Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Captain America: The Man with No Face Review (Ed Brubaker, Luke Ross)

The Man with No Face is set post-Civil War/Death of Captain America and Bucky Barnes, the former Winter Soldier, is now (temporarily) Captain America. And a pretty crap one too - Sucky Barnes is the new (at the time) Craptain America!

Turning Cap’s old, presumed-dead sidekick Bucky into the Winter Soldier was the best thing Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting did during their time at Marvel. But, besides the original Winter Soldier arc, I’ve never been much of a fan of the character and putting him in Cap’s outfit was just not a good idea. 

In this arc, Bucky is haunted by the memory of a Chinese scientist, Zhang Chin, whom he rescued first as Bucky of the Invaders during WW2, then tried to assassinate when he was the brainwashed Soviet assassin the Winter Soldier, and is now butting heads with as the new Cap. 

As confusing as all that sounds, Brubaker does a decent job juggling the different eras; the story just isn’t very memorable or that exciting to read and overall it’s completely disposable. I guess it’s cool when Cap and Batroc are fighting atop a moving truck (tres Matrix: Reloaded) but otherwise there aren’t many scenes that stand out. 

Bucky as the protagonist meanwhile becomes tiresome quite quickly. He’s uncomfortable being Cap, he doesn’t know how to be a hero or live up to the uniform - fine and understandable, but he goes on and on about it. Similarly, he’s ashamed of his past as a villain and he goes on and on about that. Nothing less irritating than following a whiny, insecure main character as they whine about their insecurity!

The other characters are pretty weak too. The main villain plays the archetypical mad scientist, the titular character’s shadowy design looks very similar to the Golden Age character, The Shadow, and Black Widow is mostly relegated to the role of doting girlfriend to Bucky. 

Though Steve Epting only draws the one issue, Luke Ross and Butch Guice produce some excellent fill-in issues and it helps that their styles are very similar to produce a consistent look throughout. 

Ultimately Brubaker was testing out his new character in a variety of scenarios some of which worked and some didn’t; Bucky as Cap wasn’t one of them. The Man with No Face is one of the few weak spots in Brubaker’s otherwise decent run on the title.

Captain America: The Man with No Face

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