Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Waiting for the Trade: Captain America


Waiting for the Trade
 
Captain America: Red Menace ultimate collection
by Ed Brubaker; illustrated by Steve Epting, Mike Perkins, Javier Pulido and Marcos Martin
collects Captain America 15-21 and the Captain America 65th anniversary special
 

Why I Bought This: This is the second of the Ed Brubaker Cap trades. Once I finally read the first one I was like ‘hell yea, give me more.’ It also features the reintroduction of Crossbones as a major antagonist and I always liked him in Gru’s run.
 

The Plot: The Red Skull is dead but Crossbones and Skull’s daughter Sin intend to carry on his legacy and make the world pay.
 
(spoilers below)

 
Chapter 1 – Sin has been turned into a teenager and given false memories by SHIELD. Crossbones kidnaps and tortures her until she remembers her origin. Then they hook up.

Chapter 2 – Crossbones and Sin are in Kansas robbing banks and killing cops when they stumble upon an AIM agent, which apparently was part of Crossbones’ plan. A week later Sharon Carter calls in Steve to help capture them since the villains have been killing their way across Kansas all week. Sharon also says they can stop by a town in Iowa where Bucky may have been spotted. Steve and Sharon notice the town in Iowa may be a little too perfect. The official story is an unknown drifter’s car crashed into a building and blew up and then he stole a truck and tore out of town. Through investigating Steve and Sharon learn Bucky as Winter Soldier fought a giant robot in town and that’s how the building was destroyed. Steve is so happy to learn Bucky is alive he kisses Sharon and they fall into bed together for the first time in years. They are awoken when AIM agents break into their room claiming to need their help. 

Chapter 3 – So the AIM agents explain this town is a front for an underground research lab of theirs. Last week Bucky uncovered and destroyed a bunch of their prototypes. Then on the heels of that Sin and Crossbones arrived and took over the lab by force. They intend to use weapons of mass destruction found therein to do bad things and the AIM guy wants Cap and Sharon to stop them. Sharon radios in more SHIELD agents and they decide to raid the base. However we see the villains were monitoring the whole thing and wanted to draw the attention of SHIELD. We get a firefight that includes Sin turning on a group of hive-mind soldiers known as MODOC but Cap takes them out single-handedly because he’s awesome like that. In the aftermath Sharon learns Crossbones & Sin did not steal a single AIM weapon but they did kidnap a SHIELD agent in the melee. Back in the town Cap figures out why Bucky came here: the inn he and Sharon stayed at is owned by the daughter of a woman Bucky loved in World War II. Cap learns Bucky asked to see the mother’s grave “before it’s too late” and realizes Bucky is going to try to kill Alexander Lukin (the man who controlled him as Winter Soldier) and does not expect to survive the attempt. Crossbones and Sin meanwhile torture the SHIELD agent into revealing that Lukin is the one who ordered the hit on the Red Skull and they too decide it’s time for payback.

Chapter 4 – A flashback World War II issue shows how Bucky gets wounded in action and left in the care of the girl whose daughter we met in the last chapter. Meanwhile Cap and the Howling Commandos have to stop the Red Skull from excavating a weapon that we learn was built by a mysterious Baron 500 years ago. The legend is the Baron came to this small German town from a foreign land, where he ruled over them in a castle and built marvelous farming machines, primitive flying machines and a giant robot to guard the town from harm. Skull unearths the robot which proves to be the very first Sleeper. Cap destroys it, blowing up the castle in the process though of course there is no trace of the Skull’s body. In the present we see Lukin is overseeing a similar excavation as he has the Baron’s plans the Skull stole back in the War, and at the bottom of the plans we see the mysterious Baron was in fact Dr. Doom.
 
