Comic Discussions: Brubaker’s Cap v Morrison’s Bats #11

By Christopher Franey & Rafael Encinas

Welcome back Comic Book Fans to another exciting tour of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America alongside Grant Morrison’s Batman.  Bruce Wayne is back and we see how he views the Bat-Family in Batman: Bruce Wayne the Road Home tpb (collecting Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Batman and Robin #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Red Robin #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Batgirl #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Outsiders #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Catwoman #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Oracle #1, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Commissioner Gordon #1, and Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Ra’s al Ghul #1).  

The action continues for Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes as we check out Captain America: Two Americas tpb and the Marvel event, Siege; with Cap’s adventures we suggest the following reading order:  Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield?, Avengers: The Way Things Are, Siege: The Cabal, Siege 1 – 3, Siege Captain America 1, Siege 4, Captain America 602-605.  Rafa and I will be sharing our views, joys, and bummers on these stories and to help the reader Rafa will be in ITALIC FONT and I will be in BOLD FONT, so Rafa why don’t you open it up with The Road Home?

Bruce Wayne the Road Home tpb

Batman: The Road Home is an interesting tpb because it attempts to be a prelude to Batman: Incorporated. The basic structure of this tbp is separate stories about different members of the Bat Family, and it serves as a way for Bruce to get insight into his teammates and to gather reconnaissance on what has been going on in his absence. I understand that it tries to bring Bruce back into the fold, but unfortunately, it just reads as convoluted and a bit boring. Don’t get me wrong, I liked that DC attempted to bring Batman back into the DC universe by having him reconnect with his allies, but there were too many uninteresting plots, and the overlying theme of Vicki Vale trying to expose Bruce Wayne as Batman felt forced. Some issues were okay like the Red Robin and Batgirl one-shots. We got some respect put back on Tim’s name (afterall, I felt like Tim was under-utilized all of Morrison’s Batman run), and we get a good redemptive look into Stephanie’s new role as Batgirl and Bruce’s acceptance of her in that role. 

Bruce Wayne the Road Home: Red Robin #1

However, some issues were absolutely boring garbage for me. I am sorry. I try not to see the negatives and try to highlight the positives of every comic I read, but the one-shot about the Outsiders was long and boring, and I felt like it had no connection to anything in Morrison’s story, hell, even the overall Batman story at large. What was the real tragedy was that they were focusing on an introspective look at the Outsiders and there was no mention of Cassandra Cain, who was super important to Batman’s contingency plan should he perish. Also, the Ra’s story was something that I had to force myself to get through as well. What about you, Chris? What was your experience with Batman: The Road Home?

Bruce Wayne the Road Home: Batman and Robin #1

I am right there with you Rafa you nailed it; sadly these issues didn’t provide much but exploit the Batman “Returns” saga and this was a collection of loosely connected “zero issues” just getting our attention and then hoping to farm us out to those series.  I really did have to force myself to read through this and it could’ve/should’ve been shorter.  The only good I got from this was part one focusing on Batman (Dick) and Robin (Damian) and they were fun and kept their voice in this issue.  Getting to see Tim Drake (Red Robin) was great and like you mentioned he didn’t get much of a chance in Morrison’s run so I would highly suggest reading his Red Robin series which was fantastic.  After those two points I really didn’t care for much and I really felt so sad for Vicki Vale as she was just a plot device and we won’t hear from her again.  I’m just glad that that read is done…so let us go to something worthwhile and talk about Marvel’s Siege event! 

Siege tpb

Marvel’s SIEGE event was such a home run. I forgot just how good of a story it was. What I found most interesting about this story was the way in which it served as an end to an era of comics and brought us into Marvel’s self-appointed Heroic Age of Marvel comics. At four issues, it is a blockbuster of an event that serves as the ending to all the plots brought out in Civil War to Secret Invasion to Dark Avengers. Here we get a satisfying conclusion with both Steve and Bucky who come to terms with their new-found places in the new Marvel landscape. SIEGE is great because we see Steve’s return as earned and important. Norman Osborn has corrupted what the Avengers had originally worked so hard to protect. Seeing Steve rally the troops together and then lead them in a full on assault against Norman’s Dark Avengers and the Void was just an iconic comic book event.

The action hits hard and feels important. It after all, becomes the catalyst for Steve Rogers’ new position as head of SHIELD. This event was great because we get the Avengers back together again. No Civil War politics. We have Steve, Tony, and Thor together again, and every time I read it, I feel like a little kid again. It is redemptive and long-term storytelling comes full-circle, and it feels great! But, it doesn’t end there!  Besides the explosive action and violent gory moments (Sentry loved ripping people in half), there was also a lot of subtle and heartfelt storytelling as well. 

Siege #2

We see this in two other Captain America stories. The outcome of Siege puts Captain America in a favorable position for once, making Bucky the official new Captain America and making Steve Rogers the new Top Cop of SHIELD. I liked this parallel, and I really enjoyed the tie in story Siege: Captain America, as well as “Captain America: Who Will Wear The Shield?” where we get a down-to-earth story of two men just trying to figure out who will be Captain America. It is both introspective and down to the grassroots which explores how both men are able to carry on their respective missions in their own ways.

