Comic Discussions: Brubaker’s Cap v Morrison’s Bats #9

By Christopher Franey & Rafael Encinas

Welcome back avid readers of our review/read of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America and Grant Morrison’s Batman. We have had the pleasure of delving into deeply thematic, action packed, and immensely enjoyable stories dealing with the legacies of two of the most important characters in the Marvel and DC universe respectively. We have read the journey of two young men thrust into impossible situations and iconic roles. This week, Brubaker and Morrison set the stage for the return of these iconic characters with Captain America: Road to Reborn (Captain America Vol.5 49-50 and 600-601) and Batman & Robin: Batman vs. Robin (#7-12) and Time and the Batman (Batman 700-703). During this read, Chris will be in BOLD FONT and Rafa will in ITALIC FONT as we express our views on these great comics! Chris, what did you think of Brubaker’s Captain America this week?

Captain America Road to Reborn tpb

So this set of stories has my FAVORITE issue of Bucky with Captain America v5 #50…Bucky’s Birthday!!  That was such a fun recapping of his origin story and then that surprise of the Underground Avengers waiting to give him a celebration was just the best.  

Captain America vol 5 #50

It just made me think about how important this journey for Bucky really is.  It isn’t just about finding redemption and carrying a legacy but also rediscovering how to be a person again; talk about being able to do that with good company like those Avengers.  It is so great to see the humanity in Bucky grow and also I believe this is the start of making Bucky older when he started being a hero; most of the time he was a kid sidekick who look to Cap like a “dad” and here we start to see them as brothers for the first time.  

panel from Captain America vol 5 #50

I also appreciated the “Marvel Math” with a celebration of issue 50 then jumping to 600 but it was really fun and they were great, but let me backtrack to issue 49; I love the fact that Sharon is back in the picture and she is getting stronger by overcoming the trauma that has happened to her and using that to build herself back up and help recover Steve.  Brubaker does a great job with not letting her be a victim but instead making her a strong survivor so her getting the spotlight in 49 was great but it was even better to see her in 600 as the beacon of hope that lets the heroes know Steve is still alive out there.  601 was a nice tribute to Gene “the Dean” Colan as he was a Marvel Master Artist back in the day…plus Gene won an Eisner Award for his work on that issue which was a great “atta boy” to a legend.  What about you, Rafa?  What did you think of this trade?

You bring up very good points, Chris. I completely agree that issue #50 is an important stand out moment for Bucky. This entire run, we have watched Bucky struggle and suffer through so much; we have seen him take on the mantle of a man he admired, and we have seen him doubt himself and put immeasurable pressure on himself to live up to an impossible standard of heroism. It is heartwarming to see James, the man, have a moment to be appreciated, to see the fruits of his labor and hard work reflected in the eyes and smiles of those at his surprise birthday party. That was a very humanizing moment for me, and I think it endeared me to the character that much more. It is nice to see heroes be appreciated; this redemption of his past sins is welcomed, and it adds greater depth to his overall character. 

Also, I love how we also get the pieces put into place with Sharon finding the gun she used to kill Steve. Brubaker sets up another mystery to be solved with Sharon remembering something deep inside her memories, and finding out that the gun she used to kill Steve is not an actual gun at all. We also get a masterstroke of a scene with the anniversary of Captain America’s death, and how Norman Osborn and his Dark Avengers use this moment of solidarity to bring themselves into a positive light. Brubaker does a great job of making his story matter. It is not just a one-off story that doesn’t matter in the greater context of the Marvel universe, Brubaker’s stories live and breathe in the universe, and it makes the story matter. Overall, this was an awesome story that I am very happy I read. Anything else you want to share about this Captain America volume, Chris?

panel from Captain America vol 1 #600

I totally love that you mentioned the one year anniversary of Cap’s “death” and the Dark Avengers; like Brubaker totally tells his story but also keeps it deep in that era of the Marvel Universe.  So when this was live and happening it had that excitement of being involved in the comics universe but at the same time doing it’s own thing.  Such a cool scene and just adds to the cunningness of Norman Osborn and how he can be such a good PR villain.  Let us switch gears to Batman and we can start with Batman and Robin vol 2:  Batman vs Robin, Rafa why don’t you get us started? 

