Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review- CAPTAIN AMERICA: DEATH OF THE RED SKULL

CAPTAIN AMERICA: DEATH OF THE RED SKULL (Marvel, 2012; Softcover)
Collects Captain America Nos. 290-301 (cover dates February, 1984- January, 1985)
Writers: J.M. DeMatteis (290, 292-300) Mike Carlin (301), Bill Mantlo (291), and Michael Ellis (300).
Artists: Paul Neary (292-301), Ron Frenz (290), and Herb Trimpe (291).
'80s comics are a lot fun to read, especially the first time through. The only issue in this book that I owned back then was number 300. The cover grabbed me, and I bought it off of the spinner rack at the 7-11 in September of 1984. (Cover dates were 3 months ahead on newsstands, 4 months ahead in the Direct Market.) Issue 300 was the climax of a nearly year long arc, and I didn't really care for it back then. Reading all of these issues through adult eyes, and appreciating the amount of work that J.M. DeMatteis put into mapping this epic out made issue 300 far more enjoyable to me here in 2012.
And here I thought that Dave Mustaine came up with those lines for the song "Take No Prisoners" in 1990.
Like many comics back in the '80s, there was a pass the baton vibe between creators, all done by editorial mandates to keep the books shipping on time. Once DeMatteis and Paul Neary locked into a groove, they really cooked up something cohesive and special. Paul Neary is a decent artist but a better storyteller, meaning that his layouts and sense of pacing are clear and easy to follow. Lots of technically great artists are not good storytellers in this medium. There is a distinction, and many people fail to grasp that.
Captain America's enemy and soon ally, Black Crow.
This was the supposed death of the Red Skull, who began aging rapidly after the effects of suspended animation began to wear off. Comic book deaths were still somewhat significant during this era. Soon, they would become sale gimmicks and, eventually, punchlines. This arc also features Nomad II (the '50s Bucky) and the Falcon. I applaud J.M. DeMatteis for featuring a homosexual supporting character back then. Nowadays, it would be a press release and fodder for hatemongers like Rush Limbaugh. It was extremely bold for that time, and more importantly, it was done as a storytelling device rather than a sales gimmick. The Red Skull was a Nazi, and discrimination against the weak and “inferior” was what the Nazis were famous (or is it infamous?) for.
This is an entertaining and worthwhile read, worthy of both of your time and money. I love these chunky trades that Marvel has been putting out over the past year or two. This one clocks in at 280 pages.
The OCD zone- This is printed on the same thinner coated stock paper found in many Classic trade paperbacks and the softcover Marvel Masterworks. I love it! It has a dull matte finish and holds the colors very well. The only thing that I don't like about it is that it gets a little shrivel-ly when it is extremely humid out. The paper looks a little wavy. It's nothing that putting it under a stack of Omnibus' won't fix, but annoying nonetheless.


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