songs that sound like “Enter Sandman” but whether my neck is hurting after listening to the entire album. Like the old heavy metal dudes and dudettes used to say, “Bang that head which doesn’t bang.”


Sept. 11: in memoriam

September 11, 2008

Not sure if I shared this with you guys last year. My thoughts on that day as I wrote them on my web journal:

I had to at least note my feelings, as if casting my pebble in this huge pond of public opinion and unending forums would assuage my spirits. So as downtown L.A. has been virtually closed down,
The truth is, I went about my work day like everyone else, doing my job and robotically and methodically doing the things I do, and when it was winding down, I tried to live a normal day in a specific point in time, going on about my routines, until it was obvious we could do none of the sort.
And it’s at times like this, when Wendy was emailing her friends in New York to see if they were ok, and the earthlink servers were overloaded, bumping us off several times, (man we were still using dial up back then!) and when she left to go to her regularly scheduled church service that I feel the need for others, and I feel insignificant and small.
The same way I felt during other tragedies, like the 1994 Northridge earthquake, being a part of it, and at the same time being concurrently overwhelmed by events, and being removed from them unlike the service people and newspeople and firemen who become critical to others at this time. I have been entertaining reading PSALM 23, even though I don’t believe in the Bible, I at least believe in the spirit of what it tries to do, the way Scully is catholic and devout to her faith, shouldn’t that be enough?
But I turned off in disguist the sensationalism and the over bearance of the Sam Donaldsons and Tom Brokaws of the world instead looking for some sort of equanimity in the brotherhood of men by reading “Unholy Sonnets” by Mark Jarman which are only called that by aiming to avoid piety and testing the limits and conventions of the sonnet form without assumptions about faith or shared beliefs.
But I will pray tonight for all those people. Maybe I’ll take a day off from work tomorrow- Sept 11 2001


Buffy #18: Time of Your Life part 3

September 9, 2008

The groundwork has been laid out for the current story arc in which Buffy meets future slayer Meleka Fray, but that doesn’t mean this issue isn’t still ripe with action, Whedon’s customary snappy dialogue and damned good characterization.

The good:

  • The covers by Jo Chen and Georges Jeanty. One is a glimpse into Dawn’s latest transformation and the other is a fun snapshot of Buffy behind the wheel in a universe that is completely foreign to her.
  • Xander’s and Dawn’s interactions with Lorelahn in the forest is reminiscent of some of the strange creatures encountered by the Scoobies in season seven of the TV series.
  • SPOILER ALERT: Evil Willow. Perhaps it’s not such a spoiler to mention that the mad woman who has been hinted at is none other than Willow in her Evil persona. Don’t worry though, Joss excels at those jaw dropping moments, and Willow’s machinations in this timeline are positively intriguing.
  • Moline’s artwork. I wasn’t very familiar with it because I wasn’t reading Fray regularly when it came out, but it’s very fluid and adds a lot to the sense of motion throughout this arc, especially the wide panoramic panels depicting a futuristic Manhattan in Fray’s timeline.
  • Willow’s tryst with powerful magical beings. It seems that Willow is always getting in over her head when it comes to her use of magic, and it may be happening again, but considering the consequences, you’d think she would learn. Being infallible has never been a quality of any Buffyverse character though.

The bad:

  • The only bad thing I can find about this comic is that it isn’t a very new reader
    friendly issue. I imagine a newbie picking it up for the first time and being completely lost since time travel stories aren’t particularly easy to follow in the first place.

Final word: This was a typical Whedon penned comic that’s par for the course for this series. This comic knows how a story should be paced, and it’s organically being developed. It’s a refreshing pace from a lot of the books that are being written for the trade or decompressed to death.


football musings

September 6, 2008

It’s early September and that can only mean one thing: A big chunk of my life is dominated by football.
Normally I’d be presenting my thurs-fri quaterbacking with impressions of the comics which came out this week, but if you would like to read those I have moved them to the comicvine.com site where I blog under Hunter killer. The reason for the change is to take advantage of that site’s excellent resources and its devoted following of comic book readers and creators.

Back to the gridiron, in addition to shooting a soccer game earlier today,  I went to cover West Covina versus El Rancho tonight. The Bulldogs are coming off a 6-6 season and were trying to improve on that in a week zero contest which featured plenty of offensive firepower, but a pretty one sided affair. WC won 36-15. The SGV Tribune has ranked the Bulldos in their top 10, they come in as the #7 ranked team.

In the college front, it’s all about UCLA and Ohio State for me. I am a long time fan of the Buckeyes, simply because they have such a solid program year in and year out but this season I am also going to follow the Bruins with their new coach and especially since Kevin Craft is the quarterback. Craft put up spectacular passing stats while with Mt.SAC last season, so I have to support a fellow Mt. SAC alumnus. Don’t be surprised if I make it out to the Rose Bowl this season at least once to see Craft and the Bruins play.

Of course, the Chargers play their home opener against Carolina on Sunday. Sports Illustrated and many other magazines have made SD a preseason favorite to go to the Super Bowl. It’s a great time to be a football fan!