Chapter 5 – FYI Lukin and the Skull are sharing a body right now. Two months ago Skull recruited a neo-Nazi who we learn is a descendent of an unnamed WWII era ally of the Skull. In the present Cap arrives in London to fill in former Invaders teammates Spitfire (super speed, still young) and Union Jack (British super soldier, a descendent of the original) about Bucky being back from the dead and Lukin. Bucky is also in London waiting for Lukin to speak at a charity event in one week. Cap & friends break into Kronos (Lukin’s company) facilities for intel. Meanwhile Crossbones and Sin hijack a private plane to go to London. Back with Cap and Union Jack who get ambushed by security who are fast enough to take Jack down and give Cap a serious fight and then we see they are being led by Master Man.

Chapter 6 – Lukin is watching everything and this is a new Master Man: the neo-Nazi recruited by Skull last issue. Lukin has also set a bomb on his boat that Cap and Master Man are fighting on so even if Cap survives it will like he is pursuing an illegal vendetta against Lukin. Master Man has Cap and Jack on defense though when Jack gets punched through a wall he finds the bomb. Cap radios Spitfire in to assist and she evacuates the entire boat before it detonates. Lukin releases the security footage of Cap and Jack breaking into his boat to the media. The heroes are ordered to stand down by MI-5 until Sharon arrives and pulls rank. Cap is shaking down leads on Bucky, who meanwhile tails Sharon and learns what the heroes are up to. Sharon tracks down the security force from last night only to find the dead bodies of both the neo-Nazis and a bunch of RAID agents along with plans for an airstrike on London. Red Skull lets Master Man know Cap finding the plans is part of his master plan.

Chapter 7 – Crossbones & Sin arrive in London and decide to load their small plane with explosives and crash it into Kronas Tower during the charity event. Cap wants all air traffic in London grounded but being the plans they found are half burned and have no date on them all MI-5 can do is increase airport security; Cap however is sure the charity event is the day of the attack. Bucky investigates a lead in the London subway and is horrified by what he finds. At the Charity event Lukin has spotlights and bi-planes circling his building which Cap says is meant to distract the heroes so they will publically fail again. Cap decides a blimp in the Kronas air show is the real weapon. On the blimp Master Man and his thugs have killed the crew. Cap, Spitfire and Union Jack confront him but in the melee the blimp catches fire. Winter Soldier is about take a shot on Lukin but when he sees the blimp going down he drops his gun to see if he can assist Cap. Steve orders the Invaders to bail out promising that he can take down Master Man and steer the blimp into the Thames River on his own. Steve successfully diverts the blimp but Master Man throws himself and Steve out of it though Cap catches the edge of a building to save himself. Just then Crossbones and Sin arrive and Lukin is worried as their kamikaze attack is not part of his or Skull’s plan. However he presses a contingency button and wakes up a Sleeper robot (which is what Bucky apparently saw in the subway last issue). The robot takes out the plane (Crossbones and Sin had already parachuted to safety) as Cap and Bucky look on in awe.

Chapter 8 – The Sleeper starts blowing sh*t up including the Kronas building once Lukin is out of it. Cap attempts to take the fight to the Sleeper while Sharon runs Master Man over with her flying car. This also totals the car and leaves her concussed, which is unfortunate for her because Crossbones & Sin are right around the corner. Cap asks the Invaders to take on Master Man while he deals with the Sleeper. Winter Soldier also attacks the Sleeper on his own and quickly realizes he’s outmatched as this one is far more advanced than the World War II flashback one in chapter 4. Cap saves him just in time and comes up with a plan to pit the two villains against each other. The Invaders hit Master Man with everything they have which only succeeds in enraging him. That however works to their advantage because when he leaps at Spitfire she dodges and Master Man ends up crashing through the Sleeper. Bucky tosses a grenade into the hole and that destroys the robot. Meanwhile Crossbones is about to execute Sharon when the Red Skull shows up and tells him that is not part of his plan. Bucky disappears in the smoke. The Red Skull releases a video taking credit for the Sleeper attack, while Lukin holds a press conference condemning both heroes and villains for letting their vendetta destroy large portions of London. Cap and Sharon head home, while Bucky makes contact with Nick Fury for a new mission. In the cliffhanger Skull introduces Lukin to Sin & Crossbones.
 

