Tag Archives: Red Skull

Toy Biz Sneak Attack Flip ‘n Trap Red Skull Figure Review

90’s toys are my weakness. They aren’t good in terms of sculpt, paint, articulation, accessories, or scale, especially by today’s standards, but something about them always makes me excited. I think it’s just the nostalgia that comes with them- hell, 90’s toys were MY toys. Yeah, I grew up in the 80’s and I played with toys of the time, but 90’s toys were the ones I started collecting. They’ll always have a special place in my heart because of that, regardless of how stupid they usually are.

Case in point: Flip ‘n Trap Red Skull. Continue reading

Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 Ranty, Spoiler-filled Review

You all know why we’re here. You know what I’m going to talk about. Let’s get it out of the way.

SPOILERS!!!!!!!

Steve Rogers has secretly been a HYDRA operative since he was 6 years old.

Now, instead of ranting about how stupid an idea this is, I want to remind everyone that there is NO WAY this is going to stick. It’s just a brainless gimmick to grab attention, and will likely be the product of a cosmic cube or some other such nonsense. That having been said, it still ruins what is an otherwise good issue.

So with that out of the way, let’s get right down to it.


STL004471.jpg

Captain America: Steve Rogers #1

Writer: Nick “Look at Me!” Spencer

Artist: Jesus “This Book’s Real Savior” Saiz


The book opens up in 1926, (almost 20 years BEFORE the creation of HYDRA…this is probably important) with a flashback scene of an “always portrayed in flashbacks as a stinking drunk” Joseph Rogers getting angry about some trivial thing and turning to beat Sarah, as was tradition for the Rogers family back then. To be fair, it was the 20’s. I think it was ok to do horrible things to people you loved in those days. Anyway, a random woman intervenes, beating down Joseph and sending him running off while she introduces herself to Sarah and her young son, Steve. The entire scene is set in sepia tones and grayscale, except for highlights done in red. RED, people. Pay attention. I tend to think Jesus Saiz is choosing his colors very specifically.

Jump forward to present day, where Steve is doing his best to beat down a HYDRA cell with Sharon Carter and Rick Jones back at HQ helping out with logistics. Steve is narrating and right away something seems a bit off. Not in his character, that is still 100% on point (and something Spencer seems to be an expert on), but rather something is amiss with some of the facts, though I’ll dive into that with a little more depth later.

Steve’s narration is key in setting the scene for introducing the new HYDRA- now led by the Red Skull (just like in the movies!). This HYDRA is recruiting everyday people who have had a rough life. People who, like Robbie Dean Tomlin, Steve’s target, might have drug problems, or come from broken homes, or are just lost and looking for someone to blame for their bad luck. The Skull is taking full opportunity of these misfortunes and uses it to promote his hate speeches and scapegoating. Yep, that’s right. The Red Skull has just officially turned HYDRA into the Nazi party (draw your own similarities between this and the current political climate in the US- I’m staying out of that one).

We learn that Robbie is strapped with a bomb, and despite Rick working hard to separate his car from the rest of the train, Steve doesn’t want Robbie to give his life for a misled cause. Again, very Steve. Instead of letting the poor kid roll down the tracks to his death, Steve decides to try and reason with him. His plea falls on deaf ears though, as Robbie is so broken by life that he triggers the bomb and blows himself up for what amounts to nothing. There’s something really unsettling about his face when he does it, too. Saiz is killing it with the art.

During the train incident we also learn that Steve has a field team in the way of Free Spirit and Jack Flag, proving yet again that Spencer is the reincarnation of Mark Gruenwald. I’m not complaining, just noting.

Steve is very shaken by the kid killing himself, and in a tender scene between he and a very wrinkly Sharon (poor Sharon) he states that this new HYDRA has gotten under his skin. He also reveals that he’s a bit rusty, since he, for whatever reason, doesn’t feel right in his new/old body. “I used to look in the mirror and not recognize the ninety-year old, and now I don’t recognize THIS— especially when I’m moving. It’s got me…out of sorts“. Take that on face value if you will, but I believe that means a bit more. Subtext- it’s real.

That scene leads to more flashback and then an incredible scene with Rick, Jack Flag and Free Spirit swapping Cap stories. It’s things like this that make the stupid revelation at the end of the book more of a gut-punch. You want to ignore it, but since the rest of the book is so well done you just can’t. Sigh, I’m really trying not to rant about it.

