Captain America #600: Copied Art, Constipation, and Metal Peglegs
I also posted this on my blog.
Before I get started on the issue, I just want to say that I'm happy I was able to get my mitts on this. I had heard about it selling out at Diamond and it being released on Monday (wish I had known that beforehand...), so I was a bit nervous about having to wait until today to get it. So as I walked into the shop with my heart beating out of my chest (a bit over-dramatic) and rounded the... I think I'll skip to the end. Anyway, I saw the gorgeous Alex Ross cover and was really happy. Both covers were good, but no one can top Ross. Until he retires. Then, Djurjevic will reign! MWAHAHAHAHA!!!
Also, I have to admit, I have not been reading that much Captain America recently. Between me no buying the individual issues, Marvel having gaping holes in their Digital Comics, and the TPB's often taking a second place to others, I just haven't been reading them. I basically know what's been going on, though. I read everything about Winter Soldier and the assasination and stuff, so I knew what the story was going in (Red Skull in Arnim Zola's body was a surprise though...). But if you don't know anything about his death and "Bucky Cap" (I had it first Spidey!), then you should do two things:
1) Bake you rock a nice cake. It gets annoyed sometimes, having you living under it and all.
2) Pick up this issue! Even if you are completely clueless, it fills you in on the way. You get the events of his death pieced together by the media outlets and the inner monologues of the main characters (Thank God they can't get over their grief and move on!). In all seriousness, you don't have to be reading the series to know what's going down in the issue. Heck, if you don't know Steve Rogers, it gives you a nice little "history of" on the first two pages (courtesy of cut and pastes pages from Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross's smash hit, "Marvels"!)
So enough back-up, onto the actual issue! In the issue, there are a few different stories, so I'll split 'em up.
Origin: This was the aforementioned copy and pasted art from "Marvels" page (to be fair, not all of it was copied). Upon further inspection, I actually found out that it was a page copied from a Captain America comic from 2002, which had copied art from "Marvels" from 1994. Hm. As I said before, it gives you a good summary of the history of Steve Rodgers, the original, true and, quite literally, blue Captain America from him becoming a super-soldier to being thawed years later. It serves it's purpose, basically as a fill-in page for new readers.
Story: 3/5 - It wasn't anything shocking or new, but it didn't really need to be.
Art : 4.5/5 - It's Alex Freakin' Ross!
One Year After: This takes place on the one year anniversary of Cap's death. It starts out as a news report talking about Cap's history from wwII to his death (a bit redundant), and then looks at it from the point of view of Sharon Carter (Steve's former squeeze), the creepy guy from the 50's who got surgery to look like Steve so he could be Cap (this was all but a clever retcon), Rikki Barnes (Bucky from Counter-Earth), Crossbones (the man who shot Cap), the New Avengers (who are trying to decide whether or not to go to the Cap Memorial, and whether they should be in costume), Red Skull, and then the New Avengers again, who are watching Norman Osborn being a colossal d-bag... once again.
The highlights of this story are the Sharon Carter and Rikki Barnes segments. In Sharon's, she figures out that her memories of shooting Steve were not complete. She remembers the gun being different, and she tracks it down. It turns out that it is actually a high-tech burrito frier that... nah, I'm just screwing with ya. This is probably the only part of the issue that will actually tie into the Captain America Reborn mini-series next month, and it should prove interesting. Rikki, who I admittedly know next to nothing about, is trying to find Bucky so that she can be his partner. To do this, she tracks down Patriot of the Young Avengers (wait... what?). I'm not going to divulge much into what happens, in case you want to read it.
Story: 3.5/ 5 - All of the stories were at least decent. And at their best, left me wanting to see what comes out of them.
Art: 3.5/5 - Most of the art was great, especially Sharon Carter's story (sorry I can't tell who it is). My only complaints are Patriot's constipated face when he's yelling at Rikki, along with a "milk mustache" that magically appeared on his face in one panel. Howard Chaykin's art was a bit of a drawback too. It's not that I don't like it, it's just that in an issue with art that is more life-like, his seems a bit out of place.
In Memoriam: I didn't know much about Bernie Rosenthal, or Steve during that period in general (though I did know that he, like Collosus, is a bruiser with a soft, artistic side... need to get that fixed right quick!), but now I do. Whether I want to is another question. It was a fine story about how charcters who just kind of faded away into comic book limbo can be used every once and a while for filler in a giant-sized issue years later...
Story: 3/5 - It made me care for the forgotten characters of the 80's. At least for five minutes.
Art: 3/5 - Again, for an issue with such high quality, realistic art, this felt a wee bit out of place. When you take all that away, I liked it.
The Persistence of Memorbilia: I gotta say, I really enjoyed this story. It's about the value of child-like awe and inspiration over the adult desire to screw over anyone for a quick buck. Guess who wins?
Story: 4/5 - While it may not have anything to do with the Reborn mini-series, it was a story that had heart. Then ending will leave you with that warm, fuzzy feeling inside that people talk about. And it's written by none other than MARK WAID, so you know it's worth reading.
Art: 4/5 - This artist's stuff reminded me a bit of that of Bryan Hitch and Mike Perkins, at least for the first two pages. After that, it seemed to lose some of the detail, but it was still very good stuff.
Red Skull's Deadly Revenge!: This was a fantastic story. It really shows us -- I can't do this. This was a really corny issue from the early forties, and I just can't BS you guys. Basically, what happens is that the Red Skull breaks out of jail, and rather than return to Germany where he will be protected by his country and can plot for the war, he decides to set up shop right next to an army base. Why, you ask? So he can dress up as a Frech guy (who doesn't want to wear pants) and practice his archery, duh!
After he's done with that, he calls up some of his criminal homies (one of which is disabled), murders one of them, and tells them that they're going on a crime-spree!
Cap quickly finds him, and while he is beating the handicapped, Bucky gets shot. By an arrow.
Meanwhile, Cap gets spanked by ol' Skully. who takes his costume, which he then uses to impersonate Cap (he hides his skully parts with, you guessed it, the shield) and steal state secrets. I'll let you read the thrilling conclusion yourself. Or not.
Story: 2.5/5 - It wasn't a great story, but it was at least readable. Red Skull kind of came off as a goofball, but you could see Stan Lee's style starting to form, which was cool.
Art: 1.5/5 - The art was laughable. When you look at "The Spirit", which was first published two years before this, you still see a clear difference. The people may look a bit cartoony, but at least they have some reasonable porprotions. Another problem was consistency. Red Skull's shirt kept changing from having the Japanese "Rising Sun" flag on his chest, to the swastika.
Then there was the issue of his teeth and gumline going from red to white. And finally, the outer ring of Cap's shield constantly changed from red to blue. I understand that it's just the way comic strips were back then, but it's still pretty hokey.
This was a blurb written by Joe Simon about how the shield changed from a spade-like shape to the circular one, and how Jack Kirby kept messing that, among other things, up. As a result he put up a bulletin board with what the character's costumes looked like, the proportions to other characters, and how the new shield works. Unforntunately, he says that a lot of these were vandalized, so we won't be seeing these in an auction any time soon. It was an interesting insight into the comic industry back in the good (as in "Goodman") old days.
My Bulletin Board
(I'm discounting "Red Skull's Deadly Revenge!")
PICK THIS UP!
Despite the fact that these are not fantastic scores, this is definitely worth reading. The best of it is really entertaining, and the rest is nowhere near bad enough to deter you. Plus, it's a really good lead-in to the sure to be exciting "Captain America: Reborn". And if for no other reason, keep this as a collector. It's a milesstone issue, and has already sold out, so it'll be hard to find soon.