REVIEW: Captain America & Iron Man #635

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Or – “Cap And Tony Go Bananas!”

With the recent relaunch of Captain America’s solo title, his old book has become a team-up series designed solely to make guys who alphabetize their back issues angry.  Still, the last couple of issues have gotten my attention, with Cap and Iron Man trapped in Madripoor, and Tony’s armor deactivated.  Will they ever make it home?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits.

CAPTAIN AMERICA & IRON MAN #635
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Barry Kitson
Cover Artist: Kalman Andrasofszky
Colorist: Javier Tartaglia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, on Captain America & Iron Man:  An undercover mission to Madripoor has gone horribly awry, with Iron Man’s armor technology falling into the hands of femme fatale Kashmir Vennema, thanks to a little help from Batroc’s Brigade.  Surrounded by villains and killer robots, our heroes have only five minutes to save the world and also deactivate a computer program that has already stolen the specs for Tony’s Iron Man armor.  Luckily, for the super-soldier and the invincible one, five minutes can be a very long time…

BATROC AND MODOK.  SAY THAT 10 TIMES FAST…

Right off the bat, I’ll say this:  Cullen Bunn writes a really entertaining, movie-style Iron Man.  From the very beginning of the issue (with Tony in a cobbled-together makeshift armor featuring an army helmet for headgear) the banter between Tony and Steve is that of old friends who know all of each other’s secrets.  As the issue opens, Iron Man tells Cap that they’ve got five minutes to take care of the bad guys (Batroc, Machete, Rapido, Zaran, MODOK and repulsor-wielding Kashmir) before he can bring things to an end.  Captain America playfully responds that he won’t need help, but the fight will be more entertaining if Iron Man is in it.  “It’s nice to feel needed,” responds Iron Man.  The fight sequence is beautiful work by Barry Kitson, with lasers, karate and robot spiders flying in all directions, as well as some lovely choreography.  When Captain America and Batroc finally go toe-to-toe (literally) it looks and feels like an actual battle between a savate master and a talented martial artist.  Cullen Bunn adds to the fun, with Batroc crowing endlessly about how perfect it is that arch-enemies fight it out to the bitter end, a conversation that Cap ends with one strike.  “As far as enemies go, you don’t rank in in my Top Ten.”  The burn hurts more than the shield in the face, I think…

“IT WON’T BE AS ENTERTAINING WITHOUT YOU.”

The battle goes less well for Iron Man, as he once again discovers how dangerous MODOK can be.  I’m pretty sure it didn’t happen in these pages, but the Mental Organism Designed Only For Kickball Killing has had an upgrade, with his giant swollen rubbery head perched atop a disturbing set of razor-edged spider legs.  The new accoutrements are powerful enough to easily take down Iron Man’s stand-in suit, and things look very bad for our Mr. Stark…  The second half of the issue is a series of reveals, each coming out of the other, with a callback to the first part of the arc, as one of Tony’s inventions turns out to be a Chekhov’s Gun.  The issue ends with the heroes both winning and losing the day (a complex proposition that Cullen Bunn’s script pulls off with admirable aplomb) and the last page is a rather intriguing glimpse of what Kashmir was really up to in the issue.  From a character standpoint, both our heroes are in fine form this time around, and Bunn avoids the trap of having Captain America as stodgy or boring, especially difficult alongside the flamboyant quippery of Tony Stark.

THE BOTTOM LINE: SURPRISING SPYCRAFTY FUN.

When they announced that the Captain America title was becoming ‘Captain America & Whomever’, I was concerned that the book would become insignificant, the equivalent of the old Marvel Team-Up.  (Don’t get me wrong, I love me some MTU, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a story in that book that is even still in continuity.)  The last three issues have put those fears to bed, putting Cap in an unfamiliar setting and letting him show what it is that makes him awesome.  Bunn’s dialogue is wonderful, and though the plot is familiar, nothing feels predictable or forced.  Barry Kitson could probably draw the adventures of Carol Channing in bus stop in New Jersey and I’d buy the book, so having him deliver some excellent fighty-fighty is a total plus.  His rendition of Kashmir is the highlight of the issue for me, with subtle facial expressions throughout the book.  Captain America & Iron Man #635 is a remarkable achievement, a book that I didn’t even expect to pick up that has made itself a must-read, and I hope this creative team will be back next issue, as this one earns 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  I just wish that Captain America’s current solo title was anywhere near this good…

Rating: ★★★★½