When we get back to Steve and Sharon, they are meeting with the ever-infuriating Maria Hill, who drops her own bomb on our heroes- S.H.I.E.L.D. has found Zemo. See, Zemo went missing after the whole Pleasant Hill situation that went down a few months back and he’s been towing Erik Selvig along with him (hostage style, not buddy comedy style). Since then he’s been hearing all about Red Skull’s new HYDRA and, to be honest, he’s not liking it one bit. Seems he believes that HYDRA is more than just, as he puts it, “…some street gang of poorly-educated layabouts blowing themselves to bits…”. He claims responsibility for making HYDRA the exceptional organization it was (why does no one give Strucker his due credit?) and starts to assemble a new version of the Masters of Evil to take down the Skull and reclaim HYDRA.

The entire scene with Zemo gathering his new “followers” is hilarious and has a Venture Bros. vibe to it that is signature Spencer. The comedy is disrupted by Steve’s team (The Liberty Crew? Team Stripes?) who break in and just start to tear apart the new Masters, though it hardly seems a challenge. During the fight Steve contradicts himself on a single page by shouting both “Eyes on the leader! Zemo will use the fight as a distraction!” followed almost immediately by Jack asking if Steve needs help chasing after Zemo and Steve responding, “No! Focus on these three! Zemo’s mine!” Not sure what to make of that, but it just seems like something thrown in to set up the next couple pages at the expense of the momentum that was already in place.

As Zemo tries to escape in his jet (which comes complete with a “Captive Selvig” action figure), Steve hitches a ride and proceeds to beat the tar out of him. This is really where the entire story goes downhill. This entire review I’ve been pointing out things that I PRAY will be important to explaining the absolute garbage that plays out over the next 4 pages.

I’m not going to lie- at this point I’m likely to start ranting. Feel free to stop reading if you want- this might not be pretty.

So Jack Flag jumps on board to clock Zemo, who has gained the upper hand on Steve. But instead of being met with gratitude, Steve throws the poor guy out of the cargo door, presumably to his death. A very “WTF?!” moment to be sure, but it’s immediately followed by one last flashback that shows Ms. Sinclair (SINclair. THAT HAS TO MEAN SOMETHING! DOESN’T IT?!?!) handing a f***ing HYDRA pamphlet to Sarah Rogers, who passes the ominous looking Skull-Emblazoned paper to her 6 year old son! It’s immediately followed by the most perverse image I’ve seen in a Cap comic in years- Captain America saying “Hail HYDRA.”

Yes. That.

Again, like I said earlier, I assume that this will be a “The Skull used the Cosmic Cube to re-write Steve’s history” in a similar fashion to the “Snap” Wilson nonsense from so long ago. Actually, I’m hoping, praying and begging. I outlined a whole bunch of inconsistencies between the Steve in this issue and the Steve we’ve all grown to admire. Little things he’s said, small things that I’m interpreting as hints- it’s all there, and hopefully not just because I want to see it. Hell, I’m even taking the one good Remender moment, the “Always stand up” that Steve learned from his mother, as proof that this history is different. Sarah Roger taught Steve to fight back, not HYDRA. Never HYDRA. NEVER.

The thing that really bugs me here, more than the stupid and inexcusable twist, is that after everything I’ve seen, I KNOW Spencer is capable of better writing. This ending is just shock for the sake of shock. That’s it. It’s not story-driven, it’s not organic, it’s just bludgeoning, attention-grabbing stupidity. And it’s worsened by Spencer and editor Tom Brevoort fueling the fire on social media and news sites just to gain attention. The rest of the story, hell the entire book, is great. It’s as if Spencer completely understands the characters but has no respect for them. Like the freaking scientists in Jurassic Park- he realized he could but never stopped to think if he should. I hope Jack Flag eats Spencer while he’s on the toilet.

There’s way more I could say about this issue, like how Spencer still wrote Steve as a good guy, despite the fact that he’s (now) a villain (and whatever crazy connotation that comes with), but I think I’ll limit my rage for now. Feel free to head over to his Twitter account if you want to see more.

