Inside Pulse 12

Retro Reviews: Captain America Vol. 4 # 21-32 By Robert Morales, Chris Bachalo, Robert Kirkman & Others! Marvel Comics’ Captain America Disassembled!

Captain America Vol. 4 #21-32 (February 2004 – December 2004)

Written by Robert Morales (#21-28), Robert Kirkman (#29-32)

Penciled by Chris Bachalo (#21-26), Eddie Campbell (#27-28), Scott Eaton (#29-32)

Inked by Tim Townsend (#21-26), Aaron Sowd (#23, 25), Al Vey (#23, 25-26), Wayne Faucher (#24), Eddie Campbell (#27-28) , Stewart McKenny (#27-28), Drew Geraci (#29-32)

Coloured by Chris Bachalo (#21-25), Brian Reber (#26-28), Rob Schwager (#29-32)

Spoilers (from twelve years ago)

After Robert Morales (RIP) was given the chance to meaningfully retcon Captain America’s history in Truth: Red, White & Black, he was given the opportunity to take over Cap’s main title.  He came onboard after Dave Gibbon’s alternate reality story, which I never read, and at a time when this title needed some kind of work and attention.  When he began, he was accompanied by artist Chris Bachalo, who is always a good choice to revamp something, as his approach to visuals, especially around this stage in his career, has always been bold and unique.

The Cap that Morales got was in a weird place.  Chuck Austen and John Ney Rieber had really bungled the Marvel Knights approach, and really didn’t do a very good job of addressing the role Cap had to play in the post-9/11 world.  Morales was obviously a very political writer, and the time was right for him to do something interesting with this title.

At the end of Morales’s too-short stint, Robert Kirkman came onboard to handle the four-issue Avengers Disassembled tie-in, which is really a throwback to the Gruenwald days.  I’m tossing it into this column, even though it doesn’t really fit (mostly because I don’t think it deserves a column of its own).

As always, it’s helpful to keep track of the characters that played key roles in these issues.

Villains

  • Florida based human traffickers (#21)
  • Khalid El-Gamal (terrorist; #24)
  • Becky Barnes (#27-28)
  • Mr. Hyde (#29)
  • Mark Nolan (#29-32)
  • Hydra (#29)
  • Red Skull (#29-32)
  • Batroc the Leaper (#30)
  • Bushmaster (#30-31)
  • Puff Adder (#30-31)
  • Asp (#30-31)
  • King Cobra (#30-31)
  • Black Mamba (#30-31)
  • Anaconda (#30-31)
  • Black Racer (#30-31)
  • Coachwhip (#30-31)
  • Fer-de-Lance (#30-31)
  • Rattler (#30-31)
  • Rock Python (#30-31)
  • Slither (#30)
  • Sidewinder (#31)
  • Dragon Man (#31)
  • Arnim Zola (#31)
  • Baron Strucker (#31)
  • Viper (#31)
  • Baron Blood (#31)
  • MODOK (#31)

Guest Stars

  • Nick Fury (#23-24, 30-32)
  • Fidel Castro (#23-25)
  • Iron Man (#27)
  • Isaiah Bradley (from another timeline; #28)
  • Sharon Carter (#31-32)
  • Dum Dum Dugan (#31-32)
  • Spider-Man (#31)

Supporting Characters

  • Phil (diner owner; Cap’s business partner; #21, 27)
  • Rebecca Quan (commercial artist; new love interest?; #21-22, 25, 27-28)
  • General Baron (#21-25)
  • Fernand Hedayat (suspected terrorist; #22, 24-25)
  • Colonel John Boyle (CO of Camp Hasmet; #22-24)
  • General Tony MacPherson (#22-25)
  • General Marty Oliver (#22)
  • Former Senator Lester Paley (Hedayat’s counsel; #22-27)
  • Luisa Prohias (Cuban soldier; #23-25)
  • Arturo Gutierrez (Cuban soldier; #23-25)
  • Bucky Barnes (in flashbacks; #26)
  • Colonel Price (in flashback; #26)
  • Diamondback (sort of, #29-32)

Let’s take a look at what happened in these books, with some commentary as we go:

