It’s hard to know how to react when a writer you love delves into a genre he’s not known for. Imagine Stephen King writing a romance novel, or Robert Ludlum doing horror or Stephen Hawking putting out a cookbook. The first pass through Captain America #2 had me nervous because of the amount of sci-fi elements involved. Writer Ed Brubaker is a rock-em-sock-em noir and adventure writer. He doesn’t usually attempt science fiction, and when you combine that with the rarity of sci-fi in Captain America, it’s can be a bit disconcerting. However, as I have learned, you must trust Brubaker in all things comic-related. So, did my trust pan out? More on that in a second, for now here is how Captain America #2 unfolds.
The issue centers on a former Captain America ally named Bravo, an operative who hasn’t been seen since 1944. Bravo attempts to ambush Cap and his buddies as well as kidnap an elderly man named Jimmy Jupiter. The entire mystery of Bravo centers on a mission that went awry in 1944 when Captain America, Bravo and the team set out to hit Hydra. Apparently, Jimmy Jupiter was the king of a dimension “between the layers of reality” and was using a portal to that dimension to move Captain America, Bravo and the allies from one place to the other. During the 1944 mission, a spy hits Jupiter in the head, placing him into a coma and shutting the portal through the dimension, trapping Bravo forever. Only now Bravo is out, teamed with Baron Zemo and out to destroy Captain America.
Sounds weird right? Completely out of Brubaker’s comfort zone, correct? Well, as usual, my trust in Brubaker paid off in spades as the man proves he can even write science fiction. There’s a certain Scottish comic book author who loves sci-fi that could learn a trick or two from Brubaker, but I digress. Somehow, Brubaker folds the sci-fi elements right into the story without missing a beat. This still feels like a Captain America adventure only with a slight aside into the bizarre. My favorite aspect is how, during all the insanity, Brubaker manages to make Captain America’s guilt over the failure of the mission very real. I also enjoy how Bravo has brought new technology back with him, which ratchets up the story arc. The end is priceless, just super exciting comic book action. Brubaker understands how comic books should be written. It’s the same love of the old school that Mark Waid is bringing to his current Daredevil run, and both are joys to read.
The art from Steve McNiven is a real stand out. McNiven understands that he’s drawing for words from Brubaker, so he has no qualms with restraint. When dialog is going on he draws each panel as if it were a stand-alone picture. It allows you to focus on the words as much as what’s happening visually. When the action comes, McNiven opens up full tilt with great effect. That marriage of restraint, technical ability and a natural way of bringing motion to action sequences makes McNiven’s work here so wonderful. With Captain America #2, Ed Brubaker proves again that he’s just about the best comic book writer in the business today.
CRAVEONLINE RATING 9/10