"Twenty-first Century Blitz: Part Two of Four"
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Steve Epting (p & i), Mike Perkins (i), Frank d'Armata (colors)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
This issue picks up right on the heels of the last one, with Captain America and Union Jack facing off against a new group of Master Men. Barely escaping with the skin on their backs, Cap and Spitfire decide to hunt down the Winter Soldier, whose target, Aleksander Lukin, continues his unknown plans for London...
Normally, the second part of a four part story like this would falter a bit. Yet Brubaker and Co. deliver another thrilling story. The fight with the new Master Men is tense and foreboding, with every panel showing that Cap and friends are outnumbered and overpowered. The gang barely manages to hold off the Neo Nazis before escaping with Spitfire's help. Personally, I love it. It's great to see a villain that can not only overpower our hero, but also has a group of near equal powered lackeys. You just know these bad guys are going to be a thorn in Cap's side for a while. But it wasn't just the fight that made me enjoy this issue. The ever growing mystery of what exactly Lukin and the Red Skull are up to really intrigues me. Then there's the Winter Soldier. His skulking around London leaves him a wild card in a growing kettle of disaster. What side is he on? I want to know!
With a huge cast such as the one in this issue, you'd think characters would be misrepresented. Not in this case. Brubaker gives every person equal development, from Spitfire's almost giddy excitement during an interrogation, to Union Jack's arguement with his boss at MI-5. Captain America himself manages to stay true to form despite being surrounded by a large supporting cast. Steve is still himself, focused, determined, and fighting for the greater good. In fact, the only problem in the whole character aspect of this issue is that Sin and Crossbones are no where to be seen, despite hijacking a plane last issue and setting out for London. Oh well, maybe in the next part.
My one complaint with this entire issue is the art. Don't get me wrong, I love Steve Epting's work, and it's superior to most other artists, but it feels sloppy in this issue. Not enough hard lines as opposed to his previous work on the title. To quote Dom DeLouise, "Nice, not thrilling, but nice." The saving grace in the art is Frank d'Armata's coloring work. This man is fastly becoming a favorite of mine, with moody, dark colors covering London, and bright explosions. Captain America is rendered perfectly by the art team though, not musclebound, but more lean, in shape. Not even in New Avengers has Cap looked so good.
All in all, this is a wonderful continuation of the so-far brilliant "Twenty-first Century Blitz" storyline. The mystery builds as the action dies down a bit, building the overall storyline. Where the series is heading, I don't know, but I want to find out. The art isn't as good as the previous issue, but it is still a cut above most other series. Brubaker and Co. deliver another wonderfully thrilling story, worth every penny.
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