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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 06/20/07
brought to you by Illusive Comics and Games of Santa Clara

Captain America #27
writer: Ed Brubaker
artists: Steve Epting and Mike Perkins

Forget Fallen Son. Forget Tony Stark occasionally weeping in every other book in set in the mainstream Marvel Universe. The test of whether or not the Death of Captain America has any meaning should be placed right here, with this book carrying his name after he has ceased to be.

Though this story gets listed as part three of an arc, it's a perfect place to dip in if you've been wondering what would happen after Steve Rogers took a bullet. Tony Stark claims no one will replace him. Sharon Carter and Sam Wilson (aka The Falcon) mourn him as long as their lives allow, because all three have a bigger problem.

After decades of believing Cap's first partner, Bucky Barnes, to be dead, SHIELD now knows he's alive and almost well. In truth, he had been literally put on ice by the Soviet Union and brainwashed into being the Winter Soldier. Thanks to Captain America and the Cosmic Cube, Bucky now knows who he is and what he's done. Seeking penance without trussing himself up in spikes, the Winter Soldier sees a perfect opportunity after his mentor has fallen.

Whether this means donning the mantle of Captain America himself or killing the man he holds responsible, no one knows for sure. What this means for the continuation of this book is an extension of the intrigue and suspense that got everyone excited about it again. Even with Captain America gone, his shadow looms large. The question is will justice prevail?

Of course it will. This is comics. But the telling of the tale by the astounding creative team of Brubaker, Epting and Perkins makes it all worthwhile. Captain America features some of the best art work on the stands right now, with spandex-clad characters looking not too beyond the realm of possibility. At the same time, it's moody and, if not quite dark, still perfectly matching the tone of the story.

Being the first person allowed to play with the Bucky mythos certainly suits Brubaker. First he managed to violate the law of death in the Marvel Universe without attracting angry mobs. (Those came with Captain America's death.) Now he's beginning to vindicate it all, filling in the Winter Soldier's back story with some interesting connections to Marvel history. Best of all, if not exactly justifying Cap's death, he's giving us a compelling story as a result of it.

Hopefully, Bucky's grief will turn him into something stronger and more heroic. That's especially necessary with enemies like the Red Skull and Dr. Faustus (exerting control over Sharon) still out there. Whether that makes Bucky the new Captain America remains to be seen.

After reading this issue, though, Brubaker has changed my mind about something fundamental to being a comics fan. Most of us give it no more than a year for Steve Rogers to come back, if for no less cynical a reason than because Marvel will be pushing a Captain America movie by 2009.

Yet with Captain America #27, I suddenly hope that isn't true. I hope that somebody else will pick up the mantle - possibly Bucky Barnes - and make the hero into a legacy. And whoever that character is, he'll do the legacy proud.

Also on the Stands:

The Amazing Spider-Man #541: He's still back in black, on the trail of the Kingpin. It's nice to see Kingpin back facing Spider-Man, and J. Michael Straczynski handles the character well. With Ron Garney's art, Wilson Fisk has rarely looked better as an antagonist. The whole thing, though, is playing out by numbers. So far, we have no twist, no curve, that makes this a memorable story beyond that ever-present threat of Aunt May dying. It's quality, just not all that engrossing.

Annihilation Conquest Prologue: Quite a mouthful, that title, sounding almost like a parody. Ignore that. Inside lies one of the best set-ups for a crossover we've had in two years. And that's actually saying something, considering how many danged crossovers we've had in two years. (Planet Hulk still trumps them all.) There's that Mike Perkins guy again, drawing some dynamic yet real-feeling characters. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have set up a credible menace, and given new life to one of my favorite obscure Marvel heroes - Star Lord. So despite myself, I want to read more.

Ghost Rider #12: Get ready for a bunchy of books this month that all end with "what?!? The Hulk has invaded Earth?" That's not going to bother Ghost Rider, though. In a strange way, this title has been very well served by the crossovers, because Daniel Way never lets the big events get in the way of Ghost Rider's mission. Fighting Lucifer, the flame-headed biker wars with his human alter ego who insists that they stop for a while and be a regular superhero. Yes, we should have expected it, and it does flow quite naturally from World War Hulk, but it looks like the old Champions are getting the band back together.

Heroes For Hire #11: "What?!? The Hulk has invaded Earth?" Okay, even though it's not giving Zeb Wells much of a chance to spin out plans of his own for this book, he turns in a very creepy side story involving the formerly laughable character of Humbug, and a threat that had been lying dormant in Planet Hulk for quite some time. It's surprising, horrific and more than enough to make up for the alleged hentai cover coming next issue.

The Incredible Hulk #107: "What?!? The Hulk has …oh, wait, this is Hulk's book…" Filling in the blanks that maybe the actual World War Hulk title can't explore, writer Greg Pak expands upon the creation of Hulk's earthly alliance. Damn him for continuing to rivet us.

Iron Man #19: The cover alone does all the work. The rest of the book is trying to justify the run-up to World War Hulk #1: from Tony Stark's point of view. Yet, really, the dialogue given him in WWH covers it all.

Moon Knight #11: In all this, Hulk couldn't find time to stop by and make this book interesting? Not even the teensiest bit coherent? Ah, well. You can't have everything.

The Sensational Spider-Man #38: At last. This may be the story that make Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa memorable. "The Last Temptation of Eddie Brock" is near-perfect, setting up an end to the character that may be as talked about as his beginning. I'm not quite throwing over yet, because it's a two-parter, but chances are Aguirre-Sacasa will stick the landing.

Hey, write to us and let us know what you think, or talk about it on the forums!

Derek McCaw


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