Or – “This Just In…  Former Captain America Steve Rogers Is STILL Dead!”

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 At least until the July issues hit the shelves…

Previously, on Captain America:  During the Second World War, Doctor Erskine created the Super-Soldier formula, designed to CA1.jpgcreate an army of (DUH?) super-soldiers, but only 4-F Steve Rogers (and Isaiah Bradley, but that’s another story) survived the process.  Accompanied by Bucky Barnes, the Sentinel of Liberty fought until he was thrown into the icy waters and suspended for decades.  In the ensuing years, several other men took up the red, white and blue costume of Captain America (including a young schoolteacher with some serious anger issues regarding Communism, about whom more later) but the return of the original at the dawn of the Marvel Age (always roughly 15 years ago) made most Americans forget about the others.  A year ago, Marvel Time, Steve Rogers was shot and killed on the courthouse steps, leading to a sea change in the Marvel Universe.  Through a complex series of events, the invulnerable shield made it’s way into the hands of a not-nearly-as-dead-as-Steve-thought Bucky Barnes, who has become the new Captain America.  Of course, if you read the right newspapers, you might wonder if Mr. Barnes is about to join Mr. Bradley, Mr. Naslund, Mr. Mace, Mr. “Rogers,” Mr. Russo, Mr. Turpin, Roscoe, Mr. Walker, Mr. Barton, Mr. Castle and anyone else I missed who wore the costume in their new fields of endeavor…

This issue starts in fine fashion, with a retelling of Cap’s origin by Alex Ross and Paul Dini, followed by a quickie retelling of all that has led us to this point, joining a reporter on the steps of the New York City courthouse one year after the assassination of Steve Rogers.  Elsewhere in the city, Sharon Carter watches the news report on a giant screen, when a sudden bit of memory returns to her…  After shooting her boyfriend, she handed the weapon off to another mind-controlled minion of Doctor Faustus, who then escaped with it.  Busting into his house, she beats him down, and uses a SHIELD device she got from the Falcon to trigger his programming.  Sharon reclaims the gun, and nearly bursts into tears in relief at the sight of it.  “This is NOT a normal gun,” she realizes with relief…  Meanwhile, a mysterious diner plays host to a man who looks remarkably like Steve Rogers, a man who kicks the crap out of two thugs who try to steal his shield and costume out of his truck.  “This world needs a Captain America,” thinks the Bad Cap, “but I need to find the RIGHT KIND of people…  People who deserve to be saved.”  Coming from the former Grand Director of neo-Nazi hate group, that sort of thinking can’t be good.

While the old people deal with their old stuff, the young people have their own issues…  Witness Eli Bradley, grandson of the Isaiah, now the Young Avenger called Patriot.  When his principal refuses his attempt to hold a Captain America rally (“The man died while on trial for treason…  Do you KNOW the kind of trouble we could get into if we have a public tribut toe him on SCHOOL GROUNDS?”  The man DOES have a point, y’know…) Eli sets out across teh rooftops,  only to find himself being followed by a girl in costume.  He engages her in battle, and she introduces herself: Rikki Barnes, alternate Bucky from the gawdawful Heroes Reborn series.  They bond, and she goes along with him to a Young Avengers meeting, while a near prison riot breaks out across town.  Seems that Crossbones has been pinned as the second gunman in Cap’s murder, and the guards antagonize him, not realizing how dangerous he is.  Crossbones fights his way across the prison, taking out most of the security forces en route to his girl, Sin (daughter of the Red Skull.)  They’re both gassed, but as they go down, they laugh about how “the fools” don’t even know what really happened.  Immediately afterwards, the actual STAR of the book finally gets some airtime, as Captain America, Luke Cage, Ronin/Hawkeye and the Black Widow plan to attend a Central Park vigil on the anniversary of the shooting.  Barnes initially intends to go in his full costume, but Black Widow talks him out of it, pointing out that he’d be putting civilians in harm’s way when the Dark Avengers came to battle.  We check in with the Red Skull for a moment, trapped in his synthetic Zola body, laughing about his seeming triumph, and then we join the vigil already in progress.  The Falcon joins the New Avengers for the event (all out of costume, so as not to get nailed by Norman Osborn and the Dark Avengers) only to watch Norman Osborn steal the spotlight.  The Avengers are disgusted at “Iron Patriot’s” play for media attention, when suddenly Sharon Carter bursts out of the crowd, grabbing The Falcon and announcing what she’s found:  “It’s Steve…  I think we can still save him.”

After that bombshell, we’re treated to a wonderful story of Steve’s old flame Bernie Rosenthal, and her memories of her long-ago relationship with Cap, revealing that Bernie was present the day her former beau was shot.  Bernie and Steve’s old friend Josh enjoy a moment together, and are stunned when impromptu fireworks start going off to honor the lost hero.  A really fascinating tale follows, called “Persistence of Memorabilia,” in which Mark Waid and Dale Eaglesham tell the story of the world’s biggest Captain America collector on the day he sells his collection.  As each item goes up for sale, each is bought by someone to whom it will mean something, until the piece de resistance comes up: Captain America’s original Avengers Identicard.  The bidding goes hard before a woman bids TWO MILLION dollars for the item, then takes it to her mysterious backer.  “Are we positive it’s the genuine article?” she asks him.  “I recognize my signature,” says Tony Stark, dismissing her.  Meanwhile, a rude comic book publisher (a shot at CrossGen’s Mark Alessi, perhaps?  Maybe I’m projecting…) who bought the Captain America original art pages that Steve Rogers drew when he pencilled the book (an actual piece of Marvel History, I might add) so that he can create a book called “Captain America: Traitor.”  Returning to his office, he finds that the company has been purchased…  by the memorabilia collector, with the money he earned, to keep the comics from being published.  The rest of the issue contains a reprint of Stan Lee’s first Cap story from the 1940’s, a tale which still holds up for excitement and entertaining action.