Ok, so now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me say that while I don’t like the twist or the direction the story seems to be heading (I didn’t sign up for evil Steve… Stevil?) the rest of the book is the same solid stuff we’ve been getting from Spencer. However, to me at least, CA:Steve #1 suffers from some of the same problems as the second Star Wars Trilogy- it doesn’t just ruin itself with a bad ending and stupid, out of nowhere revelations, but it retroactively harms the entire franchise. I can see pieces in place to fix things, but only time will tell if those are imaginary concoctions perceived by a desperate fan who is trying to make sense of a heartbreaking betrayal.  Even if it’s a brief story, it’s going to take a while to repair the damage Nick Spencer has done to Cap’s credibility.

Captain America: Steve Rogers Free Comic Book Day One Shot Spoiler-heavy Review

FCBD_Captain_America_Cover

Captain America: Steve Rogers FCBD One Shot

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artist: Jesus Saiz


This year’s Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) was last Saturday (it’s always the first Saturday in May, kids! Go read a comic!) featured our first real look at the new Cap book starting this month. Helmed by Captain America: Sam Wilson writer Nick Spencer, with art by Cap-newcomer Jesus Saiz, Captain America: Steve Rogers is shaping up to be a great new outing for the Star-Spangled Avenger.

The book opens up after the events of Pleasant Hill, and presumably after Captain America: Sam Wilson #9, with my beloved Sharon Carter no longer Agent 13, but now a Commander (of, I’m guessing, S.H.I.E.L.D.?), addressing the recent uprising of HYDRA activity. Sharon explains to a bunch of suits at a Senate hearing that HYDRA, the once organized, well-funded group of terrorists, has now devolved into a group of men with little training who seem to resort to guerilla tactics and target civilian areas with the express intent to breed fear and confusion.

Allow me to explain- in one of his first undertakings as the new/old/current/co Captain America, Sam Wilson, basically ran a gauntlet of HYDRA leaders until finally dismantling the terrorist organization. HYDRA was all but a terrible memory until the events of Pleasant Hill, a super-prison run by S.H.I.E.L.D., which resulted in the release of some of the world’s most dangerous individuals, including The Red Skull, Crossbones, and Sin. The three decided to rebuild HYDRA as less of a cult-like military unit and more like a group of fanatical extremists. They immediately began recruiting White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and anyone that believed in the Skull’s ideals of disorder, chaos and hate.

Back at the hearing in Washington D.C., Sharon is asked about an incident in Graz, Austria that happened one week ago. One thing I’ve realized that Nick Spencer LOVES to do in his stories is out-of-order storytelling. This has been used several times throughout his short run on CA:Sam, where he will start you at a point in the story AFTER the big event, and then have some character explain what happened while we see it through a flashback. Think “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Yeah, I know. I just made myself feel old with that reference. Anyway, it’s not a bad way to tell a story, I just felt the need to point out how often he’s been doing it.

So flashback to one week ago in Graz where Steve, fully suited up in his new uniform (and looking badass!), is taking out a small HYDRA cell and attempting to get information about an upcoming attack. He muscles some info out of one of the HYDRA goons, and while it happens completely off-screen, we are meant to believe that Cap got kind of rough with the guy. That should be nothing shocking since we’ve seen him do this before, but certainly FEELS different because Steve isn’t just throwing down with some clown in a green costume- this is a normal looking dude. Which makes sense for the “new” HYDRA, but I miss the green. I’m also a little confused as to why this guy was all “You’re Captain America! A hero! You won’t kill me!”, since we’ve all seen Steve throw HYDRA agents off trains and jets. Yeah, Cap isn’t a trigger-happy nutjob like a certain Skull-chested madman, but he does what he needs to in order to protect people. I guess the newly reformed HYDRA couldn’t afford a “Know Your Enemy” training video.

Steve sends the information he gathers to Sharon, who is in some sort of S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ along with Rick Jones, former secret informative known as “The Whisperer”, who then relay that info to Sam Wilson, Co-Captain America, and his partner, the Falcon. Sam and Falcon quickly and entertainingly take out the HYDRA operation, narrowly saving the city from a bomb, but while the celebration starts, Sharon receives word that another bomb, one that our heroes knew nothing about, has gone off killing twelve people. Obviously HYDRA is more organized than everyone thinks.

