Comic Culture With Rafa

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Comic Discussions: Brubaker’s Cap v Morrison’s Bats #7

By Christopher Franey & Rafael Encinas

Welcome back everyone to part seven of our read/review of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America and Grant Morrison’s Batman which continue to up the ante with each volume we explore. These are two respective runs that continue to illuminate the vast importance of the Captain America and Batman mythos and legend.  During this read to make it easier for the reader CHRIS will be in BOLD FONT and RAFA will be in ITALIC FONT as we express our views on these great comics.  In this part, we continue our adventures with both Bucky and Dick running with their new mantles. We have seen them embrace their new identities, let’s see how they continue to fair!  For those of you reading alongside with us, we will be discussing Captain America vol 5 #37-42 and Batman and Robin (2009) #1-6.  Let’s get started with arguably the greatest mind in comics; Chris, what did you think of Captain America: The Man Who Bought America? 

As per usual with Ed Brubaker he starts where he does best, in WWII and with that flashback of the Invaders winning a battle against Red Skull and his minions it just goes to show that Skull plays the long game and you can see that right here:

Captain America vol 5 #37

Skull wants them to enjoy the victory and eventually he will take that and more from them as is told to us with that title, The Man Who Bought America.  It is no joke and I remember when I was first reading these issues I was so scared of his plan because it could happen, this is right up there with Geoff John’s Avengers run where Skull became Dell Rusk.  That infiltration of the system to use it against itself is horrible yet full of suspense just right for Bucky to take on along the way on his journey towards redemption.  I like how it plays to both sides of the coin since Bucky as Winter Soldier would infiltrate America and try to bring it down from within.  Skull isn’t the only villain here, Doctor Faustus is quite the character in this story arc as well.  I love that Faustus doesn’t have a turn of heart in order to stop Skull, yet instead it is that he is tired of being the whipping boy.  

Captain America vol 5 #41

With that set of panels I appreciate that he is a heel, but not a total scumbag.  With him taking away the knowledge of Sharon’s baby it is quite the double edged sword; it is pretty wild and I don’t know if today’s comics could get away with it, but you have to remember this is not the writer, this is the character and how he would act.  Speaking of characters Brubaker just does such a wonder with all of them and he has so many to choose from with Bucky, Sharon, Black Widow, Flacon, Skull, Faustus, and “Mad Cap” aka the Grand Director; what where some pop out moments of character for you Rafa?

For me, this story had so many wonderful character moments. We get to see Sharon Carter’s story continue to unfold into tragedy which was surprising but also felt real. To your point, we get full utilization of the secondary villains like Zola and Faustus which made the story feel like there were multiple layers between the main plot point of Red Skull and Bucky’s political tango. Hell, what worked for me the most was the relationship between Sam and Bucky. I like the moments where these two had a moment to train or to catch their breaths. Two men who lost the same beacon of hope helping one another to pick up the pieces and honor Steve’s legacy. Seeing them develop a friendship through their buddy-cop team up adds to the flavor and tone of the story, and what a story it is. 

Captain America vol 5 #37

Ed Brubaker really amps up the criminal espionage and political drama with this volume of Captain America. I really enjoyed how “The Man Who Bought America” continues to build on Bucky’s voyage to carry on the legacy of Steve Rogers. It is more excellent moments with Bucky as we continue to get a look into his mind and feelings. We get to see him train and inner monologue about how he needs to not tarnish the good name of Captain America. This is juxtaposed to the arrival of another man claiming to be Captain America that really shakes the core of this political drama, and oh, what a political drama it turns out to be. The usage of 3rd party presidential candidates, the Red Skull’s menacing agenda to fabricate a narrative, the idea of fascism polluting the democratic system fire at all cylinders. Once again, akin to political espionage films like The Manchurian Candidate (1962) this tpb delivers a suspenseful plot that is interesting, multilayered, and exciting. 

Captain America vol 5 #39

I believe this story to be a technical feat by the writer because even though this is just another chapter in Brubaker’s Captain America narrative, it still feels important and gives us a blockbuster climax to the suspense that’s been building for these past 3-4 volumes. It is quite impressive. Any last thoughts on this volume of Captain America, Chris?

As per usual your eye and mind catches the best of things and you nailed it with Brubaker bringing the flavors of Buddy-Cop with Political Thriller/Suspense; I mean what more could you ask for in patriotic street level comics?  I really did enjoy the moments with Sam and Bucky and this has me even more hyped of the upcoming show and I hope, if they’re smart, they look at these issues and future ones to get the full Sam/Bucky experience.  Looking at Cap’s legacy that is quite the cross Bucky has to carry and I love the fact that Brubaker even brings it up by having Hawkeye pop in for a visit and it just makes the point even better and more honest as Bucky says it out loud that is the last thing he wants to do is tarnish Steve’s memory.  The conclusion that issue 42 brough was so satisfying and it closes the major arc with Lukin and Skull’s transformation but yet we still have the menace of “Mad Cap” to deal with, which is going to be amazing if memory serves.  I love the ending of hope that Brubaker leaves with too.

Captain America vol 5 #42

Excellent points as always, Chris! I love that you mention how this volume ends with a happy ending for Bucky, at least for now . The good guys get a win for a change. I think this ties perfectly and resonates deeply with the overall tone and nuance of Grant Morrison’s Batman & Robin. I remember reading this first tpb, Batman Reborn, and having a huge smile on my face. Rereading this now with greater context into Morrison’s Bat-World, my smile just gets bigger. 

After the extravagance of Batman R.I.P., the convolution of Final Crisis, and the personal ballad of Battle For The Cowl, Morrison gives us a new format to play with. He gives us Batman & Robin: Batman Reborn. Set up as an introspective look into Dick’s foray as Batman, and set up as a fun, albeit weird homage to the adventures of Batman and Robin, this story is something unique; something that is exciting.  Morrison wastes no time in creating his own brand of the macabre and strange with his very own rogue’s gallery of antagonists. The usage of these baroque-esque villains is provocative, silly, and disorienting. Professor Pyg, the Dollotrons, and Flamingo are all so extravagant that it is shocking, which is made even more jarring by the colorful palette of Frank Quitely’s art and Alex Sinclair’s colors. This choice of art coupled with the strange narrative presented feel unique, albeit sometimes disgusting, and this is important because it makes it memorable. We get so much more than just a Dick and Damian bonding story; we get so much more than a new Batman tale. We get something inherently different, that feels different, and I think Morrison does this perfectly.

Batman and Robin vol 1 #1

However, though the style and presentation to this tpb is a standout, I would be remiss if I did not also credit the wonders of its narrative. Morrison’s Batman & Robin is so much more than its wild presentation; it weaves an interesting and heartfelt story about two sons; both who have lost their fathers and must now do their best to create a new foundation for their father’s legacy. Watching Dick and Damian work in tandem feels good and refreshing. We get a new dynamic to the Batman and Robin stories we had in the past. Watching these two bicker like a real family feels sweet, it feels earned. It is a pretty creepy, violent, and disturbing story, but Morrison is still able to put a whimsical fun and adventure into it. What stood out to you, Chris?

