PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Comics

Infinite Rebirth: The Duality and Synergy of ‘Captain America’

Michael D. Stewart
Lost In Thought: Writer Ed Brubaker emphasizes his signature vision of Cap by potraying Steve Rogers as every bit as thoughtful as he is energetic.

Captain America #615.1 stands as a singular achievement among Marvel's recent 'point one' stories. Not only does this book provide an excellent jump-on point for new readers, but also unfolds a magnificent character drama.


Captain America #615.1

Publisher: Marvel
Length: 22 pages
Writer: Ed Brubaker, Mitch Breitweiser, Bettie Breitweiser
Price: $2.99
Publication Date: 2011-03
Amazon

Heroes die. Heroes come back. Heroes give up their mantles. Heroes take their mantles back. It’s cyclical and cliché, yet no comic publisher will give up this particular plot device anytime soon. Recently, both Batman at DC and Captain America at Marvel have died and come back. Batman put the costume on right away; Captain America opted to take on a new role sans iconic costume. The irony of “Operation: Rebirth” is not lost on Marvel. But with a major movie set for release and the inevitability of needing new story arcs, the original Captain America Steve Rogers may find himself in the red, white and blue sooner than he’d like.

Give Marvel credit, Steve Rogers stayed dead for much longer than any DC character (aside from Flash Barry Allen). In the interim between his death and eventual return, his former kid sidekick Bucky Barnes took up the shield and patriotic costume. But how long is his tenure as the symbol of America? Though Marvel answered that question twice with a one-shot issue and the end of the “Siege” event storyline, it’s still yet to be seen considering his storyline legal troubles. If Captain America 615.1 is any indication, it might not be much longer…or there could be two Captain Americas? Two people with the same moniker, running around in nearly the same costume? That might get confusing or expensive or demand more titles for them to appear in…

The will he or won’t he question surrounding Steve Rogers aside, Captain America 615.1 is a jumping on point for new readers. Part of a company wide effort to slow down and let new consumers join the party, the point-one issues have been relatively tame, lacking any sense of drama, excitement or enthusiasm. They have been fairly good summations of where titles have been, where they are currently and where they could possibly be going. Captain America point-one is an exception, however, as writer Ed Brubaker and artist Mitch Breitweiser revel in the opportunity and present a compelling, well-crafted book. And by doing so set a bar for which the other point-one issues should be judged.

There are a few writers whose work has become synonymous with an iconic character. Brubaker is certainly that with Steve Rogers, especially from his run on Captain America pre-Civil War. But he also has a handle on Bucky Barnes and the difference between Barnes’ Captain America and Rogers'. That’s a difficult task for a writer.

When DC decided to have two Batman – Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne – it took several different writers to create the separation and distinction, and arguably the formula has yet to be perfected or stabilized. Marvel has that possible conundrum with Captain America appearing in several titles written by various writers as well. Sticking to the main series, Brubaker has shown that the difference between the shield wielders is stark and compelling, worthy of further exploration as the developing storylines allow. It’s also helpful that Steve Rogers has refrained from wearing the costume since the end of “Siege,” setting up a new persona for himself as America’s top law enforcement operative. That allows the distinction, at least visually, to cement the roles each will play in the current setting.

Looking firmly at Captain America 615.1, this is a light exercise in existential rumination. Is Steve Rogers a commander or a field operative? Is he best with or without the shield? He’s having doubts, and his reservations are confounded by the appearance of yet another person acting as Captain America. This has been Marvel’s legacy with this title. Many others have taken up the role, but it inescapably goes back to the originator. Brubaker didn’t have to do much heavy lifting to set-up that plot point, but that’s not the hard task. The hard task is making the plot point seamless, flowing naturally from the preceding storylines. In simplest terms, that’s what makes for good execution. Work with what you have. It can be the greatest strength for any comic.

Guiding that execution is the artwork of husband and wife team Mitch and Bettie Breitweiser. The pencil work by Mitch is sketchy, showing a classic superhero comic influence that has come in vogue. His lines are thick, giving a kinetic energy to the panels that is both contained and jumping off the page. The dulled yet poignant colors from Bettie highlight the action scenes and add drama to the exposition scenes. Their work together is the narrative balance that any comic with explosive action and character defining drama needs.

Captain America 615.1 is many things. It’s a jumping on point for readers. It’s a set-up for the next several story arcs. It’s a meditation on what it means to be Steve Rogers now. But, in the end, it’s a well-crafted comic book. Story and art balance and enhance each other. The conclusion peaks interest in what’s coming next. The other questions and circumstance can be put aside for awhile. Steve Rogers will take up the mantle again. That much is fairly certain. Corporate synergy would suggest that a movie about one Captain American cannot have a comic with another Captain America. Or does it? At least with Captain America, it’s one at a time.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.