Critical Thoughts: This is excellent. The only thing to really be said is everyone tells you Brubaker's run is great. And then you read it and it’s even better than everyone says.

I love this trade. In some ways I like it even better than the first “Winter Soldier” trade. Sure that one is the bigger more important historical story and its pushes Cap on a personal level like few stories ever. I have not a bad thing to say about it. But for visceral action this story is better. Bru’s spy espionage style works so well on this title and that tone pervades every page of this but this time its being combined with a lot of traditional comic book action elements and Silver Age Cap foes and it all blends together perfectly so that if you are a longtime Cap fan it feels like you are reading a timeless Cap story that also feelis fresh and modern.

This is best seen in those two final chapters which are just everything I would ever want in a Captain America comic. I think Master Man has always been a strong second tier villain for Cap so it’s good to have him back. I love the Sleepers. My love of Captain America is directly tied to Stan Lee’s original Sleeper story which I had a big giant oversized coloring book of when I was a kid. I love Crossbones. He is one of Gru’s better creations, and Brubaker keeps the spirit of the character the same: ruthless, brutal and if anything more deadly. Lukin meanwhile remains a compelling new villain and the gimmick of him and Skull sharing a body works well. The suspense of all these different players converging on London is palpable in chapter 6 and the two issue fight scene that follows is a classic.

In the first chapter I really like Crossbones narration when he is watching old WWII newsreels of Cap. Although I will say the SHIELD can turn people into teenagers thing is a WTF moment, especially since it is just casually mentioned as something that happened off camera.

The two follow up chapters in Idaho with AIM are another really good use of Bru’s espionage style. Sharon also has never been written better than she is by Bru.

The WWII flashback adventure does nothing for me, but then I don’t think I’ve ever read a Cap and Bucky in WWII story that I’ve liked from Stan Lee through Mark Waid. In a lot of ways if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all and none of them are very interesting. Though I will say I like the Dr. Doom time-travel twist. I think that’s a fine way of explaining how the Skull later built his own Sleepers at the end of the War.
 

Grade: A    Nuff Said.

36 comments:

  1. Maybe if you rotated companies more often people wouldn't think you a tna head. Just trying to help ya out

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  2. Great match, but his debut was actually the month prior against Sonjay Dutt.

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  3. That's a 3 star. The triple cage thing from wcw with hogan and macho was a five star affair

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  4. Hands down the greatest match in TNA history, just beautiful how it all works out.
    Best bit: Daniels trying to whip Joe at Syles in a corner, Joe reversing it, Daniels leaping up to monkey-flip AJ who then hits a rana on Joe, all in one smooth motion. How do you THINK of stuff like this?!

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  5. Steve Austin winning ... Oh wait he didn't win and sadly Austin could have never gotten over with a big boot and leg drop

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  6. TNA really was kicking ass in '05 when they had just the online Impacts, delievering real in-ring stuff, pushing X Division and tag teams, doing their best to really stand out.
    Then the Impact deal kicks in, Jarrett makes HHH look humble when it comes to hogging the spotlight with the belt and Christian kicks off the "push former WWE guys to the moon right off over TNA talent" belief that continues today.

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  7. I did like Dudleyz winning the tag belts in their last night, boasting of taking them to WWF, Tommy Dreamer challenges them on his own. He's getting his ass kicked when Raven suddenly returns to the company, DDTs Bubba and gets the pin so you had arch-rivals Dreamer and Raven now the champs, great crowd reaction.

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  8. your right, my bad. Sabin was the first established guy he beat.

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  9. Does Marvel have the balls to introduce Sin to the Cinematic Universe in psycho teen mode?

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  10. I'm torn on Jarrett. Clearly he held the belt too long (a large portion of the first 4 years), but I actually understand the first couple of years -- give or take the first 2, when they were getting their footing.


