Comic Discussions: Brubaker’s Cap v Morrison’s Bats #8

By Christopher Franey & Rafael Encinas

Here we are at part eight of our tour of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America and Grant Morrison’s Batman which continue to showcase great story and character while creating legacies that still stand today. During this read to make it easier for the reader I 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 continuing with the mantles as Captain America and Batman.  For those of you reading alongside with us, we will be discussing Captain America: The Man with No Face (Cap vol. 5 #43-48) which was first published back in December of 2008 and Batman: Life After Death (Batman vol. 1 # 692-699) and cover dated December 2009.  Rafa why don’t you open this up with your thoughts on Batman’s adventures brought to us by Tony Daniel this week?

Batman: Life After Death tpb

Tony Daniel’s run at Batman is something that unfortunately is not up to par with the rest of Morrison’s run. While I can appreciate the story that Daniels is trying to tell, it unfortunately comes off as boring and a slog to read through. We’ve got Dick continuing to try and bring order to Gotham. The use of villains, the motivations, and the overall pace of this story is just uninteresting. There are some good moments where we get to see Dick use his inner monologue to continue and rationalize his time as Batman, but it isn’t witty or that interesting. However, I do appreciate that Daniels tries to bring closure to the story brought up on Battle For The Cowl with the use of the new Black Mask, but it just doesn’t feel like a Dick Grayson Batman story. It feels like it tries too hard to bring mystery and excitement to a Batman story. What were your thoughts, Chris?

I’m right there with you, I honestly felt like it was quite the chore to get these issues read and that is super unfortunate as I love Dick Grayson as Batman.  I honestly thought this was going to be a continuation of Judd Winick’s Batman from the previous story arc of Long Shadows which dropped hints of Dick Grayson’s family and origins yet nothing was touched upon.  You’re right when you mention that this is clean up from Battle For The Cowl which is nice but that should’ve been what we last read in the Batman comics, so overall that makes this and the last arc super disjointed for Batman/Dick Grayson stories.  I found myself teased by moments in the story that sadly didn’t go anywhere or honestly weren’t needed, like this kiss right here.

from Batman vol 1 #693

Like it is great tension playing with Dick and Helena’s past relationship but to just toss it in there and then force the idea that Barbara (Batgirl/Oracle) Gordon is jealous was just nothing but an exciting panel.  It would’ve been nice if it was actually played out like maybe Dick or Helena are conflicted with their feelings for the other.  The part with the Riddler at the end of this trade was just useless and like it opens a question, was Riddler faking the hero gig?

from Batman vol 1 #698

So this shift in him playing the hero feels like it was a long con in order to get his former partners out of the picture which is such a shame to the stories where he was a hero.  Like I can understand him returning to his roots, but the panel doesn’t play it well that his demeanor was shifted to and then back.  Also with Dr. Jeremiah Arkham being revealed as the new Black Mask, so it was a neat idea but again…it doesn’t go anywhere.  Like did Jeremiah lose his mind or is the Black Mask possessed?  I wish I knew.  So I’m glad to have read these issues but there is so much that could’ve been done better for the characters and the story in my opinion.  Any last thoughts on Batman, Rafa?

I think you perfectly put it into words with how this volume of Batman reads, Chris. Like I said, I can appreciate what Daniels was trying to do, but many of these elements that you bring up, just feel forced or lead to nowhere. This story does not elicit the excitement of what this run has done in the past; however, we got more than enough excitement in Ed Brubaker’s Captain America. This is a fun story because it allows Bucky to build on his legacy in his own way. Time has passed, we have gotten through the Civil War and Secret Invasion events, and Bucky is now more seasoned in his time as the new Captain America.

Captain America: The Man With No Face tpb

This story takes us back to the past as we see him continue to wrestle with his past sins. However, this time, it becomes that much more personal. We get an awesome team up with both Black Widow and Namor. We have Bucky chasing ghosts; righting the wrongs of his past. It is excellent storytelling because it presents a new dynamic to Bucky’s story that does not enter on the Red Skull. It is this breath of fresh air that really brings new life into this already excellent story. What were your thoughts on Captain America this week, Chris?

This was a fantastic story and adventure; perfect international espionage with reuniting with old friends.  Which hits to the point that Bucky is also a man out of time just like Steve is.  When you see how Bucky has interacted with Professor Zhang Chin and the Man with No Face (who actually was a late Golden Age character) it really showcases the homework Ed Brubaker does for these stories.  To take actual comic book characters from various times and then inject them into real world political battle is just awesome; plus he still manages to make a compelling story without having to use big named villains.  

from Captain America vol 5 #43
from Captain America vol 5 #44

With the two panels above this I love how the pasts of Bucky and the Winter Soldier intersect with one of the villains; like it is just perfect how the Professor wants to dissect a friend from Bucky’s past yet also wants revenge on the Winter Soldier for taking his wife’s life.  I just love how this villain is that greedy yet also that much of a menace too.  Plus we get some awesome fights with Batroc the Leaper and the relationship between Bucky and Natasha is well played as they are lovers yet spies and will do what they feel needs to be done and hope the other understands.  What about you Rafa?  

Ultimately, this story succeeds in the fact that it can bring in a bunch of new characters and immediately create a story that you feel invested in. I never knew anything about Batroc, and seeing him in action was a lot of fun. I could hear his French accent and I thought that was a great choice for a villain because it continues to show you the scope of a Captain America story. I find it funny how so much of these stories do not happen on American soil. I especially liked how they gave Bucky some more meaningful interactions with other characters besides Sam.

Seeing his interesting dynamic with Namor was a highlight for me because you could see there was a deep connection and appreciation that Namor has for Bucky, but he could only show it in his own stubborn way. I really liked this. I think it made me like both characters that much more because I could relate to that kind of friendship. And at the end of the day, this is what makes these stories from Brubaker so endearing. Even though they pertain to deep espionage and explosive hero action, it is the human heart that makes them so impactful. Any last thoughts, Chris?

from Captain America vol 5 #48

Reading your thoughts here made me realize that the connections Bucky has in the here and now are very important and since his reintroduction he has gained quite the “family” of his own.  Bucky messing around with “Subby”, as he called him, was great and they do have a trust that is forged from being brothers in arms during the great one.  Knowing that Natasha will forsake all to help save Buck is such a dynamic love and it really adds depth to Natasha that I haven’t seen in her past relationships with Daredevil or Hawkeye.  I am so glad I read this after Batman because it hyped me up again and you called out a lot of great points to Ed Brubaker’s writing and stories.  This run of Captain America has been fantastic and I am really looking forward to our next reads which start to set the stage for some big returns.  

Come back and join us again as we continue our read with Brubaker’s Captain America: Road to Reborn tpb (issues 49-50 of Captain America volume 5 and return to renumbering of vol 1 with 600-601) and a double dose of Grant Morrison with Batman: Time and the Batman tpb (vol 1 issues 700-703) and Batman and Robin: Batman vs Robin tpb (Batman and Robin vol 1 #’s 7-12).  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!

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