  • Morales starts things off with an arc called Homeland.  Cap is in Florida, taking down some human traffickers who have stashed a bunch of Asian immigrants in a rainy swamp.  Morales has him working pretty brutally through these guys, and with Bachalo’s excellent art, he looks very menacing (his chainmail looks spiky and aggressive).  FBI Agent Spinrad, from Truth, makes an appearance, making it clear that these abused women will not be able to stay in America.  Later, back in Red Hook, Steve is eating at a local diner, and chatting with the owner, Phil.  They discuss a news story they hear on the radio.  Fernand Hedayat, an Iranian-born US citizen, is having his citizenship revoked ahead of a military tribunal being held to try the suspected terrorist in Guantanamo Bay.  A new transplant to Brooklyn, Rebecca, ends up sharing a table with Steve.  She talks about being a commercial artist, and we learn that Steve is the co-owner of the diner.  The two go on a walk together, and discuss iconography and vibranium, but are interrupted by a pair of special agents from the Department of Homeland Security.  It seems that the regional director and a general want to meet with Cap.  He leaves with them, and as they drive across the Brooklyn Bridge, they are attacked by gunmen in a VW van.  The agents are hurt, but Steve, out of uniform and without his shield, uses a gun to return fire (this is an odd look on Steve).  Later, at the Department of Justice offices, we learn that the men escaped, and that the agents are badly hurt.  We learn that the government wants Cap to sit on the tribunal that is going to try Hedayat in Guantanamo.  They are worried about protestors and the fact that the public no longer trusts the government, but they know that everyone trusts Captain America.  Steve asks how people will know he’s doing it if the tribunal is conducted in secret, to which the director replies that it will be leaked.
  • The Statement of Ownership for 2003 (encompassing the Austen and Gibbons issue of this title) lists average print runs of 74 000 for this title, with average sales of 61 000.  
  • Issue 22 opens with Steve looking at a sculpture of a distorted Captain America crucified with barbed wire.  He and Rebecca are at a gallery opening for Paige Rand’s show.  She’s taken on superheroes through her art, but Rebecca is not impressed with the simplicity of the work.  She and the artist get into an argument, and after they leave, Rebecca compares her unfavourably to Jeff Koons.  This scene alone is enough to make me love Morales’s writing.  Rebecca knows that Steve is about to depart for Cuba to stand on a secret military trial, because she heard it on NPR.  They make plans to get together when he returns.  In Cuba, Cap gets a look at Hedayat while he’s at prayer.  Cap was sent to chat with the Muslim chaplain, but can’t because he’s not there.  At dinner, Cap is introduced to the camp’s CO, Colonel Boyle, as well as other members of the tribunal (I assume) Tony MacPherson (we don’t know his rank) and Marty Oliver.  We learn that General Oliver is worried about his granddaughter, while MacPherson argues that America’s response to 9/11 has been weak.  We also learn that Hedayat’s defense lawyer is Senator Lester Paley, an ex-Marine.  Cap asks to speak to Boyle privately, and then tells him that he is unhappy at having been paraded in front of the detainees while they were at prayer.  The Colonel responds negatively, so Cap tosses him into the Caribbean.  Senator Paley introduces himself to Cap, but they are interrupted by Boyle coming at Cap, who tosses him back in the water.  Paley and Cap discuss due process and the fact that Oliver tried to talk Paley out of getting involved.  Boyle comes back again, but Cap receives a call from Rebecca, and comically tries to pass it off as an Avengers emergency.  Suddenly there is a lot of commotion in the camp, and we learn that there’s been a breach at the perimeter.  Cap runs off, and we find General Oliver crucified on a cactus, wrapped in barbed wire, in a nice parallel to the first pages of this issue.
  • Everyone looks at Oliver’s body, and discover that six GPS trackers were stuffed into his mouth by his attackers.  The power goes out in the camp, and Cap rushes back to figure out what’s going on.  As it turns out, fourteen detainees escaped, under the leadership of Khalid El-Gamal, who took Hedayat with him.  El-Gamal is a jihadist terrorist who was arrested crossing from Afghanistan into Pakistan.  The other escapees are his men.  The tracking devices were being tested on the detainees, which Boyle did not even know.  Cap and Paley talk in Hedayat’s cell.  We learn that he is definitely innocent, and that he was opposed to people like El-Gamal, who probably took him with him because he speaks fluent Spanish.  We learn that other prisoners were killed in the escape, but that’s weirdly just tossed in and not discussed.  Cap meets with Boyle, MacPherson, and Barron, and they call Nick Fury on the holographic phone thing.  We learn about a complicated plot that involves Saddam Hussein’s bioweapons (I guess this was written when people thought that could still be a thing) being shipped to Cuba to attack the country, so that the US is blamed.  Cap is sent out alone, under the auspices of SHIELD, to track down the escapees.  Before leaving, he asks Paley to call Rebecca if anything happens to him.  While tracking the escapees, Cap comes across a group of Cuban soldiers, who happen to discover him and start firing at him.  Cap is in the process of calming them down when a Helicarrier-like vessel appears above them, and we see that Fidel Castro and Nick Fury are working together.  Castro declares Cap “a champion of the Cuban people”.
