The Captain America Corps focus on one particular timeline in which the Avengers’ history has been irrevocably altered by the abduction of Steve Rogers frozen in ice. We discover through intel recovered by the impressive Commander A — a Captain America from the 25th Century — what happened to the team and the other heroes of the Marvel Universe.
Different media have different strengths. Comic books are no different. While it’s true that I believe comic books should be as good as novels, I don’t believe they need be identical. In other words, while I expect the same depth. I don’t expect to see the same narrative style. Likewise, novels just may fail in areas that comic books will succeed. The same can be said about movies versus comic books.
The disembodied brain has been a staple of pulp science fiction novels and burbled in numerous science fiction movies and television. While each of those media produces a few good treatments, Doctor Who‘s “Brain of Morbius” immediately comes to mind, this area is by and large a surfeit of schlock. Don’t misread. Schlock can be entertaining, but is it really the concept or the ineptitude that you’re applauding? The most po-faced investigation of the subject, Donovan’s Brain, is considered something of a classic, but it’s only a few degrees away from Jan in the Pan, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die in non MST3K vernacular.
Captain America Corps features disembodied brains. Roger Stern reveals the identity of the Big Bad in this issue, and just as a hobby, a hobby mind you, she collects the brains of her enemies and keeps them alive for gloating rights. She reduces her targets to pure intellect, nullifying gender and sexuality. The behavior fits her characterization brilliantly, and it’s something you look at and say, “Ah, yes. This is what comic books does better than any other medium.” They give verisimilitude to a nutjob that collects disembodied brains. Come across this scenario in a novel, and you’re probably not going to accept it. Encounter such outlandishness in a movie, and you’re going to laugh your ass off, but oh, in a comic book, chatty disembodied brains make perfect sense. That’s why Captain America Corps gets a perfect score this week. Stern takes a riotous idea and dares to make it an expression of the villain’s contempt.
Captain America Corps has other assets in its favor. John Walker’s the ostensible point of view character, and Stern dignifies him without losing the protagonist’s spice. I’m still not certain I’d call him a hero though. However, he does appear to know right from wrong. The team up between American Dream and Commander A is a winning combination, and I like how the bad guys anticipates their moves. Philippe Briones’ artwork is as usual fantastic as is the star spangled colorist Matt Milla, but there’s no bones about it. Comic books were made to present disembodied brains, and this one does it in style.
Ray Tate’s first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, “Spider Without a Web,” published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups. In the POBB, as it was affectionately known, Ray reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he’s young at heart. Of course, we all know better.