Jump back to present day Washington D.C. and Sharon explaining the mission to the Senate, who sees her explanation as simple excuses for botching the mission. Steve steps in, interrupting a blowhard Senator and launching into a 2-page speech to rally the troops against HYDRA. Jesus Saiz uses some great imagery of the Senators in a “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” pose while Steve explains that they aren’t in the meeting to find blame, but rather to figure out what to do about the new HYDRA, something that Steve refers to as a spreading virus. If I haven’t said it recently, let me just say that I am crazy excited to have Steve Rogers back in Cap-mode. I know everyone in the Marvel U seems to think that “the world needs Captain America”, and while that may be partially true, what I think the world really always needs is Steve Rogers.

Steve urges the Senate to make a formal declaration of war against HYDRA, and turn the tables by taking the fight to them. A great idea, but also one that the Red Skull seems to have not only anticipated, but was counting on. How this will play out remains to be seen in a few weeks when Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 hit stands. If this first story is any indication, Spencer and Saiz have a well-crafted book planned for us. Spencer continues to tap his expert knowledge of the characters he’s writing to deliver unique dialogue and perspective from each one, maintaining that delicate balance between serious and funny. Saiz’s art is outstanding, and compliments Spencer’s story nicely with action scenes that are coherent and flowing without being overly complex. And I absolutely love the way he draws Steve.

Overall, the FCBD issue of Captain America is a great introduction to a new chapter in Captain America history.

 

Captain America 1990 Movie Review

captain-america-1990jpg-0a5cf1_640w.jpg

Oh man, I’ve been waiting to sink my teeth into this one for a long time now, and seeing as we’re just a week away from Captain America: Civil War, I figured what better time than now to look back at the embarrassment that was 1990’s Captain America movie?

I was originally going to do a scene-by-scene breakdown of this crapfest, but after about 15 minutes of film, I just realized I didn’t want to write an entire novel. There’s so much wrong with it right away that I don’t even think I could cover everything if I tried.

The story is very simple- Polio stricken young man, Steve Rogers, undergoes a secret experiment in 1943 that turns him into an olympic-grade athelete with the codename Captain America. With little to no training, he is sent to stop a missile from destroying the White House, but in the process finds himself frozen in ice. Fast forward to 1990, where Steve awakens and has to take on the same villain that he fought in the 40’s, the Red Skull, an Italian super soldier turned mafia crime boss who has kidnapped the President of the US for reasons.

1069335284_ypcae-l.jpg

Most of the story in the first act is explained via heavy-handed exposition- we only know what’s going on because some character, at some point, comes right out and says it. We never get to see anything play out, as if the first 20 minutes of the film is basically just a visual synopsis of the comic origin that does absolutely nothing aside from introduce the characters and plot. You know Steve Rogers (Matt Salinger) is a good guy because everyone has told you he is. Not once are we ever shown Steve doing anything heroic, nor do we know why it is he is chosen to be Captain America, or even why he would want to be. The movie just tells us “He’s the best candidate out of 600 men. That’s a lot of guys, and you should be impressed. Now let’s move on.”

What might be worse, though, is that even after he becomes Cap, we still have no reason to root for him. He gets a serious smackdown at the hands of the Red Skull before being strapped to a rocket and frozen. It’s his first (and only) mission during the war and he gets defeated! In, like, 3 minutes! To be fair, I don’t know what anyone was expecting when you send a guy with virtually no training, who even states at one point, “I just wish I had more time to practice”, out on his own against an entire army. Sure, he saves the White House by kicking the rocket he’s strapped to, but since he failed to stop the launch, and that WAS the mission, I’m still counting it as a wash. From there he does zero in the way of heroing. He kinda just runs around assuming everyone is a Nazi and puts others in the line of fire throughout his oddball international journey. Hell, I think he gets saved more times by Sharon than he actually helps anyone.

captain-america-1990-matt-salinger.jpg

The movie does a better job of giving us reasons to love President Thomas Kimball (played by Ronny Cox) and convincing us that he’s a great guy who should probably be our main character. We know he can’t be bought, he has the people’s best interest in mind when making his decisions, and he’s a national hero. I would have loved to have seen this movie developed into a new version of Cap where Kimball is President of the free world by day, but justice-serving costumed crusader by night. “Captain America: Vigilante President”. I’m game for that.

