Friday, June 29, 2007

Books I Lettered But Didn’t Read Until Now #2

Even though my choice for the first installment of this Lazy Feature didn’t exactly set my Geek World on fire, I decided to pull another random trade off my shelf. This time around I decided shifting gears from a Garth Ennis book might be a good idea so I went with a good ol’ wholesome Captain America book. What I didn’t know is how wholesome this book turned out to be. And that’s not a bad thing.

Captain America Volume 4: “Captain America Lives Again” Collecting issues 17-20 and a Lee/Kirby Classic: Tales of Suspense # 66. Written by Dave Gibbons with art by Lee Weeks.

I have a lot of Captain America trades on the shelf and at first I was going to grab on of the Ed Brubaker ones (I think I have the first volume) but for some reason I just couldn’t do it. Maybe it’s because Cap “died” or maybe it was because I wasn’t in the mood for it’s “serious” tone. Maybe it’s because after all the media hype of Cap’s death, after all the new readers it brought into comic shops, Marvel decided to capitalize on that tidal wave of excitement by releasing the next issue a few months late. Way to keep ‘em coming back for more, guys.

But whatever, let’s get on with a Captain America book that I friggin’ LOVED!

Reading this trade reminded me why I continue to read Marvel stuff even when 99% of it makes me want the time I spent reading it back. But this trade made me feel like I was reading some old school Marvel.

The story is basically a “What If”. Starting off with Cap floating through the ocean in a block of ice but instead of getting picked up by the Avengers, he’s picked up by Nazis. Cap wakes up in a world where the Nazis won the war and the Red Skull is the big cheese. However, there’s an underground movement of freedom fighters led by your who’s-who of Marvel Superheroes. All out of costume but you don’t miss their fancy duds a bit. I’d go more into it, but I’d hate to spoil some of the neat reveals and surprises.

The story moves along at a great pace with tons of action and enough character interaction to make you wonder who’s up to what and why. There is even a time machine that is usually the down point of any story (the last time machine story I read involved Iron Man riding a horse in his armor complete with joust, Ugh) but Gibbons turned it into an integral part of the story without getting caught in the usual traps the time machine device can fall into. The time machine even tied the whole thing up in a nice bow.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the art of Lee Weeks. I’ve lettered a good amount of his work over the years and always enjoyed it but I never realized how good the guy is until I read this story. He’s one of the most underrated artists in the biz. I don’t know what he’s working on now but I want to go out and find more of his work. Actually, I have the trade of the recent Peter David run on “Hulk” that Weeks penciled. I’ll have to make the next book I pull of the shelf.

As a little bonus Marvel threw in Tales of Suspense #66, the origin of the Red Skull by Lee & Kirby. It’s classic, campy Stan Lee but still fun to read. A nice li’l addition to this really fun trade. If you get a chance to pick this one up, go for it. I think you’ll enjoy some good old-fashioned Captain America. I mean, he’s dead now…… right?

Thanks for reading, Folks!

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