For me it was the smaller moments, seeing Batman and Robin together again was great but it was funny to basically deal with Bruce Jr. and adult Grayson.  I love the twist on the dynamic and I love the realism in their relationship.  Right off the bat in issue one this gave me a laugh as it pays to the history and forges to the future:

Batman and Robin vol 1 #1

Dick recalling his days as the boy wonder and seeing Damian, basically with body language, say I don’t care.  It was great, it really reminds me of working with younger kids who think they are so cool and edgy.  The villains as you said earlier were exactly that gross and extravagant.  I have to say Pyg is just horrible like the way he is drawn. I can imagine if he were real he would stink to high heaven, so gross and the stuff of nightmares.  The second story in the arc really stuck out to me with Scarlet; she is just so damn tragic and the fact that Robin said he would help her and let her down made it much harder with her story.  I will say that Grant’s Jason Todd did feel out of character but it works since it was so early on with Jason/Red Hood that DC probably didn’t know what they were going to do with the character.  

Batman and Robin vol 1 #4

I’m glad that Scarlet and Jason have since found better stories for them to go on with.  I do like their introduction of Oberon Sexton, Gravedigger; since we know who he will turn out to be, it is going to be great to watch and see what he does between now and the reveal.  I didn’t mind this read of the stories in this tpb, but it wasn’t my favorite set of stories.  I feel Grant had a rough start here and everything was so “flash in the pan” but then again that works since this is Dick and Damian’s first adventures as Batman and Robin.  Are there any other insights you have to this set of stories, Rafa? 

Batman and Robin vol 1 #4

I think you explain it perfectly when you said that the smaller moments are what worked best for you, Chris. Even though this story does feel very bombastic in its presentation, it really does work best in its smaller moments, in the inside jokes and call backs shared between characters. I liked that they utilized Jason in this story and how he tries to be his own version of Batman. The way he and Dick get into it after their tussle with the flamboyant Flamingo is a standout moment because we get to see them really hash out that old family drama. I think this moment is cathartic and moves the young men another step closer to healing their old wounds. I think this is a good rock bottom moment for Jason, so that we appreciate the hero he becomes later in Batman’s narrative. Overall, I felt that both Morrison and Brubaker did a good job of creating a brave new world for both Dick and Bucky. They have already been introduced, and now we are seeing them live out their new identities. I am excited to see how these stories continue. 

There we go, both Morrison and Brubaker have teased us with the set of stories that began with Steve Rogers and Bruce Wayne now handing it off to Dick Grayson and Bucky Barnes.  We have been treated to some amazing adventures and the best is yet to come.  Come back and join us again as we continue our read with Brubaker’s Captain America: The Man with No Face tpb (issues 43-49 of Captain America volume 5) and a return to Tony Daniel’s Batman in Life After Death tpb (issues 692-699 of Batman volume 1).  Please feel free to reach out to us and let us know your thoughts and opinions as we would love to get your views as well as share this excellent read of comics with you all; you can find me on Twitter as @StuffIShudSay and Rafa as @Mobilerafie, please check out all Geek Elite Media has to offer on this site as well as our podcasts and social medias and always remember to GEEK OUT!  

Comic Discussions: Brubaker’s Cap v Morrison’s Bats #6

By Christopher Franey & Rafael Encinas

Welcome back fans and we are in part six of our read/review of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America and Grant Morrison’s Batman which were both legendary then and now.  Lots of elements that have become major mythos to these heroes in the comics, movies, shows, games, and most importantly their history.  During this read to make it easier for the reader CHRIS will be in BOLD FONT and RAFA will be in ITALIC FONT as we express our views on these great comics.  This part of the journey is probably going to be my favorite because we now have Bucky Barnes and Dick Grayson taking the mantle and running with it.  

Let me also do a time check for you and us as well…Captain America vol 5 # 1 was released November 17, 2004 and the current issue we are starting with is Captain America vol 5 # 34 which was published in March of 2008.  While Morrison’s Batman began with issue # 655 back on July 26, 2006 and we are currently starting with issue # 687 and was released on June 10, 2009.  So you can see how close these two runs are now in terms of time.  Rafa why don’t you start us up with what you liked about this volume of Captain America?

The Burden of Dreams TPB

Thank you, Chris! As always rereading  these stories and sharing these discussions with you is one of my favorite parts of the week. This week, I got to experience the excellence that is Bucky as Captain America. Captain America: The Burden of Dreams, continues its explosive pace from the first act of this story. We get to see Bucky Barnes put aside his hatred of Tony Stark and become the new Captain America. Seeing him put on his own version of the iconic uniform gave me chills and the way he made the persona his own just felt inspiring. There were many stand out moments in these issues, but seeing Bucky throw the shield while at the same time not shy away from using his sidearm felt exciting and just felt right. He was not trying to be Captain America. He was honoring the legacy in his own way. And I think this is important. Dealing with the theme of legacy, it perfectly showcases how one can continue to honor those we love and look up to while making it wholly our own. 

Captain America vol 5 #34

Brubaker does an excellent job of upping the pace and really delivering a suspenseful, thrilling, and explosive second act that fully immerses the reader into Bucky’s role. And this is where I think that this volume of Captain America becomes essential reading; where it becomes almost transcendent. We have seen Bucky grow so much and transform from brainwashed boogeyman to the new symbol of peace and justice. Watching him through all the politics, the civil wars, and his own personal demons, when we finally see Bucky commit his first missions as Captain America, and it feels earned, and that is something truly spectacular to read on the page. I now completely understand your love for this character, Chris!

Right!!  This was totally the run that made me a fan; like I always enjoyed Bucky when I saw him in flashbacks in other stories but now for the first time I’m reading him in continuity and it is not a flashback.  Brubaker just did wonders with this character.  What is nice about this trade paperback, The Burden of Dreams, is that it features issues 31-36 of the series.  So with that in mind we don’t get Bucky Cap right away we get to see the torment that is on his mind from his own past, mistakes, and also the tampering that Doctor Faustus is inflicting on him.  Issue 31 opens with a great example of that and it is just so much head trauma that Bucky is facing, dealing with, and trying to fix. 

