Thursday, 26 January 2012

Captain America fights Bucky, Androids, Sentient Skulls and Evil Nurses


Plotted by Ed Brubaker and James Asmus, and scripted by Asmus, Captain America and Bucky is currently telling a rather familiar story in a very unfamiliar way. Jumping on with issue #626 means that I don’t really know what’s going on (the recap page is an absolute nightmare) but gradually it becomes clear that, yes, this is yet another story where somebody pretends to be either Captain America or Bucky and only the real spirit of America can save the day.

This is a well that Brubaker has returned to at least three times now, with Marvel hinting heavily that Winter Soldier #1 may kick off a fourth version of the storyline. Basically, somebody has put on a Bucky costume and started shooting at civilians – so in comes Steve Rogers to hit him with a shield.

Brainwashing an iconic figure, a figure who represents everything that America should stand for? We can understand why Brubaker would want to write that story. Why he’d want to do it several times in a row? Maybe slightly harder to grasp. Which, leaves James Asmus with the tricky task of making the story different from the times before.

He’s aided by sensational work from the obviously-brilliant Francesco Francavilla, whose artwork is immediately striking and dynamic. Francavilla also appears to be responsible for colouring the comic – and that’s where the comic shines. The art looks great, but the colouring adds so much more. Asmus aims for a slightly campy B-Movie vibe here, and Francavilla catches that idea and runs away with it. Each page is washed with bright reds, oranges, dark shadows and flashes of blue. Cap and ‘Bucky’ stand out for wearing blue costumes while the rest of the book looks like it’s been set on fire.

The campy horror, tinged with an edge of sci-fi nonsense, makes the book different from all the other ‘fake captain america’ stories. Asmus throws in mind control, androids, melodramatic nazi scientists and psychotic nurse assassins for Cap to swerve around, drily observing all the madness going on around him. The final page goes right over my head, but the rest of the issue is so over-the-top and frenetic that it more than makes up for the obscure references that the story makes. Fast-paced, backed with one of the best artists in the business right now, Captain America and Bucky is slightly incomprehensible but entirely enjoyable.

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