Summer Reading Part Two: Take a Bruboliday

by

 

Here’s a summer recipe you should try:

         one drop of Ed Brubaker

         one dollop of Ed Brubaker

         another cup of Ed Brubaker

         Hell, add three more servings of Ed Brubaker

         Mix with great artists from Crossgen

         Add Matt Fraction for an added kick and a dash of flavor

         Stir for 14 minutes, and let cool

         Then enjoy the contents greedily.

 

And that’s precisely what I did, reading 5 trades written by our man Ed Brubaker with various artists. What follows is the rundown, each replete with a mini review and a Goki-inspired rating. I hope everyone is enjoying the summer, and if you’re not, a Brub-oliday is exactly what you need.

 

Captain America: The Death of Captain America Vol. 1. Written by Ed Brubaker with art by Steve Epting and Mike Perkins. Captain America is one of the titles that has gotten me back into comics. I was never a huge fan of the character until I read this title and Civil War, and wouldn’t you know it, Steve Rogers was doomed to death. Ed Brubaker pulls out all the stops in this book, with Dr. Faustus, the Red Skull and Emile Zola all working together to put an end to Steve Rogers and subsequently, the world. There’s espionage and SHIELD goodness (with appearances by Nick Fury, Agent 13, Black Widow and Iron Man), there’s the return of Bucky, there’s Falcon putting in work and it’s all plotted so delicately and far advance that it’s like reading poetry. There’s little wonder this title won Brubaker an Eisner award. The first volume of “Death of Captain America” is heartbreaking and wonderful; issue #25 is something that should be read by any and every comic book reader. The cliffhangers are just nuts and it’s such a quick read. Steve Epting and Mike Perkins, two long time artists in the industry are putting together their best pencils of their careers. They both have very similar styles and are practically interchangeable. For those of us that have read Morrison’s New X-Men, we know how absolutely necessary a cohesive art team really is. And this title has that. This is the volume where Bucky comes into the limelight, and it’s a treat.

Spiffy Says…FUDO

 

Captain America: The Death of Captain America Vol. 2. Written by Ed Brubaker with art by Steve Epting, Mike Perkins and Butch Guice. Butch Guice adds his pencils to the fray, and again, they’re beautiful and the book doesn’t suffer at all with his addition, which is little wonder if you’ve seen the guy’s art (from his days in 80s Marvel to Crossgen’s beautiful Ruse). This volume isn’t as great as the first, actually. While everything is good, I felt that things were moving too slow and that they could’ve condensed the run a lot more, something that I get from Bendis a lot when I read him (especially in his Secret Invasion tie-in’s). That said, nothing is wrong with it, and it finally caught me up with the present issues of Captain America, which I know buy monthly. It’s one of my favorite books on the stand. We continue to follow Bucky, who tackles the moniker of Captain America, and their attempt to stop the Red Skull, who is ruling the evil Kronas corporation and trying to get into the White House. Hurrah.

 

Spiffy Says….Fly Down

 