    When creating a fed from the ground up, you only have a few people you can count on. In Jarrett's case, he had himself, and eventually people like AJ and Raven. Without long-term contracts for most people, he had to concern himself with his company.


    So I get it (which makes HHH worse in my opinion, since his only concern was pushing himself). I still don't approve of him holding onto it as long when he had more of a footing, but initially, I totally get it.

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  11. I read these when the subject matter interests me and they are quite good. You should post these in the comics board over on the forums too.

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  12. For me it's definable when Mikey Whipwreck won the world title. I'm from just outside of Philly and was into ECW from the outset. My friends and I all loved Mikey because he reminded us of ourselves. He was just a fan who Paul E. saw and said "Ya know what? Let's let the kid wrestle." And he jobbed and he jobbed and he jobbed and he jobbed.....but we all loved him anyway. So when he beat Sandman for the title, it was like we all won. Rock called himself the "People's Champ" but that's just a gimmick. Mikey's the real people's champ.

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  13. I was actually fine with Christian's push because I felt like he never really had a fair shake in WWE. But once guys like Sting and Angle started hogging everything it just started to get worse. Kurt Angle should've been to TNA what Terry Funk was to ECW, being the veteran putting over young guys.

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  14. When Angle broke Joe's unbeaten streak, that was a sign things were going to go poorly.

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  15. Man I loved AJ's old music.

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  16. How was the later Brubaker Cap run? The one where Steve McNiven was the opening artist?

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  17. AJ Styles is underappreciated. Critics of his style (NPI) can denigrate the flippy-floppy stuff but there's skill and athleticism involved and it's awesome.

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  18. Unbelievably crisp action, bell to bell.

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  19. After the first couple of years, I got kind of annoyed by it actually. Killing off supporting characters from previous writers gets a bit tedious and lazy.

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  20. Stranger in the AlpsSeptember 9, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    That's actually the first time anyone thought I was pro-TNA.


    I's pro-wrestling, sir.

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  21. I used to sell him short for being nothing but a flippy-floppy guy, but now I can recognize that the dude has got obvious skills. I think why even after that realization I'm still not really a fan of his is that he's got the most blatantly uneven skill-to-charisma level of anyone I've ever seen.

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  22. Clearly ECW and Big Brother should not be content for the QOTD.

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  23. Plenty of people have great relationships with people they no longer work with.

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  24. Styles was probably the best babyface in the world in terms of in-ring stuff for a good five years.

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  25. One of the matches that really got me into TNA, I think it was this and the MCMG/Beer Money best of five series.


    Then the innate TNA-ness of TNA just took over and killed whatever enjoyment I had of it.

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  26. Now you're just trolling.

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  27. My choice too, and also was there live. This is likely one of the more memorable ECW changes in general. I had no idea going into the show that match was even happening, let alone RVD winning title. Loved the 2 leaps into crowd. Heat was INSANE at the Flick. God, I miss the old ECW events at that venue. Pretty sure I went to them all except 1.

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  28. No sir I enjoy me a good shit show from time to time

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  29. That's true. And I don't mean to be a know-it-all jerk. I always wished they would have done more with Sabin and Joe; I think that was the only time they ever wrestled on pay-per-view.

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  30. A group of us bought this show back in the day and this blew everyone away that night. It's still ***** and in my top 5 probably for life.

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  31. one of my favorite spots of all time

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  32. Much like Unbreakable, that whole Turning Point '09 show was pretty damn enjoyable.

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  33. Considering they made a movie about a Raccoon with a gun I'd say they are willing to put any character in a movie if it fits the story. The question is should they put Sin and I don't really see it unless they want a lesser female villain to fight Sharon. Even so I'd rather see Viper fill that role than Sin myself.

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  34. It isn't so much that the character is obscure, it's that I'd see them being rather reluctant to have a villain that's a teenage girl going around the country on a killing spree with a man that appears much older.

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  35. Dudleys v Dreamer/raven. Taz v Mike Awesome.

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