  • It turns out that the vessel is the SHIELD Sky-Destroyer, and Cap is now on it with Fury and Castro, as well as Prohias and Gutierrez, the two soldiers that were shooting at him last issue.  Castro wants them to go with Cap on his mission to stop El-Gamal, and Cap really has no say in this.  We learn that El-Gamal and his men can be tracked by trace radioactive elements that were released when they removed their GPS units, and that this will cause them cancer.  Hadayet was not injected with this.  We learn that the men are moving towards Havana, where they are expected to rendezvous with the Iraqi biological agents, and release them in the centre of the city.  There is a lot of logistical discussion in this comic, which I enjoy.  Cap is given a device which, when pressed, will enable SHIELD to destroy the bio-agents form above, but will also kill anyone nearby.  It has an eight-minute delay for Cap to escape.  Cap shares a meal with the two Cuban soldiers, and drinks a lot of water.  He verbally spars with Luisa Prohias, which is continued later when they are in an SUV driving through Havana.  He even sort of refers to Rebecca as his girlfriend while they talk about Cap’s imperialistic role models.  They locate the warehouse where El-Gamal and his men are, and the three move in together.  There is a very dynamic fight scene that Bachalo makes look terrific, and just as El-Gamal is about to release the bio-agents, he is shot by the Cubans.  Hedayat is safe, and Cap is told by the Cubans to take him and go, and that they are confiscating the bio-weapons for the Revolution.  Cap presses the button on his device, and tells them that they are all going to die in eight minutes.
  • Cap’s standoff with his new Cuban friends is short-lived, especially after he somehow throws his shield through a truck’s engine block in a scene that doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Basically, Cap is able to convince them to take the bomb that was going to release the bioweapons, while leaving the actual weapon for SHIELD to microwave and destroy.  They get medevaced by Cubans with the injured Hedayat.  A few days later, Cap is still in Cuba.  Castro visits Hedayat in the hospital before Cap goes in to speak with him with Paley by his side.  Hedayat decides to reject Castro’s offer of asylum, preferring to fight to regain his American citizenship.  We learn that his crime was that of providing funds to a group that was helping Muslims in America which may have had shadier goals that he knew nothing about.  Cap and Paley go for a walk, and Paley is about to ask for something when Cap gets a call from Fury sending him back to Camp Hasmet.  Once there, he learns that Colonel Boyle has been reassigned, and that MacPherson is taking over the camp.  Cap has words with General Barron, and basically accuses him of having sent the men that attacked him on the Brooklyn Bridge.  They have a confusing conversation about following orders, and it becomes clear that Barron was ordered to order a hit on Cap, although it’s not clear by whom.  It turns out that Fury was listening in on this conversation, and recording it, so he can pursue legal action against Barron.  A couple of days later, on New Year’s Eve, Rebecca arrives at Cap’s hotel (no word how she would have gotten to Cuba from the US in 2003), and they are joined by Luisa, Arturo, their families, and Paley.  Paley pulls Steve away from the party to ask him to join him as his running mate in the 2004 election.  Steve declines, saying that he couldn’t do that job and his current one at the same time.  Paley’s arguments for an independent candidate in the 2004 election feel particularly relevant today, when the choice between Bush and Kerry sounds absolutely profound compared to where we are in 2016.  There are fireworks.  
  • Issue 26, ‘The Bucky Issue’ is interesting in its storytelling approach and content.  Steve is flying to Washington DC on a nice May Sunday morning in a small twin-engine plane when it is suddenly attacked somehow, or just damaged, or something.  Bachalo keeps things kind of chaotic.  Steve takes the stick, and pulls the plane out of a dive, while remembering a similar situation he and Bucky Barnes experienced during the war.  While this is going on, we see a different plot thread, some hours after this, where Steve is meeting with Paley to talk about his campaign.  From here, we keep flipping between this meeting and images of Steve trying to save himself on the plane.  Paley’s strategist talks about Cap’s approval among Muslim-American, while we see Cap aim the plane at the reflecting pool between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.  Steve makes it clear that the issue with his plane had nothing to do with Muslim extremists (what I guess Trump would call ‘radical Islam’?), and the strategist brings up the issue of Steve’s endangering of Bucky during the war as a possible political negative.  It’s strange, because Steve is not running with, nor even fully endorsing Paley; he just appeared in an ad with him.  In a flashback, we see how Colonel Price gave Bucky his role as Cap’s sidekick, and then we see a slightly different version of his death, which was scrubbed of any sign of Baron Zemo.  Cap and Bucky race after a new army drone plane that has been taken by the Nazis, jump on the plane, and then learn that it’s been rigged to explode.  We see it blow, and Cap falls into the ocean.  In the present, Steve skips the plane across the reflecting pool, and brings it to a stop.  Later, we learn that the co-pilot died, and a small crowd comes to congratulate Steve on being a hero.  He protests that he was just lucky, and we are given a nice splash page of Bucky.  The storytelling in this issue is excellent, but I’m not really sure why Bucky needed to be revisited again.