Captain America vol 5 #31
Captain America vol 5 #31

Even later in the issue there is a great monologue about him losing part of his body but also dying in those cold waters.  Like you see the Red Skull in his hood almost looking like Death and I really feel like this is where Avengers Infinity War and Endgame got that idea for that image.  Yet also in this trauma is Sharon Carter as she is also taken advantage of by Red Skull and company and we get to read about how she is feeling while she is fighting her demons during this struggle.  Brubaker just slays so much at character writing that you feel it; I really wish they could have done more with Sharon in the MCU as Brubaker shows she is a strong character and this is why Steve Rogers is drawn to her.  So the biggest moment for me in this tpb was the unveiling of Bucky Cap…like you said earlier Rafa, he is his own man but he is also honoring the legacy and they couldn’t have done any better than what they did with him; just check out that glorious page debuting Bucky Cap.

Captain America vol 5 #34

Alex Ross did such a beautiful job of capturing elements of Winter Soldier, Captain America, and a soldier in this costume.  Like it fits right in with the world of superpowers but it also has that effectiveness that a soldier needs while in battle.  Were there any moments that you didn’t like with this tpb Rafa?  

Honestly, Chris, this tpb was perfect. The art is fantastic. The story is exciting, thematic, and inspiring. Like you said, there are so many layers in this story with a beautiful payoff which is Bucky putting on the costume. Not only that, but the subplot with Sharon feels important, we also get great characterization with Tony, Sam, and Natasha. The villains are multilayered and the threats feel so suffocating. I feel like Brubaker was able to build his Captain America story in such a way where it all felt worth it by this moment. Seeing Bucky carry the shield, watching him brawl with Crossbones, and seeing him share that moment with Natasha at the end all felt gratifying, and it is because I cared for this character. A character I had no feelings for whatsoever before this read. And I think there is something special in that and that says a lot about Brubaker’s story as a whole, but more importantly, so poignant in this tpb. 

That is very true the story is amazing, like the bad guys are making a run for leadership/politics and authority/police and you can see how dangerously close they are to being successful in their push.  Going back to character, Bucky got so much love in this series; for example with issue 36 of course the heroes save the day but I love when Bucky Cap tries to give the speech and people don’t want it from him so he feels so down about it, but the next day when he is back home and Black Widow asks him if he remembers everything and that reply, “Yeah.  I remember everything, Natalia…and you were the one good thing in all of it.”  Yep now I’m sold on all of this new history that is being inserted into the continuity of the characters because it honestly feels real.  Bucky is a hero who wins some and loses some.  

Both Images from Captain America vol 5 #36

Perfectly said, Chris! Ultimately, this volume of Captain America is a story of triumph, and it is a wonderful moment for Bucky after seeing him lose so much. This is a great character who takes the burden of taking up the mantle of his partner, but he is not the only one. This week, we also got to see Dick Grayson fully immerse himself into the role of the Caped Crusader! What were your thoughts on Batman: Long Shadows?

Batman Long Shadows tpb

I loved this trade paperback so much!!  Of course in my mind seeing Dick Grayson going through this while Bucky was being Cap was such a great symmetry.  Both of these guys had to grow up early; like we will learn more of their pasts and “childhoods” as these stories progress but they were the original sidekicks and now they are taking it to the next level.  That is why I have so much respect for Wally West as he had to become the Hero and it was no longer “kid game” to him anymore.  I enjoyed the interactions with Dick and Alfred which makes me miss him even more in current continuity but I love the dynamic shift here where this is a Batman with Alfred not a Batman and Alfred.  This was such a great baptism of fire for Dick as he is now the only Bat holding Gotham City together and like Dick Grayon always does…he does it with help from his friends.  What are your thoughts on this tpb, Rafa?  

Though Batman: Long Shadows is not written by Grant Morrison, but instead by Judd Winnick, it is still an essential read into Morrison’s deeper story of Dick’s rebirth as the Caped Crusader. Equally as fun as it is somber, we get to see Dick Grayson get comfortable with his father’s identity. I love the moments where we see him make the Batman moniker his own by showcasing a different style of fighting, and by giving himself away to Two-Face by actually smiling while taking down bad guys. I think it does an excellent job of building Dick as the new Batman. You explain it perfectly when you say, this is Dick’s baptism of fire, Chris. We get to see a character that is incredibly beloved in the DC universe step into a new role, and that role is one that is almost impossible to live up to. 

Batman vol 1 #687

There were many moments that I enjoyed while reading this tpb. We see him create his new batcave, we see him train Damian, and we even get banter with Alfred, which is by far, my favorite thing about Batman: Long Shadows; the relationship between Alfred and Richard is something that feels heartfelt and wholesome. Seeing both of them having one another to cope with Bruce’s death was heartwarming. We see that they are both still hurting, and then having the mantle of Batman to honor is something that they both need; I think it keeps them going. Seeing their relationship grow and how Alfred had fun banter with the new Batman spoke volumes as to the characterization of these two characters. We got to see a new dynamic, and it came across as deeply therapeutic. This is the psychology of Batman, and I think it really plays powerful imagery of fathers and sons. 

Batman vol 1 #689

Speaking of psychology I love the fact that it is Two Face who is seeing that this isn’t the standard Batman out there being the Caped Crusader.  Which is perfect as here is a character that knows about multiple personalities and not being who you really are.  I think it was great that Judd Winnick used him but I also felt that Two Face was heavily used since we saw him in Nightwing the Great Leap and a bit in Battle for the Cowl so it felt like his appearances weren’t being edited properly or Arkham Asylum is just that bad a keeping criminals locked up.  

Batman vol 1 #691

That would be my only nit-pick with this story arc was just the overuse of Two Face but I also enjoy it because I honestly think Two Face is Dick’s main villain.  Like I know that will get me flack as a lot of people think Blockbuster or Deathstroke from his Nightwing or Teen Titans runs but to me it always got back to his roots as Robin.  Did you have anything that you didn’t like in this tpb Rafa?  

The only real thing I didn’t like about this tpb was that we didn’t get any Tim Drake. Considering that this story is focused on Dick becoming the new Batman, we see him interact with the Bat family; however, we do not get to see him interact with Tim who was Batman’s Robin. I just wish we could have gotten more from their dynamic in this story, especially after their arc in The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul. I also wish that that Two-Face Batman illusion that Dick saw was real and not just a hallucination. It was a very cool look for Two-Face!

Batman vol 1 #690

It is funny that you mention the Two Face Batman as DCDirect did make a figure when they did their Batman Reborn wave they did which featured the Michael Lane Azrael, who was also the evil Bat-Devil earlier in Morrison’s run, Bat-Face, Jason Todd’s Batman, and Stephaine Brown’s Batgirl.  I always had hopes that someday DCDirect would make a Dick Grayson Batman but sadly they never did and even more sad is the fact that DCDirect is no more.  During the Batman Reborn era there was a lot of changes going on; Tim Drake was actually Red Robin and he was travelling the world and dealing with Ra’s.  

DCDirect Batman Reborn figures

All in all Rafa how would you rate these two stories against each other?  Did you have a particular favorite?  