I don’t know why the movie decided it was necessary to spend time developing his character instead of the titular hero, but it makes him one of the only likeable people in the entire film. The downside to that is that it causes the movie to spend an absurd amount of time on his stupid B-plot with his childhood friend-turned reporter, Sam (Ned Beatty). In fact, the B-plot is the only thing that propels the story in any direction, giving Sam an awful lot of convenient exposition to help guide Cap towards the Skull and save the President.

And the Red Skull…geez. I don’t know where to start with him.

captain-america-1990-image-031.jpg

The movie opens with a scene set in 1936 Italy where a young boy, Tadzio de Santis, is kidnapped by the Fascist government as part of an evil plan to create a world-conquering supersoldier. Before being dragged away, he is forced to watch his entire family gunned down right in front of him and then brought to a secret lab where he is strapped into a chair with a some sorta weird Halloween mask attached to it. The doctor in charge of the super soldier project, Dr. Maria Vaselli, objects to the use of this innocent child as the subject of her experiments, as any sane person would, but she can do nothing to stop the evil Italian army from continuing their mad plan and resolves to leap out a window as the boy screams in pain.

And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the origin of this movie’s Red Skull. An innocent boy kidnapped by an evil government and horribly disfigured because he’s smart. I have a hard time hoping this tortured soul gets comeuppance.

1378894035_art_red_skull.jpg

“It’s-a me!”

 

At least he’s somewhat entertaining to watch, even if he’s actually the Red Skull for only about 5 minutes of screen time. And most of that time he’s less like the comic book version of Red Skull and more like…I don’t know…picture Super Mario with a steamed tomato for a head. And with that visual in mind it isn’t hard to tell why the Skull’s 1943 scenes are entertaining- who doesn’t love Mario? I do have to ask this, though- if your enemy, who is tied to a rocket, grabs your wrist just before it fires, wouldn’t you cut HIS hand off before removing your own? Not that it matters since The Red Skull’s missing hand never really plays into anything that happens the entire film. Plot beats that lead to things? Maybe I’m expecting too much.

In addition to some underdeveloped characters, we get a really half-baked story that moves along clumsily from plot point to plot point. The entire story hinges on some random happenings coinciding to go anywhere. Why does the Red Skull send his goons after Cap? Why does the reporter decide Cap is the only one who can help him save the President? Why does Sharon tag along? Well, dear viewer, there wouldn’t have been much a movie to speak of otherwise, that’s why. And when that’s the reason things happen in your film, maybe you shouldn’t be making it.

The action scenes are inexcusably boring in part due to the bad camera angles, crummy editing, and poor lighting, but also because I think it would help things if the audience cared AT ALL about what happened to the main character. Again, hard to root for a guy who is as interesting as a stale slice of bread and makes a habit of abandoning important expositional friends in other countries.

captain-america-1991-03-g.jpg

“When Captain America throws his giant plastic Frisbee…”

 

Watching Steve throw his mighty shield is like seeing a dad pass an oversized Frisbee to his kids. “Here, vaguely Nazi son, go long!” There’s no intent or power behind it in the slightest. Not only does it look ridiculous, but the shield has some seriously ill-defined abilities. In one throw it knocks a guy off a ledge and circles back in mid air to clock another person in the face, and then continues on straight back to Cap. As if it somehow decides it’s just time to go home. Physics!

I could really go on and on about just how bad this movie is all day long. How does the President know who Sharon is? What’s with the terrible soundtrack? Why are Captain America’s ears made of rubber?

4247786-capyeah-1300951533.jpg

“Thanks, Mr. President!”

 

After watching this movie, it’s really no wonder it only got a very limited theatrical release, even after being delayed a few times. The studio had sunk a few million bucks into making this monster and they were probably trying to figure out if they should unleash it onto an unsuspecting populace or burn it in a windmill. Ultimately, in 1992, the movie finally saw the light of day via direct-to-video release and that was met with some less than stellar reactions. It currently has a 9% rating on Rottentomatoes.com, and those reviews were written years after the movie’s release- long enough time for it to go from “terrible movie” to “campy cult classic”. Yet somehow this movie is just so bad it can’t even garner the respect that Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four travesty receives (a movie which sits at a solid 29% on that same site).

Sadly this was not Cap’s worst cinematic outing, as the atrocity that was the 1979 made-for-TV movie starring Reb Brown was far more mind-numbing. Maybe I’ll go ahead and review that one day, but for now I don’t think I can handle much more abuse. I need some MCU to wash this taste out of my mouth. Bring on Civil War!