  • Issue 27 starts the two-part Requiem story, which ended up being Morales’s last.  He was joined by Eddie Campbell, the indie artist best known for drawing From Hell, his book with Alan Moore about Jack the Ripper, although Campbell has always meant more to me because of his Bacchus comics.  He was an unexpected choice to draw a book like Captain America, and switched up his style a little; some of his pages look like they might have been drawn by Howard Chaykin.  I don’t know which pages Campbell inked himself, as there was another inker on some of this comic.  Anyway, the story opens on Steve and Rebecca chatting at the diner where they met.  Rebecca is talking about a dream she had about 9/11, and reveals that when the attack hit New York, she was in Seattle battling cancer.  There is some talk about how long it will take for the city to fully recover, and the lack of 9/11 themed tattoos, when Steve gets a call telling him that Paley has died.  Steve is next seen with Tony Stark, who is both Iron Man and the Secretary of Defense at this point in time.  We learn that Paley and others were killed when a device created a bubble of super-dense ceramics, centred on a daycare where he was campaigning in Cleveland.  Cap and Iron Man arrive at the massive crater left by this attack, which Tony thinks might have used Latverian tech.  When they begin to investigate, they are attacked by a swarm of robotic bugs.  To stop them, Tony sets off an EMP, which shuts down his heart.  Cap revives him, and they learn that the robots were made by Stark Industries, although Tony denies all knowledge of them.  A green bubble appears, and puts back everything that was destroyed.  We see that Paley and the others have survived, and Tony learns that the technology in the bugs is from twenty years into the future.  He believes they are basically toys, used to clean children’s rooms.  Rebecca is shown going to Steve’s apartment, with food to make him dinner.  As she enters his place, she is attacked by a woman dressed in a costume patterned off Cap’s.  She claims to be looking for her father, and as they both confuse each other for a bit, the woman claims to be looking for Isaiah Bradley (a name familiar to anyone who read Truth, or my column about it).  Rebecca tries to fight her, and ends up stabbing her in the stomach.  The woman identifies herself as Becky Barnes before disappearing in a flash of green light.
  • Morales’s last issue opens in San Diego on July 4 2026, as Becky Barnes heads into the San Diego Comicon.  We quickly learn that this is an alternate timeline, when we see pictures of Isaiah Bradley as both Captain America and president of the United States.  Becky goes and buys a KreeToyz Infinihedron, a kind of mass-produced Cosmic Cube, a bunch of Scarebs, and a demolition bulb, which she sends into the past.  In our timeline, and in the present (which is June 2004), Steve is helping Rebecca clean up after the fight she had with Becky in his apartment.  Rebecca decides she has to break up with Steve, because she can’t handle the chaos of his life.  Their discussion is interrupted by the arrival of Isaiah Bradley, but the one from the other timeline.  He’s looking for his daughter, who was raised by Bucky Barnes, until Bucky was killed in an attack on the Sky-Destroyer Steranko.  Becky is unhinged, and constantly changes her appearance, so Isaiah doesn’t know what she looks like.  He needs Steve and Rebecca to come with him (back to the future).  They arrive at Comicon, and stop Becky from acquiring those items, although she does use a bunch of ‘Just Add Villains’ to slow her pursuers down.  As Isaiah uses the Infinihedron to stop the chaos, Becky slips away.  He has a nice chat with Cap and Rebecca.  Steve asks if he could use the device to effect large change on the world, but Isaiah says it’s limited to a twenty-year reach.  Cap sends Rebecca on ahead of him, saying he has to ‘do his duty’ before he comes home.  Isaiah pursues Becky, who flies up to the Steranko and tries to jump off, but Isaiah catches her.  Back in the present, but a while later, Steve runs into Rebecca at the post office (where he is posting a letter to Arturo, from the Cuba arc).  Rebecca is heading back to Seattle, and it’s clear that they are broken up, but they decide to go for a walk together.  As they walk through Red Hook, they are passed by floating cars and kids on flying skateboards; in the distance, there are a lot of dirigibles.  I assume that this is implying that Steve changed history, but it’s not clear how, or what Morales was trying to say with this ending.
  • For the last four issues of this series, which were loosely connected to the Avengers Disassembled event, wherein Brian Michael Bendis tore the team apart, Robert Kirkman and Scot Eaton took over.  The shift in tone and approach was very jarring, as Kirkman set this up as a bit of an homage to the mid-Grunwald era, with a focus on superheroics and a large cast.  Eaton returned to the classic Cap look, with a smooth costume right out of the seventies and eighties.
