19
Aug
2011
Chris' Comics Corner
Captain America and X-Men Schism
Chris
Captain America #2
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Steve McNiven

The new volume of Brubaker's Captain America has all the same elements that fans of his long, previous run on the title have come to know and love: Espionage, flashbacks to Cap's adventures in WWII, villains with complex plans, and dialogue that displays an intimate knowledge of the main players. What is different is a minor tonal shift, a heavier emphasis on action, and art that is much brighter, cleaner, kinetic, and (again) action oriented than we have come to expect from a Brubaker Cap comic. While the previous volume of the serious never really dipped in quality, at times Brubaker did seem to become a bit too methodical in his pacing. Sometimes it seemed like the story would only move along by one beat per issue. So far the new volume has been moving along at a fast clip with the reveals coming just as fast as the action.

This issue we see exactly what happened on that WWII mission gone wrong (Cap sure has been on a lot of those), and the result is a plausible explanation not only for how the current antagonist has shown up in the present, but also why he wants Steve and company dead. It's hard to believe that it's been almost five years since last we saw Steve in action as Cap (minus the odd suit up for a crisis here and there). As fun as it was to read Bucky as Cap, writing Steve just comes naturally to Brubaker. The quiet confidence Steve exudes as he jumps parachute-less out of an aircraft that is taking fire is indicative of the awe inspiring confidence and courage that Steve posses and Brubaker writes so well.

McNiven has really brought his art to a whole new level on this title. I've especially been enjoying his transition between more standard panel layouts during the scenes of conversation and exposition to more creative and experimental layouts during the action sequences. This technique really ups the excitement in the action sequences and makes the fights pop right off the page. It is unlikely McNiven will stay with the title beyond the first arc (maybe we'll get two if we're lucky), but I really do hope that he stays as this title has really helped him reach the potential his past work had been foreshadowing.

Grade: A-

Notes:

-Brubaker knows Cap continuity so well and pulls so many obscure characters out of the dust bin that it's sometimes hard to figure out if a character is a new creation or somebody he is revamping. I'm pretty sure the character that arrived at the cliffhanger is a relic of the Silver Age. I'm hoping anyway.

-"I Should've seen it "┬Žbut I was distracted. Bucky would've seen it." Bucky's death still weighing heavily on Steve. It's frustrating that we haven't seen Steve address this head on yet (as we still have two more months of Fear Itself) but such is the nature of comics.


X-Men Schism #3
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Daniel Acuna

So three issues in and we finally see the event that divides Scott and Logan and will forever (temporarily) rip the X-Men asunder. Scott's team of heavy hitters comes up against the new incarnation of the hellfire club and one by one get their asses handed to them. Both Scott and Logan rush in to save the day but arrive too late to prevent a horrible but necessary tragedy.

I'm kinda mixed on Aaron's writing so far. I do like his characterization of the X-Men, especially Scott and Logan, the focus of the story thus far, and the fact that both Scott and Logan have merits to their argument (something I felt was lacking in the oft compared Civil War). However the villains of this piece are a little over the top, every now and then there's a really cringe worthy line, and some of the plot developments seem a bit too coincidental (mutant history museum opening, really?). Is this really the same Jason Aaron whose gritty and nuanced work has made Scalped a title that I am dying to pick up once the full run is available in trade?

Daniel Acuna has always been more miss than hit with me. His figures are a bit too static for the action sequences in this issue. Emotions are not delivered as subtly as the could have been for painful and tense climax of the issue. The art isn't bad by any means, I just don't think that Acuna is a good fit for an action oriented team book.

While this event hasn't knocked my socks off, it is enjoyable enough and I am looking forward to the conclusion as we ll as Aaron's upcoming run on Wolverine and the X-Men. However if you haven't been following so far, skipping the final chapters aren't gonna kill you.

Grade: B

Notes:

-"Wouldn't be much a mutant history museum without someone trying to kill us, now would it?"

-"I've hit children before."

-"Telepathy back online. Scott, come in. Museum under attack by a pint-sized version of the Hellfire Club. Will thrash them thoroughly and report back asap."
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