MV5BZDkxMjg3MzAtMmFjYS00YzUyLWFhYTQtZmFlMzFhZDhjNDI5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTExNDQ2MTI@._V1__SX1862_SY911_

 

Hot Wheels Captain America Series

The slew of new Captain America merchandise seems to know no bounds! Hot Wheels is even getting in on the action with this series of 8 vehicles all designed with the Star-Spangled Avenger in mind.

IMG_1474

The series includes four cars dedicated to Cap himself, two for Bucky (WW2 and Winter Soldier), one for the Avengers and one for the sinister Red Skull.

Now I’m no expert, but I’m roughly 100% positive some of these aren’t real cars.

IMG_1411

I really like the 40’s Cap car and the Avengers car and the rest, while not winning any Stranger Awards (I should make that a thing) are still pretty cool. I would have liked some classic Cap stuff- maybe the Turbo Coupe? Or the Skull’s badass ride from The First Avenger?

If I understand correctly, these guys are all Walmart exclusives, but I can’t confirm that- a friend got them for me so I don’t know for sure. Regardless, these 8 autos are my only Hot Wheels toys, so I need to figure out how to display them- any thoughts?

Captain America: Sam Wilson #7 Review (Spoilers ahead!)

5114200-capa2015007_dc11-0

This month’s issue of Captain America: Sam Wilson is sort of a big deal- not only is it the 75th anniversary of the character, but this latest book marks the return of Steve Rogers as a youthful Avenger. No, that isn’t a spoiler yet.  Well, not if you’ve read anything about anything comic-related over the past few months. Marvel hasn’t exactly been shy about the return of the original Cap since announcing Captain America: Steve Rogers #1.

The book is broken into several different stories- the main ongoing title is split between CA: Sam and CA: Steve, both written by CA:Sam regular Nick Spencer, and the supplemental stuff done a variety of other writers. As you may imagine, the artist duties are equally distributed throughout the book, but for the sake of keeping things organized, I’m simply going to review each story independently.

This is a mighty hefty book, with 60+ pages of story, so hit the bathroom now, because there’s no rest stops on the way.


 

“CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON”

Story: Nick Spencer/ Art: Angel Unzueta & Matt Yackey

The story starts with Sam arriving in Pleasant Hill at the same time as Bucky, AKA The Winter Soldier. Both were following separate tips that lead them to this remote S.H.I.E.L.D. installation to figure out just what is going on and shut down the KOBIK Program. Casual Marvel fans and Cap readers are likely having a “WTF?” moment. Luckily, Sam’s entire story here is really a “Catch the audience up to speed” recap.

Basically the idea is this: S.H.I.E.L.D. was doing a thing with the fragments of some Cosmic Cubes until Sam and Steve found out about it and forced them to shut it down. Well turns out under the direction of Maria Hill, that project, called KOBIK, was still under way in secret. I know, shocking, right? It seems that, at some point, the fragments of the Cubes fused together and became sentient, which isn’t that unusual as Cosmic Cubes have done that from time to time, but this one turned into a little girl also named Kobik instead of some giant super-being. S.H.I.E.L.D. decides to use Kobik’s infinite power to create the world’s most badass, yet morally questionable, prison by having her alter reality, turning dangerous villains into harmless townsfolk of the “Leave it to Beaver” style prison-town known as Pleasant Hill.

What could possibly go wrong?

Yeah, so everything. Somehow the Fixer builds a machine that reworks the villains, including the sinister Baron Zemo, and a Thunderbolts reunion tour starts just as Steve Rogers comes to shut the place down. Explosions, carnage…you know the deal.

This entire story arc gets explained over eight pages as Sam and Bucky fight their way through a gaggle of circus-themed villains with very little difficulty. The pair meet S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Avril Lavigne Kincaid and she helps the duo fill in the blanks along the way. We get a lot of Sam/Bucky bromance, or as my wife has started calling them, Bam. The two do work rather well together, and it’s fun to see them back in action for the first time since the Brubaker run a few years back. I know people are all about “shipping” Steve and Bucky, but this here, folks, is where I’d put my money.

Interesting note- my wife chose “Bam” after realizing the other option was “Sucky”. Good call.