Uncanny X-Men: Rise and Fall of the Shi’Ar Empire. Written by Ed Brubaker with art by Billy Tan and Clayton Henry. I’ve always been a big X-Men fan, but it’s been rare to read a good run on X-Men. Since I started reading comics, Morrison and Whedon have been the only one’s able to consistently produce a solid X-Men title. If this trade is any indication, you can add Brubaker to that list. This is truly an epic arc. It’s a twelve part story, taking place in space, where the X-Men, led by the newly walking and newly powerless Charles Xavier, have to stop Vulcan, the 3rd Summers brother who is the most powerful and a lot crazy. I was kind of worried going in if I’d like the X-Men Brubaker chooses for the arc, as Nightcrawler is really the only character I liked out of the lineup (Professor X leads Havok, Polaris, Rachel Summers/Marvel Girl and Warpath into battle, as well as a badass new character named Darwin). This turned out to be a non-issue, as I really liked each and every one of them. Warpath was the breakout character in this arc, as I really loved the portrayal of James’, and he’s really Wolverine without the name recognition and baggage. Marvel Girl is one of the most beautiful super heroines in comics (god those redheads) and an interesting character to boot, and the Havok and Polaris relationship is always intriguing. And plus, there are a bounty of great guest stars, including Lilandra and the Shi’Ar and plenty of big names from Shi’Ar lore (hooray Starjammers! And more!). It all comes together in this arc, and some BIG stuff happens here. It’s quite a doozy of a first arc for Brubaker. My only complaint is that the story doesn’t really conclude. Brubaker finishes the story, but the conflict is still going on, and is followed by a mini series (Uncanny X-Men: Emperor Vulcan). I’ve moved on from the title but still haven’t read the mini series, so I don’t even know how it exactly ends even after this trade. What I read is excellent, but I wanted more. Lastly, I need to talk about the art. I was unfamiliar with both Billy Tan and Clayton Henry, but not anymore. Billy Tan was the breakout artist as far I was concerned, proving himself to be a lot like David Finch (but without the same faces for every character) and he really took it upon himself to pencil an epic. Clayton Henry’s pencils were almost goofy in contrast, but it actually grew on me, and he wasn’t the main artist for much of the arc, and proved capable and better as the issues went on.

 

Spiffy Says….Fly Down

 

Uncanny X-Men: The Extremists. Written by Ed Brubaker with art by Salvador Larroca. Billy Tan and Clayton Henry are replaced by Larroca in this arc. Larroca seems to be constantly reinventing himself, and I honestly can’t tell it’s the same artist half the time. The first thing I ever read with art by him was X-Treme X-Men. He was the best part, as Claremont’s title was awful, but even then, I felt like Larroca’s characters lacked heart and character. And recently in Invincible Iron Man, he was playing around with computer effects and all sorts of things with the art. The result was awkward, in my opinion, although he drew the technological wizardry of the title superbly, which is necessary. In Extremists, he displays a happy medium. He has a hint of the changes in Iron Man here, but it’s not as extreme, and I appreciated that, and I liked his work here more than I did in X-Treme X-Men and some of his other work (although his Storm was off to me), but it’s nothing special by any means. The inks and colors are kind of darker in tone, which is perfect for the focus of this arc: Morlocks. Masque and the “Extremists”, a faction of the Morlocks find themselves in transition after the House of M and after many of them have lost their powers. Masque pulls a Magneto and is determined to have the mutants rise and rule the world and all that fun stuff, but is taking his cues from a prophecy of a now deceased Morlock. So Storm leads Warpath and Hepzibah and some of the good Morlocks into the subway tunnels of New York to punish the naughty deeds of Masque, while Professor X and Nightcrawler investigate the whereabouts of a certain Master of Magnetism. This arc almost seems like filler for what’s to come (Messiah CompleX), but it’s still pretty darned good. Storm and the Fantastic Four guest star (as she was apart of the FF with hubby T’Challa during the time of this storyline), and while I’ve never been a big fan of Storm, she’s necessary for a Morlocks story due to her past. We also get some fun appearances by Caliban and Leech and the Starjammer’s Hepzibah remains apart of the team after the Shi’Ar fight and finds herself falling for a certain X-Man (and it’s actually kind of hot, despite her being a cat, but then again, I’m a Tigra kind of guy). It’s not a mind-blowing story by any means, but Brubaker still manages to keep me interested and excited for the rest of his run. Also, there’s quite an ending to the arc and I’m intrigued to know where it goes (I’m assuming I’ll find out in Messiah CompleX, the next trade on my docket).

 

Spiffy Says…Fly Stuck/Fly Down (Nothing special, but if you like the X-Men, you won’t complain)

 

