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Captain America by Ed Brubaker Omnibus (Review)

There’s a lot of buzz out there suggesting that Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America might be the run on the character, the one for the ages – like Frank Miller’s tenure on Daredevil, for example. I decided that – with the movie coming out next year – it might be worth bringing myself up to speed on the character. While I haven’t finished Brubaker’s run (it’s on-going and I still have to read The Death of Captain America Omnibus), it is a very solid run, packed with great ideas. It’s a clever and well-crafted story that demonstrates that Brubaker has more in him than just gritty pulp like his fantastic runs on Daredevil and Gotham Central. On the other hand, I’m slow to call the run an instant classic – I’d rather finish his run before I make that judgement. Towards the end it feels like Brubaker’s own story has become somewhat derailed by the larger events looming in a shared universe. He’s still an amazing writer and succeeds in keeping the train mostly on the tracks, but one gets the sense that the collection would have been better if he had been granted complete control over it.

"Hey, Cap, what are we staring at?""You'll know it when you see it, Bucky; you'll know it when you see it."

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Daredevil by Frank Miller Omnibus Companion

I’ve always seen Daredevil as a peculiarly Catholic superhero. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s the devil imagery. Frank Miller clearly sees the character as an Irish Catholic (he admitted that he believes the character practices) in an interview at the end of the first omnibus. It just seems to fit. There’s just something so human and organic about the character – so vulnerable and flawed – that he seems like some sort of lost soul amidst the pantheon of god-like superheroes. A man torn between heaven and earth. The fact that probably the greatest story told using the character is titled Born Again and his mother is a nun (as close as you can plausibly get to a virgin, I suppose) doesn’t exactly hurt, either.

Daredevil puts a novel twist on flag-burning...

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The Ultimates by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch Omnibus (Review/Retrospective)

The Ultimates got me into comics. I’d read a couple beforehand, of course, and picked up a stray issue in the nineties, but it was The Ultimates that convinced me that superhero comic books could be something bold and innovative and clever, rather than generic and plain. Looking back, I think that The Ultimates stands as one of Marvel’s crowning accomplishments of the last decade, with only New X-Men and Daredevil ever really coming close. A lot of people argue that it’s the cynical world view that sets Mark Millar’s origin story apart, and gives it a broad appeal, but I’d disagree.

I think that Millar’s story doesn’t work because it dismantles the conventional superhero narrative through glib nihilism and cool apathy, but rather because it vindicates that ideal by passing it through a crucible. In many ways, The Ultimates is perhaps the most optimistic superhero story I’ve ever read, if only because the idealism is truly earned.

Holding out for some heroes…

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