Anyway, Kobik appears to Bam to warn them that Steve was in dire trouble, and he needs his friends now more than ever, so our dynamic duo (I’m kidnapping it for Marvel) rush to his side.

Like I said, this is a fairly short story, but since the purpose was really just to act as a recap, it didn’t need to be too long. I rather preferred this approach to just exposition, mainly because Bam was (were?) really entertaining to read.

The art in this short outing is handled by Angel Unzueta and Matt Yackey, who do a mostly successful job matching Spencer’s zany antics, but something about the way Bucky was drawn irks me. I can’t put my finger on it, but something” just seemed off. Overall a solid start to the 75th anniversary.


 

“CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS”

Story: Nick Spencer/ Daniel Acuna

GIANT, BLOODY OLD MAN ROGERS FACE!

I hope that got your attention, because that’s how the next chapter of this book starts. All we know is that Steve is at a considerable disadvantage and Crossbones, Cap’s long-time adversary, is about to finish the job. I love this scene, honestly, because once again we see just how much Spencer knows the characters he is writing. Crossbones’ lines about not underestimating Rogers and “Zemo’s an idiot” are really on-point.

We jump back in time (Spencer loves doing this) to the events that directly followed the Super-Villain prison riot in Avengers Standoff. Maria Hill is gravely injured and using the remainder of her energy to blame Steve for the bound-to-happen cataclysm that has just went down. We also learn that she intended to use Kobik on herself so she could live peacefully in this pseudo-reality she’s created. I’d feel bad for Hill if I didn’t dislike her so damn much.

Steve calls for medical attention, and after a brief back-and-forth with Mentallo, Zemo steps in and admits that, yes, he does need Hill alive, but in order to jump her up ahead the wait list for medical attention, someone else will need to step down and trade places with her. After all, HYDRA doesn’t value the powerful more than the little people. Apparently.

Unfortunately for Danny Rothstein, random S.H.I.E.L.D. accountant, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and that means his head is on the chopping block. Classic Zemo. Heartless, but classic. However, now that a spot has opened up on the list, Steve picks up Hill and is ordered to carry her across town to the local doctor. Of course he isn’t allowed to just go it alone as Zemo orders Father Patrick to accompany them. Who is he? Dunno, but odds are he’s a villainous villain.

While crossing the streets Steve, Hill and Patrick come across the Wrecking Crew, who, despite their immense powers, are easily tossed aside by Father Patrick. Just who is this mysterious badass!?!

The trio makes it to the building where Eric Selvig is locked up and Steve takes Hill inside while the good Reverend stays outside for some reason. After a brief exchange with Selvig, Steve learns where Kobik might be hiding and decides he needs to get to her before Zemo does. He makes a hasty escape, leaving Selvig and Hill behind to deal with Father Patrick, which seems like a terrible idea as we pretty much know this guy is a powerful villain. Turns out that it’s even more risky than we thought considering Father Patrick is revealed to be THE RED SKULL. I would tend to guess that Zemo had no clue who he was either, since  I can’t imagine he would ever entrust Steve’s safety to the Star-Spangled Avenger’s arch enemy. But this is where I get a bit confused. Steve has no clue who Father Patrick was, but his plan involves leaving a defenseless Hill and less-than-average Selvig behind with a man he just saw beat the snot out of a group of guys who regularly tackle Thor, which turns out to be okay since Patrick is revealed to be the Red Skull, and the Skull apparently has his own plan which involves leaving the helpless pair alone while ensuring Steve escapes “Zemo’s wrath”, and that in turn makes me wonder why the Skull didn’t just walk away after getting Steve to the building instead of trying to barge his way in to begin with. I’m honestly not clear on what his entire plan was.

Also I have no clue if this is the original Skull, or the cloned one that became Onslaught, or if there’s even a difference anymore, but in any of those cases when did the Red Skull become strong enough to single-handedly dismantle the Wrecking Crew in two seconds. Sure, it was a cool scene, but I feel like I missed something.

Moving on, Steve heads to the town’s bowling alley where Kobik is hiding out, and after a heartfelt plea for Kobik to stop using her powers, Steve is able to convince her to hide just as Crossbones enters the building. This should bring us full circle to where we started with this chapter, as Steve starts to get his wrinkled butt handed to him.

