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What looks to be one of my favorite Captain America story arcs continues this week with the evil Baron Zemo targeting Bucky/Cap. Last issue we saw Cap dealing with the aftermath of the Steve Rodgers resurrection and Zemo’s new interest in him. This issue continues that plot with the mechanics of Zemo’s plan swinging into action. It’s a pretty action oriented book this month and not a whole lot of plot development. But what we do get to see is one of my favorite old school Cap resurrections, the awesome Iron Hand Hauptmann, fight Captain America in a hospital. As Brubaker does so well, he once again makes this fight ring with the old while being completely modern at the same time. Seeing Iron Hand swinging into action again is one thing, having him battle Cap in a hospital makes it feel old school Marvel. I’m not sure why that is but it just seems like a plot line stolen out of the brain of Stan Lee in the 60’s.
The whole issue reveals that Zemo is planning something big and is intent on digging up as much as he can on Bucky and his days as the Winter Soldier. As I said last week, only good things can come from Brubaker writing Zemo and so far these have been some of the most solid and exciting Captain America issues we’ve had in some time. With the way this book has been going over the last five years, that’s saying something. If you’re not reading this series, you’re being foolish. Go get it.
The second issue in the Bendis run of the new Avengers line is a great one. With a crazy plot that brought Kang the Conqueror back into the spotlight, and seems to take the joke line from Back to the Future (It’s about your KIDS!) as it’s jumping off place, the Avengers are in full on Bendis mode. This issue we get to see Marvel Boy enter into a working relationship with the Avengers. I know he had a pretty large role in the whole Dark Avengers comics, but I avoided all that. This issue, he’s being tapped for his Kree knowledge on time travel and time manipulation. Marvel Boy creates some sort of doohickey that allows the Avengers to see all the possible time streams at once in order to find their kids. As they do so, the see the face of a very old Hulk appear and shatter the time frame. All the while, the Avengers are wondering just what sort of trap they may be walking into.
Just as they are about to throw caution to the winds and try to save the future, they encounter a crazed Wonder Man who is hell bent on stopping the Avengers from ever forming again, presumably by destroying them. Needless to say, it’s battle time to the end of the book.
I have to say that I’m really enjoying this book, mostly due to the dialogue that Bendis uses so well. The conversations between the heroes really fleshes them out in a nice way. John Romita Jr.’s art is, again, fantastic. For those on the fence, I say give the book a shot. It’s the most interest I’ve ever been able to sustain for an Avengers book in a long time.
I have a strong love of the team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. In my mind they can really do no wrong. Just about every issues they’ve ever done has been on of my favorites with the gritty artwork fitting the writing like a glove. It helps that they’re teamwork has primarily stuck to the more street level heroes like Daredevil and Spider-Woman. Here the two have created they’re own character and it’s yet another playground for some fantastic work.
Granted, we’ve seen this kind of story before and many have commented on it already. It’s a bit Alias and all the cliches that kind of story entails. But put into the gritty and dirty world that these two create so well, and you sort of forget that this isn’t new. People complain that the whole “talking to the audience” is pat and forgettable, but I find it to be one of the neatest things about the book. I’m not sure how long the feeling will last but I really like the “voice’ this book already has just one issue in. For whatever reason, this feels new and interesting. I actually care about the character because of it. I’m in. For a first issue, this kind of thing is rare.
Scarlet is a street level vigilante. She kills a cop in the first panel. The rest of the book gives us a little back story into how she got to that moment. It’s got all the elements that I love in a street crime book. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. Did I mention that this could be some of Maleev’s best work? I don’t know how the man keeps getting better but some of his panels are just fucking inspired. It’s always a risk jumping into new books, but I’m gonna paraphrase Brubaker when I say that if you’re not reading Scarlet, then your just don’t like good comic books.