Thursday, 4 August 2011

New Beginnings - Captain America #1/Captain America & Bucky #1

This week we have a double header of titles, both from Ed Brubaker, with Marc Andreyko also aiding on the writing for Cap & Bucky. Now, having never really read anything of Captain America and only having seen him as an extra character in my normal Marvel pull list, this was a new experience for me.

The first thing to make clear is that the timing is impeccable, considering that the new beginning is in synch with the release of the Captain America film and also the variant cover of the new Captain America title features Chris Evans carrying the shield. The release is almost certainly there to entice viewers of the film into the world of comics, but from what I can see it doesn’t waste time on recapping too much and heads straight for the meat of it all. Cap & Bucky is similar in this fashion as well, although it nicely focuses on Bucky for the entire issue meaning that you don’t get two titles hitting the same points home but instead you receive a complimentary pair. The stories in them do not match but the shaping of the relationship does which counts for more. I would suggest that this is the major benefit of having Brubaker writing both.

The stories are both well written and I found myself drawn into Masks (in Cap & Bucky) because of the back story. You are presented with a deep founded reason as to why Bucky has gone on to become who and what he is (was) by the exploration of his childhood and adoration of Captain America as he had been presented at the time, a symbol of hope, power and strength.

American Dreamers (in Captain America) is still good, but for the casual reader there are a few gaps in the story meaning that you can only get into the surface level of what is actually happening on the pages in front of you. On one hand this does mean that you are reliant on the glimpses of the past you are given so you get left wondering what has gone on, but on the other, the lack of information means that there is also intrigue. It’s a fine balance to try and manage but it shows through experience in the writing.

Whilst the two comics in writing are complimentary I found that the artwork is more opposing. Drawing for Captain America you have Steve McNiven with strong, clean and fine style. What is lacking in the detail of the full frame, McNiven makes up for it with the huge amount of details that are included in every facial expression. A huge amount of the story is conveyed through the look of every character and this adds further weight to words on the page.

By comparison Chris Samnee has taken a more dated approach. There is far less detail and a lot heavier colouring and everything is much smoother. The colouring is quiet dark, but then again so is the story it is following, something that is easy to miss. Given that this story is also based in the past and not bouncing between times like Captain America is, you tend to feel that this is a comic more of the original series and not 620 issues in.

I've found that these two comics are both enjoyable to read, but for different reasons. Even though they are penned by the same person, the story in one is stronger than the other and the artwork is conversely set as well. Both, however, are great titles and stories for people who are interested in Captain America then either or both of these titles are well worth picking up. Even for someone like myself who doesn’t find Cap an appealing character to follow the comics were still a good read.

Matt Puddy likes his toast cut into Super-Soldiers with his soft boiled eggs.

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