I believe that there is a perception that I don’t like big event comics (not without evidence) and that I prefer DCs over Marvels (again, a case for which evidence exists) but I have to say I liked this issue.  I’m not a fan of the renumbering phenomenon that Marvel has been engaging in lately, but it at least works as lip service to a more historically respectful era of Marvel.  This issue worked for me on many levels, with stellar art from many fave-raves, an advancing of the overall plot for the new Captain America, and some nice story work from other authors as well.  If I have to pay $4.99 for a comic book, I at least want it to be packed with features, and this issue delivers some entertainment for your five-spot.  Captain America #600 may not have lived up to it’s media hype, and I may not know how I feel about the seeming resurrection hovering in the near future, but at least the book was a fun read, and a 4 out of 5 star experience overall.  I expect that things are going to get nuts  for Captain America (the hero and the book) relatively soon, so it’s nice to  have a solid issue to jump off from…

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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10 Comments

  1. Kurt Fenreer
    June 18, 2009 at 2:34 am — Reply

    OK, you win. I’ll buy this issue, but its all your fault, Peterson.

    Now how is this #600? That would be a tale worthy of the telling, in your own unique way.

  2. June 18, 2009 at 7:52 am — Reply

    I believe the cover gallery in the back shows how this is issue #600. Of course one needs to count the many Tales of Suspense issues (many of which feature Iron Man on the cover), but it does all add up to 600 issues.

    I was going to write this review today (thanks matthew), and most of you know I am not a Marvel reader, but I thought this was a very good point for new readers to get on as the lead up to the return. There are a lot of historical stories that made no sense to me, but I rolled with ’em and enjoyed the issue, and felt it was worth my $5.00.

  3. June 18, 2009 at 11:49 am — Reply

    Yeeeaap. I did this one solely to snake you, Marlowe and Rodrigo, Steve. :)

    You’re welcome. I left you Invincible #63, though.

  4. June 18, 2009 at 12:01 pm — Reply

    Well, lessee…

    Captain America Comics ran 75 issues in the 40’s, then was revived for three issues in 1950-something. That’s 78.

    He started co-featuring in Tales of Suspense with #59, and ran through 99, which is 41 issues. Added to the original 78, that’s 119.

    Tales of Suspense officially became Captain America with #100, and that series ran through 454, a total of 355 issues, for a grand total of 474.

    Captain America relaunched in 1996 with an additional 13 issues and a big fat Nazi eagle on his head, bringing us to 487 issues…

    Mark Waid and Ron Garney re-relaunched Cap in another series in ’99, which ran 50 issues, bringing us to 537.

    Cap re-re-relaunched in 2002, under John Ney Reiber, and went 32 issues, for 569. (This is the series that began as Marvel Knights Captain America in the wake of 9/11…)

    Ed Brubaker re-re-re-relaunched this series in 2005, which ran 50 issues total, bringing us to 619 issues overall. Now, here’s where the beauty part comes in. Since Captain America #76-79 in the 1950’s were technically the adventures of the second wacky-doo Steve Rogers impersonator, was can subtract those books, lowering us to 616 issues overall. The Rob Liefeld issues DEFINITELY don’t count, so that’s 13 out, leaving as at 603. I didn’t like issue #225, so it’s out. And the 3 issues where they have that annoying Americop are out, too. Thus, 600.

    Honestly, though, the only way to make the math work is to count all from Captain America 100, and claim it’s the 100th issue, and consider the run as 454 issues. 454+13+50+32+50=599. In all reality, counting the original series, and only the Tales of Suspense issues with him in them, Captain America hit his 600th HEADLINE issue over a year ago, right about the time that Bucky took over the suit, really… It’s okay, Hulk #600 ain’t #600 either.

  5. Discount Lad
    June 18, 2009 at 1:37 pm — Reply

    Reminds me of that cover of the Threeboot Legion where Tyroc is trying to figure out what issue number they are on.

  6. Carl
    June 18, 2009 at 2:06 pm — Reply

    So do you count the issues where John Walker was Cap? What about the Nomad issues?

  7. June 18, 2009 at 3:21 pm — Reply

    @Matthew

    I’d have to agree with you on the Waid story, it was easily my favorite part even though a bit tongue in check at times.

    Also, this magic gun “I know how to save Steve” thing seems a bit silly.

  8. June 18, 2009 at 5:22 pm — Reply

    So do you count the issues where John Walker was Cap? What about the Nomad issues?

    Well, I was joking about Pseudo-Steve not counting. Both of those runs were some of the best Cap stories in history, at least by my calendar, so they both count.

    To get to 600, they’re apparently counting the original series (which ended at 454) as 454 issues of Captain America, counting the first 100 issues of Tales of Suspense (which is cheating, since Cap didn’t appear in 42 of them) as part of the run, since Captain America took over that book’s numbering in 1968.

  9. Kurt Fenreer
    June 18, 2009 at 10:16 pm — Reply

    Thank you, Matthew. Your work never goes unappreciated.

  10. Ricco
    June 19, 2009 at 4:03 pm — Reply

    The gun thing… could be a time marker (like a chrono signature marker) to be used with Doom’s window to retrieve Steve from the timestream before he’s shot so Skull can kill him himself or take his body as his own or something.

    Or your classic “fake-death-hibernation-inducing-drug-gun #2435”

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