Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: Out of Time: Part 3
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Steve Epting
Michael Lark (pages 5, 17-19)
Colored by: Frank D’Armata
Lettered by: VC’s Randy Gentile
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The previous Captain America series did nothing for me. He’s one of my favorite Marvel characters, but the gritty tales of realistic terrorism didn’t offer the escapism that I was looking for. I dropped the last series with issue #6. I took a look when Robert Morales began his run with issue #21. The subplot featuring a new love interest for Captain America was a lot fun, but the continued terrorist plotting was a mistake. I only gave the book two issues that time. I next joined on with Robert Kirkman’s four-issue arc (#29-32), which succeeded returning a superhero spark to Captain America. The storyline was entertaining, but ended up being a hollow, over-loaded series of fight sequences. Worse yet, it came together as the umpteenth plot by the Red Skull. Much like The Avengers it seemed Captain America was a stale concept that would never be worth reading again.
Ed Brubaker turned it all around. I was annoyed that Marvel decided to relaunch Captain America yet again, but after all of the enjoyment Brubaker brought me with Sleeper, Batman, Detective Comics, and Gotham Central I had to give him the benefit of the doubt. Brubaker threw all expectations out of the window with the first issue, starting an engrossing plotline that captured the feel of the old Captain America stories, but also treads fresh ground.
Brubaker proved he wasn’t going to relive the past when he ended the first issue with the murder of the Red Skull. From there we’ve been following Captain America, with the aid of S.H.I.E.L.D., as he tries to solve the murder and stop Red Skull’s minions from fire-bombing the world. Brubake’s building for the future as well. The added wrinkle of Red Skull’s Cosmic Cube being stolen by a Soviet general named Luskin promises some interesting plotlines.
This month, Captain America joins up with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Sharon Carter to knock out the remaining forces loyal to the Red Skull. A.I.D. (Advanced Ideas in Destruction) is a splinter group of longtime Cap and S.H.I.E.L.D. villains A.I.M. Cap and Carter try to stop A.I.D. from planting their WMD, but run into A.I.M instead. A.I.M. has already dealt with A.I.D., but that doesn’t stop Cap from taking the villains out, flying ship and all. Brubake’s usage of A.I.M. and A.I.D. allows Cap to face a terrorist threat, but remains true to the superhero elements most fans crave.
The book’s not all about action, though. We’re also treated to character-building sequence with Cap and Carter in Paris. The scene moves to a flashback illustrated by Michael Lark, in which Cap reminiscences about fighting with the French Resistance during World War II. Brubaker goes against the grain and doesn’t bash the French. I absolutely love what Brubaker says through Cap in the sequence. We should be better than to stereotype a whole group of people. Cap drives that idea home. Brubaker excels at making you think about the real world, while telling a fun story in a fantasy world.
Michel Lark’s contributes an additional page earlier in the issue, which involves another interesting subplot featuring Cap’s recollections of working with Bucky during WWII. Lark’s work is brilliant, but it only amounts to four pages. The balance of the art is handled with flair by Steve Epting. Epting did brilliant work at CrossGen, but I’m thrilled to see him on a regular superhero title. Epting’s work has realistic feel, but the superhero elements are also allowed to shine. With Epting doing the modern era and Lark covering the past, you’d be hard pressed to find a better looking comic.
Ed Brubaker recently became a Marvel exclusive. While that’s bad news for a couple of favorites published by DC (Sleeper and Gotham Central, I’m excited by the prospects open to Brubaker at Marvel. Marvel has been signing artists to exclusives at a furious pace lately, but they have also been sure to nab some top-notch writers too. Brubake’s been one of DC’s best writers the last few years. DC is faced with a void they can’t possibly fill.