  • The first Disassembled issue (the arc is called Super-Patriot) opens with Cap beating down a freshly escaped Mr. Hyde before a crowd of onlookers.  Later, Steve goes into a video store (remember those?) to rent his favourite DVD, and finds Diamondback, in full costume, waiting for him on his stoop.  He invites her in to watch the film with him, but then Nick Fury shows up outside his window in a jetpack.  The three of them fly up to a SHIELD sub-carrier, where Fury lets them know that Senator Richard Winslow, who is a favourite for the 2008 election, has been kidnapped by Hydra.  Cap and Diamondback jump out of the carrier over the Hydra base, and we learn that Fury is not really Fury, but someone with a holographic face mask, who is answering to a shadowy figure.  Cap and Diamondback infiltrate the Hydra base under heavy fire, and Kirkman works in some jokes about the union attitudes of Hydra rank and file.  They rescue the Senator and escape.  Later on the sub-carrier, the Senator asks ‘Fury’ where Cap is, and if he will figure things out.  The Senator refers to ‘Fury’ as Nolan, but I have no idea who that is supposed to be.  It’s clear that the Senator hired Fury-Nolan to put him in danger so he can be rescued for political gain.  Cap and Diamondback get dropped off back in New York, but Cap has to leave because of an Avengers priority alert (presumably Wanda is going crazy and is wrecking Avengers Mansion), but not before making vague plans to see Diamondback again.  Diamondback returns to her own brownstone, where she lets the Red Skull know that Cap didn’t suspect a thing, and he replies that his plan is working.
  • Kirkman’s second issue opens at a baseball game, where Rachel and Steve are on a date, which she suggested to help cheer him up (this is a bad time for the Avengers).  Not long into the issue, the team mascot announces that the stadium is wired with explosives, and that he is going to kill everyone if they don’t give their jewelry and cash to his people in the stands.  Cap changes into his outfit and attacks, but is immediately set upon by Batroc the Leaper.  As they fight, Cap figures out that the remote detonator is actually a pen, and then takes Batroc out.  On the sub-carrier, Mark Nolan (he’s named and explained in the recap page as a rogue SHIELD agent trying to take over the organization) is meeting with the Red Skull.  Nolan’s sold him a new suit of battle armor, and the Skull refuses to pay him.  The Skull takes out some of Nolan’s men, and leaves.  Cap signs autographs at the stadium, and then goes home with Rachel, who talks him into letting her up.  The next morning, she acts a little oddly, and Steve looks suspicious.  We follow him through a leisurely day (which is odd, considering what’s happening with the Avengers), and see that Rachel is again meeting with the Red Skull, who gives her something to spike Cap’s drink with.  On the sub-carrier, Nick Fury orders Nolan to investigate what happened on Hydra Island last issue.  Steve and Rachel flirt a bit, but just as he’s about to drink from his poisoned wine glass, three members of the Serpent Society bust into his apartment and knock them out.  When they come to, they are chained up, in their costumes, with twelve members of the Society standing in front of them.  King Cobra is happy to have Cap’s shield.
  • The third chapter of Super-Patriot has Cap and Diamondback trussed up by the Serpent Society.  King Cobra explains that he is going to enjoy torturing Diamondback (by this point it’s been what, twelve to fifteen years since Rachel ‘betrayed’ the Society), and that he is going to sell Cap to the highest bidder.  They leave them for sixteen hours.  When they return the next day, Cap is able to kick his shield out of Cobra’s hands, using it to free himself and knock out the three Serpents in front of him.  As he frees Diamondback, the rest of the Society arrive, and there is a long fight scene.  Cap calls in to SHIELD to get them to come and pick up the Society.  The camera wanders down a hallway, and we see that Dragon Man (?), Arnim Zola, Baron Von Strucker, Viper, Baron Blood, MODOK, some guy who might be Mr. Hyde, and another guy with a sword, are waiting for the auction to start.  On the sub-carrier, Nolan delivers a typical villain speech which gets interrupted when he realizes that Nick Fury and his friends are standing behind him, making his entire subplot kind of pointless.  Spider-Man swings by Cap’s place looking for help, but can’t find him and leaves, which makes for another pointless page.  Cap and Diamondback walk down the street flirting, and Rachel offers Cap a place to stay.  They arrange to meet up later for dinner and whatever.  Cap has a discussion with his landlady about the repairs his place needs, and calls a contractor to arrange an estimate.  Diamondback returns to her place to find the Red Skull in her apartment again.  He wants her to kill Cap, but she says that she’s come to realize that she loves him.  The Skull snaps her neck, just as Steve starts knocking on the door.
  • The Skull attacks Steve right through the door, and they engage in a pretty brutal fight for pages.  Steve discovers that Diamondback is dead, and gets tossed around some more by the Skull, who is in his new enhanced battlesuit.  The Skull is about to finish Steve when Diamondback’s building comes down around them because of the damage caused by the fight.  The Skull again takes Cap down and is about to choke him when Diamondback appears, alive, partly metallic, and confused.  She starts fighting the Skull, and seems stronger and more indestructible than she was before.  She starts choking the Skull, but suddenly freezes when ordered to stop by Mark Nolan, who has arrived on scene with Nick Fury and a ton of SHIELD agents, including Sharon Carter and Dum Dum Dugan.  In the background we can see another Diamondback.  Fury explains that Nolan had a plan to take over SHIELD, and it involved setting up the Skull by giving him a new model LMD (life model decoy) that is completely human in its thought processes, but which can still be programmed to follow commands contradictory to its nature.  The LMD Diamondback is carted off, as are the Skull and Nolan.  Steve shares an icy hello with Sharon before he and Diamondback head off to share a room together, since both their apartments are wrecked.  
  • The Statement of Ownership for 2004 has Cap showing an average press run of 64 000, with an average of 12 000 copies not distributed (I always wonder about numbers like that).

