By Beau Smith
Like a lot of you out there, I’ve been reading comic books since I was very young. I’ve seen more than my share of continuity sail by. For the most part, the character’s names remain the same, but their origins, supporting casts and sometimes their own secret identities change.
When that happens there is always uproar within the comic book community on both the reader and creator end. That’s because, like me, they have the continuity that they’ve grown up with and it rattles them a little when someone changes the paper in their cage.
That’s a good thing. It means they care. When folks stop getting upset, then you have something to worry about.
I grew up with Captain America/Steve Rogers. He was the only Captain America that I knew. I always liked him as a Marvel character because to me, he was never right or left wing. He was a leader. He was always “the go-to guy” that you always wanted on your team. He never let his personal feelings stop him from getting the job done and he always knew the difference between right and wrong. Even when Captain America was a guest star in another character’s book, all the other characters turned to Captain America for leadership. They couldn’t help it. The guy was just THAT much of a natural born leader. Hawkeye tried to buck the leadership role of Captain America, but in the end he learned to respect what Captain America stood for and most of all he became a better leader himself because of it.
The Steve Rogers Captain America was killed off a few months ago. There was national media attention and as I mentioned before, an uproar within the comic book community. It was very nice to see the passion from those that loved the idea and those that didn’t. People cared. They had an emotional investment in the character and were concerned with what was happening. I was one of them.
I was very interested in what was going to be the follow up to this change. That comes from both my interest as a reader and my interest as a writer. At $2.99 a pop for comics, I’m pretty picky about what I’m going to read. At today’s prices I will drop a book very quickly if it stops being interesting to me.
Before this change in Captain America, writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting had already grabbed my interest in continuing to read and buy Captain America. Brubaker is a very good writer that knows his name is on the front of the comics he writes and always makes sure that his work is represented to the best of his abilities. He doesn’t phone anything in. He gives 100% each and every time. In one of those rare cases where a creative team is paired perfectly, having Steve Epting as the artist was heaven sent. The match is perfect. They make Captain America near perfect comic book story telling. There is a difference between how movies, TV and novels are told and it’s the same with comic books. It is a craft of it’s own to create comics and tell the story of pictures and words the way it should be. Don’t ever let anyone tell you different. It’s the perfect placement of dialogue, art and editing. Captain America shows that everyone on the boat cares and are all rowing together.
Recently I caught up with my Captain America reading with issues #34 through #37. My ball cap is off to Marvel for bringing in Butch Guice to the batting line up on the issues where Epting takes a break. The change up is seamless and the story never staggers.
Brubaker, Epting and Guice have taken Captain America back to the kind of story telling that a lot of other creative/editorial teams could take a lesson from. They have shown superior respect by bringing back established Marvel good guys and bad to the status that they richly deserve. There’s a perfect mix of action and words that always lead up to a shock or two that you need to keep you on your toes. The best part is that they book is never what you think its going to be. You think it’s going to go left and it turns right, you think you know where one path leads and then it turns you 360 degrees. The ride is smooth, but always remember to have that safety belt buckled. I’m looking forward to the Fallen Son trade paperback. I think it’s one that will earn a place on my shelf here at the ranch. Maybe I’ll get the chance to pick it up at the Pittsburgh ComicCon that I’ll be a guest at this upcoming weekend.
My suggestion to you is to check out Captain America. You may think it’s a change from the one you and I grew up with, but it’s not. We will always have THAT Captain America alive and well in our back issues and trade paperbacks. You can visit him anytime. No one has taken him away, they’ve just added another layer. The sooner you learn that and “Buck” up, the better.
Life is too short not to enjoy comic books.
Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Week: Captain America #132
I must use the clichE”It doesn’t Get Much Better Than This!” Considering the current story line within the pages of Captain America, this cover says a lot. The best parts about this issue are: The main bad guy is Modok. The supporting cast is made up of Baron Von Strucker, The Falcon, Sharon Carter, Nick Fury and Dum Dum Dugan. The art inside was by Gene Colan and Dick Ayers and was written by Stan Lee. (All three fine gentlemen are still with us today and you should thank them when you see ’em.)
This cover is a perfect example of what I was talking about in the main feature. You can have your past and your present and enjoy ’em both.
Busted Knuckles Babe of the Week: Kim Gillingham
Kim played the lovely Sharon in the very fun Captain America movie of 1990. It’s movie that I enjoyed a lot then and maybe more so today. Keep in mind when it was made as well as the budget and keep your snarky remarks to yourself. Sometimes you just gotta let things be fun and what they are.
Kim’s career has taken her every where and you see her on the TV all the time. Maybe you’ve seen her on such shows as ER, Six Feet Under, CSI, Touched By An Angel, Seinfeld, Beverly Hills 90210 and Friends. She’s also an acting coach and teacher in L.A. Try and make some time to watch the 1990 version of Captain America soon. Try and be a kid and just enjoy.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s “All Captain America” episode of Busted Knuckles. I sure enjoyed bringing it to you. It’s always good to be Red, White and Beau….I mean Blue.
Make sure that you stop by and see me this weekend at the Pittsburgh ComicCon.
I’ll be easy to find. I’ll be stationed at the table right beside the “Ugly American”, Billy Tucci. I’ll leave you with one last look at Captain America in a sketch that artist and friend Scot Eaton did for me a few years ago in my personal sketch book. I hope you enjoy.
Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!