Sunday, 1 May 2016

Captain America: Red Menace, Volume 2 Review (Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting)

Cap’s hunt for his former sidekick turned ex-brainwashed Soviet assassin, Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier, has led him to London. Bucky’s targeting his former handler, General Aleksander Lukin, who’s Odd Couplin’ it up with Red Skull, Cap’s nemesis, in his old Ruskie coconut! Also included are more characters wearing flags, a chap with a skull mask, zeppelins, and a giant robot. Ah, superhero comics, you crazy mistress! 

Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s Captain America run is rightly celebrated – The Winter Soldier arc alone makes it notable – but this Red Menace storyline is weaker than expected. 

If you like the current Captain America movies (and who doesn’t enjoy the irresistible man-candy that is Chris Evans?) you’ll really like the Brubaker Cap comics. I’m sure the Russo brothers took Epting’s sequences as inspiration for how action in a Captain America movie should look like and the action in this book is nearly non-stop. Teaming up with Spitfire and Union Jack, Cap goes from one action set-piece to another. He’s leaping out of planes, fighting neo-Nazi thugs on boats, using his shield’s ricochet for complicated awesome trick shots, and the hand-to-hand stuff is fast and hard. Couple that with Epting’s high quality art, and the whole thing looks visually impressive and exciting to see. 

Yet despite the flash bang of these scenes, the overall storylines don’t advance much. Cap doesn’t get much closer to Bucky (though they do momentarily team up like the ol’ days at the end which was cool), Red Skull and Lukin’s inner battle keeps ticking over, and other minor subplots like Crossbones/Sin’s plan to take down the London Kronas building with a plane full of bombs is completely pointless. This was 10 years ago so I’m guessing Brubaker was told to keep things bubbling away as they built up to Civil War and the fallout from that. 

Red Menace is a good not great entry in Brubaker’s Captain America run, full of fine visuals but lacking the tightness of previous volumes’ plots. Brubaker/Epting have done better before (and after – check out their awesome ongoing Image series, Velvet, for more spy goodness!).

Captain America: Red Menace, Volume 2

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