In Which I Discuss Captain America Comics Again.

I have a confession to make. I haven't read an issue of Captain America in months. I bought all the issues, and I'm sure that, some day, I'll go back and read them but, upon their purchase, I wasn't all that interested.

I'm not quite sure why. It was after that big Captain America tea-partier blow up back in February, so that may have had something to do with it. Maybe I was just a little tired- I've been living with these comics for a long time now. I've read them, re-read them, parsed them, wrote about them; I'm sort of surprised that I didn't burn out a long time ago. This week's issue #606, however, was the start of a brand new story line, featuring the return of Baron Zemo to the pages of Captain America, as well as the beginning of a new art era for the book (with Butch Guice taking over pencils from Luke Ross), and so I decided that it was, perhaps, time to return to the pages of my favorite comic book.

I was not disappointed.

Cap's had a little bit of a rough patch since the mess that was Reborn started, but I'm glad to see it's over- everything about this comic is pitch-perfect and spot on. Ed Brubaker is writing this book brilliantly again. That Brubaker has managed to seamlessly integrate Steve into the book as a supporting character is a feat on its own- he used to be the star of this book, remember. He plays Falcon off of Steve and both of them off of Bucky in a way that almost makes me wish that Ed had given us a whole issue of the three of them sitting around talking in a bar- this is how superheroes should interact with each other, out of costume. This is how superhero comic books should be written.

Brubaker's return to form was not very much of a surprise- he's done nothing but write brilliant comics for years, so a misstep or two was to be expected, sooner or later. What is something of a surprise is Butch Guice's art. My only previous experience with Guice was his inks on Reborn, and to say that they left something to be desired would be a significant understatement: Bryan Hitch's art was bad, and the inking didn't do it any favors.

Here, though, Guice proves that he knows his Captain America- at its best moments, the art references both Cap co-creator Jack Kirby and the artist responsible for perhaps the most famous Captain America page ever, Jim Steranko. This art is cartoony, kinetic, yet also impossibly realistic, which is the Kirby influence (I think there's even some Kirby Krackle in there!) and the design and surrealist elements are full-dose Steranko. Butch Guice does for Captain America's art what Ed Brubaker did for his writing- he is reexamining Cap's history, radically retelling it, in order that we may understand his present, his future. I'm in love with the technique in both art and writing- this is a hell of a book, if you like great comic art.

There's only one page that's kind of silly, and that's the oddly placed Steranko-style page near the beginning; it's not that the art's bad, it just doesn't make very much sense.

If you're looking to get into Captain America, now's a good time. If you're looking for something new? This is a good choice for that, too. This is a damn good comic book- I wish they were all this good.

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