Morales’s too-short run was a real breath of fresh air.  I loved the way he incorporated politics into Cap’s life in an intelligent way, and I thought that the inclusion of Steve Rogers’s personal life was long overdue.  

In the real world, an individual like Captain America would constantly get requests from people trying to use him politically, and the thought that a person that everyone universally loves could be used to add legitimacy to something like the American prison at Guantanamo Bay makes a lot of sense.  I also like the way that Cap stands for his principles, although the overly threatening way in which he’s shown tossing military officers into the water did feel off.

On the Steve Rogers side of things, it was great seeing him interact with Rebecca Quan, who was an immediately interesting character.  It’s too bad their relationship didn’t work, because she grounded Cap in a way that Bernie, nor Sharon, and definitely not Diamondback, ever could.  That Cap was part owner of a diner in Red Hook made him more interesting to me, even if there wasn’t enough space given to explore that part of his life.

The Hedayat/Fidel Castro story was dense and exciting.  The Bucky story, and the Requiem story both felt odd and out of place though.  I know that Morales was almost immediately followed by Ed Brubaker’s legendary run, but I don’t know how that played out at the Marvel office; if Morales was removed from the book, or if he had finished saying what he’d intended to say.  Morales passed away in 2013, sadly, but had not written any comics after Captain America, so far as my cursory research can tell me.