I think that both stories were very similar, but I have to give the edge to Bucky’s Captain America. The build and payoff to him wearing the Stars and Stripes was absolutely perfect and resonated deeply with me. Overall, both stories do a great job of creating a “rebirth” of their iconic characters. We get a comparison of how two men are born again. They take on the burden of their new respective identities. What was most interesting in this comparison was the manner in which the mantle of their respective “new” personas were respected. Though both Dick and Bucky were reluctant to take on the responsibility and symbol that was Bat and Cap respectively, the manner in which they came upon the legacy was different. As we read in Brubaker’s story, Steve wanted Bucky to be the next Captain America. He recognized that Bucky needed it to bring him back to the fold. All of Brubaker’s run up to this point has led to Bucky’s evolution as the new Captain America. However, this is not the same case for Morrison’s Batman run.

His story while at the same time is dealing with the concept of identity, this is still Bruce’s story. Dick just happens to be thrust into this unexpected responsibility, and interestingly, Dick becoming Batman was never one of Bruce’s contingency plans.  Dick took on the cowl even though he knew Bruce had asked him not to wear it. Bruce believed that the symbol of Nightwing was enough, however, he underestimated the weight Batman had in the world. All of these little details are important; however, it does not change the fact that both Dick and Bucky are put into impossible situations where they are forced to become something more than themselves, which is both poetic and reminiscent of the human experience. I just happen to feel that Brubaker’s story told it much more effectively. What about you, Chris?

I like those observations you have made Rafa because they are fantastic points.  In Dick’s case Bruce doesn’t want him to be Batman and when Dick decides to go against that he also makes it his own, a “Happier Batman.”  While Bucky doesn’t think he can be a hero yet Steve believes the Shield is what will help him, so Bucky becomes a “Darker Captain America” who packs heat.  It is wild to see how these stories converge and diverge.  I would say they are both amazing and near and dear to my heart but Cap’s wins it over.  Just more going on with character and story over Winnick’s tale.  

Well that brings us to the end of this leg of the journey and we hope you liked our thoughts on this.  Please feel free to interact with us on our social medias Rafa is on twitter as @Mobilerafie and I am @StuffIShudSay and we would love to check out your thoughts on these legendary runs.  Our next reading will be Captain America The Man Who Bought America tpb (which has issues 37 to 42 of Captain America volume 5) and Batman and Robin Batman Reborn tpb (which has issues 1 to 6 of Batman and Robin volume 1).  Thank you for spending your time with us and we would love for you to check out more that Geek Elite Media has to offer and as always…GEEK OUT!

Comic Discussions: Brubaker’s Cap v Morrison’s Bats #5

By Christopher Franey & Rafael Encinas

After the explosive action of both Civil War and Final Crisis, Grant Morrison and Ed Brubaker continue to unleash their emotive and heart-racing narratives with Battle For The Cowl and Captain America: The Death of the Dream. For the reader’s sake I will be in BOLD font while Rafa will be in ITALIC font. Now we get to delve into the aftermath of all those wild events from our last read so with these tpb we will see in Death of the Dream issues 25-30 of volume 5 of Captain America and in Battle for the Cowl we will get the full three issue mini series along with two Gotham Gazette issues.  Luckily Brubaker stays on, but this time we see Tony Daniel go from being the artist to now helming both duties…I wonder if he had any influence from Grant Morrison or not.  Alright Rafa take us away!

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1

First of all, considering the expansive and meta narratives that ran rampant in Morrison’s Final Crisis, it is refreshing to delve into the excellence of a more down-to-earth approach to Batman’s legacy. Not as expansive as Batman R.I.P. but just as thematic and important, Battle For The Cowl is a dynamic look into a world, specifically Gotham, without Batman. I love how this trade paperback tells a story centered on the adoptive children of the Wayne Estate, as they battle for the right to take on the mantle and the responsibility of the caped crusader. I love how personal the narrative gets and how each “Robin” gets his moment to shine. Seeing Dick wrestle with the responsibility of putting on the Cowl, exploring Tim’s maturity in understanding the need for a Batman, and watching Jason having something to prove and taking the Cowl for himself are all outstanding moments that really highlights the excellence that is the Batman universe. 

Though a smaller read compared to Final Crisis, the magic of this concise narrative is in how it does not need to be extravagant. It is a deeply personal family quarrel. With their adoptive father gone, we see these young men try their best to fill a hole that has been left in both their own personal lives and also the greater world at large. This story is important because it is a foundation to what future dynamics are, and not just in what Morrison’s run will be, but also in what the Batman legacy will be in general. Battle for the Cowl is the catalyst for what allows for future stories to develop and prosper. Without this personal narrative, we do not get Damian’s maturation; we do not get Jason redeeming himself as the Red Hood; we do not get Tim’s growth as his own hero.

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3

Lastly, this story is essential Batman reading because of how it continues to focus on identity. As Morrison did from the very beginning of his Batman narrative in Batman and Son, we see him shine light on Batman’s persona. Is Bruce Batman? Or is Bruce just a part of Batman? As this story has built, Batman is necessary, and it is a mantle that comes with lots of responsibility. And Morrison’s Batman story plays with this concept by taking Bruce out of the equation and implementing the idea of legacy. Battle for the Cowl is the story of Dick Grayson, and how he is forced to step into the role of his father. We have seen his perspective in previous readings from The Great Leap and Last Rites. We know that he struggles with being Batman. He knows Bruce did not want him to do it; how he believed in Nightwing and Robin to blaze their own paths forward. However, we also see a Gotham under fire, and Dick has to do the necessary thing and become the new Batman. It just adds another element to Dick and Bruce’s dynamic, and I love this thematic and symbolic storytelling. 

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #2

I really enjoyed the points you brought up Rafa and I love how this story is about the growth of the “Bat Boys” and how at that time it really led to them forging their own identity.  Tim was in such a flux because of Damian so who would truly be Robin?  Jason was back from the dead and could potentially be another Robin the crowd?  What was Dick’s direction?  This started the Batman Reborn era and really laid out where the boys had their hearts in what life is without Bruce.  I feel this is the first time in most of these readings that Tim Drake finally got to shine because he was being a proactive hero again instead of being tempted by Ra’s and the promise of the pits back in Resurrection.  Jason had come back just to really be tossed around the DC Multiverse, literally, as he was in Countdown and for a bit was Red Robin there.  It was nice to see him take his own path but I still feel the Bat offices didn’t know what to do with him quite yet, but this does lay some great story for later redemption.  

