Captain America sucks.
It’s true. He’s a boring character from a bygone era. If he were in the DC Universe, he’d be a member of the Justice Society, pushed to the fringe where he belongs, a reminder of where superheroes came from but not much good for anything else. He punched Hitler on the jaw once, and not much has happened with him ever since.
At least, that’s what I’d be saying if it weren’t for Ed Brubaker and the past eight years of stellar Captain America storytelling. Not only did he take a tired character, dust him off, and make him a vital, central member of today’s Marvel Universe, but he also brought back Bucky, the plucky boy sidekick of Captain America from the 1940s and 50s.
And he made him awesome!
I mean, think about that achievement for a second. In comic books, there’s an old, old saying that goes, “Nobody stays dead except for Uncle Ben and Bucky.” So much for that. Brubaker brought him back to life, gave him a badass back-story (Cold War assassin for the Russians? How sweet is that?), and eventually turned him into Captain America himself for a brief run. And the beautiful part about that run as Captain America – - Brubaker actually made readers believe in Bucky as Cap. We all totally went with it, because it worked, and it was 100% believable. As a matter of fact, many of us were disappointed when Bucky stepped down during “Fear Itself” and went back to being the Winter Soldier.
Today, Captain America #19 came out, marking the end of Ed Brubaker’s 100-plus issue run. I’m not exactly sure what made these last few years of Cap so damned entertaining, because the character hasn’t changed much at all since his debut. I truly think it’s just the way that Brubaker writes. In the hands of anybody else, will Captain America continue to be entertaining? I’m not sure. I mean, the character hasn’t really changed all that much since the 60s, so I could easily see him slipping back into the role he was in prior to Brubaker’s take on the character.
I mean, think about it for a second. This character, unlike most other characters in comics, just hasn’t changed at all. Look at this comparison:
On the left, you have Captain America from his reappearance in the 60s, when the Avengers thawed him out and brought him into the modern world. On the right, you have Cap from a year or two ago, when Brubaker brought Steve Rogers back to life in Captain America: Reborn (not to be confused with Flash: Rebirth or The Return of Bruce Wayne, which were essentially the exact same story told with different characters). Other than attention to detail, has he changed at all? Nope.
Now take a look at this one:
On the left, you have Silver Age Batman. On the right, that’s Batman from the recent Court of Owls storyline. Aside from a complete character redesign and tonal change, is there much of a difference? Uh, yeah, quite a bit.
So I guess I don’t have a whole lot of faith that Captain America’s going to be any fun to read anymore. I guess it’s sort of beside the point. My point in all of this is simple:
Thanks, Mr. Brubaker. You’re a hell of a writer, and I’ve enjoyed every single Captain America issue with your name on the cover. I look forward to what you have in store for us next, but I’ll never forget what you did for Cap.