Thursday, February 06, 2014

More like TRADE-tradewaiting, at this point.

I read Ed Brubaker's Captain America for a long time, from his first issue up to around issue #600...which isn't as long as that sounds, thanks to the vagaries of Marvel's numbering. I think I fell off partially from cost-cutting, but I don't remember the book being particularly satisfying in single issues--not an uncommon problem for Marvel at the time. Which makes me wonder why books "written for the trade" bother me when Marvel does it, but Hellboy and B.P.R.D. have been like that for ever and I'm fine with it: maybe because Marvel used to come in readable chunks and was moving away from that, while the Mignola books had almost always been trade-written. Anyway, today we'll take a gander at a Cap trade that still manages to feel like an issue written for a bigger trade: From my post-Black Friday pickup at Hastings, Captain America: Prisoner of War. Written by Ed Brubaker, with art by Mike Deodato, Jackson Guice, and more.

After "the Trial of Captain America," Bucky was found guilty of murders committed while he was the brainwashed Soviet assassin Winter Soldier, and was thrown into a Russian gulag. Due to a deal with the State Department, Bucky can't simply break out, or he would be a criminal in America as well; and he's forced into prison fights with former Soviet heroes and operatives like Ursa Major and the Titanium Man. But his captors have a bigger plan in mind...

Meanwhile, the recently returned original Cap was in Commander Rogers mode, trying to do Nick Fury's job; and wondering how to get Bucky out without causing an international incident. Nick Fury makes a brief appearance, to help out and to needle Steve a bit about picking up the shield again. Everyone, the readers included, knows Steve is going to be Captain America again at some point, but he seems surprisingly reluctant to do so. And the Black Widow revisits her home turf and "goes rogue" (to give Steve deniability) to break Bucky out, but he's way ahead of her.

I bought this for about the price of a single issue, but somehow, it feels like a single issue! Too much is unresolved, or rather set up for later books: the larger plan of Bucky's captors, and whether or not Steve would be Cap again. The latter is teased for Fear Itself, I think the former wrapped up in Winter Soldier: the Longest Winter. Still, there's some nice back-up stories at the end of this one, including a Howard Chaykin one; so reckon this was worth the three bucks then.

(No scans today--out of the office!)

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