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1

Damian really draws the short end of the stick on this one but I didn’t mind back then and I still don’t mind as I know he will get better moments in Batman & Robin later in this series.  For me Battle was a great growth for Dick Grayson; it’s like one of those movies where the father dies and the son comes back to a life he left behind and has to run the shop.  The responsibility is thrust upon him but he does it; with how he leads the heroes of Gotham and those visiting he jumps into that leader role perfectly which makes sense with his Titans time and how he knows just about everyone in the DCU.  The image that Rafa shared from Battle #3 is just perfect as everyone looks to him and some of these heroes have been around or are older than him, but he is the Bat-authority.  I just love how he also doesn’t put on the cowl till the very end; he won’t sacrifice himself to save this city and he will still restore both it and Bruce’s Batman.  Just such a great story and quick read with it being three issues; my only nitpick would be that in the TPB there are these Gotham Gazette issues that just don’t fit well here…they are good openers and closers for the all of the issues in the complete storyline but they are what they are.  This does such a great job of building the hype for the next Batman adventure.  Rafa why don’t you start up with your thoughts on Captain America for us.

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3

Ed Brubaker continues to pound in the feels with Captain America: The Death of the Dream. With Steve’s abrupt and shocking death at the end of Civil War, Brubaker ups the ante by not giving us a moment to grieve and instead throws us headfirst into a new chapter of his explosive spy-thriller that feels angry, intense, and intimate. Seeing Sharon try to cope with what Doctor Faustus has made her do and seeing her slowly spiral out of control keeps me invested in her personal trauma. I really liked how she and Falcon joined forces to find Bucky. The scene where A.I.M. agents burn off Falcon’s attire is both fun and something I feel I would see in vintage Arnold Schwarzenegger action flicks. Honestly, this series continues to read like a film, and that really helps it. It continues to be engaging with its action, character dynamics, and twists. 

Captain America vol 5 #29

However, the real significance lies in the journey of Bucky Barnes. Like you brought up, Chris, Brubaker’s Captain America story is really the story about Bucky. It is all a wonderful set-piece which allows for Bucky’s redemption, and it is further developed and played upon in these issues. Seeing him struggle with Steve’s death and watching him try to pick up the pieces of his shattered life is harrowing, and Brubaker creates legitimate sympathy and endears the reader toward Bucky’s plight. It is cathartic to see him start his one-man war with both SHIELD and the Red Skull to honor and keep Steve’s ideals alive. In fact, I love how Brubaker incorporated a new element with Natasha’s Black Widow.

Captain America vol 5 #27

The moment we see Bucky and Natasha face off for Cap’s shield was exciting, something you want to feel from reading a comic book. In just a couple of short panels, we see these two “tango” and showcase exactly why they are both agents to fear. In fact, I am just happy that Natasha gets some time to shine. I love how Brubaker really gives her and Sharon some moments to remind the readers exactly how important they are to the Marvel universe. Adding a romantic subplot to this story adds another layer to a story already so rich narrative. It is not too much; it is just the right amount that continues to make Bucky a fully dimensional character. We are seeing him soften from relentless urban legend to actual human being. 

Captain America vol 5 #27

And this is the importance of both Daniel and Burbaker’s stories this week; we get to see the prodigal sons, both Dick and Bucky live with the tragic loss of their foundational family figures. DIick loses Bruce. The world loses Batman. Bucky loses Steve. The world loses Captain America. Through this loss, we see how, not just the world itself is shaken to its very core, but how both men are forced to deal with it from both a physical and mental front. These stories really parallel their themes of legacy and identity while at the same time building on the concept of responsibility and how “titles,” whether Captain America or Batman, must endure. We get to see both heroes, Dick and Bucky, have their moments to wrestle with their own personal shortcomings and to ultimately live up to the expectations of two icons in their respective universes. It is truly powerful stuff! 

You are totally correct in that manner; like it is easier to see the changes because of the characters.  Brubaker started with Steve, Sharon, and Nick only to replace their adventures with Bucky, Natasha, and Sam; with Morrison we will see things go from Bruce and Tim to Dick and Damian.  To me that screams so much talent that these writers have as they can change the “secret identity” but they developed so much character that we are excited for their continued adventures.  Some of my favorite heroes are Nightwing and Winter Soldier so right now I am on cloud nine with the direction we are heading in.  


Brubaker is building this spy thriller with such a slow burn but even that is still too hot to handle.  I feel so bad for what Sharon is going through but also I’m so proud of her strength as she manages to play the bad guys while captured.  Sam (Falcon) Wilson is such a great voice of reason and I love how he is on both sides of the heroics; he is a registered hero so he is good with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Tony Stark yet still commands enough respect that the underground Secret Avengers still interact with him.  Ed Brubaker could write an amazing Falcon story which would be a smart move on Marvel’s part with the upcoming
Falcon and Winter Soldier show on Disney+.  I also have to say that Brubaker did a fantastic job of writing Tony Stark like this is a man who is haunted and self punishing since he sided with registration; he doesn’t know the full story of what was happening with Cap but he blames himself for all of this.

Captain America vol 5 #29

Then of course the best part of the book, in my opinion is Bucky; Brubaker just keeps building this character up and shoveling on the tragedy.  The scene where Buck confronts Crossbones and reminds him that Cap was one of the few friends he has was just so heart break especially after knowing he lost Toro and even himself in a way.  

Captain America vol 5 #30

All in all I think both of us had a great week’s worth of comic reading with Battle for the Cowl and Death of the Dream.  We are seeing the return and rise of the prodigal son in these stories so rich with character, drama, and action.  Make sure to join us next week as we look at Captain America the Burden of Dreams (Captain America vol 5 issues 31-36) and Batman Long Shadows (Batman vol 1 issues 687-691) and always remember to GEEK OUT!

Comic Discussions: Brubaker’s Cap v Morrison’s Bats #4

A big hello and welcome back comic book fans!  We continue reading the exciting Ed Brubaker and Grant Morrison runs of Captain America and Batman respectively. This week is incredibly exciting because we get to discuss our thoughts on the voluminous story arcs of both Marvel’s Civil War and DC’s Final Crisis! These are two huge events that did a lot to really shake up both respective universes while at the same time killing two of the most iconic characters in their respective franchises! Reading these stories with greater context as we have read the previous issues in their respective runs makes them much more interesting and impactful! For the reader’s sake I will be in in Italics while Chris will be in bold font. So let’s take a closer look at Batman during the events of R.I.P. and Final Crisis which entails (DC Universe #0; Batman 676-686; Detective Comics 851-853; Final Crisis 1-7; Final Crisis Superman Beyond 1-2; Final Crisis Submit #1; Nightwing 147-153). But first let’s take a look at Captain America Civil War (which entails Captain America Vol. 5 issues 22-25; Civil War 1-7; Winter Soldier: Winter Kills #1; Fallen Son 1-5).