It is cathartic to see Bucky realize that he was “meant” for the Shield, and to see Steve recognize he needs to stand up and become something bigger than the symbol. For me, seeing Bucky and Steve try to save some civilians after the fall of Asgard is truly brilliant storytelling. The fact that we have these two larger-than-life men taking the time to help a family in the midst of an earth shattering conflict is very telling. These two men truly are heroes, and it is shown through actions; not words. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. What were your thoughts on this chaotic storytelling, Chris?

Siege: Captain America #1

Siege was a huge story back in the day; it felt like the end of Bendis’ Marvel which started with Avengers Disassembled.  The hits would just keep going onto Civil War, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, and now finally here.  The best part was seeing the big three of Captain America (Steve), Iron-man, and Thor.  It had been so long, like close to 10 years!!  This event was done excellently and I like that it was a smaller format; four issues instead of six which just made each one that much more deeper instead of filler.  Honestly it showcased just how crazy and tragic the Sentry was.  This moment hit me right here with Steve and Bucky:

Siege #3

I love the fact that Bucky isn’t having it from Steve; he knows that if he is going to suit up he has to wield the shield and it plays so great to Bucky’s improv style of heroics.  That mannerism is why I like Bucky and Dick Grayson, they roll with it.  Siege was just so awesome and honestly I would recommend following up with the New Avengers book as it was great and had some awesome Bucky Cap moments.  Then the ending with that last page of the heroes together just gave me chills and really had me so hype for the “Heroic Age” that was coming next; which was just perfectly timed with DC’s Brightest Day…everything was in the light and positive!  Any moments of Siege that didn’t sit well with you Rafa?  

Siege #4

The only thing that I thought could have made this event better would have been if we got more of an iconic battle between Norman and Steve. Don’t get me wrong. I love how it was Spidey who clocked him, but I felt that Osborn was taken out too easily. But, to be fair, the whole point of this battle was to show off how immensely powerful the Void was! Seeing Sentry descend into such a powerful monster was actually horrifying! I am glad the good guys made it out in one piece!  However, I think overall, this was some climactic fun that felt epic in every sense of the word. It was a good end and transition into the Heroic Age of Marvel. 

You’re totally right with that, it was a showcase for the Sentry; like every time he slammed into Asgard I felt like I was watching a horror version of Superman going back in time like he did in Superman: the Movie.  Let us jump into our last part of this read with Captain America Two Americas…and WOW that was so good.  I love how Brubaker totally revived the “Mad Cap” and made him such a worthwhile villain.  Like Bucky and Mad Cap are totally in the same boat with being heroes who turned into monsters, but Bucky came out of it and chose redemption.  I really liked how no matter what Bucky still tried to see a good man inside Mad Cap which just makes Bucky’s road that much more.  Like he could easily have called the man a monster and be done with it, but he tried so hard to save him, yet Bucky isn’t a total fool as in the end he knew what had to be done. 

Captain America vol 1 #605

Mad Cap was such a great add on to Brubaker’s run like he really challenged Bucky on so many levels and the similarities of both was just uncanny.  I also loved getting to see Sam Wilson (Falcon) get some action in these issues as well.  I hope when Disney+ is doing research for Falcon and the Winter Soldier they look to these issues.  What are your thoughts on this trade Rafa?

I share the exact same sentiments that you shared, Chris! What I think makes this story work so well is that we get some closure into MadCap’s story. At first glance, this is a straight up James Bond level villain with his maniacal plan of blowing up the Hoover Dam. But it also has very real world politics with the issues of radicalizing hate groups and trying to return America to its old greatness. This type of storytelling that is both whacky fun but also steeped in real social problems makes for a great read, and it makes it really resonate with me that much more. 

At the end of the day, I feel bad for Mad Cap, and I like how we are able to see how Bucky could have become a tragic figure like him if he did not have Steve there to help him. But this story also showcases how Bucky is now so much more than just his relationship with Steve. He also has Natasha who sees his worth, and he has Sam as the perfect “buddy-cop” partner who has his back. It is these little nuances in the storytelling that really make you appreciate Bucky’s journey that much more! This was some fun reading that also had some very real moments that I appreciated. Brubaker once again knows how to deliver! 

Perfect observations and I really like how you touched on the fact that Bucky does have that supportive family with Steve, Natasha, and Sam.  That really does affect us on how we view ourselves and our actions.  Well folks we hope you enjoyed our thoughts and views on these stories.  Join us next time as we read Steve Rogers Super-Soldier tpb (collecting Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #1 -4), Captain America No Escape tpb (Captain America vol 1 #606-610), and Batman Incorporated tpb (Batman Incorporated vol 1 #1-8 and Leviathan Strikes).  You can find Rafa on twitter as @Mobilerafie and myself as @StuffIShudSay, thank you for joining us here at Geek Elite Media and as always, GEEK OUT!

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