Bringing Chris Bachalo onto the title was a bold choice.  Cap was always portrayed by more realistic artists over the years, and Bachalo by this point in his career was using a more bulky, cartoonish style.  It worked very well, and I loved what he did with Cap’s uniform, enhancing the attention to detail started by John Cassaday, by making the links in Cap’s chainmail stand out, and making it obvious that he wears the chain over the striped layer that we only see around his stomach.  Bachalo had a lot to do with the excitement I felt about this series at the time, and still excited me reading this today.

Kirkman’s run, on the other hand, did not work for me at all.  He was trying to capture the feel of Mark Grunwald’s run, bringing back the Serpent Society, Diamondback, Batroc, and the Red Skull, but everything was crammed together and didn’t really make a lot of sense.  Things like Spider-Man cameos just muddied the water even further.  It’s crazy to think that he was just beginning The Walking Dead when these comics came out, especially since the tone of them is just so different.

Scot Eaton’s work on Kirkman’s run is fine, but also feels like a throwback after seeing artists like Cassaday and Bachalo work with the character.  

Even stranger, the Disassembled arc ended one month before Ed Brubaker relaunched the title, and basically ignored everything that was set up here, especially with regards to reintroducing Diamondback into Steve’s life, and setting up the Skull in a Lex Luthor-like battlesuit.  

There are no common threads between Morales’s and Kirkman’s run, except for the cover art provided by Dave Johnson.  Even when the cover has nothing to do with what was inside the comic, which happened a lot, he provided a lot of very clear, classic images that hearkened back to Jim Steranko’s day.

This would mark the end of my look at Captain America, except for Marvel’s decision to publish a second Cap title, Captain America & Falcon, which ran concurrent to this run, and continued a ways into Brubaker’s run, despite being a complete tonal and continuity misfit.  I’m going to look at it next, and then bid farewell to Steve.

If you’d like to read any of the columns about Captain America that preceded this one, you can check these links.

#266-300 – JM DeMatteis and Mike Zeck’s classic run

#301-306 – Mike Carlin’s placeholder run.

#307-332 – Mark Gruenwald and Paul Neary’s run

#333-350 – John Walker as Captain America run (Gruenwald and mostly Dwyer)

#351-386 – Steve is back as Cap; Gruenwald, Dwyer, and Lim’s runs

#387-413 – Gruenwald and Levins, at least until I dropped it

#449-454 – The back half of Mark Waid and Ron Garney’s first run

Volume 2 #7-11 – Heroes Reborn (James Robinson issues only)

Volume 3 #1-11; Sentinels of Liberty 1-3, 8 – Heroes Return (Waid’s second run, with Garney and Kubert)

Dead Men Running – Miniseries by Macan and Zezelj

Volume 4 #1-16 – Marvel Knights series by Rieber, Cassaday, Hairsine, Austen, and Lee

Truth: Red, White & Black – Robert Morales and Kyle Baker mini about the 1st Captain America

If you’d like to read any of the stories I talk about here, you can follow these links for trade paperbacks that encompass some of these issues.
Captain America Volume 5: Homeland
Avengers Disassembled: Captain America

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