Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Captain America: Red Menace Review

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Mike Perkins, Steve Epting, Javier Pulido & Marcos Martin

I've recently decided to go through as many of my graphic novels as I can, re-reading, and reviewing them. I'm planing on reviewing all the Marvel crossover events that I have whether in comic form, or graphic novel (reviewing in graphic novel form for all), and I'm wanting to review the other Marvel graphic novels, and series that fall in between them, and this is now my second review on Captain America.


Crossbones is trying to get the Red Skull's daughter Sin to remember who she is. Also Captain America, and Sharon Carter travel to Iowa following an explosion that they think may have been caused by Bucky Barnes. However when they get to Iowa they find nothing is exactly as it seems.


This was another brilliant story, and although not quite as good as the Winter Soldier it was still amazing. This was the first time I've read this story, as when I started collecting Ed Brubaker's run this collected version of Red Menace came out, so I thought I'd wait for that, and cause of that I landed up forgetting about it. Anyway, I really enjoyed this story, and Brubaker once again did an amazing job, and although his Captain America run was brilliant the whole way through, he really seemed to excel at the start. I really liked how Brubaker was able to make this two stories, whilst also making it a continuous story overall, which means that people can get the individual volumes of this story without having to get both (even though I'd recommend them both). The story itself is however much better together, as you get a much smoother flowing story, which is much deeper. I also loved how Brubaker was able to bridge both stories together, making the transition from Cap in Iowa to London very smooth. Brubaker also did a good job of developing all the characters involved, as although most of them have existed for years he's managed to freshen them up, giving them new goals, motives, and in Cap's case trials. The way that Brubaker's kept a bit of mystery in the series has also been nice, and enjoyable.

The art was also brilliant, and both Mike Perkins, and Steve Epting did an amazing job. What I like most about the artwork in this book is that both Perkins, and Epting have a similar style of artwork, which really helps with the tone of the story. Both artists' art is very well detailed, with everything from the character's to the scenery looking perfect. The character's emotions were also shown brilliantly, and although Perkins did the better job of this, Epting did a much better job showing emotion than he did in the last story, as although there's the odd part were it looks stiff, and emotionless, there's more smiles, and anger shown at the appropriate time, as the last story everyone felt awful serious. Both artists did an amazing job of drawing the action sequences, as they were both very entertaining, and dramatic. I would however have to give the edge to Epting with this one though, as he just draws some phenomenal action sequences, as although Perkins was still brilliant, Epting's was much more dynamic, and although he sometimes finds it hard to show emotion through facial features, Epting has no problem showing character's physical emotions whilst fighting. Javier Pulido, and Marcos Martin did the artwork for the Captain America: 65th Anniversary Special which came between the two individual stories, and although this was a very different style of art, which changed the tone of the book, it really suited the anniversary story, even if in general it's not a style I'm fond of, as it was both very detailed, and fun, whilst also feeling a bit retro.

This book started with an entire issue dedicated to Crossbones trying to get Sin to remember who she is, going through he history, and how she used to be fearless. This was a very emotional, and dramatic issue, as you could see the innocents in this girl, but at the same time whilst Crossbones tells her of her past you can see that she used to be evil, just like her father. The determination in Crossbones was however what really made this brilliant in my opinion, as he so desperately wanted the Sin he knew back, and the fact that he thought she was the last remaining connection to the Red Skull's bloodline made it even more important to him. The history of Sin was also very interesting, and not only the fact that she was evil, as there was so much more to her previous life that was interesting.

We get to see more development from Cap, and Sharon's relationship in this story, as after finding out that there's a good chance Bucky's alive the pair kiss. This wasn't the most interesting thing however in my opinion, the conversation that followed would be, as you have them discussing how it's never worked out for them in the in the past. Despite this you can still see that they both genuinely care for one another, and the rest of the story did a brilliant job of developing, and teasing whether or not they'd actually get back together as a couple properly, and I felt this continuous build-up was brilliant, and that it makes the relationship feel much more realistic, as if they decided full out that they'd get back together it'd feel too soon, and a bit forced, whereas Brubaker's handled it perfectly.

