Captain America #4 Review


Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: Out of Time: Part 4

Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Steve Epting
“Flashback Art” by: Michael Lark
Colored by: Frank D’ Armata
Lettered by: Visual Calligraphy’s Randy Gentile
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics

One of the biggest raps against high profile Marvel relaunches is almost always the lack of respect for what came before, the lack of effort to incorporate and pay attention to past continuity. Now you and I and most comicdom could probably go back and forth all day about how true this is or isn’t and what a big deal it is or isn’t. But we won’t. What I will do is point to this issue as proof that this relaunch does have a sense of history and that Brubaker has certainly done his homework.

Don’t believe me? Well, here are some stats: this issue we have references to 3 Caps (original, William Naslund, who was also the Spirit of ’76, and Jeff Mace, formerly The Patriot), we have references to three Buckys (Buckies?) (the original, Fred Davis, and Jack Monroe, later known as Nomad and the Scourge in Thunderbolts, facts that are also mentioned), Crossbones coming out of obscurity to place a beating on Cap, and flashbacks featuring the original Baron Zemo in all his ridiculous headdress wearing splendor. What’s more, Brubaker invokes all of these past moments and names without miring the story in factoids. Any potential timeline issues are dealt with with offhand ease (for example, when was Captain America awakened from the ice now? Apparently, it was post Civil Rights movement). The narrative still moves. Believe me when I tell you that this is the most respectful to continuity take on Captain America I have read since Waid if not, possibly, before.

Coincidentally, (or perhaps not) this is also the best Cap I have read since then. He’s interesting, layered. He straddles the line between loving his country and being aware of its faults without either ending up some jarheaded jingoist (a charge often leveled at Millar’s Ultimate Cap) or a man paralyzed by his own introspection (a charge leveled at the “anti-terrorist” Cap of the immediate post-9/11 era). He’s strong, he’s passionate, and he’s capable of being both the greatest hero of the nation and a man divided by his anger and his ideals.

Aiding Brubaker in this effort is Epting and Lark’s art which are similarly top notch. The newsreel quality of Lark’s flashbacks is well utilized as both a device to indicate a memory and to firmly place one in a past era. Meanwhile, Epting captures the merger of the fantastic (a superhero/villain slugfest in the midst of traffic), the mundane (cars, buildings, dirty hallways) and the near lyrical (Cap exercising in an empty Brooklyn gym) with an aplomb equal to Brubaker’s scripting. D’Armata on colors more than earns his keep as well, handling the colors of the modern day and the grays of the past with skill.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. I think you get the idea.