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Captain America: What Price Glory? #1 By Matt Martin
Marvel Comics Ė Bruce Jones (w); Steve Rude (p); Mike Royer (i)
Thereís a method to Marvelís madness when it comes to their choice of characters to give miniseries to (lots of alliteration there, eh?). Generally speaking, it seems that minis are given out based on who has an upcoming movie. For example, immediately prior to and during the Spider-Man movie hype, Marvel flooded the market with Spidey minis, one after another. Recently they pulled a no-brainer and started releasing issues of Hulk/Wolverine: Six Hours, a series that kills two birds with one stone, tying both the X-Men sequel and The Incredible Hulk flick together so that a timely trade paperback version can be stocked on bookstore shelves for the release of both movies.
As well, it would appear that, at least for the moment, Bruce Jones is the go-to guy as far as writers are concerned for these thinly veiled movie tie-ins. Heís currently doing the Hulk/Wolverine story, plus at least one of the upcoming Tsunami Wolverine books (possibly both, I donít recall).
The problem Iím having here is that there isnít, to my knowledge, a Captain America movie in the works. And since thatís the case, I canít fathom why Marvel would see fit to put what is so clearly a rush job on the shelves when they could have just as easily taken their time, since thereís no Hollywood release date to match.
So, to be perfectly honest, the story is just lousy. Bruce Jones has already begun making a real name for himself amongst mainstream fans for his work on Incredible Hulk, and that fame is based in no small portion on his ability to write realistic dialogue. That is to say, he doesnít script scenes that feel like what non-comics readers expect to read.
Well, thatís completely absent here. Jones writes Steve Rogers like itís 1942 (which I actually thought WWII the time period for the story, until I realized that it was set in the present day): stiff and naÔve, full of expository internal monologues.
Our story, such as it is, is this: Rogersí friend Sal is a paraplegic, shot in the back during the Gulf War (the only reference that assures the reader that, yes, this story is in fact set during the present day) by his commanding officer, a man that Sal had thought was his friend (an event that weíre left clueless about throughout the entire issue). Both before Salís birthday party and afterwards, Cap encounters suspicious behavior at a local bakery, behavior that he thinks (read: is quite clearly) evidence of mob racketeering. The second time around, Rogers convinces the baker to give him a description of his assailantís car, which leads to some old school Captain America ass-whipping. Then, however, Cap decides to go to the aid of another, seemingly unrelated, gangster, to hear of the plight of his daughter. The crime lordís daughter, it seems, has been seduced and stolen away by a rival miscreant and, as she is ďall he has,Ē he begs Steve Rogers to track her down and ensure that no harm has been done to her. A matter that Rogers immediately agrees to undertake because ďan innocent woman might be in danger.Ē And thatís the issue.
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The problem with all of it is that, once again, Jones treats the book like itís a Silver Age story. The characters all speak in plot exposition and very little, if any, of the dialogue flows naturally. Steve Rude, apparently in on the Silver Age conspiracy, does his best Jack Kirby impression on pencils.
I guess what Iím getting at is that if this book were intended to be a comedy or a parody of some sorts, I would consider it a success. There are more unintentional (well, to the best of my knowledge, theyíre unintentional) laughs here than there were intended laughs in the first issue of Rawhide Kid, thatís for sure. I mean, Captain America, for the purposes of this story, is an idiot. But, as far as I know, the book is supposed to be serious. And I suppose the cover imagery is supposed to inspire people living in a pre-war environment to pick up the book out of some sort of patriotic fervor, but even a Republican kind of guy like myself is finding it hard to swallow.
So, what price glory? I have no idea. But I know what the price on mediocrity is: $2.99.