First and foremost, Civil War is a perfect comic book event. It does a great job at realistically depicting how the Superhero community could be fractured in the face of a tremendous tragedy. I read this story at least once a year, and I love the thematic and symbolic storytelling which still holds up.  Every time I would read this story, I was always in Iron Man’s camp. I understood and identified with Tony Stark’s point of view and what he was trying to do for the future of the superhero community, and I always thought Captain America was overreacting and way too abrasive in his beliefs and conflict.  However, reading it this time with the background of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America issues, as well as the Winter Soldier and Fallen Son tie-ins with this event, I now have a greater respect and knowledge in the importance of Cap’s ideals and what it means for his character juxtaposed to the current Marvel Universe landscape.

Civil War #1

It is no secret that Steve Rogers is a man out of time; a man who was a huge American icon and who fought for freedom in one of America’s darkest times in history. He is now in a world that has changed and that is willing to exchange freedom for safety, and that is something Steve cannot abide by. He stands by his principles and refuses to compromise in what he believes is right. In Captain America’s The Drums of War issues #22-24, we get a greater look into Steve’s convictions for what he believes his country should be.   Specifically, in issue #22, we see Sharon try to reason with the stubborn Rogers, but we see that his conviction does not come from stubbornness but instead from the desire to protect his friends. 

Captain America vol 5 #22

He states how he is okay with not having a secret identity because he knows what it means to live with the risks, something he does not want his friends in the superhero community to go through without them making that choice for themselves. He sacrificed so much during WWII and has been recently going through personal tragedy with the Philadelphia bombing, the return of the Red Skull, and the reveal of Bucky being both alive and brainwashed. From a personal standpoint, we also see Steve’s internal struggle because all those sacrifices and current tragedies would have all been for nothing if he allows his country to move forward with the Hero Registration Act.

Reading through all of these issues has been therapeutic in seeing exactly what Captain America means to the greater Marvel universe. The Civil War main event highlights Steve’s actions as he fights tooth and nail with Tony and his former allies, but the Captain America tie-ins and 5 issue Fallen Son arc really give us greater depth and an introspective look at the inspiring legacy of Captain America. In these issues we see Wolverine, Spider-Man, and Tony personally deal with the gravity of Steve Rogers’ assassination. Falcon’s eulogy in Fallen Son #5 is heartwarming and impactful because we see that the loss of Captain America is devastating. This is literature at its finest. This superhero story is so much more than a silly comic book event; it holds real emotional weight, and I am that much more of a person because of it. Brilliant storytelling.

Captain America vol 5 #25

You hit the ground running with this one Rafa and you’re correct both of these events are super amazing, but I feel Civil War has the better connection since it is “street level” as opposed to cosmic.  It’s also funny as when I first read this back in the day I was totally with Cap since I had the bigger exposure by reading all those comics, but this time I really do feel for Tony and was almost on his side…but that Government oversight is what keeps away from it all.  It is funny now knowing about “Hank Pym” and “Daredevil” but that is a discussion for another time.  Yes this read was very nicely done and Millar and Brubaker work very nicely together in this crossover and the characters don’t really lose voice which is awesome and how events should work out; massively throwing shade at AvX, haha.  I did find it funny though that Cap wasn’t in as many of the Captain America comics issues since they more or less focused on his supporting characters.

Captain America vol 5 #23

I also love how even though we have different artists they did such a great job keeping the vibe of this story alive; especially love this full page reminds me of Will Eisner’s art.  Brubaker did such a great job building a fever pitch that when Captain America #25 hits, it felt like real time horror.  Even though I had read the issues I was still clenching at what was going to happen to Cap and his crew. Just such great suspense that Brubaker embeds in his story along with building a strong rapport between reader and character.

Captain America vol 5 #25

Fallen Son did hold up but there are some parts that you can tell were squeezed in but you pointed out the best part with Falcon’s Eulogy; that was beautiful and Jeph Loeb definitely was processing the loss of his son through these comics.  This was a great read all around and I have to say that Civil War and Cap War Drums went nicely together.  It has been fun watching Bucky start to step up even more and I honestly can’t wait for the next reading since we are at the point of Cap’s death which was such an emotionally charged issue by the way.  Brubaker manages to just drive the suspense and hits your emotions with so much, what a great read and historical Marvel moment.  So let us go over to the Batman side of things, Rafa why don’t you start us off.

Batman R.I.P. is a psychological deconstruction of the Batman persona; it is a story about identity. First and foremost, it centers on the theme of Batman’s indomitable will and unwavering spirit. When his enemies come to “ruin him in every way imaginable, both in body and soul”, Batman proves that he is someone who really does prepare for everything, including his death. All of Morrison’s previous narrative threads that pay homage to older Batman stories really hit in this epic event; them being put into continuity is both masterfully done and so interesting to read. He cleverly takes tropes, images, and concepts from some of the old, fantastical stories of 1950’s Batman and repurposes them. He pulls great content from stories like Batman: The Superman of Planet X (Batman #113), Robin Dies at Dawn (Batman #156), The First Batman (Detective Comics #235), and Batman Meets Bat-Mite (Detective Comics #267). He perfectly shifts surreal & outlandish stories into believable psychotic hallucinations. This is great because it serves as a catalyst that kick-starts the story.

Batman vol 1 #678

After all, this is a psychological story on how a man’s mind, that has had constant exposure to Joker toxin, phobia gases, and all kinds of mind-altering chemicals over the years, as well as Thogal meditation rituals and isolation experiments, can be fractured. This story is basically Morrison asking “what do all these years of mental hallucinogenic states do to a man’s mind”. He highlights this while at the same time reinforcing Batman’s painstaking planning by transforming Doctor Hurt’s hypnotic trigger phrase (that is supposed to break Batman’s mind) into a mechanism to ultimately bring Batman back. In order for his mind not to tear itself apart, Batman creates a safehouse/ backup identity; a “back-up human operating system” in the form of The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh (a super-strong, invulnerable Batman from a different planet); a secret self to save himself. This entire concept of a “defensive emergency back-up personality” is so wild and plays perfectly into the legend of the Batman; a man prepared for anything and everything. 

Batman vol 1 #679

The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh is a dissociative identity designed to keep him moving; to give Bruce time to recollect his mind. The fact that this Batman identity is Batman at its purest without Bruce (his pure id impulse), it will keep him moving through the pain and disorientation; it is a physical showcase of Batman’s MIND OVER MATTER. This multilayered approach to Morrison’s story telling is impressive, challenging, and cerebral. It showcases multiple layers to his narrative threads, and it is best enjoyed when you have read his other Batman stories. Like his approach to writing Batman canon, it’s all important and it all counts.

Final Crisis #6

While Batman R.I.P. was, in my opinion, a masterpiece in storytelling, Final Crisis, on the other hand, is another case entirely. Even with all of my extensive background in DC comics, it still reads incredibly difficult. I appreciate Morrison’s attempt at an end-all be-all epic; however, it was just too big in scope; there was too much going on; it was just too ambitious and did not stick the landing. There are great moments, like Batman taking down Darkseid and Superman becoming some sentient SuperMachine to take down an ancient vampire god, but it is too much. The Night Wing issues were a nice way of tying Dick Grayson into the empty void that Batman’s death would have on Gotham. However, Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader by Neil Gaimon just did not hit the mark for me. As much as I loved everything about Batman R.I.P., I had a much more difficult time getting through the rest of the stories. 

