Comic Discussions: Brubaker’s Cap v Morrison’s Bats #12
By Christopher Franey & Rafael Encinas
We return and this week we are seeing Bruce Wayne and Steve Rogers expand their reach with this week’s readings of Steve Rogers Super-Soldier tpb (collecting Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #1 -4), while sneaking in some Bucky-Cap with Captain America No Escape tpb (Captain America vol 1 #606-610), and Batman Incorporated tpb (Batman Incorporated vol 1 #1-8 and Leviathan Strikes). We are outside the caves and city limits and going Global so Rafa’s writings will be in ITALIC FONT and mine will be in BOLD FONT; so Rafa take us away with Steve Rogers Super-Soldier!
After the explosive action of Siege and Steve’s promotion as top cop of the Marvel Universe, it was nice to get a couple of issues of Steve in his new role as commander of SHIELD. I didn’t feel like this four-issue story really delved into anything super important, but it was good to see a look into what Steve’s new role would be. The plot with him trying to stop an updated version of the super soldier serum from being sold on the black market and the way his past came to haunt him was fine storytelling. Brubaker did a good job of continuing his theme of “ghosts from the past” that continue to haunt characters like Steve and Bucky. I really enjoyed Steve’s new suit. It felt modernized, and the hologram SHIELD was an excellent touch. Seeing him get into action without his helmet/cowl gave me vibes of our MCU iteration of Chris Evans, so that endeared me to Steve that much more.
What I appreciated most about this story was how it did an excellent job at selling the grit and gumption that the man Steve Rogers has; he is so much more than just a super soldier. Toward the end of the tpb, Steve is zapped and he loses the super soldier serum and takes on the appearance of a scrawny Steve Rogers. He has this beautiful monologue and flashback scene where he talks about how the serum is not what makes the man. He talks about how he still knows how to fight and how that does not just go away.
I think this is important because it plays into the thematic and psychological symbol of Captain America. It reinforces that Steve does not have to wear the Captain America uniform to do good. He himself is a good man, and he can still be just as super as he is without the costume. He can still be a good man and a great hero in this new role. I think it is a triumphant moment and an importantly inspiring moment that reminds me why I have grown to love this character so much. Also, the reveal at the end of the bad guy and his plans for creating new super soldiers is wild. I did not see that coming, and I appreciate that this four-issue story was able to surprise me the way it did. I look forward to what comes next. What were your thoughts on Steve’s new adventure, Chris?
So this was the first time I read these stories as back in the day I was so enamored with Bucky’s story that I skipped them and now I come to see how great they are. I really enjoyed this and like you said with the ghosts of the past it was great to see Steve be the Top Cop yet still itching to be in the thick of it.
I think it was a fun short adventure that got Steve going and showed us just how worldly and super spy he would be in his upcoming role and adventures. The tragedy hits hard with Jacob Erskine and his “wife” Cynthia; especially when Cynthia finds out who she really is and it hits tragically but I love that she in the end finds her humanity by overcoming her programming. My only flaw with this story was that the Super-Soldier kids was never followed up on, maybe someday when I write Cap I’ll go there, haha. How about Bucky’s adventures in No Escape, what did you think of that Rafa?
Captain America: No Escape was an interesting read for me. Whereas we have now seen Bucky take on all matters of enemies from his past, I feel like this story is probably the most psychological and damning for him to take on in his time as Captain America. I really like how the son of Zemo just shows up and sets in motion an intricate plan to absolutely ruin Bucky’s life. He takes out his partner Sam. He ruins his reputation by leaking his Winter Soldier persona. And he tries to psychologically torment him with an all out symbolic battle where he died. I like the direction that Brubaker takes the story because we see a psychological foil to Bucky that I feel was not there before. We see him truly tested, and I think that is important.
What I found super interesting from No Escape was how Zemo Jr. didn’t necessarily try to kill Bucky. It all felt like an elaborate test for Bucky to prove himself; to really be worthy of the mantle of Captain America. This adds a whole other dimension to Bucky’s inner demons, especially with how he feels that he failed Mad Cap in the last tbp. This issue reminded me of an episode of the CW’s Arrow. It felt very staged, but not in a bad way. It felt Shakespearean; like a stage play with men with terrible histories and hopeful futures. Bucky is tested, and I think this is important for him to go through. Considering that this is the Heroic Age for these heroes, this allows him to truly move forward as an actual hero. Don’t get me wrong and make no mistake. Bucky has always been a worthy hero, but with this dramatization, I feel like he may now believe it too. What did you think, Chris?
I like your use of “men with terrible histories” because it is so true. Last week we talked about how Mad Cap was great because that could’ve been Bucky but luckily with his friends that isn’t him. Yet this set of stories shows us more of Bucky’s inner guilt and his feelings of what if I don’t deserve redemption?
