Wednesday, December 26, 2018

"The End" Week: Captain America #454!

Well, this one was a long time coming: over the years we've seen the last issues before Heroes Reborn Fantastic Four #416, Thor #502, Iron Man #332, and Avengers #402, but we didn't get to this one until now. (Even thought I said "maybe we'll get to it next year" back in 2011.) From 1996, Captain America #454, "Sanctuary" Written by Mark Waid, pencils by Ron Garney, inks by Scott Koblish.

Sharon Carter had been dead for almost longer than I had been reading comics at that point, since 1979's Cap #233. She was going undercover against the terrorist white supremacist National Force, but was caught, brainwashed, and allegedly burned to death. I don't feel like that death was intended to stick--Cap was shown it on video, for one thing--but creative teams may have changed and she was just left by the wayside. Waid brought her back, as a spy that had been left out in the cold, channeling what seemed like her resentment at being forgotten. Maybe a bit too much, she seems petulant at times; but this issue gets into some of what she was up to when she was gone: a long stint as a POW in Tap-Kwai. (Tap-Kwai being a fictional Eastern dictatorship that I don't think had appeared before, or since. It's not a 1:1 analogue for North Korea, but enh, close enough.) Cap kind of steps all over her mission, to show her she's not alone, and that's that.

Traditionally, some of Marvel's best runs have come when a book seemed to be stagnant or sinking, so was then turned over to someone who would pull out all the stops to bring it back: Simonson on Thor is probably my favorite example. After ten years on Cap, Mark Gruenwald seemed old hat (and his last year, Fighting Chance, wasn't a favorite) so it was up to Waid and Garney to pep things up again. And they did, it was a complete turnaround...just in time for them to get taken out at the knees. Like the other books we mentioned, Captain America was going to Heroes Reborn, so Waid and Garney were out after eleven issues, to make way for Rob Liefeld. I know I wasn't the only reader just pissed by that one, but at least in print here W&G are magnanimous. Rob only made it six issues, and his retcon update of Cap's origin was itself retconned by #7; after the pretty sweet Wildstorm crossover #13, Cap returned to the Marvel Universe proper, and to Waid and Garney! Garney would only stay on to #5, and Waid to #23 (story but not script there, though) but it was a more than welcome return.

1 comment:

Mr. Morbid's House Of Fun said...

Yeah likewise, Waid and Garney got me back into reading Cap after I got tired of Gruenwald. He definitely stayed around too long. Yes I know he loved the shit out of Cap. but personally I think he should've bowed out after Cap's 50th anniversary issue and make way for new blood.