The next few pages are just Nick Spencer 100% completely getting Steve Rogers. It’s really refreshing after the last joker they had on the book to get a writer that understands the character, his motivations, and his mentality. I just love the way he writes Steve this entire book and it makes me excited for May’s “CA:Steve”.

This chapter comes to a close as Kobik steps in at the last minute and, just before the killing blow, “makes Steve a hero again” by returning him to his youth using her world-altering cubey powers. Yeah, you knew it was coming, and you knew this was likely how it would play out, but for some reason it doesn’t make the moment any less impactful. Watching Steve turn the tables on Crossbones and beat him down is, well, it’s one of the reasons I read this title. Bam shows up just in time for Steve to get in a good glamour shot as Bucky chimes in with “Wow! About time!”

Nick Spencer really tells a solid story here, despite some confusing Red Skulling, and it was an entertaining read from page one straight through. I already knew he understood Sam, but I’m glad to see he can write Steve, too. And the great thing is that while Spencer has a specific style he doesn’t make the two characters sound the same. They are each independent characters with their own personality, and that’s how it should be.

Daniel Acuna handles the art in this chapter and if you’re at all familiar with his work on Sam’s book you know what to expect. His bright colors and great action scenes are not the traditional comic art many people are used to, but I love it, and it goes well with this story. He won’t be sticking with Steve, though, as he’s continuing his run on Sam after this issue.


 

“PRESENTATION”

Story: Joss Whedon/ Art: John Cassaday

This next story is short, only 9 pages, but it’s not bad. Written by Joss Whedon, “Presentation” is the story of Steve Rogers losing his original shield. Now, I get a little turned around here because I thought Steve got his iconic shield long before he even went overseas (as he had it in Captain America Comics #2 back in 1941) and this story has him losing it while fighting some giant Nazi skull tank, but the Marvel history has been retconned so many times I don’t know what to believe anymore. It’s good to see John Cassaday drawing Cap again, too, and teamed up with Whedon’s writing it makes for a good, yet brief, read.


 

“CATCH ME IF YOU CAN”

Story & Art: Tim Sale

“Catch Me if You Can” is Tim Sale’s filler story about how Steve beats his way into a HYDRA facility to reclaim a cherished heirloom of his. 8 pages, 7 word bubbles- it’s short and sweet, but nothing stellar. I’m not a big fan of Sale’s art, so to each his own.


 

“PAS DE DEUX”

Story: Greg Rucka/ Art: Mike Perkins

Writer Greg Rucka seems to think Steve Rogers hates the ballet. That’s the only thing I got from this story. Wasn’t a fan. Always delighted to see Mike Perkins draw Cap again, though, I just wish he had more to work with.


 

For being the 75th anniversary issue, I had high expectations going in and, to be honest, I wasn’t let down. Yes, the supplemental stories weren’t spectacular, but they also weren’t bad, and we all know they’re not what we came here for.

Before I close this article out, though, I need to gripe about one thing I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned in these reviews before- the cover. No, it’s not bad art, and I actually like the throwback to the old Captain America Comics #1 cover that Alex Ross gave us. My problem is that it recreates the original cover where Cap is punching Hitler with Sam punching Steve. I don’t know why it bothers me so much, but something about Steve Rogers in the “Hitler” spot on this cover just seems really wrong to me. It doesn’t even make sense with the story to have Sam punching Steve, but I guess that’s why they say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

That said, great book. Welcome back, Rogers!

3029324-steve2

Celebrate Free Comic Book Day with Captain America!

Marvel revealed the cover of the upcoming FCBD: Captain America #1, the special one-shot issue heralding in the return of the original Captain America, Steve Rogers! Check out the snippet from the press release!

FCBD_Captain_America_Cover

[…]FCBD CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 brings you the titanic return of Steve Rogers as Captain America! Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz bring you one of Steve’s first adventures since his dramatic return in the pages of AVENGERS: STANDOFF. Just in time for their new series Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 later that month! Then, go deeper into DEAD NO MORE, a top secret storyline coming later in 2016! If you got the chance to bring someone back, would you?[…]

I absolutely love that cover art! Free Comic Book Day is May 7th, so if you’ve ever been interested in Captain America (which you should be) then this is a good way to try it out without having to pay for it! Simply go into your local comic shop and take one!

They’re free, don’t worry.