Friday, December 30, 2011

Review- Captain America & Bucky: The Life Story of Bucky Barnes

Collects Captain America and Bucky Nos. 620-624 (cover dates September, 2011- January, 2012)
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Chris Samnee
This arc is filled with the dreaded ret-con. What is a ret-con, you ask? The term ret-con is short for retroactive continuity, where a writer inserts events into a character's already well established past to try and add depth to a character. 9.9 times out of 10, these suck at best, and piss me off at worst. The only writer who effectively made ret-cons was Roy Thomas, whose love of Golden Age Comics made him insert an entire series from the 1970s (The Invaders) into Captain America, the Sub-Mariner and (the original, Golden Age) Human Torch's past. In this arc, we see Ed Brubaker flesh out Bucky's origin. We have seen so many different angles of Cap and Bucky in the '40s that it seemed tired out of the gate. Plus, with the original 1940s comics available in the Marvel Masterworks- Golden Age Captain America hardcovers, I have read many of their exploits in their original form. Bucky seemed like a kid of maybe 8 or 10 years old in the original strip, but Brubaker ret-cons Bucky into a 16 year old, which made me wince.
These ret-cons often make more sense than what was originally published, but I am of the very old school notion that if the stories that were previously told have no meaning, then neither does the one that I am currently reading. Marvel's continuity is what made their stories, and universe, such a rich tapestry that has lasted 50-72 years (depending on if you count the Timely and Atlas incarnations of the company in your count; I tend to). 
Chris Samnee's artwork left me cold. I miss Butch Guice already.
This writing in this arc is severely decompressed, meaning that I flew through this book in no time at all. Brubaker's writing usually has more meat to it than this. So while I found this arc to be disappointing on a number of levels, I was satisfied with the ending, which was touching. I'll chalk this arc up as Brubaker wanting to do something different. I hope that he caught his breath and is ready to Rock out again next time.
The OCD zone- Marvel Premiere Edition hardcover; decent paper, glued binding. 'Nuff said.


  1. "if the stories that were previously told have no meaning, then neither does the one that I am currently reading."

    It's an imaginary story. But then, aren't they all? ;)

    Now I see why you're a Marvel guy: good luck making all of DC's stories fit together!

    (I think the "official" Marvel line for a long time was that the pre-1961 stories didn't count for continuity purposes. No idea if that's still the case.)

    For me, as soon as Claremont stopped writing X-Men, I stopped caring whether Marvel/DC characters were consistent from story to story, continuity be damned. Personally, as long as it's a good story, I don't care if it lines up with other stories by other authors. (Garth Ennis' faceless-Wolverine story in Punisher being a notable exception...) And if I don't like the story, it doesn't "count" in my world. It's like every new creator is a new "Crisis"! :)

    Francesco Francavilla's replacing Samnee for the next arc - check out his work on Zorro and Detective Comics if you get a chance; it's terrific. (He's one of my favorite cover artists these days, too)

  2. DC never made sense to me growing up, so yes, I was a Marvel guy. I started dabbling with DC when the Chronicles TPBs first came out. They were cheap, and I could start at the beginning. I tend to cherry pick DC stuff, and can enjoy each story regardless of continuity. I have too much time and emotional energy involved with Marvel's characters, though.

    Back to the point, I would say that pre-1961 continuity does count, with all of these Marvels Project, The Twelve, etc., referencing the Golden Age material. More continuity for me to catalog and love!

    It pains me to see what has happened to my beloved X-Men. They are dead to dead to me as an ex-girlfriend. lol They no longer exist, I no longer have any desire to interact with them or keep up with anything going on in their lives. I wish them well but am indifferent to them. I have 2 more TPBs in my backlog, and then I will never buy any new X-Men titles unless John Byrne or Alan Davis team up with Chris Claremont again. I have plenty of vintage collections in the pipeline. I wasted (?) my early teens reading and re-reading the X-Men. Remember Classic X-Men? There was a certain level of satisfaction in reading those reprints in monthly installments.

    Sadly, I feel disconnected from many Marvel titles. I have like 4 or 5 Dan Slott Spider-Man PHCs in the queue, so I can't comment on the current state of Spider-Man. I can't wait for Bendis to leave The Avengers. I look at all of these Deadpool titles, and the fact that Wolverine is essentially an indestructible immortal able to bend space and time to fit in so many different titles and teams and frown. Fortunately for me, we live in an era where there are an abundance of publishers and titles who offer a diverse selection of material. I have some exciting non-big 2 material in the queue.

  3. Weird. The second paragraph was the last one that I typed. Blogger ret-conned my comment.

  4. I miss Classic X-Men, especially since it (and The Hidden Years) filled in the stories in interesting ways. Some at Marvel consider these "comics about comics," but these sold well for a reason IMO!

    I haven't read much of Slott's Spidey, but what I have read is really good - the best I've read since Claremont's Marvel Team-Up (mostly) done-in-ones, or maybe the best of Tangled Web.

    ('Course, I like what Bendis has built with the Avengers, despite the occasionally off-putting dialogue - reminds me of Millar's Ultimates writing, where the focus tended to wander. So your mileage may vary!)

    BTW, the pics seem to be gone from this post. Ret-conned out of existence?

  5. The pics are back. Strangest thing...I was having trouble uploading pics during this, The Trial of Captain America and Eerie Vol. 5. They ended up somehow getting uploaded on to my Google+ profile and my phone. (F-in droid) So I'm deleting and moving shit around and I lost several shots. Oh well. That's life.
    I haven't hated everything that Bendis has done with Avengers. Indeed, he has had some fresh ideas. His execution and dialogue are horrible, though. He'd make a good editor/plotter, but leave the dialogue to someone else.