Trades for 1-14-13: The Death of Captain America and more

Welcome to chezkevin! You can sit at any table you'd like. I'll be your waiter today -- Floyd. Would you like anything to drink? What can I start you off with? Not much, because we only have one appetizer today:

Predator versus Judge Dredd
by John Wagner and Alcatena
collecting the 3-issue miniseries and the short story "Predator: Rite of Passage"

I have no idea how big the Predator franchise was, because I was 8 at the time and watching Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but it must've been big enough to get a 3-issue miniseries from Dark Horse comics, crossing over with Judge Dredd (who I assume was also big enough). In this short, 76-page, $9.95 trade paperback, a Predator crash lands on Mega-City One and decides to hunt the greatest prey there -- the Judges. After a few gruesome murders, there's one final confrontation between the Predator, Dredd and a descendant of one of the movie characters, now a Judge from the PSI division, which ends pretty much the way you'd expect. For a 3-issue miniseries, I think it could have been told in a single prog.

The biggest thematic significance seems to come from the PSI judge's comparison between Dredd and the Predator: both of them are singular in goal, one consumed by justice and the other consumed by the hunt. It doesn't really go farther than that. Aside from the grisly murders, there's one thing that really stands out to me:

Alcatena really likes drawing perspective, and he nails these scenes of hunting: it's this specific hierarchy, this specific top/bottom of hunting your prey without the prey knowing it, which gets turned on its head when Dredd confronts it. This is the kind of read that I would only expect Predator or Dredd fans to enjoy.

That might hold off your hunger until the main dish today, served with a side of snark. That dish is

The Death of Captain America: Death of the Dream
collecting Captain America #'s 25-30
by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting and Mike Perkins

If you haven't read through the Cap omnibus, read my review over here first. Brubaker's Cap is like one of those TV shows that gets better with each season, but you need to know what happened last season in order to get the most out of it. That link again is over here.

Ready? Death of the Dream follows where the omnibus ended, with Steve Rogers' assassination. This trade deals mainly in the aftermath, with Bucky doggedly running off to find who's responsible, as well as with Cap's allies, Sharon Carter (AKA Agent 13 of S.H.I.E.L.D., who resigns) and The Falcon. Not much happens here and Brubaker seems more interested in asking questions, than answering them in this trade (What happened to Steve? Who will take over for him? Where does Sharon get her hair done?) So I think I'll ask a few of my own, as I read through this:
That thing on Sharon's shoulder, is it a cloth shoulder patch or is it actually her shoulder? Why did the colorist have to make that thing the color of skin!

Whoa what happened to Steve? It can't be him, because he comes back in Captain America: Reborn. Don't spoil this for me, as I haven't checked it out yet!

Death of the Dream segues into The Burden of Dreams, collecting issues 31-36. Click here to read about that. Afterwards, read below for The Man Who Bought America, collecting issues 37-42.

The Death of Captain America: The Man Who Bought America
collecting Captain America #'s 37-42
by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting and Roberta de la Torre

After all the setup in the previous issues and all the intrigue, we reach something of an endgame in this paperback. Brubaker cashes in all his plot devices, and it breaks the bank. The Red Skull pushes forward a candidate for President of the United States of America, and he makes his play for America's heart and soul. Take that, Obama!

Herr Skull also digs up a Steve Rogers clone from stories of eras past, and that makes for great drama. Count on Brubaker to make the plot devices from old stories -- clones and mind control -- and combine them with his own plot devices -- miscarriages and cybernetic left arms -- to weave a yarn that fits so well in the realm of espionage and comic books. Count on Brubaker to make Captain America such a strong title that moves forward as well as strengthen its past.

I was hugely satisfied with this trade paperback, seeing the fruits of 42 issues ripen. Additional kudos to Roberto de la Torre, who draws a powerful interlude issue that focuses on the Steve clone. If you look at his rough, messy lines, it really underlines the memory loss and roughness of the clone himself.

And, I thought I'd show you my favorite scene from this trade. Bucky, as Capt. America, dives in front of a rocket launcher with just his costume and shield, in order to protect America.

Ignore the cheap digital effects, and you will see the most magnificent moment in comic book history. I might as well stop reading comics now, because no other scene will ever compare.

But I won't, of course. Next week we'll be looking at the follow-up trade paperback, The Man with No Face along with Wolverine: Origins - Savior. Thank you for eating at chezkevin! We hope to see you again soon.

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Arion said...

I have read other Judge Dredd crossovers but not this one. Looks really good, though.

I can see you are a HUGE Brubaker fan. I think the whole Death of Steve Rogers arc was great, but I was really disappointed with the story that brings him back (don't worry, I won't spoil anything).

Kevin Tam said...

I'm still discovering Judge Dredd for myself. Looking forward to it! Brubaker's done a great job with his Captain America mega-arc, and I always read ABOUT it as a teenager, but I never bothered to look for it in the library until now-ish, after I read the omnibus.

Stats a-go-go