The Immortal Iron Fist: The Last Iron Fist Story. Written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, with pencils by David Aja. Instead of going into the story first, I’m going to talk about the art. I was completely new to David Aja’s art, but he was terrific. He kind of has an Alex Maleev feel, with kind of a darker and grittier pencils (which is helped a lot by the inking and color team) and great ability to draw action scenes. He has the potential to be my favorite artist out of all the names I’ve mentioned in this post (Epting, Perkins, Larroca, Tan). The writing doesn’t disappoint either. This story compares to Captain America in terms of awesome, and definitely has the feel of a movie (and hey, Iron Fist was recently optioned by Marvel Studios). I really haven’t read any of Fraction aside from the one issue of Invincible Iron Man, but he and Brubaker certainly make a good team, and I can see why they always seemed to be paired together. Iron Fist is a character I’ve always liked for whatever reason, even though he’s a pretty cliché kung fu man and I’ve never read anything with him in it, aside from owning a couple old Power Man and Iron Fist and Heroes for Hire issues, and of course in Bendis’ New Avengers. Danny Rand has always been cool, and now I actually get to see why. Brubaker and Fraction tackle the history of the Iron Fist, having each issue start with a different man or woman who held the Iron Fist, and having it all come together by the end. Danny Rand’s company Rand Corp is in danger of being taken over by a Chinese company, which is run by Hydra and has sinister dealings with the Steel Serpent, Fist’s archenemy. We also get introduced to Jeryn, the businessman that helps Rand survive the business world, and is pretty much a carbon copy to Foggy Nelson (but you can never have enough Foggy’s in the world). I won’t spoil too much about this story, but it’s really a fun history lesson about Iron Fist, featuring a return by Orson Randall and tidbits about Rand’s father Wendell. It’s perfect for someone who didn’t know K’un-Lun (the mystical and lost city where Rand mastered his skills) from Kang the Conqueror. This story makes Iron Fist a lot cooler than just a rip off of all other Hollywood and Japanese kung fu men, and sets up for an epic story in continuing the new critically acclaimed series, and has forced me to add it to my pull list (damn you to hell Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction!).

 

Spiffy Says….I almost FUDO’d, but I’m saving that for book two.

 

As you can see, I rather enjoyed my selection of Brubaker this summer, and am excited to start reading his stuff monthly, as I have begun in Captain America, will start Iron Fist after I read book two, and will for Uncanny X-Men starting with the big 5-0-0. I hope everyone’s doing well and enjoyed hearing about my summer reading (and I look forward to hearing about everyone else’s). Hasta luego.

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5 Responses to “Summer Reading Part Two: Take a Bruboliday”

  1. Gokitalo Says:

    I’m not reading many Brubaker stuff right now, but there’s no denying the guy’s got talent. If Steve Rogers had to go, Captain America #25 was the perfect send-off.

    I’m glad you liked Rise and Fall of the Shi’Ar Empire. I remember a lot of online guys were like, “it’s okay, but Brubaker can do better,” yet I’m still kind of intrigued by it. Even if the concept of Vulcan doesn’t thrill me at all.

    Messiah Complex is on my to-buy list too! A lot of people said it’s one of the better X-Men crossovers. Considering the kinds of crossovers the X-Men had in the 90s, that’s very, very good news.

    I’ve bought two issues of The Immortal Iron Fist: one was meh, the other had me in stitches. Maybe I’ll buy the first trade on a light week, or after Mesiah Complex. And Aztek. And maybe some other stuff…

  2. spiffyithaca Says:

    Yeah, I didn’t really like the idea of Vulcan at first, but he made for a pretty cool villain. And I just love how he was apart of a secret X-Men team from the beginning that Professor X kept from everyone. I wish I had read that mini series (Deadly Genesis), actually.

    Which two issues of Fist did you buy?

  3. Gokitalo Says:

    I bought the second-to-last issue of the first story and the one-shot with the female Iron Fist. The latter had some hilarious moments (although I can’t remember what they are…).

    Oh dude, I should mention this: Fraction and Brubaker aren’t going to be on the book for much longer.

  4. davidry214 Says:

    I’d like to buy the Shi’ar one; that sounds pretty cool. And definitely Messiah Complex. I kinda miss my X-Men, so I’ll be trying Uncanny for a while, starting with 500. Probably Legacy too.

  5. spiffyithaca Says:

    Yeah, Messiah CompleX is something I’m going to tackle soon, after I continue my rereading and read a couple other trades first, which is a never ending process.

    I can’t wait for #500 next month. I’m pumped.

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