REVIEW: Captain America #12

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Or – “How A Villain Can Make Or Break Your Story…”

Ed Brubaker has been writing Captain America for several years now, and throughout that time has pitted Captain America against many different adversaries of varying levels.  When this version of Captain America launched, I was immediately put off by the creation of Codename Bravo, yet another super-soldier gone bad, and no matter how well-crafted the tales, I found myself losing interest in the conflict because of the villain.  Will this issue redeem the latest volume of Captain America?

CAPTAIN AMERICA #12
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Patch Zircher
Cover Artist(s): Patch Zircher & Matt Hollingsworth
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Captain America:  A new Scourge is out and about in the Marvel Universe, having already blown away the new (and frankly unecessary) version of the Viper, possibly under the employ of Codename Bravo and Queen Hydra.  Captain America has been less than thrilled to discover that the killer may have a second notch on his belt soon, as his former flame Diamondback has been horribly beaten as well, and her survival is still in doubt…

THE MAN BEHIND THE MAN BEHIND THE GUN…

The interesting part of this issue’s cold open comes not in the reveal that Scourge feels badly about beating Diamondback half to death (though he does), but that he is working in cahoots (a great word) with Henry Peter Gyrich, former Avengers liaison to the federal government.  Captain America and Dum-Dum Dugan (who was, I thought, semi-retired and workin for A.R.M.O.R., per the Marvel Zombies: Destroy limited series?) ferry Diamondback off to the S.H.I.E.L.D. infirmary for treatment, but her injuries seem quite severe.  Brubaker handles Captain America well, balancing his caring for his pink-haired ex without ever making it seem like Cap still carries a torch for her, a difficult balance made more difficult by the appearance of current flame Sharon Carter in these pages.  I am unsure if Patch Zircher is the same man as Patrick Zircher who used to draw New Warriors and the like, but I find the art in this issue to be oddly static and frozen, even in the action sequences, with all the characters sharing similar if not identical bland features and expressions.

THE BIG REVEAL!

There’s a truly exhausting tendency at Marvel Comic over the last decade or so for characters to be revived multiple time in multiple places without any sort of coordination or internal logic to the reveals.  This issue features the new Scourge in battle against The Rattler of the Serpent Society, and reveals his identity in shocking fashion.  The man under the mask has in the past decade been an insane man living in the sewers, a heroic Marine serving in the Middle East, a delusional madman, and (most recently) a member of Wonder Man’s evil Revengers team.  Given that the the Revengers story already stick in my craw  as damn near impossible to rectify with the timeline of the recent Marvel Universe, I’m doubly annoyed to find that the it’s Demolition Man (aka D-Man) under the mask of Scourge.  Part of me wants to think that this can be a great step forward in making the character relevant, but I can’t get past the annoyance of trying to figure out how his history works.  It’s nice that Brubaker remembers that Gyrich has  done the “former sidekick of Captain America is now Scourge” bit before, so I can give them at least a little leeway on this, but I still finished this issue with a bad taste in my mouth.

THE VERDICT: KINDA FLAWED AND PUZZLING…

Back in the 60′s, legendary editor Mort Weisinger reportedly worked under the theory that any story more than 2 years old could safely be recycled/reworked, as their audience would have already turned over to a new one by that point.  It seems that Marvel editorial has taken this rule to heart, as this issue warms over plot-points from Thunderbolts, from previous issues of Captain America and includes a character whose checkered history completely undermines the drama.  Captain America #12 is a disappointment for me, with sizable problems in both the art and story, earning 1.5 out of 5 stars overall.  Let’s hope that the reveal leads to a story that makes the journey through this issue worth the frustrations…

Rating: ★½☆☆☆