Winter Soldier ended with it being revealed that Red Skull was inside Aleksander Lukin brain. It was a brilliant way to end the Winter Soldier story, as it wasn't just suspenseful, and dramatic, it also left with a brilliant mystery to be explored. The fact that these two similar, but very different characters are sharing the same brain is interesting enough in theory, but what Brubaker did with it in this story was amazing. I loved seeing these conflicting thoughts battling each other, and you could see already that there will be a struggle over who will gain total control over Lukin. I did however also find it interesting that Lukin used the Red Skull to his advantage, and although they didn't agree on much, it was obvious that they both saw advantages in this, even if Lukin would prefer to be rid of the Red Skull completely.

Cap and Sharon weren't the only ones to be seen in a relationship in this story, as we also got to see the start of Crossbones, and Sin's relationship. now that Sin's back to her evil self the pair become quite the couple, and plan on finding, and taking down the man responsible for the Red Skull's death. Now I won't go into too many details, but they find out that Lukin is responsible, and that in my opinion made the rest of the story very interesting. The fact that Lukin and Red Skull are bonded in the same brain also makes this very interesting, as with Crossbones, and Sin going after Lukin, they're technically going after Red Skull, and this fact alone would mean that it's inevitably going to be interesting.

The book was split by the 65th Anniversary issue. Although this wasn't really needed, it was a nice way of celebrating 65 years of Cap. Besides that, it was also a brilliant story in itself, and was a nice throwback to class wartime Cap. What I liked most about the story however was that in a small way it tied into the first part of the main story, as it shows the woman that Bucky had feelings for, and them working alongside Cap, and the Howling Commandos. Besides that it was also fun, and would also give a taste of something that would appear in the second half of the story, and although I won't spoil what it is, when it was shown in the second half of the main story I felt that this story was much more appropriate, and that it needed to be in this book.

Captain America in Britain. The second half of this book sees Cap, and Sharon travel to Britain as they believe Bucky's targeting Lukin who's over there. Cap in Britain was brilliant, and Brubaker managed to make everything exciting, and overall perfect. Besides the reason Cap was in Britain, the main thing that I liked about this part of the story was the appearances from Union Jack, and Spitfire. Now although I'm not the biggest Union Jack or Spitfire fan I was happy to see them especially considering the setting. The interaction between Cap, and both Union Jack and Spitfire was brilliant also, and I loved that you could tell that these were old friends reacquainting with one another. I also loved how the interaction between these characters also questioned both the relationship between Cap, and Sharon, as well as the relationship between Union Jack, and Spitfire, and overall there appearance was amazing. The fight sequences that saw these characters working together was also very entertaining, and seeing them working together was brilliant.

It was also nice to see Buck back in this story, but at the same time I wasn't too sure if I was happy about him being in this story. Overall I probably was happy that he was in the story, and in a way the fact he didn't appear too frequently was a good thing, but there was also a part of me that wanted to see more of him. This is probably due to loving the other stories Brubaker had that revolved around Bucky, but when I think through it it's probably the right thing, as it showed the emotions that he's feeling at the present, as well as not over using it. I also liked how we got to see interaction between Bucky, and Cap, and although at times it felt a bit awkward, that was a good thing, as Bucky will feel ashamed around Cap, whilst also wanting to open up, and the conflict in these makes for an awkward overtone, which totally suits Bucky's current mindset.

Final Verdict

Although not as good as Winter Soldier, this was still an amazing story, and Brubaker continues to explore the world of Cap expertly, knowing what to develop, and how fast it needs developing. There was also plenty of action in this story, as well as ton's of different emotions, which made the story very dramatic, and exciting. There were also some nice cameo appearances from the likes of Union Jack, and Spitfire, which was brilliant, especially considering the setting. I'd highly recommend it as although not as good as Winter Soldier this was still an outstanding story, and although Brubaker's run on Cap was generally brilliant, the earlier part of it was phenomenal, and in a different class.

Rating: 5/5

The next Captain America book I'll be reviewing will be Civil War: Captain America.

Before that however I'll be reviewing Civil War itself.