Batman and Robin vol 2: Batman vs Robin tpb

Batman and Robin v2 is entitled Batman vs. Robin, and this is important because it illustrates the nature of the story. Morrison once again spins a vivid and wild tale.This story celebrates the occult, the weird, and the macabre. It builds on the mysteries of lineage and of superstition. Morrison continues to introduce strange villains and brings up contents from his past stories, tying together different threads from Batman R.I.P., Final Crisis, Blackest Night, and the Return of Bruce Wayne. All of it is interconnected, and it creates a wicked story that feels multilayered. At its heart, this story continues the deep dive into Dick’s approach at being Gotham’s new protector and Damian’s positive role-model. I enjoyed this story because it was all a set-up into the return of Bruce Wayne. We find out that it is not Bruce’s body that was destroyed by Darkseid, and it sets in motion a new mission for Dick, to find Batman. 

panel from Batman and Robin vol 1 #9

We also get a deeper look into Damian’s motivations and thoughts on being Robin. We see that he likes the role, and that he is willing to defy his own mother and his own heritage and birthright in order to be a soldier of the Batman. Through his cold demeanor, we can see that he has warmed up to Grayson and Alfred, and he tries to be a better person. Seeing his body controlled by Deathstroke was interesting, and I liked how hard Damian fought to regain control of his body. It was a good glimpse into the stubborn nature and tenacity of the son of Batman. Chris, what did you think of the story?

I really enjoyed this set of issues, like this was fun seeing Dick go to crazy lengths to bring Bruce back and discover a bigger mystery.  I also love that they didn’t shy from calling Dick out since he basically stopped Tim Drake from using the Lazarus Pits for his family, so why shouldn’t Dick be questioned about it as well.  I really enjoyed that as it did make sense for why you shouldn’t but also why you have exceptions to the rule.  Pulse like you mentioned earlier, it builds that mystery and makes it deeper.  I enjoyed all the guest stars as it made it fun and really hammered home the idea of Batman at an international level, so Grant was really planting seeds for what he was thinking of next.  

panel from Batman and Robin vol 1 #7

The story that Damian goes through really showed great growth in my opinion, yes he can still be a brat but now we see that it is part of his shell.  Like you mentioned Rafa we can see he is warming up to Alfred and Dick which is fantastic.  Plus you nailed it with the title of Batman vs Robin…wow Talia has usually be a passive villain for me but with how she played Damian I was just in shock that is why when Dick and Damian beat them I love how Dick just smacks Slade around for what he did with his part in that battle.  How did you feel about that with how Talia was used in this story arc, Rafa?

Batman and Robin vol 1 #12

I am conflicted with how Morrison uses Talia in this story. This is where we begin to see a huge change in Talia’s feelings toward Damian. I loved how Morrison wrote Talia in Son of Batman and the Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul. She was cool and in control, a bit cold, but she loved her son, and she showcased that she would do anything for Damian. In this volume, we see a complete change in Talia and she rejects Damian outright, claiming that she can always make another son. It is this cruelty that is always a bit jarring for me, but i think that makes her a great villain,and it sets her up as a big power player later in the story. Overall, this was a fun story, especially when paired with Time and the Batman. Seeing this Batman R.I.P. epilogue was great because it shows the reader how Batman ended up at the mercy of Darkseid. This sets up the catalyst for Bruce’s return, and I am excited for that. What were your thoughts on this, Chris?

Batman: Time and the Batman tpb

Time and the Batman was just perfect!  I love the missing chapter of R.I.P. and how it can explain why we didn’t see much of Batman between R.I.P. and Final Crisis and how Dr. Hurt really got inside Bruce’s head.  I also enjoyed the fact that this helped to make sense of Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader and how it could fit in with Grant’s stories.  Like it was just perfect since Bruce is bouncing around time that it would be his mind processing this mess from the Gods and how he is just a man trying to deal with it.  This was just a brilliant band-aid that Grant made and used to help keep his masterpiece a well connected machine.  Plus it really drops some major clues…which we now know them to be but before they are interesting phrases and images.  

Batman vol 1 #702

I think both of us were very satisfied with this week’s reads as Brubaker continues to deliver with action, suspense, and character all the while Morrison brings the adventure, mythology, and abnormal to his stories.  Highly recommend these sets of TPBs as you won’t be let down.  So make sure to join us next week as we bring Bruce Wayne and Steve Rogers back by check out the following:  Batman the Return of Bruce Wayne tpb (Return of Bruce Wayne 1-6) and Batman and Robin Must Die tpb (Batman and Robin 13-16 and Batman the Return) alongside Captain America Reborn tpb (Captain America Reborn 1-6 and the digital prelude).  Please be sure to hit us up on social media as we would love to get your insights as well; you can find Rafe as @Mobilerafie and myself as @StuffIShudSay and keep reading us here at Geek Elite Media and as always GEEK OUT!

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