Shout out to Butch Guide and Dean White for this page; what a horrible look into Bucky’s dreams and I love that he is seeing a down pawn so even in that guilt and moving away from it he doesn’t see himself as something more than just a pawn. This was the arc that cemented Baron Helmut Zemo as Bucky’s arch nemesis in my opinion; the guy just f’ed up his life because he didn’t think it was fair that he got a better chance at redemption, just dirty business. This arc is so strong too because this is a domino that will topple and really put Bucky to the test because, as much as I hate to say it, Zemo is right. Bucky did get a cushy redemption and all the right people are in place to help him walk the line. Zemo tried the hero route with his Thunderbolts, but in the end we knew he had selfish motivations so that is why he failed but in his falling he is dragging everyone down as best as he can and sadly Bucky is in those sights.
In a strange way though by being in Zemo’s path this causes Bucky to have to shake off those feelings of self doubt and really dig deep to find his worthiness. This trap that Zemo sets is just so crazy because it was Bucky’s last day and the birth of the Winter Soldier which is the bane of Bucky’s life. I love that even in Bucky’s inner monologue he considers it and that he hasn’t earned this life, but in the end that scrapy young kid who fought fist first in WWII surfaced and reminded him that he isn’t a quitter. When I feel down this is such a great go to issue to boost my spirits.
These are very great points, Chris, and I appreciate the power of your thoughts and words. Captain America this week felt redemptive, and I think similar in this category is Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated! Now, I cannot say this enough, but I absolutely loved Batman Incorporated. After the abysmal set-up of last week’s Batman: The Road Home, we get an absolutely weird, fun, horrific, and epic event in Batman’s pursuit to make the world a better place. Seeing Bruce actually expand his operations and go to different countries like Japan, Argentina, the British Isles, and Australia is entertaining. What this set of stories does so well is that it directly juxtaposes different needs and issues in different parts of the world while still bringing them together with an over the top Nazi-spy plot that could have come straight out of a 007 movie. There is an underlying spider’s web and a death machine pointed at the heart of the world, and it is up to Batman and his affiliates to stop it.
We are introduced to some new and dangerous organizations like Spyral and Leviathan! The villains seemed like they were closing in on Batman at every turn, and seeing him deduce and escape his way through Doctor Nez’s colorful maze was strange, but strangely hypnotizing. This story is big on its set pieces and builds its story to be big and bold. We have so many different story plots happening at once, but we get true Batman-saving-the-day greatness.
I loved seeing Batman recruit heroes; seeing him in Japan take on Lord Death Man was wicked; so bizarre and avant-garde. This is then directly paralleled to the poignant storytelling of Man Of Bats and his pursuit to better his community. Stephanie Brown’s Batgirl is taken to a boarding school for young female killers. And we get a story focused on internet 3.0 and an elaborate trojan horse that seeks to take out Wayne Enterprises. This is all whacky fun stuff that works because it is crazy spy espionage fun. We see a hopeful Bruce Wayne trying to make the world a better place, not just Gotham. It is refreshing stuff. What did you think, Chris?
So my mind was blown! I honestly thought I had read these issues but after the Catwoman arc the rest was totally new to me and I enjoyed it. Batman going to country and culture was just awesome and Doctor Nez was just over the top insanity but it works. Like a villain who is such a rogue yet he is suffering from Alzheimer’s is just wild and a challenge for Batman because he won’t know where to turn next. I love how the Bat Family is back and also so much more with the new additions.
I love what each of these heroes has to offer to Batman because he is going to them thinking of how he can set them up, but in reality they give a better edge to what it means to be Batman. The seeds being planted for Kate Kane is also exciting and I can’t wait to see how that plays out. Something I found interesting was how this was supposed to be 10 issues but with DC’s New 52 that is why the last two are collected as Leviathan Strikes, so I just wonder how much had to be changed as Batman and DC entered a new continuum. I would have to say my favorite issue was issue 7 with Man-Of-Bats and Raven Red; they just do so much for their community that it was heroic to see them checking up on people. I really wish they had gotten more spotlight.
I agree, Chris! I wish we could have gotten some more stories out of all these different Batmen. Maybe one day in the future, that can still happen! Batman, after all, is timeless; just like this week’s readings. Once again, Brubaker and Morrison know how to write wonderful stories that really permeate through our hearts and minds. We hope you enjoyed our reflections, and we hope you will continue to read along to these stories as we venture into next week’s readings. We will be reading Captain America: The Trail of Captain America (#611-615, 615.1, and material from the Captain America 70th Anniversary Magazine) and Batman: Eye of the Beholder (#704-707 and 710-712). You can find me on twitter as @Mobilerafie and Chris as @StuffIShudSay, thank you for joining us here at Geek Elite Media and as always, GEEK OUT!
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