So this was a big read but it was all connected; like R.I.P. leading into Final Crisis and then bouncing back into Batman comics, plus the Nightwing tie in since he is going to be a major part of the bat-books along with the Neil Gaiman written Whatever Happened to the Dark Knight.  These sounded like some great ideas but honestly the editor didn’t hold the strings together.  R.I.P. starts off strong and totally connected in my opinion, but if you read the Nightwing tie in issues alongside it you will feel like they are out of time/sync; so hopefully you used the reading order we came up with to try and make this more cohesive.  Final Crisis was just too much…like is this the resurrection of the Dark New Gods or the Supermen War against Mandrakk or something else?  I can appreciate parts of it but there was just too much going on that could be cut down to make this more reader friendly; like I understand it is a DC Universe Crisis but the story was all over and disattached.  

Final Crisis #7

Like the idea has great heart and it is some wild stuff as shown with this art, but the execution left it flat.  Things I did like were the post event moments with Dick Grayson and Alfred; like this really helped to grow their relationship and also bring Dick back to the bat-books.  Their connection was amazing and really helped to keep this adventure worth reading after Bruce’s death.  I honestly felt like this did Dick some direction too, because after Infinite Crisis it felt like Nightwing was going a little aimless but this gave him direction. 

Nightwing vol 2 #148

You’re totally right Rafa about Whatever Happened to the Dark Knight it totally misses the mark since this story was billed as the Batman version of Superman’s Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow (Which I highly recommend reading), so for my head cannon I like to this of this as an out of body experience for Bruce and maybe he is still riding on some of the psychological fallout from R.I.P.  It was fun to revisit these stories and read them in a better order this time as I’ve said before this sits better as a trade paperback then as single issues during release.  I am looking forward to our next set of readings with Dick Grayson taking over in Batman Battle for the Cowl tpb (which has Battle for the Cowl 1-3 and Gotham Gazette:  Batman Dead and Batman Alive) along with Bucky stepping up as well in Captain America: the Death of Captain America vol 1 (collecting issues 25-30 of Cap volume 5) and as always GEEK OUT! 

Comic Discussions: Brubakers’s Cap v Morrison’s Bats #3

Welcome back comic book connoisseurs to our continuing journey across Ed Brubaker’s Captain America and Grant Morrison’s Batman runs; both are very legendary and provide a strong history to the characters when these runs were originally being published.  Rafa and I are reading these two runs together to share our excitement, wonder, and views with you and hopefully you’re reading with us as well! For the reader’s sake Chris will be in Bold Font and Rafa will be in Italic Font.  This week we are looking at Captain America Red Menace which entails issues of Captain America vol 5 issues 15-17, the Captain America 65th Anniversary Special, then continues with Cap issues 18-21 while looking at Batman the Black Glove which has Batman vol 1 issues 667-669 and 672-675.  So Rafa I will kick it off to you what did you overall enjoy and like about The Black Glove?

Thank you, Chris! Reading these stories alongside you has been a real treasure, just like Morrison’s story itself is a treasure. Writing Batman is no easy feat, so when a writer is able to get into the nuances and intricacies of what makes a character great, it becomes foundational reading, and The Black Glove is a staple to what makes Grant Morrison’s run so damn good! This story arc consists of two stories that set up for the epic Batman R.I.P. that we will get to next week. The first story focused on a murder mystery with a bunch of international Batmen. With its campy set pieces like Mister Mayhew’s island and great callbacks to the silver age of comics and the different Batman from around the globe (which set up for the future Batman Incorporated) this story is everything you want from a Batman story; it’s humorous, pulpy, stylized and above all else, fun.

Image from Batman #667

The second story is a continuation of the three Batman’s narrative from earlier. In this one we get another cop Batman who ends up giving Batman a heart attack. I loved this story because this is where we get quintessential Morrison with his dissociative episodes that blend reality with dream sequences. This stream of consciousness style to storytelling is both intriguing and exciting. By having callbacks to old stories from the black casebook; Dr. Hurt and the isolation chamber, we see the excellence in Batman. We see him figure everything out; like clockwork and meticulous problem solving; the Batman who is always prepared. What did you enjoy from this story, Chris?

image from Batman #673

I have to say that with The Black Glove I finally started to get in a great reading groove with Morrison’s Batman; the opener with Batmen of All Nations was fun and great set up for Batman Inc. later on like you said.  It really took me back to those old adventures and J.H. Williams III brought in some interesting art which was successful at giving the creepy vibes.  I liked that this was a shorter story and it flowed very nicely which felt like the first time in Morrison’s run.  Then things really start taking a turn with the Third Batmen and I really wish the intro issues of this story would’ve been closer with the first and second Batmen, Bat-Cop and Bat-Bane.  It was wild to see this third one, Bat-Devil, and he felt really horrendous as a villain, like this guy takes it to the max which was great.  Something of interest that I learned about was Bat-Devil is actually Michael Lane who goes on to become the second Azrael; we don’t know that at the time but that is cool to see his secret origin.

The best issue was #675 which was so different to most anniversary number issues.  This is definitely Batman R.I.P. part zero and wow…this Bruce Wayne was scary.  I love how Jezebel Jet was calling out Bruce on the date basically saying he is a shell of a man and she knows there is more and she is fine with him opening up to her.  Then when the Nine-Eyed Man attacks and the fight leads to the kitchen was nuts; Bruce burns off his “eyes” and when Jezebel sees that and Bruce tells her that she’s right and she should leave was intense; probably my favorite moment so far.  Bruce is just a mad hulk in this thunderstorm and then Jezebel figures it out as well.  That is a crazy cliffhanger; what were some things from this tpb that didn’t sit well with you Rafa?  

image from Batman #675

Very well put, Chris! I agree completely that the moment Bruce goes full HULK was an insane moment, and it really ups the insanity in this already insane book. However, that might also be my only real minor issue with the story. It is incredibly good, but it can be insanely hard to read at times. Likewise, I agree with your sentiment about wishing these stories about the “BatCops” to be closer to the beginning of Morrison’s run. There are times that I really do not like how disjointed all of Morrison’s narrative strands are. There is a lot going on and a lot of set up and world building that pays off in the end; however, it’s almost as if though the story is supposed to be difficult to read, so that it can be juxtaposed to the disjointed nature of Batman’s psyche. Stylistically, this is really cool, but from a reading standpoint, it can be a bit frustrating. But this is a minor issue because it overall does enhance my reading experience. What about you, Chris? Was there anything you did not like about this tpb?

Yea my major gripe is the Three Batmen; like on my initial read of this I didn’t think to relate them all together I didn’t see the connection it just happened then the next adventure, second one, next adventure, and so on.  Grant’s run reads better in tpb/collected format but even then with the trades I own they don’t read as well as they could’ve.  It reads better the second time knowing they are connected and that helps the story to have value and you feel for these cops plus it connects very nicely to Dr. Hurt’s origin as well.  It is funny as with this set of reads we are reading two mini-stories for each character, but Brubaker’s reads so crisp you don’t feel like arcs at all.  So I’m glad for less dis-junction but it still is there.  Okay let us take a leap over to Captain America and the Red Menace; what were your thoughts?

Once again, Brubaker delivers exciting and thought-provoking storytelling in the continuation of Captain America’s mission to locate Bucky Barnes. The first part of this story focuses on relationships. We have Sin & Crossbones causing chaos akin to Woody Harrelson & Juliet Lewis in the movie Natural Born Killers (1994).  It feels wild, raw, and out of control which is a direct contrast to Steve and Sharon’s rekindling relationship as they venture into a small town for information on the missing Bucky. This brief reprieve and hope Steve gets in searching for his friend is heartfelt and I loved seeing the joy in Steve’s face when he realizes that Bucky is still alive, and when we see him kiss Sharon. We see real happiness in Cap’s face which has been so rare in Brubaker’s story. He finally has a moment to be happy.

both sets of images from Captain America vol 5 #16

But of course things devolve into absolute chaos with the return of the Red Skull. This story was great because we got to see a modernization of Cap’s story with revitalized elements like Union Jack & Spitfire as well as the new Master Men! It was exciting because it had something for all fans, new and old alike. What did you like about this story, Chris?

both sets of images from Captain America vol 5 #18

Well all of it of course, haha, but you bring up some amazing points.  I didn’t think about Sin and Crossbones as Natural Born Killers but it works on such a great level and they really are just a menace; one major thing I forgot about with The Black Glove that you reminded me of with your  movie comparison is the vibe I got from Batmen of All Nations  felt like Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, cold and haunting and anyone could be the killer.  I have to say I even enjoyed the 65th Anniversary Special as Brubaker made the story count and it appeared in the main series, but we are also treated to pencilers Javier Pulido, Marcos Martin, and Mike Perkins which was awesome as it did give a sense of time travel to the past.  Brubaker used the special in such a great way to remind readers and also trick them into seeing Cap and Bucky’s WWII partnership being better than it was; which happens with comics as they evolved into deeper story and writing.  I really when Cap and Bucky work together in modern times and especially the cover to issue 21 with it being a recreation of the last time they partnered up before the ice.  Bucky losing his arm again but then we find out for sure he is working with Nick was a great ending.

Captain America vol 5 #21

Once again I have to say Brubaker does an amazing job with the villains; Lukin and Red Skull being merged together is such a boiler of anger that it makes for intense situations but also shows just how evil these two are.  They bicker about a plan because the other set it into motion but then when it works out they are celebrating together and they even admit when they get a chance one of them will end the other.  Sin is just chaos in a human body…like I appreciate the moments when she does something and even Crossbones looks at it and has a “woah” moment.  Now with this story arc being over we are treated to the four of them united and that is going to be a devil’s union that will be tough to beat.  Any downsides to the tpb that you saw Rafa?

image from Captain America 65th Anniversary Special
image from Captain America vol 5 #21

I personally did not have any real issues with the story. Overall, the only real gripe I had was that we didn’t get more. I like how the story continues to build on these established character dynamics. Seeing Steve and Bucky reunited after so long was great to see, and that payoff makes anything bad in this story disappear. What about you, Chris? 

One thing I think they could’ve handled a little better was the issue of why Nick Fury wasn’t in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. and that happened over in a story called Secret War (2004) by Brian Michael Bendis and Gabriele Dell’Otto.  Basically Fury misused his office and position to go after hi-tech villains and it led to an almost war with Latveria; wild stuff, worth a read.  So I think that would’ve been nice to see Cap say something to Carter in order to catch up the reader and also give Cap’s thoughts on the matter, but in real life/time that five issue mini took 23 months in order to be released so that could’ve been why Brubaker didn’t get too deep into it.  Overall Red Menace was a fantastic read in my book.  Were there any similarities or differences that you noticed Rafa?  

I thought both stories were excellent in the way they continue to build meaningful and thought-provoking narratives. Both Bucky and Batman center on the concept of identity. While Bucky is trying to identify who he is and how his role as the Winter Soldier does or does not define him, we also have Batman who is trying to figure out if he is Bruce Wayne playing hero or Batman playing Bruce Wayne. However, Bucky’s story is also one of atonement while Bruce’s is more about acceptance. Both stories also succeed in their dynamic and engaging action set-pieces while also using past narrative flashbacks to tell their current, new mythologies and lores. Overall, both are excellently crafted narratives worth reading. 

Those are excellent points Rafa; I especially love the identity issue that is a great insight that I didn’t think about.  I love how both writers are using time in their stories to justify certain things; Brubaker uses time to create a deeper character with Bucky and Morrison uses time to make the “silly silver-age” stories actually count for the Dark Knight.  Both writers are doing such a wonderful job with building character and adding depth to the story; Morrison does some heavy lifting on Bruce Wayne while the rest of the Bat-Family gets moments, but Brubaker does a great job of building everyone up.  Steve Rogers didn’t have much personality outside of the mask but here he is more than a man out of time and the relationship building with Sharon Carter is amazing, but it will take a turn soon, just like Bruce and Jezebel, but we will cover that next week.  

So that wraps up another week and the next read is going to be pretty big because we have a lot happening for our fourth installment. Let me break it into parts and readings:

Civil War 1- 4

Captain America 22-23

Iron Man/Captain America:  Casualties of War 1*

Captain America 24

Civil War 5

Winter Soldier:  Winter Kills 1

Civil War 6-7

Captain America 25

Civil War:  The Confession 1*

Fallen Son 1-5

These issues can be found in the following trade paperbacks:  Civil War, Captain America Civil War, and Fallen Son; the ones with asterisks are not in these trades.  Now for the Batman side of things:

DC Universe 0

(Batman R.I.P. starts)

Batman 676-681

Nightwing 147-150

(Final Crisis starts)

Final Crisis 1-3

FC Superman Beyond 1-2

Final Crisis Submit 1

Final Crisis 4-5

Batman 682-683

Final Crisis 6-7

(Last Rites starts)

Nightwing 151 

Detective 851*

Batman 684*

Nightwing 152

Batman 686

Detective 853

Nightwing 153

The stories can be found in the following trade paperbacks:  Batman R.I.P., Final Crisis, Nightwing the Great Leap, and Batman Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader.  Looking forward to see you next time and as always, GEEK OUT!

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